Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I am distraught. And in awe.

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“I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.”

11th October 1943: A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a shot at survival, the other has lost the game before its barely begun.

Now I’ve finished crying into my pillow, perhaps I can try and review this book. I’ll do my best – but its one of those. Sometimes there are no words. But hey, its what I do so here we go…

“Verity”, a female spy, has been captured during one of her missions. Tortured, threatened and scared for her life she agrees to confess – given two weeks and paper and pen, she begins her tale – one of friendship, loyalty, heroism and betrayal – and of Maddie, the pilot who flew her into France and who she believes is dead.

Oh how her story creeps into your heart, so subtly and gently that you don’t realise she is there until its too late then you have to read on, to that oh so heartbreaking yet uplifting and authentic finale that you can see coming at you like a freight train but cannot fathom until it hits you. Hard. Right in the gut. Fiction yes. How much of it could be real? Every single word….

Verity and Maddie shine like beacons against the dark and forbidding backdrop of a world at war – a tale of two halves if you like, this one stomped all over my soul and left me wrung out and over emotional – anyone who has read and loved “The Book Thief” will know exactly what I’m feeling right now. It hasnt let go yet. No not yet.

Still, to be pragmatic. This is one of those novels that you want to make everyone read. And yet it won’t be for everyone – no book ever is. It may be aimed at the young adult market but it reads just as well if you come at it from an entirely adult point of view, and it is extraordinarly well written and compelling. If you are looking for a fluffy, light, chic lit type of read where everyone lives happily ever after then please leave this alone – if you want a read that will tear your heart from your chest and leave it feebly beating on the floor then I would pick this one up right now.

Highly Recommended for anyone who likes Historical fiction, a book to make them cry, and a book to make them think. And for fans of well told stories everywhere…

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

You can follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/EWein2412

Purchase Information clickety click http://www.amazon.co.uk/Code-Name-Verity-Elizabeth-Wein/dp/1405258217/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383129177&sr=1-1&keywords=code+name+verity

 

Happy Reading Folks. Sob.

 

Happy Halloween……some spoooooooooooky reads anyone?

So Thursday its Halloween. Love it or hate it (and having young children means I kind of have to love it) it would seem like the perfect week to read some creepy tales…so here are a few of my favourites for your perusal…and hey, if you have a particular favourite then shout. My Halloween Read is “SnowBlind” by Christopher Golden, coming soon. I shall review that one in due course…for now though how about these?

 

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Well of course I WOULD start with a Stephen King novel. Hands up anyone who wasnt expecting that? No-one? I am WAY too predictable…

Anyway my King pick for Halloween is “Geralds Game” because of all his books this was the one that haunted my dreams for the longest time after finishing it. Ok, its not his most horror bound novel, but its creepy. And unpredictable. And surprising. And next on my King Re-Read list now….

Synopsis

On a warm October day, Jessie Burlingame lies in the bedroom of her secluded lake home, listening to the far-off sounds of the country; the cry of a loon, the growl of a chain saw, the bark of a lonesome dog. Nearer, she hears the banging of the screen door, left unlatched in the autumn breeze; nearer still, the click of the key locking the second pair of handcuffs that chain her to the bed.

Gerald Burlingame, her husband of 17 years, looms over her, grin on his face, gleam in his eye, lust in his heart. This is Gerald’s favorite game little kinky, perhaps, but all in good fun. And then, quite suddenly, the fun is over. Gerald’s heart fails him in the heat of passion, leaving Jessie hideously trapped and dreadfully alone. As darkness gathers in the room that is now Jessie’s whole world, she must face not only the terror of never escaping, but the most excruciating truths about her life: the murky secrets that brought her here in the first place.

 

Happy Shivers Folks!

 

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Next up I’m going with one from that most amazing of writers, Mr John Connolly. His ability to blend superb crime fiction and compelling supernatural elements make the Charlie Parker series of novels a must read. This is not the first…but it IS the one that still stays with me when it comes to remembering those books that have made me sleep with the lights on..Axe Proof Duvet standing between me and the dark..Brilliant stuff. Evocative, addictive and with one of the most fascinating concepts out there, the whole series is unmissable.

Synopsis

Charlie Parker races to unravel a brutal crime committed in the Deep South. After years of suffering unfathomable pain and guilt over the murders of his wife and daughter, private detective Charlie Parker has finally found some measure of peace. As he and his lover, Rachel, are awaiting the birth of their first child and settling into an old farmhouse in rural Maine, Parker has found the kind of solace often lost to those who have been touched by true evil.

But darkness soon descends when Parker gets a call from Elliot Norton, an old friend from his days as a detective with the NYPD. Now practicing law in Charleston, South Carolina, Elliot is defending a young black man accused of raping and killing his white girlfriend, the daughter of a powerful Southern millionaire. Reluctantly, Parker agrees to help Elliot and by doing so ventures into a living nightmare, a bloody dreamscape haunted by the specter of a hooded woman and a black car waiting for a passenger who never arrives. Beginning as an investigation into a young woman’s death, it is a fast-moving descent into an abyss where forces conspire to destroy all that Parker holds dear.

