#BookReview: Her Deadly Secret- @Christi_Curran #WhatsHerSecret? @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Christ Curran’s brand new novel, Her Deadly Secret!

About the Book

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

A FAMILY BUILT ON LIES…
A dark and twisty psychological thriller, in which a young girl is abducted and her family is confronted with a horror from deep in their past.
A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.
Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.
Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.
This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…

 

My Thoughts

I read and enjoyed Chris Curran’s previous novels so I was thrilled when I was invited to be a part of the blog tour for her new book, Her Deadly Secret. I was expecting great things and I’m so happy to say that it lived up to my expectations!

Her Deadly Secret is told from the viewpoint of two families. Joe and Hannah have just found out that their missing teenage daughter Lily has been murdered and are trying to find a way to cope whilst also being under the police spotlight. Rosie is happily married to Oliver but she still struggles to copy with the loss of her older sister many years ago. From the beginning I was suspecting a link between these two families but as the revelations start coming I was stunned!

I was very quickly invested in these characters, especially Joe, who is trying so hard to hold everything together as his wife falls apart. I also felt for Rosie as she dealt with the minefield of her father being back in her life after many years, and her mother’s acceptance of him. As much as I liked these two characters and generally was on their side, this novel does get so twisty that there were moment when I questioned my judgement of them.

This is a novel filled with secrets and lies, and eventually the house of cards starts to collapse as the truth begins to come out. I loved how some people were outright lying in their own selfish interests to cover their tracks but others were keeping secrets in order to try and protect others from the hurt of what they had believed at the time. This novel really does show the harm that can be done when people keep quiet in order to try to prevent loved ones from being hurt, even if it’s done with the best of intentions.

I raced through this novel in one sitting as it just grabbed me from the first chapter and kept me gripped, and needing answers right to the very last chapter! I thought I had it all figured out on more than one occasion but I have to admit that the final piece of the puzzle was just out of my grasp, which I loved as it’s nice to have a shock that you didn’t see coming in a thriller!

Her Deadly Secret is engrossing, twisty and when you think you’ve got it all figured out the rug will be pulled from under you all over again! I definitely recommend this novel!

I received a copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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Chris Curran lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex. Her first two psychological thrillers, Mindsight and Her Turn To Cry, were both Amazon bestsellers. She also writes short stories one of which was recently shortlisted for the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham award. Her latest novel, Her Deadly Secret, is published as an ebook on July 21 st 2017 and a paperback in August.

 

 

 

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following blogs:

BLOG TOUR- Her Deadly Secret (1)

#BookReview: The Other Twin by L. V. Hay @OrendaBooks @LucyVHayAuthor #TheOtherTwin

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About the Book

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth.

My Thoughts

I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Other Twin for weeks now and I’m so pleased that when I finally got to read it that it exceeded my expectations!

This is a psychological thriller but it is also so much more than that. It has twists and turns running throughout the book that will keep you on your toes until the very end when all is revealed, but it also is a very prescient look at very relevant issues in society at this moment. There is a lot about grief, about mental health and about the struggles facing the LGBTQ+ community. It’s also a look at the way we live our lives versus the way we present ourselves online – the novel takes India’s blog, and to a lesser extent the comments she receives on her posts, and shows how she was trying to explain her life to others while still concealing the reality and depth of what she was going through. I think so many people will relate to this in a variety of ways.

The novel is told predominantly from Poppy’s viewpoint but we also get a few chapters interspersed that are obviously important to the plot but we don’t know who the people are in the early part of the novel. This really helps to build tension and such a sense of uneasiness as you wonder how this will fit in to what happened to India. I was guessing for most of the book and whilst I did work it out before the reveal, I was still so on edge because by that point I was anxious that something really awful might be about to happen.

I didn’t really like any characters in this book (not that this matters at all because the story is so good) as most people seem to be focused on their own lives and there wasn’t a lot of warmth in any of them. Having said that, I did find Poppy’s grief and concern for what might have led up to her sister’s death palpable at times. It does lead her to make some strange, and sometimes downright stupid decisions that could potentially put her in danger, as she digs deeper into her sister’s life but I found her actions believable because of her grief and shock and that desperate need to know. I really felt for her because being estranged from a family member who then dies before any kind of reconciliation can happen must be so hard to come to terms with. Poppy did grow on me as the novel progressed and as she began to see what had been happening in the lives of the people around her, and as the tension really begins to ramp up, I was on the edge of my seat hoping that she would get through this unscathed.

I thought it was great that this book is set within a place that is generally known to be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community but that it also really explores what it is to have a family that doesn’t accept who you are. It must cause such a pain and conflict within to not be allowed to be who you are with the people who are supposed to love and accept you. The repercussions of this within the novel are enormous and it made me so angry  and so sad. I do love when a novel makes me feel such strong emotions for the characters and The Other Twin certainly does that.

I also love the title of this novel. When I read the synopsis for this book and saw that two of the characters are twins I assumed that the novel would predominantly be about them, and much of the novel does pivot on the these two and the way they see things and the way they behave but there seems to be so much else to this title. By the end of the novel it had me wondering if the title was also actually a play on the way people have two sides to them, which also ties into the idea of our real self and the self that we feel we have to, or are able to, present to the world. The cover design also played into this for me as when you wipe away steam on glass you may see the person standing on the other side or you may see a reflection of yourself.

This is a dark, disturbing and twisty suspense thriller, which also explores real and current issues in our society in a very honest, intelligent way. It grabbed me from the opening chapter and I’m not sure that it’s really let me go even now, days after I finished reading it. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut because it’s such an accomplished novel. I highly recommend The Other Twin! Already I can’t wait to see what Lucy V Hay writes next – I know I’ll be first in line to buy it though!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

 

You can follow the rest of this fabulous blog tour at the following stops:

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#BookReview: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf @hgudenkauf @HQstories #blogtour

 

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf and am sharing my review!

About the Book

‘I’m going to die tonight. But I won’t go quietly.’

Amelia Winn has a lot of regrets. She regrets the first drink after she lost her hearing. She regrets destroying her family as she spiralled into depression. Mostly, she regrets not calling Gwen Locke back.

Because now Gwen is dead. And as Amelia begins to unearth the terrible secrets that led to Gwen’s naked body being dumped in the freezing water, she realises that she might be next.

But how do you catch a killer when you can’t hear him coming?

 

My Thoughts

I’ve read and enjoyed Heather Gudenkauf’s novels in the past so I was looking forward to reading Not A Sound and I’m so happy to say that it lived up to my expectations.

Amelia Winn is a really interesting character and I got really engrossed in her journey throughout the book. Her life was torn apart when she was injured in a hit and run accident that left her profoundly deaf. This caused her life to spiral into depression and a problem with alcohol as she tried to cope, which led to her marriage breaking down. I had such sympathy for Amelia and was very invested in this novel and wanting her to be okay.

Amelia has dealt with what happened to her by cutting herself off from her old life, she no longer speaks to her old friends and spends most of her time alone with her hearing dog Stitch. They enjoy going paddle boarding together but one day this turns into a nightmare when Amelia discovers the body of an old friend of hers in the water. This sets in motion a train of events that will put Amelia’s life and sanity on the line all over again.

I liked that Amelia responds to what happened to her friend by immediately wanting to find out what happened to her. It gives Amelia a focus that is much needed in her life and whilst it comes from sad circumstances it does give Amelia a new direction.

This novel had me on the edge of my seat at times as Amelia begins to dig deeper into who might have killed Gwen. The fact that she is deaf really heightened the emotion in this book because I felt like I could hear things that she couldn’t, even though I was just reading words on a page – this is how invested I became in her story! It really does give such an insight into how life is for someone who is deaf – the difficulty Amelia has with phone calls for example and whilst her phone transcribes speech into text you can’t get the subtleties of meaning from a written translation of speech. There are times when Amelia doesn’t know if someone is being sarcastic, or sad or angry and it added to the story to be put in the shoes of someone who experiences the world differently to me. I’m disabled and know what it is to be paralysed and to have part of my body no longer feel like it is a part of me so I felt like I had some understanding of Amelia’s struggles, but even so I have no idea what it must be like to be unable to hear and I felt like this novel really gave me an insight.

This is a lighter thriller but still absolutely a novel that will keep you hooked all the way through to the end. I read it in just two sittings as I simply had to know how it was going to end. On more than one occasion I was sure that I had it all worked out but I never managed to completely put it all together and I like that it kept me guessing.

I loved Amelia and Stitch and really believe that there is potential for this novel to be turned into a series – I would be first in queue to buy the next novel if that happened!

This is Heather Gudenkauf’s best novel to date and I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

About the Author

Heather Gudenkauf

Heather Gudenkauf is the Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden and Not A Sound.

Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing loss (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.

Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.

Heather lives in Iowa with her family and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading and hiking. She is currently working on her next novel.

(Bio taken from: www.heathergudenkauf.com)

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following stops:

NOT A SOUND blog tour graphic

Find out what @EmilyBenet’s ideal hen party would be! #TheHenParty #BlogTour

Today I’m thrilled to welcome the wonderful Emily Benet back to my blog! Emily’s brand new novel, The Hen Party is out now and to celebrate Emily has told me all about her perfect hen party!

My Ideal Hen Party

Call me a party pooper but in my ideal hen party there are no rubber willies. Not dangling around my neck, not shooting up like a rocket from a hair band and not fixed to the end of my straw. I’m not that bothered about a sash either! Forget the L plates, at 33 years old I’ve only just learned to drive. The last thing I want to be reminded of while I’m trying to have a good time is my fear of driving alone!

In my book, the hens win a one-week holiday in Mallorca and are filmed for The Hen Party reality TV series. It sounds pretty great but the director has her own agenda and the hens themselves are keeping secrets from each other. I definitely wouldn’t want my hen party broadcast on national television and I’d only want my best friends around me.

In my ideal hen party the schedule would be very relaxed. I’d escape to an alpine cabin in the mountains and the day would begin with a swim and a picnic at the nearby river. Yep, I know it sounds a bit Enid Blyton, but hey, I love ginger beer… especially when mixed with rum. Although, I think cava suits the scene better. In proper glasses too. There would be a delicious spread. A lot of cheese. That bits important. A LOT OF CHEESE. And olives. I love olives.

It has to be sunny. We’ll go for a wander through the forest and all the wildlife will come out to meet us like in Snow White. Rabbits, hedgehogs, deer, maybe even a friendly bear. I love wildlife documentaries but would never have the patience to wait days on end for the perfect snap.

Back at our cabin, we’d have an Argentine-style barbeque with lots of red wine. The barbeque would turn into our bonfire which we’d inevitably end up dancing around to all our favourite tunes, because miraculously the signal will work perfectly for Spotify.

When the fire has gone out, we’ll lie on our backs and look up at the stars. I won’t have to pretend to see a shooting star like I did when I was little, because there will be so many. We’ll reminisce about the good times and have a good laugh at ourselves.

In short, my ideal hen party would be drama-free, unlike my book, The Hen Party!

 

 

I’ve previously interviewed Emily (you can read that here) and reviewed her last novel #PleaseRetweet, which I loved and highly recommend (you can read that here).

About the Book

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Film Director, Kate Miller, is in serious trouble. The entire cast and crew of the reality TV show The Hen Party has gone missing while filming in Mallorca. To make matters worse, the network boss has just flown in and will be arriving any minute to check up on her production.

Kate thinks it’s all her fault. She hasn’t exactly been following the guidelines.

But if she is to blame, why were the hens arguing among themselves? And why is the groom-to-be calling her in tears?

Kate doesn’t know the half of it. The hens have their own secrets and it’s only matter of time before they all come tumbling out.

A party of eight arrive on the island, but not everyone’s going home.

 

About the Author

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Emily is an author and award-winning blogger. Her debut book, Shop Girl Diaries, began as a blog. Her second, Spray Painted Bananas, racked up a million hits on the online platform Wattpad and  led to a 2 book deal with Harper Collins which led to social media comedy #PleaseRetweet. Her latest book, The Hen Party, is set in Mallorca where she lives with her husband and writes for abc mallorca magazine.

 

Universal Link:  https://books2read.com/u/b5Oyq7

My website: www.emilybenet.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EmilyBenetAuthor

Twitter: @EmilyBenet

 

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following stops:

Hen Party-Summer Blog Tour

#BookReview: The Things We Thought We Knew by @MahsudaSnaith @ThomasssHill @doubledayuk

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About the Book

Ravine and Marianne were best friends. They practised handstands together, raced slugs and went into the woods to play.

But now everything has changed.

Ten years later, Ravine lies in a bed plagued by chronic pain syndrome. And her best friend Marianne is gone.

How did their last adventure go so wrong? Who is to blame? And where is Marianne?

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of The Things We Thought We Knew for a little while now so I was thrilled when the publisher offered me an ARC to review recently. I’m so happy to say that this book was even more incredible than I was hoping it would be and I loved every minute that I was reading it.

I initially wanted to read The Things We Thought We Knew because I was fascinated to read a novel where the main character suffers from chronic pain, as it’s not something that is often found in novels. Mahsuda Snaith examines, in such a sensitive way, the complexities of pain – the way that pain can be physical and very real, and yet have roots to it that are emotional. I suffer with severe pain due to my spinal cord injury so am really drawn to books that explore pain in any way. In this book the character does recover early in the story but it’s the exploration of the reasons for her pain that moved me deeply. It takes a gentle hand to explore this without patronising people, like me, whose pain is unlikely to ever be better, and I really admire that in this book. Ravine ends up pretending about her physical pain but because I could see the other pain she was in I genuinely always felt sympathy for her – the physical pain that was real at one stage in her life became the only way she could block out the pain of her friend being gone.

‘There isn’t a constellation for pain, but if there were it would sweep over half the sky and be connected by a hundred stars.’

I was immediately drawn into the intrigue as to where Ravine’s best friend Marianne had gone. The novel opens in the present day and Marianne and her family have been gone from next door for a long time. Yet Ravine is in a state of limbo wondering where her best friend has gone. The picture of the childhood friendship of these two girls is gradually built up and I very much enjoyed reading this part of the book. It’s heartbreaking knowing that something pulled the two girls apart – the mystery of this had me hooked but it was more the way Ravine wrote about Marianne, a friend she clearly adored. These two girls had such a bond and Ravine lost herself when Marianne went away, and this affected me so deeply. This quote actually made me cry, it’s so poignant:

‘Even as a child I knew my life was rooted in yours. How am I meant to carry on when the roots have been pulled out?’

