Walk Into Silence – Getting to Know Susan McBride

Today I  am very happy to welcome Susan McBride to the blog in the latest of my “Getting to Know You” features.

Susan is the author of Walk into Silence – more details on the book and my review to follow.

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

Walk Into Silence is kind of a darker mystery for me. My detective-protagonist, Jo Larsen, had a crappy childhood, though it’s what propelled her into law enforcement. She really wants to make a difference and help those who can’t help themselves. She’s tough on the outside and seems to have it all together. But, on the inside, she’s very much a work-in-progress. When a concerned husband shows up at the Plainfield, Texas, PD to report his wife missing, Jo isn’t really sure if the woman is in danger or if she left of her own accord. Jenny Dielman was also a woman with a lot on her plate. She was on her second marriage after her first dissolved following the tragic death of her only child. As Jo begins to hunt for clues regarding Jenny’s disappearance, she unravels truths about Jenny—and the people around her—that shake up the case and her own life along with it.

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

I grew up all over. My dad worked for IBM, which we called “I’ve Been Moved.” Every two or three years, he would pick us up and shift our lives somewhere else. So I was born in Kansas City then lived in Indianapolis, Chicago, Kansas City (again), Greenwich, Houston, and Dallas. Even though moving was hard and I hated it every time, I have a lot of good memories, particularly of spending time with my grandparents in the summers and for holidays (they were from St. Louis, which is how I ended up here). My grandfather was awesome and taught me so much. I wish he was still around so he could meet my daughter. He would love her. She’s as funny as he was.

Academic or creative at school?

Both. I was a serious overachiever. I loved school and the learning aspect. I was a test-taking fool. I also loved art (and still do!).

First job you *really* wanted to do?

When I was a kid, I loved to give my siblings tests and pretend to be a teacher. I also made pockets for books with index cards that I could time stamp so they could check books out from my library. There is no fun like forcing your bro and sister to check out books and take tests on the weekends! Maybe that’s why they’re not big readers to this day. Hmm.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

In the womb. Seriously, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books and, once I could hold a pencil, I was writing stories. I have the three books I wrote in fifth grade: two mysteries and a children’s book. I should have realized then it was in my DNA, but it took a while for me to realize, “This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

Who are your real life heroes?

My mom and other stay-at-home moms and dads! After becoming a first-time mom at 47 (a post-breast cancer miracle, not IVF!), I’ve realized what a struggle it is to balance everything, because…well, you

can’t. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in my work life and social life because my daughter comes first. It’s a hard gig, but so rewarding. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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

I was at a writers’ conference, waiting for my handler to pick me up and chatting with other folks attending the event. When I glanced down, I realized I had a trail of toilet paper from one shoe (I’d stopped to use the potty after getting off my flight!). No one had said a word. Ah, well, see below where my life advice is “don’t be afraid to be a goofball.” I’ve had lots of practice!

DIY expert or phone a friend?

Phone a friend. It’s more fun to muddle through anything together.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

I’m a morning person, for sure. At about 10 o’clock at night, my brain starts turning off. By midnight, my mind is Jell-o.

A book that had you in tears.

Maybe I just haven’t read enough tear-jerking books recently (or maybe it’s ‘cause I’m mostly reading kids’ books with my daughter, and the Paw Patrol doesn’t exactly make me want to cry), but I’m going to say Walk Into Silence, even though it’s my own book and that might not be kosher! But the ending makes me tear-up to this day. Writing it was the same way.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

All time favorite LOL book is One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. Most recently, Matthew Norman’s We Are All Damaged.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay to be a goofball, and it’s okay that everyone’s not going to like you, whether you’re a goofball or not. Just enjoy the ride!

Great advice! Thanks so much Susan.

About the Book:

Publication Date: Available Now from Thomas and Mercer

Source: Netgalley

A woman vanishes from a Texas town. Did she simply run off, or is something darker at play?

When Patrick Dielman shows up at Detective Jo Larsen’s desk insisting that his wife, Jenny, is missing, Jo wonders if it’s a case of a bored housewife running away.

