Meet DI Hanlon…my new favourite detective…


Publication date: Available now from Head of Zeus.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.

Detective Inspector Hanlon. She’ll break but she won’t bend. A woman with a habit of breaking the rules and a fierce loyalty to the few people she respects.
Her boss, Corrigan. Looks like a street copper promoted above his ability. Underestimate him at your peril.
Enver Demirel. Known in the boxing ring as Iron Hand. Now soft and gone to seed. But he would do anything for Hanlon.
Now the kidnap of a 12-year-old diabetic boy has blown the case of some missing children wide apart and the finger is pointing at the heart of the Met.
Corrigan sends in the only cop in his team who would care more about the life of a boy than about her own career. Hanlon.
And then he sends Demirel to spy on her..

So. Crime novels featuring new detectives – so many of them out there. Some brilliant, some not bad, some mediocre and some, lets face it, truly terrible. Not often you come across one that has a bit of an edge, a cut above, something a little different. The last time for me was when I read Sarah Hilary’s brilliant debut “Someone Elses Skin” and there was Marnie Rome. Now Alex Howard brings us DI Hanlon – so meet my new favourite detective…

She’s not that likeable. But I loved her. She not always that trustworthy. But you would want her on your side. She has an inate sense of justice and doesnt really care that much for the rules. If you get on her radar beware – yet if you gain her trust and her loyalty she will fight for you until her last breath. It is wonderful to see a strong independant female character that actually is exactly that – warts and all, no need to worry about whether or not she is “feminine” enough in her actions. DI Hanlon is what she is. And what that would be is a marvellous character to follow into a dark and sinister tale of missing children…

This is an emotive story, featuring as it does children in peril, but it is brilliantly done, authentic and doesnt pull any punches. There is an intriguing depth here, over and above a standard “police procedural”, that gives you a real feeling for the people involved, victims and villains alike, somewhere in the middle being the Police force with all its politics and shenanigans. And hovering over it all, kind of like on that magnificent cover art, is Hanlon who’s razor sharp focus cares only about the job in hand. Some absolutely fascinating insights here and all beautifully written in a way that immerses you right into the world and lets you live there for the duration.

Now Hanlon may be front and centre, the glue that holds it all together, but there are no cardboard characters here. Her boss, the superbly enigmatic Corrigan is terrifically compelling. Enver Demirel is “the good guy” in an eccentric and marvellous sense, and all the people you meet along the way have something to add to the whole. The story twists and turns its way to an edge of the seat conclusion and overall this was a scintillating and heartfelt reading experience.

Definitely comes highly recommended from me. Oh and you know what? Crime novels with heart. Of COURSE they exist!

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Liz Currently Loves…Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.”

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

The third book in this trilogy recently came out and it seemed like every day someone was telling me off because I hadnt started yet. You will LOVE it I was told. So when I found myself with a spare bit of book budget, I thought, heck why not? And “Someone” was right because I DID love it. There is an awful lot to love.

I’m a huge fan of YA trilogies when they are done well – and of all the many I’ve read this is perhaps the Book One that has captured my imagination the most. An utterly magical and brilliantly written piece of world building, haunting and evocative prose with some of the best characters you are likely to meet in a fantasy book and an absolutely addictive and compelling story at the heart of it, makes this one of the reads of the year so far for me.

For me in novels of this nature, where the world within is not our own, its often the characters that are key to capturing my heart. Its all very well writing a magnificent fantasy world (which Laini Taylor has done here) but if you put people in it that are flat as a pancake it doesnt really matter how intriguing the world they inhabit is. Anyone who has read my “Book of the Year” from last year, Red Rising, will understand that, Darrow being an amazingly easy character to love. Katniss IS The Hunger Games. Without Mark Watney “The Martian” would have been as boring as can be. And here we have Karou. She pretty much sparkles with life and immediately and easily draws you into her world. She’s not the only one though – Brimstone is enigmatic and enthralling, Karou’s human friends and acquaintances are all either marvellously funny and loyal or beautifully annoying and as we get further in there is only more to come.

