Tuesday, 16 January 2018

#Review 4 of 2018 Spiral of Hooves

Tuesday Late...

If I made any resolutions at the beginning of this year it was to try to make sure to post a review as soon as possible after finishing a novel. This is the latest fiction I've read during the last week though I've been doing a lot of non-fiction research. How I quantify that as books read on Goodreads just isn't so easy.

If you're a lover of watching horse riding programmes on TV then this intriguing tale may be for you!

Spiral of HoovesSpiral of Hooves by Roland Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this tale of intrigue which kept me on my metaphorical toes, especially towards the end. There were many surprises unravelling that I hadn’t anticipated even though I did manage to work out a few of the mysteries. There were parts of the description which made me feel as though I was watching a horse riding event on TV- which I used to enjoy years ago but haven’t indulged in for some time.
Various themes are covered in this complicated plot- coping with a physical issue that others may not need to organise their life around; genetic manipulation of stock; illegal drug use; sabotage and murder – to name some of the themes.
Though Armand Sabatier is a tortured soul at the beginning, and there’s a wee bit of repetition of this, it’s worth reading on because I felt he was a character who blossomed very well as the plot unfolds. There are some lovely characters and some who made my teeth grit frequently but I’ll leave the new reader to work out if they feel the same after finishing this action packed story.

Happy reading to you and to me! My next reading is something I'm a little embarrassed about because I'm going to reread a couple of novels, hopefully skim read them, because for some reason they're still on my Kindle to be read pile even though I'm sure I've read them. There are no reviews to be found so I'll be having a quick reminder what they're about since I read them a couple of years ago and after that amount of time, I rarely remember more than the gist of novels.


Monday, 15 January 2018

#2 Monday Meanders with #Katharine Johnson

Good Morning -it's #Monday Meanders!

It's a windy, cold, almost snowy day here in my part of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, but it's okay because my new #Monday Meanders slot is designed to transport me, and hopefully also you, to other gentler climes.

This week's new destination, I'm delighted to tell you, comes via my talented Crooked Cat author friend Katharine Johnson. She's sharing information with us about her forthcoming book The Secret  (published by Crooked Cat Books) though we'll have to bide our time till later in the year to get our hands on it. The new novel sounds like just the ticket to take me to a brand new location, especially so since Katharine has included some truly wonderful photographs for us to get a real feel for the place.

Settle in and enjoy both Katharine's photos of the locale and her wonderful description of it.

Welcome to my #Monday Meanders feature, Katharine...

Hello Nancy - thanks so much for letting me visit your blog to talk about the setting for my next novel which comes out this summer.

Courtesy - Katharine Johnson
The Secret is set in a fictional Tuscan village called Santa Zita. It’s the same village as the one in my previous book The Silence, which was published last year. Although it’s a standalone story it’s about another secret harboured by Villa Leonida, the house at the centre of The Silence. This time, however, it’s a wartime secret.

One of the things that drew me to Tuscany as a setting was that it has such a rich, multi-layered history. A house like Villa Leonida would have experienced several reversals in fortune and would have many stories to tell. 

The isolated position of some of the mountain villages makes them hard to access and it's easy to imagine a secret being contained within their walls for many years.

Courtesy - Katharine Johnson
The Secret's about two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy and a secret they share that has devastating consequences reaching right up to the present day.

Santa Zita is perched precariously on a mountain and from below the houses look in danger of tottering down the hill but it has a wonderful view of the valley below with its rooftops and bell towers and the surrounding mountains.

The streets are steep and narrow, criss-crossed by arches and washing lines. There's a central square which houses the church of Santa Zita, a bar and a restaurant run by two eccentric, warring brothers. 

The village is surrounded by chestnut forests, and a fire is lit for three months during winter in the the chestnut drying tower at Villa Leonida to dry the chestnuts which are used for making flour. 

Courtesy - Katharine Johnson
Also on the slopes are vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards.

When Martina and Irena are growing up the village square is the social hub and the focus for celebration suppers after the grape and olive harvests when long tables are set out across the square and lanterns strung among the trees. Martina’s wedding to Gianni is also celebrated in the square.

Courtesy - Katharine Johnson

Martina and Irena sit on the wall of the fountain in the square each day to wait for Gianni who lives in Villa Leonida to join them so they can walk to school together. Gianni’s family is highly respected, the wealthiest in the village, and Villa Leonida the most prestigious dwelling. 

Martina who lives in a small, terraced house below Villa Leonida often imagines what it must be like to live there and take part in the glamorous events she hears about. So when Gianni asks her to marry him she’s thrilled. But neither life at Villa Leonida nor marriage to Gianni are as she imagined.