But as she digs deeper into Jenny’s life, Jo learns that Dielman keeps a stranglehold on the family finances, down to the last nickel, and that Jenny’s first marriage dissolved following the death of her young son. By all accounts—including her doctor’s—she never recovered from the loss. Between a controlling husband, a tragic past, and a callous ex-husband, Jo can’t be sure if she should suspect foul play or accept that the woman may have wanted to disappear.

For Jo, whose own demons are shadowing her every step, finding Jenny becomes more than the typical protect-and-serve.

Walk into Silence is a tense and absorbing psychological thriller and Susan McBride writes with a sharp edge and a clever eye towards characterisation that just draws you in.

I liked how there was hidden common ground between the woman who has disappeared and the woman who is trying to find her – the plot is solid and addictive and the question of whether Jenny has gone by choice or by force is one that keeps you reading. The lines are blurred, there are some dark themes and current issues underneath the outer narrative and the whole story was riveting.

It is at times thrilling then melancholy, the storytelling is solidly compelling and its one of those books where you just want everything to be ok but realise that it probably won’t be. As a reader I became emotionally invested in the characters quite early on, always something that needs to happen for me to enjoy a novel.

Overall I thought it was very good indeed. And I’m happy that it seems this will become a series. I would love to read more.

Recommended.

Find out MORE

 Follow Susan on TWITTER

To Purchase Walk into Silence clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

Six Stories with Matt Wesolowski: Scarclaw Fell.

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski is a stunning literary thriller which I will be reviewing nearer the paperback publication in March – but in the meantime I’m offering, with the help of the lovely Mr Wesolowski, Six Stories of the novel. In today’s instalment he is talking about the setting – that of Scarclaw Fell – a setting which within the book is a character in its own right. Prepare to be haunted…

Trust me this is a book you should not miss – and if once you’ve read this you can’t wait you could get it in e-book right now….

Scarclaw Fell

By Matt Wesolowski

When I was in year 5, my English teacher, a formidable woman by the name of Mrs. Scrutton read us a book called ‘The Year of the Worm’ by Anne Pilling. The book is about a bullied youngster on a walking holiday in the Lake District accompanied by, amongst others, the school bully. That story has never left me.

The location of Six Stories, a fictional Northumbrian upland named Scarclaw Fell is a major character in the novel.

The names of the mountains in the lakes are hugely evocative, other worldly even – Scarfell Pike, Skiddaw, The Old Man of Coniston. Scarclaw, I feel, does not sound out of place. When I was a child, my father often took me on walks up into the wilds of Northumberland – not quite Scotland, not quite England. Representing this part of rural England is an honour.

I lived in Lancaster for 10 years; close to the Lancashire countryside and revelled in the fact that Tolkien took a lot of influence from the Lancashire countryside for Lord of the Rings. The forests, the fells, the mountains have always resonated with something deep inside of me.

“There’s magic here, between the trees.”

From ever since I started writing, nature has often played a central role – usually some hidden horror! I don’t see the countryside as an idyll, I prefer its wildness, its untamed-ness. I like the feeling of being at the mercy of nature and am drawn to rural, wild places and often the rich mythology that surrounds them.

As a teenager, I read a lot of Niall Griffiths who uses rural Wales as a backdrop to a brutal reality; ‘Sheepshagger’ and ‘Grits’ were profound influences on that duality between nature’s majesty and the horrors of mankind. More recently, I’ve been influenced by Benjamin Myers whose rural brutality and sense of place plays a pivotal role in his writing.

All of these things were the building blocks of Scarclaw Fell; the idea that we are at nature’s mercy, that bad things happen in nature.

Nature looks on, uncaring.

About the book:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Follow Matt on TWITTER

To purchase the paperback clickety click right HERE

Watch out for more from Matt coming soon….

Happy Reading!

 

Merry Christmas!

Liz Loves Books is taking a few days break for the Festive season (even though we all know I’m not really a Christmas person y’all have that covered)

So have a great time! Hope you have a happy bookish festive few days and I’ll be back next week. When you will find more reviews, a little treat to wet that appetite for Six Stories which is going to be a stand out novel coming soon and various other bookish things. We’ll see. Some new reviews may even appear on some of these bookish pages you never know. It’ll be magic or something.

