Book Review

Book Review: THE NIGHT LAWYER by Alex Churchill

Before I wanted to be an editor, I thought about pursuing a career in the law. Funny, no? However, my poor memory and terror of public speaking put paid to that quite quickly. But, if you think about it, the jobs aren’t that different. Now apologies to my lawyer friends if this is totally reductive, but if you think about it, really, all lawyers are just story tellers. Both the defence and prosecution are given the same building blocks – the facts – but it is their job to weave these together to present their client’s side, their narrative, their story, to win the case.

This is what fascinates me about legal thrillers and why I love to read John Grisham and Steve Cavanagh. But also why I devoured the debut novel by barrister Alex Churchill, THE NIGHT LAWYER.

Sophie Angel is the night lawyer. Once a week, she’s the one who decides what the papers can and can’t say. [A concept I am very familiar with after my time in house, when I spent many hours running up and down the stairs to the legal team to check our celeb autobiographies were on the right side of sensation and libel!] During the day, she’s a barrister. She struggles for justice in a system that’s close to collapse, where she confronts the most dangerous aspects of humanity. Her life changes when a wealthy Russian offers her the biggest case of her career, a rape trial with a seemingly innocent client. But is someone manipulating Sophie from the shadows or is the danger much closer to home?

I thoroughly enjoyed this well-plotted legal thriller. Sophie is a complex character in a cut-throat world. But not only is THE NIGHT LAWYER a great story, it also highlights a legal system overworked and under strain. I do hope there are more adventures from Sophie to come.

THE NIGHT LAWYER is available now as a paperback and ebook

Book Review, What Does an Editor Do?, Writing Tips and Tricks

A Handy Guide to Publishing Your Manuscript: LET’S GET PUBLISHED by Val Penny – Book Review

It’s safe to say that to new writers and authors, once you leave the seclusion of your writing desk, the world of PUBLISHING is a little daunting? There is so much jargon, so many processes, ways to do things, ways not to do things, that it can all be a bit much! When I first joined the industry, I was a little flummoxed too. I loved books more than anything, but I didn’t understand a think about how a book was actually made.

Continue reading “A Handy Guide to Publishing Your Manuscript: LET’S GET PUBLISHED by Val Penny – Book Review”
Book Review, crime reading month

Crime and Thriller Month: The single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors and writers

The single most important piece of advice I can give an author is to READ. Step into the mind of your customer – your readers! – and devour as much as you can. What do you like as a reader? What don’t you like? Which characters make you smile, frown? Which characters are you compelled to read on about even though you don’t like them? What plots have been done to death? What plots can you do differently? What books are winning prizes, what books are flying off shelves – and a lot of the time they aren’t the same!

Researching your reader isn’t just for the marketers, but for the author too – and if you’re an indie author, you’ll be wearing both hats anyway! – as knowledge of the market is invaluable.
Not only will you find out about your fellow authors and your readers, you’ll also find ouy so much about yourself as a writer.

So why wait to start your education? I have the perfect thriller to kick you off!

Continue reading “Crime and Thriller Month: The single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors and writers”
Book Review

Book Review: RULES FOR MURDER by Peter Swanson – a crime-fiction lover’s dream!

One of the benefits of lockdown has meant that on my days off, I have actually had a chance to read. Before, me and the boyfriend would head off somewhere to make the most of our time in Australia, but arriving back home just in time for a pandemic has freed up the diary somewhat.

The latest in my library has been EIGHT PERFECT MURDERS (or RULES FOR MURDER in the UK) by Peter Swanson.

What’s not to love for the crime and mystery book editor reading a crime and mystery thriller about a crime and mystery bookseller? The premise is clever and this twists unexpected. It’s compelling reading with a narrator that so draws you in that you can’t help but turn the page. Dark, literary and genius.

My only bugbear is that the narrator does give away the plots and twists to some classic mystery novels – not all of which I have got round to reading. You have been warned. But I guess it just tells me I have homework to do.

I’ll definitely be looking for more from this author and would recommend to my crime-fiction-loving pals and authors! Plus (at the time of writing) it’s 99p on UK Kindle!

Thank you to the publisher and author for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review, Meet the Editor, Uncategorized

Merry Christmas!

It is already 25 December 2019 here in Australia. This year, Christmas feels a little different as we’ll be celebrating in the sunshine of Adelaide’s summer. I seem to have a mental block over this, with the warm weather and festive spirit not really computing. To be honest, I don’t feel Christmassy – even though I really want to! I’m sure eating my weight in mince pies this evening will sort that out in no time. However, what is also different is that because my boyfriend is working throughout the day, I’ll also be working at my desk too – maybe with a Celebrations tin to ease the pain. However, it will feel weird knowing that my family and friends are on the other side of the planet celebrating without me.

Now as I pack away the world’s smallest violin, I am aware that I have it comparitively easy. There will be many people who will be spending their Christmas not munching on far too much food and other indulgences, but will be busy looking after us. I’m talking about our emergency service workers. I say this every year because it is a cause close to my heart but it feels especially potent this year with our adoptive country battling some of the worst wildfires on record. There will be those actively fighting the blazes, those treating the injured as well as those helping those affected get to safety.

