Monday, 26 October 2020

Rereading Agatha Christie and Kimberly Derting

This post isn't going to be long (in theory. I just want to touch base on rereads). 

As you know over the past few months, I have talked openly about wanting to reread and discover some old fave authors and books (and maybe read some books from authors I have read in the past but not read). As a book blogger and someone who seems to be always adding new books on my To Be Read shelves and yet, am quite slow a reader at the same time, rereads are usually out of the question. Not always, sometimes you just want to reread something. And this year, with everything that has happened, rereading some books that are close to your heart or call to you are totally in order and, at times, desperately needed. 

I suspect that, if I was a better gay book blogger, I should use affiliates to each book I say in this post and be saying "Go forth and, if you use them, I get a tiny commission from each purchase", but am too lazy (plus, I highly doubt you would use my links as you are savvy money-saving people), so am just going to reference them once now and then m one on with the post, if that's ok with you? Right, here are my affiliates links and, if you want to click them, go for it. If not and you want to buy from local, indie bookshops, please do! Here we go - Book DepositoryFoylesWaterstones and Audible UK

And so, the past few weeks (since before my post of Future Rereads... Maybe...), I knew I wanted to reread Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder. It's been calling to me for quite a while and, in the end, I broke and went "Sod it!". 

This 2010 publication follows Violet Ambrose who has three problems in her life at the moment. The first is she has started to develop feelings for her best friend, Jay, and is unsure what to do with them. Second is her gift to sense the dead. Well, the dead that met a violet and murderous end. She sees/hears/senses the dead's echoes and the imprint that attaches to their killers. And third... a serial killer is on the loose and killing young, pretty girls in her small town... 

As you know, I love a good murder mystery/thriller and, due to COVID-19, the romance aspect appeals to me hugely of late (if you've seen the books I have requested from publishers or that I have bought the past few months, romance [straight or queer] have gone up hugely and this worries me). And when I read this back in 2010, I ADORED this book and devoured the series (the rest of the series is good and I enjoyed hugely but this first book can be read as a standalone). So, did going back make me like the book more or did me being ten years old change my opinion on it? 

No, not really. It was like coming back to an old friend. I had a wonderful time reading this as, while I knew the twists of the killer storyline (I did figure them out the first time I read this, truth be told), it was the romance between Violet and Jay that pulled me in this time. Funny how time changes us as readers. But I had a wonderful time rereading Body Finder. I have no plans to reread the rest of the series, as this was all I needed. 

Which leads me to Agatha Christie... Ok, now, backstory. I am 95% certain I read or audiobook Death Comes As The End in my late teens, but I can't remember anything about it. But, since the BBC announced that they were going to adapt it, I have been curious to reread/reaudiobook this and refresh my memory and, hopefully, this will give me the kick to read some Agatha Christies I have on my TBR (I had a few...)

Set in Ancient Egypt, a family is thrown into turmoil when head of the house, Imhotep, brings a beautiful concubine home from one business trip. His sons, their wives and his daughter are shocked and, while his sons and their wives are furious and plan to remove her from the house, the daughter tries (and fails) to befriend the beautiful concubine, Nofret. So when her body is found at the bottom of a cliff, no one really mourns her... but then more people start dying... is there a serial killer in the family and, if so, who? 

I make this sound more dramatic than it was. I remember really liking this in my teens but now... I just found it slow, boring and frustrating as, for a good chunk of the book, no-one was worrying about someone killing them off! And this book is such a product of the times, but I keep flinching at some of the terms characters use as they are racist and then, the writing felt odd and clunky. Not a normal Christie like I have read in the past. 

But, like I said earlier, we change as readers and I wondered if it was because I have been binging a lot of Christie over the course of the year as, after audiobooking Death Comes As The End, I audiobooked some Christies I've never read before: the Miss Marple novel At Bertham's Hotel, the Poirot short story The Mystery of the Spanish Chest and another short story Accident. I didn't like At Bertham's Hotel and I prefer the both short stories a little more, but I think I have Christie myself out. I have two novels on my kindle to read - Crooked House and The Pale Horse (I have low expectations with Pale Horse but high hopes for Crooked House) - and the rest I removed. 

But there's nothing wrong with rereading books and I have a few plans in mind over the next few months so you might see some more rereads on the blog or on Goodreads (goodreads.com/pewterwolf if you want to friend/follow me!) in future. Sorry/not sorry in advance! 