This is a coming-of-age novel about finding your place in the world, and about coming to an understanding of why people are the way they are. I really enjoyed reading about Ravine’s childhood as an asian girl growing up on a council estate in Leicester. The way it’s a multi-cultural city and yet a child can still stand out as being different because of the way her family express their beliefs, for Ravine it’s the way her mother dresses, and the way she has her dress. Ravine compares herself in childhood to her best friend Marianne, whose family is also asian but they dress in jeans and t-shirts and so fit in better. There are many memorable characters who live near Ravine, who are all so richly-drawn and memorable – even the ones we only hear about, such as the old lady across the landing from Ravine’s family. There is a real sense that everyone has their own problems to deal with and gradually through the book we get to see this. Ravine as a child, and then as a teenager stuck in her bedroom, doesn’t get to see the subtitles of why people are the way they are but we, the reader, really see the pain in what some people have to live through.

Ultimately though, this is a novel about memories; it’s a look at how we can, through no fault of our own, remember things differently than they were; it’s a look at how sometimes we choose to delude ourselves because the truth is just too painful to bear. It’s a novel about how we  protect ourselves from the most painful parts of life, it’s about how we survive when the worst thing we can imagine happens. It’s also a look at whether redemption ever comes, whether someone should suffer for what they’re perceived to have done or whether the pain they feel inside is enough punishment. Ravine’s pain is very, very real – some of it is physical and some of it emotional but all of it is real and she has spent a more than half of her life hurting. I was rooting for Ravine all the way through this novel, and she’s someone I absolutely won’t forget any time soon.

‘Memories pretend to leave you but they’re always there. Always ready to catch you off guard, to remind you that life is never as simple as what you happen to be dealing with at the time.

There is always the past, waiting to pounce.’

This novel is stunningly beautiful for so many reasons – the gorgeous writing and the wonderful turns of phrase, the brilliant and complex characters, and for the most heartbreaking descriptions of pain, in all its forms, that I’ve read in a long time. Very occasionally, if you’re really lucky, a book will come into your life at exactly the right moment and it will break your heart but then it will mend it again and make you feel so much better; this is that book for me. I am sure that this novel will be in my top books for this year, it’s definitely one I will remember and think about for a long time to come.

The Things We Thought We Knew is out now and I highly recommend you grab a copy as soon as you can!

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Mahsuda Snaith was born in Luton and brought up on a Leicester council estate.  She is a writer of novels, short stories and plays, and is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014, Bristol Short Story Prize 2014 as well as a finalist for the Mslexia Novel Competition 2013.  Mahsuda leads creative writing workshops at De Montfort University, has performed her work at literary festivals and has been anthologised by The Asian Writer, Words with Jam and Closure: Contemporary Black British Stories.

Mahsuda’s first novel is The Things We Thought We Knew. It will be published by Transworld in 2017 in the UK.

(Bio taken from: http://www.watsonlittle.com/client/mahsuda-snaith. Author photo taken from twitter.)

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following blogs:

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Paul E. Hardisty on Claymore Stryker | Reconciliation of the Dead #blogtour @OrendaBooks

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the Orenda blog tour for Reconciliation of the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty. Paul has written a brilliant guest post about the evolution of Claymore Stryker for my stop.

 

The Evolution of Claymore Stryker

In the opening scene of my new novel, Reconciliation for the Dead, the lead character, Claymore Straker, is in Maputo, Mozambique, considering his future. It is 1997, and he is on the run, again. The events of the last few years (described in the first book of the series, the CWA Creasy New Blood Dagger shortlisted The Abrupt Physics of Dying, set in Yemen during the 1994 civil war; and the second book, The Evolution of Fear, set largely in Cyprus and Istanbul in 1995) are behind him now, but still raw in his memory.

He has just finished testifying to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, having returned to South Africa for the first time since being dishonourably discharged from the army and sent into exile over fifteen years earlier. Over three days of testimony, Clay takes us on a journey into the darkest chapter of his country’s history, revealing the horrifying events that led to him abandoning everything he was raised to believe in. It is 1980, Clay is a young paratrooper, fighting on the front lines in South Africa’s war against the communist insurgency in Angola. On a patrol deep behind enemy lines, Clay is confronted by an act of the most shocking brutality. It will change him forever. Wounded in battle, struggling to make sense of what he has witnessed, Clay tries to uncover the dark secret behind those events, and what lies hidden in apartheid’s murky core.

For fourteen years, Clay tries to forget the past, buries it deep. But as the years go by, his post-traumatic stress worsens. Then, working for an oil company in Yemen, everything starts to unravel, and the horrors of war come flooding back. As civil war erupts, he meets Rania LaTour, a French journalist. She becomes the dominant influence in his life. In the face of the terrible injustice he witnesses, he must decide whether to act, or turn away and abandon his friends. Later, in Cyprus, increasingly beguiled and influenced by Rania, he recognises his need for absolution, and realises that he must go back and tell the truth about what happened all those years ago in South Africa. Only then, he believes, will he find a measure of peace, and perhaps become the man Rania deserves.

As the series continues into its fourth, and quite possibly final, instalment (The Debased and the Faithful, due out in 2018), Clay continues to evolve as a person. In a way, I consider the series more a fictional biography in four parts, than a traditional crime series. The situations into which he is thrust, into which he drives himself, are the direct consequence of the events and the people that have shaped him. Each exerts its own unique influence, and together, combine to make him the person he is destined to become.  How it will all end, I don’t quite know yet. All I know is that Clay’s journey is not over, and is about to get a whole lot more difficult. Rania’s too.

 

About the Book

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Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.

It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.

Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

About the Author

Paul Hardisty

Canadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

You can find Paul on twitter: @Hardisty_Paul

(Bio taken from Orenda Books website)

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the stops on the poster below:

Reconciliation for the Dead Blog Tour poster

#BookReview: Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson #BlogTour @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks

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About the Book

Evil remembers…

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.

Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?

Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French truecrime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to take part in the blog tour for Block 46 as I’d already heard about it and was really keen to read it.

This book was far more harrowing than I was expecting, and it was definitely more brutal and graphic in some of its descriptions and yet it was impossible to put down. I wanted to know what was going to happen, whether the case was going to be resolved and what all of the present-day murders had to do with the Buchenwald death camp.

I loved that this story is told predominantly through the eyes of a criminal profiler, Emily Roy, and a true crime investigative writer, Alexis Castells, who is also caught up in the murder of her friend Linnea. It gave a different slant to a crime novel than if it were told from a detective’s perspective and I found it really refreshing and different.

Emily is a fascinating character, I was intrigued by her all the way through the book. She has a very focused manner at times that leads her off into her own world and yet she deals with suspects so well and so cleverly. I also liked Alexis – she has a great way of being able to step back and see the bigger picture and complements Emily so well. They both have a tragedy in their pasts, which was touched on in this book so I’m interested to know more about that, along with how it’s affected them and made them who they are. I’m so pleased that there is to be a second book as I definitely want to spend more time with these two characters.

The scenes at Buchenwald were the hardest to read – it is so stark and unflinching, and I wasn’t expecting to read about the brutalities to the degree they were described. I could feel the sheer terror emanating through the pages. There were moments were I had to stop reading to just take a breath, but then the writing was so good that I was drawn to pick the book back up almost straight away.

Block 46 kept me guessing right until the very end – I genuinely couldn’t figure out who the murderer was. I thought I was onto something with a link to Buchenwald but I still picked the wrong strand to follow. I love when a book has me guessing and suspecting nearly everyone but not able to work it out; it doesn’t happen often but this book got me! I was honestly holding my breath as this novel gathered pace and I couldn’t read the words fast enough – I simply had to know who, what and where! The end, when it came, made sense but it left me reeling. I was honestly incapable of doing anything for quite a while after turning the last page, my mind wouldn’t stop turning over what I’d read. I was disturbed and unsettled by it but you’re meant to be, the writing is so brilliant.

Block 46 is harrowing, unflinching and brutal; it’s also brilliant, gripping and completely and utterly unputdownable! I highly recommend ordering a copy of this incredible crime thriller right away! I can’t wait to see what Johana Gustawsson writes next, I’ll certainly be first in line to buy it.

Block 46 was translated by Maxim Jakubowski.
Block 46 is due to be published on 15th May and can be pre-ordered now.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

Johana Photo

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour on the stops below:

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#BookReview: The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull #blogtour @rebeccamascull @HodderBooks

The wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

About the Book

In Edwardian England, aeroplanes are a new, magical invention, while female pilots are rare indeed.

When shy Della Dobbs meets her mother’s aunt, her life changes forever. Great Auntie Betty has come home from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, across whose windswept dunes the Wright Brothers tested their historic flying machines. Della develops a burning ambition to fly and Betty is determined to help her.

But the Great War is coming and it threatens to destroy everything – and everyone – Della loves.

Uplifting and page-turning, THE WILD AIR is a story about love, loss and following your dreams against all odds.

My Thoughts

The Wild Air is a wonderful novel, it drew me in from the prologue and had me captivated right through to the final page. This is the story of Cordelia (Della) Dobbs who knows that her place in life is to help her mother until such a time that she marries and has children of her own to raise. Della loves cycling and mending her bike and is fascinated by how things work. So when her Great-Auntie Betty arrives from America and introduces Della to kite flying and later aeroplanes it seems her life might be about to change beyond all recognition.

This book is so much about female ambition and determination and I loved that: from feisty, no-nonsense Great-Auntie Betty to her niece Della whose quiet desire to fly planes slowly becomes a real possibility. I so enjoyed seeing Della’s confidence slowly grow – it was lovely to see her find her voice, to begin to tentatively step forward and ask for what she wanted, to stand her ground. Even Della’s mum quietly admits to a long ago desire to achieve in a man’s world but it was something that she just couldn’t push ahead with. It means she has a real understanding of her daughter’s desire to achieve her dream though and she’s always very supportive of Della.

I’ve always been interested in the history around women pilots – I grew up near Hull so was always fascinated by Amy Johnson. Della felt like a real person to me, I absolutely believed in her – her sheer joy of flying planes just shines throughout this book and I was rooting for her all the way. It’s hard to imagine just how difficult it must have been for women in the Edwardian era to find a way into such a male-dominated arena. Della is referred to by one newspaper man as ‘little Della Dobbs’, which is so demeaning for an adult woman who is accomplishing so much in her field. It was also totally believable but still really quite shocking that some of the women who came to see Della were less than impressed with her achievements and were more interested in ‘the arrangements for [her] undercarriage’ – i.e. whether she still wore a corset! I really enjoyed reading about this obviously very well-researched time in history and about the women who paved the way for women pilots like Amy Johnson.

I have to mention one of the male characters in this book too. I loved Dud, he is such a great man and I loved his gentle nature and his enthusiasm for Della’s ambition to be a pilot. He believed in her from the day he saw her flying a kite and he never waivered in his belief in her. It was hard to read about what happened to him during the war, but again this was so beautifully and sensitively written – it really moved me.

The writing in this book is so beautiful and very evocative. My heart was in my mouth as Della gets her first taste of flying – I swear I could hear the propellers and could taste the engine oil. I was holding my breath as I willed her to get it right, to show the men on the ground exactly what she was made of. The moment she feels the wind in her hair for the first time, I could have been up there with her. The sheer magical joy just emanates from the page, it’s fabulous!

Rebecca Mascull really evokes what it was like to live in an era where flying was new and scary and exciting. This novel brought to life the way it must have felt to people to see these flying machines for the first time, and then for people to see female pilots in a time when women were expected to marry and raise a family, and not to have ambitions to have a career in any way equal to a man. The Wild Air is a beautiful, captivating novel and I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from Hodder via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Wild Air is due to be published on 4th May by Hodder & Stoughton and can be pre-ordered now.

About the Author

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Photo taken by Lisa Warrener

 

Rebecca Mascull is the author of THE VISITORS and SONG OF THE SEA MAID. She has previously worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England.

(Bio taken from: Hodder)

 

 

 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour at the blogs below:

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#BookReview: The Cows by Dawn O’Porter #DontFollowTheHerd @HotPatooties @fictionpubteam

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About the Book

COW n.
/ka?/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

THE COWS is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.
It’s bold and brilliant.
It’s searingly perceptive.
It’s about never following the herd.

And everyone is going to be talking about it.

My Thoughts

I have to start this review by saying that I completely and utterly adored The Cows! It’s a brilliant novel and it was exactly what I needed to be reading at the moment I read it.

This is a novel that really shows what it is to be a woman – the way we’re judged, the way we judge each other, the way we’re all trying to live up to an ideal that none of us can attain. The Cows is told through three narratives. Each of the three characters is so well-written that they feel like real people, and each voice is so distinct that you never lose track of who it is that you’re reading about.Tara is a single mother, who never told the father of her child that she was pregnant, and she feels she has to be a success at work and at home, to be everything to everybody. Cam is a very successful blogger who doesn’t want children but this ends up becoming the very thing that she is judged on and defined by even though it’s only one small part of who she is.  Then there’s Stella who is alone in the world – her twin sister, and her mum are both dead; her relationship is on the rocks and she desperately wants a baby. She feels such anger at the cards life has dealt her and yet is powerless to change what has happened.

I felt such a mix of emotions whilst reading this book – I was giggling at one point and tearful at another. The contrast between the women, but also the small similarities, really gave this novel depth and warmth. I’m very happily married but don’t have children. I never felt a huge longing for a baby but now life has made sure that I will never have children and that’s a strange thing to contemplate sometimes. I can understand Stella’s hopes and fears but I found it very hard to sympathise with the desperate lengths she went to. Ultimately though, she deserved understanding and care because she was driven to the point of madness by her need for a child, and also by her loneliness. Perhaps she would have behaved differently if she’d had a supportive friend who she could talk to and confide in. Cam is a fiercely independent woman and I admired her attitude to life, she’s the kind of woman I would love to be friends with. She is who she is and she never apologises for that, yet she remains such a lovely person. Cam’s relationship with her dad made me tearful – the way she let him help her with things because she knew it made him feel better made her all the more fab. I think she became my favourite character. What Tara did was shocking but what happened to her as a result was horrifying, and it echoed many of the stories we hear about women who do something and are caught on camera and then are judged for it forevermore. I felt so sorry for her with all the horrible attention and judgment that were thrown at her. The humiliation she felt was palpable, and the way other people, but women in particular, judged her generally but then with the infamy on top was awful but sadly all too recognisable

The society we live in now with social media being what it is is scary. Anything that we do is captured and there forever and no one is ever allowed to make a mistake, and so often we sit in judgment of others. I love social media because for one thing I wouldn’t have met my husband without it (we met on twitter) but also because I’m now housebound through disability and twitter and Facebook make me feel less alone, but there is a dark side to social media and it’s horrible to see and must be terrifying to experience.

The Cows is one of those novels that really shows the way that social media affects us – how it can ruin your life, or rather the trolls on social media can. It shows that you can be really well liked on social media and have lots of followers who hang on your every word but one opinion that the general public disagree with and the tide can turn against you. But it also shows the way that social media can bring friends our way that prove more loyal and kind in a crisis than the people we thought were our friends. The Cows also shows the power of standing up to what people say about you, about holding your head high regardless,and about the way there are still good people out there who will have your back.

