Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Today, I have the pleasure of Miriam Wakerly’s company, who’s sharing a little about her new book, Secrets in Appley Green. Take it away, Miriam!

Reinventing the plot

It is said that the seven basic plots are: overcoming the monster; rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; comedy; tragedy; rebirth. So is an original novel all about character, setting, background and theme? Certainly these are vital elements, but the actual story has to bring something new – don’t you think?

That list comprises broad categories and a writer should be able to reinvent them creatively so they are fresh, intriguing – yes, unique.

Seeing the blurb of my novel, Secrets in Appley Green, you may say, ‘Oh, so a teenage girl gets pregnant in the early Sixties and it all leads to heartbreak …’. You would be right to think, hey, this has been done a thousand times before. But I would bet anything that it in its detail, sub-plots and final resolution, this basic premise has never been given the same treatment. Golly, I do hope so, now I’ve said it!

Three naïve, but very different, Appley Green schoolgirls pledge to stick together for ever, but when one of them gets pregnant, this pushes their promise to the edge.

A young girl in need of love is vulnerable to the charms of an older man with heart-breaking consequences.

This is Great Britain’s Sixties, an exciting era, gathering pace then in full swing as social change sweeps aside past attitudes, laws, fashion and culture. Youth is finding a voice as parents struggle to adjust.  Its characters span the full social spectrum and take us beyond Appley Green to Brighton, Margate, London, Vienna and Paris.

Miriam Wakerly’s  Appley Green village stories all standalone and can be read in any order, but they are connected. This one can serve as a prequel to all three, especially Shades of Appley Green.

Some may say that if a story claims to be unique, then it is probably a bad one, for another author would have discovered or invented it by now. But, no, I don’t think so -  it is a question of using imagination and a different slant on an idea.

Well, I seem to be having some kind of slightly batty debate with myself here – but sometimes it is good to thrash these things out. What do you think?

Sometimes scenes are from the male viewpoint: Here’s an extract from Chapter 6

‘You think Appley Green village might be a good hideaway for you? Is that what’s going through your mind?’

Walter considered this. Maybe this was going through his mind, but he just hadn’t yet acknowledged it. ‘Hmm. That would be a big change from London! I may stay on a few days; my financial director can run the business without me for a while, and well, I’m a free agent these days really ... is that OK with you, old bean?’ Peter hesitated, just long enough to intimate doubt. ‘If you have other plans, then just say …’

‘No. That’s the problem, Walt. I have no plans, no plans at all, and by God, I need some. I can’t promise to be very good company. That’s all.’ The fingers of his right hand were absently tapping the bar. It seemed to Walter that Peter had downed most of his pint, almost without realising it.

‘So – you’ve left teaching.’

Peter shrugged and looked away. ‘Well, hopefully not, but I have lost my job.’ He gritted his teeth, shook his head and appeared to be seething deep-down. ‘It was all so ludicrous, so unnecessary. One of those moments when you just want to turn back the clock – just five minutes – and make everything all right, back to normal.’ He paused and Walter watched his brother’s gaze turn to a middle-aged man who was lighting up his pipe with a match, puffing and puffing to get the thing going, smoke billowing into the room, just the way their father did. There were tears in his eyes. ‘Whatever I did, I don’t deserve this!’

‘Are you going to appeal?’

‘Certainly I am.’ He looked up at the ceiling and sighed. ‘I will have that whisky … but I don’t imagine it will do me any good at all.’

Compared with the worries he was shouldering, Peter’s problems seemed pretty minor. Walter tried to help assemble his brother’s case, scribbling notes on the back of an envelope, based on Peter’s account, which at first he thought was hilariously funny. He was sympathetic regarding his situation, but the event itself! He appreciated the farcical, pantomime, slapstick humour and only began listening seriously when he began to appreciate the nature of school politics.

As it became quieter in the pub, they retreated to a small table in the corner each bearing another pint. Most workers would go off in the morning with a packed lunch, but a few better-off locals came in for a lunch-time pint, perhaps a sandwich from a limited range the public house had recently started to offer, or a pickled egg, and went back to work before the pub closed at half-past two. It was nearly closing-time when a voice caught Peter’s attention.

‘One more for the road then,’ he called to the barman, searching deep for coins in his trouser pocket. ‘I’m celebratin’ today!’

