2016 Spotlight: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman: Teaser review


Publication Date May 5th 2016 From Little Brown.

Source: Netgalley

Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

Whilst it is way to early to do an in depth review of Girls on Fire, having finished it yesterday it is impossible for me to do anything other than tell you just a little about the reading experience. When 2016 is upon us and May approaches, which will be sooner than you think, I shall be talking a lot about this one and writing a much longer article about this whole wonderful, heartbreaking, intensely authentic piece of storytelling genius. Liz is about to get fanatical.

It is powerful, hard hitting, so full of beautiful and yes often unrelentingly emotional language, the very definition of words having power. It sucked me in and stole my soul. On the list of reads I’ll never forget this just went somewhere near the top of the pile.

I will read it again. And my “Quotes” book in which I keep a note of all the quotes from books that speak to me hard in the moment has over 3 pages added to it from this novel alone. So, you know. There it is.

Incredibly insightful, a novel that fills all the senses, I have never read a book quite like it and possibly never will again.

Highly Recommended in every way possible. If you are the type of reader that  feels every moment of the good ones you’d better hold onto your hats and be prepared.

Pre -order here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Girls-Fire-Robin-Wasserman/dp/1408707101/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448457401&sr=1-1&keywords=girls+on+fire+robin+wasserman

Find out more about Robin Wasserman here: http://www.robinwasserman.com/

Follow her on Twitter here : https://twitter.com/robinwasserman

Read it. Live it. Love it. (Then sob into your pillow)

Happy Reading Folks!

Book Week Scotland. Interview with Cathy Retzenbrink.


I am so happy to be a part of Book Week Scotland, even if only virtually living so far away, and I was incredibly pleased to be able to ask amazing lady Cathy Retzenbrink some questions about her emotionally resonant memoir “The Last Act of Love” – HUGE thanks to The Scottish Book Trust and Helen Croney for the opportunity. And of course the biggest  thanks to Cathy for taking the time, it is much appreciated. Before you read it….

For those of you able to go, Cathy is taking part in an event as part of Book Week Scotland at Waterstones Dundee this coming Wednesday 25th November – Clickety click the link for details – one not to be missed.



The Last Act of Love must have been an incredibly emotional writing experience – Can you tell us a little about what made you decide to tell the story publicly?

Well, I didn’t really want to write the book at all and I kept trying to write novels but sooner or later – the furthest I ever got was chapter 7 – this story would start insinuating itself into the pages. It was a writer friend who suggested I spent a few months writing it out of myself. I thought it would end up in a drawer and then gradually realised it could be a book.

It is really moving and genuinely inspiring even through the sadness, what kind of response have you had from those who have read it, especially if they have also suffered loss?

One of the most brilliant things for me about writing the book is hearing from people who have read it. I’m moved and honoured by every bit of communication and I love people telling their stories. I’ve continued to learn things about my story by listening to other people tell theirs. I hear from a lot of bereaved siblings and a lot of people who have witnessed a long and complicated death. I like that in them telling me I’ve made them feel less alone, that they make me feel less alone. It’s a virtuous exchange.

I know a lot of memories surfaced – do you have one defining memory of your brother? If you don’t mind saying, what do you hold onto most?

It does feel like I have Matty back again. He was buried under the eight years of brain damage and I’d lost the essence of him. Now he’s very present. I think about him – his true self – a lot and he pops up in my head offering unsolicited advice, he’s always swearing and joking and taking the piss out of me. I realised how much I missed that. There’s a joy and security in a sibling relationship: you know they love you but they never let you get away with anything. We used to do this chin stroking – I’ve no idea where we’d got it from – as a response to insincerity or bullshit. You’d raise your eyebrows and stroke your chin as a way of saying, ‘Oh, come off it.’ I think about that a lot at the moment.

It is a hugely powerful use of words, something that will more than likely help a lot of other people, many you will never know about – does the fact that this is so help you as well?

Yes, hugely. I think the fact that I’ve managed to turn my pain into something that is useful to other people is a beautiful miracle. It makes me feel much better.

How has life changed for you since the book was released – and what is next up?

I’m still learning and thinking and working things out. The summer was hard, I drank too much and went a bit mad. I’m off the booze now, seeing a new therapist and feeling like I have a chance to create my life how I want it. I went to see Diana Athill speak recently who is 97. Realising that she is more than twice my age made me see there’s a lot of life out there for the living if I’m brave enough to try.

Thank you SO much. An absolute inspiration.

