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Book Review – Chaining Daisy by Julia Blake

Congratulations to my dear friend and fellow author Julia Blake on the release of her new novel, Chaining Daisy, that was released yesterday. It’s available now worldwide on Kindle, Paperback or free to read on Kindle Unlimited. Just remember to add a box of tissues to the order.

You buy the book now at Amazon.

Chaining Daisy, the second book in The Perennials picks up where the first book Becoming Lili ends, pulling you straight into the story. In the first, we are introduced to the main cast of characters, a gang of friends whose lives are based in the late 90s. With Chaining Daisy, the years have moved on a little to the early 2000s, concentrating this time on Daisy who’s struggling with her not-so-perfect marriage, despite appearances, and Kevin, one of Lili’s oldest friends.

Julia Blake as always delivers a riveting story with eloquence and style. Her cast—and I’d always call her characters a cast as they’re so visual, so full and multidimensional, they live and breathe from the page—all have their supporting roles in this, all bringing something to the story. With scene-setting locations going from rural Suffolk to London to Cornwall, she manages to bring so much colour and atmosphere too.

I hate giving the plot away, I think the book blurb gives you enough. But what I will say is this is one hell of a ride. Although the book itself is a huge (well worth its money) read of over 400 pages, the author’s writing talent takes you by the hand, enticing you in; before you know it, you’re halfway through and you’ve not been up for air. It certainly takes your breath away, dealing with difficult topics and situations, and although the author has dealt with these so realistically, so true to life, she has been careful to handle them with a sense of integrity—graphic descriptions where needed and others left to the imagination.

This is one book that stays with you. I read it in a few sittings, needing to close the pages and recover once in a while, reaching for the box of tissues, yet the characters stayed with me, calling me until I picked it up again.

Though I urge every reader to have tissues to hand, this is in no way a mushy love story, though love and life in all its wonder and horror feature strongly, Chaining Daisy is hard-hitting, gripping, incredibly heart wrenching read with soft, tender, beautiful moments. A well-earned 5 stars!

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Interview with an Author ~ Becky Wright on her latest Gothic novel, vampires & Mr Stoker

On the launch of my new Gothic novel, ‘Mr Stoker & I’ …I had the pleasure of being interviewed by fellow writer Julia Blake over on her blog A Little Bit of Blake

FLASH KINDLE SALE – ONLY 99 – THIS WEEKEND ONLY FROM AMAZON

There is no denying the fascination we seem to have with Vampires. They have dominated fiction for decades. Most of us if asked to name one, would say Dracula, and of course he is undoubtedly one of the most infamous figures in literature. However, he was not the first blood sucker. During a stay at Lord Byron’s Lake Geneva villa in 1816, it was John Polidori who put pen to paper to create The Vampyre. It was on this same infamous occasion that Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein. It is said that Polidori sculptured his vampire, the suave noblemen Lord Ruthven, on Byron himself; ironically so, as the short work of fiction was first credited to Lord Byron himself by his publishers. Eighty or so years later, there is no doubt that Bram Stoker took inspiration from Polidori’s Vampyre to create what we now see as one of the most iconic characters in horror. What it is about these life sucking, blood thirty villains that we find so fascinating? ~ Becky Wright Author

So, first of all, let me say a big hello to Becky Wright, and congratulations on the publication of your latest book “Mr Stoker & I” which was released just yesterday:

Thank you so much Julia, this book feels like it’s been a long time coming.

Now, I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of the novel, and I absolutely loved it. To me it felt very timeless and had elements of classical novelists such as Emily Bronte and Mary Shelley. Was that intentional?

Honestly, I don’t think it was intentional at all. And it wasn’t until all my beta readers mentioned the same thing that I sat back and thought about it. For it to be described as Gothic literature rather than Gothic fiction, was the best compliment I can get as a writer. I have a true love for the classics, for the lyrical prose, the phrasing; it has a certain kind of timing to it, melodious, like a musical score. I have to admit that I don’t read much contemporary fiction at all, as my heart has always belonged firmly planted in the past. Obviously, it’s rubbed off on me.

In the story, you’ve gone right back to the pre-vampire era, and I think “Mr Stoker & I” could be considered an origin tale. Would you agree?

Right up until the point of marketing; I had never really of Mr Stoker & I as a vampire story. There are no fangs, or bats, no cloaked figures. And that is because you are right, it’s more a tale of vampire incarnation, of how it came to be, of how one family’s desperation finds faith in misguided belief, with catastrophic conciseness. It’s a story of “what if?”