The mythology is fabulous. Absolutely endearing, the whole thing. As we learn more about Karou and her other life, as that other life starts to intrude upon the real world and as things go horribly wrong you will be engrossed, captivated and enchanted the whole of the journey. The basic premise is not unique but Laini Taylor has taken an idea and has brought new life to it in an elegant and exquisite way. I am in awe.

I came to the end and was bereft. As far as book hangovers go that was a doozy…the rest of the day was spent in a daze of “what do I do now?”. Bewitching. THIS is why I read.

I cannot WAIT to read the next two books in the series – I would be doing it now but sadly  I believe it is frowned upon to buy books rather than feed your children. Very soon though. Laini Taylor and Stephen King. Thats my plan for the month of June….

Read it. Live it. Love it.

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves…..Unwoven by Jack Croxall.

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Book 2 of the “Tethers” Trilogy.

Almost eighteen months on from the terrible events of Halholham and so much has changed.

Karl and Esther no longer speak to one another and Mr Cauldwell has been ostracised by Shraye and its fickle residents. But the trio will not be parted for much longer because a shadow is growing in the west, a shadow which will reunite them in the name of all they have lost.

So, 18 months or so on from the events of “Tethers” and things have changed. Something, we know not what, has changed the dynamic between our terrible twosome and they no longer speak. They will soon be thrown together on yet another quest – and slowly but surely things are revealed and the mythology of Tethers deepens..

I loved this one yet again for many reasons. The writing is short, sharp and addictive, the prose slightly darker than previously as our protagonists grow up, and yet it keeps its sense of adventure and the Victorian tone perfectly. Its quite a short intense read but extraordinarily good and as a middle part to the whole it worked perfectly for me.

I adore Esther – showing her darker side here really ramped up my Esther love as well, she was always kick ass now she’s kick ass with added attitude. Karl still has his cheeky side and throughout the whole of the read I was dying for them to sort out their differences – so much so that I spent a lot of time yelling. Metaphorically speaking. Ok actually once or twice which possibly frightened the bunny. Sorry Willow…

Anyway – story – Jack Croxall is a magnificent storyteller, I’d like to say of the old school kind. If ever there was a writer you would want telling you ghost stories around the campfire, Jack would be your man. This particular story was simple yet complex, adding superb depth to some already brilliantly drawn characters and keeping an intense yet compelling flow to the tale throughout. Emotionally speaking this resonates – and the ending nearly killed me. Literally. I scared the bunny again…and now I’m Torn. Hopefully very soon…

Highly Recommended

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Liz Currently Loves…The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker


Available now from Maclehose Press/Quercus

Translated by Sam Taylor

Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.

August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day a small New Hampshire town lost its innocence.
That summer Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard along with a manuscript copy of his career-defining novel. Quebert is the only suspect.
Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon blur together. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of ‘The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America” But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

This was a wonderful read for quite a few reasons – first of all the writing style is absolutely lovely, one of the best flowing novels I have read in a long time. Secondly the story was utterly compelling, a murder mystery but oh so much more than that. And thirdly the characters had a glorious depth and intrigue about them, even the most peripheral ones.

Marcus Goldman wrote a best selling novel. On a deadline to produce the next great story, his mind is blank. He turns to Harry Quebert, successful author and mentor, to help him get past it – but Harry is about to have his own problems, which ironically may end up solving the issue.

There are some dark themes here, as the story unfolds and you realise there is much more to discover both about the enigmatic Harry Quebert and his relationship with the beautiful Nola Kellergan…and indeed about Marcus himself who is a trusting soul at heart but has his trust been misplaced? Surrounding these three are many other well drawn and complex characters all adding to the drama and intrigue. Cleverly written, drip feeding the reader clues and information, fleshing out the people and events, interspersed with some interesting concepts on the art of writing, I was completely involved for the whole of the journey. There was a nice dose of ironic humour to offset the drama and I found the overall writing style to be quirky and fabulous. The ultimate solution may surprise you or it may not, but for me it made perfect sense and rounded off a most terrific read brilliantly.

