River of Souls by Kate Rhodes – A terrific series

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Publication Date: Available Now from Mulholland

Source: Bookbridgr

Jude Shelley, daughter of a prominent cabinet minister, had her whole life ahead of her until she was attacked and left to drown in the Thames. Miraculously, she survived. A year later, her family ask psychologist Alice Quentin to re-examine the case.

But then an elderly priest is attacked in Battersea, his body washed up at Westminster Pier. An ancient glass bead is tied to his wrist.

The river has always demanded sacrifices, and now it seems a killer believes it’s calling out for more.

Alice is certain that Jude and her family are hiding something, but unless she can persuade them to share what they know, more victims will drown…

I’m a fan of the Alice Quentin books for sure – the first one started with a bang and they have steadily become more and more addictive – Now here we are at No 4 and this one was a doozy.

Jude was brutally attacked and left for dead – now hanging on, her mother asks Alice to take another look at the case. Before she can really get into it though another body turns up in horrifically similar circumstances. Are the cases tied together? Working once more with the police, Alice starts to delve deeper..

There are two things mainly about these novels that really appeal to me – first Alice herself, who has a great depth to her and is beautifully normal. Yes she has her ups and downs but for pure authenticity she is, for me, one of the top fictional female protagonists.

The other thing is the really gorgeous flow that Kate Rhodes manages to weave into the narrative. The very definition of addictive reading – River of Souls grips from the start, all the way through and then clings onto you for a fair while after you’ve finished it.  I mean really, what more do you need from a book?

There is a lot of emotional resonance to these also which is very engaging and cleverly done to tug on the heartstrings on occasion – whilst then sending you off on a bit of an adrenalin rush when things hot up in whatever case Alice is involved in. In the case of this instalment I was on the edge of my seat at the end there – I was not QUITE sure what the outcome was going to be….Whether I heaved a sigh of relief or had a good cry you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Overall I loved this one – and the ones that went before it. They come highly recommended from me and I am very much looking forward to seeing what is next.

Pick up a copy, batten down the hatches and enter Alice’s world. You won’t be disappointed.

Find out more here: http://katerhodes.org/Kate_Rhodes/home.html

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/K_RhodesWriter

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/River-Souls-Alice-Quentin-Rhodes/dp/1444785567/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1434666076&sr=1-1

Happy Reading Folks!

The Other Child by Lucy Atkins. Blog tour.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Quercus

I am very pleased to join the blog tour for Lucy Atkins and the fantastic new novel “The Other Child” – a review to follow but first here is an extract for you.

Lucy Atkins, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson © 2013.

Lucy Atkins, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson © 2013.

Extract 1 The Other Child by Lucy Atkins

‘It’s perfect,’ he’d said when he called from Boston to tell her that he’d given the realtor a massive deposit without consulting her, without even emailing her a picture. His face blurred in and out of focus on her phone screen. He was in a public place, probably the cafeteria at Children’s Hospital. She could see people in the background carrying trays or coffee cups, many wearing scrubs. ‘You’re going to love it, Tess, I know you will. There’s a great elementary school, a big park, a cute little main street with a couple of cafés, a bar, an artisan bakery, a market, a yoga studio. It’s all very green and pleasant, absolutely no crime and only twenty minutes from downtown on the freeway. It’s the perfect little town.’

‘I thought it was a suburb?’

‘We call suburbs towns.’

She noted the ‘we’. After fifteen years in London, Greg had seemed to feel no affinity with his homeland. His only remaining American traits were his accent, his handwriting and an ongoing despair at British customer service. But now, suddenly, it was ‘we’.

‘You weren’t answering your mobile, but I had to grab it.’

A baby wailed somewhere near him, an abnormal, plaintive sound, disturbingly thin and off-key. ‘There were three other families due after me this morning; it was going to go. But you’ll love it, honey, I promise. It’s not too far from Children’s – maybe a fifteen-, twenty-minute commute max.

There’s three beds, three baths, a big yard for Joe. A ton more space than we have now—’

‘Three baths?’

He grimaced, his eyes half shut, and it took her a moment to realize that the connection had failed, leaving his handsome face frozen in a sinister, pixelated rictus, halfway to a smile.