Here are a few things that will be keeping me occupied..

Back on  Tuesday!

Happy Reading.

Authors’ Top Reads of 2016 – Part Two.

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I am delighted to share this end of year 2 part special feature, in conjunction with Vicki Goldman, with the second group of authors giving us their top pick of 2016.

Today I have Johana Gustawsson, Sarah Stovell, Rebecca Thornton, James Swallow, GJ Minett, David Young, Rod Reynolds, Rory Dunlop and Chris Whitaker and Neil White telling us their one top pick from 2016.

Pop over to Vicki’s place http://off-the-shelfbooks.blogspot.co.uk/ to see who she has for you today!

Johana Gustawsson, author of Block 46 published by Orenda in 2017 picks:

I would say “In her wake”, a soul touching book

Book blurb:

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

Click HERE to purchase In Her Wake

Click HERE to purchase Block 46

Follow Johanna on TWITTER

Sarah Stovell, author of Exquisite publication date tbc from Orenda picks:

Mine was Garth Greenwell’s novel ‘What Belongs to You’ which is a wonderfully lyrical story about homosexual prostitutes and syphilitic willies. It’s amazing. My next best was This is how You Lose Her, a short story collection by Junot Diaz.

Book Blurb:

On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher walks down a staircase beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture, looking for sex. Among the stalls of a public bathroom he encounters Mitko, a charismatic young hustler. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, and their trysts grow increasingly intimate and unnerving as the enigma of this young man becomes inseparable from that of his homeland, Bulgaria, a country with a difficult past and an uncertain future.

Garth  Greenwell’s What Belongs to You is a stunning debut about an American expat struggling with his own complicated inheritance while navigating a foreign culture. Lyrical and intense, it tells the story of a man caught between longing and resentment, unable to separate desire from danger, and faced with the impossibility of understanding those he most longs to know.

Click HERE to purchase What Belongs to You.

Rebecca Thornton, author of The Exclusives published by Bonnier picks:

So many, I spent ages thinking about this but my choice is The Girls by Emma Cline, for it’s sublime writing. And the fact she is in her MID-TWENTIES. I still think about some of her writing now! (amidst my own second novel despair. ).

Book Blurb:

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

Click HERE to purchase The Girls

Click HERE to purchase The Exclusives

Follow Rebecca on TWITTER

James Swallow, author of Nomad, published by Bonnier picks:

“My top pick of 2016 has to be Rowland White’s INTO THE BLACK, retelling the story behind the very first Space Shuttle mission and history behind the creation of that remarkable endeavour. White has a great ability to dramatize true-life tales and his take on this “right stuff” narrative is compelling, page-turning stuff!”

Book Blurb:

On 12th April 1981 a revolutionary new spacecraft blasted off from Florida on her maiden flight. NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia was the most advanced flying machine ever built – the high watermark of post-war aviation development. A direct descendant of the record-breaking X-planes the likes of which Chuck Yeager had tested in the skies over the Mojave Desert, Columbia was a winged rocket plane, the size of an airliner, capable of flying to space and back before being made ready to fly again. She was the world’s first real spaceship.

On board were men with the Right Stuff. The Shuttle’s Commander, moonwalker John Young, was already a veteran of five spaceflights. Alongside him, Pilot Bob Crippen was making his first, but Crip, taken in by the space agency after the cancellation of a top secret military space station programme in 1969, had worked on the Shuttle’s development for a decade. Never before had a crew been so well prepared for their mission.

Yet less than an hour after Young and Crippen’s spectacular departure from the Cape it was clear that all was not well.

Click HERE to purchase Into the Black

Click HERE to purchase Nomad

Follow James on TWITTER.

GJ Minett author of The Hidden Legacy picks:

‘For me it would have to be This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell. Because no one handles emotional intensity or the workings of the heart as well as she does. Mesmeric . . . and I’d just love to meet her!’

Book Blurb:

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway.

He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago, and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

Click HERE to purchase This Must Be The Place

Click HERE to purchase The Hidden Legacy

Follow Graham on TWITTER

David Young, author of Stasi Child, published by Twenty7 picks:

Unrivalled storytelling and a fantastic portrayal of a brutal and terrifying period of European history.

