Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 – My Top Reads

I wasn’t going to do a top reads list as I feel mean leaving anyone out. But I’ve been reading the lists of bloggers I admire and was interested to see what would make the list. So in no particular order are my reads of the last year.

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

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Another gripping novel featuring Marnie Rome, with an unusual plot line, Sarah Hilary is fast becoming one of my favourite crime authors. Read my review here.

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

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A beautifully told and mesmerising tale based on one of Patrick Gale’s ancestors. A joy to read. Read my review here.

Hidden by Emma Kavanagh

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Told from the tale of a number of characters, this riveting crime thriller opens with a bang with a shooting at a Swansea hospital. You can read my review here.

The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds

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A dark tale from the Texas/Arkansas border, based on true life events. I’m looking forward to the next book from Rod Reynolds. Read my review here.

Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery

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The second instalment featuring Serge Morel, this is a more gentle paced, but beautifully descriptive novel set in Cambodia. You can read my review here.

Normal by Grahame Cameron

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Turning the typical serial killer story on its head, the narrator in this novel is the unnamed serial killer, who may have met his undoing. You can read my review here.

The Red Notebook by Antoin Laurian

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A charming tale of books and looking for love, you are easily transported to the streets of Paris. You can read my review here.

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

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Another story about books and looking for love this is a lovely tale of the book pulping factory worker who tries to save pages from books and is on the hunt for the owner of the diary he has found. And who he just happens to be falling for. You can read my review here.

And a couple of cheats

The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth

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I actually read this in 2014 but reviewed in 2015 so I’m allowing it here (its my list so I can!). This is an absorbing tale of a murder investigation with a difference, one of the victims survived and the other narrates from death. You can read my review here.

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

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Another cheat as this book isn’t actually published until 2016 but I can’t exclude this charming, beautifully written tale that is sure to be a firm favourite with me for years to come. You can read my review here.

I also really enjoyed The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Lisa Dickenson, In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward, Oi Frog by Kes Grey and Jim Field, My Mother is a River by Donatella Di Pietrantonio, Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson, Ivy Lane by Cathy Bramley, and two other 2016 titles, You and Me Always by Jill Mansell and After You Die by Eva Dolan. Keep a look out for reviews of those soon.

There you have it. Now what does 2016 have to offer?

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Reading Resolutions

Ok I may be a little early but I’m preparing myself for a new reading year. This year I’ve not read as many books as I would have liked (but then again I never do read as many as I’d hope to). I thought though, that as this year comes to an end it may be a good idea to set out some reading resolutions for 2016. No doubt I will break them all. The only question is, how long will it take?

1. Read more of my own books

By this I mean books I have bought. I tend to put these to one side in order to read review copies and then they sadly get left behind. I am in no way complaining about receiving proof copies. I don’t expect to receive any proof copy and truly do appreciate every one I get. But I feel (a self-imposed) pressure to read those before the ones I have bought for myself or have had given to me as gifts. Next year I intend to read more of these mixed in with any review copies I may be lucky enough to receive.

2. Not set a Goodreads challenge

Now I’ve taken this idea from an article I read via Twitter. I sadly can’t recall who it was by but a reader discussed why she hadn’t set a Goodreads target. She had her own reasons. As for mine, well again it seemed this year like another added pressure. Again it’s really not a big thing in the grand scheme of things but I was always conscious of the fact I was behind in the reading schedule. I then felt I needed to read faster so that I didn’t ‘fail’. There is nothing to fail at when it comes to reading. Its a personal choice, done, in the main, for pleasure and so shouldn’t be a chore. I’d like to see if taking away little things like a Goodreads challenge help make it more of the former and less of the latter. I will however still be setting my own reading ‘challenge’ though really its more like a geeky list. I like to make note of all the different places the books I read are set and try to vary it if possible.

3. Make sure my book eyes aren’t bigger than my book belly

I’ve come to the sad realisation that I can’t actually read every book I like the sound of, however much I may try. I therefore need to be a little bit more selective. I won’t be buying every book I ‘need’ to read, nor will I request every one. I don’t want any of the books I have to be left waiting to be read whilst I wade through the to read pile. Its not fair on authors and publishers who are waiting for reviews, not fair on me to feel overwhelmed and not fair to the books I’ve already got and not read.

4. Don’t feel like I have to read a book just because ‘everyone’ else has.

Its easy to get caught up in the furore over a new book. Its getting lots of rave reviews, bloggers you respect are raving about it and it seems to fill up your Twitter time line. I have been disappointed by books like this, probably because I’ve made them into something before I’ve even read it so have set myself up for disappointment. I’m vowing to not do this in 2016, or at least try not to. If a book sounds like I’d find it interesting then I’ll add it to the wishlist. If it doesn’t sound like my cup of tea then I probably won’t – even if the whole world is having a read-a-long. And I’ll stop feeling guilty if I don’t like a book everyone is raving about – or indeed if I love one that others don’t find particularly appealing. The beauty of books is that they are subjective. Every reader takes something different away from each book. And everyone’s opinions are valid.

5. Keep track of my books

When I started blogging I didn’t expect to receive or read so many books. The pile got away with me somewhat so I decided I better start a list. I opened up a spreadsheet, made a start, and then promptly forgot about it. I have good intentions of starting up the record keeping again but who knows how long that may last…

6. Stop procrastinating

I find I’m spending longer and longer on deciding my next read. I’ve decided to just pick up a book and read, unless for some reason I have agreed to read a book by a deadline. If I don’t happen to be in the mood for the one I have grabbed, I’ll set it to one side and pick another. This way hopefully the time spent picking a read can be better spent actually reading. Procrastination time also means less time spent on social media. That way I have more time for everything else.

7. Try to read all the proofs I may receive at least a week before publication

I aim to do this anyway but again sometimes my plans go awry. I have started as I mean to go on as I’ve read a number of January releases already. It will all depend on how many I have for that particular month I guess. And if I don’t get any proofs, which I certainly don’t assume to expect, then I can work my way through those I already have, and buy some more to replace them 🙂

So there it is. How long I manage to keep to these resolutions is another matter but the good intentions are there.