Have you always been fascinated by vampires? Or is this a recent interest inspired by the book?

I’m not a huge vampire fiction reader, for me it’s all about the characters and the emotions they make me feel along their journey. I love horror, whether it’s vampires, ghosts or poor lost souls. Yet saying that, Dracula is without a doubt one of my favourite classics. It sits alongside Wuthering Heights, and for me it’s for about the dark side of human nature. Maybe there is something in Bram’s writing, in his words, that struck a chord in me – fine tuning and orchestrating Mr Stoker & I.

One of the book’s main characters is Mr Bram Stoker himself, the creator of the best-known of all vampires, Dracula. How much research did you do on him, and did you discover any surprising facts about the father of the vampire genre?

I certainly have a passion for Bram Stoker himself, over the past year or so whilst writing I’ve referred to him fondly as my dear Bram. During the whole writing process, I found myself reading biographies, articles, anything I could find about the man behind Dracula. I think the most notable fact was although he was a famed writer in his lifetime – alongside his ‘day jobs’ of  theatre manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, and being manager to Sir Henry Irving – it was not until after his death that Dracula was pulled into the limelight as we know him. As is so often the case with great artists. 

Why do you think Dracula was such an instant hit with the Victorian reader?

Published in May 1897, it wasn’t the immediate success and hit you would imagine with the readers of the time. It wasn’t until after his death that the 20th century readers became more obsessed with Count Dracula. The 1922 movie Nosferatu certainly had something to do with that.

Even though he’s a blood thirsty killer, the appeal of Dracula has never faded from popularity and has spawned a whole vampire culture, what do you think can account for this lasting fascination?

Maybe there is something quite sensual about it. The appeal of immortality, of being devoured. And there is also something quite lustful about vampires. I think that’s how it has developed, that a lot of modern vampire fiction tends to lean towards making death romantic. Although Dracula was not so debonair, or suave, more the desperate blood sucking fiend.

Dracula spawned an entire literary genre, and I wondered what you thought of the recent incarnation of vampires in series such as “Twilight” and “The Vampire Diaries”?

They are not really my thing. Not to say they don’t have their place; they certainly have their fans and success. They have fulfilled or perhaps fed, an insatiable hunger of the young blood-thirsty readers, who are maybe looking for more romance than actual horror.

A remorseless serial killer or a misunderstood anti-hero? Where do you personally place vampires?

I’m afraid my vampires will always be more blood thirsty killers. Whether they are pretty to look at or grotesque monsters, they thrive on the kill, perhaps with a lingering sense of remorse for the human they once were, but it’s all about their own survival.

Even before Bram Stoker penned the immortal “Dracula” the vampire myth has persisted in folklore, especially in the Transylvania area of Europe, with tales of Vlad the Impaler immediately springing to mind. Do you think there’s any substance to these wild tales? And do you have any theories as to the origins of the vampire legend?

If you look into the history of vampires almost every culture has it’s own origin. Mostly existing in folklore, beings feeding on the vital energy force of the living, which is where blood comes in. And as with most folklore, myths and legends, maybe there is that small seed of fact to begin with.

Now the setting of “Mr Stoker & I” is the quaint British seaside town of Whitby – where Dracula is supposed to have first come ashore. Have you ever visited the town? If you have, can you share your impressions of it.

I adore Whitby. I first visited the town about a decade ago, and without a doubt because of its connection with Bram Stoker feel an affinity with the place. We recently revisited and I didn’t want to come home. Even if you put aside any connection to Bram or Dracula, Whitby Abbey dominates the headland with an open invitation, and the town has a vibe to it, it says – welcome, come sit a while, watch the sea, listen.

“Mr Stoker & I” is such a rich and evocative read and harkens back to a more detailed and sumptuous style of writing. Was this deliberate? Or did this style evolve as you were writing the book?

I had no set-out plan of how the book was going to feel, the style, or even the exactness of its genre. All I knew was Lucy had to tell you her story, and how she was going to do that, well, I left that up to her.

I know this is the question that appears in every author interview, but where did the inspiration for the book arise? Was it a germ of an idea that gradually developed? Or did the whole plot come to you complete?

I had planned – I may still plan – to write a collection of macabre short stories, a collection of Penny Dreadfuls – and an image of a piece of carved Whitby jet came to mind, an elaborate mourning piece of jewellery the Victorians were so good at. Whitby has an incredible collection in their museum. This tiny germ of an idea quickly altered into something quite different, as when I really thought about Whitby I didn’t think of jet, but Dracula, and in turn Bram Stoker and his visit in the Summer of 1890. Then the idea of, what if?

