#FridayReads ~Reviewing my favourite books from 2016

What a wonderful surprise to find one of my books on a reviewer’s list of her favourite books from 2016! And in such great company! Thank you Lizanne Lloyd. I feel honoured, and I’m delighted.

Lizanne

According to Goodreads, of the 65 books I have read this year, 21 are contemporary stories, 18 historical fiction, 7 crime novels and 5 mysteries. In addition, I chose to read 5 non-fiction history books, 3 steampunk novels, 2 travel books, one young child’s book, one dystopian novel and one of literary fiction. Only one is specifically a romantic novel, but of course romance often turns up in historical novels or mysteries too and definitely in most contemporary stories. There is a lot of blurring at the edges.
The number of books in each category does not surprise me, but perhaps next year I should try self-help, vampire books or maybe return to fantasy or science fiction. I’m not promising!
These are my highlights of the year.

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Midnight Sky Cover LARGE EBOOK

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Rusty

AB Bamboo Island

Lake House

I could list more, but I will stop with these chosen few from my favourite genres; historical, contemporary and mystery.  If you click…

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Book Review: Courting the Countess by Anne Stenhouse

A book review by Anne Stormont of ‘Courting the Countess’, a regency romance by Anne Stenhouse – yes, two Annes for the price of one 🙂
“The dialogue is, as always, to the fore and fairly crackles and zings,” Anne says. I like that. And I’m not surprised by it because Anne Stenhouse, the author of this book, is also a playwright.
Type of read (according to Anne): In an Edinburgh New Town hotel or residence, but failing that, in your own living-room, curtains drawn, on your chaise longue by a roaring log fire and a do-not-disturb sign on the door.
This one is on my To Be Read list. I’m itching to read it but I try to read books in the order I buy them. What about you? Is that how you do it? Or do you allow your books to jostle for position and settle down on the couch with the front runner? Do tell in the comments below.
Maybe this is one that will be in the jostle 🙂

Put it in Writing

courting-the-countess

Genre: Historical Fiction

Regular readers of my book reviews will know that crime and contemporary fiction along with the occasional work of non-fiction are my main areas of choice when it comes to reading. But historical fiction by this particular author will always get my intention. I’ve read, enjoyed and reviewed all her previous books and all are full of romance, wit and great period detail.

So I knew the chances were I’d also enjoy her latest novel and I certainly did.

But even if I’d not read this author’s previous books, the chances are I’d have been sufficiently intrigued by the premise behind this Regency romance to give it a go. In an interview on Rosemary Gemmell’s blog which you can read here, Anne Stenhouse explains that the idea for Courting the Countess arose out of a writing competition entry she did. The competition brief was to come up…

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Tunnel Vision

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I’ve just emerged from a tunnel and I’m blinking in the light.

Goodness, what a lot I have neglected!

I see it now.

But I was quite happily engrossed in my tunnel until it came to an end.

It wasn’t the kind of tunnel that plunges you into total darkness. More like a tree tunnel, with light getting through but no way to see beyond the trees to what’s going on outside. You know the kind, I’m sure. A pleasant tunnel to be in.

I’ve had tunnel vision before. It happens with irregular regularity, each time I’m engaged in writing a novel. Because I am in the habit of writing every day, it’s been quite some time since I suffered from writers’ block – if I ever truly did. Most times, I think the trouble was that I was out of the way of writing, my writing muscles were sleepy and had to be prodded awake each time I felt like adding to my word count, and that was much harder when it had been a long time since I wrote.

Having said that, a few years ago I didn’t write anything other than the occasional blog post for almost a year after my mother died. It had been a traumatic time – not just because she died, but more to do with other things that happened around her death – and I went into a very different tunnel for quite some time – a long dark one that blotted out the sun and most of the joy it can bring. When I emerged from that tunnel, it took me a long time to adjust and I found that my creativity had all but dried up.