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,100 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Toppling the TBR pile – Little, Brown 2016 titles

So to the next culprits to cause the TBR pile to sway precariously. Little, Brown publish under a number of imprints including Corsair, Constable. Blackfriars, Sphere, Abacus, Atom, Piatkus, Piaktus Entice, Virago, Orbit and Little, Brown. Lets take a look at the treats they have lined up for the first half of 2016.

The New Year brings with it new books including The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee. Set in Hong Kong, this is the story of three women, Mercy, Margaret and Hilary. The individual stories of the three women, living in the expatriate community, intertwine and are brought together when tragedy strikes. They find themselves outside of the world they know and into one where the rules they lived by before no longer apply. (Little, Brown).

Save some of your sales money for Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre. Diana Jager is a skilled surgeon and an active blogger about sexism. Her world comes crumbling down around her when her personal details are released in a revenge attack on her blog comments. She then meets Peter and within six months they marry. Six months later, Diana is on trial for Peter’s murder. Peter’s sister Lucy ask reporter Jack Parlabane to find the truth about Diana, dubbed the Black Widow. (Little, Brown)

Blueprints by Barbara Delinksy tells the story of Jamie MacAfee. She loves her fiancé (she thinks), knows she loves her job and works with her mother Caroline on a TV programme, Gut It! When there are plans for Caroline to be replaced as host by Jamie she is left feeling betrayed. And when tragedy strikes and Jamie is left guardian of her young step-brother tensions run deep with her fiancé, who doesn’t want the boy. (Piatkus)

Mr Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt is also out this month. Orphans Nat and Ruth run away from their orphanage with a travelling con-man. Decades later Cora is visited by her mute Aunt Ruth and decides to join her on a mysterious mission. They travel across New York. Where are they going and what has Ruth hidden in the woods at the end of the road? (Corsair)

Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce tells the story of Marie, a waitress and struggling single mother. She looses her self in a self-destructive path of sexual encounters as she battles between the desire to obliterate her life and the will to survive. (Corsair)

The City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong is a standalone thriller. Detective Casey Duncan is looking to avoid her past. Her best friend Diana is seeking solace from an abusive ex. When Casey hears that Rockton, a hidden town almost impossible to reach, is looking for a new detective she knows where to go. But not long after they arrive they find a body. The town is full of secrets and Casey’s boss has his own agenda. Without help from the outside world, Casey is on her own to find a killer who will strike again if not stopped. (Sphere)

Also out this month is Alex Kava’s Silent Creed, (Sphere), The Chelsea Strangler by Susanna Gregory, (Sphere), If They Could See Me Now by Denise Welch, (Sphere). The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton, (Corsair), Hostage by Jamie Doward, (Constable), A Master of Corruption by L.C. Tyler. (Constable), The Counterfeit Heiress, Death in the Floating City and Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander, (Constable), Who’s Afraid? by Maria Lewis, (Piatkus), The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward, (Piatkus), My American Duchess by Eloisa James, (Piatkus), Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones, (Piatkus), City of Light by Keri Arthur, (Piatkus), Spider Game by Christine Feehan, (Piatkus) and Changers Book One: Drew by T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper.(Atom)

On to February and Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa. It is 1999 and Victor, homeless, wanders the streets of Seattle. His father is the Chief of Police and in charge of dealing with one of the largest protests ever seen. The protest turns ugly; two armed officers try to keep the calm, a protester with murder in their past makes a mistake and there’s a Sri-Lankan delegate who will do all that is possible to get to a meeting, one which could change the fate of his country. These stories and the story of Victor and his father combine into a collision course. (Little, Brown)

Rush Oh! is also published this month. Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter in a whaling family, decides to chronicle the whaling season of 1908. There’s a lack of whales, changes in weather and the arrival of John Beck, a whaler with a murky past and Mary is quick to develop a crush on him. Other romance is also on the cards and a relationship to be formed with a killer whale called Tom. (Virago)

Also out in February is The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward which tells the tale of Alice who runs a barbeque restaurant, happy with her life except for the one thing that is missing, a child. Also running alongside her story is the story of Carla, tasked with looking after her six year old brother when her mother makes the illegal trip to Texas from Mexico. When Carla’s grandmother dies she decides to take the same trip as her mother, taking her brother with her. (Blackfriars)

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid tells the story of Jude, who is also called Judy. School is like a movie set, no one is real. Jude only has eyes for Luke but Jude’s dream for them turns into a nightmare. (Atom)

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen tells the story of a Vietnamese Captain who has ‘escaped’ to the US with compatriots, who are unaware he is spying on them and reporting back to the Viet Cong. (Corsair)

Jenny Colgan fans won’t be disappointed in February. The Little Shop of Happy Ever After sees Nina loose her job at the Birmingham Library when it is turned into a retail complex. Spotting a tiny bookshop bus available in the Highlands she decides to take the risk. There’ll be no computers, she’ll be out all hours driving in the wilderness and there will be only a tiny amount of stock to sell but Nina is up for the challenge. (Sphere)

Also out this month is The Promise featuring DC Gary Goodhew, by Alison Bruce, (Constable) and Acts of Violence featuring Inspector John Carlyle by James Craig. (Constable), Brotheerhood in Death by J.D. Robb, (Piatkus), The House of Eyes by Kate Ellis, (Piatkus), Tread Softly, Alice by Jessica Blair, (Piatkus), Crosstown Crush by Cara McKenna, (Piatkus), Getting Rough by C.L.Parker, (Piatkus), The Hurricane by R.J. Prescott, (Piatkus), The Lazarus War by Jamie Sawyer, (Orbit), Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan, (Orbit) and Speak by Louisa Hall. (Orbit)

The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia Macgregor is out in March. Six years ago Norah walks out on her family. She’s now back and finds another woman in her place. Fay has replaced her in the marital bed and Norah’s daughter now calls Fay ‘mummy’. Where has Norah been? Why has she returned now? and what happens to the one who stayed when the one who went returns? (Sphere)

In Kate O’Riodan’s Penance Rosie and Maddie meet Jed at Bereavement Counselling where they attend as Maddie holds herself accountable for her brother’s tragic drowning accident. Soon Jed moves in with Rosie and Maddie. On the outside everything seems perfect but hidden away a deadly triangle is emerging. When Rosie commits an unspeakable act the truth about Jed, and the death of her son begins to emerge. (Constable).