Overall a magnificent read. Highly Recommended. And kudos once more to the translator, without whom I would never have been able to find out The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair.

Happy Reading Folks!



Five out of the Dark and Five out of the Pit by Holli Anderson. New YA.



Five teenagers who’ve recently discovered they have magical powers and are living in the Seattle underground feel it’s their responsibility to protect unsuspecting humans from otherworldly foes. Things are going well until Johnathan, their unofficial leader and the boy sixteen year old Paige is in love with, is bitten by a changeling – the venomous saliva causing him to metamorphose into a ravening beast with each full moon. Paige vows that, no matter the cost, she will find a way to cure Johnathan of the evil that has embedded itself in his soul.

Thank you kindly to Curiosity Quills  ( ) for the opportunity to read and review this series. I am very much looking forward to more. Well written and intriguing I was immediately drawn into the world of Paige, Johnathon et al.

I loved the set up of this – whilst there is nothing new to be found necessarily, the characters are all likeable and act with believability despite the paranormal aspects of the story. The bond developing between them is good to watch – and the writing is fast paced and adventurous, keeping you firmly in the moment. There are some interesting little twists on a tale often told and I could see this making a great tv show – which for me personally is always a good sign that younger readers will enjoy it.

I read a lot in this genre, comparatively speaking this is at the higher end of the scale quality wise in its readability, plot development and construct. There are no dull moments and overall I would have no problem recommending it to teenagers (especially younger teenagers) and those of us who will always be teenagers at heart!




The Five find their way to Moab, Utah where, before they’re even settled in, evil finds them.


So onto the second instalment, and I have very deliberately only put a small synopsis so as not to give away anything from Book One – this time I was definitely hooked it has to be said. In a lot of ways this one was better than the first, most likely because the author has done a terrific job with character development – and this one is much darker in tone as the story and the protagonists grow up.

The world building in this one is also superior, and the other worldly aspects and the mythology is explored more – some of the creatures (Imp, ha!) are amazingly clever and very well imagined. I also loved Paige and how she dealt with the hand that was dealt her in “Dark” – and her developing relationships. The “Love” angle always to be found in this genre is well established into the tale, if perhaps slightly too much for my personal tastes – but the target audience will love it, there is a lot here that teenagers will relate to and be able to get behind.

Overall then, an excellent “Part Two” and with the ending as it was I can’t wait for more – and if the author again takes the quality up a notch in Book 3 then we are looking at a very interesting series to keep an eye on.

Happy Reading Folks!


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Erin Kelly talks about The Ties That Bind – Happy Publication Day!

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Never was I happier than when a lovely advanced copy of “The Ties that Bind” popped through my letter box – cue a mad two days of frantic reading. It was a superb novel and today you can all get your hands on a copy – Erin kindly answered a few questions for me about the book and here is what she had to tell me.


Tell us a little bit about where the story came from.


Like all my novels, it began with a scene rather than a grand plan. There’s an episode early on in the book where Jem gets Luke’s name tattooed on his side after they’ve spent just one night together. Most people would react in one of two ways to a grand gesture like that: they’d either find it incredibly romantic and sexy or they’d run screaming for the hills. I knew that Luke would stay – and the interesting thing was finding out why. For all that he’s read up on organised crime and violence, he hasn’t got much of a nose for danger when he’s close to it himself.

Is the Brighton setting one you know well?


Yes. I lived in Hove for a while; I spent the summer of 1998 working in a call centre by day and clubbing at the weekends. A few years later, it was where I fell in love with my husband. I still have good friends in the area and I go back a lot but not as often as I would like. Perhaps there was an element of wish fulfilment in setting my book there. In my acknowledgments I call it my second city and, after London – where my friends, family, work and support network is – it’s the place I would most like to call home.