I was recently reminded of a blog post I wrote about what helped get me writing again after one such longish phase of losing my creativity. You can read it here if you choose.

When I’m reading a good book I get tunnel vision too. You know that way, when you can’t put a book down and you read well into the night in order to finish it, then you close your eyes and can’t stop thinking about it for ages. When you finally open your eyes and look around, you blink in the light. You realise life has gone on while you were happily in that pleasant tunnel with the book.

I had a lovely review for Rusty Gold just recently when that seems to have happened to one of my readers:

“I really enjoyed the Rusty gold series. I just couldn’t put the 3rd book down. I was desperate to see how it ended so was stirring the soup with the book in my hand! Off to bed early to read in peace and quiet and, of course ,when it was finished I wished that I had made it last longer. Now, that is the sign of a really good read. It would make a great T.V. series. How good would that be?” ~ Barbara R.

Needless to say, it’s very encouraging to receive reviews like that. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and I can’t thank my readers enough for them. If ever I meet one such reader, I’ll give her the hugest of hugs.

So, you know what I’m talking about – that kind of tunnel vision.

And, like I said, I’ve just emerged from such a tunnel.

I’ve been busy writing another novel, and what a happy tunnel I’ve been in. I got so caught up with my characters, I found it hard to leave them.

This WIP is now in the hands of some beta readers, and I must wait to get their feedback before I can write the final draft, but, meanwhile, I find I’m still thinking about Yvonne and Hugh, and their story. I’m having to hold myself back from writing the next part of their story – because that’s for another book, another tunnel.

This one, called For What it’s Worth, is not quite another in The Reluctant Detective Series, more a kind of spin off, and while Mirabelle and Sam feature in the story, the main protagonist this time is Mirabelle’s sister, Yvonne.

Yvonne only featured peripherally in the three books of the series, but the dynamic of her and her husband, Hugh, kept asking to be explored, so I did, and have written their story – so far. I say, ‘so far,’ because just as our lives don’t stop when we settle into a routine after some great adventure or happening in our lives, so too, characters can seem so real that I just know their story could continue on. And my mind is already buzzing with what happens next in the Yvonne and Hugh saga.

Meanwhile, I have to see to all the things I neglected when I was so engrossed in writing For What it’s Worth – blog posts, promotional posts, guest posts, interviews, lots of interesting things like that. No matter how bonnie that tunnel of trees in, no matter how beautifully the sunlight dapples through the branches, I don’t want to hide inside it for ever. I look forward to driving through another one soon, but for now, other writing tasks need attention, there is other fun to be had, other vistas to view.

How about you? As a reader, do you get so engrossed in a good book that you can hardly bear to put it down? Do you emerge at the end blinking in the light?

As a writer, is that how you feel about the first draft of a new novel? The second? The third? And all the rest…

Please do tell me if you have felt like that when reading or writing – or doing anything else. I’d love to hear about the books you’ve read that held you entranced and why.

~~~

You can find the three books of The Reluctant Detective Series and four more of Christine’s novels here on Amazon

~~~

 

Smorgasbord Summer Reading – What Tim Knows and other stories by Wendy Janes

It is my pleasure to reblog Sally Cronin’s Summer Reading post. The book featured today is ideal Summer Reading, perfect for lying back with on the beach or in the garden. Six short stories with a subtle link. I can heartily recommend this book by novelist Wendy Janes, having read it and thoroughly enjoyed it already.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

smorgasbord Summer ReadingToday the featured book is a brand new release this week. What Tim Knows and other stories by Wendy Janes takes you on a journey with six stories across five decades.  As well as showcasing her new book today, Wendy also shares her thoughts on linking stories.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout What Tim Knows and other stories

A gallery-owner’s quest for beauty; a dancer in danger; a new mother struggling to cope with her baby; a sculptor’s search for inspiration; a teenager longing to live in the perfect family; a young boy lost and confused by the rules of life that everyone else seems to understand.

Six stand-alone short stories, spanning five decades. Each capturing a significant moment in the life of a different character.

