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Friday, 10 November 2017

Looking back.JAPAN

It seems to me that looking back can be a pain or a joy.

 Fortunately I've been enjoying looking at my Japanese photographs, finally found after much crossness and panic - nearly a year of searching, Years of enjoying non-tourist festivals and religious events I recorded carefully and had some good pictures. It was a disaster not to have them.

Here are four from a charming Snake Matsuri a re-enactment of a tale of the snake and the maiden.





Monday, 16 October 2017




Autumn in Canada is beautiful, just wish my camera picked up the colours more. Still it's been a great working holiday. And thinking of work it's been fun watching the ebooks sale online.Both Tizzie and Bittersweet soared into the top 100s lists which boosted PR from Amazon and so boosted sales again.

Seems to me though that the problem is maintaining those levels between sales without advertising in readers' newsletters.

Ah well. I'm learning.



READERS PLEASE NOTE:

only two days left of the sale, Monday 16th and Tuesday October 17th. My novels in ebook form: 'Jacob's Justice', 'Tizzie', and 'Bittersweet', will be on sale for 99 pence or cents at Amazon and Smashwords. Print copies will also be on sale at Amazon.com and .co.uk.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

That Indian Trip

It's nearly a year since that marvellous trip to India and I still haven't sorted out the notes and photographs to made a report for myself and the blog. but I do have fun remembering as I look at the photos. Here are some favourites plus memories:


Our home hosts in Kolkata, the lovely Dawars, enjoyed giving us delicious local Indian food in the local regional recipes. I still make their carrot 'porridge' for breakfast.

It seems to me I have to return. I loved India.

READERS PLEASE NOTE:
1 a.m. Wednesday 11th of October to 1 a.m. Tuesday October 17th all my novels in ebook form: 'Jacob's Justice', 'Tizzie', and 'Bittersweet', will be on sale for 99 pence or cents at Amazon and Smashwords and https://coverblurb.com plus various other book site. Print copies will also be on sale at Amazon.com and .co.uk,

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Life moves on....?

September vanished in a flurry of trips and the new novel setting in to its stride. The series of short stories has been out with editors for weeks. The competition stories are safely posted. So September should have been a good month for writing. Instead it's been on to one aircraft, off, then on again.

Australia was destination two, a conference - the Historical Novel Society - and family time. Canada has been and still is destination three. More writing work and talk! I do enjoy conferences even if the flight is 18 hours!

But the first destination was a place of such outstanding peace and soul soothing that I will have to make a yearly trip. I cruised Doubtful Sound in a charming river boat and we glided down that fiord in blissful peace. On the last day we sat for ten mins without engine on, dynamo pumping or cameras clicking and heard the birds singing at us. It had been quiet even with those noises, without them it was a silence you could feel and touch. I sat on deck on the last evening and my new novel, which was off to a bumpy start, simply fell out of the pen and onto the paper.

We all need such places to recharge ourselves. I am still carrying a little kernel of peace within myself and it's a good feeling.



READERS PLEASE NOTE:
1 a.m. Wednesday 11th of October to 1 a.m. Tuesday October 17th all my novels in ebook form: 'Jacob's Justice', 'Tizzie', and 'Bittersweet', will be on sale for 99 pence or cents at Amazon and Smashwords and https://coverblurb.com plus various other book site. Print copies will also be on sale at Amazon.com and .co.uk,

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Book Sale coming up!



READERS PLEASE NOTE:

1 a.m. Wednesday 11th of October to 1 a.m. Tuesday October 17th all my novels in ebook form: 'Jacob's Justice', 'Tizzie', and 'Bittersweet', will be on sale for 99 pence or cents at Amazon and Smashwords and https://coverblurb.com plus various other book site. Print copies will also be on sale at Amazon.com and .co.uk,

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Peace on earth?

It seems to me we have dropped through a wormhole and are back in the mid-twentieth century. We have two nuclear nations snarling and threatening, only this time we don't have shelters and nuclear attack practices.