That said, I didn’t know it as well as I thought I did. It’s a paradox of writing books that the better you think you know a place, the less likely you are to double-check your research and there were a couple of geographical bloopers in the proof copy that would’ve had people writing scathing reviews with Amazon open in one window and Google maps in the other. I’m extremely grateful to fellow novelist and Brighton resident Julia Crouch for pointing out my errors literally five hours before we went to print on the hardback.

Do you enjoy reading True Crime stories yourself?


Until I started writing this book, I’d read a handful of books that could be classified as true crime/literary crossover: the two stick in the memory (as I’m sure they do for anyone who has read them) are In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry. But a whole new world of pulp memoir and biography was opened up to me during the research of this book. I stuck to what Luke would call the ‘classics’ – men who were operating in the middle of the last century. Contemporary crime has changed beyond recognition, and although the books that detail it are often brilliant, I wanted to keep my focus tight, as Luke would have.

You’ve got to be careful, though, as everyone else writing around the same subject has naturally read the same books, and writers’ minds often work in the same ways. I can think of at least three brilliant novels set in the shadow of the Krays’ empire that paraphrase, if I’m being generous, from The Profession of Violence by John Pearson, which is probably the benchmark for the kind of true crime writing Luke is most interested in. It’s hard not to cannibalise, even unconsciously.


Are the characters of Luke and Joss based on anyone from real life?


Let the record show that none of my characters are ever entirely lifted from real life. Glad we’ve cleared that up for the lawyers.

I don’t come across that many former gangsters. Joss Grand is pure invention, although his speech patterns are loosely based on this grizzled old man who used to sit at the end of the bar and whinge into his pint of light and bitter when I was a barmaid at a pub in Romford Market.

Luke is more of a composite. I once met an incredibly meek, geeky boy who was weirdly obsessed with the Krays. Friends who are brilliant journalists increasingly struggling to write the stories they want to as the market for print journalism is in freefall, and there’s a lot of soul-searching going on – Is this really what I want? Was all my training a waste of time? What else can I do? This very real insecurity informs much of Luke’s behaviour throughout the book. And there’s actually quite a bit of me in his background: I come from Irish Catholic stock and years after the end of my convent education, it still informs everything I do.

Best book you have read lately.

I’ve been re-reading a lot lately because I’m teaching a creative writing course and I’m using some of my favourite texts as teaching aids. I picked up Perfume by Patrick Suskind as a good example of what omniscient narration can do in expert hands. I started on page one and four hours later I was still in the same position, transfixed all over again. There’s a reason so many people love it.

The best contemporary book I’ve read in the last few months is Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary. It’s a grisly story, beautifully told, and hard to believe it’s a debut.

If you could live anywhere in the world…


This is the most boring answer ever, but I’d quite like to stay where I am in North London, just in a bigger house.

Favourite and least favourite thing about being a writer.


My favourite thing is the work – being paid to do what I love best in the world, and, I suspect, the only thing I’m any good at. My least favourite thing is being confined to a chair all day with all the aches, fidgets and fatness of arse that entails.


Thank you so much for taking the time!



Could a soul, once sold, truly be redeemed?

Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.

Yes I know its early to start talking about this one but when it dropped through my letterbox what did you expect exactly? That I would wait until nearer publication day? Pfft. You don’t know me very well…I mean for a start its Erin Kelly, add to that its me and my chronic impatience. So just to start this review (babble?) off lets take a “previously on” type look at things.

My favourite book of its year was “The Poison Tree” a book that haunted my soul long after reading, had one of my (still) most loved characters, Bohemian free spirit Biba and is also in my top 5 “Most Satisfying Endings Ever” list. Most. Satisfying. Ending.Ever. Then she followed that up with “The Sick Rose” (Also known as The Dark Rose) this time making me loathe some characters so deeply that I wanted to spit at them – in a good way of course, I was compelled to read the entire thing, and whilst it is not my favourite of hers it got me on the same emotional level. Then came “The Burning Air” which I have spoken about frequently, is in my hall of fame, and gave me that jaw dropping, throw the book on the floor, immediately re-read several chapters moment that doesnt happen to me often.