She had always thought Greg liked her tall house on the outskirts of town, with the cornfield behind it and views of the Downs, improbably green in springtime, lightening to biscuit through summer and, as autumn wore on, darkening and thickening into wintery browns. When he moved in he had been charmed by the sloping floors and the woodburning stove, her own photographs hanging next to her father’s paintings, shelves crammed with books, old Polaroids tucked behind ceramics, Joe’s pictures peeling off the fridge, things balancing on other things and the light pouring in. He had said he did not want to change a thing.

Her chest tightened at the thought of everything she’d be leaving behind.

‘Greg? Are you still there? Greg?’ But he didn’t respond.

Join the conversation on Twitter #OtherChild 

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Review:

Sometimes a lie seems kinder than the truth . . . but what happens when that lie destroys everything you love?

When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.

Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house, Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg’s work is all-consuming and, as the baby’s birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery . . .

I was a huge fan of “The Missing One”, one of my favourite books of it’s year so I was extremely happy to find a copy of “The Other Child” popping through my letterbox – and boy it was a corker.

So we are following along with Tess, who after a whirlwind romance finds herself fairly isolated in a strange new environment – her young son is reacting badly to the move, pregnant and struggling to cope, Tess starts to feel like there is something going on with her new husband Greg that is not quite right…

Lucy Atkins really has a beautiful turn of phrase and wonderfully engaging descriptive prose when it comes to setting her characters in place and drawing you into the tale. In this case it is immediate and irrevocable – once you pick this up and start identfiying with Tess, which trust me you will, you won’t want to put it down until you are done.

There are two elements really to this that keep you up into the night – the mystery element which is absolutely intriguing and so gorgeously twisty and turny that it will keep you right on your toes. Who to believe, when to believe it, poor Tess she is pulled this way and that, trying to keep her family together and discover the truth. The journey is terribly addictive and perfectly done.

Then there is the character drama that lives and breathes within that – the relationship between Greg and Tess is fascinating – they don’t know each other that well and here they are. When at least one of them is keeping secrets, it makes for some highly complex interactions and emotions that just pop off the page. I especially liked the dynamic between the three, Joe, Tess, and Greg who Joe is wary of…there is an authentic edge to the whole story as it plays out, even allowing for the mystery portion interwoven therein.

A nod to Greg before I’m done – he was the one who perhaps intrigued me the most, a workaholic quietly quivering character who exudes an ever growing sense of menace – the tension in him building along with the plot, until you are on the edge of your seat…Lucy Atkins manages to keep you totally off balance when it comes to him and whether or not Tess really should be worried..

Basically I loved it. A really terrific mystery thriller with some memorable and heartfelt characters that packs a real punch.

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

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/lucyatkins

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=x_gr_w_bb?keywords=9781782069874&index=books&linkCode=qs&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21

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Lullaby Girl Blog Tour. Guest Post and Review

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Who is the Lullaby Girl?

Found washed up on the banks of a remote loch, a mysterious girl is taken into the care of a psychiatric home in the Highlands of Scotland. Mute and covered in bruises, she has no memory of who she is or how she got there. The only clue to her identity is the Danish lullaby she sings…

Borders and belonging. Aly Sidgwick

A recurring issue for me over the last few years has been cultural identity. The little differences in attitude between countries, and the way people adhere to national stereotypes. Even down to small details like food preferences. I once offered to cook a traditional Swedish dish for my family (Flygande Jakob- a delicious comfort food), and everyone wrinkled their noses when I described its contents. Likewise when I presented British mince pies to my Swedish friends at Christmas. People instinctively trust what’s native to their country, and skirt around the unfamiliar. Yet I wonder…If a Brit had grown up in a bubble, with no knowledge of traditional Brit food, would they like black pudding straight away? Would Scots be all that bothered about haggis? Would Norwegians still choose to eat lutefisk?