I grew up under the shadow of  The Bomb! And it was a shadow which reached over all our lives even though we tried hard not to let it darken each day. It did though. An unexpected siren, an out of routine flight by the air force, the Cuba Crisis, we lived with that fear of annihilation. We were scarred by it and those of us who waved placards saying Ban the Bomb and started verbally violent arguments against nuclear weapons had a hard time but we finally did get an anti-nuclear weapons world. Or so we thought.

When will we ever learn! Seems to me we need the folk song army back with all those pointed songs against nuclear weapons. But do we have the time? I hope and pray we do.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

A p.d.r. lindsay interview.



Hi, just wanted to let you know that your author interview is live. Thanks for taking part! As an added bonus, we’re also including a bonus offer for all authors.


Thanks for taking part!

Ben Jackson Author
www.indiepublishinggroup.com/

Review: 'Almost English' by Charlotte Mendelson

Almost EnglishAlmost English by Charlotte Mendelson




Shortlisted this novel may have been for the Orange prize, but it has been a warning to me as a writer. A warning that characters must be people readers like, empathise with, and so are willing to suspend disbelief and read on, wanting to know what happens to them.

I did my best to finish the book but gave up. Oh nothing wrong with the writing, Ms Mendelson is a skillful writer, she has a way with words and creates vivid settings. BUT her two MC women characters drove me nuts! I could not believe in a 17 year old student, Marina, aiming for Cambridge, so must have some brains, who is so bloody stupid that she believes a boy, a senior student at her school, who does not know her from Eve, but she has a crush on, will turn up at her home in London. He doesn't even live in London!

As for her wet, vacillating drip of a mother! Oh dear! Laura I found weak and just plain pathetic. The kind of person it is kindly said of that 'they do not know when to come in out of the rain.'

The London home, a flat belonging to the in-laws, is a vivid setting. Those Hungarian in-laws are larger than life characters and nicely 3D and comic, but the main characters...! Ah me! How can I empathsise with a woman who has remained living squeezed in to her in-laws' flat on a sofa bed because her husband disappeared some years ago. Her poor daughter she neglects and the pair of them droop and drip whilst their Hungarian in-laws stampede through life.

I am sure there will be lots of readers who roar with laughter as they read the novel and regard it as a literary 'Bridget Jone's Diary', another book I found unreadable. But I am sorry, I cannot feel for those MCs and the book is wasted on me.





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Monday, 17 July 2017

Blog Interviews: Prakash Vir Sharma

Seems to me there are a lot of places for Indie authors to link up and chat to each other.
Prakash is just one of many Indie authors supporting Indies with cheerful interviews and  opportunities to talk about their books.

Prakash Vir Sharma 

https://pvsharmablog.wordpress.com/author-spotlight/


Friday, 14 July 2017

Review: novel: The Unknown Ajax

The Unknown AjaxThe Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It's a shame that the younger readers, who were not alive to read a Georgette Heyer hot of the press after it had been serialised in the Ladies Home Journal and had to be specially ordered, have no idea that Ms Heyer created the genre. No one else had set popular fiction in the Regency period and her Regency novels burst on the scene as original, new and delightful.

Ms Heyer researched the period carefully, collected volumes of contemporary letters, diaries, journals and official documents to get the 'feel' of the language. She studied the etiquette and customs, visited many of the places popular during the Regency and studied the political and social history. She did not have the internet to go to for a quick fix - thank goodness!- and her novels were not silly, sexually titivating, frothy pap. Her Regency novels ranged from pure romance to mysteries and adventures and they also gave the reader 'real' 3D characters set in detailed, socially correct backgrounds and allowed the reader to gain an understanding of what life was like for a range of people. Her knowledge shines through so that she could write with authority and make a social commentary. ('Arabella' is a good example of this.)

'The Unknown Ajax' is a favourite of mine because the Ajax is such a delightful creation and he makes me laugh. This is one of the mystery romance plots, with smugglers thrown in to boot. We begin with the family, the Darracotts, waiting the arrival of the new heir. This man, Hugo Darracott, is a man spurned by his grandfather, the current head of the family, because his father married a Yorkshire 'weaver's brat'. Major Hugo arrives because he has been summoned to find the entire family expect him to eat peas off his knife and sleep on the floor. He cannot resist pulling their legs and begins to speak broad Yorkshire and lead them on. It's a great plot, well written and told and of course the Ajax comes off best.