Each one has a high standard of writing, brilliant psychological insight,  all giving an addictive reading experience but something a little different each time. This author doesnt stagnate having found a formula that works, she pushes the boundaries and tries out new things, whilst still, well, having found a formula that works!

So we come to “The Ties That Bind” . Here we meet True Crime Writer Luke who has found himself entangled in an obsessive controlling relationship – to escape from those bonds he flees to Brighton and stumbles upon a crime story that could make his career. But at what cost?

Its interesting really when I try and analyse the reading experience – it is again a different kind of read in a lot of ways from each of the others, compelling as ever, magical storytelling with a fascinating ebb and flow of twists and turns – but the ambience of it, as always, lies just below the surface. You just sense there is danger coming from somewhere for Luke but you are not sure where.

Its because the characterisation is top notch. Absolutely.  Joss Grand, a character I fell madly in love with, is intelligent and scary,with an extremely intriguing edge to his personality. Luke himself is driven yet naive in a lot of ways. Ex Boyfriend Jem is stunningly well drawn – compulsive yet strangely sympathetic. Those three on their own could hold an entire novel but it doesnt stop there. As Luke tracks down witnesses, gets help from unexpected quarters, follows the trail towards the guilt or innocence of Joss Grand in the murder of his friend, you will barely be able to look away. This one is not about the result…its about the journey. And what an amazing journey it was.

The sense of an era is captured here beautifully, alongside an updated and colourful look at Brighton in the present day, I’d live there in an instant – add to that a resourceful, imaginative and creative story with some truly truly fascinating characters and this one comes HIGHLY recommended from me.

The whole thing had me turning pages late into the night, I turned away from it for a while yesterday, I did NOT want to finish it, at the same time, I needed to KNOW…so this morning in a glorious hour of locking the world out I sadly came to the end…and now the long wait begins again for another offering from an author who is right up there solidly now in my top ten of must read novelists.

Read it. Live it. Love it.

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Amanda Jennings talks about The Judas Scar…

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I was recently lucky enough to read “The Judas Scar” from Amanda Jennings and it was an amazing read so I asked her  a bit about it all and here is what she had to tell me.

Tell us a little bit about how the story started forming for you ?


My husband got phone call from a police officer who was investigating allegations of abuse thirty years previously at his school. Though he wasn’t a victim himself, I was struck by the weight of buried emotion the call unleashed. He became a little obsessed with finding out what had happened to those boys he was pretty sure had been affected. As it turns out the majority who were affected had coped very badly going into adulthood and it was this idea that started eddying around in my head, of how the effects of a damaged childhood can have far-reaching impact not just on the person but also on those around them.

Do you have experience or know of someone who has experienced bullying?


I wasn’t bullied myself, but I remember vividly the first time I saw someone, a girl in my year at school, bullied. I came from a pretty sheltered environment, was close to my parents and sister, didn’t really know such a thing as bullying even existed really, and to see people be cruel to another was shocking. I felt impotent, too, I knew I wanted to step in but as a child you have this little voice of self-preservation that screams at you to keep away and not involved yourself. When I was older, from about 14 onwards, I would step in without any thought at all if I felt someone needed help. Finding the strength to do the right thing and stand up for those who need support and help is important. In the book I focus a lot on the reasons why some people might be less equipped to deal with bullies, why they might feel vulnerable, but I also touch on the abhorrent notion that not all adults have children’s best interests at heart and that occasionally you will come across an adult who abuses his position of trust with the children he or she is supposed to be responsible for.

Do you have a favourite character from the novel?


I am very fond of Frank, the man who helps out in Will’s wine shop. I’d like to be his friend. We’d have a lot of fun discussing books and films and animals over a good glass of wine. My favourite character to write, however, was Alistair Farrow. I loved having a character I could make as odious as I wanted. He was great fun to draw.

