The Girl Who Had No Fear – Quizzing Marnie Riches.

Today I am very happy to have an interview with the lovely Marnie Riches, author of The Girl Who novels the latest of which is The Girl Who Had No Fear. Questions via Gordon owner/occupier of Grab This Book.

 

You were spotted chilling at Crimefest with AK Benedict and at Harrogate last year you photo-bombed Lee Child. Do you enjoy getting to the Book Festivals or is it just part of the job?

I absolutely adore going to CrimeFest and Harrogate, though these are really the only two festivals I can afford to attend at present. I have designs on Bloody Scotland but might only be able to justify it if I’m asked to be on a panel. We’ll see… In the first year that I went to CrimeFest & Harrogate (2015), I was fascinated by the topics discussed in the panels and buoyed by the interesting chat from my contemporaries. What an impressive and welcoming bunch they are. I met so many bloggers as well as other authors. People’s generosity of spirit was a revelation. I had a scream! I won an award! I drank my own body weight in champagne, thanks to the former publishing director from Avon, Eli Dryden! But in 2016, I now know so many other authors on the circuit that it has really become a social thing for me, more than anything. At Harrogate, there was even a crime writers’ trip to the Viper Rooms (Harrogate’s night club) and yes, there was bad twerking among the dry ice. I’m still interested in hearing discussions at festivals, meeting new people and I’m very much looking forward to participating on a panel at CrimeFest 2017, but these events give me the best opportunity to hang out with my crime-writing family, to catch up with my publisher and to talk crap with my agent after drinking my bodyweight in gin.

What book should I read next? And The Girl Who Had No Fear is a given!

I think you should read Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb if you haven’t already. It’s a cracker! I’m a slow reader, so I’ve only just read Peter Swanson’s A Kind Worth Killing and Graeme Cameron’s Normal – both wonderful reads. In my to be read pile, Julia Crouch’s forthcoming Her Husband’s Lover is top of the pile, along with Jenny Blackhurst’s Before I Let You In and Joseph Knox’s Sirens. Personally, I do tend to prefer something thrillery or historical to a police procedural or psychological thriller, but there are some terrific books out there in these perennially popular sub-genres of crime. I can’t wait to read A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys (Tammy Cohen)!

If you could pick one highlight from your writing career to date which memory brings the biggest smile to your face?

Winning the Dead Good Reader Award for Most Exotic Location at Harrogate 2015. I couldn’t believe my luck. The evening went a little tits-up by about 1am, but before that, I really can’t remember a better night.

Which book has made the best transition to film or a tv series?

The Silence of the Lambs. Definitely. I loved the Swedish adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy – Noomi Rapace was the perfect Salander. I was left a little cold by the later Hollywood adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as a result, though it was a quality film. Similarly, I loved the slick Norwegian adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters. I think the Scandis do books to film very, very well. I’m not aware of an awful lot of British crime fiction making it to TV or the big screen, despite much being optioned. I think it doesn’t often get made, sadly. I haven’t seen The Girl on the Train because I haven’t yet read it. Much of my favourite TV to have come out of the States in the last ten years is purpose-written TV drama, like The Wire, Breaking Bad, Fargo, Atlantic Boardwalk etc… Similarly, the wonderful Scandi Noir series, Forbrydelsen and The Bridge are not based on novels. If I’m honest, I don’t go to the cinema very often, so I can’t say my views on these things are very current. I can’t wait to see what Scorsese makes of Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman, though.

What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

Star Wars – The Force Awakens. See? Told you I don’t go to the cinema very often, which is a shame, because I love films. The cinema’s too bloody expensive and I couldn’t drag my kids along to the sorts of things I want to see, though I might have to pay a babysitter when Bad Santa 2 comes out!

Lots of discussion on whether the next James Bond and also the next Doctor Who should be a woman.  Do you agree (and if you do – who should get the roles)?

I don’t agree that the next James Bond should be a woman. I think it should be Idris Elba. If the big studios are looking for a big screen heroine, I think it’s lazy merely to cast a woman in the well-worn role of Bond – a concept and character that has been knocking around since the novels were first published in nineteen hundred and frozen to death. Instead, they should be optioning and adapting a new novel written by a woman – so a woman’s heroine, not another man’s heroine like Salander – that’s genuinely about a kickass female. *coughs, clears throat and does eyes-right at own books. OK. Basically, if there are stories knocking around like those in my George McKenzie series, there’s no excuse for relying on hackneyed Bond stories as vehicles for strong heroines. You can’t stick a pair of tits on Bond and make her a believable heroine, because that character is simply a man’s man. I have no opinions on Doctor Who. I’m not a fan. But the same arguments apply. New ideas, please, telebox peoples!

At the end of a long frustrating day how do you unwind?

I like a nice drinky. I’m also rather fond of sticking my electric blanket on and getting into bed early with a good book. I’m THAT exciting.

Are you a fan of comic books (or the current wave of comic book movies)? 

I love super-hero films that have been adapted from comics – Spiderman with Tobey Maguire was superb. But otherwise, I struggle to read graphic novels. My daughter would disagree with me. She’s an animé and manga addict.

What advice would you give to your 15 year old self?

Stop questioning your gut instincts and better judgement. If you feel strongly that you’re right, you’re probably right. Believe in yourself. You are good enough.

What is the best job you have ever had?

Being an author, of course! It’s by far the best job in the world. I’ve never worked so hard and I haven’t earned so little since I was in my early twenties, but for all its troughs, the dizzying peaks of creativity, the response of readers, the company of my author compatriots, the friendship and support of my agent, the enthusiasm and passion of my editorial team and the kind flag-waving of bloggers make this job so worthwhile. And best of all? The stories. Making them gives me thousands of hours of entertainment. Watching you guys read and enjoy them gives me a wonderful rosy glow. It’s a little bit of magic in a disenchanting world!

