Monday, 29 July 2019

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Mandy Eve-Barnett

1. Tell me about your book, The Twesome Loop, and where you got your inspiration for it?

The initial idea for the novel was my ongoing fascination with reincarnation. I wanted to write about characters, who find a way to link their souls together and reconnect in the future. The four main characters are introduced living in 1874 and rediscover each other in 2000. The conduit is an Italian villa where the original characters met and their souls were forever tied. As I wrote the narrative other characters appeared, each with their own troubling love story. The novel is about how we find love but not always where we expect.

2. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to see play the lead?

I think Zac Efron would be perfect as the male lead as his features are perfect in either a period piece or a modern one.

3. What are the top three books in you TBR pile?

Currently they are 1) Spook by Mary Roach 2) Becoming by Michelle Obama 3) The Icarus girl by Helen Oyeyemi However, this may change depending on my mood when deciding which one to read next.

4. What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

Goodness this is a hard question to answer. I did not start writing until much later in life, although I was always creative in other forms. When I immigrated to Canada, I wanted to find a creative outlet and by pure happenstance attended a writers circle. It propelled me onto a writing journey, I did not expect but one I am passionate about now. I have ‘left’ writing in one form or another for maybe a couple of weeks but for the most part I am writing most days, either for my blog, a freelance project, editing other writers manuscripts or adding to my own.

5. Mountains or the beach?

My first love is the ocean, the salty air, the splash of waves, the hot sand and the delights of rock pools. Originally from England, the ‘sea’ was never too far away and I miss it a lot. In Canada, I have found mountain lakes give me the opportunity to be close to large bodies of water and although not the same, it is still wonderful.

6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

For anyone that knows me, I have a fascination with Italy, in particular Rome. I went there on honeymoon and fell in love with the dynamic variations of the city. It is ancient and modern, alive with sights, smells and tastes. You can sit in a cafe filled with modern music, people with ‘technology’ and gaze across the street to a building built in 6th century. Although, I also visited Florence and Venice on that trip, Rome was by far my favourite. I plan to go back.

7. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?

I would certainly go back to my childhood. I had such a wonderful childhood, it would be awesome to relive those delightful and wonderful years.

8. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?

To share the stories that populate my mind, the reactions of my readers and to leave a narrative legacy for future generations.

9. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

I do not have a particular genre; I write wherever the story takes me and figure out the genre afterwards. I write for children, young adults and adults.

10. Have you ever considered collaborating with another writer? If Yes who, if no why not?

I have collaborated with a couple of authors already on a memoir guide book. It was enjoyable to see other people’s perceptions and ideas and learn from their perspective on a joint project. I am open to working with other authors whenever the opportunity presents itself. As I also have a freelance writing business, I work with many clients on a wide range of projects.

11. Do you let a book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

Yes, I leave manuscripts to stew and sometimes much longer than a month! Another recent publication, Life in Slake Patch was initially a NaNoWriMo project in 2011. I left it, went back to it, left it, and went back to it until it just got to the point that I either scrapped it or published it! Leaving a manuscript for a while gives us a better perspective of the story and re-reading them after some time allows our minds to see it more objectively.

12. Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

It certainly does! It is the first thing that attracts a reader while they browse the book shelf or the online catalogue. With skilful use it can reflect the genre and subject matter of the novel, further enticing a reader.

13. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Both are useful. As writers we strive to improve our story telling and any constructive critique allows us to do just that. Even if some are harsh, you need to think of them as a lesson and utilize it as such. It is not ‘personal’ (well hopefully not!) it is someone’s view of one story.

14. Have you written any other books that are not published? Do you intend to publish them?

I have published to date seven books in various genres. Two children’s, Rumble’s First Scare & Ockleberries to the Rescue. Two YA, Clickety-Click & Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria and three adult, The Rython Kingdom, The Twesome Loop and Life in Slake Patch. I am in the process of editing the sequel to The Rython Kingdom – Rython Legacy, which will be published in the fall. And a couple of pending manuscripts, a western romance, Willow Tree Tears and a suspense thriller, The Giving Thief on the back burner.

15. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

I am a free flow writer so all my characters propel the narrative the way they want to go, I am always surprised and delighted when my stories take an unexpected tangent. I am the conduit and let the words flow through my fingertips to the keyboard.