 

Happy Hiding Folks!

 

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Ah Mr White. Crime Fiction. Not the first thought perhaps when it comes to horrific Halloween reads but the point is to make you shake in your boots…and I’m choosing this one because of the sheer horror that faces Sarah Goode. And the fact that this one not only made me cry, great big fat tears, but also horrified me in ways that I can’t even explain. You will just have to read it. Keep the tissues handy. And possibly some motion sickness medication….

Synopsis

What do you see in your dying moments…? A young woman is on the run, her boyfriend found brutally slain in their bed. A simple crime of passion. Or is it?

The Lancashire town of Blackley has been rocked by the violent death of Luke Howarth. The fingers of suspicion point towards his girlfriend, Sarah Goode – missing since his murder. Just another crime of passion with a tragic end.

Or is it? Reporter Jack Garrett isn’t so sure – especially when he’s asked by Sarah’s distraught parents to find their daughter. Their description of caring schoolteacher Sarah doesn’t tally with the media’s portrayal of a cold-blooded killer.

But as he hunts for Sarah, Jack finds himself immersed in the town’s troubled history and discovers that dangerous rituals from the past are impacting on the present.

Happy Hiding Folks!

 

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So, how about a ghost story to finish us off completely. Well, you might want to dive into Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I read this one caffeine fuelled dark and stormy night and it scared me, intrigued me, made me pace up and down and finally let me go heart pounding and drained. Perfect Halloween Reading and one of my favourite books of that year. Don’t miss this one!

 

Synopsis

‘Buy my stepfather’s ghost’ read the e-mail.

So Jude did.

He bought it, in the shape of the dead man’s suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box, because he wanted it: because his fans ate up that kind of story. It was perfect for his collection: the genuine skulls and the bones, the real honest-to-God snuff movie, the occult books and all the rest of the paraphanalia that goes along with his kind of hard/goth rock.

But the rest of his collection doesn’t make the house feel cold. The bones don’t make the dogs bark; the movie doesn’t make Jude feel as if he’s being watched. And none of the artefacts bring a vengeful old ghost with black scribbles over his eyes out of the shadows to chase Jude out of his home, and make him run for his life . . .

 

Happy Frights Folks!

 

So thats your lot. What are you reading for Halloween? Do tell. And watch out for those restless spirits…..

 

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Liz Currently Loves….Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty.

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So, Apple Tree Yard has been sat patiently waiting on my kindle while many people have told me to get on with it, its terrific, one of the best books of the year…and so I decided it was about time I gave it a go. Do I agree with all the hype? Well the title of the post probably gives it away….

 

Synopsis

Yvonne Carmichael is a geneticist, a scientist renowned in her field but one day, she makes the most irrational of decisions. While she is giving evidence to a Select Committee at the Houses of Parliament, she meets a man and has sex with him in the secluded Chapel in the Crypt. It’s the beginning of a reckless liaison, but there is more to her lover than is at first apparent – as Yvonne discovers when the affair spins out of control and leads inexorably to violence.

 

Addictive. Totally and utterly addictive. Yvonne tells the tale…opening with a courtroom scene as she stands accused along with her lover of what, exactly, we are unsure of at that point and then takes us back to the beginning of it all and leads us to the truth of the matter.

Louise Doughty has an alluring writing style…Yvonne, as she tells us the story, is very dry and exacting – in some ways “Just the facts, Ma’am” but with an emotional core that is hard to fault. You will just keep reading…each part leading inexorably to the next while she digs herself deeper and deeper into an affair with a man of whom she knows nothing. She assumes, gives him depth and fleshes him out…but we all know what “assume” does, do we not?

In a lot of ways this is much more a character piece than it is a mystery – in that the mystery is unlocked by coming to know the character. Yvonne, her choices, her reasoning, her “excuses” if you like all add up to make a whole. The man she is embroiled with IS an enigma and seeing him only through her eyes makes him that way. We see him as she does…and as her eyes open so do ours.

Brilliantly done…clever, intriguing, utterly compelling, the story of how a normal, intelligent and pretty average woman gets caught up in infidelity and brutality, almost by accident. Highly recommended.

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Liz Currently Loves…The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas.

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So, when Stephanie Elmas contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing her book, I was immediately intrigued – both by the concept and by the fact that it was truly a labour of love for her, having taken 7 years to write, inbetween real life stuff such as family and work. I have spent the last few days reading it – inbetween real life stuff such as family and work! And here is what I thought.