Thanks Guys!

About the book:

Amsterdam: a city where sex sells and drugs come easy. Four dead bodies have been pulled from the canals – and that number’s rising fast. Is a serial killer on the loose? Or are young clubbers falling prey to a lethal batch of crystal meth?
Chief Inspector Van den Bergen calls on criminologist Georgina McKenzie to help him solve this mystery. George goes deep undercover among the violent gangs of Central America. Working for the vicious head of a Mexican cartel, she must risk her own life to find the truth. With murder everywhere she turns, can George get people to talk before she is silenced for good?

Find out MORE

Follow Marnie on TWITTER

To Purchase The Girl Who Had No Fear clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

 

The Marriage Lie – Kimberley Belle. Author Interview.

Today I am very happy to welcome Kimberley Belle to the blog and thank you to her for allowing me to question her all about her novel, The Marriage Lie. Details on the book follow and its a good ‘un!

The Marriage Lie explores themes of love, trust and how well we actually know those around us much like your previous novels. Tell us what it is about that side of people that fascinates you.

I build my stories around themes of love and trust because these are emotions that are universally relatable. Everyone knows what it feels like to love, and everyone knows what it feels like to have your heart crushed. The same goes with trust. I think every reader can relate to believing in someone who in the end proves us wrong.

But emotions aren’t always logical; we see what we want to see. In The Marriage Lie, it took Will’s sudden death for Iris to see the man she’d been living with all these years for who he really was. Yes, the action is suspenseful, but for me, the real meat of the story is around Iris’s emotions–her grief and denial and feelings of betrayal. This is what makes the story interesting.

Iris is an emotionally resonant character who even in her grief is determined to find the truth. One of the things I was particularly taken with in The Marriage Lie was the way you walked the line between portraying grief realistically but also allowing it to move the mystery elements along. How hard is it to keep authenticity yet still entertain the reader?

There’s nothing more frustrating for a reader than a character who acts, well, out of character. I work really hard to get in my characters’ heads and to justify every decision they make. This is a big part of the reason I gave Iris the profession I did, as private school counselor. She understands grief both logically and academically, and then she’s forced to live through it emotionally. I liked the push-pull this gave her experience, the way her emotions were often at odds with her rational thinking.

In every story I write, I try to strike a balance between the thrill of the action and the emotions the action conjures up. How does the drama affect the people involved? How do they respond, and why? This is what makes a story come alive for me, the human emotion that comes as a result of the action, and the action that happens as a result of the emotion. The action and the emotion go hand-in-hand to move the story forward.

What does your writing day look like? Forward planner or go with the flow?

I’m a planner, but I don’t plot every chapter out beforehand. When I start out with a story, I have a good handle on the characters, the conflict, and the major plot points along the way, but my story doesn’t really fill in until I start writing. This means I sometimes fumble around until I’ve hit on the right voice and tone, but it’s part of my discovery process so I try not to sweat it. I’m very disciplined, though, and hyper-focused when I’m writing a story. I’m generally behind my computer for a good eight hours each day. I even dream about my stories sometimes and, if I’m lucky, wake up with ideas or solutions to plot problems I’ve been obsessing over.

As a reader as well as a writer what type of novels are your “go to” when you are looking for that bit of escapism?

I am always, always in a book. I love suspense, of course, but I’ll read pretty much anything—from women’s fiction to historical to paranormal romance to memoir. Do I need a laugh or a good, hard cry? My “go to” depends largely on my mood when I pick up the book.

And everything I read has an influence on my writing, from how the author builds suspense to their tight and fast-moving plotlines to the clever ways they lighten up dark subjects with humor. It’s every writer’s affliction; I read with an eye to writing.

Are you able to tell us anything about what is next for you?

Absolutely! My next story is about the disappearance of eight-year old Ethan, who vanishes from a cabin in the North Georgia mountains while on an overnight trip with his second-grade class. At first, police assume his disappearance is an abduction, until another mother receives a mysterious call demanding ransom for her son, a little boy who’s safe and accounted for. Both mothers are thrust in a race to save Ethan, where the greatest dangers turn out to be not in the threats of an anonymous stranger, but the everyday smiles of people closer to home.

Thanks so much!

Thank you for having me!

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle is out 29th Dec (HQ, £7.99)

About the book:

Are you ready to question if everything in your life is really as it seems?

When a plane crashes, Iris Griffiths watches the news unfold with horror…and then relief. Her beloved husband Will had just flown out from the same airport, but he was on a different flight. So why is his name on the list of victims? Surely there’s some mistake – her husband would never lie to her. Would he? But wading deeper into the truth of her husband’s deception, Iris begins to think the unthinkable. Maybe she’s glad that he’s dead…

Read my review on GOODREADS

Follow Kimberley on TWITTER

You can Purchase The Marriage Lie HERE

Happy Reading!

Getting to Know You with Shannon O’Leary.

Today I am very pleased to get to know a little bit about Shannon O’Leary, author of The Blood on my Hands.

Set in 1960s and ‘70s Australia, The Blood on My Hands is the dramatic tale of Shannon O’Leary’s childhood years, growing up with an abusive father, who was also a serial killer. No one, not even the authorities, would help O’Leary and her family. The responses of those whom O’Leary and her immediate family reached out to for help are almost as disturbing as the crimes of her violent father. Relatives were afraid to bring disgrace to the family’s good name, nuns condemned the child’s objections as disobedience and noncompliance, and laws at the time prevented the police from interfering unless someone was killed.