It’s interesting to me that countries separated by a short plane trip can be so different, socially. You board the plane with one set of rules, and disembark to a new set. I remember flying back to Britain to visit my family (after several years in Scandinavia), and seeing British customs with fresh eyes. Suddenly, certain things seemed funny or odd. Over-politeness or forced politeness was the most noticeable British trait. It’s kind of drummed through every Brit from birth, and I never questioned it until I’d spent several years with the more straightforward Scandi style of conduct. Also, the avalanche of signs telling you you’re not allowed to do things… ’Don’t walk on the railways tracks.’ ’Don’t stand on the grass.’ ’Don’t stick your arm out of the window.’ ’Don’t feed the birds.’ ’Don’t lean on the counter.’ ’Don’t electrocute yourself on the highly electrical thing.’ My ex found those signs hilarious, and after a while I came to share his way of thinking. Yet I didn’t quite fit into Scandinavian culture either. Even after seven years there I felt like an outsider, and I’m sure that was due to the British values I grew up with. When I was homesick for Britain I’d seek out stereotypically British food items or TV shows. Now, when I’m homesick for Norway/Sweden, I seek out stereotypically Scandi things. At Christmas, I still miss Julebrus and pepperkaker. It’s a strange limbo I’ve ended up in, really. Both places are dear to me, yet I feel I don’t belong to either.

My Review of Lullaby Girl…

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Lullaby Girl is a tense and claustrophobic psychological thriller, the kind I love where the story is told in both past and present, setting the scene and building you up to those reveal moments that make you gasp..

The “Lullaby Girl” of the title, Kathy, is a mess – washed up onshore, unsure who she is or what has happened to her, at the start of the novel she has reverted to a child like state that, as she talks, is very disconcerting. Fixated on one particular member of the care home she ends up in, she is constantly on edge and scared of everything. Slowly but surely she begins to gain her feet but it is a hard and scary journey as she starts to remember the past.

The author builds the tension beautifully and there is a haunting aspect to the writing that keeps you on edge and right beside Kathy as she confronts her demons. Kathy as a character is intriguing and often frustrating as she hides herself away, seen through her eyes the whole world and everyone in it is a menacing place where there are no places of safety. The reasons for this become apparent as she moves towards recovery…

Difficult to review the story aspects without giving anything away, suffice to say it is cleverly constructed to keep you involved all the way – Aly Sidgwick  has a gorgeous way with words, descriptively lovely even through this dark story, the environment that Kathy is in comes to life around her and the further you get into it the more fascinating and often scary it becomes.

Overall this is a terrific book for fans of psychological thrillers – taut, intelligent and thought provoking, this comes highly recommended from me.

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

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Menacegrrl

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lullaby-Girl-Aly-Sidgwick/dp/184502950X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Happy Reading Folks!

We Shall Inherit The Wind – Blog Tour

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Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda

Source: Publisher Review copy

1998. Varg Veum sits by the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend Karin, whose life-threatening injuries provide a deeply painful reminder of the mistakes he’s made. Investigating the seemingly innocent disappearance of a wind-farm inspector, Varg Veum is thrust into one of the most challenging cases of his career, riddled with conflicts, environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism, unsolved mysteries and dubious business ethics. Then the first body appears – tied to a cross, facing the mouth of the fjord …

We Shall Inherit the Wind is the very definition of Nordic Noir – intense and beautifully written, a slow burner of a novel that hooks you in slowly but surely.

The settings are gorgeously drawn, giving a sense of place and time that is captivating, giving it a whole new dimension. Varg Veum is a magnificent character and his backstory is utterly compelling. A dedicated investigator,it is almost heartbreaking as we see the events leading up to where he is now, aware of the consequences of his current case but awaiting the detail avidly – a real page turner.

There is a strong social message within the narrative which is at times chilling, always gripping and with a few perfectly placed twists and turns that make it more addictive the further you get into it – the author has a great way with words and a real old school talent for storytelling – there is a reason he is known as a Father of Nordic Noir.

Full of suspense with a terrific backdrop and some unforgettable characters, this comes Highly Recommended from me.

Translated by Don Bartlett 

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shall-Inherit-Wind-Varg-Veum-ebook/dp/B00U2K5U2G/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433744371&sr=1-1&keywords=we+shall+inherit+the+wind

Paperback Available from 15th June http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shall-Inherit-Wind-Varg-Veum/dp/1910633070/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1433744371&sr=1-1

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The Spider in the Corner of the Room – Spotlight/blog tour

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Publication Date: 4th June 2015 from Mira

Source: Publisher Review Copy

What to believe
Who to betray
When to run…

Plastic surgeon Dr Maria Martinez has Asperger’s. Convicted of killing a priest, she is alone, in prison and has no memory of the murder.