Purchase Information: Available now from Picador 



There are lots of things going on this week – here is a handy link

Book Week Scotland: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/book-week-scotland

More later this week on the blog when I interview Scarlett Thomas about her novel The Seed Collectors. She will be appearing Kibble Palace tomorrow, Tuesday 24th November. http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/about/events/scarlett-thomas-shares-the-secrets-of-the-seed-collectors

Happy Reading Folks!


New Release Spotlight…The Silent Room by Mari Hannah


Publication Date: Available now from Pan Macmillan

Source: Publisher review copy

A security van sets off for Durham prison, a disgraced Special Branch officer in the back. It never arrives. On route it is hijacked by armed men, the prisoner sprung. Suspended from duty on suspicion of aiding and abetting the audacious escape of his former boss, Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is locked out of the investigation.

With a manhunt underway, Ryan is warned to stay away. Keen to preserve his career and prove his innocence, he backs off. But when the official investigation falls apart, under surveillance and with his life in danger, he goes dark, enlisting others in his quest to discover the truth. When the trail leads to the suspicious death of a Norwegian national, Ryan uncovers an international conspiracy that has claimed the lives of many.

Well that was a read and then some – absolutely riveting, a rollercoaster bomb of a novel that totally gripped me from page one and really did not let up from there. This is one of those that I loved with a fiery vengeance and will be throwing at everyone I know. Not literally, I wouldn’t want to injure them before they can read it, but you know what I mean.

It is a tense, often claustrophobic thriller with an undeniable literary edge – a genuine page turner with some really terrific characters (if Ryan does not return Ms Hannah and I may fall out) and an absolutely excellent plot full of authenticity and high drama.

The Silent Room is the very definition of an unputdownable novel, the tension builds with every passing page and yet there is plenty of room within the narrative to get to know the characters and their world –  the author has a fantastic eye for weaving a web of interpersonal relationships that fascinate the reader and allows for the emotional bonding required for you to really feel every moment.

There are some surprises along the way, no promise of an equitable outcome, I genuinely had no idea how it was all going to pan out until I actually got there – I pretty much devoured this book, inhaling caffeine along the way, I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it. And really you can’t ask for more than that when you pick up a book.

I’m currently hatching a plot with Christine (Northern Crime) to do a further feature on The Silent Room so keep an eye out for news on that coming soon. As soon as I’ve recovered from this adrenalin rush of a read.

Really excellent. From first page to last. Highly Recommended.

Find out more here: http://www.marihannah.com/

Follow Mari on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/mariwriter

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1447291042/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Happy Reading Folks!


New Release Spotlight: The Silent Dead by Claire McGowan


Publication Date: November 19th 2015 from Headline

Source: Author Review Copy

Victim: Male. Mid-thirties. 5’7″.

Cause of death: Hanging. Initial impression – murder.

ID: Mickey Doyle. Suspected terrorist and member of the Mayday Five.

The officers at the crime scene know exactly who the victim is.

Doyle was one of five suspected bombers who caused the deaths of sixteen people.

The remaining four are also missing and when a second body is found, decapitated, it’s clear they are being killed by the same methods their victims suffered.

Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire is assigned the case but she is up against the clock – both personally and professionally.

With moral boundaries blurred between victim and perpetrator, will be Paula be able to find those responsible? After all, even killers deserve justice, don’t they?

The Paula Maguire series from Claire McGowan is brilliantly addictive, great storytelling, intriguing and intelligent plotting with some truly memorable characters, not least of which is Paula herself. Having followed her story from the start I was really looking forward to this one and honestly, it was incredible.

Claire McGowan has given her novels a rich historical aspect when it comes to the troubles in Northern Ireland, put her main protagonist up against the grey moral area’s and given her a depth of character and emotional resonance that I’ve not seen done better in many other ongoing crime series. Each individual story told within that framework is beautifully done, has all the things you look for within the crime fiction genre when it comes to mystery and edge of the seat moments and taken as a whole this makes for a completely immersive reading experience each time.

In The Silent Dead those moral area’s are even harder to navigate as the victims in this case once created victims of their own – as Paula investigates, at the same time dealing with some emotive issues in her own life, those lines blur even further and this novel gives you a lot to ponder on whilst being utterly entertaining throughout – a proper page turner.