If you were suddenly face to face with a vampire how would you react? Would you be afraid and try to escape? Or do you think you’d succumb to his fatal charm?

Do you know, I have no idea? Maybe the Gothic romantic in me would like to think it was a move of seductive charm and gladly succumb to my fate. But in all likelihood, it would be a moment of savage primitive need, and if I didn’t escape my last moments would be having my throat ripped out. Not very romantic after all… I think I’d run for it.

And a question that I know every reader of “Mr Stoker & I” will want answered. Is that it? Or will there be any more tales from the world of the father of vampires?

For me, Mr Stoker & I has a definite ending, as in, there will not be a sequel to the story and Bram will not appear again. Now, having said that, I do plan another book set in Whitby. There will most certainly be some ties to Miss Lucy and her ancestry and Blackthorn Manor itself. Although I can’t promise vampires, I can promise it will be a dark Gothic tale befitting of its era and surroundings.

One of the wonderful things about the book is its striking and mesmerising cover. Now I know you created this yourself, but can you talk us through the process a little. And was this the image you always imagined for the cover, or one that developed after the book was written?

I cannot take credit for the cover. It was most certainly in its entirety the work of my incredible husband. He plays a huge role in my writing process and knew the story very well before he started. I had a completely different vision for the cover, but having total faith in his abilities, I just let him run with it. And just as well I did, my idea was nothing compared the deliciously dark Gothic feel it has.

“Mr Stoker & I” is so detailed and so sumptuously written, that I wondered how long it took you in total to write it?

I am a terribly slow writer. Not that I think it should be seen as a fault, more a way I work. I put a lot of time and effort in my first draft. So much so, that I’m not sure it ever really is a rough first draft. I tend to polish and refine as I go in order to fully uphold the mood of the book as I write. I feel if it was too much of a rough draft, I would lose interest very quickly. Last year, we moved house whilst in the midst of my writing, which brought with it a whole host of time consuming and brain aching issues with it. Taking all that into account, I spent around 18 months on it.

When I was reading the novel, I couldn’t help but picture it as a wonderfully atmospheric film. Would you enjoy seeing it adapted for the big screen? And if it was and you could choose, who would you like to see play the main characters?

I would love to see it on the big screen, or maybe even better on the small screen as a 3-part period drama. As to who would play the main leads, that is a hard one. When I write, I do have a mental picture of the characters, they creep very quickly under my skin, but never in so much physical form, as in their emotions and thoughts, the essence of who they are, not what they look like. I shall have to give this one lots of thought.

And finally, what can Becky Wright fans expect from you next? Is there a plot already bubbling in your imagination, and if so, can you give us a few teasers?

What’s next? More dark, more Gothic, more horror. I’m working on a novella, something short for later in the year. Id love to say Halloween, but I’ve learnt not to give dates as life changes quickly. What I will say is my main character this time is quite a feisty little number, and not sure I’d want to cross her.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy weekend publishing the book to talk to us, Becky. I know I speak for all your readers and fans when I say how thrilled we are that another wonderful book of Becky Wright inspired horror is available to grace our bookshelves.

A Little Bit of Blake

There is no denying the fascination we seem to have with Vampires. They have dominated fiction for decades. Most of us if asked to name one, would say Dracula, and of course he is undoubtedly one of the most infamous figures in literature. However, he was not the first blood sucker. During a stay at Lord Byron’s Lake Geneva villa in 1816, it was John Polidori who put pen to paper to create The Vampyre. It was on this same infamous occasion that Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein. It is said that Polidori sculptured his vampire, the suave noblemen Lord Ruthven, on Byron himself; ironically so, as the short work of fiction was first credited to Lord Byron himself by his publishers. Eighty or so years later, there is no doubt that Bram Stoker took inspiration from Polidori’s Vampyre to create what we now see as one of the most iconic…

View original post 2,115 more words

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Happy Release day – ‘The Forest’ by Julia Blake

Today sees the release of the much-anticipated new fantasy novel from Julia Blake. ‘The Forest – a tale of old magic’, is available in gorgeous paperback and download from Amazon. Congratulations, Julia x

The Forest“I met a man made of leaves, with roots for hair, who looked at me with eyes that burnt like fire.”