The Blood on My Hands is a heartbreaking—yet riveting—narrative of a childhood spent in pain and terror, betrayed by the people who are supposed to provide safety and understanding. The strength and courageous resilience it took for O’Leary to not just survive and escape from her father, but to flourish, thrive, and triumph over the unimaginable trauma she endured as a child is both powerful and moving.

Tell us a little bit about your latest book and what readers can expect from it.

My latest book is a memoir about my childhood years. It is a shocking and yet compelling story. When I wrote The Blood on My Hands, I decided to write it from the perspective of my childhood self. My father was a serial killer capable of the most horrific acts of violence. The laws in the 1960s and 70s did little to protect those in an abusive situation. Many child abuse cases were swept under the rug, as there were not laws in place to protect children. Domestic violence was prevalent, and wives were expected to do what they were told by their husbands. The Catholic Church frowned upon divorce, and people were scared of social repercussions.

My book is a record of what I remember and what happened, so it is gruesome in parts. I wrote my story do I could get some closure. I also sincerely hope that in sharing my experiences, some light may be shed on the whereabouts and stories of the other victims. I also hope that those who are in violent situation get out of it and seek help.

Where did you grow up and what was your family like?

I grew up in Australia in the 1960s and 70s, and it was not a conventional childhood. I was brought up in NSW with the National Park as my backyard. As a child I had many pets, goats, chickens, cats, dogs and guinea pigs. Today I have two cats and two dogs and I spent my time between the rural central Australian slopes and Sydney, NSW. I love all the creative arts and I teach music and singing. I also write films, music and songs as well as books and poetry.

Academic or creative at school?

I was always a very creative child because it was my means of escape. If only I had a dollar for every page that was ripped out of my workbooks by teachers (I wrote and drew prolifically – poems and songs in maths books, drawings and art works in the middle of essays and music symbols in science books). At school, I was desperate to be academic but my traumatic childhood often got in the way of my learning. We were poor and I didn’t even have a table to do my homework on. However, I had a thirst for knowledge, questioned everything and read anything I could get my hands on. As soon as I got the chance, I pursued academia later on in life.

First job you really wanted to do.

I have had so many jobs I have loved doing. I love writing, directing and performing. I also love my music and art. I really enjoyed my years on children’s TV but I also get immense gratification from teaching Creative Arts to others.

Do you remember the first moment you wanted to write?

I started reading at an early age and I spent many hours during and after school in libraries. I was a read-aholic and loved that books could transport me into another world. As a child, I also wrote songs, poetry and short stories so I guess writing has always been second nature to me. What I can’t say vocally I can express through my written words.

Who are your heroes?

1) My mother

2) My partner – he’s my best friend and soul mate.

3) Eleanor Roosevelt

4) Rosie Batty (Australian of the Year 2015) Campaigner against Domestic Violence

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I definitely like to try to do things myself. have a wonderful partner who is a great DIY and he can help me with projects. I love to build things and restore old bits and pieces. I also love painting. At present I am restoring some old 1930s carnival plaster pieces.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

I have very fair skin so even though I love the sun, gardens and beautiful spring days at my farm, I hate getting sun burnt. Night time is a very creative time for me (I have trouble going to sleep because my brain keeps whirring on with new ideas). I guess I must be a bit of both….

A book that made you laugh out loud

Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

One piece of life advice you give everyone.

If you are in abusive relationship, please get away from the abuser and seek help immediately. The laws are different now and there is hope for you and your children. The future is always one step away from the past. Keep moving forward to a safer and happy future because you never know what joy lies around the corner.

Thank you so much Shannon.

Shannon O’Leary is a prolific writer and performer. She is the author of several books of poetry and children’s stories, and she has won many awards for song-writing.

Shannon has acted and directed on the stage and on Australian national TV, and she runs her own production company.

She has numerous graduate and post-graduate degrees in education, music, and science. She is a teacher and academic, has five children with her deceased former husband, and lives with her longtime partner in Sydney, Australia.

You can purchase The Blood on my Hands HERE

Follow the author on TWITTER

 

20 Questions For……Chris Whitaker

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So the lovely Chris got my book of the year with the incredible Tall Oaks so in order to celebrate I asked him 20 Questions. Yes we know how these things go some of you may want to look away now….

 

The trend for these questions has always been to start with a bookish one. So with that in mind, how much gin do you think we are going to drink over the next few months?

When I was 18 I drank too much gin, then too much Lucozade, then shat myself wildly the next morning. When I was 20 I drank so much Vodka RedBull I had to go to hospital. I am a man that does not know his limits. Drink with me at your peril.

Lovely! See this is why we are friends…

Ok ok a bookish one I love Tall Oaks. That may come as a surprise to some people as I never say it out loud or anything. But I’ve recently read The Summer Cloud (title tbc) – I am allowed to say that right? And much as I love Tall Oaks, Summer is where its at when it comes to BOOK TRAUMA. Yes yes I’m getting to a question – YOU COULD HAVE WARNED ME. Why didn’t you warn me. I spent days in a haze of Grace…

The Summer Cloud (title will be changed) is a book that very nearly got burned, as you well know. That thing about second books being tough, there’s a horrible truth to it. There were points when I wanted to phone my editor and tell him I couldn’t finish, and if I hadn’t spent the advance (damn those magic beans) then I might’ve given up. It’s really dark, much less humorous than Tall Oaks, which I struggled with. I thought about writing something very similar to Tall Oaks because it was well received, but it would’ve been a copy, kind of just for the sake of it, which felt a bit like a waste of everyone’s time. I wanted to move forward as a writer, I wanted to challenge myself to write a story that was difficult to tell. The Summer Cloud is set in a poor town in Alabama in the mid 90s, against a backdrop of the Satanic Panic. That levity in Tall Oaks just didn’t work in this book, and I’ve made peace with that. I’ll certainly go back to writing funny in the future.

