A new review for Big Brother: 4/5 stars!


Was I chuffed to find a new review for Big Brother on Amazon.co.uk! My thanks to the reviewer; glad they enjoyed it! 👍

Not Perfect, but a Highly Imaginative Offering Nonetheless
Sci-fi with a dash of horror; street level style. Ash is a young boy from a broken home; while his dad lives and works in the US, Ash is going to school and once home tries to keep things together in his Liverpool home for both himself and his badly screwed up mother, although he is really from Bristol and only came back to his mother’s home town after his mum and dad broke up. I can’t say or explain too much of the plot as it would be a class one spoiler, but Ash, after getting another pasting from a school bully, realises that what he wishes for can actually come true.

Now, some things to point out. This is YA but at the back end of the age-group / target audience, verging on grown-up reading. The central character, although perhaps he has reasons to be the way he is,is not the nicest lad on the planet. He seems to resent authority (his drunken drugged-up mother, teachers, social workers, the usual suspects as it were), just as much as he resents those who use him as a punchbag and as the butt of their jokes. He gets angry, swears and rejects whenever he’s threatened, and is rather amoral in some serious issues, although always with pangs of guilt lurking in the background before occasionally coming to the fore. Contradicting this is his sense of duty which sees him reject the chance of a better life, either in the US with his father, or back in Bristol, where he could stay with his Gran, who he likes and respects, and which would also allow him to return to his old school in Bristol, and be with his old friends in his old haunts where he was happiest. Instead, realising he is all his messed up mother has got, stays in Liverpool.

There are also a few references to sex and sexuality, but in a very general sense, not in the least graphic; for any concerned parents looking for a good book for their kids, yes, this is at times realistic and even raw, but it’s nothing that isn’t readily available on all YA bookshelves and on the TV and cinema.

So, we have an anti-hero as the central character, some rather odd, spooky stuff going on (science or magic? That would be telling.) And an ending which may not appeal to all, but is highly effective.

All in all, a book flawed in some ways at some points, but nonetheless a good, solid read, weighing in somewhere between a novelette and a full length novel.


What did you read on World Book Day?

World Book Day

I spent most of it reading the BBC Weather App today as we in the UK continue to be gripped by the Beast of the East (freezing temperatures and snow from Russia) and Storm Emma. March 1st, the first day of spring, and it’s been snowing like mad! Crazy weather and it’s set to continue into the weekend. I have a very confused and unhappy cat who can’t understand what’s going on and why she isn’t allowed to go outside! When I  open the door for her, the wind and snow rush in and she runs and hides! As far as I’m concerned, there’s not much else to do but read and write. I’m in the middle of two books at the moment: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick and A Daughter’s Choice by June Francis.

As a corny bit of fun, here’s a suggested reading list to fit the current climate:

  • Emma
  • A Touch of Frost
  • The Snowman
  • The Snow Queen
  • War and Peace (it’s Russian!)
  • Storm Warning
  • Gone with the Wind

Meanwhile, the good news is I’ve nearly finished Episode! I won’t be sorry when I finally do finish it because it’s gone on and on. Thankfully, the family issues are now resolved and I can get on with my books as well as my life! I’ve already got my seventh book planned.


My review of White Nights by Ann Cleeves



After the impressive first book, Raven Black, I’m afraid I found White Nights too much of a slow burner. A visitor to an art exhibition is found murdered. Detective Jimmy Perez has very little to work on other than to find out if anyone in the small community knows who the man is and the history of personal relationships form the basis of his investigation. To his frustration he can’t head up the case himself; that’s down to Taylor, sent in from Inverness. Taylor is actually from the big city of Liverpool and he finds Shetland too insular for his taste. He also likes to show Perez who’s boss. When another murder is committed, and bones are found on a cliff edge by climbers, it is Perez who manages to solve the case first.

I was kept guessing right up until the end whodunnit, which is a plus, but then I was left feeling dissatisfied and cheated when the perpetrator got away with it by dying! I hate it when that happens!

While the case is going on there is an insight into Perez’s private life, but he really does come across as a colourless character without much personality and it’s difficult to find sympathy with him or any of the other characters in the story.

Got a bit of reading to do!

So I asked Father Christmas for some reading material: a copy of The Man in the High Castle (to help me understand what he TV series is going on about!) and the complete series of Poldark books. All twelve of them!



It appears I have a bit of reading to do this year as well as writing! Twelve Poldark books will keep me busy! I’m going to start with The Man in the High Castle first, though. Back in August I wrote a blog post about what should come first when following a story: the book or the film/TV series. It was the series on BBC 1 that inspired me to read Poldark. I didn’t mention The Man in the High Castle in that post, but I should have. The Amazon series has left both me and my husband scatching our heads. We’ve realised it’s an alternative history, a parallel universe, but we still don’t get it, so I asked for the book in the hope that I could better figure out what’s going on. I’ll let you know in a review.