Hard to know what to say without spoilers – Paula’s back story is intense and riveting – the wider cast of characters just as much so, these are books that definitely benefit from being read in order (although the author allows for this to be read on its own merits you won’t be lost if that is what you choose to do). To review this story in depth I would have to glance back – so perhaps I’ll just say this. If you havent tried these yet then you are definitely missing out and if you are on track with Paula and co  The Silent Dead will not disappoint. If anything this series grows in stature with every passing tale told, this one for me was the best so far and the others were not exactly lacking in excellence.

Most definitively Highly Recommended by me.

Find out more here: http://www.ink-stains.co.uk/

Follow Claire on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/inkstainsclaire

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1472204409/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Also Available: Read First:


Happy Reading Folks!


A bit of a chat with Jane Casey….


So recently fellow blogger and good friend Christine and I tracked down Jane Casey in order to have a bit of a chat with her about the Maeve Kerrigan series (and our love for Maeve’s partner in crime Derwent) and honestly it was a huge amount of fun. You can see part one below and then join Christine https://northerncrime.wordpress.com/ tomorrow to see the rest.

The latest Maeve Kerrigan novel, After the Fire comes out in Paperback on Thursday from Ebury and is available NOW in Hardback or E-book.



So, Christine, what is it do you think about the Kerrigan series APART from Derwent that makes them so addictive?


It is beautifully written, with a distinctive Britishness about it and the main leads are well drawn.

Maeve is an amazing character. She has guts, is down to earth and is the sort of woman you would love to go for a drink with. I’m re-reading the series at the moment and loving how instantly as a reader you empathize with Maeve and are drawn into the drama.


Yes even before Derwent (we’ll get to him. Faints.) Maeve was easy to get along with and she’s so beautifully useless on occasion which does make her realistic. I’d LOVE to have her as a friend. Despite her job meaning she has a tendency to head into really dark territories (we’ll get to that too I’m sure. Shiver.) So seeing as how we’ve kidnapped Jane for a bit maybe she could tell us where the inspiration for Maeve came from (If it’s from someone you know Jane we ALL want to meet them!!)

Jane Casey

Thank you for being so nice about Maeve, ladies! I sometimes feel she gets a little bit overshadowed by the more look-at-me characters – naming no names – so I’m happy for her to get a little love.

When I started thinking about Maeve, I wanted to create a strong character but I thought more about her circumstances than about her personality. Her character developed as I wrote her, and now she feels like a friend to me. I wanted her to be younger and less experienced because I felt it was a different angle on a fictional investigation. There are lots of brilliant inspectors leading investigations in crime fiction, and I love them too, but in real life it’s the detective constables who are out doing the investigation. She can go anywhere and talk to anyone, and she happens to solve quite a few cases along the way. She’s not jaded. She loves her job with a passion – but she’s not yet sure if it loves her back, so she has a lot to lose if things go wrong for her. She’s in a male-dominated environment, trying to stay true to herself, trying to find a way to have a life outside the job. Sometimes people assume that I’m exaggerating the boys’ club atmosphere in the books, but if anything it’s underplayed. I have heard from readers who are female police officers and they find Maeve completely believable, which makes me happy!

She’s one of those people who can read others exceptionally well, and she’s full of empathy, but she hasn’t a clue what she’s doing in her personal life. In fact, if there is a way for her to sabotage things, she’ll find it. In After the Fire, she does some things that don’t work out at all well, but if she always got everything right I think she’d be a less appealing character.

People sometimes ask if Maeve is based on me, I think because I write from her perspective. We have two things in common: a loathing for weak tea and a tendency to be chaotically untidy. She’s far braver than I could ever be. I don’t make things easy for her, nice author that I am, but she never gives up and she never gives in.


That’s brilliant, Jane and you touched on one of my favourite aspects of the series. Often in crime reads, we see women in positions of power and in senior roles. It implies that the sexism and the male dominated aspect of policing is something of the past. I have only ever really thought of it in terms of ‘Prime Suspect’, or ‘Life on Mars’. Maeve is very definitely at the bottom of the pecking order and she seems to come up against these dinosaur attitudes all the time.

I wanted to know more about that and why is was important for Maeve to be in this kind of environment?


I’ve always found the best protagonists to be the ones who stand a little bit apart from everyone else – it means they don’t necessarily follow the herd. Maeve has to work quite hard to be taken seriously and I really enjoy exploiting the tension between her sensitive nature and how she feels she has to present herself. Women are always judged for more than their work – she always has to think about how she looks and how she acts. She also has to be wary about her relationships with her colleagues. Her reputation matters to her enormously which I think makes her quite different from more traditional crime protagonists. There’s a lot to be said for the devil-may-care school of hero, but her constant balancing act between her public and private persona strikes a chord with lots of readers.