The Spider in the Corner of the Room is an intense and superbly addictive thriller with a highly compelling main protagonist and a sharp edge of tension that does not let go..

Maria is in prison – convicted of murder, she has no recollection of the killing – indeed any memory she has is questionable. Through a series of flashbacks and sessions with her prison psychologists, a strange and intriguing story begins to emerge about exactly who Maria is and what has led her here…and not everyone is exactly who they appear to be.

From start to finish this is a taut, gripping piece of character driven storytelling – unpredictable, highly addictive beautifully written to involve the reader utterly, a page turner of the highest order. Maria is a remarkable character to follow along with – she herself is highly unpredictable and very odd in the most fascinating way – the author having managed to capture, in Maria’s thoughts and actions, an authentic and meaningful snapshot of Aspergers’s, ingrained within the narrative of an intelligent and thought provoking thriller.

As things progress it is often creepy, haunting and sets you a little on edge – the twists and turns in this story are remarkably well placed, pitch perfect to offer revealing insights into the truth of the matter, but still keeping you unsure that you are on solid ground. Even as you head into the final pages you will be questioning every motive, wondering how much of what you are hearing is real and heading back to read little bits again to see if you can get a handle on it. Very intelligent and detailed construction of the story makes it all the more fantastic.

This is set to be a trilogy and I simply cannot wait to find out what happens next – the author has set us up beautifully and whilst this is a completely rounded and satisfying part one, oh boy will you be wishing you had all three in your hands immediately. Quite definitively the most inventive thriller I have read this year, and maybe even for a few years before that, The Spider in the Corner of the Room comes Highly Recommended from me

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

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/nikkiwriter

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spider-Corner-Room-Nikki-Owen/dp/1848453736/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433310346&sr=1-1&keywords=9781848453739

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Join the conversation on Twitter #TeamSpider 

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Snowblind Blog Tour – my turn now!

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Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge. *Fantastic Translation by Quentin Bates*

So in true Liz fashion I have been DYING to fangirl about Snowblind but I sat on my hands until it was my turn on the blog tour and that is TODAY so here we go….

Snowblind is one of the most beautifully written crime novels I have ever come across – the depth of character, the truly gorgeous descriptive prose that puts you right on the spot – despite the claustrophobic quality of the world that Ari finds himself in I fell utterly in love with Iceland simply through the words on the page.

Story is everything though really, no matter the book you are reading – and Ragnar Jonasson has written one hell of a story – dark, unrelenting in places, magically  constructed to ramp up the tension, all the while keeping it completely character driven and authentic.

I adored Ari as a character. He is so beautifully normal yet full of depth, depicted in a way that just keeps you with him all the way. I loved how he was dropped into this small tightly knit community, leaving his girlfriend behind (that relationship was very compelling) and slowly realised how isolated it and he could be. The author gives a perfect sense of a place where everyone knows everyone else and yet somehow secrets are still buried just beneath the surface, it was endlessly fascinating. I think I would have been fascinated even without the crime element.

The mystery is the icing on the cake really – and I don’t want to give anything away but it is truly compelling, very unexpected at times and cleverly done.

Overall this was a  marvel of a read. I adored it with the true passion of a reader – it has everything you could possibly want if you want to be engaged, slightly haunted, completely entertained and I really cannot recommend it highly enough. 5 big shiny stars and some puppies for this one. Heavenly writing, stonking good story and characters that will stay with you long after putting it aside.

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

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ragnarjo

Purchase Information:

Beautiful limited edition signed by the author: https://www.goldsborobooks.com/product/snowblind-dark-iceland/

Standard Edition: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Snowblind-Dark-Iceland-Ragnar-Jonasson/dp/1910633038/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1432942124&sr=1-1

 

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Happy Reading Folks!

Snowblind Blog Tour with OMG that Book!