Beloved Poison by E.S. Thomson is also published in March. St Saviour’s Infirmary is waiting to be demolished. Six tiny coffins are found, each containing dried flowers and mouldering rags. Apothecary Jem Flockhart is determined to find out the truth about the coffins with the trail taking her to the operating room, dissection table. the infamous Newgate and the gallows. Some will go to any lengths to keep the truth a secret, including murder. (Constable)

Thin Ice by Quentin Bates is the latest instalment featuring Inspector Gunna. Two crooks have robbed Reykjavik’s leading drug dealer and taken two women hostage, escaping to a remote hotel. Meanwhile Gunna and her team investigate a seemingly unrelated disappearance of a mother, her daughter and their car, and the death of a thief in a house fire. How will this investigation and the two desperate robbers collide? (Constable)

An Unrestored Woman by Shoba Rao is also published in March. This collection of short stories spanning the Indian subcontinent includes the tale of an old woman who recollects the murder of her most precious thing, a girl who uses patience as a weapon and escapes her life of prostitution and a servant who spins a web of deceit after falling in love with his employer. (Virago)

In The Painted Ocean by Gabriel Packard Shruti’s mother is under pressure to return to India and remarry, meaning she would have to leave Shruti behind. When Meena arrives at school she puts a stop to the bullying Shruti is enduring. Shruti attaches herself to Meena in an obsessive way, following her through High School and University. When she follows her to India the obsession turns dangerous. (Corsair)

In Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle, McKay has strayed from his turf and finds himself facing a friend’s crazy ex-boyfriend, hood-rats and a violent gangster with a vendetta that will hit close to home. Added into the mix is the fact that his father is working all hours to deep the bailiffs at bay and his brother is riding the streets at night, looking for trouble. (Atom)

Also out this month is The Predictions by Bianca Zander, (Blackfriars), A Brief Affair by Margaret Leroy, (Sphere), The Darkest Goodbye by Alex Gray, (Sphere), The House of Moriarty by Sam Christer, (Sphere) and The Primrose Path by Rebecca Griffiths. (Sphere), Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente, (Corsair), Dilly’s Lass by Rosie Goodwin (Corsair), Wraths of the Furies by Steven Saylor, (Constable), Scarred Souls by Tillie Cole, (Piatkus), Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn, (Piatkus), Maid of Oaklands Manor by Terri Nixon, (Piatkus), Play to Win by Tiffany Snow, (Piatkus), Dark Promises by Christine Feehan, (Piatkus), The Spider’s War by Daniel Abraham, (Orbit), Snakeworld by Adrian Selby, (Orbit), Shadow and Flame by Gail Z Martin, (Orbit) and The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne M. Valente. (Atom)

April and The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent is published. Frances awakes one night to the sound of her baby crying. She finds she is alone in bed. She finds him in the garden, murdered. As Frances tries to unravel his death she finds out nothing in their marriage was as it seemed. (Sphere)

Relativity by Antonia Hayes is also out in April. Ethan is a talented, science loving, 12 year old who has been raised in a loving home, in Sydney by his mother Claire. However he is now curious about his father. When Ethan falls ill, linked to a tragic event when he was a baby, Claire contacts Mark, Ethan’s father. Intercepting a letter from Mark, Ethan sets in motion a chain of events that pull the three of them together again. (Corsair)

Another Australian set book out in April is Mazine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil. This collection of short stories covers a range of stories about the disenfranchised, lost and mistreated. (Corsair)

Already gathering praise on social media is Alex Marwood’s The Darkest Secret is published in April. Three year old Coco goes missing at a family event. Her family and their friends are rich and influential. Told over the weekend Coco goes missing and the weekend of her father’s funeral secrets of the past are revealed. (Sphere)

Fellside by M.R. Carey, author of the bestselling The Girl With All the Gifts, is out in April. Jess has been convicted of a murder she can’t remember committing. She’s transferred to Fellside, the biggest women’s prison in Europe, located in the bleak Yorkshire Moors. But Jess isn’t alone in her cell. There’s the ghost of a ten year old boy who wants Jess’ help. And who won’t take no for an answer. (Orbit)

Also published this month is The Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding by Carole Matthews, (Sphere), Operation Goodwood by Sara Sheridan, (Constable), May Day Murder by Julie Wassmer, (Constable), Her Royal Spyness, A Royal Pain and Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen (Constable), The Lazarus Curse by Tessa Harris, (Constable), The Obsession by Nora Roberts, (Piatkus), ‘Til Death Do Us Part by Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Amanda Quick, (Piatkus), Inspector Singh Investigates: A Frightfully English Execution by Shamini Flint, (Piatkus), Nearly Always by Ken McCoy, (Piatkus), Fire Bound by Christine Feehan, (Piatkus), Burned by Benedict Jacka, (Orbit), Bloodmage by Stephen Aryan, (Orbit), The Fall of the Dagger by Glenda Larke, (Orbit), Consumed by Abbie Rushton, (Atom), The November Criminals by Sam Munson, (Atom), Invasion by Sherrilyn Kenyon, (Atom), The New Order by Chris Weitz, (Atom) and Forest of Ruin by Kelley Armstrong. (Atom)

May and Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman is published. Already gathering high praise on social media, Girls on Fire is the tale of Hannah Dexter. Bullied by Nikki at school she soon becomes friends with Lacey, sharing a hatred of Nikki, who’s boyfriend shoots himself in High School. Lacey has an effect on Hannah, changing her from good girl , to ‘Dex’ who will face any challenge Lacey throws at her. Their trail of chaso and rebellion has an effect on the town they live in. And Lacey has a secret, one that once revealed, will change everything. (Little, Brown)

Also published this month is Now and Again by Charlotte Rogan, which sees Maggie expose a high-level cover up. Getting the taste for doing good she soon sees injustice everywhere. As she gathers her proof she must decide how far to go for the truth. Meanwhile in Iraq Captain Penn Sinclair’s orders end in disaster. He reunites with survivors to expose the truth about the war. How does his story and Maggie’s connect? (Virago)

Fans of The Fifteen Lives of Harry August will be pleased to hear that the as yet untitled new novel from Claire North is published in May. Hope Ardern is being forgotten. Her father forgets to collect her, her mother doesn’t set her a place at dinner and her teacher doesn’t chase her missing homework. No matter what Hope does she is still forgotten. It makes her life tricky, but it also makes her dangerous. (Orbit)

