Happy Publication Day to Neil White…and what else am I looking forward to?

Next to Die HiRes Vis


So today you can finally get your hands on a copy of “Next to Die” by Neil White. To read my recent interview with him clickety click http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/2-days-to-go-neil-white-and-next-to-die/


To celebrate I  thought I might talk a little bit about some more books I am looking forward to and am dying to read. And to start with I want to say that THIS…the one I had been waiting for with the most anticipation…is Brilliant!


Don’t expect a review any time soon though. I’m doing what I always do with a brand shiny new Stephen King book – making it last. Ten minute treats is all I allow myself, but I will say right now…you should probably be reading it. It can be read without first reading “The Shining” but it would lose something…A review for The Shining can be found currently at the top of the Stephen King page here on site….



Now what else is coming up…Well I’m about to dive into “Long Way Home” by Eva Dolan, with grateful thanks to her and her publisher for the advance copy – this is one I’ve been hanging on in there for. I will let you know how that is going in due course.

My next biggest “MUST HAVE” book is the as yet untitled final instalment of “The Passage” trilogy from Justin Cronin. Sometime next year you won’t see me for dust as I settle down to find out what exactly is going on with Alicia et al…if you havent read The Passage or The Twelve then you are missing out – The best post apocalyptic novel/s I have read since “The Stand” it is truly compelling. Its one of those that I wish I had waited until all 3 were done before I started. Me and my chronic impatience. If these somehow passed you by, then you have a while to catch up. I highly recommend that you do. I’m looking mostly at Will Carver and Nick Quantrill right now…hey you guys you KNOW I’m normally right!




Towards the end of October, “The Violent Century” by Lavie Tidhar will be released. Its been on my radar for a while and looks like it might be a must read. It sounds slightly unconventional and like it might just be a unique experience. We will see. To find out more here you go. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18309415-the-violent-century?ac=1




Finally, and not long to wait now, I am DYING to read “Just One Evil Act” by Elizabeth George. The next Lynley book is ALWAYS one that I anticipate a great deal and so far there has been not a single let down in the entire series. Yes I love some better than others (still for me Playing for the Ashes is the best Lynley) but every single one is terrific. I love Inspector Lynley. Have you read them? If not…then do.




So there you go. My must haves. Do tell me about yours  – maybe I will want to add them to my list as well!


So, HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY NEIL and may the rest follow as soon as possible.


Happy Reading Folks!

Mutton by India Knight – A Mother and Daughter’s view….



So, when the lovely folks at Penguin Books offered me a chance to read and review “Mutton” from India Knight I jumped at the chance to read something a little different for me. When it arrived I popped it onto the shelf to await my attention – where it caught the eye of my lovely daughter Mel. Insisting it was far more her sort of thing than mine, she got there first – and so the seeds for this article were sewn. Considering the subject matter, that of growing old gracefully (or not as the case may be) we thought it would be fun to do a joint review from the points of view of a 20 something and a 40 something. Penguin were also on board with this idea, so here we are. Kindly, India Knight despite being extremely busy, took the time to answer a couple of questions, one for me and one for Mel. So here are our reviews, followed by the question we asked. Have fun, we did!


Mel’s Review

‘Mutton’ was certainly an interesting read for me. On the surface a light hearted chick-lit, the tale follows 46 year old Clara Hutt, a well-grounded mother who thinks she is happy with her life, and her looks, until an old friend (Gaby) comes to stay looking FABULOUS and utterly demoralises her.

Debating the many issues surrounding cosmetic surgery and treatments, ‘Mutton’ is a book about getting old, and whether we should try to do it gracefully, or simply grab hold of our youth kicking and screaming until we end up looking like PamAn. Coming at it from the point of view of a 22-year old that already worries about wrinkles (the nice lady in superdrug assured me that I do not, in fact, need the ‘age-defying’ brand of foundation) the main problem I had with this book is that it terrified me. The trials and tribulations that Clara goes through are the very things that keep me up at night, simply because one day I WILL go through them – I’m sure all you fortysomethings are rolling your eyes, but it’s true. Cellulite? Saggy tits? LIVER SPOTS?! Kill me now. I’ll be a complete Gaby. Then again, if mum starts getting botox or going out clubbing I’ll be having words with her…

Alongside the main plot we follow the story of Clara’s son and his girlfriend, a couple of teenagers who get themselves into a sticky situation. What I found odd is how, for the first time, I identified more with the adults in a book than the younger characters. Maybe, I might be… a grown up? Either way, both parts of the story link together nicely, with teen angst providing an excellent backdrop to contrast mid-life crisis.

When it comes down to it, more than anything this book made me laugh. I laughed on the bus until people started glaring at me. I laughed in bed until my boyfriend woke up and asked me politely to shut up. I laughed on my own, and then laughed some more because why not? Bravo, India, Bravo.



Mel Asked: How do you think your viewpoints would have differed had you written the book 20 years ago?