Without giving anything away, do you think that any of the characters were justified in their actions?


The thing is – and I believe this in life – is that I feel it’s not straightforward to classify an act as ‘wrong’ or ‘right’. The world is only made up of shades of grey. Do I think those things the characters do are ‘right’? No. Do I understand why they acted in that way and how they felt they had no choice? Yes, absolutely. It’s this very reason I love writing the type of books I write – internal conflict fascinates me.

Ebook or physical book?


Physical. I tried to love ebooks but I just can’t enjoy them as much. I love the smell and feel of paper books. Also, as I read, I do a lot of flipping back to reread bits if I need to clarify something, and I can visually remember roughly where something is in a paper book. The percentage thing floors me!

Tipple of choice

I love a cocktail or three when I go out. Anything sweet and with rum or vodka. And I do like a nice glass of very cold Rose when the sun is out and the BBQ is fired up.

Any writing habits


Yes, I buy a new notebook for when I start any new book project. Even those books that don’t make it past the jotting down ideas stage. If it’s a new idea, it needs a new notebook. It’s almost becoming a superstition now!

Something you wish you were good at but are not


Giving up sugar. I have a terribly sweet tooth and yet when I’ve experimented and cut sugar out of my diet for a few days I feel amazing, energised, less bloated, with my appetite under control, and less grouchy. You’d think given I know this I’d be able to turn my back on the sweet stuff with no problem. Nope. Can’t do it. It’s an addiction I wish I could kick.


Thank you so much!



Scars. We all carry them. Some are mere scratches. Others run deeper.
At a school rife with bullying, Will and his best friend Luke are involved in a horrific incident that results in Luke leaving.
Twenty-five years later their paths cross again and memories of Will’s painful childhood come flooding back to haunt him. His wife, Harmony, who is struggling after a miscarriage that has hit her hard, wishes Will would open up about his experiences. But while Will withdraws further, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic stranger from her husbands past, and soon all three are caught in a tangled web of guilt, desire, betrayal.

Oh what a tangled web we weave…and this was a beautifully evocative character driven tale of those things which haunt us and shape who we are. With some intensely drawn and authentic characters to lead the way this was dark, addictive reading of the best kind.

This is one of those stories where you get SO involved in the lives of the people within its pages that they become very real to you. You want to comfort them, shout at them, turn them back from the brink…and you live through every single moment with them. I loved Harmony, loyal yet torn between want, need and love. I felt deeply for Luke and was endlessly annoyed at Will..the next reader will see it all differently no doubt and therein lies the beauty of the writing.

The story ebbs and flows in a compelling way – as a look at the psychological effects of bullying it is realistic and emotional. The things that happen to us in childhood resonate on and when that experience is as harsh and often violent as bullying can be there can be long term damage that isnt always easy to see. This comes across extremely well here – again because of the characters who truly tell the tale.

Dark themes here, handled with intelligence and compassion, I thought this was terrific. Highly Recommended.

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Happy Reading Folks!


Mel currently Loves… Suburb by Steven Kedie. Review/Author Interview.


Today’s Blog from Melissa.

When Steven Kedie first sent me a copy of ‘Suburb’ and requested that I review it for lizlovesbooks, I didn’t know what to expect. I sent him a fairly standard reply, stating that I would take a look and let him know, but that I was fairly busy with work. 24 hours later I found myself emailing him again, this time to tell him that I’d finished the book already because I had NOT been able to put it down!

Following those emails he was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about ‘Suburb’, and here is what he had to say…


What inspired you to start writing Suburb?

The opening line in the book is: I returned home from three years at university to find my parents exactly where I had left them. I guess the answer to your question is in that line. I wanted to write about somebody returning home after being away for a long period for the first time and not identifying with home in the same way as before they left. I wanted to explore how they deal with feeling like their friends, their family and, in Tom’s case, his ex-girlfriend, haven’t moved on. I wanted to look at how difficult it is to feel different when no one else does. It’s a strange time; you’re not an adult yet, but you’re not a kid anymore either. The world feels like it’s in front of you but you can’t touch it.