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Audiobook Review - Piranesi

Oh yes. I audiobooked this. Actually, I preordered the audiobook to this a while ago and I kinda half forgot. But this title is a bit of a big deal. 

Before I give you all the info and affiliate links, let em explain quickly why. Susanna Clarke is the author who wrote Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, a monster of a book (1000ish pages) that main people have classed as a modern classic. I have tried to read it several times and it never really worked for me. That was fifteen years ago. Yes, FIFTEEN. Because of that, this (of course) is going to be a big deal. 

But is it worth the hype? 

Title And Author: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook

Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought

Length: 272 Pages or 6 Hours 58 Minutes

Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - WaterstonesAudible UK


Piranesi lives in the House. Maybe he always has. Maybe he hasn't... 

In his notebooks, Piranesi writes carefully about the wonders and mysteries of the House: its labyrinths of Halls, the thousands of statues, the clouds in the Upper Floors and the seas and tides in the Lower. He is alone, barring the fourteen Dead and, on Tuesdays and Fridays, he is visited by his only friend, the Other. But, for the most part, he is alone. 

But now, he's not so certain. Piranesi is sure there is someone else in the House. Someone who is writing messages in chalk for him. Someone he calls Sixteen and someone the Other calls a threat and a danger. 

But who is Sixteen? Who is the Other? Who is Piranesi?

Monday, 19 October 2020

Barking 'Bout Books Tag

I'VE BEEN TAGGED IN A BOOKISH TAG!!! I know... you think you guys would learn better by now. But no! I'M BACK! And it's all pet related. Ok, dog related, but I love dogs so this is fine! Yes, I own a cat (own is the wrong word for when you have a cat. I'm basically his servant and his b****), but I love my little ball of fur and pins. His name is Bagheera (yes, named after the panther in the Jungle Book) and he is, at this moment in time, on my bed, asleep. And I got him for my 30th birthday and he's, basically, my baby. 

So yeah... Oh! I was tagged by the creator of the tag, Erik from Breakeven Books! Am popping the video underneath, but am going to give you links to his YouTube, Twitter and his Blog. I discovered him randomly earlier in the COVID-19 lockdown (two/three months ago, I think. Maybe round the time Taylor Swift released folklore but I might be wrong. Erik?) and he reads and talks books that I go "OOOOH!" over (you know you've discovered a good bookTuber/blogger/etc when they talk about books and you sit up and pay attention). So, thank you Erik and I apologise for my bog-standard/very-typical-for-me answers! 

Oh well, let's get this party started!

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Audiobook Review - The Thursday Murder Club

You thought that this month, I was only going to be reading and talking spooky things? Oh please, October is when the nights are drawing in so, of course, crime and thrillers are going to be high on my TBR radar throughout October and possible November. 

So, let’s start with this, shall we? 

  • Title And Author: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook and eBook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof given by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review and Audiobook bought on Audible
  • Length: 400 Pages or 12 Hours 25 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible UK

In a small retirement village in Kent, four unlikely residents becomes friends and meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. But when a local property developer dies - bludgeon to death - Elizabeth, Ibrahim, Ron and Joyce find themselves in the middle of their first real case. 

All four might be in the late seventies, early eighties, but they have a few tricks up their sleeves and have seen life. Can they solve the crime and catch the killer before someone else ends up dead? And, if another person did turn up dead, are the Thursday Murder Club looking for one killer or two?

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Don't Walk Round The Stone Three Stones...

I know Halloween is a few weeks away, but I thought it would be fun to get us into the spooky spirit (see what I did there?) but putting something up on one of the spookiest days - the 13th. Ok, it's not Friday 13th, but cut me some slack! It's today or Friday 16th and that didn't have the same creepy factor to it...

But today, to get things all spooky, I am thrilled to welcome Danny Weston, author of the new ghostly horror novel, The Witching Stone!

For those who haven't heard of this, The Witching Stone follows Alfie who, after a messy break-up, goes away on holidays with his dad in the small village in the north of England.

There, he meets Mia, who tells him about the local superstition about a boulder in the local graveyard and its strange inscription. "If you walk three times around the stone and say 'I don't believe in witches,' Meg will come after you..."

Alfie, in a reckless attempt to impress, accepts the superstition as a challenge. He might come to regret that...

As you know, I am not much of a horror fan, but I do love a good ghost story so, while chatting to Graeme from UCLan Publishing, one of us mentioned something along the lines of "Danny could do a guest post about horror writing" (I can't remember exactly who. Sorry Graeme, but I suspect it was you) and the other went "Yes!". And then, forgot about it like I normally do, then Graeme emailed me this post and oh, it's good!

