I started reading Fiona Walker’s books very recently having been a huge fan of Jilly Cooper for years and hearing that Fiona Walker’s novels were similar. I was sceptical but I purchased French Relations, Well Groomed and Kiss and Tell and read them in order.
I absolutely loved them! I couldn’t believe I had found another author who could write such fabulous characters, gripping plots and rather naughty scenes. I loved the trilogy and therefore decided to read the Oddlode books, as some of the characters from them play a major role in Kiss and Tell, and I wanted to know more about them. I bought all four of them: Lots of Love, Tongue In Cheek, Four Play and Love Hunt. I read Lots of Love and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I have just finished this one, Tongue In Cheek, and I have to say I found it to be a fabulous book. I thought the characters were interesting and appealing. There was a very complicated and intricate central plot with various other plotlines cleverly interwoven and compelling. I couldn’t put the book down. In fact, all five of the Fiona Walker books that I have read so far have made me stay awake till the early hours, fighting sleep because I wanted to know what happened next.
I can’t wait to get started on the third of the quartet, Four Play. I do think that Tash and Hugo Beauchamp are my ultimate favourite characters, and of the five I have read Kiss and Tell is my favourite book. I would recommend them to anyone. A great read, bursting with drama, romance, humour, sex and horses. What more could anyone want? And coming from a confirmed Jilly Cooper fan, that’s saying something!
Buy Tongue in Cheek here
Some time ago I read Roz Morris’s first Nail Your Novel book, (Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence)which gives advice on what to do with a first draft and how to work on it so that you don’t end up hurling the dratted thing into the shredder and taking up crochet instead.
It so impressed me with its step-by-step guide and common sense that when I saw the author had published this follow up I bought it without even reading the blurb.
Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters To Life is another gem of a book from Roz. Easy to read and broken down into manageable sections it helps you to create believable characters who won’t just be names on the paper. She carefully steers you away from identikit characters who all sound alike in spite of their different ages, cultures and backgrounds and uses examples from well known novels to help demonstrate successful characterization. She shows you how to create believable dialogue and provides a highly useful toolbox to equip you with all you need to know to engage your readers and make them eager to read on.
Not only does she deal with the protagonists, but she also helps you to think about the secondary characters and shows how to create a whole cast that will ring true and ensure that your main characters are not existing in solitary confinement. Heroes and heroines that are not too heroic, villains that are not too villainous, avoiding the stereotype and cliche, the importance of realistic dialogue, all these and much more are covered in this fabulous book, and it’s all written in an easy to understand language that doesn’t make you clutch your forehead and reconsider the crochet.
An essential reference for the would-be writer, I would recommend it without hesitation. Make sure you get the first book, too, if you haven’t already. You need never look at a crochet hook again. 5/5
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Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life
I’ve never read a Stephen King novel, although it turns out I have seen some films and tv programmes based on them – I never knew he wrote The Green Mile, for instance.
I bought this book because everyone seems to recommend it as a great read for would-be writers. I admit, I wasn’t convinced, fearing it would be pretty dull for someone who wasn’t a fan. Well, I was wrong.
This book is incredibly easy to read. The writing style is so easy and flows so well that you just don’t want to put it down. The book is divided into different parts – one part is about his life and the other about writing. At the end is a separate part which deals with an horrific accident that the author was in and about his recovery and return to writing after fearing he had lost the ability for good.
I didn’t think I would be interested in his life story at all but I am not the sort of person who can skip half a book so I was forced to start at the beginning, and I’m very glad I did. He doesn’t go into massive detail about his life – this isn’t an autobiography. What it is a collection of memories about his childhood and beyond which had an impact on his later career. He recounts these memories in a really interesting way and it’s certainly no chore to read them. On the contrary, they are fascinating and amusing and poignant, and a delight to read.
The writing section is fascinating. One of his tips is to forget about plotting and just go with the story…see where it takes you. As someone who has plotted to within an inch of her life and found myself struggling with feeling stale as a result, I found this a very interesting tip. I am now trying it and feeling happier than I have for a long time with the writing process.
I can see why this book is recommended over and over again and I would add my recommendation to the growing pile. Much more than a “how-to” book, it may even convert me to reading some of his novels! 5/5
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Where to start with this review? I have read several of Carole’s books and have enjoyed every single one of them. She really is a truly gifted writer, able to draw the reader into the story, creating interesting and appealing characters and absorbing stories that can’t fail to entertain. A Cottage by the Sea has her usual mix of personalities and situations, but there was something more to this novel somehow that made it stand out from the other Carole Matthews’ novels I have read.
The story is about a holiday in the charmingly named Cwtch Cottage on the Pembrokeshire coast, owned by artist Ella who lives with her band manager husband, Art. She has invited her long-term friends, Grace and Flick, to stay. Grace is the narrator of the story – a reluctant accountant, always trying to be the nice one, the understanding one, the good one. Grace is married to Harry but the marriage is in serious trouble, with Harry’s drinking becoming a real problem. Lovely Ella is the artistic earth mother of the group, desperate to make Cwtch Cottage her permanent home, struggling with a husband who doesn’t want to grow up and would rather be on the road with his bands or living the high life in London. Flick is the glamorous, wild child of the trio. She has had a troubled past and lots of “man problems” but she is determined to put all that behind her and settle down, and the man she has chosen to do that with is Noah. The minute Grace and Noah meet, sparks fly, and the relaxing holiday by the sea that was planned turns into something completely different.
This book has everything. There is a fabulous setting which is beautifully described, some wonderful set pieces, an interesting insight into coasteering, and lots of humour. But the thing that stands out is the characterisation. We see a true friendship between these three women who have been through so much together, and the way that their partnerships with men affect the dynamic of the group and how the friendship affects the relationships with their partners. There is an almost aching sadness in the description of a marriage teetering on the brink, the despair felt by Grace as she tries desperately to make it work and keeps hoping that things will be all right in the end, and the sickening disappointment of repeated let-downs. Her confusion and fear is palpable in the writing, and the reader can only sympathise with her as she endures one of the most painful processes in life.
Although it’s not difficult to guess what is going on in the background and the eventual outcome of the story, nevertheless the journey that the reader goes on with these three lovely women is a fascinating and emotionally satisfying one. It’s the sort of book that you close reluctantly, yet with a contented sigh, knowing all is well and everything is just as it should be. I really loved it and felt enriched by reading it. 5/5
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A Cottage by the Sea