How much of Tom’s character, and his experiences of being stuck at home after University, are based on your own life?


There are pieces of Tom’s life that are based on mine:  the suburban upbringings, parents who work hard to give their children opportunities they didn’t have, a desire to travel and see more of the world than the streets around where we grew up.  I felt like Tom feels at 21 years old. I was unsure of my place in the world and what I wanted to achieve from my life.

One of the major differences between us (apart from the fact Tom has an affair with a married woman) is I didn’t go to university.  Friends did, but I started work at 18, moved into another job at 20 and quit when I was 22 to go backpacking around Europe with my now wife. I experienced the feelings of returning home from a long period away when I flew home from that trip. In Suburb Tom feels removed from his surroundings and from many of his friends. That’s how I felt following my trip. The difference between my situation and Tom’s is Tom is preparing for his adventure, I had returned from mine.



Which part of the writing process did you find most difficult?


Getting the time to write the first draft. Finishing the first draft, typing that last sentence, it’s a feeling like no other. When you hit the last full stop and you know that the story is finished, it gives you such a rush of excitement. And that excitement and energy drives you on for the following drafts. But first drafts take me such a long time that trying to find solid blocks of time to work on it is the most difficult thing for me.


How long did it take you to write the novel? 


Two and a half years from first line to published. I would say 18 months of that was the first draft.


What advice would you give now to graduates who feel stuck in a rut? 


This is a difficult question for me to answer as I was never a graduate.   I can only talk about my own experience.   Travelling gave me a confidence in myself I hadn’t experienced before and allowed me to see that I could survive outside my comfort zone. That has helped me in later life. My parents didn’t want me to quit a steady job to go on a long holiday. But I knew it was right for me. I knew I’d regret not going.   So if I have to give advice: You’re only young and free of responsibility once. Try and enjoy that time. See some of the world. The experience you gain might change your circumstances in a way you hadn’t anticipated. If not, it’ll at least be fun.


What’s next for you (and Tom!) – can we expect to see a sequel, or perhaps something completely different in the pipeline? 


I’m currently working on the first draft of my new novel, which is very different to Suburb.   It’s a first person account of an Olympian’s life over the course of 3 Olympics (2008-2016). There is a lot more research involved in this story, which means the whole process in slower than Suburb.   The themes that stand out so far are rivalry, and how the dedication and sacrifice of the athlete has an impact on his relationships.

As for Tom; his story is complete. He was a character that enabled me to write about a very specific time in a person’s life. I don’t want to mess with that or write the Tom Fray Life Story series. The things he experienced in Suburb, all the drama, the feelings, and the eventual outcome, have set him on a journey that the reader can imagine for themselves. I’m happy for them to do that.



Tom Fray leaves university with a simple plan; get a job, save some money and go travelling. 
 To put his plan into action he moves home to the suburbs of Manchester where he finds the people he left behind all stuck in the same routines as when he went away.
 Feeling trapped between his old and new lives, Tom is desperate to escape. Then he meets Kate, a married neighbour, and his simple plan becomes a lot more complicated.

Whether you’ve been to university or not, you will relate to this novel. All of the characters are truly recognisable; you will feel like you personally know each and every one, and remember the relationships you had with your own real life versions. The setting is reminiscent of everyone’s hometown, and despite the fact I’ve never visited Manchester I could picture each and every scene in my head. The dynamic between Tom and his friends, parents, sibling and one woman who turns into something a little bit more, plus the problems and emotional turmoil that they go through, manages to be riveting yet oddly comforting at the same time. 

 This isn’t an exciting book. Tom’s story is not going to blow your mind, and there are no big surprises or amazing adventures, but what it does have is LIFE. It’s a coming of age book, for those in their twenties who haven’t quite made it to adulthood. Halfway through reading this book I logged in to my Internet banking and transferred £200 over to pay off some of my student overdraft, because it really made me think about MY life and where I want to be right now. Give it a go – you never know what impact it might have on you! 