 

Synopsis

When Serena begins a new life working for the Hartreve family at 36 Marguerite Avenue she falls in love, not just with its eccentric and alluring inhabitants and their world, but with the house itself. Number 36 is a beautiful Victorian London mansion that has remained in the family for generations. Serena feels that by being here she has escaped the ghosts of her own sad childhood and found a true home, but she soon discovers that behind its gleaming surfaces Marguerite Avenue is plagued by secrets and mystery. Why does such a beautiful tranquil street seem sometimes to shimmer with menace? Is everyone in the family quite who they appear to be? And just what is it that the family is trying to hide from her?

 

Set in two timelines, with Serena beginning her employment with the Hartreve family and the relationship developing between her and the enigmatic Sebastian, we also head back to 1892 and meet Miranda Whitehouse, struggling in her marriage and forever under the watchful eye of her sister Jane. When she gets involved with the reclusive and mysterious Lucinda who lives next door, nothing will be the same again…

I love a novel that gives you true atmosphere and this one does just that… a beautifully descriptive writing style and classic tension building are key here and Stephanie Elmas pulls it off perfectly. The early part of the novel rambles gently but compellingly along but as things develop a much darker side appears – and from then on its a breathtaking rush to the final denouement.  I wasnt expecting it to be that favourite thing of mine – a wonderfully twisty tale – but it was. The strong supernatural elements hit the mark and all in all this was a delightful surprise of a read.

Characterisation is terrific, I adored Miranda, she was perhaps my favourite but I have to give a nod to Walter Balanchine with his weird and wonderful style, a truly terrific creation indeed. As the strands of the separate stories are pulled together, I was pleased that this was an ebook, I’m fairly sure if it had been a physical book I would currently be suffering paper cuts from my eagerness to turn the pages. I loved it.

You will notice that plot details are rather lacking in this review – there is a reason for that – the absolute joy of this novel for me was that it wasnt quite what I was expecting, but what it turned out to be was captivating and delectable.

 

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

Follow Stephanie on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/StephanieElmas

Purchase Information clickety click http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Room-Beyond-ebook/dp/B00FJ433QK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382606481&sr=1-1&keywords=the+room+beyond

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Meet Jane Cable…Author of “The Cheesemakers House

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So I was recently lucky enough to get to read a lovely little ghost story from Jane Cable called “The CheeseMaker’s House” – review to follow – and I caught up with Jane and asked her a few questions. Here is what she had to say.

 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about the background to the story and the house that inspired it?

 


The Cheesemaker’s House is in the beautiful North Yorkshire village of Great Fencote and when my husband and I bought it in 2007 we had every intention of moving there but for various reasons it didn’t happen. The previous owners gave me a lot of paperwork to do with the history of the house and as well as having been built by a woman – the village cheesemaker – in 1726, I noticed how many women had owned it down the years. That started me wondering what sort of woman might move there now, and what might happen to her.

Both Alice’s voice and the beginnings of Owen’s character had been in my head for a while but in a completely different context. Taking them to Yorkshire seemed to make them gel, and when I read about charmers while I was researching rural life in the eighteenth century the story started to fall into place.

I related to Alice a lot, is she based on a real life person?

Some people who know me have said that when they read some of the things Alice says they can hear me saying them, but I guess that’s inevitable. The reality is that there isn’t a great deal of me in her – but she isn’t really anyone else either. I think there are parts of Alice that most women can relate to; her vulnerability; her spirit; the way she tries to make sense of her world. I hope so, anyway.

Do you have a favourite character from the novel?

Now that’s hard. As a writer I think you always have to fall just a little bit in love with your hero and whether or not there’s a little magic at work I can certainly see what Alice sees in Owen. On the whole, though, my favourite character is Alice. As the entire book is written from her point of view I had to get to know her really well and by the time I’d finished writing and editing it, she had almost become a friend.

I am very fond of the Alice the cheesemaker too. She has quite a back story, which is only partly revealed in the novel. She went through hell and high water with her passion hidden by a stoical acceptance of what had to be. She certainly deserved to be able to rest in peace.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

It isn’t a ghost story (although I have just started to write another one), but it is a suspenseful romance. It has the working title of The Fairy Tree and is inspired by an actual tree on the banks of the river Hamble near Southampton. In the book a couple meet again after twenty years to discover that memory is not quite what it seems. I’m currently going through the editing process myself – which I love – before handing it over to a professional editor who will doubtless tell me to re-write it.

Coffee, tea or something stronger?

All of the above. A skinny latte first thing in the morning – when I do most of my writing, decaff tea during the day and a glass of wine to unwind in the evening. A real treat is a mojito, made with mint from our garden.

Any writing habits?

I normally write first thing in the morning, because that’s when I’m at my best. I normally write at my desk. I like to have a skinny latte to hand (see above). But basically I can write any place or any time I feel like it or need to get on so I’m very lucky in that respect. It’s tiredness that’s the real killer; my brain just doesn’t want to work when I’m exhausted. But no real writing habits, no.

Desert Island Book?