Book Blurb:

1944. Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army, returns wounded and ashamed from the bloody chaos of the Eastern front to find his village home much changed and existing in the dark shadow of an SS rest hut – a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps, run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who – against all odds – have so far survived the war.

When, by chance, Brandt glimpses one of these prisoners, he realizes that he must find a way to access the hut. For inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years before, and now he must do all he can to protect her.

But as the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of this rest hut and its SS inhabitants are numbered. And while hope – for Brandt and the female prisoners – grows tantalizingly close, the danger too is now greater than ever.

And, in a forest to the east, a young female Soviet tank driver awaits her orders to advance . . .

Click HERE to purchase The Constant Soldier

Click HERE to purchase Stasi Child

Follow David on TWITTER.

Rod Reynolds, author of Black Night Falling published by Faber picks:

I’ve read some incredible books in 2016, but the one that made the biggest impression on me is The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake (No Exit). I can only assume the alternate title was ‘A Book Written for Rod Reynolds’ because it encapsulates everything I love about modern American noir. It’s short, brutal and vivid; the setting is part of the story but not a replacement for story; there’s not a word wasted anywhere; and everyone operates somewhere in their own moral shade of grey. Brilliant.

Book blurb:

Eddie Gato Wolfe is a young, impetuous member of the Wolfe family of Texas gun-runners that goes back generations. Increasingly unfulfilled by his minor role in family operations and eager to set out on his own, Eddie crosses the border to work security for a major Mexican drug cartel led by the ruthless La Navaja.

Eddie falls for a mysterious woman named Miranda, whom he learns too late is the property of an intimate member of La Navaja’s organization. When they’re discovered, the violent upshot forces Eddie and Miranda to run for their lives, fleeing into the deadly Sonora Desert in hope of crossing the border to safety. But La Navaja’s reach is far and his lust for revenge insatiable. If La Navaja’s men don’t kill Eddie and Miranda, the brutal desert just may. Their only hope: help from the family that Eddie abandoned.

Click HERE to purchase The Rules of Wolfe

Click HERE to purchase Black Night Falling

Follow Rod on TWITTER

Rory Dunlop, author of What We Didn’t Say published by Bonnier picks:

Spring by David Szalay. I’m a sucker for beautiful prose and this is the best written novel I’ve read this year, full of witty observations about the reality (as opposed to the ideal) of relationships.

Book Blurb:

James and Katherine meet at a wedding in London in 2006, towards the end of the money-for-nothing years. James is a man with a varied past now living alone in a flat in Bloomsbury; Katherine is separated from her husband and working in an interim job in a luxury hotel. They exchange phone numbers at the wedding, but from then on not much goes according to the script…

Click HERE to purchase Spring

Click HERE to purchase What We Didn’t Say

Follow Rory on TWITTER

Neil White, author of The Domino Killer published by Sphere picks: 

“Not only did it have a great plot but the narrative voice made the reading of it an absolute pleasure”

Book blurb

Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old.

So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

Click HERE to purchase The Wolf Road

Click HERE to purchase The Domino Killer

Follow Neil on TWITTER

Chris Whitaker, author of Tall Oaks, published by Bonnier picks:

My book of the year is Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman. The toxic friendship between Lacey and Dex is as hypnotic as it is terrifying, and as the two bulldoze their way through adolescence I was left reading the last couple of chapters through my fingers. Dark and brutal and beautiful, I loved every page.  

 Book Blurb:

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

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

Click HERE to purchase Girls On Fire

Click HERE to purchase Tall Oaks

Follow Chris on TWITTER

SO that is your lot!

Hopefully you will have found some inspiration for additions to your to be read piles.

Remember to pop by Vicki’s  blog http://off-the-shelfbooks.blogspot.co.uk/ to find some more Authors’ Top Reads of 2016.

Join Vicki and I again NEXT YEAR as I’m sure we will do this all over again. Becoming a bit of a tradition.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

 

Authors’ Top Reads of 2016 – Part One.

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I am delighted to kick off this end of year 2 part special feature, in conjunction with Vicki Goldman, with the first group of authors giving us their top pick of 2016.

