Posts from the ‘News’ Category
August 17, 2018
As a small tribute to Aretha Franklin, this excerpt from Reach the Shining River, a novel by Kevin Stevens, writer and jazz connoisseur:
“A full house was tough on the nerves but easier to gather and please. If you knew what you were doing, and Arlene did. Had known from the beginning when, eleven years old, she sang “Go Tell It on the Mountain” in the Mount Zion church choir. Hitting the notes, yes. But plenty of singers could carry a tune. You had to get the audience involved. Start a conversation with them. You had to have soul.
Otis was at the piano, warming the crowd with a little boogie-woogie. Piney gave him the high sign and he segued into the first song.
The audience stirred, and faces turned stage left. Draymen, day laborers, housecleaners, cooks, domestics: these folks worked with their hands but knew their chord progressions. “Lady Be Good” was Arlene’s calling card – not the white-bread Fred Astaire arrangement but Bill Basie’s Kansas City version, up-tempo, swinging, with Lester Young soloing on tenor like he was making love to the long-legged gal serving drinks.
Arlene stepped into the light, singing just a shade behind the beat, her hands moving down along the sequins of her dress, from breasts to hips to thighs. It wasn’t the words that carried the soul but the ghost of Young’s saxophone, its sexy lines floating in her mind. Voices called out from the semi-darkness, filled with lust and admiration and surprise. Glasses clinked. The air was blue with cigarette smoke. Ecstasy and longing and gospel shouts. But this wasn’t church.
Listen to my tale of woe
It’s terribly sad but true
All dressed up, no place to go
Each evening I’m awfully blue.
The audience went with her from the start. Otis was just good enough. She followed with “All of Me”, “If You Were Mine” and “It’s Too Hot for Words”. Then another of her torch songs, “Body and Soul”.
My heart is sad and lonely
For you I sigh, for you dear only
Why haven’t you seen it
I’m all for you, body and soul.
Out of the lyrics he appeared. Unexpected. Looming in her mind, cool and easy, pork-pie hat pulled low over his brow and cigarette glowing between his lips. From between the lines of a song, like Young’s tenor sax.
Her heart lurched. She struggled to continue.”
August 7, 2018
We just have to share this reader’s review! It’s wonderful when somebody REALLY gets the book! Thanks to @fatorange23, whoever he/she is, for sharing this with other readers:
Exciting Poetic Thriller
4 August 2018 – Published on Amazon.com
In order to be a great writer one’s style must be distinct. However, by daring to have a distinct voice a writer runs the risk of annoying or irritating the reader. O’Sullivan implements an obvious technique that’s often tried but very rarely succeeds. He builds the foundation of the plot with brief passages that are equal parts poetry and prose.
Honestly, if someone told me that I would NOT be inclined to read the book because I’ve seen it fail so many times. But the reason why it almost always fails is the poetry (or maybe more correctly put the poetic prose) doesn’t advance the plot. Usually, it will only serve to re-establish something. O’Sullivan advances the plot, economically even, while showcasing his skill as a poet – all the while, keeping the reader fully engaged and turning the pages.
I read comparisons to Murakami, Aldiss, and even Black Mirror writers. I love all that stuff but I personally think O’Sullivan offers us something we really needed much more deeply: a modern-day Edgar Allan Poe. Horror that dares to be great.
April 16, 2018
In Tom Russell’s song about Lightnin’ Hopkins, ‘Scars on His Ankles,” he writes of Lightnin’s scars on his ankles where the chain from the chain gang cut his skin. In Colin O’Sullivan’s jewel of a first novel, Killarney Blues, winner of the “Prix Mystere de la critique,” in France, the main characters also have scars, but they are the emotional ones, ones that were thought to be buried, ones that lie scratching deep beneath the surface of their skin, never to be forgotten.