An impenetrable forest that denies entry to all but a select few. A strange and isolated village, whose residents never leave. A curse that reappears every generation, leaving death and despair in its wake.

What is lurking at the heart of the Forest? When the White Hind of legend is seen, the villagers know three of its young people will be left dead, victims of a triangle of love, murder and suicide.

This time, Sally, Jack and Reuben have been selected, and it’s their turn to be tormented by long-buried jealousies, aroused by the dark entity existing within its shadowy glades. Only by confronting the Forest’s secrets, can they hope to break the curse and change their destinies – if they have the courage.

Keeper of secrets. Taker of souls. Defender of innocence. Existing on the very edge of believing, there is the Forest. And this is its story…

All Julia’s books are available from Amazon.

Julia Blake Profile photoI was born and raised in the lovely historic market town of Bury St Edmunds, where I live still with my daughter. I’m typical Cancer, in that although I like to visit new places and see new things, I’m always very pleased to get home again.

I’ve been writing ever since I was old enough to pick up a pen, writing plays for my friends to act out at break time. I attempted my first novel at age thirteen. Of course, due to my age and lack of experience, it was complete rubbish, although I have to say the plot wasn’t half bad, maybe one day I’ll dust it off and attempt a re-write.

I didn’t seriously write until my late thirties, when the stories in my head suddenly began demanding release and I started to write furiously. Over the next ten years, I wrote six complete novels, one 17,000 word novella, half a dozen or so short stories and many poems.

Finally, in 2014 I decided to do something with all these words and, a few months later, after considerable proofing and re-writing, The Book of Eve was published.

Julia Blake

 

The Book of Eve

The Book of Eve is available as Paperback & Kindle from Amazon.

“19-year-old Melissa doesn’t realise how bored she is with her dead-end life until she meets the beautiful renowned author, Annaliese, and her friends. Seduced by their easy glamour and apparently golden lifestyle, when an opportunity arises to become part of their charmed circle, Melissa desperately grabs it. However, she quickly suspects all is not as it seems within this beautiful world she now inhabits …”

Becoming Lili

Becoming Lili is available as Paperback & Kindle from Amazon.

“Never has an ugly duckling turned into such a beautiful swan… An ugly duckling girl, Phyllis is bullied viciously at school and is unloved at home, a lonely teenager, longing for so much more from life … Suddenly, a random encounter with a stranger offers her a chance to have it all …”

 

Lost & Found

Lost & Found is available as Paperback & Kindle from Amazon.

“Arianna Santorini has had a hard life. Abandoned by her husband, left alone to raise their child for six long years, she’s made the best of things. Then, she meets Luke Blackwood. Initially, he seems perfect, strong, kind, understanding and loving, everything she could possibly want. But, Luke has a secret, he’s rich, very rich, and Arianna has a deep-seated prejudice against wealthy men …”

 

Fixtures & Fitings Fixtures & Fittings is available as Paperback & Kindle from Amazon.

“Book two in the fabulous Blackwood Clan saga, Fixtures & Fittings is Marcus’s story.
Rich, handsome, sophisticated, Marcus Blackwood has it all. Then tragedy turns his perfect life upside down, leaving him sole guardian of his young niece. Traumatised into selective muteness, Megan needs more than Marcus believes he can give her, but, what she needs most of all, is a home …”

Lifesong

Lifesong is available as Paperback & Kindle from Amazon.

“She came from a different place, a world living in harmony with the lifesong that flows through everything, connecting all to the great song of the universe. Suddenly, she’s trapped on our world, a place hell-bent on self-destruction, a place that destroys without thought, poisons its own water supply and pollutes the very air that it breathes …”

 

Elcaires for Tea

Eclairs for Tea and other stories is available as Paperback & Kindle from Amazon.

“Eclairs for Tea and other stories is a wonderful, eclectic, mix of short stories, flash fiction and poetry, to be dipped in and out of, and enjoyed at your own pace. Eclairs for Tea – There was something very important Kevin had told her not to forget. If only she could  remember what it was …”

 

Erinsmore

Erinsmore is available as Paperback & Kindle from Amazon.

“All her life, Ruby has longed to escape. Her imagination fed by the Narnia books and Arthurian legends, she dreams of another world. Discovering the ancient prophecy stone in a Cornish antique shop, she and her cynical older sister, Cassie, suddenly find themselves in the mythical land of Erinsmore. A realm of swords, chivalry and magic, it is everything Ruby has been longing for, but, is a world poised on the brink of war … ”

Julia Blake links:

www.juliablakeauthor.co.uk

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Erinsmore by Julia Blake

20180909_144908.jpgErinsmore is the 7th book release from indie author, Julia Blake. With its release back in May, it has been one fantasy I was itching to dive into. This is one author who never fails to deliver, with release after release, she’s a prolific force to be reckoned with.