The great thing that I took away from that book was the way it made me see that I don’t have to apologise for who I am. It reinforced for me that I can be who I am and I don’t have to say sorry for not being who others want me to be. It left me with a real sense of empowerment at a time when I was feeling like society had thrown me on the scrapheap. I honestly can’t put into words just how much I loved this book, it’s such an incredible read and I fully expect it will make my top ten books of 2017.

Dawn O’Porter tackles issues facing women head on in this book, she doesn’t shy away from any topic and it’s so refreshing to read. The Cows will make you laugh, it will make you cry; it will make you nod your head in recognition and it may well make you cringe at times but it’s a book that you want to keep reading and don’t want to end. This is a novel of our times and it’s one that I will read again and again. I highly recommend that you go buy a copy right now!

I received a copy of The Cows from HarperCollins via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Photograph by David Loftus


Dawn O’Porter is a broadcaster and print journalist who lives in London with her husband Chris, cat Lilu and dog Potato. She has made thirteen documentaries about all sorts of things, including polygamy, childbirth, geishas, body image, breast cancer and even the movie DIRTY DANCING.

Dawn has written for various UK newspapers and magazines including GRAZIA and STYLIST. She is also a highly prolific Tweeter and blogger of The Dawn Report. Although Dawn lives in London she spends a lot of time in LA and travels a lot. You may have seen her dragging two huge pink suitcases with broken wheels and a Siamese cat (Lilu) in a box through international airports. At some point she plans to get new suitcases – the cat, however, has a few years left in her yet.

 


 

You can follow the rest of this tour at the lovely blogs below:

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#BookReview: Good as Gone by Amy Gentry @unlandedgentry @HQStories #BlogTour

good as gone

About the Book

Eight years ago, thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night.

In the years since, her family have papered over the cracks of their grief – while hoping against hope that Julie is still alive.

And then, one night, the doorbell rings.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered a copy of Good as Gone to review for the blog tour as it sounded like such a gripping read, and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. I read this in one sitting as I just got lost in the novel for an entire afternoon!

I’m always intrigued by novels where someone has gone missing and then seemingly returns years later. It’s one of those things that you can barely even imagine and yet it has happened in real life too. In this novel I was immediately curious as to where Julie had been, and if this even really was Julie that had come back. I would imagine that if your child had been missing for all those years and someone who looked just like her came to your door you wouldn’t immediately question if it really was her because you would so badly want it to be. In Good as Gone it felt believable to me that the family accepted Julie back so quickly and didn’t question the situation, but as a reader I was quickly wondering if this really was going to be a happy ending for the family and it really made the book a gripping, rollercoaster of a read that I was so unsure and unsettled by Julie.

As we begin to learn more about Julie and where she might have been in the intervening years and what might have happened to her I found I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages, I simply had to know how it was all going to turn out.

My favourite thing about this book was the chapters by all the different people and how each chapter gives a clue and gradually a picture is built up about what has happened. It was great how the reader has much more information than the family and we are there in each setting and trying to understand whether this person was Julie or if that person was, but we also see the family trying to come to terms with what has happened, and they start uncovering secrets that have been held in the intervening years and have to deal with the fallout from that. I found I was trying to put the pieces together from the start and some things I got wrong and others I got right, it was very cleverly written.

I definitely recommend this book – it’s a gripping, absorbing rollercoaster of a thriller that will keep you turning the pages long into the night. Go buy a copy now, you won’t regret it!

I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Exclusive content from Amy Gentry:

What was your inspiration for writing the book? How has working in women’s shelters influenced Julie’s story?

For about a year, I volunteered as an on-call emergency room advocate for victims of sexual assault. When assault victims turned up in the emergency room requesting a forensic exam (aka rape kit), I would dispatch to the hospital to provide in-room advocacy and resources from the shelter. Thus I spent lots of time, often in the middle of the night, with survivors of sexual trauma in the immediate aftermath of their assaults. I was asked by women to sit in the room with them during the forensic exam, even hold their hands. I sat in hospital rooms with students, strippers, mothers, grandmothers, homeless prostitutes, veterans, political campaigners, athletes, you name it. The stories of abused and assaulted women were very real and vivid to me as I wrote the parts of my story that dealt with those topics. I became especially alert to the ways in which victims of these crimes struggle to protect themselves in the wake of trauma, often making choices which might seem to an outsider to be the wrong ones because they may hurt others or lead to the victim herself being retraumatized. Yet I came to understand how important that sense of choice can be for helping victims preserve a sense of agency and personhood that has been violated during the assault. Demanding that victims look or act a certain way, either before or after their assault, is one way we discredit victims and perpetuate rape culture. I also talked to many police and other first responders, and came to understand how flawed and human these professionals are in their own, often biased, responses to sexual assault victims. There is no such thing as a perfect victim, because people behave erratically in the wake of severe trauma; but for some reason we seem to demand perfection of sexual assault victims. This is really the underlying theme I wanted to explore with Good as Gone.

 

About the Author

AVT_Amy-Gentry_4494

Amy Gentry lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two cats. After graduating in 2011 with a PhD in English from the University of Chicago, she began a freelance writing career, writing book reviews, cultural criticism, and, for one strange and wonderful year, a fashion column. She frequently reviews fiction for the Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Journal, and her writing has appeared in Salon.com, xoJane, The Rumpus, the Austin Chronicle, the Texas ObserverLA Review of BooksGastronomica, and the Best Food Writing of 2014GOOD AS GONE, her first thriller, is set in her hometown of Houston, Texas.

Bio taken from the author’s website: amygentryauthor.com 

 

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#BookReview: Loving the Life Less Lived by @GailMitchell42 #blogtour @RedDoorBooks

9781910453261

About the Book

An essential companion for anyone dealing with mental illness.
Like many people, Gail Marie Mitchell battled with anxiety and depression for many years, finding it exhausting, stressful and demoralising at times.

Realising that this approach to her condition was futile, Gail chose a different approach: acceptance.

Taking control in this way removed some of the pressure and enabled Gail to focus on developing coping strategies, creating the tips and tools that are included in this empathetic and practical book.

Gail focuses on the positive aspects of her condition, showing how a person living with mental illness is so much more than the label that society puts on them. She found acceptance empowering, enabling her to live her life to the full. Perhaps not the life she had planned, but one that is happy and fulfilling and that she loves. She is Loving the Life Less Lived.

By sharing her experiences and describing what she learnt from them as well as the resulting coping strategies, Gail has created an essential companion for anyone dealing with mental illness and their family and friends.

My Thoughts

When I was offered the chance to read and review this book for the blog tour I agreed for two reasons. The first being that I want to read more non-fiction this year and it was nice to be offered a non-fiction book for review. The second and main reason though was because I have suffered with PTSD in the fairly recent past, and I had clinical depression many years ago so always feel like I can offer an insight into books about this illness.

Loving the Life Less Lived has two elements to it weaved together throughout the book.  The parts of the book that I enjoyed the most were the Toolbox ideas. Gail has compiled, in bitesize chunks, all the things that have helped her through her depression and anxiety over the years. Some are rooted in CBT and structured to help in recovering, others are hints and tips that will help sufferers who just need help to get through that day, or moment. I would recommend the toolbox sections to anyone who is suffering at the moment, and also to anyone who has a loved one who is going through depression and anxiety for ideas on how you can help support them.

The other part of the book is more of a memoir detailing Gail’s journey through her depression. This was harder to read, possibly because I’ve been through it and it reminded me of those dark days, but it does show the reality of what living with depression is like. Gail is incredibly honest throughout this book and I applaud that. She doesn’t sugarcoat how she felt in the situations life has thrown at her and I think it’s important to be open when writing a book like this.

Gail talks about the seemingly insurmountable goal her mum set her in giving her a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. Her mum told her that she would one day get herself better and to see the bridge in person, and this was at a time when Gail could barely leave her own house, but whilst that goal was too big to even contemplate Gail was able to work on much smaller steps that were on the way to potentially reaching the big goal. She talks about the gradual recovery from depression and then the relapses that followed but ultimately Gail does regain a level of mental health. So whilst this book doesn’t shy away from the dark depths of depression it does give a sense of hope. It’s important that books of this nature do paint a realistic picture but also that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

As I wrote earlier, I would recommend this book to anyone who is going through depression and/or anxiety, or to anyone living with someone who has depression and/or anxiety, in particular for all of the Toolbox ideas.

Thank you to Red Door Publishing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Loving the Life Less Lived is due to be published on 26 January and can be pre-order here

 

About the Author

gail-marie-mitchell

I’m a writer and I live with mental illness. Those two facts are the main motivation behind this website but they are only a small part of who I am and what my life is about.

I say I live with mental illness, I don’t suffer from it, I don’t battle with it (although for many years I did until I learnt the futility of the fight). I was first diagnosed with depression twenty five years ago and have been variously diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and depression ever since.  At times I manage my condition well using a toolboxof resources that I have discovered and developed over my lifetime. At other times I crash and burn, I have left upwards of ten jobs due to my mental health issues and spent many months and years on and off of benefits, hiding in my house unable to face the world or complete even the most simple tasks.

I have always been a writer, maybe not published, maybe not successful, but since the earliest age I have written poems, stories and articles in an attempt to make sense of this confused and broken world we live in. This led me to write Loving the Life Less Lived.

That’s not all about me – I qualified as a Chartered Accountant, I have worked as a Secondary School Teacher, I am a member of Mensa I have travelled around Europe, the Middle East and North America. I have taught in the favelas of Brazil, I am married, I am a fairy Godmother I am so much more than a medical label given by psychiatrists and GPs. I am not cured – but I am at present relatively stable. I work as a bookkeeper/accountant, write in my spare time and enjoy life to the full. It isn’t the life I planned, it is The Life Less Lived and it is immeasurably more than I could ever have asked for or imagined. 

(Bio taken from the author’s website: lovingthelifelesslived.com

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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Interview with author Clare Morrall & #BookReview of #WhenTheFloodsCame

 

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Today I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for When The Floods Came and was lucky enough to interview Clare Morrall! I also have my review of this wonderful book to share with you so please keep reading to the end of this post.

 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself, and also briefly what When The Floods Came is about.

I was born in Devon, but I’ve been living in Birmingham since I was 18, when I came up to study music at the University.  I teach violin, piano and music theory at a school for children between 5 and 11, and I also have a few older private pupils.  I have two grown up daughters.

When the Floods Came is my seventh published novel.  It is set about 50 years in the future, in an almost empty Britain, but rooted in the world as we know it now.  The majority of the population has died in a virus, and most survivors are infertile.  City centres have been sealed off and the country has been quarantined. The novel is about the Polanski family, who live in a deserted tower block on the edge of Birmingham.  There are Popi and Moth, Roza and Boris in their early twenties, Delphine in her teens and Lucia, who is eight.  They manage well, even though they’re so isolated, scavenging in the empty flats around them for spare parts.  They’re also supplied with essentials by drone drops from the Brighton-based government, the contents of which have become increasingly unpredictable. Then one day a stranger, Aashay, appears, who charms and alarms them in equal measure.  No one can decide whether to trust him or not, but they are all mesmerised by him.  He interrupts their organised life and leads them to a fair, cycling along motorways, through Spaghetti Junction, to an overgrown football stadium.  The book is about the strength of family relationships, their ability to survive once they discover that the most precious commodity in the country is children, and the precariousness of the life that we have created around us.

 

How did you first come to be a writer?

I have always preferred the world of fiction to the world of reality, so as soon as I was able to read, I was writing.  I was forever embarking on Enid Blyton adventures, Biggles stories, novels about boarding schools, all of them entirely unoriginal and none of them ever finished.  I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my thirties.  It was hard to find enough time, but once a week, for a couple of hours, I would go to a friend’s house and write.   It took another twenty years before I was published.  I still have four unpublished novels in a cupboard, and several folders full of encouraging letters from publishers and agents, none of which brought me any closer to publication.   My first published novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour, was actually my fifth completed one and it took five years to complete.  It was published in 2003 by a tiny Birmingham publisher and then unexpectedly went on to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.  It took me by surprise.  I didn’t even know the book had been entered.

 

What is your writing routine?

After the good fortune of the Booker Prize, I was able to cut down on some of my teaching hours and allow myself the luxury of time to write.  So now I don’t go into school until midday.  When I was squeezing small amounts of time out of an impossibly busy schedule, I had to be disciplined.  I couldn’t afford to waste the time – although I did occasionally go to sleep. So I’ve learnt how to get going without resorting to delaying tactics.  I now start work early and rarely struggle with lack of motivation.

 

I love how When The Floods Came is a dystopian novel but it feels so close to the world we’re living in now and is scarily believable. Was there a specific trigger that sparked your inspiration to write this novel? 

I’ve long had the desire to place people on bicycles, cycling along a motorway.  The idea has been at the back of my mind for ages, but I couldn’t decide on a way to make it happen.  Setting a novel in the future seemed to be the only reasonable way to achieve this.  Sadly, if the cars do eventually go, I’ll be far too old to attempt the actual cycling myself.

 

I think the thing I’m enjoying most about the book is that, whilst the dystopian landscape is terrifying and fascinating, it seems, at heart to be a novel about how people cope with what life throws at them. Do the characters come to you first or is it the general idea of a storyline?

I like unusual settings – I’ve written novels about a man in a lighthouse, a man who lives on a roundabout, a family who grow up in a crumbling country house.  So it’s often the atmosphere that inspires me and I then create characters to inhabit this world.  They grow and develop during the novel, as I never know where they’re going to go, so I usually have to go back to the beginning to check they are the same people I end up with.  I’m interested in strange people, the kind of people who are very isolated, on the outside looking in.  It was inevitable that I would eventually write a novel set in the future – in an empty landscape, a crumbling, decaying world.

 

I’ve been a fan of your writing ever since reading Astonishing Splashes of Colour when it was first released. What has your journey to publication been like and has it altered as each book has been published? 

It took a long, long time to get published in the first place.  Each time I completed a novel, I would send it off and forget it while I got on with the next one.  There were always so many interesting new ideas.  When the novels were returned, I would just send them out again, working my way down the lists in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.  Life has become much easier since then, as all my other novels have been published by Sceptre, who have always been very supportive.  I send the completed novel to them, my editor goes through it, we discuss any plot uncertainties or character inconsistencies, then I rework it, which usually takes a few months.  Then it gets read by a copy editor, who picks out more details.  It’s a long and satisfying process, and in between the rewriting, I start my next novel.  The entire process takes about two years in total.

 

What are you reading at the moment?

His Bloody Project  by Graeme Macrae Burnet, shortlisted for this year’s Booker. It’s very skilful, although a bit – er – bloody, I fear.