Separate lives linked in subtle ways.

Linking stories

I’ve always enjoyed reading books where characters in one novel pop up in another. While a well-written sequel or…

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Smorgasbord Summer Reading – Rusty Gold (Third book in the Reluctant Detective Series) by Christine Campbell.

The lovely Sally Cronin has featured my books on her blog under ‘Summer Reading’.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

smorgasbord Summer Reading

Today’s book is Rusty Gold which is the third in the Reluctant Detective series by Christine Campbell and was published last week.

51Hp9-Dz0BL._UY250_About the Book

Rusty Gold is the third novel in The Reluctant Detective Series.

‘Find her, ‘ Agnes Donald begged. ‘Find my daughter.’

The words of a dying woman force Mirabelle to take on another case for the unofficial Missing Persons Bureau she runs from her Edinburgh flat. Along with her assistant, Kay, she heads for the island of Skye where Esme Donald was last known to be. But is someone else looking for Esme too? And could Mirabelle’s own daughter, Summer, be in danger?

Mirabelle had thought she and Summer were happy. Being a single parent may not be ideal, but they coped well with their situation. Sure, bringing up a teenaged girl on her own was hard work, and they had their ups and downs…

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Rusty Gold by Christine Campbell

I was thrilled when I realised Rusty Gold had received it’s very first review already, and delighted that it is a good one, five stars on Amazon. They don’t come better than that, do they?
Thank you, Lizanne Lloyd. If ever I meet you, I owe you a hug 🙂

Lizanne had read and reviewed the first two books in The Reluctant Detective Series and her review of Rusty Gold is also, in effect, a review of the series – so if you have yet to read Searching for Summer and Traces of Red, and you think you might, perhaps you ought to read them before reading the review.
But I can tell you one of the lovely things Ms Lloyd says:
“It is difficult to think of any other books quite like these and they could ideally be turned into a TV series.”
That has been remarked upon a few times now, so any television producers out there, I’m open to offers …

Those of you who have been getting to know Mirabelle and company, any thoughts who we could cast in the main parts?

~~~

Lizanne

Rusty

Rusty Gold is Book 3 of the stories of Mirabelle, the Reluctant Detective.  In Book 1 we had seen, Mirabelle’s daughter, Summer, choose to leave home without warning.  We followed the search for her all over Edinburgh and Mirabelle’s determination to find her daughter despite her sorrow and fears.  In the second book, Mirabelle has become the person, people in the area seek out, when they are searching for missing family members but in Rusty Gold, after four and a half years have passed, she has lost the confidence and wish to go on investigating for others.  She sacks her volunteer assistant, Kay, and wallows in her loneliness.

But other people don’t give up on Mirabelle.  Her larger than life determination and personality need to be revived and the turning point is when she hears that the dying mother of her long lost friend, Esme, needs her help.  Esme and…

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Launch Day

Three … Two … One … We have lift off!!

Released today!

Rusty Gold small

The third novel in The Reluctant Detective Series.

‘Find her,’ Agnes Donald begged. ‘Find my daughter.’
The words of a dying woman force Mirabelle to take on another case for the unofficial Missing Persons Bureau she runs from her Edinburgh flat.
Along with her assistant, Kay, she heads for the island of Skye where Esme Donald was last known to be. But is someone else looking for Esme too? And could Mirabelle’s own daughter, Summer, be in danger?

Rusty Gold is available as a paperback and an eBook on FeedARead,  Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Waterstones and can be ordered through most bookshops.

Get your copy today.

Enjoy!

~~~

New to The Reluctant Detective Series?

Here’s a bit of a catch-up.

Mirabelle had thought she and Summer were happy. Being a single parent may not be ideal, but they coped well with their situation. Sure, bringing up a teenaged girl on her own was hard work, and they had their ups and downs, but they were pals as well as mother and daughter. She might not have planned her, but she was certainly glad she had Summer, and would not have liked to be without her. They’d built a life together, sorted out some kind of routine, and were happy. On a day to day basis, Mirabelle reckoned that’s all you could ask for.