Oh, I’d have written a completely different book 20 years ago – something hectoring and intransigent about the very IDEA of having anything done. I’d have banged on about the beauty of a lived-in face and concluded that anyone who even considered the smallest intervention was unforgivably shallow. As Clara says in the book – it’s lovely to hold those opinions, but the women who hold them tend not to be in their fifties.


My Review


Right, anyone that reads my blog and reviews regularly may have noticed that I don’t really do “chick lit”. But when Penguin offered me a copy of Mutton by India Knight I jumped at the chance…expecting a novel similar to “Bridget Jones Diary” but from a slightly older point of view, that wasnt exactly what I got – but what I DID get was a laugh out loud wry and humerous look at the joys and downfalls of reaching a certain age…

Clara is pretty much every woman…she certainly had a hint of me in there – and when her friend Gaby moves in, all glamorous and youthful looking with a rather strange outlook, hilarity ensues as Clara begins to question what “growing old gracefully” actually means…

My daughter Mel, who is 22, and I both read this book at around the same time…she started first and at one point I got a text message from her telling me I was only allowed to read it if I promised not to get botox or bring men home randomly to fulfill my inner urges – unless I reassured her on this point she said, she was banning me from reading “Mutton” A few laughs later and I was finally allowed to have it back…and I must say it was a whole lot of fun!

India Knight has a fine sense of irony and a wry eye to the ridiculous side of suddenly realising you are probably just slightly too old to get away with that mini skirt now, but equally you don’t want to go all mumsy. Also the relationship Clara has with the younger members of the household is quite realistic (certainly from my experience) and I loved the way that you could pick this book up at any age teenager onwards and probably find something to love.

Highly enjoyable – while writing this review I was giggling as certain parts of the story came back to me. Its not going to change your life – but thats not the point. What it WILL do is give you a lovely little break from your own existance and let you live a short time in someone elses shoes. Great fun!


I asked: How much of Clara was based on yourself and your personal views on getting older?


Clara started off being pretty much me (in My Life On A Plate), but these days she’s become her own person and there’s only about 10% of me left in her. There’s still some overlap, but it’s almost accidental. Having said that, her views on ageing do mirror mine, more or less – but I hope that they also mirror those of any woman who catches sight of herself one day and thinks “I’m not overly delighted with this new wrinkle”.


Thank you SO much to India and to Penguin Books. I hope that anyone picking up this book after reading this will have as much fun as we did.


You can follow India on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/indiaknight

Find out more about Penguin here: http://www.penguin.co.uk/#

Purchase Information Clickety Click http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780241955048,00.html?strSrchSql=india+knight/Mutton_India_Knight


Happy Reading Folks!


2 Days to go..Neil White and Next to Die.

Next to Die HiRes Visneil


So we all know (Well anyone that knows me!) that I’m quite a fan of Neil White’s crime fiction. As he embarks on a new series of books, starting with “Next to Die” out on Thursday, I tracked him down to find out a little bit more about him….Here is what he had to say.


Do you have any rituals or habits when writing?


Distracting myself is my main habit. I find it hard to sit and do nothing but write, and so I might be at the computer for four hours, but around three hours of that is browsing newspaper websites or just generally messing about, like deciding to make another coffee or deciding which CD to put on (which then gets turned off because it is too distracting).


I’m not very ritualistic about writing. Sometimes I might sit down for a concerted spell of writing and do hardly any, or I grab what I think will be a quick thirty minutes at the end of a long day and it flows and flows.


Have you considered writing a book out of your usual genre?


I do want to write a book about Johnny Cash, but from a very specific angle. It’s something I might do if I get a spare couple of months, and I’ll do it just for me. As for fiction, I have never considered anything other than crime. It’s what I read and it’s what I watch and it’s what I do in my day job.


Bookmark or Page folder?


Page folder. Bookmarks are too organised and deciding which bookmark to use would take up too much time.


Kindle or Print book?


Print book.


I have a Kindle, and have enjoyed reading books on it, but I only ever turn to the Kindle when my print book pile has been finished.


Have your experiences as a Prosecutor influenced any of your story lines?


Not directly, but I have used little asides I’ve heard rather than cases. The main influence is that I am comfortable in that field, and so I don’t feel like my research is starting from scratch.


Desert Island book?


That’s a tough question. Probably To Kill A Mockingbird, but only because it’s the only book I’ve read where I have immediately wanted to re-read it.


Favourite character from a book?


Lisbeth Salander. My main gripe with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was that there wasn’t enough of the girl with the dragon tattoo. I thought she was a very interesting character, and it was good to see her come to the fore more in the later books in the trilogy.


Rugby: Union or League and why?


Rugby League.


The simplest reason is that I grew up in Wakefield, and Wakefield is a rugby league city, the largest place in England without a football team. We lived on the same street as the Wakefield Trinity ground, St Catherines Street, when I was around five, and my father used to take me and my brothers to games when my mother was at work at a nearby variety club. I became hooked, and have stayed hooked. I am still a season ticket holder at Wakefield Trinity (now called the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats).