 

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

John le Carre, I think.  His books are so much more than spy stories – although I do like the shadowy world of spying.  He is a wonderful writer – very clever, literary, and perceptive about human nature.  He penetrates so deeply, understands the complexity of character and the nature of love,  and still manages to produce plots that take your breath away.

 

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

I’ve struggled with this one.  I’m afraid nothing springs to mind.  I usually tell people what I want to tell them anyway.  Nobody notices if you don’t answer the question correctly.  Or if they do, they never mention it.

 

 How can people connect with you on social media?

Another failure.  I don’t use social media.  I don’t have enough spare time – I struggle to keep up with my friends – and when I do have spare time I prefer to read or write rather than communicate.  I like space and silence  – I live on my own now and I love it.  I would be perfectly comfortable in an isolated tower block in an empty world.

 


 

My Review

I was thrilled when I received a surprise copy of When the Floods Came in the post as I’m a big fan of Clare Morrall’s novels. Her first novel Astonishing Splashes of Colour is one I still remember reading now and I read that when it was first published. This latest novel is just as brilliant.

When I first started reading this I was immediately drawn by what had happened to Britain. The descriptions of this dystopian future were quite chilling at times because the virus that wiped out the majority of the population in Britain, and the floods that followed seem absolutely believable given all that is happening in the world. I don’t know Birmingham very well but I could easily picture all that Morrall described.

Soon though I was drawn in to the Polanski family that have survived all that has happened and who are living in a high rise apartment block. They are obviously a very close family but they’re very insular and have never explored the possibility of meeting others who have also survived. Then one day an interloper appears and they are immediately fearful but also very drawn to him. Aashay is an enigmatic character, he’s exciting to the children of the family but the parents are wary. It’s impossible to put the genie back in the bottle though and once Aashay tells of the fairs where other survivors gather together it’s something the children simply cannot resist. What happens at the fair and afterwards makes this novel one that was very hard for me to put down!

I felt there was a bit of mystery in the novel too. The Polinski’s eldest daughter Roza’s fiance, Hector, who she met online through work, is a bit of an enigma. He appears to be quite perfect and is planning to visit soon so that they can get married. I was unsure whether he was real for a while, and I was also suspicious of whether he had any connection to Aastay – it added another dimension to the novel that kept me hooked as I wanted to know if there was a link.

This novel is a brilliant mix of a dystopian future and a study of the dynamics within a close-knit family.  I was utterly enthralled throughout and would highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 


About the Book

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A taut, gripping novel set in the future, when the lives of a family existing on the margins of a dramatically changed society are upset by a mysterious stranger.

In a world prone to violent flooding, Britain, ravaged 20 years earlier by a deadly virus, has been largely cut off from the rest of the world. Survivors are few and far between, most of them infertile. Children, the only hope for the future, are a rare commodity.

For 22-year-old Roza Polanski, life with her family in their isolated tower block is relatively comfortable. She’s safe, happy enough. But when a stranger called Aashay Kent arrives, everything changes. At first he’s a welcome addition, his magnetism drawing the Polanskis out of their shells, promising an alternative to a lonely existence. But Roza can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to Aashay than he’s letting on. Is there more to life beyond their isolated bubble? Is it true that children are being kidnapped? And what will it cost to find out?

Clare Morrall, author of the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Astonishing Splashes of Colour, creates a startling vision of the future in a world not so very far from our own, and a thrilling story of suspense.

 


About the Author

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c. Howard Walker

Clare Morrall was born in 1952 and grew up in Exeter.

She moved to Birmingham to study music and still lives there, working in the Blue Coat school as a piano and violin teacher. Her first published novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour (2003), tells the story of a childless woman who kidnaps a baby.  It reflects her interest in synaesthesia – a condition in which emotions are seen as colours.  The Daily Mail describe it as “An extremely good first novel: deceptively simple, subtly observed, with a plot that drags you forward like a strong current.” It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

(Bio taken from https://literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/clare-morrall)

 


 

You can follow the rest of this fabulous blog tour at the following blogs:

 

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Miranda Dickinson’s Top 5 Songs and Searching for a Silver Lining! #BlogTour

Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Miranda Dickinson to my blog! Miranda has shared five of her favourite songs from the 1950s and explained what they mean to her and how they fit in to her gorgeous new novel Searching for a Silver Lining!

My Favourite Fifties’ Songs by Miranda Dickinson

Music plays a huge part in my book, Searching for a Silver Lining. I first came up with the idea in a café that plays fabulous 1950s music – which in turn gave me the idea to have a running playlist through the chapter headings of the books.

There’s something wonderfully evocative and positive about Fifties’ music. It captures a time when young people were finally finding a voice and an identity and had high hopes for their own future. This is the world that the five young singers of The Silver Five inhabited – and their hopes and dreams form a central part of the story.

Trying to pick my favourites was hard work, but here are my top five 1950s songs:

1.Ain’t That a Shame by Fats Domino (1955)

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The moment you hear the opening bars of this song you can imagine yourself in the 1950s. It’s a classic that never fails to make me smile. In my book it’s the title of the opening chapter, where we first meet Mattie Bell as she comes to terms with losing her beloved Grandpa Joe – and battles regret about the argument that stole her last precious months with him.

2.That’s All Right by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill (1954)

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I’ve developed a bit of a thing for Elvis lately (you may have seen my Lego Elvis posts on Twitter and Instagram!) and this is the man himself at the very beginning of his career. I love the confidence and exuberance of his performance.

3.Memories are Made of This by Dean Martin (1955)

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You have to love Dean Martin! It’s a cute, catchy tune with Martin’s trademark smooth crooning – pure Fifties’ magic. In Searching for a Silver Lining it’s the title of the chapter where we see Mattie’s shop with all its retro treasures and the invitation to share them at a local retirement home’s memory day that will change Mattie’s life forever…

4.The Story of My Life by Michael Holliday (1958)

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Only in a 1950s tune can whistling work! It’s two minutes, twelve seconds of pure joy and I love it. In my book this is the title song for the chapter where former Fifties’ singing star Reenie Silver begins to share her memories with Mattie.

5.You Send Me by Sam Cooke (1957)

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I just adore this song. It’s romantic, sweet and Sam Cooke’s wonderful voice gives me shivers. It’s very special now because it’s the title of the very last chapter in Searching for a Silver Lining. I’m not giving anything away, but this chapter is my favourite in the entire book.

I’ve also written and recorded the song that appears in the book as The Silver Five’s biggest hit. Keep watching my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channel to find out how you can download it…

Thanks so much for reading this blog exclusive! For more, follow my Searching for a Silver Lining blog tour. I really hope you enjoy reading the story!

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Huge thank you to Miranda for writing this fabulous post for my blog. I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading it as much as I did.

 

About the book:

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It began with a promise . . . 

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything . . .

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.

Touchingly funny, warm and life-affirming, this is a sparkling story of second chances. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern, Searching for a Silver Lining will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

About the author:

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Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. From an early age she dreamed of writing a book that would make the heady heights of Kingswinford Library and today she is a bestselling author. She began to write in earnest when a friend gave her The World’s Slowest PC, and has subsequently written the bestselling novelsFairytale of New YorkWelcome to My WorldIt Started With a KissWhen I Fall in LoveTake A Look At Me Now,I’ll Take New York and A Parcel for Anna Browne. Miranda lives with her husband Bob and daughter Flo in Dudley.

To find out more about Miranda visit www.miranda-dickinson.com and find her on Twitter @wurdsmyth.

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour | Q&A with Wendy Walker, author of All is Not Forgotten

 

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker and I have a brilliant interview with the author to share today.

 

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

My name is Wendy Walker and I live in Connecticut, which is just northeast of New York City. I went to college at Brown University and law school at Georgetown University. I spent one year at the London School of Economics and I got to travel all around Europe. I have had many jobs from waitressing to investment banking at Goldman Sachs, to commercial litigation and now family law. I have three teenage sons and a large extended family.

How did you first come to be a writer?

After I had my first son eighteen years ago, I decided to stay home to raise my children until they were all in school. I felt lucky to be able to do that and so I took the job very seriously! But after about a year, I started to feel unfulfilled so I started to write whenever I had free time (which was not very often!). I had two more children in five years and all the while I kept writing. I even wrote in the back of my minivan while waiting for them at pre-school! It was a long road and 17 years getting to the writing and publication of All Is Not Forgotten. During that time, I published other novels, edited, and eventually went back to work as a lawyer (after 14 years away from the field). The work I found was in the area of family law and it was a wonderful fit for my life experience. I practiced for five years, eventually opening up my own practice, which focuses on consulting. But I never gave up the dream of making a career as a writer. I used to tell my boys that it was important to always have a dream, but to also be responsible. I kept on writing whenever and wherever I could. I am so glad that my children may get to see my dream come true (fingers crossed) so that they will believe what I told them about having dreams and never giving up.
What is your book about?

All Is Not Forgotten is about a teenage girl whose memory of a violent assault is erased with a controversial drug. In the aftermath, her family and the small town where she lives struggle with the inability to find her attacker and also with the emotional memory that still rages inside her.
I’ve suffered with PTSD so I was fascinated by the treatment concept in your novel – where did your inspiration for this come from? 

I read an article years ago about the emerging theories in memory science and the treatment of PTSD with drugs that can lessen the emotional impact of a trauma memory. I thought at the time that this could lead to significant moral, ethical and legal questions if such techniques were offered to victims of crime. When I decided to write a psychological thriller in 2015, I thought this concept would offer readers a great deal of substance and a real world issue that would be a talking point beyond the plot of the book itself. I started to do research and discovered that this area of memory science had just exploded and that drugs were now being developed with the hope of mitigating, reconsolidating and even erasing trauma memories. I developed the characters and plot in a way that I hoped would explore this fascinating topic.

What is your writing routine?

When my kids are in school, I start writing as soon as they are out of the house and I try not to stop until I have to pick them up! Sometimes, life gets in the way, especially because I work from home. But I have learned to be very disciplined about my time and I can write for 6 hours straight before I start to go a little stir crazy! I do not entertain writers block, and will always try to get something onto the page even if it doesn’t feel great at the time. I like to keep moving the plot forward and then revise as needed to flesh things out or improve the narrative.

For All Is Not Forgotten, I wanted to create a totally unique structure for the narrative. I designed it to move in different directions, backwards and forwards and sideways, but in a fluid, conversational way. It was my goal to grab the reader, make him or her stop everything else, put away computers and phones and televisions, and focus on the characters and the story and emotions they contain. So I used coloured notecards for each of the characters and their plot lines and then layered them carefully into each chapter so they would move forward but at points in the story where they fit organically. All Is Not Forgotten attempts to create that feeling of total escape by telling the story in a way that is new, but that feels as seamless as an engrossing conversation with a friend.

What has your journey to publication been like?

It has been wonderful and busy and everything you can imagine after 17 years of writing! Certainly, there have been BIG moments, like signing a film option with Warner Brothers and speaking with Reese Witherspoon about producing the movie. But mostly, I am working as hard as I can to write another engaging thriller, and to connect with readers about All Is Not Forgotten.

What are you reading at the moment?

Nothing but the draft of my new novel which is in the revision stage! I find that I cannot read while I am writing because I get the tone and cadence of the other book in my head and it’s hard to get it out! But I have a pile of books waiting for a short vacation in August. Can’t wait!

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

Right now, I am loving Mary Kubica’s work which is dark and suspenseful but also full of complex characters and family dynamics.

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

I am rarely asked what it feels like to be a writer after spending most of my life in more traditional jobs. I have some amazing author friends who also came to this world later in life and who manage children and homes and a writing career. And we laugh about the reality of our lives compared to the perceptions we sometimes come across. It is not at all glamorous and at times can be incredibly stressful! The thing about writing is that you do need blocks of time and rest and some stillness in your mind, and these things are very hard to find when you have children and work at home. It is also a lonely occupation filled with tremendous self-doubt each and every day. To sit in a room, alone, pulling thoughts from your mind and then turning them into words on a blank page, hoping they will be of interest to other people, is a very strange process! Being an attorney, you develop a certain amount of confidence that you know what you’re doing and that you are doing a good job. Writing does not afford that luxury. I don’t think I will ever stop worrying about whether my story is good, whether it will resonate with readers, whether it will find its audience. And yet, I would not want to be doing anything else!

How can people connect with you on social media?

I have an email which can be found via my website: wendywalkerbooks.com

Twitter handle is @Wendy_Walker

Facebook is: Facebook.com/WendyWalkerAuthor

Instagram is: Instagram.com/wendygwalker

 


 

I’ve read All is Not Forgotten and it’s a brilliant novel – I highly recommend it! My review will be posted soon on my blog. The novel is out now and is available from all good book retailers.

You can find the rest of the stops on this blog tour on the poster below:

 

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Blog Tour | Book Review: The Museum of You by Carys Bray #MuseumOfYou

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Today is my stop on The Museum of You blog tour and I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of this wonderful book along with an excerpt from the the book.

About the Book

Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He’s studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want – everything he can think of, at least – to be happy.

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother’s belongings. Volume isn’t important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.

But what you find depends on what you’re searching for.

My Review

I’m a huge fan of Carys Bray – I adored her first novel A Song of Issy Bradley so was beyond excited when Carys offered me the chance to read and review The Museum of You.

The Museum of You is a quiet novel but it is so beautifully moving. It’s told in alternating chapters between Clover and her dad, Darren, and then between the chapter breaks there is a page about an item that Clover is planning to show in her museum. These pages, and her innocence, were some of the most stunning moments in the novel. Things like the way Clover envisages her mum collection holiday brochures because she must have loved holidays broke me because reading this through adult eyes, it seemed that really Clover’s mum probably was just desperate for escape. It’s a cleverly written novel because we don’t know at the beginning what happened to Clover’s mum but as the novel goes on we learn bits and pieces and a picture emerges but Clover, as a child, fits the pieces together in a much more naive way. It’s so beautiful and is a real tear jerker.

I adored Clover throughout this novel. She’s such a big-hearted and intelligent girl. She loves museums and finding out about things and so when she discovers that all of her mum’s things are still stashed in her bedroom Clover forms an idea to make a museum of her mum. It’s such a gorgeous idea and so heartbreaking at the same time. I cried so much as Clover carefully put on gloves and started to carefully, and strategically work through her mum’s belongings – all done when her dad was out so that he wouldn’t know about it and get upset. I know it’s a slightly different thing but I remember having to sort out my mum’s possessions after she died and having the longing to keep everything as it was left but knowing I had to let most of it go, and I was an adult at the time. For a child to not really know about her mum, or really understand what happened to her, to then approach her mum’s things on her own is really sad. I loved how pr0-active Clover was though, she knew that she couldn’t ask anyone about her mum as the best she got was a slow drip feed of information from her neighbour Mrs Mackerel and so she decided to become an archivist and figure it all out herself. I love how matter of fact Clover is – she’s a real thinker but she gets on with things. She doesn’t dwell on how her life has ended up, she just keeps moving forward. I think we all need a Clover in our lives!

