Author Archive: charlielaneauthor

A Place To Call Home by Carole Matthews

This book was very easy to read and managed to keep me hooked through some long nights of reading as I was unable to put the book down. In the end I think I finished it in about 4 days.

It is the story of a beaten wife who leaves her abusive husband in the middle of the night with their child, struck mute from the horror she has witnessed.

They find shelter in a house with a mixed bag of damaged adults existing rather than living in a house in Hampstead.

I could say that it’s a story of love and hope and it has a happy ending but it is more than that. Unusually it had surprises lurking in the pages, even to the point where my heart raced desperate to turn the page and start the next chapter – convinced I knew what would happen, only to be sent down completely the wrong path and breathing a big sigh of relief.

It’s a lovely story and it touches your heart. I would say with holiday season on the horizon you could do a lot worse than spending a day in the sun reading a book like this.

Naked Heat by Richard Castle

This is another in the series of books that spun off from the TV series Castle.

As a fan of the show I enjoy reading the books, especially now the series has ended. They are easy to read which is nice sometimes when you want a quick read.

This is the story of the investigation into the death of a high-profile celebrity gossip columnist which leads the team to investigate another celebrity death.

The story takes a bit of a turn when they start investigating the pop star girlfriend of the male actor who died previously and how she was connected to the death of the celebrity columnist. Don’t they say that everyone knows everyone when you’re famous!

One key thing Detective Heat is passionate about is working the timeline to find answers and that is something I think most writers can relate to. It often yields results.

I don’t think you need to be a fan of the TV show to enjoy the books but they are probably a little light for fans of heavy crime novels. Not bad for a quick holiday read on the beach though.

You Are Dead by Peter James

This book is another in the Roy Grace series but I don’t think I have been reading them in order, I’m not sure it makes much difference. The characters progress through the series and there is an element of linking but the investigation is mostly unique to the book.

This is the story of the hunt for a killer who brands his victims with You Are Dead. It takes a while to link all the cases together and work the timeline back to cold cases but it winds up to a dramatic ending past anything you could expect.

There is also a new lead to follow on the whereabouts of Roy Grace’s first wife. This sees him confronting some long-held feelings at a time when he believes he is moving on with his life after finally being able to declare his wife dead.

I don’t read much in this genre but these books are easy to read and hold your attention throughout. They are obviously written with an inside knowledge of policing due to the level of information provided which makes them more believable.

I’m sure I’ll read more of the series in the future, just maybe not in order!

Have You Ever Been Asked To Provide A Service Review?…

I know we are all asked to review service everywhere we go from Superdrug to your local restaurant and normally they offer you the chance to win £100 for leaving a review.

That isn’t the kind of review I mean, let me explain…

I recently went to a furniture shop to order a new settee. On completing the purchase we were told by the sales rep that we would be contacted by text for a review of the service we received. We were then asked to rate it as a 9 or 10 as anything below a 9 resulted in the rep being hauled in front of their supervisor for a debrief.

Now this put me in a quandary. As a shopper I make most of my purchases, as do most people online. I took the decision a long time ago to not review any purchases as it meant I would save myself half a lifetime in writing reviews. So whether something is good or bad I say nothing.

The same for shops who ask me to review to enter a prize draw, it always goes in the bin. I’ve worked in a shop and I know how hard it is to maintain a sunny disposition all day long and not look like you would rather be anywhere else but there. I don’t think people need to be pulled up over it. Some people see shop workers as their own personal servants and talk to them as if they are something you scrape off your shoe. The customer is always right, as the saying goes, only they are usually wrong and refuse to accept it.

So faced with the text message asking me to review my service of said furniture purchase I was torn between sticking to my guns and deleting without reviewing and helping the sales rep out. Even though the very suggestion of being asked to leave a certain review made me want to add into the comments – I left this review as I was told to.

When I thought about the service we received that day it wasn’t the best. We’d looked around 4 furniture stores in a row and came back to this one to order. The first time we were in there we had been approached for help we didn’t need at that time. As I predicted when we went back to order there was no one free to be seen. I wandered the store 3 times and then tried to log on to the website on my phone to do the order myself, only to find the website was practically unusable in the mobile version.

At this point my Mum came back from the hardware store next door and said she had seen someone not doing anything and called the guy over. We eventually placed the order after going through all the questions and possible extras. Then came the request for a review.

The honest thing to do would have been to say I was less than happy with the service I received and yet once we had a rep helping us it was all done with no fuss. The guy was good at his job and that was what made me feel guilty enough to leave a review.

I wondered if he had bad reviews in the past and if he was trying to avoid more trouble or if he was just playing at my heart-strings. It seemed harsh picturing him trying to explain why he didn’t give us a better service to his superiors.

But then it makes a mockery of the whole thing. It’s probably a company directive to avoid them getting negative reviews. I’m sure they are listed somewhere on the website or at least collated for company purposes.

If you are providing good service then you shouldn’t have to tell people to review you at a 9 or 10 as they will happily do it. As we all know the professional review writers and people who love to have a soap box will write in depth reviews on who to speak to and what day is best to get them. I find product and service reviews now are not as reliable as they were, especially when most are paid for writing them.

Sadly my review was just as redundant, I gave 9 out of 10 as I never review anything at the highest mark. There is always room for improvement. If it was up to me I wouldn’t have reviewed at all but due to not being able to find anyone to help us for about 20 minutes an accurate review would be 6 or 7/10!

Writing Tips For Authors…

I haven’t done this in a while but I came across a range of websites and articles that I thought might be helpful for fellow authors and I wanted to share.