Also out in May is Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens, (Sphere), Blood Torment by T.F. Muir (Constable), The City in Darkness by Michael Russell, (Constable), The Nearness of You by Sareeta Domingo, (Piatkus), The Lazarus War: Legion by Jamie Sawyer, (Orbit), A Blade of Black Steel by Alex Marshall, (Orbit), The Corporation Wars: Dissidence by Ken MacLeod, (Orbit) and The Summon Stone by Ian Irvine. (Orbit)

June and fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s Mma Ramotswe will be pleased to hear that a new story featuring the eponymous detective is published. The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine sees Mma Ramotswe on a reluctant holiday. However, she can’t resist looking into cases which causes her to look into the past of a man with a questionable reputation and an orphan called Samuel. Whilst all this goes on the arch enemy of Mma Makutsi, the co-director of the agency, has set up a rival secretarial college. Will she get her comeuppance? (Abacus)

Let Me Tell You About A Man I Knew by Susan Fletcher tells the tale of the wife of Van Gogh’s doctor. Finding herself drawn to the artist, she soon is banned from visiting him so takes to sneaking in his garden to visit him. Her actions have unforeseen, far reaching effects. (Virago)

Stephen Booth fans will be able to get The Secrets of Death this month. DI Ben Cooper and his team look into a series of suicides. What connects them and was one of them not a suicide at all? (Sphere)

If you are a fan of Lisa Dickenson then you’ll be pleased to know that the complete version of You Had Me At Merlot is out in June. Elle and Laurie head off to Italy for a singles holiday, Elle being the reluctant one. There they meet a mismatched band of tourists looking for love amongst the vineyards. Except Elle of course… You can read my review of this very funny and entertaining book here.

Also out this month is Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos, (Blackfriars), A Grave Concern by Susanna Gregory, (Sphere), Cleopatra’s Shadows by Emily Holleman, (Sphere), Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie, (Sphere), The War Against the Assholes by Sam Munson (Corsair), Flameout by Keri Arthur, (Piatkus), Death Rider by Christine Feehan, (Piatkus), The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross, (Orbit), Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey, (Orbit), Changers Book Two: Oryon by T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper, (Atom) and My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger. (Atom)

Virago Modern Classics are reissuing  whole host of titles this year. Patricia Highsmith is the first to have titles published in 2016 as Virago Modern Classics with Small g: A Summer Idyll, A Game for the Living, A Dog’s Ransom, Strangers on a Train and Found in the Street are all out in January. April sees the reissue of Dunedin and The Orchard on Fire by Shena Mackay as Virgo Modern Classics whilst in May its the turn of Daphne Du Maurier following on from the reissue of Frenchman’s Creek (you can see my review here), Jamaica Inn and Rebecca. This time The House on the Strand, My Cousin Rachel and The Loving Spirit all get the Virago makeover. Angela Thirkell’s Before Lunch and Northbridge Rectory are also reissued in May. Patricia Highsmith’s This Sweet Sickness is published in June.

Corsair are publishing six books by Seanan McGuire with An Artificial Light in January, Late Eclipses in February, One Salt Sea in March, Ashes of Honor in April, Chimes at Midnight in May and The Winter Long in June.

So there you have it , a gigantic list of bookish treats for us in the first half of 2016. I know what I have my eye on. What about you?

 

 

 

 

 

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Follow Me by Angela Clarke – Extract

Follow Me by Angela Clarke is published on 31 December 2015. Angela and her publishers Avon have kindly let me share this extract with you (remember this extract is subject to copyright so no copying and sharing anywhere else :-))

This extract is from chapter 9

“02:18

Sunday 1 November

1 FOLLOWING  10,554 FOLLOWERS

Freddie had been sat in the interview room alone for two hours

now. Her phone had died. The pale-faced PC had brought her

another scalding coffee and something that was supposed to be

an egg and bacon bap. 23 Things You Eat That Can Kill You.

Rocking back on her chair legs, she wondered how long they’d

drag this out for. Everyone had jumped up after she’d said about

@Apollyon having an audience and she was asked to wait here.

Asked or told? She was too tired to be angry. She just wanted to

go home.

The door opened and the burble of noise and movement bled

into the room. Nasreen stood in the doorway.

‘Follow me, Miss Venton.’ She turned and Freddie jumped up.

Miss Venton? I thought we were past all that nonsense? ‘So, Nas,

bet you never thought we’d meet like this, hey? How you been?’

Nasreen ignored her and clicked down the hallway. Freddie

noted she’d changed out of her flat boots into black high heels.

Let her hair down.

‘Wait here.’ Nasreen tapped briskly on a door.

‘Come!’ said a male voice inside.

Nasreen smoothed her hair and tugged at her shirt’s hem to

straighten it. She wanted to look smart. Correct. Her suit was her

armour. Except this situation was a hundred times worse than a

job interview. Being summoned to the guv’s office like this was

bad news. She knew he’d been informed after the Twitter situation

broke, journalists were already inundating the station with

calls. DCI Moast was shouting about containment. It was a PR

disaster. The guv shouldn’t even be here – he’d come in on his

night off to ‘limit the damage’. She’d never been called to see him

before. Never. She’d already been hauled over the coals for not

outing Freddie immediately by DCI Moast. Inappropriate conduct.

Endangering the investigation. She hated being told off. Her cheeks

burned. She felt guilt and shame and wanted to fix it. She’d been

a well-behaved child, only really getting in trouble if she went

along with one of Freddie’s more crazy schemes. Finding a pot

of paint outside a pub and painting one of the building’s walls

pink. Grounded. Going further from home than she was allowed

because Freddie had seen a kitten with an injured leg they had

to help. No television for a week. It was always Freddie who’d

led her astray. And now this? If Nasreen was to be suspended,

she wanted to hold it together. She would not cry. No matter

how much it hurt. No matter how upset or angry she was. Not

in front of her colleagues. She wouldn’t lose their respect as well

as everything else.

Freddie’s story about being a journalist was true, so why on earth

was she wasting her time at Espress-oh’s if she worked for The Post?

That just showed how different they were. Anything they’d had

before – any common ground they’d shared in the past – was gone.