Well I think I can have the bible anyway, can’t I? So the book I would choose would be an enormous blank one so that I always had something to write in. Although ‘101 Uses for a Coconut’ would probably be much more practical. Oh, and if I could swap the Complete Shakespeare for the Complete  Angler…

E-Reader or Physical book?
I’m in transition at the moment. My husband bought my an iPad for my birthday and I had always promised Madeleine Reiss, who I met through the Alan Titchmarsh Show competition, that her winning book Someone to Watch Over Me would be the first one I downloaded. I’m on my fourth or fifth e-book

 

Thank you so much Jane!

 

Review

 

When Alice Hart’s husband runs off with his secretary, she runs off with his dog to lick her wounds in a North Yorkshire village. Battling with loneliness but trying to make the best of her new start, she soon meets her neighbours, including the drop-dead gorgeous builder Richard Wainwright and the kindly yet reticent cafe owner, Owen Maltby. All is not what it seems however. Why does she start seeing Owen when he clearly isn’t there? Where – or when – does the strange crying come from?

 

I was very much looking forward to this one – having not read a good “ghost” story for a while,this seemed like the perfect remedy. And it was…

As we start following Alice on her journey, I was immediately involved…it probably helped that Alice is a lot like me at her heart – not sure where life is going to take her, suffering the loss (albeit not death) of her Husband and just trying to find her way. Enter the roguish Richard and the enigmatic Owen, throw in some strange occurrences with a hint of history and you have a great mix for a great story.

Slowly drawing you in, at times you may wonder if Alice is a bit barmy (again I relate as I often wonder that about myself!) as she starts to see Owen all over the place when he is not actually there…and her nights are often filled with a strange “crying” sound that she cannot track down. Spooky, yes. And beautifully written so you are right there with her..

As she delves further into village life and discovers more about those around her, so the true story emerges…and its a compelling one. Apart from that I will not say…but if you like a good ghostly tale you will certainly enjoy it.

Some great characters in here -Alice of course, I also particularly loved Adam and trust me, you will want some of his baked goods. In the background of the tale a distinct snapshot of life in a place where everyone knows everyone else and secrets are hard to keep..

All in all a terrific read and one to curl up under the duvet with and hope that you don’t start hearing strange noises in the night….

 

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

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

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cheesemakers-House-Jane-Cable/dp/1783061243/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382423753&sr=1-1&keywords=the+cheesemakers+house

 

Happy Reading Folks!

A bout of Insomnia…A reading Frenzy – Some new reviews for you.

Happy Weekend Folks! So I have suffered ye olde Insomnia again this week. Which as usual sent me on a mad reading rush….through the couple of rather long nights I chose some books to see me through and here they are…enjoyed. completed. reviewed. All books reviewed in this post were kindly sent to me by the authors concerned. Thank you to one and all. *Reviews can also be found in appropriate sections on site*

 

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Thriller

A Peace Corps volunteer has gone missing in Bulgaria and everyone assumes he is dead, everyone except his grandfather, who refuses to give up hope. Retired literature professor Simon Matthews launches a desperate search only to be lured into a bizarre quest to retrieve a stolen Thracian artifact—a unique object of immense value others will stop at nothing to recover.

I wasnt entirely sure what to expect when I started this one – its true that I would not have chosen it for myself, yet that would have been a shame. Told from various points of view, we open with Simon – beginning his journey to find out the truth about his missing Grandson – with the help of Sophia, a local History teacher he meets along the way.

I especially loved how Mr Shuman manages to give us a lot of background and information on the culture of Bulgaria, a country I know little about, by weaving it effortlessly into the flow of the story – in a way this is part travel guide and it works very well to put you in the moment.

The mystery element is well imagined and as the story twists and turns towards its ultimate conclusion you will find adventure, thrills and intrigue here. Wonderful writing style makes it easy to read with a mix of fast paced plot and more sedate meandering that keeps you involved until the end.

It did take me a while to “sink in” to the tale – but once I was there, there I stayed. Enjoyable mystery thriller, great characters and very well written.

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Horror/Mystery

Fall, 1995.

Holson is a sleepy, middle-class suburb, whose most interesting news amounts to farmer’s markets and Friday night football games.

When young Brandon Grey disappears, no one thinks he’ll be missing for long. When another boy vanishes, parents begin to worry about their children. When bodies turn up in the local river, cut to pieces, stuffed inside industrial-strength black trash bags, the town begins to shut down.

 

So, this one took me about 2 hours to read all in all, mainly because once I started I could not stop. Always a good sign…

We meet Jake and Colin, best friends, growing up in very different environments, spending endless hours together doing what kids do. One day, while playing outside, they notice a mysterious stranger taking pictures of them from the end of the street – and this sets off a chain of events that will take them on a strange and compelling journey….