I cried quite a few times whilst reading as there are sentences in this novel that just make your heart break for Clover. A line that got me, which is in the excerpt below was ‘When you grow up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story you’re forever skating on the thin ice of their memories.’ – I had to pause for a few minutes after reading that because it is just utterly heartbreaking. For a young child to know that their childhood is so linked in with the saddest part of her mum and dad’s life together is just so hard to think about, but also it made my heart break for her dad who has had to live with the happiest and saddest times in his life overlapping in such a tough way.

Darren is doing the absolute best he can to raise his daughter, it’s so evident that he loves her more than anything and is trying to give her a good life but it feels that as Clover is growing up, he is burying his head in the sand a little. It must be so hard for men to deal with raising a daughter alone, especially as they reach puberty and there is no female role model in their life. He knows there are things Clover will want to know beyond the basic lessons he can teach her and he’s really floundering as to how he will get her through the teenage years and beyond. He knows Clover needs her mum, and needs to know about her mum but you can feel his hesitation and his need to skate around it for his own wellbeing. He seems like such a lovely man who is simply left so lost after his partner died. I felt the longing that he had to not let his partner’s memory go but also his desire to form a stable home life for Clover. It is apparent very early on in the novel that Darren is something of a hoarder – it really felt like he was someone who was just desperately trying to cling on, to keep things right for Clover and to be a good dad. It felt to me like Clover was very much like her dad in wanting to keep things but Clover is much more organised, hence her museum idea. Reading about when Darren was younger and seeing how simple his life was, with two parents who were still together and who obviously loved him very much and did their best by him, it is obvious that he is badly wanting this for his daughter too – ‘life [back then] was ordinary, unremarkable and occasionally boring. It was, looking back, wonderful’.

This novel builds as it goes along – the more you read the more you put the pieces together and the more you get a sense of heartbreak for what this family have been through. I had such sympathy with just about all of the characters in this novel, they had all had tough times in their lives and were all muddling through as best they can. It is apparent that the thing that defined them all and kept them connected was their love for Clover, and as the novel headed towards the end, I was hoping there would be some sort of happy ending for them all. Life isn’t perfect and bad things happen to lovely people but this novel gives us such a great reminder that life goes on and things will get better with time and openness.

It’s such a wonderfully profound novel. I rated it 5 out of 5 and can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s one of those quiet novels that packs such a punch emotionally; it’s so beautiful and is one that will stay with me for a long time to come. Simply wonderful!

Excerpt of the novel

When she got home from the museum Dad was kneeling in the hall. He’d unscrewed the radiator and his thumb was pressed over an unfastened pipe as water gushed around it. The books and clothes and newspapers that used to line the hall had been arranged in small piles on the stairs. Beside him, on the damp carpet, was a metal scraper he’d been using to scuff the paper off the wall.

‘Just in time!’ he said. ‘Fetch a bowl. A small one, so it’ll fit.’

She fetched two and spent the next fifteen minutes running back and forth to the kitchen emptying one bowl as the other filled, Dad calling, ‘Faster! Faster! Keep it up, Speedy Gonzalez!’ His trousers were soaked and his knuckles grazed, but he wasn’t bothered. ‘Occupational hazard,’ he said, as if it wasn’t his day off and plumbing and stripping walls was his actual job.

Once the pipe had emptied he stood up and hopped about for a bit while the feeling came back into his feet. ‘I helped Colin out with something this morning,’ he said. ‘The people whose house we were at had this dado rail thing – it sounds posh, but it’s just a bit of wood, really – right about here.’ He brushed his hand against the wall beside his hip. ‘Underneath it they had stripy wallpaper, but above it they had a different, plain kind. It was dead nice and I thought, we could do that.’

Dad found a scraper for her. The paint came off in flakes, followed by tufts of the thick, textured wallpaper. Underneath, was a layer of soft, brown, backing-paper which Dad sprayed with water from a squirty bottle. When the water had soaked in, they made long scrapes down the wall, top to bottom, leaving the backing paper flopped over the skirting boards like ribbons of skin. It felt like they were undressing the house.

The bare walls weren’t smooth. They were gritty, crumbly in places. As they worked, a dusty smell wafted out of them. It took more than an hour to get from the front door to the wall beside the bottom stair. That’s where Dad uncovered the heart. It was about as big as Clover’s hand, etched on the wall in black, permanent marker, in Dad’s handwriting: Darren + Becky 4ever.

‘I’d forgotten,’ he murmured. And then he pulled his everything face. The face he pulls when Uncle Jim is drunk. The face he pulls when they go shopping in March and the person at the till tries to be helpful by reminding them about Mother’s Day. The face which reminds her that a lot of the time his expression is like a plate of leftovers.

She didn’t say anything, and although she wanted to, she didn’t trace the heart with her fingertips. Instead, she went up to the bathroom and sat on the boxed, pre-lit Christmas tree dad bought in the January sales. When you grow up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story you’re forever skating on the thin ice of their memories. That’s not to say it’s always sad – there are happy things, too. When she was a baby Dad had a tattoo of her name drawn on his arm in curly, blue writing, and underneath he had a green, four-leaf clover. She has such a brilliant name, chosen by her mother because it has the word LOVE in the middle. That’s not the sort of thing you go around telling people, but it is something you can remember if you need a little boost; an instant access, happiness top-up card – it even works when Luke Barton calls her Margey-rine. Clover thought of her name and counted to 300.

When she went downstairs Dad had recovered his empty face and she couldn’t help asking a question, just a small one.

‘Is there any more writing under the paper?’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘She didn’t do a heart as well?’

‘Help me with this, will you?’

They pulled the soggy ribbons of paper away from the skirting and put them in a bin bag. The house smelled different afterwards. As if some old sadness had leaked out of the walls.

About the Author

Author Carys Bray, photographed near her home in Southport, Lancashire.

Carys Bray’s debut collection Sweet Home won the Scott prize and selected stories were broadcast on BBC Radio Four Extra. Her first novel A Song for Issy Bradley was serialised on BBC Radio Four’s Book at Bedtime and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards, the Association of Mormon Letters Awards, the Waverton Good Read Award, the 15 Bytes Book Awards and the Desmond Elliott Prize. It won the Utah Book Award and the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and was selected for the 2015 Richard and Judy Summer Book Club.

Carys has a BA in Literature from The Open University and an MA and PhD in Creative Writing from Edge Hill University. Her second novel The Museum of You will be published in June 2016. She is working on a third novel.

 

You can follow the rest of The Museum of You blog tour at the dates and blogs below:

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The Girl Who Lied Blog Tour | Guest Post by Sue Fortin

The Girl Who Lied Blog Tour Copy

Today I’m thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin. The novel is published today so I’d like to take the opportunity to wish Sue a very happy publication day and every success with this book!

Sue has written a lovely guest post for my blog all about making something happen in your novel and I’m happy to share that with you all now.

 


 

Make Something Happen in Your Novel

Probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received concerning my writing was to ‘make something happen’.

I was first given this advice by Margaret James, author and tutor at the London School of Journalism where I was completing an on-line Writing Romance course. The process went that I would submit the opening to my romance novel on a monthly chapter by chapter basis. Margaret would read the assignment/chapter and return it each month with her thoughts and observations. I think all in all, we covered about 30k words over the length of the course.

It was at this point when Margaret was summarizing what I had done so far, she said that it was all very nice and the tension was building but not much had actually happened. Margaret is very polite but I’m sure that really translated to, it’s a bit boring. And she was right. When I looked at it objectively, nothing much had happened. So, my challenge was to make something happen.

Well, it took four years and the writing of two full length novels in between before I could actually work out what to do. I did go back to the manuscript several times, but I was at a bit of a brick wall as to what to do with it. Maybe, leaving it and gaining more experience was the key to solving this ‘make something happen’ issue. Last year, when I had another look at those 30k words, something suddenly clicked. I had a literary epiphany and knew what I needed to do.

The end result was quite a different story to the one I started with, yet the essence remained. There’s romance in The Girl Who Lied but it also looks at the family unit, secrets and how we might not always do the right thing, but what we do is driven by love.

About the Book

The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin

The truth hurts…

Erin and Roisin were once friends until a fatal accident ruined both their lives. Now, Roisin has discovered a secret—one Erin has kept for over a decade—and she’s determined to make Erin pay for her lies.

Erin wants nothing to do with Roisin. She has a new life in London and no intention of going back home. Yet when her father is mysteriously and critically injured, Erin has no choice but to return and face Roisin—and her past. Erin knows if the secret of what she gave up got out, the consequences could be devastating.

When Roisin suddenly disappears, suspicion soon lands on Erin. She would do anything to protect her family, but just how far is she willing to go when time is running out…?

A must read for fans of CL Taylor and BA Paris.

About the Author

Sue Fortin

Published by Harper Collins’ imprint Harper Impulse, Sue Fortin writes romance, mystery and suspense.

Her originally self-published debut novel was awarded the INDIE Brag Medallion and later when published by HarperImpulse was short-listed for the Joan Hessayon Award (2014). Sue was also short-listed for the Festival of Romance, New Talent Award (2013). Her second novel, Closing In, reached number one in the Romantic Suspense Kobo chart at the end of 2014. Sue blogs regularly with the on-line writing group The Romaniacs (www.theromaniacs.co.uk).

Lover of cake, Dragonflies and France. Hater of calories, maths and snakes. Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex.

Sue is married with four children, all of whom patiently give her time to write but, when not behind the keyboard, she likes to spend her time with them, enjoying both the coast and the South Downs, between which they are nestled.

Sue is represented by Kate Nash Literary Agency.

You can catch up with Sue at

Facebook Sue Fortin Author

Twitter @suefortin1

Website & Blog www.suefortin.com

HarperImpulse Author Page

Amazon Author Page

Blog Tour | Review: The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby

 

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Today I’m on the blog tour for Sylvia Ashby’s brilliant novel, The Treachery of Trains and am sharing my review.

Sky has made an abominable mistake at work. Something so awful she doesn’t dare stay in the HR office of XIM Technics for fear of being lynched by her colleagues.

So she gets on a train…

What happens when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year?

Sky Candy is about to find out.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a little while so when I was offered a place on the blog tour I jumped at the chance!

Sky is an ordinary young woman trying to get on as best as she can but life hasn’t been easy. Sky was very close to her mum so when she died Sky’s life began to unravel. Instead of making rational decisions to deal with her mum’s affairs she tries to keep everything as it was. To compound the loss, her best friend who is also her flatmate and work colleague decides to leave all of a sudden and Sky doesn’t really know where she’s gone or why. Sky is left feeling completely alone and lost.

I really liked Sky, I have to admit that I did find some of the things she did a bit over the top but it was all in keeping with her character. She is quick to react to situations but doesn’t always react in a rational way. She seems to be someone who always wants to do her best though and that made her easy for me to identify with. I also felt sorry for her that she was in such a sad place after losing her mum and I was rooting for her to get a happy ending.

The mystery of what happened to Vanessa became quite central to the plot and that kept me turning the pages as I wanted to know what had made her leave so suddenly. I was never sure of her character from the way she was described in the early part of the novel, it felt like Sky was seeing her through rose-tinted glasses because she was lonely after her mum died. I couldn’t wait to find out whether my judgment was correct and the novel then became quite the page turner.

There was some funny and light-hearted moments in the novel. I loved when Sky and Diederik were searching for Mouse in the cellar, it made me laugh. The potential romance element with Diederik was gorgeous too, I so wanted things to work out for them.

The title of this book added to my intrigue about where things were going to end up for Sky as I couldn’t see what this book had to do with trains being treacherous (or how trains can even be treacherous), but when I got to the part of the book with the photo of Sky’s mum it all began to make sense. I’d never head of the treachery of an image before but I loved the way it was used and described in this novel. It all then began to make some sense of the title too – the way Sky got the wrong train, a train that wasn’t what it appeared to be, and ended up in a place that she hadn’t mean to go to, that also wasn’t what it seemed to be and yet it ultimately led her to end up where she was destined to be.

I really enjoyed this novel, it was light-hearted but with a real warmth and depth to it – a mix of women’s fiction and mystery, which worked very well together and kept me hooked. I would definitely recommend it. It’s something a bit different and is very easy to get completely engrossed in. I rated it 5 out of 5.

The Treachery of Trains is out now and available to buy from Amazon.

About the Author

Sylvia Ashby

 

Sylvia Ashby‘s first book, Pot Love, is about food and love.
Her second, The Treachery of Trains, is about finding love in unlikely places.
She lives in Belgium with her family.

You can connect with Sylvia via twitter at: @bysylvia_a

 


 

The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby

Blog Tour | #Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin ~ Q&A and Review

Today I am thrilled to be on the blog tour for Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin and I’m happy to be able to share my review of this fabulous novel and I also have a lovely Q&A to share with you. 

ghostbird cover final  front only

 

Hi Carol, please tell my blog readers a little bit about yourself.

My home is in the beautiful countryside of West Wales. I share a small flat with a small cat. She and I look out over the hills where, some mornings, when the mist overlays the view, I could imagine the Avalon barge emerging through the mist. When I’m not writing, I’m generally reading; I swim twice a week and love walking. I’m a committed feminist and like most writers, a nosy-parker and always carry a notebook! One of my dear friends is my co-conspirator: we are the only members of the smallest writing group in Wales. We meet once a week to brainstorm and share our writing progress.

How did you first come to be a writer?

I don’t necessarily subscribe to the myth of the ‘tortured artist’ who is incomplete without her writing; I do know it’s an activity I’d find hard to set aside. As a child I was an early free-reader as opposed to one able to handle her numbers. (I still have to take my shoes off to count to eleven!) Words made far more sense to me than figures and making things up, the way the writers of the books I read did, seemed like a lot more fun. Writing is one of the ways children learn to express themselves and how we all start out. 

There are dim drawers in my study inhabited by dusty spiders who guard the remnants of my previous efforts and who are tasked with never letting them see the light of day. They’re part of my process but in the early days I adopted a somewhat laissez-faire approach to my writing; maybe because I thought there was plenty of time. It wasn’t until I was considerably older and a lot wiser that I decided to treat my writing with more respect and aim for publication. 

What is your book Ghostbird about?

It concerns, Cadi Hopkins, a young girl in the dark about her past. No one will tell her the truth about her father or her baby sister, both of whom died just before she was born. Her mother deals with her grief in a state of isolated silence; her aunt is caught in the middle. The myth of Blodeuwedd – a character from the ancient Welsh legend, The Mabinogion – runs through the story. When Cadi begins her search for the truth, the ghost of her little sister wakes up and old secrets surface.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Via the word birds? Inside my head, aided and abetted by the landscape I live in? From my dreams? All of the above and who knows where else. Inspiration comes from all manner of sources and if you conflate inspiration and ideas it becomes an impossible question to answer albeit a fascinating one to ponder! Inspiration and an idea never comes from nowhere. It can be as simple as a name or an image, a line from a song, an old memory or a half-forgotten dream. I sometimes forget to be honest, and it doesn’t matter. Once the idea is there, the inspiration is irrelevant. What matters is, something is working and the story follows.