I made Maeve the daughter of Irish parents because to me and to her that makes her quite different to her English colleagues. That sense of being ‘other’ is very common to the children of immigrants. Even the job she’s chosen has a touch of betrayal in it – her parents worry about how its perceived in Ireland that she’s joined the police.

In real life the police are not very politically correct in how they go about their work – there’s a huge amount of black humour which I think helps them to deal with the miserable aspects of their jobs. And it’s a world where the banter is more or less constant. Nothing is off-limits and no one is safe. The male officers actually get just as hard a time in the books, often from Maeve herself. She would never complain, even when Derwent steps over the line, because it would make her even more of an outsider than she is already. She’s learned a lot about how to deal with him herself! I think she generally has the upper hand now.


I think Maeve absolutely has the upper hand, and we’ve seen her journey to get there which is another really brilliant edge the series has. I love how the characters grow and grow. With THAT I think it’s time to bring in the love of my fictional life Derwent – I am DYING to know what inspired that character. I really do adore him with a passion. Is it the bad boy thing? What do you think Christine I know you are the same! I swear if Jane has based him on a real life person I’m camping out on her doorstep.


I cannot express how much I love Derwent! What do you mean ‘based him on a real character’, Derwent is real! It has to be the bad boy thing and his uniqueness. There is no one else out there like him.


There are some authors who establish their characters on page 1 of book 1 and stick with it until the bitter end, but I really enjoy seeing how they develop. Both Maeve and Derwent have come a long way over the last few books, even though the thing that drives their relationship – total incompatibility – hasn’t changed. What has changed is their respect for one another.

When I started writing about Derwent in The Reckoning, the second book in the series, I thought of him as a useful contrast to Maeve. I’d concentrated on her relationship with Rob in The Burning, but I didn’t want to focus on Maeve’s love life throughout the series. Derwent was supposed to be a difficult character, someone who challenged and wrong-footed Maeve constantly, and I didn’t imagine he would become so important to her or me!

Derwent has a few elements of people I know in real life – his focus, his refusal to back down, ever, his sentimentality and his pride in being a good policeman. But he’s become much, much more than the sum of those characteristics. He has a good heart but approaches the world with anger as a defence mechanism, because he thinks others would see kindness as a weakness. I don’t think he thinks he deserves to be happy but you can tell he’s yearning for someone to care for him. He’s a true alpha male, which doesn’t make him perfect – in fact, it means he needs Maeve to remind him he’s human. And he’s definitely a bad boy. He’s impulsive, emotional, passionate and funny (at least, he thinks so) – and many readers love those aspects of his personality.

It always amuses me when new readers comment on how awful he is, because the people who’ve followed him through the whole series think he’s much improved! Readers either adore him or hate him. Very few people are neutral when it comes to Derwent. Maeve is becoming really fond of him even though she’s well aware of his faults and I think their friendship is key to the whole series….


To be continued…

Find out more here: http://www.maevekerrigan.co.uk/

Follow Jane on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JaneCaseyAuthor

Purchase information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Casey/e/B003VNABHU/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Happy Reading Folks!

2016 Spotlight: The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood


Publication Date: January 7th 2016 from Sphere

Source: Netgalley

When three-year-old identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.

But what really happened to Coco during her father’s 50th birthday weekend?

Set across two weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second, at the funeral of Coco’s father, where at last, the darkest of secrets will be revealed…

Blimey talk about a book that rips your heart out then stomps all over it, The Darkest Secret is an intense and engaging character drama focusing on a, to be honest, quite horrible set of people – a fractured family and their fractured friends, a more selfish and self absorbed bunch you’d be hard pressed to find, they are intricately fascinating from the offset. It’s hard to look away, like watching a car crash, as you turn the pages waiting waiting to find out the truth behind the disappearance of identical twin Coco.

Incredibly dynamic, incredibly moving and at times incredibly frustrating The Darkest Secret will take you on a  dark journey indeed – Alex Marwood has written a powerhouse of a novel, unrelenting in its demands on your emotions and creating a truly unforgettable bunch of characters, all individually drawn with complexity of ego, insightful prose that gives you a true sense of who they are. Throughout the narrative there is a pervading sense of complete horror. But also I was enthralled. Completely and utterly..