Thirty year old Bernard Dunphy is a jarvey by trade, driving a horse-carriage, that carries the many tourists, who flock to the lovely Irish town of Killarney each year. Pulled by his old worn-out, dying, but gallant horse, Ninny, Bernard is considered by most a town weirdo. Gap-toothed, overweight, and grubby in his old tobacco and sweat stained black coat, that he wears on even the warmest of days. Walking alone through the town, large headphones in place, listening and mumbling along with the likes of blues-man Son House, as his raw, passionate, stomping sound tears up out of his body and soul, filling Bernard’s ears. “That rhythm is the beat of Bernard’s heart.”
He knows all the old blues-men, from Muddy Waters to Howling Wolf, Sleepy Ma Rainey, John Estes, and Robert Johnson. They are his heroes, and Bernard cannot get enough of them. In his small room alone at home with his guitar and voice, he records blues songs, then gives them to his childhood crush, and love of his life, the beautiful Marian, though she is less than pleased about it. In fact, her two childhood friends, Cathy and Mags, delight in teasing her relentlessly about poor old goofy Bernard’s ongoing devotion to her.
Bernard’s other childhood friend is the handsome, popular footballer, heavy drinker and ladies man, Jack Moriarty. Jack is supposed to be Mags steady, but he is spending a lot of bed time with her best friend Cathy behind Marian’s back. Bernard and Jack share a dark secret that remains a scar on their souls from a terrible night back when they were little boys, young and innocent. A terrible night that also scared Bernard’s father John Dunfey, who also loved the blues and taught Bernard to play, and his mother, Brigid, who smothers Bernard with love and devotion, since her husband John Dunfey’s questionable death by drowning in the lake. They only have each other, a home that once held lovely memories, but also a never-mentioned shameful secret. A secret that during this green, glorious summer will finally scratch through their skins, and alter all their lives.
The green and blue lake beauty of Killarney, Ireland, runs through this wonderfully written novel, and the blues are the glue that holds it all together. Colin O’Sullivan writes gloriously. Hope, frailty, sadness, joy, resilience and surprise. The novel jumps back and forth in time and character viewpoints, but never once does it alter in any way the grand flow of this lyrical and compelling story as it moves forward. The reader carried along steadily, and then hurriedly, as the pages fly by a bit faster, eyes reading in a hurry to find out what happens next, until finally the last paragraph, and a large smile spreads across the face.
Killarney Blues is what the pleasure of reading a totally enjoyable novel is all about.
–Marvin Minkler, Modern First Editions
April 3, 2018
If, like us, you value long-sellers over best-sellers and content over marketing, this book might be for you:
Book Noir review, published on March 30, 2018
Every time I read one of Hawken’s novels I enjoy it immensely; he is a consummate storyteller with a real knack for getting to the heart of the matter. La Frontera is a powerful novel because is deals with the lives of real people in tough situations. That has been a feature of Hawken’s writing since his first novel, The Dead Women of Juarez, a blistering thriller based on the murders of 1500 women in Ciudad Juarez during the drugs wars on the border. This was an important novel but Hawken has gone on to write much better thrillers (from a stylistic point of view). I don’t think anybody writes about La Frontera with the same depth of knowledge of the borderlands (north and south). Hawken is a Texan, and he brings the many stories of real people to life with compassion and honesty. In this case it is Ana, Luis and Marisol. That depth of characterisation sets his novels apart from a lot of thrillers and it’s totally engrossing. The people we meet on these pages are nuanced and complicated. Hawken seems to be able to make ordinary detail seem fascinating and once he introduces a character you will want to know their story. Most importantly Hawken knows how to tell a story with verve and depth; La Frontera is fast paced, absorbing and exciting – it is one of his best and that is saying something.
Full review here: https://nudge-book.com/blog/2018/03/la-frontera-by-sam-hawken/
December 4, 2017
Thanks to all those who voted in “My Favourite Cover” prize draw!
Cover art: Keith Mallett
Cover design: JT Lindroos
The two winners have been contacted by email.
They are welcome to share their prize in social media tagging Betimes Books.