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Today as part of the blog tour I welcome David to the blog with his review for Snowblind (Come back and see me again on the 30th when I will be giving my thoughts!

 

Follow David on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/OMGthatBook

 

Ragnar Jonasson’s debut Snowblind is a brilliant new thriller with storytelling that is clear and crisp. The setting is northwest Iceland amongst the dazzling white snow and artic chill of winter. Siglufjordur is a remote fishing village lying between the sea and the mountains with the only access by road through a small tunnel in the rocks. But suddenly the village is shaken when there’s a killer on the loose and young rookie policeman Ari Thor is on the case. This is a friendly close-knit community ‘where nothing ever happens’ and so traditionally doors are left unlocked…but not anymore!

This is the first novel in Ragnar Jonasson Dark Iceland series and after reading it I can’t wait for the second book Nightblind due out next year again from Orenda Books.

Our story begins with Ari Thor leaving behind his home and girlfriend in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. He’s jumped at the chance of his first police role in Siglufjordur much to the dismay of his lover. Soon he’s missing his girlfriend and questioning his decision. The claustrophobic scenic village and the sense of being an outsider begins to leave Ari Thor feeling isolated, lonely and full of doubt.

But a seemingly accidental death of a well-known author and a bloody attack on a local woman changes everything. The quiet village becomes rife with gossip and everyone is on edge. The weather worsens and the village is cut off by snow. The police investigation becomes more compelling as old secrets come to light. Ari Thor and his girlfriend back home seem to be drifting apart and when he becomes attracted to a local girl his love life also becomes confused adding to the intrigue. The plot twists and turns as the tension and intensity builds and we are treated to an excellent ending to the book.

Ragnar Jonasson makes this murder mystery complex and hard to fathom who the guilty party is for both Ari Thor and also the reader. It keeps us all guessing providing an entertaining read and challenging our ‘whodunit’ skills right to the last few pages. Overall this is a damn good thriller and I am more than happy to recommend it to you.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/39964946-david-atomgthatbook

Thank you so much David 🙂

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark – Blog Tour

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I am SO happy to be part of the blog tour for this simply beautiful and poignant novel. I was even more happy to be able to ask the author some questions about it – I found the answers absolutely fascinating. Here is  what she had to tell me about Sophie Stark – and following that are my thoughts on the novel. Enjoy!

Even though we only see her through the eyes of other characters, tell us a little about the inspiration behind the Sophie Stark character.

At first I wanted to write about a female character who was a sort of political documentarian — someone who made movies about a Latin American socialist leader. I knew her name would be Sophie Stark and I wrote a tiny bit about her, but I put it away for years while I worked on my first book. When I came back to Sophie I realized the political angle wasn’t what I was most interested in. I was interested in Sophie — I wanted to explore this brilliant, sometimes cruel character and how she was remembered by those around her, how her art and life went down in history.

Was it interesting to explore the impact that a single life can have on so many others?

Definitely. At first I was most interested in Sophie — how did all the different characters see her, and what did their perceptions reveal about her? But as I wrote from their points of view, I got really invested in their lives too — I got interested in Jacob’s mother, George’s ex-wife, Allison’s husband. By the time I finished the book, it wasn’t just about how the main character influenced the others; it was about a group of people, all of them bound together to some degree by Sophie, but all of them with joys and sorrows of their own that are just as important as hers (even if she doesn’t always recognize that).

Through their interactions with Sophie we also learn a lot about the characters telling the story – Did you feel that any one of them (or more than one) might have been better if she had not crossed their path?

I definitely think the characters vary in how much Sophie helps or harms them. Allison explicitly says she’s better off for having met Sophie (but that Sophie might not be better off for having met her). I think Daniel’s clearly better off too — I think Sophie helps him understand himself in a fundamental way. Sophie helps Ben Martin form his aesthetic as a critic, and she helps George decide he wants to direct. With Jacob, I’m not so sure — she seems like she’s helping him at first, but I don’t know if he’d ultimately say she did. And poor Robbie — it’s possible he’d be better off without the influence of Sophie in his life, but then again, he wouldn’t be who he is.

Do you think “The Life and Death of Sophie Stark” would translate well to screen (I am in no doubt that it would and would love to see it done) considering that it has creativity through film right at the heart of the story?