Sophisticated plotting done in the simplest of ways – two weekends, years apart, tell the tale of our bunch of misreants and creates a totally addictive and involving read as you see what went before and the ever outward rippling affect this has on the people they have become today. The tangled web of a family divided and constantly reborn, bang at the heart of it Ms Marwood puts the ones who have no choice in any of it – the children.

Through Mila and Ruby,  the author shows us just what damage can be done with often the simplest of dismissals or declarations then takes it several steps further by adding a truly terrible event – one that throws their life into disarray, a life lived in the spotlight of public and press recognition and speculation. One of the best things about The Darkest Day for me was watching these two come together after years of being apart, their developing relationship and spark of understanding, in a lot of ways I wish I could go further down that path with them.

I really don’t want to say anymore – with a novel that is as definitely authentic and character driven as this one, it is perhaps better that you come to each strand of the story in your own way, meeting each personality on their own terms and drawing your own conclusions and taking from it your own perspectives. This is not a book that tries to be smugly clever, to deliver the unexpected twist, to fool you into thinking in a particular way. It is surprising in its own way, beautifully written, deliciously readable, with an ending that just…well it just.

Highly Recommended. With bells on. And some fireworks going off in the background.

Find out more here: http://alexmarwood.com/

Follow Alex on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/AlexMarwood1

Pre-Order information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Darkest-Secret-Alex-Marwood-x/dp/0751550701/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447506601&sr=1-1&keywords=9780751550702








Angel Killer – Interview with Andrew Mayne.

Angel Killer

I am SO happy to have been able to ask Andrew Mayne a few questions about Angel Killer (Available now from Faber and Faber – link below)  – a simply superb book that I read earlier this year and will be reviewing as part of my “Books for Christmas” feature towards the end of November. Here though is a great little interview to wet the appetite…and I really can’t WAIT for the next instalment, this was one of my absolute favourites. I really appreciate him taking the time from his busy schedule to do this for me – Thanks Andrew!

The inspiration behind “Angel Killer” speaks for itself, but what made you decide to write a novel – is it something you have always wanted to do?

I’ve always been interested in telling stories. One day I decided to give my friends a rest from having to listen to me describe them, and just started writing.

The story is SO addictive I loved it, can’t wait for the next – have you mapped out a full plan for Jessica? Angel Killer suggests the beginning of a wider mythology.

I have a path on mind for Jessica and what I want her growth to be. While she’s good at figuring out how things are done, I’m looking forward to having her explore why people do the things that they do. This brings with it different villains and more complex motivations, as you’ll find in Name of the Devil.

What made you go with a female protagonist – and is she inspired by anyone you know in real life?

I think the clever male magician archetype has been seen a lot and doesn’t have immediate relatable vulnerabilities. There are so few female magicians, for a variety of factors, so I decided to explore those themes with Jessica. I  have a number of highly intelligent female friends and realize that being the smartest person in the room or the one “who gets it” is different with women and being heard comes with it own challenges – especially in male-dominated fields.

The magic side of life must be fascinating – I’ve always loved magicians and illusionists, can you tell us a little more about that? What reaction are you trying to inspire when you create.

I like wonder. I love science. When I can fool somebody with them know what I did was impossible, yet it just happened, it can be highly entertaining and educational.

Your family has a law enforcement background, again an obvious inspiration for the story – did you utilise that skill and knowledge during the writing? Drive them a little crazy maybe?

Having grown up around it, you just soak up a lot and I didn’t go to them with too many specific questions. But a lot of the day to day stuff that  comes up in casual conversation  certainly found its way into my writing.

Finally, are you a big reader yourself? If so what sort of novels do you enjoy?

I don’t read nearly enough as I should. When I do it’s usually non-fiction. I’ve been reading a lot about ancient empires lately.

About the book:

FBI agent Jessica Blackwood believes she’s left her complicated life as a gifted magician behind her . . . until a killer with seemingly supernatural powers puts her talents to the ultimate test.

A hacker who identifies himself only as “Warlock” brings down the FBI’s website and posts a code in its place that leads to a Michigan cemetery, where a dead girl is discovered rising from the ground . . . as if she tried to crawl out of her own grave.

Born into a dynasty of illusionists, Jessica Blackwood is destined to become its next star—until she turns her back on her troubled family to begin a new life in law enforcement. But FBI consultant Dr. Jeffrey Ailes’s discovery of an old magic magazine will turn Jessica’s world upside down. Faced with a crime that appears beyond explanation, Ailes has nothing to lose—and everything to gain—by taking a chance on an agent raised in a world devoted to achieving the seemingly impossible.