November 27, 2017
Vote for your favourite Betimes Books cover for a chance to win a print copy of one of our books!
- The Prize Draw is open to people aged 18 and over who provide their email address by voting for their favourite cover and would be happy to provide their postal address if they win.
- Please select your favourite cover and send us your vote by email, to firstname.lastname@example.org with “My favourite cover” as Subject.
- No purchase is necessary!
- Only one entry per person. Entries on behalf of another person will not be accepted and joint submissions are not allowed.
- Two winners will be chosen from the draw of votes: the person who was the first to vote for the most popular cover + one random draw.
- The winners will be notified by email on Monday, December 4, 2017.
- The prize will be sent to the winner by post.
- The prize is non-exchangeable and is not redeemable for cash.
- The first name and country of the winner will be announced on this blog and Betimes Books Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. The winners are most welcome to share their prize in social media tagging Betimes Books.
- The closing date of the Prize Draw is 23:59, Dublin time, on the 3rd of December 2017.Votes received outside this time period will not be considered.
All our covers are designed by JT Lindroos.
If you wish to have a closer look at each cover, go to our Home page.
You can also see the back covers of the print editions on Amazon. We’ve provided the links below.
List of Titles
- The Painter’s Women
- Permanent Fatal Error
- The Red-Handed League
- The Death of Tarpons
- La Frontera
- The Last Island
- Central Park West Trilogy
- Dirty Pictures
- Silk for the Feed Dogs
- The Insider’s Guide to Betrayal
- Borderland Noir
- The Angel of the Streetlamps
- Killarney Blues
- The Starved Lover Sings
- Reach the Shining River
- In Love with Paris
- One True Sentence
- Forever’s Just Pretend
- Toros & Torsos
- The Great Pretender
- Roll the Credits
- The Running Kind
- Head Games
- Print the Legend
- Death in the Face
- Three Chords & the Truth
June 7, 2017
Donald Finnaeus Mayo new novel is available HERE
Last night saw the official launch of The Insider’s Guide to Betrayal by Donald Finnaeus Mayo at the Union Club in London’s Greek Street. Family, friends, figures from the world of publishing as well as guests from many walks of life gathered at the event to chat with each other and receive signed copies from the author.
With the horrifying events of the past few weeks events on everyone’s minds, the issues raised in the novel have seldom been more pertinent. How do we effectively counter terrorist atrocities that threatens us all, and to what lengths is the state justified in going in order to protect its citizens?
Donald Finnaeus Mayo signing copies of his latest novel “The Insider’s Guide to Betrayal” at the Union Club in London’s Soho
We’d like to thank everyone who came to the event, and to the Union Club for hosting such a fabulous evening.
June 1, 2017
Ten years, ten novels… And a graphic novel coming out this Fall. Hector Lassiter has been through good and bad times. But tough times don’t last. Tough men do!
Happy 10th anniversary to Hector Lassiter and his creator, Craig McDonald, and many happy returns!
Click here to view the Hector Lassiter Series
TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF A HECTOR LASSITER NOVEL
HECTOR LASSITER – Created by Craig McDonald
Pulp novelist and Black Mask contributor HECTOR LASSITER is more manly than you.
Or the United States Marine Corps, for that matter.
In [these] romping, stomping, wickedly imaginative historical crime novels […] by Craig “El Gavilan” McDonald, Lassiter, a combo of Ernest Hemingway and Rambo, manages to romp all over the twentieth century.
Along the way, he runs into – and generally kicks the ass of – serial killers, Mexican banditos, crooked cops, hurricanes, misguided revolutionaries, the CIA, assorted tyrants and thugs, and various participants in the Spanish Civil War. He also bumps into everyone from Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Salvador Dali, John Huston and John Dos Passos to Papa himself, and lives to tell the tales.