I loved this – as much a “coming of age” story as anything else, Jake and Colin and those surrounding them are terrific characters to follow along with into some dark and chilling times. Forming a detective club they investigate the disappearance of Brandon Grey with nothing more than their wits and their bicycles…and what they find is horrifying and dangerous.

As the story twists and turns towards its chilling conclusion I was compelled to read on. I believe this is Mr Turkot’s first full length story, all I can say is I hope he writes more. I will certainly be reading them if this one is anything to go by. Easy to read and hard to put to one side, I very much enjoyed it.

 

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Fiction

 

London waitress, Pippa Taylor has no interest in horses or country-living. But when she inherits Peace Offering, a hopeless racehorse, she embarks on a career change in order to see her late uncle’s wish to run him in the Grand National come true.

 

Now funnily enough, apart from the obvious exception of Jilly Cooper I don’t usually read “horsey” books these days. This despite being a rider myself, who as a child used to indulge in quite a few childrens books with a horse theme – most specifically the Flambards trilogy. So when I was offered a chance to review this one I was immediately transported back to those days…

Of course this is a book for adults – one that takes us into the world of Horse Racing and all that entails, and I enjoyed it very much. Our protagonist, Pippa, is thrust into this world, one she initally has no interest in, and as we follow her along the way its a lot of fun.

You have some romance, some intrigue, all set in a wonderfully colourful world with well drawn characters and an entertaining and lively story.

One possible drawback is the occasional over use of bad language – if that sort of thing bothers you then take that into account before diving into this one..however it did not detract from a great little story for me. I will certainly be reading on.

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YA

Jed’s dead. These are the words that transform’s Cecelia Rivermire’s quiet life into a manhunt. A manhunt to kill the man that murdered her only friend. A manhunt to kill the man that murdered her first love. In this quest for revenge, however, she’ll soon discover that everything she’s ever known has been a lie, including everything she thinks she knows about herself…

So we meet Cecilia, who loses her best friend and first love and sets out on a quest for revenge that may not go entirely to plan…now a General we see in flashback what has led her here, and when her Emporer turns on her the adventure really begins.

I really enjoyed this it has to be said. Cecilia is a top notch character and the world building is well done. As she discovers that things are not entirely as she thought in the world she lives in, the story is fast paced and intriguing – set to be a trilogy this is a great “Part One” and will certainly ensure you want to read onwards…

Some great “supporting” characters (Brey. Loved Brey!) flesh out the story and there are some great twists and turns along the way, with an ending that will make you sigh (in a good way) and long for chapter two…

Well written, some flaws but that is to be expected, and fascinating enough to keep you hooked until the last page, I am pleased to be in at the start of this one. In the explosion of YA to the reading world this is an excellent example of its kind and I shall look forward to more. Recommended for YA fans, especially if you like action, a bit of romance and some likeable AND unlikeable characters to meet along the way.

 

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So there you have it folks. My recent reads! Hope there is one there that takes your fancy. Now I’m onto the next batch. What am I reading now? Well. Gregg Hurwitz, Richard Montanari and Natalie Richards are the authors that make up my weekend reading. And of course I still need to review the latest Lynley book…which I loved. LOVED.

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves…I Am Forgotton by J A St.Thomas

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So recently I was lucky enough to win a GoodReads giveaway for the above book and I absolutely loved it! I managed to catch up with Julie St Thomas to ask her a few pertinent questions and here is what she had to say…

 

How did the idea for “I Am Forgotton” come to you?

 

My Mom had just been diagnosed with Lymphoma and was about to start treatment, we were all struggling to deal with it all and it just came to me—what if everyone was gone except for these kids under eighteen, people we technically consider children? What if you lost your family, your world, your faith that everything could be okay again? Then, what if someone gave you the chance to set it right? Could you believe them? Would you risk everything to save the ones you love? It was, admittedly, directly correlated with my feelings of inadequacy with my Mom and her illness, my feelings of helplessness and the desire to do whatever necessary to help her. Jackson was my escape from a very difficult time and he allowed me to do things in his world that just weren’t possible in my own. My Mom passed away after the book was complete but before it was published.

Jackson has a very ironic outlook on life considering what is going on around him – was he fun to write?

 

Jackson is a brilliant character to write, being inside his head, seeing his world through his eyes is such a gift. The way he thinks, the THINGS he thinks always had me laughing or crying—sometimes simultaneously! I think what I love about him most is that he is flawed and he knows it, he constantly tries to be a better brother, friend and hero, and while he stumbles often and makes more mistakes than he wants to admit, he keeps going, he keeps trying and ultimately, he won’t give up until he’s done all he can, despite the fact that he doesn’t feel like he’s succeeding. And all the while he says clever things and sometimes snarky things and he thinks ridiculous things and I just love him for it.

Apart from Jackson do you have a favourite character from the novel?

 

Yes. Sam. I adore him. He is my broken hero, my badass who doesn’t want to be alone—arguably the most innately noble and loyal character in the book.