The body in the cemetery is only the first in the Warlock’s series of dark miracles. Thrust into the media spotlight, with time ticking away until the next crime, can Jessica confront her past to stop a depraved killer? If she can’t, she may become his next victim.


Find out more here:


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Purchase Information:


Happy Reading Folks!

24 Hours: Claire Seeber in conversation with Neil White


Today is one of those days where I’m having a TOTAL fangirl moment – 24 Hours from Claire Seeber is a recent read for me that I was absolutely enthralled by and made me immediately go out and buy the rest of Claire’s books – and of course anyone who follows my book rants knows what a huge fan I am of Neil White – so when he agreed to interview Claire for the blog I was, well, really quite pleased. It is a fascinating and insightful interview, so thank you SO much to both Neil and Claire for taking the time.

Over to them then…


Neil: It’s a pleasure and a privilege to chat with an old friend of mine, Claire Seeber, a crime writer who started out at the same time as me at Avon, a HarperCollins imprint, and enjoyed great success and accolades with her psychological thrillers Lullaby, Bad Friends, Never Tell and Fragile Minds. Her latest release, the fabulous 24 Hours, has shot into the top 50 on the Kindle charts and garnered rave reviews.

Claire, your last novel, Fragile Minds, was back in 2011, with 24 Hours ending a four-year absence. Where have you been and how does it feel to be back?

Claire: I have been around and about, believe it or not J but I had a bit of a break because of various life events that slightly surprised me. At the end of 2010, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease (blood cancer), and in the middle of pretty intensive treatment for that I also got divorced and became a single mum to my 2 boys. So writing was on the back burner a bit, though I didn’t actually stop, I started to write something quite different than my previous thrillers.

When I got better, I also started to study psychology and moved out of London with a bit to Derbyshire with my boys and my new partner. We all came back to London in January this year, and it’s brilliant to have a new book out! I’ve missed all the other writers like you, Neil!

Neil: Such a nice thing to say, and great to hear that you are though what sounds like a dreadful time. Going back to your books, give us a snapshot of what 24 Hours is about, and why you say it differs from your previous thrillers.

Claire: Ha – this is not the ‘very different’ book…it’s a bit different though! 24 Hours is about a woman called Laurie whose best friend Emily is killed in a hotel fire when they’re away for a weekend in Devon. Laurie is recovering from a traumatic divorce and thinks someone has killed Emily by mistake instead of her. So begins the most frantic 24 hours as Laurie tries to get back to her young daughter Polly, who’s arriving back in London soon…it’s told in 2 separate time-frames: THEN & NOW ie past and present. One of the reviews said it was quite philosophical, which I quite liked, but it’s also quite fast-paced for a lot of the action…

Neil: This may involve revealing too much information, and I’ll let you decide what to say, but I know that you were inspired to write Lullaby after a personal experience/near miss with one of your children. Have you channelled some of your own divorce into 24 Hours? For the benefit of those who are discovering you for the first time, what happened to inspire you to write your first book, Lullaby, and how much of Laurie in 24 Hours is Claire?

Claire: Ooh Neil what an incisive interviewer you are – David Dimbleby eat your heart out J Ok, so first of all – I’d like to say on record now that Laurie & Sid’s marriage in 24 Hours is NOT based on my ex-marriage. But I was fascinated in why people stay in very destructive relationships – sometimes even when we know they’re not good for us, we stay. I think this was also fuelled by my interest in psychology too and how we make decisions; what’s gone before in our lives that shapes us. So Laurie – she’s not me, but I recognise things about her, and, yes I’ve made bad/ rash decisions – and I’ve worked very hard to get my life into a place where I feel more settled and less pulled by the tide of emotions I don’t understand (do I sound profound?!). Sometimes the things that we think are lovely are just addictions, and optimism, which I suffer from, is actually being deluded!! Gawd – bleak!

The idea for Lullaby was triggered by my now ex-husband wondering off with our first baby when he was about 6 months old at the Tate, and me not being able to find him for about an hour and feeling absolutely mad with panic (lack of sleep, hormones etc). Also I was interested in the desperation around infertility and what state that might push someone into, as it took me a while to fall pregnant that first time.