As a writer you never know if you’ll get another book deal, so I treated The Summer Cloud as if it were my last. I put a lot into it. If I’m going out, I’m going out with a bang.

I like Pringles. Do you like Pringles?

I like tubular food. I have this brilliant idea for Burger Fries (how do you do that trademark symbol thing?). Picture this if you will, a regular chip, but when you bite into it there’s burger meat and ketchup inside. Wonderful.

I like Pringles, thank you. I feel this interview is going really well.

Yep very well so far….

When you need to bury a body who are you going to call? Don’t call me I can’t even find a pair of scissors in my house…

Emily Burns (Head of PR at Bonnier). She’d help motivate me to dig whilst finding a way to sell books from the burial site.

Favourite type of cheese. Everyone has to answer that one…

The Dairylea Triangle. Does that make me sound like a 5-year-old? If so, one of the fancy cheeses, perhaps Cannonbear.

If you lived in Tall Oaks who from Tall Oaks would you live with? Not Manny. We ALL want to live with Manny. You have to pick someone else.

Good question, Lizley. I would have to say Roger and Hen, as they are fabulously wealthy and have a massive house. And Roger is a complete idiot, so we would have that in common. I’d love to live in Tall Oaks.

We were at Lisa Hall’s book launch recently. How much do we love Lisa? Got to give her a shout out in this interview, we all 3 bonded over our Manny love…

Okay, so Between You and Me I would go so far as to say I’m in love with Lisa Hall.

Hall is one of my fave people ever (even though she won’t invite me to any of her sex parties and is always calling me a dirtbag). She’s also a purveyor of some of the finest wine this side of India. And she’s sold over seven trillion books. She’s so rich she arrived at her launch on a hovercraft. Sadiq Khan let her drive it through Piccadilly, that’s the kind of power she has.

I’m VERY impressed she still speaks to me! I feel all important and stuff….

Dinner menu of choice (or in other words what are you going to cook for me if you ever cook for me. Or perhaps I should say what will Victoria feed me)

Victoria is really into Findus at the moment. She feeds the kids microwave meals every night of the week, aside from Friday, when she orders take-away, bless her.

If I were cooking I would prepare a possum for you. I know how you enjoy possum meat. Tis a little gamey for my palette but I could just eat the whiskers.

Desert Island discs – 3 songs or pieces of music that speak to your soul…

Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead (best lyrics ever)

The Swan by Camille Saint Saëns (read book 2 for that one)

Hit ‘em up by 2Pac (‘cause sometimes my inner badass MOFO can’t be denied)

You recently took part in your first ever panel at the amazing Killer Women Festival. What was that like for you? Yeah sorry about the whole glaring at you from the front row thing…

It was such an amazing experience. I’m so grateful to Sarah Hilary, she’s a total pro and put me at ease throughout. I was a bit scared when they attached a microphone to me, and then pointed cameras at me, but I really, really enjoyed it. I thought the whole festival was awesome, easily the best I’ve been to.

And the green room! I got to meet so many famous authors! At one point I was introduced to Paula Hawkins! I kept mumbling ‘she’s the girl on the train’ until Katherine led me back to my corner and gave me a Capri-Sun.

I’m doing my books of the year on 1st December. I expect Tall Oaks will get a mention but you know I’m fickle so you never know what I might do (Or already have done by the time this runs) Name 2 books (ONLY 2) that you’ve read this year and you’d like to make everyone else read. You are not allowed to choose Bonnier or Twenty7 books we’ll come to that later…

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman. Thanks for the recommendation, I LOVED this book.

Little Deaths by Emma Flint. I’m only halfway through at the moment but it’s a very special book.

And as for your book of the year, I’m aware of the competition so just being in consideration is blahblahblahblah. I want that trophy. There’s a trophy, right?

There’s a mars bar…

Back to that desert island – if you have to live there for a bit which 5 people would you like for company? I’m quite good at doing nothing if that helps…

Kris Akabusi. The guy that does the Scooby Doo voice. Mike Thomas. Mel or Sue. Lou Carpenter from Neighbours.

When you get drunk do you tend to get stupid? (I may or may not know the answer to this one already)

Never. I transform into a colourful raconteur, regaling the underlings with talk of my travels through the Andes.

Ok we’ll talk about Bonnier a bit now. We love Bonnier. They are doing great things in the book world managing to mix it up and publish all sorts. I love a good mix. Joel and Emily are fab and recently one of my favourite people in the world (that would be Katherine) joined the team. So I reckon you’ve got great back up. How important is that for you as an author? Yes ok that was a slightly deeper question. And don’t tell Rod that I love that Katherine moved to Bonnier. He’ll only growl again.

I can’t put into words how important it is. I love Bonnier and am incredibly proud to be a Bonnier author. They took a chance on a book that fell between genres and an author that had absolutely nothing worth boasting about on his CV.

It was at Killer Women that I discovered that Katherine is better than me at everything. From chess, to general knowledge, to solving murders, she took me to school. She’s a modern day Ruth Cromwell.

Joel is a genius, he, along with Claire, turned Tall Oaks into a book I’m so very proud of. And the first draft was more than a little shit, so it was far from easy. And Emily, she works so hard to make sure Tall Oaks reaches as many people as possible and she’s brilliant at her job. And she loved Manny. And there’s Bec, and Mark, and Nick and Kate and everyone there that have been so supportive of me and Tall Oaks.

And as for Rod, the guy oozes sexual magnetism. That’s all I have to say about Rod.

To be fair thats what most people say about Rod…and Katherine is way too clever for me.