How to Get Your Book Distributed: What Self-Published Authors Need to Know

Three Things Most People Don’t Know About Book Cover Design

How to create a book cover

6 Ways to Get Creative with Writing Your Blog Content

The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2017

Winter of the World by Ken Follett

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Winter of the World is the follow on book from Fall of Giants in the Century of Giants Trilogy.

We pick up the same characters dealing with the aftermath of the first world war and watch them all try to navigate their way through their own particular hell in the second world war.

The book moves from the UK, to France, to Germany, to Russia, to America, to Pearl Harbour and back again so seamlessly tracking the characters on their travels.

You were connected to the characters in the first book and this continues on through the second. You want to keep reading to see what happened to them. The amount of detail makes you feel like you’re personally there.

I would imagine a lot of the historical content is accurate but that some of it is manipulated to include the fictional people. To be able to keep track of what is happening in different parts of the world to different characters at the same time and to keep the stories flowing takes a level of skill most of us could only dream of.

I can’t wait to read the final instalment in the series (Edge of Eternity) to see how the lives of the people I feel I know turn out. Although the book was over 800 pages long it in no way felt laboured to read, in fact it is the opposite, too hard to put down!

I found my copy of this book in the poundshop one day last year and I have to say it’s a travesty that it was there at all but my very good fortune to find it. I’m off now to order the last book.

Are You Planning Your 2017 Holiday?…

I came across this website the other day listing the best new hotels around the world and it made me want to book a holiday!

I thought I would share it for those of you out there looking for somewhere to catch some sun and relaxation this year!

The Best New Hotels in the World

Tuesday Cinema Club: Patriot’s Day

I ended up seeing Patriot’s Day earlier than I thought as Hacksaw Ridge was no longer showing. I guess I’ll have to wait till Hacksaw Ridge is out on DVD. I liked the look of the trailer, I love a good war film but my cinema companions said they felt like they’s seen the film already and it was boring.

Anyway to Patriot’s Day and the story of the Boston Marathon bombings. I remember seeing some of the footage at the time but I don’t spend much time watching the news. I find it all too depressing. So for me a lot of what I saw in the film I was hearing for the first time.

The film shows the lead up to the day, the day itself and the aftermath from the perspective of a number of key individuals from the police, FBI and general public.

It also shows background on the bombers themselves, which I imagine is from pieced together information, rather than accurate accounts.

They show some actual footage from the time, one of the most evocative scenes being Boston on complete lock down with deserted streets, like some sort of ghost town. When you think of the size of Boston is just doesn’t seem possible they could manage it.

The police in America get a lot of negative press and I’m sure in a lot of cases this is justified but it was interesting to see how they go about tackling the investigation of something so horrific. It’s hard not to want to react as a human being and lash out at anyone around you and seek revenge when something like that happens. It’s a spur of the moment reaction to your body being flooded with emotions all at once that you can’t process and control quick enough.

But as a professional you have to learn to get past that and engage your thinking brain to avoid loosing evidence in what it absolute mayhem. Where do you even begin to start controlling a crime scene and evidence chain under those circumstances when all people want to do is pile in and help.

As we know one of the bombers was killed whilst trying to be apprehended and attacking the police, run over by his own brother fleeing the scene. His brother is on death row, sentenced to lethal injection but it appealing his sentence. It seems he is no longer brave enough to take the consequences of his actions that day and what happened when he tried to escape the police.

The thing to take away from incidents like this is that the good in human nature will always come out when challenged and love with always overcome hate.

Tuesday Cinema Club: Hidden Figures

This film didn’t really come on my radar until I went to see Lion and once I saw the trailer I knew I would go and see it the following week.

There have been so many films made about NASA and their space missions that you think you’ve heard all the stories there are to tell, but this film makes you realise there is always something else to learn.

To see women excelling in high paced jobs and being given their proper recognition is something that should have happened much sooner. The black women in question are an inspiration to many others and rightly their story should be heard and now they have.

I found the whole film interesting and I’m glad I took the time to see it. I’m also glad that they didn’t try to explain any of the maths that they were constantly working on as it would have made the film very dull.

It was interesting to see that the very first computers were annoying and glitchy at set up and when you need them to be on top of their game, some things never change! But where would we be without them?

I believe it is especially important to show women as engineers. There is a shortage of people training to become engineers and in the future that could mean that we are left with little innovation in the world and that is a sad thing.

I worked for an engineering firm for 12 years and whilst I never trained, I was asked to look into mechanical engineering. For me it wasn’t something that held my attention. But after typing technical specifications for 12 years I could on occasion challenge something that didn’t feel right in the way it was included and more often than not I would be correct.

Even though I didn’t design any of the projects, I played my part and it was always nice to see the end photo’s and see it all come to life.

Maybe if we show more young girls and women this film we might capture the imagination of the next generation of women who decide to break down barriers to achieve their goals.

Tuesday Cinema Club: Lion

I’ve spoken to a few people about this film and not one of them had anything bad to say about it, me included.

I was told going in to have my tissues ready as it tugs on the heart-strings and they weren’t wrong.

It is the story of a boy who goes missing in India when he is 5 years old after falling asleep on a train and only being let out days later, thousands of miles away in Bengali speaking Kolkata. Unable to make himself understood he tries to walk home to his Mother.

You feel for this poor child alone in the middle of a strange town filled with people who don’t understand him, with no money and no way of knowing how to get home.

When you see later in the film the attempts adult Saroo makes to find his home you can only imagine the frustration he must feel.

I’m trying not to give anything away but most people know the broader aspects of the story. Never the less there was a very satisfying ending and most people had a chuckle and a smile on their face through the tears as they walked out.

I would recommend seeing this movie if you can, sometimes it’s nice to watch something real and not all CGI and blowing up cities.

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