Neil: Your response to the question brings to mind the current popular strand of crime fiction, which has been coined as domestic noir. This seems to involve a much more microscopic look at relationships, and the horrors that can arise from them, which is something that your books deal with. It’s a shift away from the slice and dice thrillers of a few years ago, where I gained a perception that writers were trying to out-gore each other (and something that I recognised in myself, perhaps). One thing that is noticeable is that the domestic noir sub-genre seems to be dominated by female writers. Do you think that female writers are more adept at picking up on the subtleties in relationships?

Claire: Hmmm…I have mixed feelings about this whole subject, Neil! I don’t know if female writers are better at subtleties, I’d be quite scared to make that assumption, but I do know from my studies in psychology that women use our brains differently because our brains are actually made up differently! And because of that women are GENERALLY (& everything’s a generalisation) more in tune with emotion/ empathy and men are more systemising. And personally I’m not interested in slice & dice anyway; I’m interested in what makes people tick, in both good and bad ways. But the whole domestic noir thing drives me a bit crazy anyway! I do know how publishers love genres, and how they like us to fit into neat boxes! And so the fact my first book was published in 2007, and written in 2005, but there is only recently a genre I apparently fit into, well. It has been a little galling at times to have been slightly ahead of curves, but not recognised as that – and now the ‘domestic noir’ market is perhaps in danger of being saturated?! So it’s time for a re-think in my little writing room…J

Neil: My view is that these things go in trends, that a successful strand leads to publishers looking for stories that are similar, to stay aboard the bandwagon, and eventually leads to books that aren’t as good that make people look for something different. Take Da Vinci Code, for example. I bet a lot of mysteries based upon ancient scrolls were rejected prior to Dan Brown, but you couldn’t move for them in the mid-noughties, until they all started to feel a bit samey. I can see the argument that women writers are better than men at these type of thrillers, because they are based so much on emotions and empathy, for the reason you have espoused. Something else will come along as a big hit, and then another bandwagon will leave the station.

Claire: Yes I agree with that and when I worked in TV, which I did for years, it was coined by someone “Me-Too” TV, ie commissioners copying what was rating so then every channel commissioned the same kind of programme. Same with books. Come on publishers – be braver!! Think out of boxes! (this will probably come and bite me in the **** now)

Neil: Your point is interesting though, that you’ve been writing that kind of book for so long, and it’s right that you should write what you like and just hope everyone likes it too.

You mentioned your little writing room. Describe it, and your routine. What does being Claire Seeber involve?

Claire: Ha! Being a bit mad I think! Trying to understand life and loving the escapism of writing but also loving the opportunity to share stories and maybe, occasionally, make people

think, or understand parts of difficult life better; me trying to entertain but also make sense of things: especially, probably, since some of the things I’ve been through. Hmm. Deep!

My writing room overlooks the garden and the park from the first floor and I can feel like I’m in the middle of the country, not SE London (I would rather be in the country I think, and was last year, much as I love London). The cat is usually perched on the desk, uninvited. It’s messier than it could be!! Lots of notes and cuttings & pictures stuck on a noticeboard. And Samuel Beckett’s classic quote on a postcard: No Matter, Try again, Fail Again, Fail Better. My routine depends where the kids are but once they’re not here, that’s when I write, I like the mornings best. There’s usually too many coffee cups around!

Neil: A final question. 24 Hours has rocketed into the top 30 of the eBook charts, and deservedly so. After the traumatic break you’ve had, which I know has also included some issues with agents and publishers, how does that feel?

Claire: Ah thanks. It’s been very nice. It goes to show that we have to keep picking ourselves up and getting back on that horse, because we never know what might happen. And I am trying to just enjoy the moments and not to worry too much about the future!

Thank you SO much both of you!

You can read my review of 24 hours here: http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/liz-currently-loves-24-hours-by-claire-seeber/

Visit Claire’s website here: http://www.claireseeber.com/blog/

And on Twitter: https://twitter.com/claireseeber

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Claire-Seeber/e/B002PCD062/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1447139999&sr=1-1

Neil’s latest novel is The Domino Killer, completing the Parker Brothers trilogy.


My review here: http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/to-conclude-a-trilogy-the-domino-killer-by-neil-white/

Visit Neil’s website here: http://neilwhite.net/

And on Twitter: https://twitter.com/neilwhite1965

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Neil-White/e/B00OW9MXLO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1447140069&sr=1-1


Happy Reading Folks!

2016 Spotlight: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard.


Publication Date: Feb 11th 2016 from Pan Macmillan Childrens.