What is your writing routine?

I’m an Aquarian, Hayley, and I like a good plan! I aim to be at my computer by ten o’clock and to work for four hours minimum. I don’t beat myself up if I can’t manage this. Not writing is a thing I never refer to as writer’s block. If the writing stalls, I edit; or I walk and think, lie in the bath and think (a good place for light bulb moments!) Or I read a book and pretty soon, I’m writing again.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year?
It’s been a brilliant year for new books thus far. I can’t, in all honesty confine my answer to one. I began the year reading The Night Watch by Sarah Waters which for personal reasons was very special. Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary blew my mind and Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull impressed me more than I can say. I was fortunate to be sent a proof copy of This Must Be The Place by the astonishingly talented Maggie O’Farrell who is one of my favourite authors. If you push me, I’ll say that one. 

What are you reading at the moment?

A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman. I read her first book, When God Was a Rabbit and loved it; my expectation for this second one was high. I am not being disappointed.

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

That in itself is a great question! People always ask writers what they write and rarely why they do. The clichéd answer is a variation on, ‘It’s who I am’ but it’s the easy one and a given, surely? The flippant answer is I write because I can’t juggle or play the tuba. The more serious one is, I’m not done yet and I’d like to leave something attached to whatever exists after I’m gone. And also, because when I tested myself and discovered I could write, it felt like a precious gift. 

How can people connect with you on social media?

Blog: carollovekinauthor.com

Twitter: @carollovekin

Facebook

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.


 

Synopsis

Someone needs to be forgiven. Someone needs to forgive.

Nothing hurts like not knowing who you are.

Nobody will tell Cadi anything about her father and her sister. Her mother Violet believes she can only cope with the past by never talking about it. Lili, Cadi’s aunt, is stuck in the middle, bound by a promise she shouldn’t have made. But this summer, Cadi is determined to find out the truth.

In a world of hauntings and magic, in a village where it rains throughout August, as Cadi starts on her search, the secrets and the ghosts begin to wake up. None of the Hopkins women will be able to escape them.


 

My Review

Ghostbird is one of the most exquisitely beautiful books that I’ve read in a really long time. It is written in such a way that I wanted to read it as slowly as I could savour every aspect of the story and to make it last as long as possible, I never wanted it to end. 

This novel has an almost dream-like quality to it and the writing is so evocative, I could feel the dampness in the air and I could smell the rain as it was falling in the novel. I feel like I’ve been to the Hopkins’ family home and to the lake, I can picture them so vividly in my head. I can’t remember another novel that I’ve read in recent times where I felt like I was actually inside it, feeling everything. It is as if the magical nature of the novel has cast its own spell over me.

The complex relationship between the three females in this novel is fascinating. The idea of secrecy between two out of three and whether it’s ever okay to keep the secrets, and whether it’s ever okay to share someone else’s secret. 

‘It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. We’re all in it now: dancing the same old dance, tripping over each other’s bloody red shoes’

The dynamic between Lily, Violet and Cadi was so believable; it was at times very tense to the point it radiated off the page and at other times, particularly between Lily and Cadi, the strong bond between them was clear. Relationships between women are often very taut, and especially so in this instance when Violet and Lily are sisters-in-law, not blood relatives, but still stuck living next door to each other, and Cadi who is Violet’s daughter but the relationship between them is strained and Cadi feels closer to her Aunt Lily. The past is haunting the three of them – two are haunted by what they know and one by what no one will tell her. 

I adore Lovekin’s turns of phrase throughout this novel. She is very creative with how her sentences are put together and with the words she uses. The writing has such a poetic and lyrical quality.

‘She smelled of roses and secrets…’ 

I love the idea that a person can smell of secrets, that they are holding a feeling inside them that you sense so strongly it’s as if you can smell it. Wonderful!

‘She possessed a look of otherness, as if her eyes saw too far.’

This line resonated so strongly with me. It’s incredibly moving the idea that someone sees too far, that they are so trapped by how haunting the future feels that they can’t fully embrace living in the now.

I had to pause many times whilst reading this book to re-read a sentence or two because I really wanted to make sure I absorbed the wonderful language used. There are so many sentences and passages in this novel that I highlighted because they were simply beautiful and I never want to forget them. The following line genuinely made me feel very emotional and it’s one of my favourite sentences in the novel:

‘…in August, when it rained so hard the drains overflowed, good dreams were washed away and no one could tell if you were crying’.

I rated this novel 5 out of 5 and I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. As I said at the start of my review it is exquisitely beautiful – there aren’t enough superlatives to describe it; it’s simply a book not to be missed!

Ghostbird will now have pride of my place on my all-time favourites bookcase, both on my blog and in my home. My words cannot express how wonderful this novel is, but I can honestly say that it is a book I will treasure and one I all absolutely re-vist time and time again!

Book Links

Amazon UK

Goodreads 

Honno

 


About the Author

gate 14 large - Copy

©Janey Stevens

Carol Lovekin was born in Warwickshire. She has Irish blood and a Welsh heart, and has lived in mid Wales for 36 years. She has worked as a cleaner, a freelance journalist, a counsellor, a legal secretary and a shop assistant. She began writing with a view to publication in her late fifties has published short stories, reviews and is a prolific letter writer. She has been blogging for over nine years. Ghostbird is her first traditionally published novel.


 

 

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Blog tour | Review: Quicksand by Steve Toltz

 

 

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Quicksand by Steve Toltz!

Quicksand PB

 

Wildly funny and unceasingly surprising, Quicksand is both a satirical masterpiece and an unforgettable story of fate, family and friendship.

Aldo Benjamin may be the unluckiest soul in human history, but that isn’t going to stop his friend Liam writing about him. For what more could an aspiring novelist want from his muse than a thousand get-rich-quick schemes, a life-long love affair, an eloquently named brothel, the most sexually confusing evening imaginable and a brief conversation with God?

Quicksand is quite the meta-novel. It’s about Liam, a failed writer turned police officer who decides to write a book about his best friend, Aldo. The novel flits from being from Liam’s point of view, to being from Aldo’s viewpoint as written by Liam, to what appears to be Aldo from his own point of view but the reader can never be sure if it is genuinely Aldo or whether it’s more of Aldo seen through Liam’s eyes. It’s never clear what is real and what is imagined, and it becomes increasingly blurred for the reader. The fact that we don’t know the real Aldo, only the one Liam tells us about, makes it all the more interesting because although the book is about Aldo, we learn so much about Liam and the cracks in their friendship. The first chapter of this novel is entitled ‘Two Friends, Two Agendas (one hidden)’ and that sums up the novel. It pays to remember this title as you progress through the book to the end as it gives much to ponder over regarding what Liam’s purpose was in writing this book about his friend, but also why Aldo wanted the book written – assuming he really knew about it, and also assuming that Liam hadn’t just made Aldo up to deflect his own anxieties and failures in life.

The opening chapter contains a whole section of Aldo spewing out one-liners that Liam is frantically trying to write down. I found it quite amusing and wondered whether Steve Toltz himself was making a point about great novels and how a one-liner can often be at the expense of plot and structure. I actually loved that it felt like an aside to camera, as if Toltz had briefly placed himself inside his own novel.

Some of the observations and ideas that Aldo has are truly hilarious, I honestly found myself laughing at times whilst reading about his ideas for businesses and reflections on life. His self-diagnosis of ‘clinical frustration’ is so brilliant as is his pondering over why clinical depression gets to be a disease but clinical frustration doesn’t. It’s amusing to read given what we know about Aldo but I couldn’t help thinking at the same time that there is a serious point in there about how people become so tied up in their frustrations about their life that it affects their ability to function.

I love the parts of the book that became self-referential particularly Aldo’s obsession with Mimi’s book The Fussy Corpse and how it has echoes of how Aldo’s own life would become. Some of the situations he got himself into were really quite mortifying but then his having to be carried whilst often shouting or demanding he be put down somewhere became quite cringe-worthy and led him to almost become the fussy corpse himself. Aldo’s increasingly frequent ideas about death and his requests for help mirror the little boy in the book too. 

I didn’t know too much about this book before I started reading but I was expecting a darkly comedic novel, which this is, but what I didn’t expect was how much of an impact this book would have on me. There are aspects to this novel that are similar to my own life (I would imagine everyone who reads this book will recognise something of their own life in some of the observations Liam and Aldo make) and I have to admit that I found some of it quite difficult to read for this reason but I still couldn’t stop reading. It’s so utterly refreshing to read a book that is at times absurd, bordering on the ridiculous; it’s laugh out loud funny, and yet so utterly true to life at the same time!

On a personal note for me, having recently been told that my paralysis is permanent a couple of paragraphs really stood out to me and actually gave me a wry smile about my situation. It’s remarkable writing when you can feel the depths a character’s despair at his situation and recognise something of yourself in it, but still see the humour and laugh!

Aldo ‘caught phrases from the doctors such as ‘incomplete paraplegia’ and ‘crushed T5 and 6’ and ‘the absence of motor and sensory function’… while my own thoughts were actual… The blind get great hearing, the deaf a super sense of smell. What do the paralysed get again? And, does paraplegia every just, you know, blow over?’

 

‘Everybody weighed in. Everyone looks on the bright side for you. They’re really positive about your situation. Nobody feels under qualified to offer medical advice. The preposterous suggestions they’re not ashamed to make! Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to torture someone with an incurable illness or a permanent disability is easy. Name the most ludicrous, disreputable remedy imaginable – eg. bamboo under the fingernail therapy – and swear it fixed a friend of yours. The dying or disabled patient, sick in heart and soul with desperate feeling that he hasn’t tried everything to restore himself, will quick smart reach for the bamboo. They will also tell you about exceptional individuals who did exceptional things even with exceptional limitations. This is in no way relevant to my case’.

There is so much sadness and loss throughout this novel, but so much humour too. I’d expected this book would be very surreal, and it is at times, but actually it’s a very honest exploration of friendship, and of life in general. This is such a unique novel; it was one of those reading experiences where I didn’t want to put the book down for a second because it was so good, but then I didn’t want to get to the end too soon for the same reason! It’s an incredible book.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Steve Toltz but I loved it so much that I’m definitely going to buy his previous novel, A Fraction of the Whole, and I can’t wait to read it.

I rated this book 4.5 out of 5 and highly recommend it!

Quicksand is out now.

I received a copy of this book from Sceptre in exchange for an honest review.

My review is part of the Quicksand blog tour, please visit the other stops on the tour.

 

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Blog Tour | Review: The Silent Girls by Ann Troup

The Silent Girls banner

Today is my stop on The Silent Girls blog tour!

Synopsis

What if everything you knew was a lie…

This house has a past that won’t stay hidden, and it is time for the dead to speak.

Returning to Number 17, Coronation Square, Edie is shocked to find the place she remembers from childhood reeks of mould and decay. After her aunt Dolly’s death Edie must clear out the home on a street known for five vicious murders many years ago, but under the dirt and grime of years of neglect lurk dangerous truths.

For in this dark house there is misery, sin and dark secrets that can no longer stay hidden. The truth must come out. 

Finding herself dragged back into the horrific murders of the past, Edie must find out what really happened all those years ago. But as Edie uncovers the history of the family she had all but forgotten, she begins to wonder if sometimes it isn’t best to leave them buried.

My Review

I started reading The Silent Girls without knowing too much about it and by the time I’d read the prologue I was hooked!

The prologue is set in 1964 and describes a convicted murderer being hanged and a murder taking place on the same day. The novel then moves to thirty years later where Edie’s Aunt Dolly has died and Edie has come to clear out her house. Almost immediately she walks into the middle of a group on a murder tour and being told all about the gruesome murders that had happened on the Square all those years ago. Edie shrugs it off but I was immediately on edge, yet unable to wait to find out more about this infamous Square.

Edie soon meets Sophie, a homeless young person in need of a safe place to sleep, and the two start to become friends. I loved Sophie’s character. Edie is in a vulnerable place, she is going through a divorce and is dealing with the death of her aunt, and it seems that some of the people around her on the Square might not be all they appear to be, so when Sophie turned up it felt like Edie might finally have someone on her side.

The atmosphere in the novel is so claustrophobic and stifling; at times I really felt like I was inside Number 17 with Edie. Troup is such a great scene setter; I read a lot of this book during the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and I swear I could smell the damp and rot – I could feel the sinister atmosphere and I really did feel very unsettled by some of the things in that house. The story of the house continues to unfold in such an unnerving way that I was honestly actually sat on the edge of my seat at some points!

It seems like just about everyone on Coronation Square is hiding something, some secrets being more horrific than others. I enjoyed the mystery aspects of this novel and the gradual reveal of who knew what and when. I also liked that the novel isn’t really about whodunnit so much as it’s a look at a mix of characters and the pasts they are trying to keep hidden, it felt refreshing and different.

This was the first book I’ve read by Ann Troup but I’ve already bought her previous novel and plan to read it very soon. I’m definitely now a fan and will be looking out for her next novel!

I rated this novel 4.5 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

Thank you to Jenny at Neverland Blog Tours for sending me a copy of the book to review as part of this blog tour.

The Silent Girls is out now, you can find it here:

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B015QM8AP8/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28441057-the-silent-girls?ac=1&from_search=1

The Silent Girls book cover

About the Author

Ann Troup

Ann Troup tells tales and can always make something out of nothing (which means she writes books and can create unique things from stuff other people might not glance twice at). She was once awarded 11 out of 10 for a piece of poetry at school – she now holds that teacher entirely responsible for her inclination to write.

Her writing space is known as ‘the empty nest’, having formerly been her daughters bedroom. She shares this space with ten tons of junk and an elderly Westie, named Rooney, who is her constant companion whether she likes it or not. He likes to contribute to the creative process by going to sleep on top of her paperwork and running away with crucial post-it notes, which have inadvertently become stuck to his fur. She is thinking of renaming him Gremlin.

She lives by the sea in Devon with her husband and said dog. Two children have been known to remember the place that they call home, but mainly when they are in need of a decent roast dinner, it’s Christmas or when only Mum will do. She also has extremely decent stepchildren.

In a former incarnation she was psychiatric nurse, an experience which frequently informs her writing. She has also owned a cafe and an art/craft gallery. Now she only makes bacon sandwiches as a sideline, but does continue to dabble with clay, paint, paper, textiles, glue…you name it. Occasionally she may decide to give away some of these creations (you have been warned!).

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TroupAnn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anntroupauthor/

Website: https://anntroup.wordpress.com/

 

Blog Tour | Q&A with Janet Ellis, author of The Butcher’s Hook

 

 

Today I am thrilled to welcome Janet Ellis to my blog for a chat about her debut novel, The Butcher’s Hook.