The musical “interludes” that start each chapter are great fun. Is Music important when you are writing?

 

Yes, I think some of the best things I’ve put to page have come while I was listening to a favorite song or a particularly insightful lyric. I don’t always write to music but I always need something going on in the background—music, television, the neighbors brawling on their back deck, I write better with distraction. Music may not always be on while I’m writing, but it is constantly influencing it, each thing I write develops its own soundtrack as I progress through the story and I often burn the “soundtrack” to a disc and listen to it everywhere. (yeah I know you’re laughing, but my kids got the iPod budget, so yeah . . .)

One book you would like to make everyone read.

 

One book? Oh well, while I’d love to say I’d want everyone to read a specific book, I can’t—as individual tastes play so deeply into our reading preferences, it would most likely be counter-productive. I would love for the world to discover books that may not otherwise be discovered. Great books that will probably languish in the rankings jungle of the self-publsied race or the slush piles of agents and editors or the bargain bins of bookstores. Books that don’t have TV ads or cardboard standees or table space at B&N—those are the books I would make the world read. And I’ve totally not answered your actual question *sheepish grin*.

Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday.

 

Spending it with the special brand of crazy I call my betrothed and offspring. I love going to a movie or the zoo with them and then coming home, lighting a fire in the hearth, an hour of zombie TV and then settling in to write with a glass of wine.

 

 

Book or tv show that is your “guilty pleasure”

 

The Walking Dead. It’s pretty much the only TV show I absolutely can’t miss. Does that qualify as “guilty pleasure”? I really watch anything else with any kind of enthusiasm except, perhaps, The Big Bang Theory and even that is sporadic. So Yeah, Walking Dead—zombies, flawless writing/acting and Norman Reedus—guilty guilty guilty!

 

Thanks so much Jules!

 

Review

 

A violent pandemic divides what remains of the world into victims, villains and heroes. Sixteen-year-old Jackson Riley is about to find out that sometimes, under the worst of circumstances, a person can be all three.

 

Firstly, an incredibly difficult book to review without spoiling it but I will do my level best and we will see how I get on. And if you are sensible you will not read too much about this tale before you read it – I basically had what I’ve put above to go on before I dived in…

So. Here we go. Virus. People Die. People come back to life and try and eat the survivors. A lone teenager stands between his sister and death..and sets off on a journey to find a safe place and other survivors…meets girl along the way. So far so Generic right? Indeed. But then no. Not so much….

This reviewers opinion on why this this book is brilliant.  Its not so much that there are new idea’s here, although there are some. Its not so much that the author has found a whole new tale to tell but that she HAS found a way to tell it differently. Without giving too much away I can say that the story will lead you in unexpected directions. And then turn around and lead you down yet ANOTHER path. And well, you get the point….

Then you have the wonderful creation that is Jackson Riley – the teenager I mentioned earlier. This is his story, so you will need to love him. I see no reason whatsoever why you wouldnt. I mean the thoughts that go through this boys head had me laughing out loud upon occasion. With an ironic sense of humour and a wry eye to the ridiculous his reactions to the events going on around him are often funny, sometimes plain old “teenager” but always deeply emotional so you know they are real. I especially like the filing system he creates for his brain….

If you are feeling let down by the latest onslaught of YA/Post Apocalyptic/Teenage angst type tales that make you feel like you are reading the same book every time fear not…for now you have “I Am Forgotton”. Don’t expect miracles…we all read differently. But make sure you give it a go. Hey, its a bargain currently so the risk v benefit scenario is very high on the side of benefit..

One last thing. The author starts each chapter with a quote from the songs that inspired her during the writing process. Each one is relevant to what you are about to read, and at the end of the novel she tells you the songs they have come from. My favourite was “Your head will collapse. But there’s nothing in it. And you’ll ask yourself. Where is my mind?” (From Where is my Mind by The Pixies)

 

Follow Julie on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/jas0603

Purchase Information Clickety Click http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Am-Forgotten-ebook/dp/B00F0SHB6I/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381992520&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=I+Am+Forgotton+J+A+St+Thomas

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Post Apocalyptic Fiction – One of my Favourite kinds…

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Inspired by my latest read – that of “Bird Box” the up and coming debut from Josh Malerman, (review to be found in the “Coming Soon” section and that of Harper Collins) I thought today I would talk about some of my favourite novels with a Post Apocalyptic setting. In return if there are any that you have enjoyed that I may have missed out on, do shout. Loudly. When this type of fiction is well written it can be an awful lot of fun to read…

Lets start with The Passage by Justin Cronin (Part one of a trilogy, the second novel being “The Twelve” and the third coming in 2014 – I just can’t wait!) Not since “The Stand” by Stephen King has a post apocalyptic novel had me reading so avidly. I pretty much retired from the world for a week. I love the background to this one – Mr Cronin, when pondering on his next novel, had a chat with his daughter. She wanted him to write a book about a little girl who saves the world…and so “The Passage” was born. Here is the blurb…

“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.” 