Source: Netgalley

Here’s my theory on Significant Life Events: everyone has them, but some have more than others, and how many you have affects how interesting you are, how many stories you have to tell, that kind of thing.

I was still waiting for my first one.

After yet another typical summer where nothing of any significance happens, Caddy vows that now she’s sixteen this year will be different; she’ll get a boyfriend (a real one), lose her virginity and experience a Significant Life Event. If only Caddy knew what was just around the corner – a whirlwind of wild spirit and fury with a dazzling smile and sad eyes by the name of Suzanne – and a significant life event that no one could have predicted.

Beautiful Broken Things was a gorgeous read – totally heartbreaking, totally heartwarming, happy, sad and all the things inbetween. Yep up and down like a yo-yo I was during the reading of this one. And boy did I cry great big fat tears at the end. I’m going to miss Caddy, Rosie, Suzanne et al.

Caddy and Rosie have been friends forever – despite going to different schools they have their own rhymes and rhythms and know each other inside and out. Enter new girl Suzanne – Rosie introduces her into the mix and things start to change – Suzanne is bold, beautiful and funny but also damaged – and Caddy gets caught up in it all in unexpected ways.

The theme of female teenage relationships is examined within “Beautiful Broken Things” as are the subjects of mental health and abusive situations. Sara Barnard captures it all pitch perfectly in a deeply engaging character study with some wonderfully resonant prose that enthralls – these girls, their changing relationships and challenges upon each other are absolutely authentic and absolutely absorbing. I simply could not put it down. I went through the entire emotional spectrum whilst reading it and came away with a sense of both melancholy and happiness, in fact I’d find it hard to separate one from the other right now.

The author herself in her notes afterwards calls it “A love story without a romance” and that is spot on – it is a tale of the deepest friendships we know – the mutual support and sometimes, even if not intentional, the more destructive fallout of feeling things so deeply at a time we can be impulsive. It shows us aftermath and consequences and is probably one of the most intense yet realistic stories I have read that speaks to mental health issues in young adults. Suzanne is an incredible character, deeply sympathetic – also in a lot of ways unlikeable yet you would want to know her. Rosie and Caddy’s deep seated friendship is truly a beautiful one that you absolutely believe in and even as the foundations falter you sense that it will never fall.

Overall this was a simply remarkable story – full of heart and soul and with characters that will remain with you, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Find out more here: https://whispersfromthesidelines.wordpress.com/

Follow Sara on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/saramegan

Pre-Order information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beautiful-Broken-Things-Sara-Barnard/dp/150980353X/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1446840845&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=beautiul+broken+things

Happy Reading Folks!





Liz Currently Loves…..Trust by Mike Bullen


Publication Date: 5th November from Sphere

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Trust wasn’t something you could have in degrees; it was all or nothing...’

Greg and Amanda are happy. They’ve been together thirteen years and have two young daughters. They’re very much in love.

Dan and Sarah aren’t so fortunate. Their marriage is going through the motions and they’re just staying together for the sake of their son.

When one bad decision sends a happy couple into turmoil and turns an unhappy couple into love’s young dream, there’s only one thing that can keep everything from falling apart: trust.

Like many people I was an avid addict of the tv show “Cold Feet” back when it aired and I’m sure when it comes back I shall be again – so as a person who rather prefers books if given the chance I was really pleased when Trust dropped through the letterbox…and I loved every minute of it.

For someone who reads a lot of crime and novels about dark dastardly deeds “Trust” was like a breath of fresh air – fast, funny and intuitively authentic, Mike Bullen has given us a wonderfully readable character study using a cast of honestly likeable people and exploring themes of life, love…and marriage.

An excellent mix of humour and emotional uproar, there is a great intricacy of plot as we follow Dan and Greg and their various decisions and interactions, the best thing about “Trust” comes from the developing and changing relationships within, those little twists and turns of life that make it so beautifully challenging – the author captures all of that and keeps you turning those pages.

Often VERY hilarious (snorting tea out through your nose on the Bicester to Marylebone train is one way of confirming to the wider world that you are perhaps a little odd) but always bang on the money when it comes to the realities of human nature, Trust is a warm and  wonderful read and only makes me more eager to enter the world of Cold Feet once more – and hope that Mike Bullen writes some more novels. Can’t wait.

Highly Recommended especially if you need a reading pick me up.

You can follow Mike on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/_mikebullen

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Mike-Bullen/dp/0751559237/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1446622190&sr=1-2

Happy Reading Folks!