It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. And Hector is just that man, a hard-living, hard-loving, hard-drinking, hard-fighting and hard-writing son of a bitch who lives by the credo of writing what you know. And sticking his nose wherever the Hell he damn well wants. […] Trust me – the Hector books are a hoot.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith
Click here to see the original article
June 1, 2017
To mark the 10th Anniversary of Craig McDonald’s Hector Lassiter series, we are running a competition in which
the authors of the best three reviews of a Hector Lassiter book
posted on any Amazon website and live by June 12, 10am Dublin time, will win a signed copy of a Hector Lassiter novel!
Click here to view the Hector Lassiter Series.
Read and review of a book of your choice.
Contact us when your review appears on Amazon.
Please note that we’ll need your mailing address to send you “the trophy”!
March 30, 2017
This Friday, March 31st, the 2017 Franco-Irish Literary Festival begins and will continue right through the weekend. Organised by Alliance Française and the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Ireland, this annual festival celebrates the unique relationship between Ireland, France and other francophone nations through highlighting the work of their writers.
With fashion as the theme of this year’s festival, Betimes Books’ own Jackie Mallon had her first novel, Silk for the Feed Dogs, selected to be included.
Silk for the Feed Dogs follows Kat Connolly’s first steps as a fashion designer after she leaves Central St Martin’s School in London. Kat’s career brings her from one major fashion capital to another and, as an Irish girl trying to make her way in the international fashion industry, Kat not only encounters plenty of culture shock, but also finds herself having to compete for a spot with people who aren’t afraid to cut down those in their path. Based on her own experiences as a globetrotting fashion designer, Mallon humorously shares with us what it was like to work in this industry as an Irishwoman from Co. Tyrone.
As part of the Franco-Irish Literary Festival, Mallon will be speaking at a panel discussion on Saturday, April 1st at 12.15pm in Dublin Castle. We would love to see you there on Saturday to hear Mallon discuss fashion and writing with French writer, critic and film director Frédéric Beigbeder and Irish journalist Deirdre McQuillan, as well as her experience writing Silk for the Feed Dogs.
But for now, to celebrate this wonderful achievement, we would like to (re-)introduce you, to some of the colourful characters from Mallon’s debut novel.
Ever since she was a little girl, Kat has never followed the rest of the crowd. As a child growing up on a farm in rural Ireland, Kat was just as content feeding cows as crafting tiaras out of sweets and colouring pencils.
“…my ‘rainbow tiara’, constructed of three tiers of Caran d’Ache pencils adorned with clusters of M&Ms and trailing ribbons. Da laughed as the calf lapped contentedly at the candy, the ribbons tickling his nose, making him snort.”
The same individualistic spirit follows her to London and Milan when she begins her career as a fashion designer. Tired of copying other people’s designs in her first job in London, Kat makes a sudden decision to follow her friend, Edward, to Milan. Kat finds Italy’s fashion capital to be teeming with artists and fashionistas – but which are friend and which are foe? In the highly competitive fashion world, will Kat be able to distinguish between who she can and cannot trust?
Edward and Kat did not get off to the best start. When they first met at Central St Martin’s School, Edward made sure to demarcate a boundary line on their shared desk, with none of Kat’s fly-away sketches or rolling pencils permitted to trespass.
Despite the chilliness of this first encounter, the pair strike up an enduring friendship, built on their dry sense of humour, taste for the eclectic, and determination to succeed in spite of the naysayers.
“He sparkled from wherever he was in the room. The sequined head of Debbie Harry — actual size — emblazoned the left boob and shoulder of his t-shirt, silver discs flashing like a smashed heart of glass.”
As their careers progress in Europe’s fashion capitals and they grapple with shrewd landlords, exploitative bosses, and the might of the continental male, their friendship means they always have each other to fall back on.
“She was one of those women: the ones that intimidated me just passing them in the street, a lioness.”
Lioness – this is Kat’s word for the beautiful, confident women she sees every day in Milan. Ginevra, her Italian roommate, is just such a creature; her dainty frame may lead you to believe she’s a delicate flower, but in fact she’s a no-nonsense woman with her eye on the prize. Her prize? A strong Italian husband.