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

I will be re-reading this and the sequel again nearer the time of release for Part 3. Full review will follow at that point. But I would recommend you give it a go if you have not already done so.

 

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I can’t talk about Post Apocalyptic novels without a nod to “What Lots Wife Saw”. Winner of the Athens prize for literature this was one of my favourite reads this year. (Review can be found under “Highly Recommended”) As with Bird Box, but in a completely different way, Ioanna Bourazopoulou managed to add a new depth to the genre with a very different and new outlook on a new world. Enthralling and engaging this took the world of Post Apocalyptic fiction to a whole new level…

Here is the blurb for this one.

Phileas Book is about to face the biggest challenge of his life. As the greatest crossword compiler of his age, his skills are to be put to the test as never before. And in the far-off Colony, on the shores of the Dead Sea, life is about to change forever.

It’s been twenty years since the earth opened up to reveal the strange violet salt to which the world is now addicted, and the Colonists have toiled day and night to guarantee supply to a voracious market. As outcasts and fugitives, they’re grateful for refuge from a Europe that has been half swallowed by the Mediterranean Sea, but when the governor of the Colony dies suddenly in suspicious circumstances, they begin to blame each other, sparking a chain of events which threatens their very existence. But who has killed Governor Bera? And why?

This is the new Sodom and Gomorrah and only Phileas Book can uncover the Colony’s hidden secrets. And on a night quite different from any other, Phileas is called to solve the most important riddle ever conceived – a puzzle which could alter the course of human history.

 

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And finally – well it had to be said. “The Stand” by Stephen King. Still my no 1 read of all time, this huge and enthralling tale of life after plague and the ensuing battle between good and evil for control of the planet is now and will ever be for me one of the best reading experiences I have ever had. I re-read this one often (and yes another read will be happening shortly so that I can update Mr King’s page on site) and each time I find something new within its pages. Characters I fell in love with (Mr King has said that he often gets asked “Whats going on with Stu and Frannie lately?” as if they were real people somewhere) and a terrific story, it may be the best novel in the King stable. Maybe I should say so far…

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail — and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

 

Not read it yet? Oh my. Make sure you do…

 

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So. Whats up next? Well the lovely ladies at Harper Collins, when they sent me Bird Box, also sent me a book called “The Waste Land Saga” another post apocalyptic novel. Whether it can live up to the sheer brilliance of Mr Malermans debut only time will tell. But I can’t wait to give it a go. I’ll let you know!

 

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Three Actual Reviews now – All done!

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Good Morning everyone and Happy Monday!

After my weekend post telling you about the three wonderful books I was finishing and the one I was about to start, I thought it would be nice to post all 3 reviews for you in one Post. Shortly thereafter, the page of Harper Collins will be updated to include “Bird Box” – yes it was as good as expected – so good I read it in a day! For now though – here is why you MIGHT want to put the above three novels on your to be read lists.

 

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In the Oxfordshire countryside, a student walks into a classroom and starts shooting. Nate Dillingham, friends with shooter and victims alike, is the sole survivor and only witness. Easily led and eager to please, his recollections weave around others’ hopes until he loses track of what really happened that day.

 

Right. So imagine. One seemingly normal day at school, a friend of yours enters the classroom and starts shooting students, other friends of yours….Imagine that you are the sole survivor and the only one who can tell the tale…Then imagine trying to live a life…any life in the aftermath of that event.

This is the position Nate Dillingham finds himself in during the course of this amazing and heartfelt survivors tale..told entirely from his point of view we start with the shooting and move ever onwards..hospital, recovery, endless interviews…then what? Well that is the question…

Its hard to put into words what I feel about this one…it got me right at the heart and is unlikely to let go for a while. Beautiful writing and a setting I know so well that I was able to walk some of the paths with Nate, this book literally “had me at hello”.

Its a difficult subject – taking us into the heart of the matter, who has not been glued to the tv screen as something of this nature unfolds – this takes us beyond the soundbite one step removed comfort zone and puts us where its important, into the lives of those affected.

As Nate struggles to understand what went on that day, as the true nature of the events that overtook him become lost in what others are desperate to believe, you will become further and further immersed into this truly brilliant, unequivocably stunning and often heart wrenching drama.

As I write this review I am still unsure how I feel about the ending…certainly I am still feeling the story as a whole…and I think this is a book that will bear reading more than once…in fact probably should be.

The Truth Shall Set You Free. Will it not?

 

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New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice brilliantly conjures the shadowed terrors of the Louisiana bayou—where three friends confront a deadly, ancient evil rising to the surface—in this intense and atmospheric new supernatural thriller. Out October 15th.