Favourite Beatles song.

Let it be.

Favourite 80’s movie. (This will either make or break our friendship answer carefully)

No way I’m choosing one. Bueller, obvs. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The Goonies. Uncle Buck. Back to the Future. The Karate Kid. Cocktail. I could go on and on and on.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Seriously. If he gets up we’ll all get up it’ll be ANARCHY.  But yes. All the rest too. #SaveFerris 

NOW you can pick some of your fellow authors books to recommend. Only 2 again though. (Don’t worry I’ll protect you from the rest who might sulk)

My fellow authors are my family and I’d choose all of them if you let me. I’ve read all the T7 books and they’re seriously good.

Lie in Wait by G.J. Minett. I’m picking GJ because not only is he incredibly talented, but also because he’s incredibly nice, and supportive, and I love him like a great, great grandfather.

Without Trace by Simon Booker. Simon has been a TV writer for over a hundred years and as soon you pick this one up you know you’re in a safe pair of hands. He’s got skills.

Did you call the Igloo guy? What about my penguin?

Yeah, I called Keith. He’ll do us a double-wide in exchange for a French kiss and some Werther’s Original. Penguins are two-for-one at the moment so we’ll get a selection. And Craig Fairbrass. He’ll act out if I don’t mention him.

You forgot David Young…

Which one author in the world would you love to read Tall Oaks and love Tall Oaks.

Stephen King.

How much do you hate me right now?

Hate? I could do this shit all day long, pet.

Well ok I’ll send another 20 over later then…

Cool Beans! Thanks gorgeous.

Follow Chris on Twitter HERE

To purchase Tall Oaks clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Top Ten of 2016 – Its been a mad good year in books…

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Its that time of year  again. This year it has been incredibly hard to pick a top ten but I make myself do it every year, for a start it is always SO much fun thinking back to those books that haunted me or drove me bonkers at the time (more bonkers?)  This years list honestly could easily have been a top 100 and from all the advance reading I’ve been doing for 2017  I can tell you next year is going to be even harder. Near New Year I shall be doing a post on all of those – the ones you might want to consider putting on pre-order or adding to your to read lists, I dare say you might find some of those in next years Top Ten. One in this years list is a book I read way back just after last years list went live. If a book stays with me boy it stays with me…

Here we go then. Alongside fellow reviewers who will all be posting their top reads over the course of December (I can’t wait to see their lists, you never know I might have missed something!) hopefully there will be something for everyone, although I’m sure my no 1 will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me maybe some of the others may be less expected. As a reviewer of all genres but a particular lover of the crime crowd who are my kind of people, this is a little full on crime light. But in this readers opinion that is because those genre lines are starting to blur in a beautiful beautiful way.

Writers are pushing boundaries. Keep doing that. Tell us the stories!

My personal Top Ten of  2016

 

Ten

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Pierce Brown’s completion of the Red Rising Trilogy has to appear – it speaks to the quality of reading in 2016 for me that he is not no 1 – Morning Star was intense, heart stopping, this author messes with your head and your heart to a degree I don’t think I’ve come across in any other set of novels. He KILLED me with the entirety of this trilogy, the prose is so so so beautiful and just when you think you know what he’s going to do BAM he hits you with something totally unexpected. I will never forget these books. I’m so glad he will be returning to that universe in his next novels and one of my highlights of 2016 was meeting him at  two separate events. The man is as magical as his novels.

Read my original review HERE and Purchase HERE

 

 

Nine

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This was the best fun I had with a book all year whilst at the same time being TOTALLY FREAKED OUT. I searched the house for intruders several nights in a row after finishing Jacks story not that they would have been the kind of intruders I could have dealt with. I woke up in a cold sweat several times too. But gosh did I laugh and laugh. So much that it actually hurt. Then I hid under a duvet and did not come out for a good few hours. That Jason Arnopp – seriously.  Read this if you dare (with the lights blazing and a handy weapon somewhere within reach JUST IN CASE)

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Eight

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The Maker of Swans is magical. Totally utterly magical. It is delicious one of those books you drown in, still now months later it stays with me. My original review started with the words “I am madly in love with this book” and that holds true. Utterly enchanting and no matter your reading taste I would genuinely encourage everyone to give this a go.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Seven

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Sockpuppet. Geeky gorgeous with an authentic current edge that right now if you are reading it will make you think Matthew Blakstad is some kind of psychic. Back in April when I originally read it, it blew me away. I loved it. Different, engaging, a little bit nuts (I don’t like to say a bit like its author now I know him a little but well….) and totally totally brilliant writing. One of those books I was referring to when I spoke about blurring the genre lines back at the top of this list….

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Six

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Oh The Constant Soldier. THIS BOOK KILLED ME. I didn’t read another thing for a week I was devastated. It is simply incredible, emotional, prose to die for that just puts you right THERE and I will never forget it as long as I live. I’d like to say I’ll read it again but I don’t think I can go through that again. William Ryan is a superstar. Any other year this would be no 1 with bells on. It may sit here on this list but in my top reads of all time over my (I’m not going to say how many) years of reading it is somewhere near the top of the tree. Don’t miss it.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Five

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In at 5 we have The Wolf Road from Beth Lewis – a simply amazing debut with a character voice that is unique and compelling, telling a tale that will haunt your dreams. Dark, dreamy and divine, Elka will steal your soul and Beth Lewis is a talent to watch in the future. I rather think she is going to be something special in the world of literature. You heard it here first (you probably didn’t because I’m sure many people have said it already but pretend you did to make me feel better) Don’t miss this. You won’t read anything else like it.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

 

Four

 