Is it possible to change our destiny, break free from the echoes of our past lives? The Twesome Loop is a romance novel with a reincarnation twist. A picturesque Italian villa holds a hidden past of a pact that cannot be broken - a secret untold. Passion, pleasure, and pain play their part as seemingly chance meetings reveal secrets and hidden agendas. One dark secret is coupled with a burning desire to extract revenge. It will see four guests re-living their past lives - for love, for lust, and for revenge. Who will win and who will lose?


About Mandy

Mandy Eve-Barnett is a multi-genre author writing children’s, YA and adult books. Every story has a basis of love, magic and mystery. Her passion for writing emerged later in life and she is making up for lost time. She indulges her Muse in creative as well as freelance writing. She is currently the Secretary of her local writers group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County.

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Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Dusty Pages Review: The Binding

Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.

Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice - but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.
He will learn to handcraft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there's something you want to forget, he can help. If there's something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book, and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.
In a vault under his mentor's workshop, row upon row of books - and memories - are meticulously stored and recorded.
Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.

I saw this book on the iTunes great summer reads offer. It was one of the cheaper books on offer and considering I knew nothing of the author I was a bit dubious but once I read the blurb I was intrigued. Imagine if the stories we were to read in books were not really stories but the memories of someone else, bound between the pages so that they could forget. I mean I have several things I wish I didn't know, and don't we all.

The book is effectively split into three parts, the first two following Emmett Farmer, told in his voice from his perspective. The first part is a little slow and plodding, a little mysterious but you soon find out why in the second part which totally makes up for that. The final section is told from the point of view of another major character Lucien Darnay who pops up briefly in the first part of the book but much more prominently in the second section.

The magical element of this tail is very subtle, totally believable in the fact that its not explained in enough detail as to spoil the wonder of it but enough to almost make it mundane. Some people are just born binders. They used to be treated like witches - their are several references to the crusade ie some sort of witch hunt against binders - and although in the city is considered a classy profession in the country where Emmett is from its still viewed suspiciously and whispered about quietly in the dark for fear of being cursed.

With all that going on, it is also a love story. Its not your typical romance and even though I wasn't expecting it, I wasn't unhappy with it and even started willing it to happen, for the happy ending.

One character that I really liked was Seradeth. I wish there had been more about her. It felt like her time with Emmett was so short. A character I did not like was Dehavlin (unsure of spelling) - I thought him a cheating, lying bastard of a man and highly suspect that he might have hastened his mother along in order to get his hands on her books, but I say no more encase I verge on spoiler territory.

I was also left wanting more.

I give it

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Dusty Pages Review: Lethal White

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike's office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.  
Trying to get to the bottom of Billy's story, Strike and Robin Ellacott - once his assistant, now a partner in the agency - set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.  
And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike's own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been - Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much more tricky than that....


I am lucky in a sense that I decided to come to read these books now as there is a two year gap between the publication of the third and fourth installments in this series. I was very eager after finishing Career of Evil to learn what would happen next and was very pleased when Lethal White pretty much picked up where the previous book had ended - though after that it takes a year long leap into the future where details of things during that year are teased out from the characters slowly as to prolong tension.

I found the mystery of the story to be brilliant because there wasn't anyway as the reader that I was able to work it out before the detective got their themselves which is a boon for me when it comes to detective novels. There were some things that I did predict and am interested to know perhaps how they will develop further - so I have my fingers crossed that there will be another book coming - though I may have to wait a couple of years for it. Not that I mind if they stay at the increasingly good quality I've been enjoying as I've listened to them over the past few weeks.

Strike isn't traditional in his looks or manner but I find his personality, character appealing in an odd sort of way. I suppose this is because I find intelligence attractive. I am beginning to feel a bit sorry for Robin, who always seems to be getting herself into trouble with Strike barrelling to save or scold her. It would be nice to see her come to his rescue for a change but that is my only complaint in regards to the story.