“With her tumbling tresses and prominently displayed bosom, she called to mind a saloon madam stepping between two cowboys who were brawling over one of her ‘girls’.”
With experience searching high and low for the ideal man, and having met one too many bambinos and Lotharios, Ginevra is well-trained to be Kat’s cultural advisor on the Italian male. Cocky or passionate? Or both? Kat’s at a loss. But Ginevra can help with that.
“They seemed to dance with a fire just behind the pupil. His black hair spiked every which way and his wide smile looked almost sinister outlined by a thick goatee like the ones people draw on posters at bus stops.”
The barman from Atomic who stares at Kat every time she’s there. Massimiliano looks like a cross between a wild pirate and a mysterious rock star, and it doesn’t take him long to grab Kat’s attention. But how will this Irish girl deal with his advances? With Ginevra’s vast wisdom at the back of her mind, can Kat work out whether Massimiliano is someone she can trust, or whether he is just another Lothario in it for the thrill?
“She was addressing a blond, middle-aged woman in a long coat and green gloves. It was an expensive coat that had led the life of an inexpensive one.”
Having missed out on featuring her designs in the graduate fashion show, Kat doesn’t feel very confident about her job prospects after college. While roaming through a clothes market in London, Kat comes across Lynda, her first boss. At first, Lynda and her design business look like the image of success, but not long into her job at Lynda Winter Designs, Kat begins to wonder what exactly she has gotten herself into. How long can she put up with Lynda’s ever-changing mood and love of pitting employees against each other?
A visionary. A shining beacon of fashion. One of the most renowned designers in the world – and Kat managed to get a job with him.
No one, including Kat, can understand how she stumbled across a position at the illustrious House of Adriani. Rude and unreasonable, Adriani does not warm to Kat at first; in actual fact, he treats her exactly the way he treats the rest of his employees.
“He’s like a child responding to a tone of voice but paying no attention to the words. You see, he’s so removed from the real world, he has no idea what’s going on.”
The difference though is that Kat has never been one to fall at the feet of another. Stubbornly refusing to become another one of his submissive “Adroids”, Kat has to find a way of keeping true to herself while keeping her job at the same time.
“The Adroids clucked approval at Signor Adriani’s every decision: if he said ‘white’, it was met with enthusiastic nods; if he abruptly changed to ‘black’, they chorused anew in the affirmative. When he talked down to them, they agreed wholeheartedly”.
Arturo and Paola
In Kat’s eyes, Arturo, the Creative Director of the House of Adriani, and Paola, his co-conspirator, closely resemble phantoms.
“Arturo and Paola floated silently by like two characters from a Japanese horror movie, pale faces gazing alertly through the glass. Both wore black, their bottom halves billowing.”
It seems to her that they lurk ominously around every corner, intent on proving to Adriani that she is an imposter undeserving of sharing their workplace. Arturo and Paola are Adroids through and through; they shower Adriani with praise and are hostile to anyone else’s ideas. But a fresh insight was exactly why Kat was hired. How is she going to be effective at her job while fending off Arturo’s and Paola’s repeated attacks?
I’m in mid-prep this morning. I’m delighted, if a little freaked out, to be participating in the Franco-Irish Literary Festival in Dublin at the end of this month with a bunch of exciting Irish and French writers, journalists and auteurs. There’ll be a film premier, an Yves Saint Laurent exhibition, readings and roundtable discussions (featuring moi!) throughout the three-day event. How did I end up among such an auspicious gathering of well-heeled intellectuals? Well, the theme of the festival this year is Fashion. E voilà, the French know a thing or two about both Fashion and Literature, and the Irish…well, the Irish can certainly write!
Copies of Silk for the Feed Dogs will be available for sale at the event along with the works of all the other participants. There will be time for some hobnobbing, earwigging, chin- scratching and tipple-sipping. Held in Dublin Castle, it’s open to the…
View original post 57 more words