How did you come to be a novelist and how long have you been writing for?

I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. My desk drawer (and more besides) is full of jottings, poems, beginnings of stories  and snatches of prose. But The Butcher’s Hook is the first book I finished. So the answer is really :- for ever and quite recently!

What is your writing process?

I try and write daily, but not always at the same time or with the same word count. I often write  scenes that I know I want to include somewhere, then store them – it’s like having  a mood board of episodes and characters waiting to be placed in the narrative.  I read everything aloud, too, as I think it’s a great way of discovering if the tone is consistent- and avoiding repetition. Of course, that includes dialogue (my poor neighbours). 

The Butcher’s Hook is historical fiction but seems modern too, not least due to the way that Anne Jaccob’s sexual awakening is described. It reminded me a little of Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White in the sense of it being historical mixed with more modern elements. What inspired you to write this novel, and in this particular way?

Thank you for the comparison, that book’s a favourite. I’m driven  by the idea that, although they wore different clothes, saw different sights and were influenced by different things, people of any past time, however distant,  experienced emotions as we do. We feel everything from love and  hate, or envy,  greed and sorrow just as our forbears did. Reading diaries- which illustrate this perfectly- was a big source of inspiration. Confirmation, too, of the fact that no matter what is happening around us in historical terms, we’re all mostly concerned with ourselves. My teenage diaries certainly bear this out.

I found Anne fascinating – at times I really liked her and wanted her to find love and happiness and then at other times she had quite a selfish, self-absorbed streak which made her harder to like. I really enjoyed this about her though, she was in my head all the time when I wasn’t reading as I tried to weigh her up and I miss her now I’ve finished reading the novel. How did her character and personality come about, and did you enjoy creating her?

How lovely to hear that.  I loved creating her. She really is a character apart, she isn’t me! And I often felt the same ambivalence  about her behaviour.  I toyed with a different , rather happier , ending but realised she’s her own worst enemy, and enjoyably so. There’s a kind of twisted logic in how she behaves, everything happens for a reason as far as she’s concerned. I hope she’s funny, too, as my favourite people have a sideways take on life that I enjoy. I’ve got friends whose behaviour is sometimes exasperating -but I love them. I know that  -apart from her often terrible actions- I feel the same about Anne.

Finally, is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked and how would you answer said question?

Do you mean apart from ‘How did you get to be so fabulous? (Answer: I have NO idea!)? This is a great question… I haven’t ever met a question that I thought was too awful to be answered, and nothing’s off limits, but maybe there’s something about what my parents would have thought  – they’re both dead now- that I’d like to mull over.  But I can’t come up with the question myself , as it makes me weepy to even think about it. 

 


 

Synopsis of The Butcher’s Hook

Do you know what this is?’ 

He holds a short twist of thick metal, in the shape of the letter ‘S’, sharpened at both ends. I shake my head.

‘A butcher’s hook,’ he says, testing the tip of his finger against each point. ‘A perfect design. Whichever way up you use it, it’s always ready. One end to hook, the other to hang. It has only one simple purpose.’ He stands on a stool and fixes it over the bar above him. It waits there, empty.

He climbs down. ‘Pleasing, isn’t it?’

GEORGIAN LONDON, IN THE SUMMER OF 1763.

At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher’s apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him.

The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub.

But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.

A vivid and surprising tale, The Butcher’s Hook brims with the colour and atmosphere of Georgian London, as seen through the eyes of a strange and memorable young woman.


 

About the Author

Janet Ellis trained as an actress at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She is best known for presenting Blue Peter and contributes to numerous radio and TV programmes. 
She recently graduated from the Curtis Brown creative writing school. The Butcher’s Hook is her first novel.

You can find Janet Ellis at:

janetellis.com

twitter.com/missjanetellis

instagram.com/missjanetellis

The Butcher’s Hook is published by Two Roads; it is out now and available from all good book shops.


 

I’ll be sharing my review of The Butcher’s Hook on my blog very soon so please look out for that. In the meantime, you can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

The Butchers Hook Tour Poster

Blog Tour | Review: The Chimes by Anna Smaill

The Chimes PB cover

 

My Review

The Chimes is set in a dystopian future where the written word is banned, and the people are unable to form new memories or retain old ones. The population are controlled by The Order who are using the Carillon to play Chimes to make people forget: ‘In the time of dischord, sound is corrupt. Each one wants the melody; No one knows their part’. The people have learnt to communicate through memorised music and some try to remember by linking their memories with objects that they carry with them. Simon arrives in London with a bag of objectmemories but he soon loses his memory for why he is there and what he was searching for. He meets a group of people called Five Rover and begins to discover that he has a secret gift that could change everything.

It’s a fascinating concept in this novel that music is being used to control the people but at the same time people are finding ways to use music to communicate and to memorise where places are and who their group is so that they can function in their lives. As soon as I first read the synopsis of this book I knew I was going to adore it, and I was absolutely right.

From the very first chapter of this novel I was utterly captivated; the descriptions are so lyrical and poetic and very beautiful, I would have kept reading just on this basis alone but the story is completely wonderful too. I could feel Simon’s longing to know about his past, and his wanting to understand what was happening to him, emanating off the page.

The use of language is incredible. Smaill uses words that sounds like our language – prentiss for apprentice etc but also other words that I initially thought were made up but when I looked them up in the dictionary a lot of them are actual musical terms. I loved that it all made sense and yet left me feeling a little discombobulated at times when I wasn’t sure what these words meant, it gave me a sense of how the characters in this world must feel. I would highly recommend looking up some of the words you might not have heard of before, I learnt new things from this novel that heightened my understanding and love of the book.

I loved the word play throughout this book too. The characters are always searching for mettle for the Pale Lady (palladium); obviously the Palladium is a famous London building, and also a metal resembling platinum. I also enjoyed the references to childhood nursery rhymes like London Bridge is Falling Down; this was used so cleverly through the novel.

The world-building in this novel is excellent. We are thrown into the world Simon inhabits immediately on the first page but because it references famous places in London, albeit in a new context, it helps the reader orientate themselves very quickly. I could envision the Carillon so clearly and when Simon and Lucien set off together to find out more I felt like I was with them on their journey.

The idea of The Order burning books and some of the people trying to preserve texts (or code as it is in this novel) really appealed to me and it reminded me a little of one of my favourite books, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which is also set in a dystopian future where books are banned but a disparate group of people eventually find each other and find a way to keep their stories alive despite the fact that the powers that be are trying to suppress them. ‘Burnt books, burnt words. Memories that move in flames through the night sky’. There is something so moving in this line (and so many others in the novel), and it left me feeling uplifted knowing that people will always find a way to hold on to their stories, and those of others and society as a whole.

This novel really explores the idea of memory, of how and why we want to hold on to what has happened to us, and to wider society. Even though this is a dystopian future, I could really identify with the characters who were trying to hold on to their memories. I think we all carry an equivalent of a memory bag with us through life – there are certain belongings that we’d never be persuaded to part with because they are linked to times of our lives that were important. I felt such a connection with Simon for this reason and could feel his heart break when he had to hand them over in order to more forwards. I think the vast majority of us have treasured possessions that are kept because they bring memories of times past to the forefront of  our minds in a way that just thinking alone doesn’t always do. So much that happens in this dystopian novel is grounded in a reality that we all know; these characters feel how we do and that is why it’s so easy to fall in love with this novel.

I can’t recommend this novel highly enough, it’s just so incredible. It’s going to be getting a place on my favourite books of all-time shelf (on my blog and in reality) and I don’t put books on there very often, they have to be very special to merit their place. I know the story in this novel will stay with me for a long time to come and that this will be a book that I will re-read again and again.

I rate it 5 out of 5.

Many thanks to Ruby at Sceptre for sending me a copy of this book to review.

The Chimes is out now in paperback and available from all good book shops.

 

Synopsis

Anna Smaill has created a world where music has replaced the written word and memories are carried as physical objects.  Memory itself is forbidden by the Order, whose vast musical instrument, the Carillon, renders the population amnesiac.  The Chimes opens in a reimagined London and introduces Simon, an orphaned young man who discovers he has a gift that could change all of this forever. Slowly, inexplicably, Simon is beginning to remember – to wake up.  He and his friend Lucien will eventually travel to the Order’s stronghold in Oxford, where they learn that nothing they ever believed about their world is true.

The Chimes is a mind-expanding, startlingly original work that combines beautiful, inventive prose with incredible imagination.  A stunning debut composed of memory, music, love and freedom, The Chimes pulls you into a world that will captivate, enthral and inspire.  It was published in hardback in 2015 to critical acclaim and much rapture.

 

About the Author

Anna Smaill

Anna Smaill, 34, left formal musical training to pursue poetry and in 2001 began an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) at Victoria University of Wellington. Her first book of poetry, The Violinist in Spring, was published by Victoria University Press in 2005. She lived in London for seven years where she completed a PhD at UCL with Mark Ford and lectured in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire. She lives in New Zealand with her husband and daughter, and supervises MA students in Creative Writing for the IIML.

 

 


 

Look out for the rest of the blog tour:

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Blog tour | Review: Search for the Truth by Kathryn Freeman

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for Search for the Truth by Kathryn Freeman. Please keep reading to the end of the post as I have a giveaway to share with you all.

My Review

Tessa is an investigative journalist who has infiltrated the big pharmaceutical company, Helix. Helix developed drug that was given to Tessa’s mum as part of her cancer treatment but Tessa believes that the drug caused her mother’s heart attack and that this company is ultimately responsible for her mum’s death.

Jim Knight is head of Helix and after a disastrous affair with a work colleague he is determined to focus on the company. However, he finds himself increasingly attracted to the new member of staff Tessa! The attraction is mutual but Tessa is determined to focus on discovering the truth about the company.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Kathryn Freeman and it was a really enjoyable read. It was refreshingly different to other books in this genre in that it was a romance but with a really serious issue at it’s centre.

I was hooked from the very start of this novel wanting to know whether Tessa would discover answers at Helix before they discovered that she was working undercover, or if she did discover more about the drug whether it would turn out to be part of a big cover up. This novel was a bit close to home for me at times but it meant that I was willing Tessa on all the more to find out the truth so that she and her family could have closure.

The dynamic between Tessa and Jim was great too. They were obviously very attracted to each other but at the same time Tessa was not been honest about who she really is, and Jim was trying to reform Helix to really do good for cancer patients. The romance seemed doomed to fail at times because of all the secrets and potential for conflict. I was hoping all the way through the book that Jim would turn out to be a genuine guy, it made the romance storyline all the more unpredictable, and therefore better, that we just don’t know for a while what he knows.

I really enjoyed this novel, it had a great mix of things going on and it was a real page turner for me. I’ll be looking out for more of Kathryn Freeman’s novels in the future!

I received a copy of this book via Brook Cottage Books as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Search for the Truth is out now.

Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US


 

Synopsis

Sometimes the truth hurts … 

When journalist Tess Johnson takes a job at Helix pharmaceuticals, she has a very specific motive. Tess has reason to believe the company are knowingly producing a potentially harmful drug and, if her suspicions are confirmed, she will stop at nothing to make sure the truth comes out.

Jim Knight is the president of research and development at Helix and is a force to be reckoned with. After a disastrous office affair he’s determined that nothing else will distract him from his vision for the company. Failure is simply not an option.

As Tess and Jim start working together, both have their reasons for wanting to ignore the sexual chemistry that fires between them. But chemistry, like most things in the world of science, isn’t always easy to control.

Genre: Contemporary romance

Release Date: 13th August 2015

Publisher: Choc Lit


 

 

About the Author

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A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7373990.Kathryn_Freeman

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?locale=en_US&trk=profile-preview

Website: http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

 


 

Giveaway

Please click the link below for your chance to win a paperback copy of Too Charming by Kathryn Freeman. This is an international giveaway.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017117/?

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Blog Tour | Review: The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

the secret by the lake

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas and I’m excited to be able to share my review with you.

Review

The Secret by the Lake is a richly-drawn, gothic novel. It is one of those books that hooks you in on the first page and doesn’t let you go even when you’ve finished reading! I started reading this late one evening and when I turned the last page it was the early hours of the morning; I lost all concept of time or where I was, I was completely and utterly engrossed!

Amy had a difficult childhood when her mother walked out on her and her dad. As soon as she was old enough she found work as a nanny looking after Julia and Alain Laurent’s daughter Viviane. Amy was very happy with the family, spending a lot of time in France. Then one day a phone call brings news that she must return home and leave the Laurents for good. Whilst back in England Amy gets word that Alain has died and Julia is now back living in England with Viviane and they are struggling to cope.

I try and avoid hearing too much about books before I read them these days as I prefer the element of surprise as much as possible. So when I started this novel I had no idea how spooky it was going to be, it was really unsettling to read at times. I tend to stay away from ghostly stories as I’m easily scared but it says so much about how great the writing is in this book that even when it was really frightening me, I still could not stop reading. It was so compelling and it genuinely was near impossible to put down. I actually finished reading this the early hours of Monday morning as I just kept thinking one more chapter and beforeI knew it, it was 3.30am and I’d finished the book!

I possibly should have guessed from the striking and very atmospheric cover that this would be a haunting novel. I particularly love how the woman on the front cover is holding the umbrella which causes her to form the shape of a key, and a lot of the mystery in this novel comes from a locked room. The cover perfectly captures the essence of this book.

The wallpaper in the locked room is yellow, and Caroline was locked in there because people said she was crazy and out of control. It seems to be referencing Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, and possibly touching on the idea of the madwoman in the attic too, which straight away ramps up the claustrophobia surrounding this room and causes you to wonder what happened there, and what happened to Caroline. The descriptions of how grotesque the wallpaper looked as it was coming away from the wall genuinely repulsed me and made me shiver! The novel also had a feel of Du Maurier’s Rebecca about it too, the creepy atmosphere, the secret of what had happened before Amy arrived.

I love how the lake that features so strongly in this novel, was almost a character in its own right. That body of water held so many secrets and have so many stories to tell, but the dense fog that often covered it was suppressing the lake, the village, the secrets and some of the people who lived around it.

I loved Amy, I thought she was a great character who developed a real sense of tenacity as the book progressed. She just wanted to help and assist where she could, she was determined to find out what had happened to Caroline and to find a way to make Julia feel better. I liked that although Amy fell for Daniel quickly, she still kept things on her terms and she didn’t become a simpering, meek character because she’d found a man. Daniel seemed to give Amy strength, he gave her space to escape to but it never took away from who she was.

I have read a couple of Louise Douglas’ previous novels but I’m now definitely going to buy the ones I haven’t read, I feel sure I’ve just found a new favourite author!