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I gulped my way through Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent and the first line in this book is the reason it is at No 4, because talk about waking up the reader and going HEY LOOK OVER HERE this book is Lying in Wait for you. Then the lovely Ms Nugent weaves a shocking, dark and utterly addictive yet character driven tale of murder and, well, family dynamics. One character in this novel will make you want to stab people. The character particularly. Plus its twisty. Gorgeously twisty. My twisty tale of the year.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Three

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Last year’s no 1 author gets this year’s no 3 – the utterly lovely (I’ll take that mars bar now) Rod Reynolds follows up The Dark Inside with this, Black Night Falling – another adventure for Charlie Yates and again it speaks to the quality of this years reading that he’s not No 1 yet again. This book proves that The Dark Inside was absolutely not a fluke. If anything Black Night Falling is even more compelling, more beautifully written and that there Mr Reynolds will soon be the Noir king of the world. I loved this. I lived it. If Rod Reynolds publishes his shopping list I’m reading it.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

 

 

Two.

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Girls on Fire. This whole book was on fire. And honestly picking between this and my no 1 for that no 1 spot was so hard that I outsourced the decision to my good friend and ex boss Anna Carter, an extraordinarily voracious reader who is just that with no filter – thanks SO much Anna and I’m going to be asking your opinion every year from now on! To be honest the two are fairly interchangeable for the sheer reading madness of them, and the author sitting at no 1 will not mind me saying that at all because he loved this one too. Incredible incredible writing, two main characters that are divisive, brilliantly drawn and on a path to tragedy, these Girls on Fire will capture your imagination and burn your very soul. If you haven’t yet read it then I can’t say strongly enough that you should.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

So we come to my top read of 2016 which I’m sure will surprise absolutely nobody. 

One…

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OF COURSE it is Tall Oaks. Quirky, different, characters to die for, Chris Whitaker takes one small town in the process of moving on from a tragic event and shoves us into the rhythm of life there, showing us the dark and the light and all the in between that can make up a community. Featuring a teenage character who once read is never forgotten in the voice and full on hilarity of Manny, surrounded by equally brilliant and divisive folk and following a mother who has lost her child with all the deeply emotional trauma that brings Tall Oaks is a dream read. Stole a weekend of my life, stole my heart and I’m not sure there are words enough to express my love for it. Chris and I have become friends since I read it but at the time I had no idea that the author was as brilliant as his book –  I purchased Tall Oaks on a whim in e-book after being told by Emily of Bonnier fame that she thought I would love it. Well she was right, she usually is I find. I owe her my last rollo.

Tall Oaks is not a thriller. Tall Oaks is life.

I’ve got Chris guesting shortly answering my 20 Questions which we had a lot of fun with  – you’ll get a sneak preview of what is next for him if you read that and trust me you want to know.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

SO THAT IS THAT. For another year. Considering the reading I’ve done for 2017 I think I may have to have a top 20 next year – certainly I could have had a top 20 this year some reads that came in after the cut off would certainly qualify along with  a lot of the ARCS I have been lucky enough to have seen. Perhaps my Top Ten is already read – certainly Mark Hill, Sarah Pinborough, Steph Broadribb, Fiona Cummins, Felicia Yap, Erin Kelly, Peter Swanson, Riley Sager, Emily Barr, Joseph Knox, Sarah J Naughton, Daniel Cole amongst others are already in the running. See? Next year it is going to be IMPOSSIBLE. I’ve read a few secret squirrel things as well – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE and they are most definitely in the mix too.

I think I’m going to need a bigger shelf….

HAPPY READING!

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Top Books of 2016 – Honourable Mentions.

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So its December later this week. Where did the time go? Anyway on Thursday 1st December, as has become my own little tradition, I’ll be posting my Top Ten reads of 2016. I think its unlikely that my no 1 will come as a surprise to many people but there are plenty of others in the mix and its been a GREAT reading year. So in that spirit today I’m doing some honourable mentions – 5 books each in 6 categories that any other year may well have made my top ten reads. There are many many more as well but I can’t mention everyone blimey we would be here all day. If I loved a book I’ve probably shouted about it quite a lot already anyway.

It is worth noting that these, plus my top ten are made up of books available now. All that lovely 2017 advance reading I’ve been doing will go into the mix for next year and I’ll be doing a post with the ones to really watch out for just before the New Year is upon us. So here is a shout out for a few books that were huge favourites of mine this year and if 2016 had not had so many fantastic books you might have seen any one of these in my post on Thursday.

Crime

Oh my gosh so MANY great Crime reads this year. I will definitely be missing loads. But here are my 5 picks for your consideration. Click on the covers to be taken to my reviews of each which include purchase links,

 

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YA

SO many great YA books this year but here are my top picks that did not quite make the top ten but probably should have done.

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Thriller.

A few good thrillers this year. Just a few eh? Anyway this, Crime and Psychological thriller could probably all be in one group but you know, what fun would that be? Here are my 5 thrillers that did not quite make the top spots. Again, any other year….

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Fantasy/SciFi

I’ve read SO many great books in this category this year I might actually explode. Here are some of my top picks for you..

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Psychological Thriller.

Difficult to pick 5 of these. So many great new releases this year and I’ve tried to read them all even though occasionally they annoy me. Here are 5 that were brilliant.

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Other…

Finally here are another 5 of my best reads of this year this time they could be said cross over a bit so we’ll call them beautiful others….

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There we go. Hopefully everyone can find something here to tempt them, certainly I could go on all day about the great books I’ve read in 2016 (and am still reading but now that is for next year) and pop back by on Thursday to see which books made my Top Ten.

Happy Reading!

Covering The Covers – Stasi Wolf David Young.