If readers have only read the modern Regency novels they will find Ms Heyer's books a much more demanding and intelligent read. But if they love the historical period then they really should read the writer who began it all and who writes much more accurate, historical and socially correct novels.









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Review: non-fiction 'Rise of the Rocket Girls' by Nathalia Holt

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to MarsRise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Loved the film, but this book is better because we get all the 'girls' and their stories from the earliest days as human calculators right up to rocket launch.

Author Nathalia Holt allows these women to tell their stories about how they were the mathematical people who worked out the details without which missiles and rockets could not have flown. They were calculators when machines to calculate hard barely been invented. With slide rule and log tables these women used their brains to work out the formulas needed to fly a rocket or missile.

Having faced the same problem as these women did: where do bright girls go if they don't want to be a teacher a nurse or a secretary? I chuckled at the book group's younger members asking 'Did that really happen? Even if you had been to university?' Yes it did, and women are still restricted in how far they can get career wise. These women wanted to use their mathematical and scientific skills and were able to by luck and being in the right place at the right time. How many women missed opportunities to fulfill their abilities because of those entrenched attitudes?

Well worth a read, and a good book for young women who might just grow up to be scientists and mathematicians.



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Review: The Keeper of Lost Thing by Ruth Hogan

The Keeper of Lost ThingsThe Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Ruth Hogan has produced a charming, pleasant read based round an unusual and original idea. Her hero is an old man, Anthony Peardew, who lost his love just before their wedding and he also lost her special gift to him. Devoted all his life to her he also devotes a lot of time to finding things, labelling them and saving them in the hope that they will find their owners and he might find her gift, a medal.

His housekeeper, Laura is a lost soul who loves his house and he leaves her it and the lost things which she has to return. Running parallel with this story is the tale of Bomber the publisher and his assistant and their lost things which are neatly dovetailed back into the main story at the end.

If you want a delightful read to give you sweet dreams this novel is a good choice for bedtime reading. It's well written, the characters are a treat, and the plot might be a bit of a romance but is not a cliche.



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Review 'H is for Hawk' by Helen Macdonald

H is for HawkH is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald




This was a prize winning non-fiction or perhaps faction work. The writing was literary, elegant and a little self indulgent at times. The author is training a hawk, a goshawk, trying to recover from the shock of her father's sudden death, and trying to sort out her life.

The method of telling her story is to look at T H White's life and his book, The Goshawk and talk, discuss and compare her training of her goshawk with his. I found this annoying at times. It seemed that Helen Macdonald had to trash White and his work in order to justify hers. And I did find the hand wringing and wailing about her depression and agony of grief rather self indulgent. A little less of it and perhaps this (and maybe other readers) would have felt more sympathy.

Oh it's a fine piece of writing and worthy of the Samuel Johnson prize but I think even Johnson might have barked 'Enough self analysis and agonising.' at times!



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Friday, 7 July 2017

Review YA novel 'Realms of the Gods'

The Realms of the Gods (Immortals, #4)The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This YA novel is the last in a four part series about Daine and her magical gift with animals.
The whole series is well worth reading and lovers of magical fantasy will enjoy them. Tamora Pierce writes with good sense, creates likeable characters, has an exciting plot and her monsters and villains are shudderingly nasty. There's a bit of a moral too, but well hidden. If you are kind and thoughtful and work hard against prejudice and intolerance you will win out in the end. Readers learn this by watching Daine grow and change through the challenges she faces.

In this novel Daine and her magician tutor Numair Salmalin go to fight some extraordinary monsters called skinners and find themselves swept up, through the power of Diane's mother and father, into the realm of the gods. How they get out and back to help their King, Queen and country is a great story and one to enjoy.



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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Seems to me that Writer's Choice Writers are having another good year.

Writer's Choice is popping the champagne corks again. We have done this every year of our existence and this year we are celebrating G.J. Berger's success.