This is a beautifully haunting novel that will have you hooked from the first page to the last! I rate this novel 5 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

I received this book from Transworld/Black Swan via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Secret by the Lake is out now and available to buy from Amazon.


 

Blurb

A FAMILY TRAGEDY
Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.

A SISTER’S SECRET
But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen.

A WEB OF LIES
Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?


 

About the Author

Louise-Douglas-Author-Image

Louise was born in Sheffield, but has lived in Somerset since she was 18. She has three grown up sons and lives with her husband Kevin. The Secret By The Lake is Louise’s sixth novel and she currently writes around her full time job.

In her spare time, Louise loves walking with her two dogs in the Mendip Hills, meeting up with her friends and she’s also an avid reader.

 


 

Author Links:

Website: www.louisedouglas.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Louise-Douglas-Author

Twitter: www.twitter.com/LouiseDouglas3

 

Promo Post & Giveaway: The Lost Girl by Liz Harris

 

9781781892363

Today on my blog I have a promo post showcasing Liz Harris‘s new novel The Lost Girl. Please keep reading to the end as the tour hosts, Brook Cottage Books, are running a wonderful giveaway.

Blurb

What if you were trapped between two cultures?

Life is tough in 1870s Wyoming. But it’s tougher still when you’re a girl who looks Chinese but speaks like an American.

Orphaned as a baby and taken in by an American family, Charity Walker knows this only too well.  The mounting tensions between the new Chinese immigrants and the locals in the mining town of Carter see her shunned by both communities.

When Charity’s one friend, Joe, leaves town, she finds herself isolated. However, in his absence, a new friendship with the only other Chinese girl in Carter makes her feel like she finally belongs somewhere.

But, for a lost girl like Charity, finding a place to call home was never going to be that easy …

Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction

Release Date: 16th October, 2015

Publisher: Choc Lit

BUY LINKS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

 

 

About the Author

ABOUT LIZ HARRIS

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Liz Harris lives south of Oxford. Her debut novel was THE ROAD BACK (US Coffee Time & Romance Book of 2012), followed by A BARGAIN STRUCK (shortlisted for the RoNA Historical 2013), EVIE UNDERCOVER, THE ART OF DECEPTION and A WESTERN HEART. All of her novels, which are published by Choc Lit, have been shortlisted in their categories in the Festival of Romantic Fiction. In addition, Liz has had several short stories published in anthologies. Her interests are theatre, travelling, reading, cinema and cryptic crosswords.

You can find Liz at the following links:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

WEBSITE

GOODREADS

 

Giveaway Time!

 

Brooke Cottage Books are offering a wonderful giveaway where you have the chance to win an e-copy of this very book. Please click on the link below to enter!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017118/?

The Lost Girl Tour Banner

 

Blog tour | Review: The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

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Today, I’m thrilled that it’s my stop on the blog tour for the fabulous The Jazz files by Fiona Veitch Smith.

My Review

The Jazz Files is a wonderful novel. From the moment I first saw the cover I was very keen to read the book, it’s such an eye-catching and memorable cover. The novel then opens with a poem by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which meant it immediately appealed to me as she is one of my favourite writers. I was sure that I was going to be in for a real treat with this book and I was absolutely right.

Poppy Denby arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, who was a part of the suffragette movement. Dot quickly encourages Poppy to go out and find herself a career. Poppy finds herself a job as an editorial assistant at The Daily Globe but is soon working as an investigative journalist after a reporter falls to his death in the newsroom.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved how spirited Poppy was, and her Aunt Dot was such a character. I really enjoyed the flashbacks to 1913 and all the references to the suffragette movement as it’s such a fascinating period in history. Smith acknowledges in the notes for this book that she played with the timeline of real events ever so slightly but it doesn’t affect your reading of the novel at all; there is so much truth and believability in this novel, it is impossible not to enjoy it. I love how the struggles that women had gone through, and were still going through, run through this book, and yet it remains such a celebration of what women were beginning to achieve. The female characters are at the forefront of this story; they all have such tenacity to achieve their goals that you just so want them to succeed and you can’t fail to admire them.

I loved Poppy’s friendship with the slightly eccentric Delilah; the things they got up to in the name of investigating the mystery were such fun and I was so engrossed in the story that I felt like I was along on the ride with them.

I very much enjoyed Poppy’s flirtations with Daniel too. I adored the way that she was falling for him and how she was so forward-thinking in many ways but then all of a sudden she would tell him off for being too bold. It was delightful to read and I can’t wait to see what might happen next for these two!

I was intrigued by Elizabeth and I very much enjoyed how the mystery around her and her family was revealed. I noticed what was perhaps another reference to Charlotte Perkins Gilman later in the novel when Elizabeth thinks the mould on the walls in her room is changing and moving, it reminded me of the woman losing her mind in The Yellow Wallpaper. It meant the reader was never absolutely sure about Elizabeth and what she had to tell, which heightens the sense of mystery.

I am thrilled that this is the first in a new series of books and I absolutely cannot wait to read more of Poppy’s adventures; I’ll be first in line to pre-order the next book as soon as it’s available. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough; I’m actually going to be putting it on my favourites shelf and there aren’t very many books that make it on to there. Even though this was a mystery novel and I now know the outcome, I will still re-read this because I loved the characters and the story so much. I’m also about to buy a couple of copies to give as gifts to friends who I know will enjoy this novel as much as I did.

I rate this novel 5 out 0f 5 and give it pride of place on my all-time favourites shelf!

This book was sent to me by Lion Hudson in exchange for an honest review.

The Jazz Files is out now and available on Amazon.

 

Blurb

‘The Jazz Files’
Book 1 in Poppy Denby Investigates series (Lion Fiction) By Fiona Veitch Smith

Release date: 17 September 2015 RRP: £7.99
Publisher: Lion Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-78264-175-9

Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby from Morpeth, who ar- rives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earli- er, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said…

Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roar- ing Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative jour- nalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die?

“It stands for Jazz Files,” said Rollo. “It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven… you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove use- ful.”

About the Author

 

Fiona Veitch Smith

Fiona Veitch Smith was inspired to write The Jazz Files by the centenary anniversary of the death of Morpeth’s Emily Wilding Davison, who died after being struck by the king’s horse in a suffragist protest in 1912. “I initially intended Poppy to be a suffragette reporter sleuth but decided instead to have her as a 1920s flapper inheriting the freedoms won for her by her aunt and other brave women of the time. The Jazz Files has feminist undertones and is an exploration of the challenges faced by a woman in the male-dominated workplace, but it is first and foremost – I hope – just a cracking good mystery,” said the author.


 

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Jazz Files 1: Author Fiona Veitch Smith will be hosting a launch of her new book The Jazz Files on 25 September. Here she is in Waterstones, Newcastle, with her vintage 1922 Remington type- writer just like the one her heroine reporter sleuth Poppy Denby uses in the book.

 

Poppy Denby 2

Jazz Files 2: Fiona Veitch Smith dressed like her character Poppy Denby, a reporter sleuth in a new mystery series set in the 1920s.


 

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Blog Tour & Giveaway | Review: What Rosie Found Next by Helen J Rolfe

What Rosie Found Next

Today, I am thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Helen J Rolfe‘s new book What Rosie Found Next. Please keep reading to the end of my review as there is a fabulous giveaway for you to enter!

Review header copy

What Rosie Found Next is a gorgeous story about Rosie Stevens, a professional house sitter who hasn’t had the easiest life but is trying to move forward. She just wants to settle down and have some stability and security. Adam is Rosie’s long-term boyfriend but he’s very career-driven and, in the short term, this keeps preventing them from having the life that Rosie craves. Owen is the son of the home owners that Rosie is now house-sitting for. Owen is the opposite of Rosie, he leads a nomadic lifestyle with no home of his own and has no intentions of settling down with anyone ever.

I loved the dynamic between Owen and Rosie! From the very beginning, when he arrives unannounced at his parents’ home where Rosie is housesitting, and immediately starts antagonising her it was apparent that there was an underlying chemistry between these two characters. So from the start I was very much looking forward to seeing how things developed between them. As the novel went on, I really did like how these two characters became closer, they  got to be friends and started looking out for each other and forming a much deeper connection. It wasn’t a straightforward boy meets girl novel and I very much enjoyed that it was different.

The mystery element, regarding Owen’s family, that runs through much of this novel was really interesting. I couldn’t work out why Owen was so set on searching his parents’ house but it is apparent that whatever secret is being kept from him, it’s something that has been affecting him for a long time and has perhaps made him the way he is. It works well because Owen goes away to find out the truth about the past and in his time away from Rosie we get to see the development of his character through what he finds out.

I adored Magnolia Creek, what a gorgeous setting; the descriptions of the town are such that you can really picture the place and I’d love to actually go visit! I loved Bella’s cafe, and Bella herself. She is the lynch-pin of the town bringing everyone together and lifting their worries for a little while with tea and freshly-baked scones.

I really enjoyed this novel, it was different to what I had been expecting but I loved that parts of it surprised me. It has a real depth to it and I became so invested in these characters and was really willing them on to find happiness. It’s a really heart-warming read and I can’t wait to read more books by Helen J. Rolfe in the future!

I rate this novel 8 out of 10.

What Rosie Found Next is out now and available from AMAZON UK and AMAZON US

Thank you to Brook Cottage Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb copy

What Rosie Found Next

Genre: Romantic fiction / Women’s fiction

Release Date: 3rd November 2015

A shaky upbringing has left Rosie Stevens craving safety and security. She thinks she knows exactly what she needs to make her life complete – the stable job and perfect house-sit she’s just found in Magnolia Creek. The only thing she wants now is for her long-term boyfriend, Adam, to leave his overseas job and come home for good.

Owen Harrison is notoriously nomadic, and he roars into town on his Ducati for one reason and one reason only – to search his parents’ house while they’re away to find out what they’ve been hiding from him his entire life. When he meets Rosie, who refuses to quit the house-sit in his parents’ home, sparks fly.

Secrets are unearthed, promises are broken, friendships are put to the test and the real risk of bushfires under the hot Australian sun threatens to undo Rosie once and for all.

Will Rosie and Owen find what they want or what they really need?


Author Bio copy

ABOUT HELEN J ROLFE

helen j rolfe

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction. She enjoys weaving stories about family, relationships, friendships, love, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them.

Born and raised in the UK, Helen spent fourteen years living in Australia before returning home. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/helenjrolfe

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/hjrolfe

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/helenjrolfe


GIVEAWAY BANNER! copy

As part of the book tour there is a chance to enter a giveaway for a chance to win £10 /$15 Amazon gift card. Please click on the link below to enter. Good luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017116/?

Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

Today is my stop on Rebecca Raisin’s The Little Bookshop on the Seine book blog tour!

Little Bookshop on the Seine

 

My review:

I knew I was going to love The Little Bookshop on the Seine as soon as I read the blurb, it just sounded magical and exactly my type of book. I’ve always adored books about books and bookshops.

Sarah runs a little bookshop in Ashford, a small town where she has always lived, and where she knows everyone and everyone knows her. She gets offered the chance to do a six-month book shop swap with her dear friend Sophie, who runs the Once Upon a Time book shop in Paris and decides to go for it.

Sarah is a total romantic, she is whimsical and a daydreamer. She adores her books and she absolutely believes in happily ever afters. She’s always wanted to go to Paris and immediately dreams about exploring the city hand-in-hand with her man, Ridge, but it doesn’t quite go as she imagines it would. She finds she has to hit the ground running when she arrives in Paris. Once Upon a Time is a very busy shop with staff that seem to come and go at will, and who offer no support to Sarah. She quickly becomes exhausted and stressed and begins to question whether she has made the right decision in coming to Paris.

Then she meets Oceane, who also works at Once Upon a Time part-time, and she takes Sarah under her wing. She helps her shop for new clothes to update her look, she encourages her to take time away from the shop and helps her to explore the real Paris and not just the tourist side of the city. Oceane introduces Sarah to Anouk, who runs an antique jewellery shop, and I loved meeting her. She is just so quirky; the idea that she picks pieces out for customers and will only sell them what she feels is right for them! Just wonderful!

I assumed this novel was going to be focused on the romance between Sarah and Ridge but actually that isn’t really the main focus at all. Their relationship doesn’t quite go as Sarah hoped while she is in Paris and the romance of the book is actually very much more between Sarah and Paris itself. She falls head over heels in love with the city as it begins to cast its magical spell on her. Sarah goes from being quite naive and gauche to slowly, with Oceane’s help, beginning to find her sense of style and to dress with a more chic Parisian look. She gradually becomes more comfortable with the language and it’s wonderful to see her confidence grow. Sarah really does find herself in Paris, she becomes bolder and stronger and it’s wonderful to see. I loved that she never stops being herself though: she doesn’t change into a different person entirely, you still see all her nervous tics but she becomes the best version of herself. It was great how the focus wasn’t what I expected, it added another dimension to the novel.

I adore the way Sarah feels about her books; her ‘book babies’ as she refers to them. The sound of a spine cracking, the way old books smell, the ‘lemony-scent’ of new books. I swear I could hear and see and smell everything that Sarah was experiencing in the book shop, the descriptions were that vivid. The sheer love of books just radiates off the page in this novel. Sarah’s face actually flushes with love at one point, like someone in the beginning of a new love affair, when she explores Once Upon a Time! I think all of us bookworms have been there on discovering a fantastic new book shop! I want to go visit Once Upon a Time, I want to sit and read in all the little rooms, I want to buy books there. This novel is a love letter to Paris, and even more so a love letter to books; it is absolutely a must-read book for book lovers.

I rated this book 10 out of 10, I absolutely loved it!


 

Little Bookshop on the Seine

Synopsis of The Little Bookshop on the Seine

La Vie En Rose

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.

But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

A deliciously feel-good Christmas romance perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Julia Williams

he Little Paris Collection:

The Little Bookshop on the Seine

The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower

The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées

Also by Rebecca Raisin

The Gingerbread Café trilogy:
Christmas at the Gingerbread Café
Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Café
Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café

The Bookshop on the Corner
Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm

Amazon  UK http://amzn.to/1LfJJzO

Amazon US http://amzn.to/1KR2Wck

iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/little-bookshop-on-seine-little/id1022785186?mt=11

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-little-bookshop-on-the-seine-rebecca-raisin/1121263193?ean=9781474030786

Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-little-bookshop-on-the-seine-the-little-paris-collection-book-1-1

Sainsbury’s

https://www.sainsburysentertainment.co.uk/ebooks/The-Little-Bookshop-On-The-Seine-The-Little-Paris-Collection-Book-1-/Rebecca-Raisin/9781474030786


 

 

About the Author

Rebecca-Raisin author pic

 

Rebecca Raisin is a bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in various short-story anthologies, and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous men who have brains as well as brawn is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and, most importantly, believe in true, once-in-a-lifetime love.

 

Follow her on twitter @jaxandwillsmum

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Website rebeccaraisin.com