The whiskery barman nodded. ‘What’s that then, Tommy?’

‘My girl. Nicola. Left school and got ‘erself a job. All grown up, she is.’

‘That’s good. Big step.’

‘Left a few days earlier than the missus and I thought she would – thanks to that bloody arty-farty teacher at the Grammar!’

If you’ve read this far – thank you and I do hope you enjoy the rest of the book!

A little bit about Miriam Wakerly: A Village With “Edge” Novelist

I live in Surrey, England. The fictional village, Appley Green, where my novels are set, is very like villages nearby to my home. I launched my first novel, Gypsies Stop tHere the day after I retired, followed by No Gypsies Served two years later. Shades of Appley Green looks at a different aspect of village life in 2012 and my new novel Secrets in Appley Green goes back to 1960, looking at many Appley Green characters when they were obviously much younger!

I have had many articles and stories published over the years – now I look forward to writing more English village novels. My degree was in English, French, Sociology and Politics; the interest I have always had in social issues influences my writing, as you will see. However, I do believe books should be enjoyable and reviews show that mine are!

Links for all Miriam’s books:

Find out more about Miriam on:

Miriam’s Ramblings –

Thanks so much for sharing, Miriam. I'm loving the excerpt! 

Keep safe all!

Lots of love, 


Monday, 14 September 2015

The Silent Touch of ShadowsThe Silent Touch of Shadows by Christina Courtenay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Silent Touch of Shadows was my final holiday read and it definitely left me with book withdrawal symptoms. Time slip and historical novels are not generally my first choice – and now I have no idea why that would be. This author has definitely convinced me I must read more. Set in the present and fifteenth century Kent, the story centres on Melissa, a genealogist attempting to move on with her life and provide for her daughter after an acrimonious divorce. That her ex-husband has a family with the ‘other woman’ and a baby on the way, is a nice touch, I think. Truly, this is the final hurt when you’re trying to let go of the memories you once thought were precious to you both. Melissa, on moving into an Ancestral home at the invite of her aunt, finds herself haunted by troubling dreams, all the more disturbing when the essence of the man in those dreams, a handsome knight pleading for her help, lingers when she wakes. Jake, local vet and single father, who bears a striking resemblance to her tortured knight, is also disturbed by frighteningly real dreams, the subject of his being Sibell, who after the death of her young husband is forced to move back home, where her abusive father is adamant she will remarry a much older man, thereby improving the family status and fulfilling her daughterly obligations. Sibell’s heart though now belongs to another: Roger, our tortured knight.

The switch between present day and sixteenth century is done seamlessly and quite beautifully. At no point did it jar, thus allowing the reader to engage fully with the characters. Obviously, that these troubled souls were haunting our modern day couple meant that there perhaps wouldn’t be the ‘typical’ happy ending and there is an incident that is quite emotionally jarring. One pauses to digest but the pieces fall into place and you begin to realise what our lost spirits might need to allow them to rest in peace. I have to say, I’m in awe of the research, both historical and in regard to the genealogy aspect. This is a beautiful, haunting, intelligently written romance. If you’ve shied away from historical, I would highly recommend The Silence of Shadows. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Saturday, 12 September 2015

Today I have a little sneak peek: a cover reveal for Caroline Fardig’s upcoming cozy mystery/romance, MUG SHOT - Book 2 in the Java Jive series, coming out this spring from Random House Alibi!

Isn't it gorgeous?

Congratulations, Caroline. I can’t wait to find our more!

CAROLINE FARDIG is the author of the LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series and the forthcoming DEATH BEFORE DECAF, available November 2015 through Random House. Her eclectic working career included occupations of schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Pre-order Links:

Too CharmingToo Charming by Kathryn Freeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Defence barrister Scott Armstrong is way too charming. Suave good-looking, a lady-killer image and far too many notches on his bedpost, he’s definitely someone single-mum DS Megan Taylor should avoid. Not easy when Scott, smitten by the feisty woman who is the complete opposite of those he prefers his short-term relationships with, pursues her with relentless determination to win her over. Megan has been there though, charmed by just such a man. She’s adamant, for her daughter’s sake as well as her own, she won’t go through the pain of that kind of heartbreak again. Throw the fact that Scott and Megan are on opposite sides, Scott defending the villains Megan has worked hard to bring to justice, and you have a cauldron of frustrated emotion waiting to spill over.