Ooh new cover alert – this time for David Young’s follow up to Stasi Child – a book I adored (and obviously reviewed in a timely and efficient manner) Can’t WAIT for this. And look. It looks good. GREAT in fact.

 

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About Stasi Wolf

East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.

But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image. 

Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . .

PRE-ORDER HERE

Find out more here

Follow David on Twitter here.

You can purchase Stasi Child by clickety clicking right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Getting to Know You – with Ivar Leon Menger.

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Today I’m getting to know Ivar Leon Menger, writer of Monster 1983, an Audible original drama available now – more details to follow. Thanks so much to him for taking the time, these are always fun.

Tell us a little about your Monster 1983, what can listeners expect?

An exciting trip back to the year 1983. The little coastal town of Harmony Bay is shaken from its peaceful slumbers by a series of mysterious deaths. For Sheriff Cody, who has ended up in town following the death of his wife, duty calls immediately upon arrival due to a sequence of strange events: a prison truck plunges off a cliff, a Russian spy vanishes into thin air, and corpses keep being found with inexplicable stab wounds in their backs. Cody and his team assume that the murders have been committed by a serial killer who slaughters his victims in their sleep.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I am an only child, and grew up in a small town on the urban fringe in Germany. My father ran a small but successful advertising agency, while my mother devoted herself to my upbringing. I spent most of my time riding my BMX bike, playing on my Atari, going to the swimming pool and playing the piano. But what I liked doing best was building a spooky ghost train for my friends in our attic. With zombie masks, spiders and wet flannels hanging from the ceiling. From my earliest childhood days, I have always loved scaring people. But there was no way I could have known, in those days, that I would end up making it my profession.

Academic or creative at school?

I really hated school. The only thing I was really good at was drawing. And storytelling. That didn’t get me very far at a sports-oriented grammar school. I needed lots of coaching to get me my school leaving certificate. Once I got there, this made university all the easier. I was studying Design, and could finally concentrate on the things that really interested me.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

I looked this up in my old diary. When I was ten, I did write that I wanted to be a detective (investigator) when I grew up. Well, I suppose that wish has actually been fulfilled, in a creative sort of way.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I remember my father used to tell me a goodnight story, and invented a new one every evening. I was allowed to choose the hero and the setting, and he picked it up from there and embellished the story with his own dangers and obstacles. I was impressed by that. So I started dreaming up my own scary stories for friends on sleepovers. I never wrote them down, but it very soon taught me what my friends found thrilling and when they tended to drop off.

Who are your real life heroes?

Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg were always my greatest role models. And then later on Steve Jobs and Stanley Kubrick, too.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

I remember one scary situation when I was hitchhiking as a kid. A car stopped, and this mysterious looking guy picked me up. It wasn’t until we were driving through the woods that I realised that my bearded companion was wearing pink shorts and white net stockings. I immediately struck up a conversation, praised his car, and babbled on incessantly, as if in a trance. When we finally emerged from the woods, I said he could stop now, I had reached my destination. He pulled over and I tried to get out, but the door wouldn’t open. He apologised and pressed some button or other, and then I was able to leave. That was really frightening, because there was no such thing as central locking in those days.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I actually always ask for advice. Either from friends, or colleagues, or Google. I also like to give advice of my own to other people. I’m always pleased, for instance, if I can help young colleagues with their queries. I really can’t understand why some colleagues are loath to help others, and think people have to gather their own experience.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

I’m definitely a night owl. But since I’ve had a family, I can no longer do my own thing as much as I’d like. J But I’m allowed to stay in bed for a bit longer than the others in the mornings, and they even wake me up with a coffee. That’s pure happiness.

A book that had you in tears.

I’ve never known a book to make me cry. But a lot of films have, such as “E.T.”, “Schindler’s List” or “Love Story”.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

Easy: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

Never stop believing in yourself. Even if it’s sometimes hard. With hindsight and the passing of time, we usually find that there is a reason for such crises, and that they represent key turning points in our life history. And always think big, think positive. And reach for the stars. That’s always been my motto: if you reach for the stars, at least you’ll get the moon.

Thank you! 

Thank you for the interview and your interesting questions!

About Monster 1983

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Callum Blue (Dead Like Me), Anastasia Griffith (Damages) and Marc Warren (Hustle) star in new audio-drama from Germany’s master of thriller.

Drawing influences from Poltergeist, Stand By Me and E.T. and other Spielberg classics, the story unfolds in the small coastal town of Harmony Bay, Oregon. Still reeling from a sudden and profound family tragedy, Sheriff Cody uproots his elder son Michael, and younger daughter Amy, from the chaos of Orlando to begin a new, more relaxed life in the Beaver State. Soon after their arrival however, this new-found tranquillity is disturbed by a succession of brutal but mysterious deaths. As the plot twists and turns its way through small-town secrecy, psychiatry wards and the supernatural, Cody comes under increasing pressure to solve each new case whilst keeping his family safe from harm.

Monster 1983 is a Wireless Theatre production for Audible Studios. Written by Ivar Leon Menger, translated by Guy Meredith and directed by Cherry Cookson with music scoring by Ynie Ray.

Monster 1983 Cast:

Callum Blue (Sheriff Cody), Anastasia Griffith (Deputy Taylor Dunford), Marc Warren (Deputy Landers), Rachel Atkins, Barbara Barnes, Andrea Browne, Nicholas Boulton, Philip Bulcock, Sophie Cartman, Amy Cash, Lobo Chan, Charlotte Christie, Trevor Cuthbertson, Stephen Critchlow, Sean Delaney, Jessica Dennis,Tom Gregory, Adam Hall, Will Howard, Gerran Howell, Nicky Henson, Madeleine Kasson, Lorelei King, Stuart Milligan, Harry Myers, Nathan Osgood, Chris Rogers, Martin T Sherman, Thomas Stroppell and Trevor White.

