Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Straight Chatting from the Library - Visiting Lilly by Toni Allen

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Toni will be awarding a free e-book of VISITING LILLY and a FREE TAROT CARD reading for one lucky commenter to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. Mostly I love his turn-of-phrase and keep reading through the pages to find the next gem. He puts words together in such a way I simply say, ‘Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.’

The main protagonist, Jorg Ancrath, should be someone we run from and despise, but the more the character unfolds, the more my empathy grows. Was he born bad or made bad? He’s fascinating, and with each scene we find out a little bit more about what motivates him and, perhaps, why he is as he is.

E-Reader or print? and why?

I much prefer print. I enjoy flicking back to something I’ve read and rereading a scene or two that I hadn’t paid enough attention to. I’m a very visual person and remember things like, that was top of the right hand page about a third of the way into the book, or bottom left three pages back. An E-Reader simply doesn’t have that ease of movement. This is especially important when reading non-fiction, and a friend of mine was, only the other day, griping about how useless a Kindle is for quick ‘dipping in’ for non-fiction. I also enjoy having shelves of books. I can read the titles, see the covers, and bring back memories of what I’ve enjoyed reading.

One book at a time or multiples?

I read one book (paperback) at a time. BUT! I’m a very slow reader. Friends have commented that this is because I read every word of a book and never skim read like some people I know. However! I also have a Kindle reader on my work computer. Did I say my work computer!? Naughty, naughty. I’m self-employed so there’s no boss to hassle me about it. On my Kindle reader I download what I call easy reading. A romance, chick-lit, something light and fun. I read these between work tasks for light relief during my tea breaks. A chapter here, a chapter there. The other book, which will be a paperback, is saved for my evening or bedtime leisure read. The two books are always completely different genres and styles. The physical book is something to be savoured, the Kindle read is something snatched at between tasks so that I switch off and think of something completely different for a while.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

I’m very fussy about my books and like to keep them in pristine condition, so I’m a bookmark girl. I have a very cute bookmark with a dog’s head that sticks out the top of the book. It’s soft, like a cuddly toy, and has floppy ears. So I guess you could say that my books are dog eared as well as bookmarked.

Favorite genre?

I don’t think that I have a favourite genre. I enjoy mysteries and thrillers, but equally I enjoy fantasy and romance. It’s the characters that grab my attention, the author’s slant on how that particular individual sees the world and interacts with it. I’ll try most things once, but call me a bit of a baby when it comes to reading, I don’t enjoy books with pages and pages of descriptive text and no dialogue. I find that kind of book dry and tiresome. I’d much rather be in with the characters and the action, because as beautiful as the landscape or fancy interior might be, it’s the people I’m interested in. I want to hear their story.

Do you loan your books?

I used to, but stopped after so many books refused to come home again. Mostly it was my non- fiction that disappeared onto someone else’s bookshelf, and I lost some real treasures. Now I don’t lend anything, but the embarrassing thing is that I have a stack of books belonging to other people. I always mean to give them back: honestly.

Favorite book to recommend?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Every time I talk to someone about this book it becomes clear that they simply don’t get it. If they’ve read it before I often wonder if we’ve read two completely different books. It’s a terrific novel and well worth a read because the social comment it makes is a fascinating insight into life in the 1920’s.

How do you keep your books organized?

All of my non-fiction books have very specific places to sit. I have an entire bookcase of art books. I have four shelves of astrology books (I’m a professional astrologer), one of those shelves being on my desk for quick reference while working. I have a small bookcase of Tarot books. (I’m also a professional Tarot reader) I have a glass fronted cabinet with some signed hardback fiction and a few great art books that I enjoy showing off. I have a lockable cupboard with my antiquarian treasures and rare imprints, which I peruse on rainy days and sometimes show to friends. (They’re my secrets) Novels hang around wherever they like. I have a wobbly tower next to my bed, a hall cupboard that’s creaking at the seams and a loft full of old novels I really should clear out. Mind you, I know where every novel is, so woe betides the person who thinks they can casually borrow one without me noticing.

Re-reader or not?