I give it

Monday, 15 July 2019

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Anya Stassiy

1. Tell me about your book, Eyes of Amber, and where you got your inspiration for it?

My book, Eyes of Amber was inspired by my own experiences in medicine. I have encountered many patients and heard many stories, some sad, some funny, so this was in a way an outlet to share some of them. I also was interested in WWII, my grandparents lived through it, the stories of struggle and survival despite the horrible atrocities always affected me.

2. Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so what was it?

It is a tough job. Your mind is always working on what a character would say or do or how you need to describe a certain scene. And then you have to put all that you have imagined into words that make sense and will move the story forward. And all of it takes time, sometimes months and in some cases years.

3. What is the most influential book you’ve read in the last year?

Subliminal. How your unconscious mind rules your behaviour by Leonard Mlodinow. Interesting read, reminds us how the mind is a fascinating organ and that we don’t always control the way we form opinions and we cannot rely on our memory.

4. Have you ever been pulled over by a cop?

I have, for speeding, twice a few years apart. I was issued a ticket during the first encounter and after the second I was issued a warning.

5. What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

A year and a half. I got busy with raising two little kids and then having a third. Life was busy.

6. Mountains or the beach?

Beach. You can lay there and relax, you can take a walk or you can go for a swim.

7. You’ve just been kidnapped and the people from the last TV Show/Movie you watched have to save you. Who is it?

Tom Hardy from Mad Max. Hot, strong and righteous. I know he will save me

8. What was your most defining moment in life?

Having my children. Nothing can prepare you and you cannot imagine it until it happens to you.

9. If you could bring one musician back from the dead, who would it be and why?

Freddie Mercury-amazing talent gone too soon.

10. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

My debut novel is a romance and I just started working on a new manuscript that is a romance as well. I would love to write an urban fantasy, but I think romance will be very prevalent in it. I consider myself a romantic. I believe in happy endings and happily ever after.

11. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Most of my characters are a compilation of real life experiences and real people.

12. Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

I am a dermatology Physician Assistant. I do biopsies, remove skin cancers, inject Botox and fillers and treat various skin conditions.

When fate gives you what you were not looking for, will you accept its gift?

Dr. Mila Roth is about to begin her training as an ER physician. She will encounter funny, sad, and memorable cases, witnessing the meaning of love through the eyes of the sick and their loved ones.

She doesn't believe in romance and soulmates yet, but that may soon change when she meets Leo, a handsome stranger with captivating warm eyes. She cannot explain her attraction to him, no other man was able to activate her love gene before. Will she decide to follow her heart this time or will Leo's occupation and secret push her away? As new feelings overwhelm her, she finds solace in the letters of her departed grandmother.

The correspondence from the past has a message for Mila's present. Will she connect the dots?


About Anya

Anya Stassiy was born in Kazakhstan. She is the oldest of two siblings. Anya graduated from New York Institute of Technology with B.S. in Physician Assistant studies in 2007. She practices medical and esthetic dermatology in Brooklyn, NY. Eyes of Amber is her debut novel, but she has several articles published in medical journals. Anya lives in NJ with her husband and three children.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Dusty Pages Review: Career of Evil

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg.
Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them...

By far the best yet to come out of this series, Career of Evil is dark in all the right places and a mystery to the last. Each chapter is proceeded with a lyric from a Blue Oyster Cult song which was something I'd not seen done in a book before but from the amount of credits having to be rattled off at the end of the book, it doesn't sound like it was an easy thing to do and helped a great deal that you were J K Rowling.

There isn't a doubt that by the time this third book came out that the secret was out of the bag but honestly I don't care. Whether you've read Harry Potter or not Cormoran Strike is an entirely different genre, character and story but written with the same passion and attention to detail that I loved from before. I can't imagine how it must feel to those who read all three books back when they originally came out and had to wait until now for a fourth installment (which is next on my audio playlist) and I am hoping that there will be more to follow.

Listening to them is a little like taking a step back in time as its set in 2010/2011 and it highlights parts of the news at the time and I'm thinking, yes I remember that, I remember where I was and it makes it feel all the more relevant even though the story you are following is fictional. In Career of Evil we get to meet an interesting character in the form of Shanker, and get to see a little more into Cormoran's past. Robin also reveals a secret - which I did already know because I've seen the TV series and although that was a while ago, certain aspects of it stuck in my memory.

Its a really enjoyable read

I give it