Yet again we have a winner. This is our fourth year and G.J. Berger's 'Four Nails' has won the 2016-17 San Diego Historical Fiction Award. Brilliant work, Mr Berger. 'Four Nails' is a great read. And G.J. Berger won the same award in 2012-13 for his first novel, 'South of Burnt Rocks, West of the Moon'. Congratulations for giving Writer's Choice another award. We have had competition successes every year of our four years' existence, and whether it says something about idiots in traditional publishing, or the value of group support and encouragement of co-operative Indie publishing perhaps doesn't matter. What does matter is that a darn good book earned its reward.

 Seems to me we are doing something right if our members continue to garner such awards. All that editing and encouraging, beta reading and suggesting help to make good stories great. We are so proud of G.J. Berger and hope his sales reflect this new success

Review of Alexander McCall Smith's Isabelle Dalhousie series

A Distant View of Everything (Isabel Dalhousie #11)A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


These novels are a great series. Each novel is a comfortable, thoughtful read but this is not the series of novels for those wanting a great adventure and fast pace story. Isabelle is a philosopher and whilst she has interesting, often complicate, human problems to solve she is not dodging death or hunting villains. She is mulling over the problems we all meet and have to deal with. Each book in the series also looks at one particular quality that we need to live well and decently with each other. Basics like kindness, honesty, tolerance, not being judgemental are examined and discussed. It's philosophy for non-philosophers by the clever Mr McCall Smith who is a philosopher.

McCall Smith is a good writer so his characters and their lives are 3D, and entertaining. Isabelle, her family and friends become the readers' friends throughout the series. The fact that Edinburgh is a character only adds to the appeal of the novels.

Readers who like to think, like a pleasant read, and want to feel optimistic about the future of the human race will enjoy every one of the novels. They are a special read.



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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Refview of 'The good People' by Hannah Kent

The Good PeopleThe Good People by Hannah Kent




Historical writers seem to fall into camps. There's the Kings and Queens lot, the Use famous people lot, the Ancient Chivalry lot, the Let's Use Obscure History lot, and the Rub The Reader's Nose In It lot. I think I sadly have to put Hannah Kent in the last lot.

They are the authors who can't see a road without making it dusty, rutted and full of pitfalls to lame horses or people -summer - or muddy - winter - full of muck and mess, filth, ordure, robbers and nastiness. Houses are always tumbling down, half ruined or shacks, and filthy. Towns always stink, every street is a running sewer and slops are thrown from every window. People are toothless/tooth rotten, dirty, flea and lice infested, pock marked and nasty. I can't work out whether it's a way for the author to say 'Look at the poor beggars aren't we lucky?' or a superior attitude to the past, a 'We are so much better than they are' nose in the air.

Having heard Hannah Kent speak lovingly about her research, her writing and this novel I hope she really isn't one of the above authors. She doesn't sound grim and grey when she talks about her characters, but perhaps she wants so much to show how badly treated the women are in her books that she underlines the muck, mess, filth and nastiness without giving the reader the occasional touch of lightness needed.

I really struggled to finish 'The Good People'. It’s a great plot idea, the changeling child and superstitions about the Others, the little people, but the story became a hard grind through the machinations of nasty people, ignorant people, and just plain stupid people. That lives in Ireland in the 19thC were hard and depressing, especially for the poor, I know, but even the hardest ground down person can hear a bird sing, see a wild flower, enjoy the sun breaking through clouds. It was the relentless nastiness of everything that got me. Every description seemed to be of stench and dirt and even the cow stank. Well, they do but it's not unpleasant, it's just cow!

Hannah Kent can write and does write well. She cares about her characters and her stories. Her research is thorough and interwoven well through the fabric of her tale. She has a lot to say about women's roles in history and today but her books are a hard read and perhaps just too dark and depressing for some readers.







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Spread the Good News!

Writer's Choice is popping the champagne corks again. We have done this every year of our existence and this year we are celebrating G.J. Berger's success.