 Then Summer disappears one Friday night and Mirabelle is left searching for her daughter, not knowing if Summer is alive or dead, went of her own accord or was taken against her will. Casting all other concerns aside – food, sleep, work, relationships – in her desperate need to find the answers, she takes to the streets of Edinburgh in search of Summer. Searching along wynds snaking behind old buildings, through ancient doors and tiny spiral stairways, showing Summer’s photograph to everyone she meets in shops, museums and nightclubs, Mirabelle becomes a reluctant detective, gathering clues, trying to make sense of them in order to find her missing daughter.

Meanwhile, Mirabelle gains a reputation for finding missing people and reuniting them with their loved ones. As people turn up on her doorstep asking for help, her kitchen becomes the hub of an unofficial missing persons agency.

Traces of Red, the second in the off-beat Reluctant Detective Series about Mirabelle and missing people, is the sum of several interwoven stories about an abandoned baby, two missing young women, a missing husband … and a dead body. Why did one of them abandoned a baby in an Edinburgh pub? Which one of them lies face-down in the river? Mirabelle finds herself running an unofficial Missing Person’s Bureau from her flat in Edinburgh, and DI Sam Burns seems happy to use her expertise to help him find these people, and learn how their stories interlink.

In Book One of this series, Mirabelle’s search was centred in Edinburgh, widening out to include the Scottish countryside further North in Book Two. Now, in Book Three, Mirabelle is off to the Island of Skye.

~~~

#InspiringWomen: June

Lovely to have a post about Rosie Amber. I love her blog with its book review team and all the rest. She is such a busy, encouraging lady, truly one of the #inspiringwomen in blog land.
Thank you Vikki Patis for this delightful peek into how Rosie works.

The Bandwagon

Welcome to The Bandwagon’s new feature for 2016 – #InspiringWomen. These posts aim to not only celebrate successful women, but also to encourage others to follow their dreams. Meet June’s lady, Rosie Amber.

Rosie B&W SoftSelf-described as a book reviewer, avid reader and bookworm, Rosie Amber is campaigning to link more readers to writers.

What made you want to join your industry?

A few years ago I was inspired to teach myself about social media and not grow old and stagnant. I’ve always loved reading, so what better way to celebrate this than to start a book blog and reach out virtually.

What challenges have you had to overcome in order to get where you are today? 

I began at the ground and worked up, first I didn’t know what blogging platform to use, I began with Tumbler, but found the audience wrong for me, so next I tried WordPress, it works…

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Book Swag: Find Your Next Great Read

Calling all readers!
There’s a new site coming in July that will help you find your next great indie read, and it isn’t going to cost you anything. Just your browsing time. Sounds good to me!

The Bandwagon

Do you love books? If not, why are you here? The Bandwagon is a book-loving blog, full of bookish goodness, and I’m excited to tell you about a brand new site that’s going to help you find your next great read.

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Book-Swag.com is a free weekly email that helps you find the best ebooks from established, new and indie authors. We search the internet and trawl through amazon reviews each week to find you must-read books at great prices. The authors featured on Book Swag haven’t paid to be here. Their books are chosen for one reason – they’re exciting books that you’ll want to read.

We make finding the best eBooks easier. Book Swag was created for people who love to read, by people who love to read.

Find your next great read with Book Swag.

Scott Mullins, writer and part of the Book Swag team, chats to me about this…

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In Honor of Harper Lee…Remembering the Day She Wrote Back

A delightful post by Lisa Ancona-Roach, remembering a very important and heart-warming event in her own life as a teacher, while marking the sad passing of a much loved author’s life.

The Juggle Struggle

Harper Lee 2 Harper Lee in 2007

My heart hurts today with the death of Harper Lee. She was a woman who has impacted my life in ways that I can’t fully explain.

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