I’d love to see a film adaptation, but I think it would actually look pretty different from the novel. The different points of view would be difficult to capture on screen; the directors might have to collapse some of them. I also think it would be interesting to see Sophie’s movies on screen, though I think they’d probably look very different than they do in my imagination. A work of fiction about a film is going to be really different from the film itself; it’s almost hard for me to imagine how the films would look if they were really made, even though I saw them in my head dozens of times.

Sophie is really an enigma start to finish. Did you ever really get a handle on her?

I did and I didn’t. On the one hand, I think I learned certain key things about Sophie as I was writing. She does care what other people think, in some ways — at least, she cares how people remember her. And she sort of feeds her own personal myth — in some ways, she encourages people to feel they can’t truly understand her. On the other hand, I don’t think she truly understands herself — I don’t think she knows why she is the way she is, why she can’t (or won’t) be more connected to people. And I think it was important that there was a part of her that remained enigmatic, even to me.

 

When you are not writing yourself, what type of novels do you love to lose yourself in?

I think I tend to like books about characters’ inner lives, especially female characters and especially characters who are on the brink of big life changes or decisions. Recently, I’ve loved Samantha Harvey’s “Dear Thief,” Rachel Cusk’s “Outline,” Helen Oyeyemi’s “White Is For Witching,” and Elisa Albert’s “After Birth.” All of these are about girls and women at pivotal times in their lives, wrestling with scary questions of love and family and identity.

Thank you SO much Anna – completely fascinating!

Review:

“It’s hard for me to talk about love. I think movies are the way I do that,” says Sophie Stark, a visionary and unapologetic filmmaker. She uses stories from the lives of those around her—her obsession, her girlfriend, and her husband—to create movies that bring her critical recognition and acclaim. But as her career explodes, Sophie’s unwavering dedication to her art leads to the shattering betrayal of the people she loves most.

Told in a chorus of voices belonging to those who knew her best, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is an intimate portrait of an elusive woman whose monumental talent and relentless pursuit of truth reveal the cost of producing great art, both for the artist and for the people around her.

Firstly I would like to say about “The Life and Death of Sophie Stark” that not only is it one of my favourite books that I have read this year, but it has also gone immediately onto my favourite books of all time list. So there is that.

I was not sure about it originally – but the thing with this novel is that it sucks you in with some poignant and gorgeous writing and every single character is full of depth, realism and an often ironic edge that is just simply brilliantly done.

Sophie Stark is a film maker. We never hear from her directly in the story but we do hear from an ensemble cast of characters who have been deeply effected by their interactions with her. She is an enigma, we meet her only through the eyes of others, still a profound picture starts to emerge of a troubled creative soul. Even so is this the real Sophie? Well that is the unique twist to this novel, we may guess but can never know…

The author uses her characters to give both a public and private view of Sophie – from her lovers to her family and beyond. Sometimes only peripherally touching a life, Sophie still seems to have formed some part of it and for me she felt like a whirlwind of a human being, touching down briefly then drifting away, tempestuous and suddenly changing lives without warning.

Imaginatively speaking this is alluring, I melted into the descriptions of Sophie’s films, I wanted to watch every single one and indeed felt like I had. Then of course, through the telling we learn so much about the characters who are talking, their hopes dreams and fears, their lives both with and without her. As a character piece this is a truly impressive and magnificently constructed story – Anna North knows how to weave words around the reader and bring them into the world that she has created.

I was quite simply heartbroken at the end of this. Even now it is bittersweet. A book I shall return to again and again I’m sure, I really cannot recommend this highly enough.

This is what storytelling is all about.

Purchase Information: 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Death-Sophie-Stark-ebook/dp/B00URSDCLO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1432226482&sr=1-1&keywords=the+life+and+death+of+sophie+stark

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The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter – Blog Tour

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Falling in love is never simple. Especially when you’re dead.

When Rosie Potter wakes up one morning with what she assumes is the world’s worst hangover, the last thing she expects is to discover that she’s actually dead. With a frustrating case of amnesia, suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise, and stuck wearing her ugliest flannel PJs, Rosie must figure out not only what happened last night, but why on earth she’s still here.