Some books I’ve read I shall probably never read again. Not because they weren’t good or satisfactory, but because once was enough. Other books I periodically re-discover lurking in a cupboard (That hall cupboard I mentioned earlier) and dust off for a second or third read. Sometimes it’s the story I’m after, but also I’m attracted to the author’s style or clever way of developing the characters. It’s like visiting an old friend, and feeling really pleased that I called on them again.

What would make you not finish a book?

Sometimes I read historical novels, and if it’s set in a time that I’m familiar with, then I will put the book down as soon as I know that a historical fact is inaccurate. From that point on I can no longer trust the rest of the writer’s historical data. I become suspicious that I’m being fed false information, and as I’m really keen on learning history, the last thing I want is a head full of conflicting information. I’m a stickler for details. The worst mistake I ever spotted was from an incredibly famous author who had her main characters using playing cards, in England, in 1250. That is simply impossible. I haven’t read one of her books since.

Another reason I put down a book, never to pick it up again, is if I really don’t care about the characters. One author, whose name I won’t mention, had me hooked until halfway through this huge tomb of a novel. The writing then became so slow it was as if they were packing out the pages with unnecessary description to get the word count up. When it came to the grand finale I was so fed up with the main protagonist that I really, and truly, wanted the baddie to hurry up and kill her so that I’d be put out of my agony. By this time I was certain that I’d read the same description of eerie mist about a hundred times, and that the ghost under the carpet really should have shown its face by now. With about fifty pages to go I threw the book in the bin and have never read anything by her again.

D.I. Jake Talbot is a burnt-out British detective given a second chance to believe in love, friendship and the transcendent essence of the human experience. When he investigates a seemingly innocent visitor to a residential care home for the elderly he uncovers a dangerous family hiding a forbidden romance that mysteriously crosses the boundaries of time. The deceitful family does all they can to prevent Talbot from discovering their secrets surrounding an unsolved murder, family betrayal; at the core of which is a keenly intelligent, though somewhat mentally challenged young man who is fixated on an elderly woman being held captive by her own grandson. Talbot sets out to right the many wrongs done to the blameless, and in turn, rediscovers his own humanity.
Bailey’s warned off

Chapter 23

‘I’ve been warned off, Jake.’


‘Had a phone call from that twit Weissman, about an hour ago.’ He nodded in response to Talbot waving the coffee jar. ‘He told me I was making too many waves, asking too many questions, helping you out too much.’ He pressed his index finger firmly on the manila folder. ‘Keith McKenzie’s school reports that you requested.’ His lips curled into a snarl. ‘I won’t be able to offer much more. Damn people.’

‘May I ask who these damn people are, sir?’ Talbot asked, hoping Bailey knew more than he’d gleaned from Weissman, but the answer was disappointing.

‘All I know is that they’re a psychiatric unit connected to the MOD, and have a lot more clout than I do.’ He frowned, sat down and picked up Lilly’s photo again. [***] ‘And all for a bit of skirt.’ Opening his fingers, he let the picture float to the table. ‘Putting you on this case, they’ve stolen one of my best resources ... and then they expect me to back down and not offer assistance.’

‘Why exactly is that, sir?’ Talbot smiled, amused by Bailey referring to him as a top resource. He placed the drink in front of him.

‘Digging. Christ, you’re allowed to go digging, unofficially, but it appears that anything I do leaves a footprint they’re not keen on shadowing.’

‘Odd, isn’t it.’ Talbot nonchalantly lit a cigarette. ‘Weissman was correct in his prediction that being a lone dog wouldn’t be much fun ...’ He leant very close to Bailey, tried not to grin, and said in a hushed whisper, ‘Of course, sir, you’ve been behind a desk a while now; I guess you wouldn’t be much interested in offering a little covert assistance.’ >

‘I never have liked your methods, Jake, never approved.’ Bailey sipped his coffee. ‘What did you have in mind?’


Toni Allen is a professional tarot reader, astrologer, author and photographer.

I’ve been a professional tarot reader for about 30 years, and an astrologer for about 25. Now, thanks to the internet, I have an International client database. My main website is creaking because I haven’t updated it for so long, but it’s still fully functional and full of lots of interesting information. . A new build is underway, with lots of modern bits and pieces so that you can connect with me via Facebook and easily keep up to date with events that I’m offering readings at.

Amazon author page: ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=undefined&sr=8-1