 

Intense and atmospheric. Right. Spot on description. Hey, me, I don’t get creeped out by novels often, a good horror or ghost film yep, can affect my nights but when I’m reading of  strange and terrible things my brain usually seems to accept that and much as I enjoy them they stay where they are supposed to. Exceptions to this rule: Geralds Game by Stephen King and now,  The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice…

For a start its a brilliantly imagined story….one that almost immediately sinks into your subconcious and stays there for the duration, no matter what else you are doing.  A family disappears, a town mourns, but something strange and terrible is going on…and for those left behind the nightmare may only just be beginning.

Some real life events are incorporated into the story and that works well – the atmospheric and truly haunting setting give it an edge and I loved the whole thing. I love Mr Rice’s writing style, and setting the novel both in past and present to get an overall look at what is going on creates an offset to the reading experience and all in all this was a wonderful addition to the halls of horror fame.

It won’t be for everyone – but if you like a good supernatural and twisty tale of intrigue then I’m fairly sure you will enjoy this. Even if you do dream of snakes and dark water and terrible things….

 

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Peg always felt a little blurred, a little lacking in definition. Her mother died when she was six, her father simply disappeared, and she was brought up by her grandparents and her obese, bedridden aunt. But, despite all this, she never developed the habit of asking questions…..

 

But perhaps she should have done…or not! Anyway I muchly enjoyed this novel, a total indulgence, one I found hard to put down and after I had finished I felt a little like I had run a marathon…

Why? Well mostly down to the characters. I didnt like hardly ANY of them. Isnt that terrific? Yes it is because they are so well written. I’m not entirely convinced that Ms Crouch WANTS people to like them. In fact the only one I loved was the one that peripherally I was probably supposed to be suspicious of. No. Not saying. But anyway, we have Peg, with her never ending passive stance,  tempered by  Loz who knows it all and never shuts up. Then you have Grandma “Doll”, frail but full of her own importance and Auntie Jean who can’t get out of bed due to her MASSIVE bulk and can talk around a subject and leave your head spinning like no other…throw them all together with the mystery of what exactly happened to Peg’s father, and why she has no memory of her early years and you have a corker of a story.

Information is drip fed to you in short little bits and bobs as we watch Peg slowly but surely start to realise that everything is not as clear cut as it appears…everyone is hiding secrets and no-one wants to tell the truth..the blame game is played to perfection and you are never sure if what you are hearing can be relied upon. Blimey though I wanted to hit her over the head with a frying pan upon occasion – so ridiculously fond was she of hiding in the corner from the actual facts that were emerging..

Anyway, cleverly done, paced perfectly, no downturn in the quality at any point made this one of my favourite recent reads – hey I was curled up under the duvet with a torch at 3am this morning (so the children didnt see my light on and decide it was time to get up!) so that probably tells you all you need to know. Now..I’m sure Ms Crouch has written some others. Better go find them then….

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Update on my current reads: A pre-review review..plus whats next?

So Happy Friday everyone and I’m inspired today to give you a little taster of my current reads – mainly because ALL 3 have been amazing in very different ways. Full reviews will of course follow sometime soon as well. Also my weekend reading has just been sorted out thanks to those lovely ladies at Harper Collins. I’m in for a good few days wandering around other worlds than this…

 

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Lets start with Black Chalk by Albert Alla – coming in November from Garnet this has been an incredibly compelling read. Following Nathan, survivor of a horrendous school shooting, he tells us his story – of that day, and what came next…and I have been deeply immersed in his world. The setting is Oxford, a place I know well, and there have been some trips down memory lane for me as well. Tremendous writing, keep an eye out for this one and I shall expand my thoughts when I write a full review…

 

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Then we come to “The Heavens Rise” by Christopher Rice. For a start this novel is making me sleep with the lights on…and that is saying something. You know sometimes you see on a book “Creepy” or “Terrifying” then you read it and its not either of those things? This one is. In a brilliantly imagined way….Yes I dreamed of snakes last night….shiver. An interesting premise done with style. Again, full review will follow before too long…

 

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Finally I have been indulging myself with a cracking tale from Julia Crouch – Tarnished. This one is terribly addictive – and its all down to some terrific characters and an intriguing mystery that Ms Crouch reveals in cleverly placed titbits. Almost impossible to put down I THINK I’ve got the hang of it…or have I? Could Julia Crouch be about to join Tina Seskis and Erin Kelly in the “Beat the Author” hall of fame? We’ll see. Look out for the full review in which I may or may NOT tell you whether I won or she did….

 

So thats that for the ones I’m currently involved with. I am nearly done with all 3…then it will be onto my next batch, one of which is SURELY going to be “Bird Box” by Josh Malerman. Thanks to Kate and Bob at Harper Collins, this dropped through my door this morning…coming March 2014 this is what the blurb told me…

 

Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news.

But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street.

Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent.

The phones stopped ringing.

And we couldn’t look outside anymore.

 

Ooh. Sounds intriguing…my spider sense is tingling….

 

Happy Reading Folks!