Slowly the mystery unravels, but there are many other secrets buried in the quiet Irish village of Ballycarragh, and nobody is as innocent as they first appear. Aided by the unlikeliest of allies in her investigation, Rosie discovers that life after death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, particularly when you might just be falling in love . . .

In this hilarious, life-affirming and romantic journey through Rosie Potter’s afterlife, she shares the ghostly tale of how she lived, she died, and she loved (in that order).

Ok so the very first thing I want to say about “Rosie Potter” is that it is hilarious. So funny – I spent an awful lot of the time either smiling or giggling as Rosie wakes up one morning to discover she is dead, sets off to discover why and finds out all sorts of things about her life and those in it that she never even suspected.

Not usually being a fan of this type of book (the whole “Dead girl” aspect having drawn me in to read it) I was genuinely surprised and delighted at how much I enjoyed it. That is down to the gorgeous flow of the writing and Rosie herself – a beautifully drawn character who just pops off the page and makes you fall in love with her. There is a bittersweet poignancy as well to the knowledge that she is gone, still she is vibrantly beautifully alive while you are reading her story.

Very intriguing as well – it had me considering what it would be like to suddenly be a “Fly on the wall” and see what people were really like – Rosie’s journey of discovery leads her to all kinds of secrets and it is truly addictive as you wait to find out what happened on that night and, indeed, what may happen next. In between the fits of laughter there is an alluring emotional undercurrent running throughout the story which gives it a great depth even through the fluffier lighter moments.

Kudos to Kate Winter for turning a story about a girl struck down in the prime of her life and making it into a witty, insightful and truly life affirming tale – considering the subject matter there is simply nothing at all depressing about this book – you will come out the other side of it feeling great. Ok yes as I said, bittersweet perhaps but still, this novel is definitely one you should read if you need a bit of a lift, want to be genuinely entertained and feel the need to leave the duller aspects of life behind you for a while and spend a few hours with a smile on your face.

Loved it.

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

Follow Kate on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KatiCut

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Happy-Ever-Afterlife-Rosie-Potter-ebook/dp/B00LT8OBKW/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431670096&sr=1-1&keywords=the+happy+ever+afterlife+of+rosie+potter+rip

(Paperback available from 21st May)

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The Killing of Bobbi Lomax by Cal Moriarty. Blog Tour.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Faber

Source: Advanced Reading Copy

CANYON COUNTY, HALLOWEEN 1983 .Bobbi Lomax was the first to die, the bomb killed the prom queen on her own front lawn. Just moments later one of the nails from the city’s second bomb forced its way into the brain of property investor Peter Gudsen, killing him almost instantly. The third bomb didn’t quite kill Clark Houseman. Hovering on the brink, the rare books dealer turns out to be Detectives Sinclair and Alvarez’s best hope of finding out what linked these unlikely victims, and who wanted them dead and why. But can they find the bomber before he kills again?

The Killing of Bobbi Lomax is a superb crime debut – multi layered, with absolutely fascinating characters, terrific descriptive prose and a really really intriguing tale. Set in “God” country in the 80’s Cal Moriarty manages to bring that time and place to vivid stunning life giving this novel a terrific atmosphere and telling a beautifully managed and addictive mystery story.

This is old school storytelling set in an old school world – the detectives having to go about things the old fashioned way, the age of super electronics and internet still years away – this gives such an added depth to the mystery element, an almost Christie-esque feel to it that is both wonderful and nostalgic.

Add to that some remarkably authentic and well drawn characters – I adored Clark Houseman, such an engaging and sometimes hilarious protagonist, I think his parts of the book were my favourite – also, rare book dealer – what else needs to be said? Our detectives are a superb duo – so beautifully normal and casting a wry eye over events as they try to unravel the various elements and track down a bomber before he can strike again.

Overall then a rich, diverse and gorgeously written page turner with some interesting themes set in a captivating time period with a riveting and highly stimulating story.

Highly Recommended

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/calmoriarty

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-Bobbi-Lomax-Cal-Moriarty/dp/0571305385/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431330837&sr=1-1&keywords=the+killing+of+bobbi+lomax

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