Tuesday, 9 February 2016

What the Dickens? - Monogamy Twist

What the Dickens?

In my contemporary romantic mystery Monogamy Twist my character, Luke Salieri, might well have said that…but he didn’t. 

What he does think is that the situation he finds himself in is as though he’s been planted into one of Charles Dickens gothic inspired novels where a slightly dilapidated house is at the centre of the tale. Luke is told he’s the recipient of a once beautiful old mansion house in Yorkshire, but has no idea why he has been chosen as the sole beneficiary to the property which is not yet ruined, but is in need of a great deal of renovation. 

He also cannot fathom the weird conditions he must fulfil before he can finally claim the inheritance.
Wikimedia Commons - Charles Dickens 1852

I haven’t taken an exact situation from a particular Charles Dickens novel and used it as my whole plot but the image of the Dickensian dilapidated mansion—as Miss Havisham inhabited in Great Expectations—was a powerful one and inspired my writing.

In Monogamy Twist my contemporary lawyer, Luke’s friend John, is a nice guy but like Mr. Jaggers in Great Expectations—or indeed probably any other lawyer mentioned in Dickens’ stories—he must ensure that the letter of the law is obeyed. Minor twists might just be allowable though, because Luke is such a good guy, with his heart in right place with regard to intensions for Greywood Hall.

The conditions of properly inheriting Greywood Hall are worthy of the machinations of Dickens in his novels because they are quirkily intrusive in Luke’s life. Dickens set out to be a social commentator and became a worthy one. What he often highlighted in his novels was some sort of social injustice or an antiquated situation which required a change of law to be improved upon. Sometimes the letter of the law is an impenetrable thing, a pain in the butt, and just cannot be altered.

Luke Salieri has found this to his annoyance and needs someone to help him improve on his circumstances. Rhia Ashton, as a professional family history expert, is the perfect person since she is utterly competent at unearthing ancestral details and in sifting through a whole time capsule of fabulous historical artefacts in Greywood Hall.

Often in the writing of Charles Dickens we find that the romance in his stories is unrequited love for much of the story (sometimes all in the case of Miss Havisham), or that a great love is lost, or that an eventual happy ever after romantic ending is a hard won thing. Monogamy Twist is a romantic mystery so I’ll leave you to work out what kind of ending I’ve achieved in it!
Wikimedia Commons
Dickens was famous for the serialisation of his stories and his readers eagerly waited for the next instalment in the periodicals he wrote for. 

When I wrote my mystery Monogamy Twist, I aimed for my readers to experience that ‘What the Dickens is going to happen next?’ sensation from chapter to chapter. As in the dreaming Charles Dickens in the painting above I want my readers to do a bit of dreaming themselves. Personally, I rather love Luke and really enjoyed creating him- flaws and all. Rhia was also fun to write and like in some Dickens books there is a wonderful companion for Rhia in her lively Irish wolf hound Thor.  

Click on the above fabulous cover for Monogamy Twist and read the beginning...

Snatch a copy this week and give yourself a Valentines surprise or read it just because it’s a great price at c. £1.99 for a quirky ancestral based mystery!

Available from Kobo; ITunes; Smashwords; B & N Nook; Amazon.


Monday, 8 February 2016

A 'Whodunnit' with a great ending!

#Monday Moments with 3rd Degree Murder...by Olga Swan

This was an entertaining story with well rounded characters- some of whom are very colourful. there are a few that I wanted to stamp on their feet or give them a smack in the face, and I'm a pacifist!

Here are my thoughts on this interesting 'who dunnit'.

Behind the scenes at the university in 3rd Degree Murder, the goings on make me glad to have been on the student side. There were lots of references to the admin processes which were poignantly reminiscent to me, however, what makes the book a good read is how the ramifications of good and bad decision making in the upper echelons affects both students and administrators. Revenge, post decision making, is sometimes also moulded by religious traditions in the book, the characters coming from a range of religious backgrounds.
It’s clever to have chosen the experienced student situation that Maliha is in which gives her more freedom of movement compared to a first year who would typically be in the larger class situation. I also like how another of the main characters, Jenny, is in a more basic admin job because it gives the author the opportunity to demonstrate how not all of the lecturers are capable of doing the whole job properly—and can even be a charlatan. The home life of the main characters is well done as it gives the person a background which has created who they are in themselves and how they interact with others. There are other characters who give you pause for thought when it comes to revenge on Professor Axel Sloan.  Did the only baddie get what he deserved? A read of the book is the only way to find out!

Something jarred with me regarding the verb tense structure – though on a second reading that may not be a problem. 

I gave this book 4 and 1/2 stars on Amazon and Goodreads. 


Saturday, 6 February 2016

Will I read them all? I'm trying!

Happy Saturday to you!

The Last Frontier The Roman Invasions of Scotland by Antony Kamm

I'm at that stage again of having read yet another Roman Scotland textbook but as you can read below I'm not quite thinking that's what it was. 

I'm not disappointed, though, because what I haven't got yet is the properly 'joined up' thinking of what went on on the Roman Empire before Julius and Claudius decided to invade Britain. I also don't have a proper grasp of what went on after the Roman withdrawal from Scotland, so this book will be useful for that in the future. I can't absorb everything on one read, the brain cells are slow to respond to the machinations of the Roman Empire and especially when it fragmented into Eastern and Western Empires but this book will join the growing set on my Roman History Shelf. 

Here's what I wrote on Amazon and Goodreads:

The book is a wonderful ‘go to’ book for reference as a broad overview of the Roman Empire, with a partial focus on the history of Roman Britain. However, I was hoping for more of the book to cover the few hundred years of Roman occupation in Scotland and that isn’t what I found. For that reason I think the title is a bit misleading- though having read a number of other texts on Roman Scotland, I realise it’s a difficult job to fill the pages purely on Roman Scotland finds. That said, I will be dipping into the book again and again, since I can’t absorb all Kamm has written in one read.

I gave the book 4 stars - mainly because of the content being general rather than specific.

What I didn't add in the short review:

The maps will probably be very useful to me in the future as will the timelines at the back of the book. What I forgot to mention in the review was that the book was very well written, well edited and readable for the non-expert, i.e. an interested dabbler as I am. I liked the inclusion of the translated sources from the ancient historians. 

I'll now focus a little more on my ~TBR fiction pile of books till my next Roman Britain book pops through my letterbox. No, I can;t stop buying more and more information on the subject of my obsession.