When war breaks out all their lives change dramatically. Loyalties are divided, food is scarce and friendships betrayed in a climate of fear and suspicion. 

Seventy years on, Martina and Irena’s children have a chance to put right a wrong but doing so carries a risk that one of them would do anything to avoid.
Courtesy - Katharine Johnson

Although the village and its events are entirely fictional, the story is inspired by the history of many villages in Tuscany where I’ve had a home for a number of years. 

Katharine Johnson is a journalist with a passion for books, old houses and all things Italian (except tiramisu). She grew up in Bristol and has lived in Italy. She currently lives in Berkshire with her husband, three children and madcap spaniel. She plays netball badly and is a National Trust room guide.

The Secret will be published this summer by Crooked Cat Books. 

The Silence, which is also set in Villa Leonida but is about a secret from the 1990s is available to buy now http://mybook.to/TheSilence


Since Katharine shared another brilliant photo I'm going to add it here because that bridge is just begging to walked over so that we can admire the peaceful water! 
Courtesy Katharine Johnson
Thank you so much for sharing your new novel with us today, Katharine. I'll be watching out for the launch so that I can uncover its secrets! Best wishes for all of your writing projects in 2018. 


Saturday, 13 January 2018

#Saturday Shorts- Carrie Ann Schless!

Happy Saturday wishes to you!

It's also going to be a #HappyCrookedCaturday since my interviewee is another member of the Crooked Cat Books author cattery!

I'd like to welcome debut author, Carrie Ann Schless to the #Saturday Shorts my new 'short and snappy' interview chair today, the first of 2018.

It's a brief introduction to my author friends though if you want to learn more I'm confident there will be longer interviews elsewhere across the net, but here's a glimpse of what life is like for Carrie-Ann whose debut ebook version launched yesterday at a Facebook party.

I believe she also has a live paperback launch as well so if you live in her area, she'd be over the moon for you to pop in. Her newly launched Romance is called Another Woman's Man.

Let's get to know Carrie-Ann...

Welcome to my blog Carrie-Ann. Please introduce yourself briefly: 

Hi, I’m Carrie-Ann Schless and I live in S. E. England. I’m a single Mum and I work part time at a card shop.

When is your best time to write?

I tend to write any time but annoyingly evenings are when my idea’s flow more, or anytime when I’m unable to write like when I get in the bath!

(Nancy: I agree - Where's an old fashioned dictaphone when you need one? Actually I never used one of them but it might have done the trick. That really is an annoying time to get ideas!)

Which social media platforms do you find most comfortable to use?
Carrie-Ann Schless

I have been using Facebook for ten years now so it just feels normal to me. What did we do before Social Media? No honestly I’m asking as I seriously don’t remember.

Please tell us what your latest book is about and its genre.

Another Woman’s Man is a Woman’s fiction novel primarily about an affair but with a lot of other themes going through it.

Did anything in particular influence you to write it?

Amongst other things I found it crazy that so many of my friends received messages from other peoples boyfriends and started to wonder how I would feel if they decided to date these men.

(N: Now that's an interesting observation. Definitely a breeding ground, I think, for some further investigation /jealousy unless of a very innocent nature!) 

Did your novel require any specialised research?

Not particularly. You don’t need to go far to find somebody that has been through this.

Who's your main character?

Casey Turner. It sounds crazy but I’ve grown fond of her. I miss having her around!

What’s your main character’s greatest weakness?

Danny. She just can’t seem to say no to him.

What’s your main character’s greatest strength?

She cares very deeply for the people important to her.

Are you a lover of editing your work?

I actually quite enjoyed editing first time around, but I wouldn’t say I loved it.

And now for some fun stuff about you...What’s your favourite occupation? (apart from writing!)

I always wanted to be an actress

(N: There's still plenty of time for a career change!)

Do you have a favourite place to ‘hide’ out from life?

I love nothing more than a dance floor of a nightclub but only when the music is decent.

Favourite food and drink?

I love Chinese food, and I may be known to have the odd vodka and coke.


Thank you Carrie-Ann for giving us a tiny edge into your favourites. Another Woman's Man is now on my kindle, as of yesterday, but for others who haven't yet bought it-
Click the link here: 

Find Carrie-Ann Schless here:  www.carrieannschless.com

 Till another Saturday Short comes along... Have a great weekend. 

ps Use the 'Follow the Blog' email sign up box on the right sidebar to be sure to catch the next post on Nancy's Novels.