For Day One I have  Mark Hill, Daniel Pembrey, Lisa Hall, Alex Caan, John Connolly, Paul Hardisty, Thomas Enger, David Ross, Yusuf Toporov and Matthew Blakstad telling us their ONE top pick from the books they read in 2015. Well mostly their one. SOME OF THESE GUYS ARE REBELS…

Pop over to Vicki’s place http://off-the-shelfbooks.blogspot.co.uk/ to see who she has for you today!

Mark Hill, author of The Two O’Clock Boy published in 2016 by Sphere picks:

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott. It’s a menacing and heartbreaking story of corrupted ambition and how, sometimes, we barely comprehend the ruthless desires of the people closest to us. Watch your fingers, people, the prose is diamond-sharp. 

Book Blurb:

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate.

Click HERE to purchase You Will Know Me

Click HERE to purchase The Two O’Clock Boy.

Follow Mark on TWITTER.

Daniel Pembrey author of The Harbour master series published by No Exit picks:

It would probably be David Young’s Stasi Child. I have a fascination with that setting — former GDR, in the shadow of the Berlin wall. It features a great lead character in Karin Müller and is a cracking story, well told.

Book Blurb:

East Berlin, 1975

When Oberleutnant Karin Müller is called to investigate a teenage girl’s body at the foot of the wall, she imagines she’s seen it all before. But when she arrives she realises this is a death like no other: the girl was trying to escape – but from the West.

Click HERE to purchase Stasi Child

Click HERE to purchase The Harbour Master

Follow Daniel on TWITTER

Lisa Hall, bestselling author of Between You and Me published by Harper Collins picks…

The short answer is Tall Oaks by my foxy little mate Whitaker!

Book blurb

When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town.
Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect.
Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures.
Newcomer Jared, with an easy charm and a string of broken hearts in his wake.
Photographer Jerry, who’s determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all.
And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own . . .

Click HERE to purchase Tall Oaks

Click HERE to purchase Between You and Me

Follow Lisa on TWITTER

Alex Caan, author of Cut to the Bone published by Twenty7 (Bonnier) picks..

If you haven’t discovered the Kim Stone series yet, you are in for one serious treat. She is one of the most exciting characters to come out of the crime universe in recent years, and her creator, the amazingly talented Angela Marsons, deftly weaves her through some thrilling/harrowing cases. Bloodlines is the latest, and it brings back Kim’s arch nemesis Alex Thorn. Seriously, when these two are on the page it’s electric. You will love to hate Alex (but read Evil Games first!) and will learn to love Kim. It’s a masterpiece of a page turner, and quite simply a must read. 

Book blurb:

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?
A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Click HERE to purchase BloodLines

Click HERE to purchase Cut to the Bone

Follow Alex on TWITTER

John Connolly (the first of the rebels) , author of the Charlie Parker novels published by Hodder and Staughton picks…

“Mine is something of a dual recommendation. One of the most pleasant literary surprises of the year for me was Becky Chambers’s The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which I’ve passed on to people who don’t usually read science fiction with the assurance that it’s science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction, or just think they don’t. I thought it was funny, and moving, and beautifully imagined, and therefore I was very much looking forward to the sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit, which wrong-footed me – in a good way – by evoking a very different mood in the same universe. It managed the considerable feat of being both intimate and epic, and left me with a smile on my fact. She really is a talent to be reckoned with, and has made my year a brighter one with her work.”

Book Blurb:

Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.

But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.

Click HERE to purchase The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Click HERE to purchase the latest Charlie Parker novel

Follow John on TWITTER

Paul Hardisty (another rebel) author of the Claymore Straker thrillers published by Orenda picks…

My favourite reads of 2016 (tied) were Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus and Jihadi by Yusuf Toropov. Both bend the genre, are intelligent, well written, and just well different from your normal fare.