She probably did it for free paninis. In a few short hours Freddie

had seemingly taken a wrecking ball to Nasreen’s life. Her career.

Everything she valued. Nasreen felt the wrench of despair as she

thought of Freddie confessing to entering the crime scene under

false pretences. Why hadn’t she raised the alarm when she’d seen

Freddie at Blackbird Road? She was complicit in Freddie’s offence.

And now the suspect, the real one on Twitter, had hours on them

and it was Nasreen’s fault they’d missed the Golden Hour. The

crucial period immediately after a crime when material is readily

available to the investigating team. They’d lost it to interviewing

Freddie. A false lead. A distraction. A confusion. DCI Moast had

talked about creating slow time – trying to regroup, but Nasreen

knew her deception about Freddie had lost them valuable ground.

At best, Nasreen would be demoted. She tried to make that a reassuring

thought, but anxiety overpowered her. How was she going

to keep up the mortgage repayments on her home? What would

her parents say if she was fired? She’d let everyone down. And all

because seventeen years ago she’d gone for fish fingers at Freddie

Venton’s house.

About the book

9780008165437

“LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM …”

 

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The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements – Review

Published by Simon & Schuster

Publication date – 5 November 2015

Source – review copy

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“Hazel never set out to be a wedding planner. She was just helping her stressed sister Lila with cakes and décor for her big day. But when Lila and Ollie’s summer ceremony is a runaway success, with guests raving about the food and styling at the pretty venue, word about Hazel’s expertise soon spreads.

But Hazel’s clients expect the very best – she’s promised lawyers Gemma and Eliot a snow-covered castle in the Scottish Highlands, and laidback couple Josh and Sarah a bohemian beach wedding in a Caribbean paradise. But as weather, in-laws and wilful brides conspire against her, can Hazel get two very different couples to walk up two very different aisles to say ‘I do’?

From the author of the bestselling The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop, this is a festive treat of a novel, perfect for readers who enjoy books by Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley and Jenny Colgan. – See more at Simon and Schuster.”

4 of 5 stars

Hazel is at a cross roads in her life. She is estranged from her best friend, Sam. Her twin sister, Lila, has moved out of the flat they have shared for 10 years. She is holding out for promotion to Set Designer at work, hoping that all the covering she does for her boss will pay off. When Lila announces her engagement the moment is bitter sweet for Hazel. However she is eager to step in and help organise the wedding when Lila’s wedding planner lets her down. The success of the event leads to opportunities to plan more weddings. But with bumps in the road will they go ahead?

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a complete novel in just a few hours, but that’s what happened with this book. It was lovely to get lost in the story and I soon found myself racing through the book eager to find out what happened.

I don’t want to get too much into the story as that would spoil it but there are moments of frustration and romance. There are also times when you want to shout at Hazel so that she can see what is evident to us as the reader. All of these things pull the story together and make you read on.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t warm to Hazel at first. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but there was something that put me off her. But she grew on me and I soon got wrapped up in her tale. There are a whole host of characters in this book, some who are easy to love, others who are easy to loathe. I particularly liked the friendship that developed between Hazel and Amber and between Josh and Hazel. There are of course those characters you aren’t supposed to like, such as Emma, Hazel’s boss and a question mark arises over the intentions of Sam, Hazel’s childhood best friend, and her first love.

This is a great book to curl up with on a dark winter evening. I look forward to reading more of Abby Clements’ books and I’ll be reading her earlier novels soon.

 

 

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Holly Seddon – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome Holly Seddon to the blog. Holly is the author of Try Not to Breathe which is published by Corvus on 7 January 2016. Holly kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Try Not to Breathe.

Try Not to Breathe is a psychological thriller that centres on a horrible attack on 15-year-old Amy Stevenson in 1995. Amy has been in a persistent vegetative state ever since, stuck in her own body and all but forgotten until journalist Alex Dale stumbles across her. Alex is barely keeping her head above water. She’s drunk away her marriage, her friendships and a high profile journalism career. She becomes obsessed with Amy’s story, determined to solve the mystery of who hurt her once and for all. It becomes all-consuming and ultimately life-changing.  

2. What inspired the book? 

I was cooking a roast dinner one Sunday and half-listening to a health programme on Radio 4. The topic was persistent vegetative states. Someone described the condition as “a living death” and my ears pricked up. I started to think about what it must be like to love someone in that condition, to watch them stay the same while everything changes around them and then I started to think about the other side of the coin, what it could feel like for people lying motionless for years while everyone around them moves on. And then I imagined someone being stuck there as a teenager as the result of a vicious crime. And then I started writing. 

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?

I have an outline but I don’t have a chapter plan. I have to know the beginning, middle and the end, and who the main characters are when I start. I have to know ‘whodunit’! But I need to get writing quickly, I can’t stop myself, and find I get to know the characters as I write. New supporting characters will also pop up as I go and that will often take the story into unexpected places. 

It’s tricky to say how long it takes because with Try Not to Breathe it was very stop-start. I was fitting writing around work and family, and had to prioritise paid work over daydreams. There were also some big life changes happening at the same time so the manuscript kept taking a back seat. In other words, it took years. But now I’m able to prioritise writing, and I say that knowing how flaming lucky I am, I write fast. It takes about six months for a 85,000 word first draft. But then there’s all that editing… the finished result will be longer, and lots of the original draft will have been cut along the way. 

4. Having been through the creative process of writing and publishing a novel what have you learnt that you wish you’d known before you started?

To be ruthless and to trust my gut. 

I had to kill my darlings over and over again in the editing process and the book was all the better for it. I also knew deep down when a character wasn’t quite right, or dialogue was a bit unrealistic and laboured, but I left it in that first draft because I was focussed on finishing and having the word count. Obviously it all had to be whipped out, it’s not about the number of words, it’s about the quality of the story. 

When I write now, I don’t spend time polishing as I write, I just get it all down so it’s like a big lump of stone and then I chisel and chisel and polish and polish. That works better – and a lot faster! – for me. It also helps the writing flow freely, and I enjoy that a lot. I read an interview last year with Kazuo Ishiguro about how he wrote the first draft of The Remains of the Day in four weeks because he just, basically, thrashed it out. Not planning, stopping, starting but just locking himself away and writing until he was spent, every day. That was so inspiring to me, and so freeing. I have four kids so the thought of locking myself away writing for 12 hours a day is just a pipedream, but I take the same approach with every bit of writing time I can get. 