Yet again we have a winner. This is our fourth year and G.J. Berger's 'Four Nails' has won the 2016-17 San Diego Historical Fiction Award. Brilliant work, Mr Berger. Congratulations for giving Writer's Choice another award. We have had competition successes every year of our four years' existence, and whether it says something about idiots in traditional publishing, or the value of group support and encouragement of co-operative Indie publishing perhaps doesn't matter. What does matter is that a darn good book earned its reward.

 Seems to me we are doing something right if our members continue to garner such awards. All that editing and encouraging, beta reading and suggesting help to make good stories great. We are so proud of G.J. Berger and hope his sales reflect this new success

Review of The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain


The Secret Lives of the Amir SistersThe Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This delightful heart-warming story involves four sisters in an English village where they are the only Muslims and the only migrants from Bangladesh.

Bubblee wants to be an artist and lives in a flat in London. Mum an Dad do not approve. Mae is still at school and runs around filming everyone for her social media blogs, and Youtube. Farah, happily married just wants a baby. Fatima is desperate to pass her driving test and become a person in her own right and not just mum's best helper.

When Farah's husband is badly injured in a car crash the cracks split open and the sisters have to work their way to understanding each other and their family.

A well written amusing story written by a sympathetic author who makes her original characters 3D and lovable. A most pleasant and enjoyable read.



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Review of 'Burial Rites' by Hannah Kent

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent




This novel is a hard read. It is unrelentingly grim and grey. Is Iceland as hard and cruel? Was it, in the 19thC, such a dirty, mud infested, filthy place? Were people so cruel to servants? I don't know, but it doesn't seem to be the land of Viking heroes in this novel, more nasty minded miserable curs.

The story is a stunner, based on a real event and one where no one is sure what happened except that the maid was executed. This gives author, Hannah Kent, plenty of scope for her vivid writing style and tight terse prose.

Oh,the book is worth reading, for shock value alone, never mind the actual characters. The part religion plays is as depressing as ever and you need a strong stomach at times. But I wished for moments when the clouds broke through and there was a shaft of light, a lightening moment. Hannah Kent has done her research and she speaks well about the background to the book, even making her audience laugh. I just wish some of that lightness could have been injected in the story.

Without doubt a book to read, to think about and ponder over human cruelty and people's inhumanity.



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Three Cheers!

Writer's Choice is popping the champagne corks again. We have done this every year of our existence and this year we are celebrating G.J. Berger's success.

Yet again we have a winner. This is our fourth year and G.J. Berger's 'Four Nails' has won the 2016-17 San Diego Historical Fiction Award. Brilliant work, Mr Berger. Congratulations for giving Writer's Choice another award. We have had competition successes every year of our four years' existence, and whether it says something about idiots in traditional publishing, or the value of group support and encouragement of co-operative Indie publishing perhaps doesn't matter. What does matter is that a darn good book earned its reward.

 Seems to me we are doing something right if our members continue to garner such awards. All that editing and encouraging, beta reading and suggesting help to make good stories great. We are so proud of G.J. Berger and hope his sales reflect this new success

Review Convergence by C J Cherryh

Convergence (Foreigner, #18)Convergence by C.J. Cherryh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I love writers who make me think. This series of C.J. Cherryh's could so well apply to our migrant problems today and how to and how not to deal with influxes of different cultures. I looked forward to book 18 in the series and chuckled when I read reviews whilst waiting for my copy to arrive. The hard core SF, Bang you're dead, Chase the baddies fans were complaining about too much politics and not enough action.

Well, fans, the title tells it all. Bren's role now is to see to the convergence of knowledge of the languages and scientific, technological and cultural heritage of three different groups of humans, the planet's native peoples and the strangers they met in space. He has to drag the group of Mospheiran humans into the current century and stop them living by 200 year old rules of cultural interchange and resettle the humans who were rescued from a space station.

Bren is sent, with his faithful four ashid, to sort out the humans on Mospheira. He does so as a Court official of the Atevi. Naturally he has to face complaints but generally he has a smooth ride thanks to the president being a realistic humane individual and old friend.

Back on the mainland the young heir sets off on his first official visit and lands himself in a situation where he might be able to solve one of his father's problems.

It has been fun travelling with Bren through the novels, watching him grow older and wiser and this novel is a satisfying tying up of loose ends and political snarls, getting ready for all the new problems which are about to arrive. Cherryh has given us clues, I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next.