Book Blurb:

EJ – Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking among the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

J – A former intelligence agent stands accused of terrorism, held without charge in a secret overseas prison. His memoir is in the hands of a psychologist with her own agenda, and her annotations paint a much darker picture. As the story unravels, we are forced to assess the truth for ourselves, and decide not only what really happened, but who is the real terrorist. Peopled by a diverse and unforgettable cast of characters, whose reliability as narrators is always questioned, and with a multi-layered plot heaving with unexpected and often shocking developments

Click HERE to purchase Epiphany Jones

Click HERE to purchase Jihadi

Click HERE to purchase The Evolution of Fear

Follow Paul on TWITTER.

Thomas Enger, author of Cursed (Henning Juul novels) published by Orenda picks...

 

For me it must be Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. The opening sentence alone is worth buying it for. Listen to this: «The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house”  It’s just a great story, told both brilliantly and beautifully. What more could you possibly ask.

Book blurb:

In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left townMore than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they’ve buried and ignored for decades.

Click HERE to purchase Crooked Letter Crooked Letter

Click HERE to purchase Cursed.

Follow Thomas on TWITTER

 

David Ross, author of The Last Days of Disco published by Orenda picks..

Hugo Wilcken’s ‘The Reflection’. I even broke with all form of tradition and wrote some words in praise of it.

‘It’s a very simply but beautifully written book with a straightforward, if cyclical structure. Paradoxically, it’s plot is complex and contradictory. It messed with my head. It explores the fragile relationship between trauma, reality and the often fluid nature of identity. It is never less than fantastic from beginning to end.’

Book Blurb:

When psychiatrist David Manne is asked by a friend who’s a New York City Police detective to consult on an unusual case, he finds himself being asked to evaluate a criminal who’s the exact opposite of himself—an uneducated laborer from the Midwest who seems overwhelmed by modern day Manhattan circa 1948. But when that laborer tells David that he’s not who the police say he is, David slowly begins to believe it may be true

Click HERE to purchase The Reflection

Click HERE to purchase The Last Days of Disco

Follow David on TWITTER

Yusuf Toropov, author of Jihadi, published by Orenda picks..

My favorite read this year was Edward Wilson’s brilliant A VERY BRITISH ENDING. Devastating, all too accurate examination of Cold War paranoia.

Book Blurb

An MI6 officer, haunted by the ghosts of an SS atrocity, kills a Nazi war criminal in the ruins of a U-boat bunker. The German turns out to be a CIA asset being rat-lined to South America.

As a hungry Britain freezes in the winter of 1947, a young cabinet minister negotiates a deal with Moscow trading Rolls-Royce jet engines for cattle fodder and wood. Both have made powerful enemies with long memories. The fates of the two men become entwined as one rises through MI6 and the other to Downing Street. It is the mid-1970s and a coup d’état is imminent.

Click HERE to purchase A Very British Ending

Finally for today, the most rebellious of all, Matthew Blakstad, author of Sockpuppet published by Hodder picks…

This year I’ve chosen three very different books which are all in their own ways about escaping into the wilderness. Why, I wonder, have I accidentally landed on that theme at the end of a year like 2016? Hmm… *strokes chin* Anyway, the titles are:

Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers. Top of my list. A story about a woman who scoops up her two young kids and tries to escape from an American dream gone sour. Eggers is master of an effortless, joyful prose that’s uniquely American in register and this book pinpoints the present moment with smart-bomb accuracy.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. A dark, uplifting coming-of-age tale about a survivalist father who takes his daughter into the woods and persuades her the rest of the world has come to an end. It manages to be both compassionate and bleak about individual obsession and family love. Highly recommended.

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis. Man, I loved this book. A classic adventure story of the West, except this time it happens in a post-apocalyptic America that might almost have come to be. Plus the shoot-from-the-hip protagonist is not some grisly male gunslinger, but a sharp-witted girl named Elka with a sharp knife and a dark secret in her past.

Click HERE  to purchase Heroes of the Frontier

Click HERE to purchase Our Endless Numbered Days

Click HERE to purchase Wolf Road

Click HERE to purchase Sockpuppet

Follow Matt on TWITTER

SO that is your lot for today!

Remember to pop by Vicki’s  blog http://off-the-shelfbooks.blogspot.co.uk/ to find some more Authors’ Top Reads of 2015.

Join Vicki and I again on WEDNESDAY for some more great picks!

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

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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