So… Are you ready for a quest? Prepared to be carried off on an adventure of a lifetime? A tale of magic, good versus evil, epic battles? This is a tale with its inspiration firmly planted in Arthurian legend, with a quest and mythical creatures to delight even the most discerning Narnia fan. Then sit back and step inside the pages of Erinsmore.

Unsuspecting sisters, whilst on a family holiday to Cornwall find themselves stepping into another world. One of magic, swordplay, legend, chivalry, love, and a host of evil to match… But with a prophecy that will change the lives of young Ruby and her older, more cynical sister, Cassie, forever.

Two shall fight for freedom 
Defend the dragon’s throne
Two shall walk the dark path
And one return alone

The fate of Erinsmore lays at their feet. They cannot ignore, refuse or forget its plight for the fate of our own world is in danger.

This book delivers it all. Once you open the book you are quickly enticed into the pages, being carried off into Ruby and Cassie’s adventure in one massive leap, making Erinsmore an addictive page-turner.

Don’t be misled, although the author was obviously inspired by the likes of C.S Lewis (what fantasy writer isn’t), Erinsmore is in no way a pastiche or rework. The world of Erinsmore, and all those who dwell within its pages, good and evil, are unique, well-formed, credible, and spellbinding.

With the author’s effortless writing style, she lures you into this new world, so you settle there as if there is nothing fantasy about it; a clever ability, allowing the reader to be utterly transported.

Erinsmore, though may fall into the YA fiction genre, delivers so much more than you may first expect. There is nothing immature about this book, in peril or plot. The author has in no way simplified or altered her craft for the younger reader, the prose is clear, clever, artistic and beautifully crafted for the adult reader, fulfilling all the requirements for a fantasy adventure for all ages. For the young curious minds, it offers to nurture and cultivate, no doubt feeding a new generation of fantasy readers with a lifelong love of swords & chivalry, as once Lewis himself did.

This is another triumphant novel from Julia Blake, a step away from her, till now, normal genre of contemporary and romantic suspense, and she seems very at home here. Though, we have experienced a taste of this world-building creativity in Eclairs of Tea, her collection of short stories and poems.

Her writing speaks volumes of how natural, how very at ease she feels within the realms of knights and dragons. I have a feeling Erinsmore will settle Julia Blake fast and firm into the fantasy genre, I for one can’t wait to read what’s next. It’s no surprise that Erinsmore deserves no less than 5 Stars!

You can follow Julia Blake at her website, social media, as well as finding all her books at Amazon.

Official WebsiteInstagram, Facebook, GoodreadsAmazon

 

Review

Review – Lost & Found

Post & Found by Julia Blake
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Book Review – Lost & Found by Julia Blake 

5 STARS! – Wonderful! Edge-of-your-seat gripping, brilliantly written, a sublime heart-pounding read!

Lost & Found, is best devoured quickly, in a few sittings, to really benefit from its perfect, fast paced, action packed rhythm. With a healthy dose of romance to soften and give it true depth…what more could you want?

Arianna is a single mother, self-sufficient, single minded, self-guarded…but then she meets Luke, and her well-organised life is thrown into a whirlwind, and she begins to let down her walls. He’s handsome, tall, rugged, gorgeous, what woman wouldn’t be seduced by his gentle nature?

But Luke has a secret. A secret that most other women would welcome, but, for Arianna, it’s a secret of the worst kind, that due to her pig-headed belief, she will not forgive. So Luke is banished from her life after a swift affair. Then the unspeakable happens, the worse fear for any parent, but who can she turn to….

Julia Blake has an innate ability to create intricate relationships between believable characters, with a sense of true emotional integrity. I always love her gentle description, never too much, but just enough to allow the reader to create their own vision of locations and settings. Allowing, the reader to fall in love with each character, no matter what their flaws.

Being a thriller, Lost & Found is a slight shift in genre for Julia Blake, but as it still contains her signature romance and complex relationships it’s an obvious move and a welcome addition to her collection of books. I can’t wait to read what’s next.

All Julia Blake’s books are available from Amazon. You can also follow her on social media Facebook and Instagram