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I weightlift. I absolutely love it. I started running and working out in 2010 and from there became a bit obsessed. I love pushing myself to lift heavier and heavier, and the pride that comes with completing a challenging set. Breaking down a big challenge into sets and reps is very relevant to planning and working on a novel, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my fitness journey – if that doesn’t sound too ugh – ran parallel to my writing path. 

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

Illywhacker by Peter Carey – and not just because it’s really long (569 pages) so that’s a bit of a cheat. This book more than any other opened my eyes to the possibilities of stretching a story, of playing with the reader’s trust and understanding, of taking an incredibly unreliable narrator, with an unbelievable backstory and outlandish characters, and making you feel like you’re really there and these ridiculous people existed. I read it when I was 14 or 15, but I was fascinated by the protagonist – 139-year-old Herbert Badgery – and also found that the life events being wrapped in real life events got my little history-loving heart pumping in a way history lessons at school never had. It’s hilarious and strange and brilliant – I recommend it to anyone whose never read it. All Peter Carey books, actually. 

7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

That question would be: “Would you like someone to come to your house and look after the kids and the dog and make dinner so that you can get on with your work in progress?” And the answer would be “YES!”

Thanks very much for answering my questions and for appearing on my blog.

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About the book:

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“You won’t be able to put it down.
Just remember to breathe.

Alex is sinking
. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…”

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TBR Book Tag

TBR Book Tag

I was tagged by Naomi Frisby over at The Writes of Woman and having seen this on a number of blogs including Marina Sofia’s Finding Time to Write. Having written it all down, I’ve just confirmed to myself what I already know – the TBR is slightly out of control and has a life of its own!

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I don’t, which is why its rather out of control. I didn’t track it, then I started to do a spreadsheet like I’d heard bloggers I admire do (proper bloggers, not the amateur like me!) Then I let it get away with me again. I’m determined to create a proper record and reading schedule next year. And to stick to it.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Mainly print books. The main reason for this is I have a tendancy to forget about the ebooks I have which is such a shame, and something I feel very guilty about. I’m hoping to do a stint of just ebook reading to clear some backlog. Also I tend to pass my books on to my mum and she only reads print books.

How do you determine which books from your TBR to read next?

I try to go by publication date order but sometimes I just have to go by the book I feel like reading at that moment. I’ve found that if I read a book because it’s due to be read or has been outstanding for a while it can cause me to feel slightly pressured and view the book slightly negatively, which isn’t fair on the author or the book. I’m trying to come round to the way of thinking that as long as I read the book when I want, even if it is after publication, and therefore give it ‘a fair go’ then that is better than forcing myself to read it or to try and give up half way through.

A book that has been on my TBR the longest?

I have absolutely no idea, though sadly there are a few that have been outstanding for a while. Though I do have a few that were proofs of hardback editions and we are now approaching the paperback editions. I suppose The Girl in the Red Coat and Our Endless Numbered Days are two of them but I plan on reading before the paperback versions are released. I also have a non fiction book – For Who the Bell Tolls that has been sat gathering dust for a shocking amount of time. I’m feeling quite ashamed of myself!

A book you recently added to your TBR?

I’ve just bought my mum 13 Guests by J Jefferson Farjeon so I’m guessing that will soon end up on my TBR as she gives me all of her books (and borrows far more from me J)

I’ve also just downloaded Shallow Grave by Rebecca Bradley and I have my eye on The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend and And Then There Were None. I’ve been told I’m not allowed any books for Christmas or my birthday as I’ve not read all of the ones I received last year. There’s still time to work on that though…

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

I don’t think I have one. I tend to look at the cover second if that makes sense. I’m lucky in that I get a few proofs. The covers of these tend to be different to the final version but I do often secretly prefer my proof version. That cover tends to be the one I associate the book with. However a cover that does standout is The Miniaturist. It is a work of art.

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

Well I don’t know if I won’t read it until I pick it up. I’d like to think I’d read everything but I know that is never likely to happen.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

It would have been The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon but I’ve read that and it lived up to my high expectations. The Ballroom by Anna Hope. It sounds so very appealing. I’m having to wait to read it as I have other books out before it. But then again a sneaky look won’t hurt…

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

The vast majority of them if I’m honest. I know that sounds like a get out but since I’ve started blogging most of my TBR has sprung from recommendations or reviews I’ve seen from other bloggers. They can be a persuasive bunch 🙂

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

Oh I’ve a few of these. In a Dark, Dark Wood springs to mind as does A God in Ruins. Burnt Paper Sky, Our Endless Numbered Days, I could go on. But I won’t as the guilt at having them outstanding is mounting too!

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

All of them. My book eyes are bigger than my book belly! I really do want to read all of them and need to spend less time procrastinating on what to read next and more time just picking a book and reading. The TBR wouldn’t be that big then 🙂

How many books are on your TBR shelf?

I’ve no idea but there I’m guessing at least 200, though that’s a conservative estimate. I have a book case full to bursting and more boxes squirrelled away just with books I’ve still to read.

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Toppling the TBR Pile – Orion Publishing 2016 titles

The next publisher to influence my 2016 reading landscape is Orion Publishing. Their imprints include Weidenfeld & Nicolson (W&N), Orion Fiction and Gollancz

Here are the titles that catch my eye. Just because I don’t go into details for a particular title doesn’t mean anything, just that I have to limit it somehow or else otherwise I may as well just post a link to the catalogue (ponders this idea…) (Also these are just the fiction titles, non-fiction could fill a whole other post)

January. So what should you save some of your sales spending money for. First up to catch my eye is Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris. The Addisons are on their way home from collecting Uncle Robbie from another Rehab stint. Caught in a snowstorm they take refuge in the Travelers Rest. But once there, they become separated and the hotel seems to cast a spell over the Addisons.  Julia and Tonio get caught in the labarynthian series of corridors, son Dewey ventures outside and Uncle Robbie seems to relapse. But whilst trying to save each other they live the same day over and over again. Is Julia the key to breaking the spell or will they have to live the horrendous Groundhog Day for eternity? (W&N)

Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan is out this month. This SF book weaves together a woman with wings trapped in another dimension, a man trapped in his own body by a killer, a briefcase that leads to other dimensions and a conspiracy that could reach beyond our world. (Gollancz)

There’s a treat for James Lee Burke, Robert Crais and A.P.McCoy fans in January with the publication of House of the Rising Sun, The Promise and Narrowing the Field respectively. (Orion) Also out are The Beauty of Destruction by Gavin Smith (Gollancz), Den Patrick’s The Girl on the Liar’s Throne (Gollancz) and the first of two novels from Brandon Sanderson, January’s being The Bands of Mourning. (Gollancz)

February sees the paperback release of The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North. Described by Lena Durham has having ‘A totally unforgettable female anti-hero’ this is the story of Sophie Stark, as told by the six people who loved her most. What effect has her work as a life as a film-maker had on those closest to her? Also out this month is The Maker of Swans by Paraic O’Donnell. Clara, lives with Mr Crowe, who’s celebrated life has descended into a less salubrious state. Also in the large, rambling house is housekeeper Eustace, who isn’t all she seems. Clara spends her days wandering around the house, communicating only by way of notes. Then Mr Crowe commits an unforgivable crime and draws the attention of a secret society. However they are soon more interested in Clara. What gifts does she have that may her so desirable? (W&N) Erica James returns with The Song of the Skylark this month. Lizzie has had an unfortunate romantic incident and so has to give up her job and return home. Her mother gets her a role at a local care home. There she meets Mrs Dallimore. As Mrs Dallimore tells Lizzie of her past, travelling to England from the US during WWII, Lizzie becomes aware she isn’t the only one to make mistakes. (Orion) One that has been created a social media buzz so must be mentioned is Victoria Aveyard’s Glass Sword. Mare is a commoner but has the ability to control lightening, making her a weapon the Royal court wants. When she escapes she discovers she is not the only one of her kind. As the rebellion grows Mare is at risk of becoming the thing she is trying to beat. Will she succeed and be brought to ruin in the process? (Orion). Brooke Magnanti’s The Turning Tide opens with a body being found on a Hebridean Island. Miles away Erykah Macdonald is about to make a decision that will change her live. Secrets worse than her own could be revealed. What connects the two and who will do anything to protect their reputation, including murder? This is the first crime thriller from Brooke, better known as Belle de Jour. (Orion)

If you have been reading the Reckoners series from Brandon Sanderson you’ll be pleased to know the final book, Calamity, is published in February. (Gollancz)

Also out is 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough. Natasha is pretty, clever and popular. Until one morning she is found in the river by a dog walker. She was dead for 13 minutes. Someone tried to drown her. The police want to know why. (Gollancz)

Also out in February is The Glittering Art of Falling Apart by Ilana Fox (Orion), Down Station by Simon Morden (Gollancz), Empire V by Victor Pelevin (Gollancz), Runaway Vampire by Lynsay Sands (Gollancz), and The Medusa Chronicles by Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter (Gollancz).

March and the last novel of Paul Torday, Death of an Owl, is published. Andrew Langford, next in line to be Prime Minister, is driving home when a barn owl flies into his windscreen and dies. Although an accident it is a crime to kill a barn owl. In the car with him is his political advisor, Charles Fryerne. Now they have to decide whether to come clean or hide the death of the owl.(W&N) Tami Hoag fans will be happy to hear that her latest novel, The Bitter Season, is out this month too. (Orion). March also brings with it The English Girl. Katherine Webb’s latest novel sees Joan Seabrook fulfil her dream of travelling to Muscat. Once there she meets her childhood hero; explorer Maude Vickery. Joan and Maude’s friendship grows and only when it is too late does Joan realise that Maude has used Joan in her own plans for revenge. Can Joan find a way to stop things before it is too late?(Orion)

2015 saw the birth of Eddie Flynn from the pen of Steve Cavanagh. March 2o16 sees more from the con-man turned lawyer. In The Plea the FBI want Flynn to secure David Child as a client. The catch? Child is accused of murder and is a big client of Harland & Sinton. The FBI want Child so that he can testify against them in a giant fraud case. Eddie doesn’t want to play ball but it seems the FBI aren’t above a bit of blackmail themselves…(Orion)

Also out in March is The End Game by Raymond Khoury (Orion), Into Everywhere by Paul McAuley (Gollancz), Midnight Marked by Chloe Neill (Gollancz),  The Stealer’s War by Stephen Hunt (Gollancz), and The Mortal Tally by Sam Sykes (Gollancz).

April and a few as yet untitled novels. In Nicky Pellegrino’s new novel Stella swops her house with an old Italian villa. Can she really fall for the owner from meeting his friends, cooking his suggested meals and from his favourite places, without ever meeting him? Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn returns in a new novel from Becky Masterson. The Killing Lessons author Saul Black returns. Katherine Glass is beautiful and intelligent. She also happens to be a sadistic killer, behind bars and intent on getting revenge on the woman who put her there. When Homicide detective Valerie Hart investigates a murder she crosses paths with Glass. The outcome could be deadly. (Orion)

Shtum by Jim Lester is another book that is already garnering rave reviews. Described as both heart-breaking and funny, Shtum is the story of Ben and Emma and their struggle to cope with their autistic son, Jonah. Desperate for help they fake a separation and Ben and Jonah move in with Ben’s dad Georg. As Ben struggles with being a single dad, Jonah is unwittingly the one who untangles the complexity of family history, identity and misunderstanding. (Orion)

We can also expect a new novel from Linwood Barcley with Far From True (Orion). When four people are killed in an accident at a drive in cinema the daughter of one of the victims asks PI Cal Weaver to look into a break in at her father’s house. He discovers a secret room where incriminating sexual activities have taken place. And a DVD has been taken. As he investigates it appears there may be more on the DVD than first appears. As this is going on Detective Barry Duckworth in looking into two separate murders that he believes are connected. How are the murders and the missing DVD connected?(Orion)

Also out in April is Joe Abercrombie’s collection of short stories entitled Sharp Ends (Gollancz), The Veil by Chloe Neill (Gollancz) and Nemesis by Alex Lamb (Gollancz).

Next we have The Witches of New York by Ami McKay. Three women meet in a room on Fifth Avenue. They are there to peer into the future and talk to the dead… An intriguing sounding  story of suffragettes and secrets that is published in May.(Orion).