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Something to Celebrate

Writer's Choice is popping the champagne corks again. We have done this every year of our existence and this year we are celebrating G.J. Berger's success.

Yet again we have a winner. This is our fourth year and G.J. Berger's 'Four Nails' has won the 2016-17 San Diego Historical Fiction Award. Brilliant work, Mr Berger. Congratulations for giving Writer's Choice another award. We have had competition successes every year of our four years' existence, and whether it says something about idiots in traditional publishing, or the value of group support and encouragement of co-operative Indie publishing perhaps doesn't matter. What does matter is that a darn good book earned its reward.

 Seems to me we are doing something right if our members continue to garner such awards. All that editing and encouraging, beta reading and suggesting help to make good stories great. We are so proud of G.J. Berger and hope his sales reflect this new success.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Review of my novel, 'Bittersweet'.

Bittersweet was truly a fantastic read, thank you immensely for the opportunity to review it! Below is the review itself and it will be up on the website shortly, let me know what you think.
-Best Regards, David @benefry
and www. https://quick-book-review.blogspot.co.nz/

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“Bittersweet” by p.d.r. Lindsay – A Savage in Gentleman's Clothing

A Wickedness Unforgiven

As gloomy as the reality is, sexual violence is one of those things that have persisted throughout the ages and across all cultures in the world. It is, quite sadly, one of the few factors that unite all of our races and ethnicities together. While some of us may have the fortune of living in a place on Earth where such crimes are rather uncommon, there are countless people out there who aren't nearly as lucky, especially those living in countries with absurd disparities between the poor and the powerful. What's even worse, these acts are committed by the last person you would expect just as often as they are by the most obvious suspects. Rape is an insidious and damnable crime in every respect, one that merits punishment at all costs, something our hero, Bryce Ackerman, discovers in his life-changing journey in Bittersweet by p.d.r. Lindsay.

Without spoiling anything, the story takes place during the early 1870s in the British Raj, a period when the British Crown ruled on the Indian subcontinent. We are introduced to the afore-mentioned Bryce Ackerman, a banker who finds himself on a most noble mission: avenge the dishonour inflicted upon his fiancée, Aimée. Once slated to marry, their plans fell through when Aimée had been brutally raped by some so-called noble British soldiers. Upon learning and receiving confirmation that these men were predators in a very disgusting competition with each other (Aimée wasn't their only victim), Bryce decides to track them down by his own means and bring death to the one who commanded them. Needless to say, it's a task much easier said than done: to accuse influential and highly-reputed men of such sinister crimes is a most dangerous task, one that puts Bryce on a collision course with some truly powerful and ruthless villains.

An Eye-Opening Window Into Another Culture

There are a few things to discuss about the book, but first I would like to direct the attention towards the author's ability to recreate a world from the past and suck us deeply into it. A lot of effort and research was quite obviously put into the creation of the setting, with all the noises, sights, sounds and smells painting vivid and unforgettable pictures of 1870s India. The descriptions are quite deep and even touch on the atmospheres and mentalities that permeated through the air in those times, and while I can't exactly check them for accuracy, they feel absolutely genuine and help you become immersed as if you're a part of the world, rather than being a mere observer.

This world-building turns out to be quite useful in helping us understand the characters, what they are going through, what fears and desires and manipulate their whims, and by what customs and standards they are measuring their actions.

A Cast with some Spark

Speaking of the characters, the story is populated by a fair amount of them, with there being a central core of supporting characters around Bryce, opposite to them we have the villainous soldiers, as well as plenty of others who come and go as the plot progresses. The narration is told from Bryce's perspective, and so we are privy to his most personal, intimate and innermost thoughts. As things unfold he turns out to be quite a clever and capable thinker, a man who wrestles with inner turmoil as much as anyone else out there. His delivery is often simple, concise, and to the point, making the story quite easy to follow.