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Happy Reading Folks!

After Eden Blog Tour – Interview with Author Austin Dragon.


Today I’m happy to be part of the “After Eden” blog tour. I am currently immersed in Book 3 “Rising Leviathan” and I will be revisiting the series as part of another blog post on May 16th when you can find my review for that plus the series overall so keep an eye out for that one! For today, I asked Mr Dragon a few questions about the series and here is what he had to say.


Tell us a little about where the story came from for you.


The idea for the After Eden series came from two notions. Firstly, I’ve always been amused at the lack of “normal” religion in science fiction. Most often there is a complete absence of it, as if to suggest that we as the human race “evolve” out of it. Or if it is depicted it, there is an element of totalitarianism or craziness. With over five thousand years of Judaism, over two thousand years of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., and over three-fifths of the planet as religious believers of some kind, such a premise is not believable. If a religious person is bad, would they be good if they were irreligious? Hardly. And vice versa. Bad and good come in all stripes.

The other spark for the idea was broader. What if I was transported into the future as a civilian journalism for a brief time, what would I see? What changes would I see in terms of culture, entertainment, religion, politics, geo-politics, sociology, technology? Would it be a benign, Gene Roddenberry type future or a darker and more frightening one?

In the world created technology is key and in some places Religion is banned. Can you talk a little about how your own views and beliefs influenced the storyline?

I am religious myself—a Christian. I am also a very technically proficient and have been so since a child; so much so I once wanted to work for NASA. I’ve been very good at predicting trends all my life. When I lived in Paris for a year, terrorists had planned to fly a plane into the Eiffel Tower, but the plot was foiled. I said to myself that they would do the same thing in the United States. Little could I, or anyone, imagine 9-11.

The series is simply presenting a likely future. We are already a technology obsessed people. Image, how we will be seventy years from now. We will be much worse and much more integrated with our “toys.” Religious believers will continue to decrease here in America, just as has happened in Western Europe (with the exception of Islam). The ramifications of that will be inevitable persecution and worse.

More profoundly the series isn’t saying all religious people are good and all non-religious people are bad. It shows the complexity of the factions, that good, bad, and indifferent are in both camps. It also says that the more advanced, civilized and “evolved” we become in our man-made, great future that we actually don’t become a better species. That is something that has to be strived for separately and does not happen automatically like the latest update to our laptop or smart phone.

Is it difficult to keep a level of authenticity when writing this type of thriller?


Very hard. This series brought me back to writing after more than a fifteen year absence. However, starting was not easy. You’ve read the first two books. There are seven books in total and all swimming around in my mind—all the characters, events, politics, religions, plots, the timeline, etc. It was a very intimidating story to tell, but once I could break it up into separate books, and each book is in two parts, it became manageable. I’m very much enjoying this writing journey.

Do you have a favourite character from the books?

Very hard question because of how many there are. In Book one, “Thy Kingdom Fall,” Kristiana steals the show, but also Logan, “General” Moses, Mother Moses (called M), and Edison Blair. In Book two, “Stars & Scorpions,” Gideon, Shoshana, Goli, Tova, and Father Marcos. “Rising Leviathan,” Book three, has its own stars too.
E-Reader or Real book


real book, but I had to break down and get a Kindle recently.

Any writing habits.


I go to my local coffeehouse and write every day until the first draft is done.

3 people alive or dead you would like to have over for dinner.


Winston Churchill, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jules Verne.

Something you wish you were good at but are not.


If you had asked me even a decade ago, I would have a list for you, but I’ve taken care of them.

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The After Eden Series Begins….


It is the morning of September 11, 2125. The New York City police commissioner stands on the 170th floor of the Three Towers clutching his chest above his heart in shock. The sky goes dark, filled with dozens of them—the opening attack of World War III! Not merely the planet’s third global war, but the first one of the Tek Age—a hell we have never seen before.

Happy Reading Folks!