As for Poldark, I can’t wait t get stuck into those. Should take me about six years I reckon. Just hope I live that long!

Celebrating ten years of Goalden Girl

Just thought I’d drop by and mention that my first book, Goalden Girl, is ten years old on 28 December! Ten years! Really? So, to celebrate, I’m offering five days of free Kindle downloads of the book from Christmas Eve. I’m also offering free downloads of its first sequel, Goalden Sky, to remind everyone that the story of Gemma and her footballing pals carries on.

My sixth book ‘Episode’ will hopefully be finished in 2018. It should have been done and dusted this year, but the issues following my mum’s estate rolled on and kept me distracted. Now I can say I’ve almost finished, and when I am, I’ll start on the third book in the Goalden Girl series. As yet, I don’t have a title, but I’m thinking along the lines of:

Goalden Boots
Goalden Goal
Goalden Balls (lol)
Goalden Shot
Yeah, it’ll be Goalden something. Will it be the last book in the series? I don’t know…

The dilemma of writing ‘a’ or ‘an’ before a consonant or vowel

This is always one of those situations you just don’t think about when you’re speaking, but when you’re writing, you wonder, ‘It looks right, but is it? That’s not how you say it!’

We all know the general rule is to apply ‘an’ before a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) and ‘a’ before a consonant. You think that would be the rule in writing, too, and it is, until you write a sentence like:

‘It takes about an hour to get to Liverpool from Stoke-on-Trent.’

Then you scratch your head and say to yourself, hang on, the letter ‘H’ in English is a consonant. You might say ‘an hour’ but surely ‘a hour’ is right?

Unfortunately, for consonants like ‘H’, that’s where the rule is chucked out of the window with the contempt the English language can sometimes dish up.

Read this sentence aloud:

‘It takes about a hour to get to Liverpool from Stoke-on-Trent.’

That might look right technically, but it sounds daft, doesn’t it? In this context, the ‘H’ is silent, even though the general rule is to use ‘a’ as in: ‘a house’*; ‘a horse’*; ‘a hospital’*. We can hear the ‘H’ when we say those words, so we know they’re consonants. We say ‘hour’ like it doesn’t begin with ‘H’, like it begins with its second letter ‘O’, and so we have to treat it like it’s a vowel.

And then there’s the letter ‘M’!

‘An MRI scan.’

Not ‘A MRI scan’? Why not? Because when we get to ‘M’ as we chant the alphabet, we actually say ‘EM’ like it begins with the vowel ‘E’, therefore ‘an’ in this context would be correct. In fact, using ‘an’ would be almost always correct where it would precede an abbreviated word in speech starting with a consonant: ‘They sent an ROV into the sea’.

Vowel word examples where the general rule is broken usually begin with ‘U’ and ‘O’:

A uniform (where ‘U’ sounds like ‘Y’ as in ‘yew’)

A one-way ticket (where ‘O’ sounds like ‘W’ as in ‘window’)

So it’s all to do with sound: if a word sounds like it starts with a vowel when you say it, then treat it like a vowel and use ‘an’; if a word sounds like it starts with a consonant, then use ‘a’.

It’s that simple, really.

*Unless like me you’re a Scouser, when you’d actually say, ‘an ‘orse’, ‘an ‘ouse’ or ‘an ‘ospital’!

Episode: an update on this wretched book I’m trying to finish!

Yeah, I know it’s a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been trying to get my sixth book finished!

In January 2015, I started Episode, a sort of, but not quite, loose sequel to Epiworld, again with the theme of time travel using the medium of epileptic seizures. This time the main protagonist is a teenage girl, Alisha (she was Alice but now she’s Alisha), who meets Travis from Epiworld when she is taken back in time to Ancient Greece by Iris, Messenger Goddess of Rainbows, who has been sent by Selene, Goddess of the Moon, whom the Greeks believed bestowed the ‘madness’ of epilēpsía, to escort Alisha to the ancient world to help complete a particular task.

The Roman equivalent is Luna, as in lunatic or loony and all that sort of thing. I know people with epilepsy aren’t loonies (present company excepted of course!), but anyway, there’s the connection with Selene and the Gods in general: they need a God or Goddess to explain everything good or crap that goes on in their lives!

I’m happy to report that I’m just about finished, there are another four chapters or so to go; but – and this is really annoying – it won’t be published in 2017! There’ll still be a fair amount of editing to do, because despite what I said after Epiworld, I’ve again written it in the first person present from Ali’s point of view (I did try to write it in the past tense, didn’t feel right, then with Travis telling the story, but that didn’t work, either) and overall it’s a more complex story. The research I’ve had to do has been a right pain in the arse and trying to keep everything tied up has been daunting.

With any luck it’ll be ready for publication in the New Year. Urr! Then there’s the usual fight with Him Indoors over designing the cover. Double urr! Why do I bother? Well, the only reason I can think of is it keeps me off the streets.

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