Now, before I hand you over to Danny talking g about his top tips, I just want to thank him for finding time to write this post for the Pewter Wolf! I, also, want to thank Graeme at UCLan for chatting to me and starting the book rolling! Now, I don't believe Danny is on social media, but if you want more info about The Witching Stone, you can check out UCLan Publishing or Book Depository!

Now, over to Danny to tell us his top 5 tips to writing horror!

Monday, 12 October 2020

Cane Warriors Extract Alert

I HAVE AN EXTRACT FOR YOU GUYS!!!

Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle follows Moa, who only knows the life of working on the Frontier sugar cane plantation in 1760s Jamaica. But Moa has learnt of an uprising, lead by the charistamic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, hoping to escape and help the fight for freedom of enslaved people in nearby plantations. But before he can do that, Moa and his friend, Keverton, must face their first task: they must kill their Overseer, Misser Donaldson... 

I'm hoping to read this in the coming few weeks as I have read a few pages and it's GOOD, and I can tell it's going to be powerful and gripping. So, when Robert from Andersen Press emailed and asked if I wanted to share a small extract from the book with you guys, I jumped at the chance (Thank you Rob)! 

Plus, this year and 2021 looks like it's going to be HUGE for Alex! Steve McQueen (yes, Steve ****ing McQueen!) has an episode of Small Axe, based on Alex's life. It will be aired on BBC One in earlier December (I believe 6th December) in the UK & Amazon Prime airing in the US a few days later. Not only that, Noel Clarke and his production company, Unstoppable, is adapting Alex's Crongton series for TV and Crongton Knights was adapted for theatres and was receiving huge praise (and then COVID happened and we all know how that and the Governments of the world is affecting the Art Industry...)

Now, before I give you the extract, just going to point you in directions of where you should go. If you want to say hi to Alex, you can go over to this website of alexwheatle.com or pop him a tweet at @brixtonbard! And if you want more info on Cane Warriors, pop over to Andersen Press or Book Depository. And, if those of you curious over Small Axe, I will pop the BBC trailer below and am putting the BBC Media Centre link here for more information:

Saturday, 10 October 2020

BBC National Short Story 2020 & BBC Young Writer Award 2020 Press Release

Bit late to the party as on mini-break but HERE NOW SO SHARING NOW!!! 



 SARAH HALL 
BECOMES FIRST WRITER TO WIN 
BBC NATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD TWICE 
www.bbc.co.uk/nssa #BBCNSSA #ShortStories

Four-time nominated Sarah Hall has won the fifteenth BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) for the second time with ‘The Grotesques’, a ‘timeless and unsettling story’ set against a backdrop of privilege and inequality in a university town. Exploring themes of powerlessness and privilege, dysfunctional mother-daughter relationships, covert control, identity and scapegoating, the judges praised Hall for her ‘extraordinary’, ‘layered’ and ‘masterful’ writing and cited her second time win as ‘recognition of her standing as the country’s foremost writer of short stories’.
The first double win in the Award’s history, the news was announced live on BBC Front Row this evening (Tuesday 6 October) by 2020 Chair of Judges Jonathan Freedland in a special programme celebrating 15 years of the Award. ‘The Grotesques’ is available to listen to on BBC Sounds and appears in Hall’s latest collection Sudden Traveller, published by Faber in 2019. Its titular story was also shortlisted for the Award in 2018.
  
Chair of Judges, journalist and author Jonathan Freedland commented:
“In perhaps the strongest field in the history of the BBC National Short Story Award, Sarah Hall’s story still stood out. A timeless, unsettling story rendered in exquisite prose, ‘The Grotesques’ yields more with each reading, offering layer upon layer of meaning. It is the work of a writer who is not only devotedly committed to the short story genre but, has become a master of it. Sarah Hall has now won this Award twice, recognition of her standing as this country’s foremost writer of short stories.”
Sarah Hall, winner of the 2020 BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University, said:
“I’m stunned to have won. No one expects to repeat a shortlisting, let alone be honoured with an award like this twice. It’s an incredible privilege and reward. And with this prize comes a tremendous amount of support for the form itself - from tenacious, passionate advocates at the BBC and Cambridge University, to expert judges, and the writers who continue to innovate, experiment and create astonishing, vital, questioning worlds within stories. We can see from this year’s shortlist the diversity and range showcased. In the hands of these writers, over only a few pages, so much is possible and words become utterly potent. It’s hard to turn a good story, it requires the compression and alchemy of so many aspects, ideas, details, experiences and observations. I truly love the form, its disproportionate power, disquiet and refractive metrics, its ability to stir the reader or listener, even, at best, to overturn our secure notions of who we are and what we believe. There are days when we are lost, when not much makes sense and answers to the vexing human question seem impossible. On those days nothing is as companionable as a short story. That goes for writing them too.”.