But also back home, the emergency services will still be up and running, helping those affected by the flooding that is hitting the country at the moment but also dealing with the accidents, mishaps and emergencies that the festive period can bring. With the NHS in particular being a much talked about topic at the moment (no politics – it’s Christmas), it’s just as important to acknowledge the fundamental role that our healthcare and emergency services do during the holiday season and not take it for granted.

So what I’m trying to say is whilst you’re eating your Christmas turkey or your Christmas barbeque, extend a thought to the lifeblood of our emergency services, ensuring we’re safe this Christmas.

One way I’ve been doing this is reading Adam Kay’s – author of the downright amazing This is Going to Hurt – new book, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas. It’s another hilarious and heartbreaking account of life on the wards of the NHS, but all based around the Christmas shifts that Kay seemed to have the bad luck to draw almost every year in his medical career! A short but entertaining read, it reminds us of those at the frontline of the emergency services, but Kay’s unbridled wit can’t fail to bring some festive cheer!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Rebecca x

(Thanks to my other half for posing for this photograph before his Christmas shift!)
Book Review, Meet the Editor

Book Review: Going Under – Sonia Henry

IMG_6034One of my – nay – my *favourite* book of recent years, and perhaps of all time, is Adam Kay’s THIS IS GOING TO HURT, a humorous and heartbreaking account of the life of a doctor on the NHS. It details, in no uncertain terms, why doctors are leaving a seemingly crumbling yet pivotal organisation because of a system that seems to have a finger permanently on a self-destruct button, running itself but more importantly its medical staff into the ground. (But I shall not talk politics here…)

It’s one of the reasons I’m in Australia at this very moment, having come out with my medic boyfriend, who is taking some time out before his specialist training back in the NHS, to experience life in the medical profession down under. So, it is with interest that I picked up Sonia Henry’s GOING UNDER, which I assumed to be an Australian version.

And although unexpectedly written in the format of the novel, I would say that Henry is saying much the same thing. Medics are seen – and treated – as superhuman, not just on the NHS, but across the world. But they simply aren’t. And although there are moments of recognition and hilarity – reading out loud brilliant anecdotes from Dr Kitty’s hectic life as an intern at Holy Innocents hospital to my boyfriend – it highlights a real issue. The pressures of a profession that not only asks of its members to hold the very life of their patients in their hands, but also juggle the circus of professional development, hospital politics, endless exams and abuse, all whilst running solely on caffeine, a crust of a sandwich eaten twelve hours ago and a running total of about five hours sleep that week, can unsurprisingly be too much. Adam Kay felt he had to leave a profession he worked so hard to enter and Sonia Henry’s whistleblower article a few years ago about the number of suicides in junior doctors is testament to this.

Saying all this, those going into medicine know it isn’t going to be a walk in the park, but in the darkest moments, 3 a.m. on a night shift, where it seems that every patient is crashing, you’re the only doctor on the ward and you’ve had no sleep, just having someone ask if you’re okay, or the smallest of kind words or gestures is enough to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I’m not a medic myself, I can’t speak for the medical colleagues out there, but as a member of the public, I have never seen the point of those who think shouting or abusing our healthcare staff is going to help. Admittedly, when you’re in a hospital A&E department at 3 a.m. in the morning as a patient, the situation isn’t likely to be good for you either, but perhaps taking a moment to think about those who are toiling to look after you wouldn’t hurt (and if it does, you’re probably in a lot of pain anyway to be in A&E at that time of night!)

As a book, Henry’s novel is both a hilarious example of contemporary fiction with a strong heroine and a brilliant supporting cast, but it’s also an eye-opening expose at what life in our hospitals is really like. The writing is fun and quick-witted, making it an easy read to begin with but as the harsh reality starts to hit, the tone changes and I found myself moved by the events of the novel. But the thing is, this may be fictionalised, but, for many, it is real life. Although not quite as broadly appealing as THIS IS GOING TO HURT – my boyfriend started to read GOING UNDER, intrigued by the subject but then put-off a little bit by the slightly women’s fiction vibe – this is well worth a read.

This issue is personal to me, having two medics in my family who I have seen struggle with the strains of the profession, so I apologise for waffling on, but also revoke that apology because it needs to be talked about and it needs to be discussed.

In my opinion, not all heroes wear capes – sometimes they wear scrubs.

Book Review

Book Review: THE TRICK TO TIME by Kit de Waal

image-6Kit De Waal’s THE TRICK TO TIME is an exploration of life, love and loyalty. We meet Mona, an older woman who runs a doll shop in a coastal town in the UK. She is dedicated to her work, showing love, care and attention to the dolls, helping others through her work. However, we learn that part of this springs from a tragic incident that happened when she was young and newly arrived in Birmingham from her native London. The trick of time for Mona is how fast and slow is passes, how her life has been concertinaed by tragedy, so much so that she doesn’t know where her life has gone.

De Waal has written a gorgeous character in Mona, complex and also incredibly likeable. I found her unrelenting loyalty in the face of tragedy endearing but I also wanted her to break free, cheering her on from the sidelines. This made me feel confused about the ending, struggling with myself as to whether it was the conclusion I wanted or the one that Mona deserved.

THE TRICK TO TIME is an enjoyable and thought-provoking read, where our outlooks on time, reminiscing, living in the moment and day-dreaming about the future all swirl together into that beautiful and yet cruel whirligig of time. It is a novel that causes you to value what is important in life, as we just don’t realise how fragile the present is.

Thank you to the author and publisher for this free copy in exchange for a review.