Scott, though, is not the emotion abuser Megan is convinced he is. The author does a fabulous job of peeling away the layers, giving us glimpses of his past until we see the whole of the man whose charm is in fact the suit of armour he hides his vulnerabilities behind. I particularly loved the way Kathryn Freeman handled Scott’s backstory. How, you can’t help but wonder, can such a successful, handsome, smooth-talking man have had anything but the odd blip in his life? No spoilers, but aside from the fact that Scott is naturally, instinctively caring of Sally, Megan’s daughter, his tragic family history is what makes him so determined to make sure even the lowest criminal gets a fair trial.

There are hiccups along the way, a crime case which brings that history and all of Scott’s vulnerabilities to the fore and slowly we see these two coming to see each other’s perspective. Scott begins to understand Megan’s determination to put the bad guys away. Megan realises that Scott’s own heartbreak is what drives him. Can she open her eyes to the fact that he truly loves her though? Can she open her heart? You’ll have to read to find out. If you want an intelligent, riveting romance with a difference, this book is it.

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Friday, 11 September 2015

Summer Moved OnSummer Moved On by Jo Lambert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summer Moved On was the perfect title of my second holiday read. Dishevelled, unkempt and undeniably attractive, a Lothario reputation he apparently strives to live up to and Devil may care attitude, Talun is absolutely the kind of man eighteen year old Jess should steer clear of. Noting his penetrating gaze and broody good looks, however, Jess is drawn. As is Talun to Jess, to his chagrin. Talun’s mother was a traveller, his father unknown. He's a farmhand with no prospects. Jess is obviously from a monied family, and obviously unworldly and spoiled, he surmises, noting the comments in regard to his appearance that pass between her and her also monied and arrogant boyfriend on first meeting. The last thing Talun wants is to be attracted to someone like that. Jess and he are poles apart. Or are they? As the story progresses, we learn that Jess, though provided for materially by her father, love and affection is not something that comes naturally to him. Talun is the bad boy you just can’t help but fall in love with. Learning his secret, knowing he never really knows whether the mother he adored, and who apparently adored him, truly abandoned him, we realise why he might seek affection but is perhaps reluctant to give his heart. He doesn’t want to have feelings for Jess. Jess, though, has much more in common with Talun than he could realise. If only sparks didn’t fly every time they meet, she might even be able to tell him so.

Summer Moved on is a beautifully written story, looking at love, life, prejudice and preconception. I actually had goosebumps when Talun came face to face with someone who might unravel his past, who he is, where he came from. Bearing in mind I was lying on a sun lounger in Portugal at the time, that’s some achievement. If you like a moving, thought provoking read with a powerful male point of view, this is the book for you. My only disappointment is that I don’t have the sequel right now.

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UntouchableUntouchable by Ava Marsh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having not had much opportunity to read lately, I wanted to lose myself in as many books as possible on holiday. After reading a book review on Rachel’s Random Reads, my interest was piqued and I chose Untouchable as my first book, hoping it would have that essential hook that would make the book unputdownable. It did. Untouchable reeled me in completely. This is a book with a difference, a storyline that simply has to be compelling: an intelligent woman with a psychology degree and a career in …. But that would be a spoiler. We learn later how Stella/Grace’s former career and her relationship with offenders leads her to choose a new career as a high class prostitute. I knew what to expect from the review and was intrigued to see for myself how the sex element was handled. I have to say it was handled brilliantly. The scenes, though graphic in places, are communicated with a sense of detachment, necessarily, given that titillation isn’t the aim of this book. We see these scenes through Stella’s eyes and this detachment only made Stella more compelling as a character. I was desperate to discover the circumstances that precipitated her ‘fall’ into prostitution, why she would actually regard it as a suitable way to punish herself. Desperate also to see how Stella would seek retribution from high ranking businessmen and government officials when a fellow escort is found dead. The characters, both escort and client, are all believable people, the men not all portrayed as sexual perverts or losers. The ending was just right. Again, no spoilers. It wasn’t quite all tied up in a pretty pink bow, but there was hope. For me, that was a perfect ending, perhaps leading to a new beginning for Stella. If you want a read that is riveting, powerful and different, this is the book for you. Well done Ava Marsh on tackling a subject that some would shy away from.