You can purchase Monster 1983 an audible download  HERE

Happy Listening!

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Getting to Know You – with Kim Askew and Amy Helmes.

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Today I’m VERY happy to welcome Kim and Amy, co-authors of “Puck” their latest “twisted lit” novel – more details after the interview. I have to say these sound great – different and fun – so I feel my toppling to be read pile may get a few additions before very long!

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it…

In keeping with our other “Twisted Lit” books, Puck was inspired by a Shakespeare play, in this instance, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We loved the idea of these trouble-making fairies roaming a forest and creating havoc, so we opted to set our novel in a wilderness rehabilitation camp for juvenile delinquents. Our main character, Puck, lies, hates, and manipulates… but we think she’ll also steal your heart!

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Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

Kim: I was born in California, but my dad joined the Army when I was four, so my family also lived in Germany and Texas. The four of us (I have a younger sister) were a close-knit crew. I caught the travel bug and have lived in San Francisco, London, and Los Angeles as an adult.

Amy: I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio, where there were tons of aunts, uncles and cousins, most of whom lived within a few miles of us. It was a big leap for me to move to Los Angeles when I graduated from college. My parents made me sign a notarized contract stating I would eventually move back. I think they’re still waiting!

Academic or creative at school?

Kim: Both. I would read the literature textbooks in their entirety the first week of school, regularly earning the moniker of “teacher’s pet.” I always loved to write so I really enjoyed any chance to be creative in that way.

Amy: Creative, because I always tried to make every assignment fun. In high school, I wrote a rhyming, “Dr. Seuss” version of Lord of the Flies, and I also wrote a paper for a linguistics course in college analyzing language in Saturday Night Live’s “Wayne’s World.”

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First job you *really* wanted to do?

Kim: My first real job was in publishing, and that was a dream come true.

Amy: I wanted to be a teacher, and would often set up my own imaginary classroom in my bedroom, creating fake homework assignments and tests from the “children” that I could grade.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

Kim: I wanted to be a writer from a very young age. During naptime I would compose epic poems and fairy tales.

Amy: I was in fourth grade, and my teacher singled me out, inviting me to read for the whole class a short story I’d written. That was the moment I realized I had a knack for this whole writing thing!

Who are your real life heroes?

Kim: Actually, Amy is one of my heroes. She’s a cool mom, dedicated friend, incredibly clever, and somehow manages to carve out the time to write the Twisted Lit series with me. Also, my mom. She held our family together through our many moves, and even though we never had a lot of money growing up, she made sure that we had a really stable home life. Love you, Mom!

Amy: Anyone with the courage to stand up to a bully, be it Malala Yousafzai, Tiananmen Square’s “Tank Man,” or a school kid in the cafeteria.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

Kim: As a child, I once performed one of my “epic poems”–this one about a unicorn–in a talent show. I was dressed in a fairy costume and held a wand that my dad had fashioned out of tin foil. I was painfully shy, so I started to cry midway through the performance and kept crying all the way through my recitation.

Amy: I was on a game show once called “Russian Roulette” where you had to stand on a trapdoor that would open when you got the answer wrong. I ended up making it to the final round, but went flying through the trapdoor when I didn’t know what the word “mendacious” meant.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

Kim: Google it!

Amy: Phone Kim!

Sun worshipper or night owl?

Kim: I’m one of those annoyingly cheerful morning people.

Amy: Night owl. I go to bed early, but often wake up to work in the middle of the night.

A book that had you in tears.

Kim: I cried at the end of A Man Called Ove, and also recently shed tears re-reading our Puck manuscript. There’s a scene Amy wrote that always makes me bawl.

Amy: I recently read Charlotte’s Web to my kids, and I can’t even with that book.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

Kim: Evelyn Waugh’s 1930s satire Vile Bodies is chock full of laugh aloud lines.

Amy: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I read it while grounded once as a teenager, and it was seriously one of the most wildly entertaining nights of my life. Thanks, Mom!

One piece of life advice you give everyone.

Kim: If you do just one thing toward your goal every day, you’ll eventually get there. Focus on the small steps if the overall goal seems overwhelming.

Amy: You can’t control everything, but you can control how you react to situations, which is actually a bit of advice that made our way into this latest novel. Hope you check it out!

Thanks guys! It has been wonderful getting to know you! 

About the Book:

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Life isn’t always fair, and no one knows that better than fifteen-year-old Puck. When she’s unceremoniously booted from yet another foster home, this city kid lands at DreamRoads, a rehabilitation wilderness camp. Her fellow juvenile delinquents include a famous pop star with a diva attitude, a geeky, “fish out of water” math whiz, and a surly gang-banger with a chip on his shoulder. The program’s steely director aims to break Puck, but she knows that every adult has a breaking point, too. Determined to defy this realm of agonizing nature hikes and soul-sucking psychobabble — even if that means manipulating four lovestruck camp counselors and the director’s dim-witted second-in-command — Puck ultimately gets much more than she bargains for in this “wondrous strange” outdoor odyssey inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Follow AMY and KIM on Twitter

To Purchase Puck clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Covering the Covers: Everything But the Truth Gillian McAllister

I love  covers! They can say so much about a book. So I’m VERY happy to show you THIS for Gilly McAllister’s upcoming “Everything But the Truth” – which now I DEFINITELY want to read. Click on the cover to pre-order! More details below.

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About the book:

Publication Date: March 2017

Published by: Penguin

It all started with the email.

It came through to her boyfriend’s iPad in the middle of the night. Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack, and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him. But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment, or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

Follow Gillian on TWITTER for more updates

Happy Reading!

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