Twice nominated for the Man Booker Prize, Sarah Hall previously won the BBC NSSA award in 2013 for ‘Mrs Fox’. She was further shortlisted in 2010 and 2018. The award-winning author of five novels and three short-story collections, she was born in Cumbria and lives in Norwich. 

Di Speirs, Editor of Books at BBC Audio and judge of the Award since its launch said: 
“There are few writers who make even the shortlist more than once. In one way this reflects the wealth of talent writing in the UK; in another it shows how very hard it is to consistently write new original short fiction and make it different, entertaining, gripping, provocative, again and again. 15 years ago, we began this award hoping to reward the writers who - against the odds and fashion and publishers’ preference for a novel – not only persisted but revelled in taking up the particular challenges of short fiction. To keep writing really excellent short stories requires audacity, invention and practice. So I’m particularly delighted that, from a brilliant shortlist, Sarah Hall, a virtuoso in this field, sees her long service in the short story game recognised again.”

Hall beat stiff competition from an extremely strong shortlist that included established and new voices, comprised of: 26 year old British-Ghanaian writer and photographer Caleb Azumah Nelson whose eagerly anticipated debut novel Open Water is released in 2021; James Tait Black Prize winner Eley Williams; poet and newcomer Jack Houston and EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019 winner Jan Carson.  

This years’ judging panel was chaired by journalist and author Jonathan Freedland and included Commonwealth Prize winner Lucy Caldwell, who was shortlisted for both the 2012 and 2019 BBC NSSA; British-Nigerian writer Irenosen Okojie, a Betty Trask and Caine Prize winner; Edge Hill Prize shortlistee and Guardian short story columnist Chris Power; and returning judge Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Audio.

Established in 2005, the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University was originally established to highlight a literary genre regarded as undervalued and under threat. Its aim was to recognise and celebrate the very best writers of short fiction who had no prize equivalent to major literary awards like the Man Booker Prize. 15 years on, the short story is in robust health and the BBC National Short Story Award is recognised as the most prestigious for a single short story with the winning writer receiving £15,000 and the four shortlisted writers £600 each. 

Dr Midge Gillies, Academic Director, Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, said:
“Sarah Hall’s unsettling short story takes a good, hard look at power structures and inequalities – not just in the fascinating mother/daughter relationship at the heart of ‘The Grotesques’ – but in the wider associations between the homeless and the entitled in an ancient university city. As a second-time winner, Sarah Hall proves, again, how adept she is at introducing us to fascinating new characters and the strange worlds they inhabit.” 

Alongside the BBC NSSA, BBC Front Row also announced the sixth annual BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University, an award created to inspire and encourage the next generation of short story writers. Open to 13–18 year olds at the time of entry, it is a cross-network collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 1. The award was won by Lottie Mills, 19, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire for ‘The Changeling’. Lottie was previously shortlisted for the BBC YWA in 2018. Her story is also available on BBC Sounds.

Friday, 9 October 2020

The Hungry Ghost Blog Tour Alert

Blog tour time! And it's a review - I know! I know! I broke my own rule about doing reviews on blog tours. But when this book came on my radar, I was intrigued enough to go "Ok, just this once, I'm going to break my own rule as I am fairly certain I am going to like this!"

Hang on! Let me give you the vital information and I will get onto talking about Hungry Ghost

  • Title And Author: The Hungry Ghost by H.S. Norup
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof gifted by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/write-up
  • Length: 256 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones
Freja has just moved to Singapore to live with her father, her new stepmum Clementine and her baby step-brothers, and Freja is in freefall. She's guilty for her leaving her mum behind in Denmark, not sure how she'll fit in in her new, happy family nor her new home city. 

Plus, she's come during the seventh month, the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival. The festival where ghosts are said to come back and roam the streets and families must offer their ancestors offering to appease them. So, who is the mysterious girl with long black hair and dressed in white, seeming to beckon to her? And what secrets do both girls need to reveal to themselves before the festival is over?