On the other hand, the villains are everything we need our bad guys to be. They are deceitful, prey on the young and weak, get away scott-free because of their status in society, and basically show no remorse in what they are doing, even convincing themselves they are actually in the right. In other words, there are no doubts about who you should be rooting for and it doesn't take much motivation to see them as the devil incarnate. There is a slight reproach to make however, and it's that there are a few sequences in which the villains' dialogue feels slightly dry and perhaps a bit unnatural, but those instances aren't prominent enough to become a real problem.

A Story that Sticks with You

Looking at the plot itself, I have no problem in characterizing it as one of those stories that will stay with you for a long time to come. You'll find yourself thinking about the events, mulling them over in your head, wondering what the messages, implications and consequences might be. While a few of the chapters and passages are on the slower and tamer side, much of the novel is about the evil that men do under the shadows of wealth and privilege. It's the kind of tale where things don't always work out, and just like in life, a happy ending is anything but guaranteed. There are a few truly jolting moments and twists that really keep you hooked in and increasingly worried for the fates of the heroes, all leading up to a memorable and satisfying conclusion.

As you might have gathered from the rest of the review, the story is full of very dark and heavy themes, touching on rape and dangerous kinds of lust. The author wrote it with a certain free-flowing honesty where ugly truths are addressed as they truly are, rather than sugar-coated with euphemisms. While the messages in regards to basic human decency might seem like common sense to many of us, I assure you there are still countless people in the world who have yet to learn them (though unfortunately, I find it doubtful they'll seek this book out). p.d.r. Lindsay doesn't shy away from sharing her opinions and points of view on the matter, and they are definitely deserving of some pondering.

The Final Verdict

Looking at everything from A to Z, Bittersweet is a book that definitely deserves some more recognition. It has a truly fascinating and enthralling world, interesting and memorable characters, a story that entertains you with its twists but also makes you contemplate on some of the darker aspects of the human condition, namely lust, violence and power. The premise is delivered in a unique way that really makes the novel stand out from its counterparts, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a top-notch historical drama seasoned with mystery and vengeance.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Dunedin Readers and Writers Festival

Full marks to the organisers for pulling the festival all together. It seemed to run smoothly and the writers invited were excellent. I could only attend at the weekend, the festival began on Wednesday and finished on Sunday evening, and I had to pick the sessions with the visiting authors as they were pricey. I enjoyed the  Friday evening opener with all the authors: Ian Rankin, Stella Duffy, John Lanchester, Hannah Kent, Bill Manhire and Victor Rodger, (M.J. Carter missed it) with MC Kate De Goldi. There was a crime panel on Saturday afternoon with M.J. Carter, Ian Rankin, Stella Duffy and a Sunday morning session with historical fiction writer,  Hannah Kent. I was delighted to hear her speak as she has written two historical novels in a similar vein to my historical novel, 'Tizzie' and she is an inspirational speaker!

It seems to me it's good pratice for a writer to attend such a festival as a reader. It certainly does give one a different perspective looking as a writer from the reader's side of the signing table. Writers are observers and I observed and learnt.

At my next group book signings I will remember not to huddle with my colleagues but try for a little separation. I had no idea how intimidating it can feel when you have to approach three authors with only one of their books. What do you do? What do you say? "Sorry I can only afford one book."?  Fortunately M.J. Carter was very kind and signed and smiled at me. Perhaps she's quite new to the Book Festival signing lark or maybe she's just a sweet person. The other two looked, looked away and chatted. I felt terrible, but I was saved by another reader wanting their signatures. I will, as a writer, remember to smile sweetly in that situation and make a friendly comment like: "Good choice, I really enjoyed that book and she's/he's a good writer." Readers remember. I still feel awkward and it's been a couple of days.

The other thing I will remember to watch is those first 3 second assumptions we will make about people. I don't go around wearing those 'Look at me! I'm a creative person, a writer person!' type clothes, I am grey haired and walk with a stick. I wear what I call classic clothing so I got the 'Oh no, this looks like another middle class gushing old lady' look. Not something to flick between yourself as author with an author colleague if, as is most likely, it turns out said little old lady/gentleman is a sharp minded, keen and critical reader. That glance will be noted and it will rankle. Never upset your readers, they won't buy your books. And I didn't!