May’s bumper book crop continues with Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Bookshop. Emilia Nightingale, owner of Nightingale Books is struggling to remain open. However for her customers the shop is a lifeline. There’s Gary who buys books to read to his coma-stricken girlfriend, Betty, who has a crush on a man she met and lost in the cookery section and Mrs Norris who routinely forgets to pay for her books. When Emilia meets Dexter, who wants to improve his English, they rediscover her favourite authors. Can Emilia fight to keep Nightingale Books open? (Orion)

Mason Cross’ third novel, Winterlong is out in May too. Years ago Carter Blake was part of Winterlong, a secret government operation. News reaches him that a former colleague has been murdered, a colleague who who had reached the same ‘agreement’ with the operation leaders as Blake in that he would keep quiet about what they were doing in return for being left alone. It appears that agreement is over and Blake realises his past is about to catch up with him. (Orion)

The Fireman by Joe Hill sees Harper discover she is pregnant on the same day she is told she has a terminal disease known as dragonscale. She is victim of an epidemic that is sweeping the country. She is determined to live long enough to give birth and so sets out to track down the man who may be the only means to save her: The Fireman. (Gollancz)

Also out in May is Wedding Bells for Nurse Connie by Jean Fullerton, (Orion), Eliza’s Make Do and Mend by Kitty Danton, (Orion), R.J. Ellory’s Kings of America (Orion), Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd (Gollancz), The Tower of Swallows by Andrzej Sapkowski (Gollancz), the latest happenings in Midnight Texas in Charlaine Harris’ Night Shift (Gollancz) and a new novel for Kenstibec fans from Jon Wallace, Rig (Gollancz).

Onto June and Michel Bussi’s Black Waterlillies. Artist Jerome Morval has been murdered. Key to the mystery are three women, a painting prodigy, the local teacher and an old widow. What do they have to do with the murder and how is Monet’s painting of black waterlillies connected? (W&N)

Fans of PC Peter Grant will be pleased to hear that he returns in June in Ben Aaronovitch’s The Hanging Tree. (Gollancz)

Liz Fenwick’s The Returning Tide is also out in June. When her marriage breaks down, Liz decides to go to the family home, a home she has only ever seen in photos. When she arrives she’s thrown head first into a wedding, a wedding which is cursed according to the best man. Is the house haunted by its past? (Orion)

Also published this month is Smoke by Dan Vyleta (W&N), A Hero in France by Alan Furst (W&N), Burning Angels by Bear Grylls (Orion), The Inheritance by Katie Agnew (Orion), Framed by Ronnie O’Sullivan, Angur’s Gambit and The King’s Justice by Stephen Donaldson (Gollancz), James Barclay’s Heart of Granite (Gollancz) and an as yet untitled novel from Harry Bingham. (Orion)

July and Lily Brooks-Dalton’s debut, Good Morning, Midnight, is published. Augustine is left in a remote Artic research station, after warning has come of a catastrophic event. She finds Iris, a child, has been left behind but cannot raise a connection to the outside world. Meanwhile, above the Earth, astronaut Sullivan is flying back to Earth after her trip to Jupiter. When her ship loses contact with Mission Control Sullivan and the rest of the crew must decide what to do. (W&N)

Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi is also published in July. It is 1958 and WWII has never happened. In the 1930s the world was conquered by an army from the afterlife. How can you overthrow rulers who can’t be escaped, even in death? (Gollancz)

Also out in July are Maureen Lee’s Violet’s Children (Orion), The Debutante by Lesley Lokko (Orion) and Waking Hell by Al Robertson (Gollancz).

Fantasy and Sci-Fi fans may also want to keep a look out for Gollancz’s masterworks that are due out throughout the year.

So there you have it, a plethora of novels to suit every literary palette. I know which ones I’ll be adding to the ever increasing wish list. What about you?

 

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Jo Bloom – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Jo Bloom to the blog. Jo’s novel, Ridley Road was published in paperback on 24 September 2015 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Jo kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Ridley Road.

Ridley Road is inspired by real events surrounding the 62 Group, a Jewish anti-fascist organisation which formed in 1962 to confront the revival of fascism in London. I set a love story against this political backdrop while sweeping the reader up into a world of music, coffee bars, fashion and hair in the early sixties. 

2.  Where did you get the inspiration for Ridley Road from?

In the summer of 2009 I met an elderly man who was still an active anti-fascist, and I was fascinated by his stories of fighting alongside members of the 43 Group and the 62 Group. Since I’d not heard of either organisation, nor had I known there was a fascist resurgence during the sixties, I went home and did some research. A few hours later, after I’d learned how the 62 Group had fought the fascists on the streets of London throughout the sixties and beyond, I went to bed buzzing with ideas for a novel…

3. What do you think are the reasons the story behind the 62 Group still resonates today? 

Unfortunately, the surge in recent years in extreme right-wing activity across Europe and the rise in antisemitic activity makes the 62 Group’s story very relevant.

4. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel? 

Probably a bit of both. I find it really hard to write without any idea or plan, but I also need to leave space for things to happen on the page. Ridley Road took about three years to write but during that time I had a baby, lots of freelance work and renovated a house!  

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?  

I exercise, walk the dog, watch TV/films, see friends, cook and read. I’ve also been known to waste a few hours on the internet…

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be? 

Tricky! I have lots of favourites. Although I don’t think I could be happy with just one book, Alice Munro is an author I return to all the time. 

7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer? 

A. Who is your favourite character in Ridley Road?

B. Barb

About the book:

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“A beautifully written love story set in 1960s Soho amid the revival of fascism. Includes reading-group notes.

A dark love story set in the Swinging Sixties

SUMMER, 1962. Twenty-year-old Vivien Epstein, a Jewish hairdresser from Manchester, arrives in London following the death of her father. She has travelled to the city to make a new start, and quickly finds herself swept up in a city buzzing with life. Landing a job at Oscar’s salon, she thrives amid the vibrant café culture of Soho and the warm camaraderie of the other hairdressers.
But beneath the surface, Vivien is desperate to find Jack Fox, a man she had a brief but intense romance with some months before. Her search leads to confront the dark resurgence of fascism, countered by the Jewish community in street battles around Ridley Road in the East End of London. Amid the growing tensions, can her love survive?”

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