Rugby league is everything a crime fiction novel should be: fast, violent and exciting. I love the incessant eighty minutes of biff and bash, blood and muscle, sometimes a tactical arm wrestle, other times fast and furious. I have played rugby union, and the last time I carried a ball in anger was in a rugby union game, but rugby league is the sport for me, and always has been.


For any film buffs, the Wakefield Trinity ground was used in the 1962 Oscar-nominated Richard Harris film, This Sporting Life (as was the team). The player who knocked Harris out at the start of the film was the Wakefield captain, Derek Turner, and the rugby scenes were filmed prior to a Wakefield-v-Wigan cup game, with players from both sides pitching in.


Don’t ask me any questions about rugby league. I will talk about it all day.


In a recent interview with Neil during Favourite Authors week I asked him about his favourite book that he had written. As it talks about Next to Die here is what he told me back then.


That’s a hard question to start with, because it is hard to be objective about them, and perhaps the ones that have been the hardest to write have been better books because of that.


My favourite is the one due out next month in hardback and ebook, Next To Die, because it was the first book where I felt I was starting from a good position. My previous books were five in a series and then a standalone, but of course the series stemmed from a debut, Fallen Idols, where I was still learning how to put books together, perhaps not wholly comfortable with what I was doing, and if I went back I would perhaps change one or two things.


Next To Die is a new start for me, because it enabled me to develop a new series but from a starting point where I don’t feel like a complete newbie anymore. For instance, in my earlier series Jack Garrett was a journalist principally because I wanted to avoid having a lawyer as a main character, as whenever I found myself writing something legal I became more interested in making it accurate than interesting. One of the two main characters in Next To Die is a lawyer, a criminal defence lawyer, and I didn’t have the same fear, and because I’m a criminal lawyer, I felt like I had “come home”. That isn’t to say that I feel like I am in any way accomplished at what I do, but I feel less bewildered by it.


To nominate as a favourite a book that is due to come out may come across as being a cynical marketing ploy (*innocent face*) and so if I am forced to choose my favourite from the ones people might have read I will choose my fourth book, Dead Silent. If I think about why, I would say because it is the only plot I came up with in the previous six books where the lead character generated the story. I will try and explain.


In all the other books, I tended to have an idea of an angle and then fitted the story around that. In Lost Souls, I became interested in precognition and an arts professor called David Mandell. Last Rites was connected to the Pendle Witch legend. Cold Kill was based on the BTK killer, and in Beyond Evil I was trying to create a low-rent, Lancashire Charlie Manson. Dead Silent had a different genesis. Jack Garrett was a freelance crime reporter, and I wondered what would be the ultimate scoop for a crime reporter, and I guessed that it would be to locate Lord Lucan, the long-disappeared aristocratic nanny-killer. So I came up with the idea of Jack being approached by someone who knew a long-disappeared murdering toff, Claude Gilbert, who would come out of hiding through Jack, provided that Jack could prove his innocence first.


I didn’t hide the Lucan background, as a lot of the fake sightings of Claude Gilbert in Dead Silent were in fact “real” fake sightings of Lord Lucan, and the two locations crucial to the Lucan story were used in the book: the basement where the nanny was killed, and the pub to where Lucan’s wife ran in order to escape him.


So Dead Silent is the answer. The pace is slightly more gentle than the others, and it’s the fact that character generated the plot rather than an idea being fitted around the characters. Ironically, it has the lowest sales figures too.


Thank you so much Neil!


Review: Next to Die.


Neil White

Next to Die HiRes Vis

Coming 26th September from Sphere


Luckily I got my hands on a beautiful copy of this book before I imploded – Thanks Mr White and his publisher for the advanced copy. My chronic impatience was satisfied at last….

Joe Parker is a criminal defence lawyer with a reputation. Sam Parker is a detective on a mission. Years ago they suffered the loss of their sister to a violent crime – a burden they both dealt with in different ways. Now their worlds will collide again when a fresh set of murders hits the city – on opposite sides of the fence what will come first…the law or family?

Its no secret that I’m a huge fan of Neil White’s crime writing – each one has been better than the last and this one is no exception. For pure story flow and engaging with the reader its the best yet. We see the story unfold from several perspectives, Joe and Sam mainly with another voice in the mix. They are rivals the two brothers, that rivalry tinged with respect for each other that comes across very well. You may well fall in love with these two – I certainly did. Perhaps Joe more than Sam but hey, thats all in the eyes of the beholder. I did spend a fair amount of time yelling at them (in my head of course, my daughter cured me of the tendency to do it out loud some time ago!) to just TALK to each other in order to prevent the approaching mayhem and yet we move inexorably towards what may not be the happiest of endings. One thing Mr White does extremely well is create uncertainty when it comes to the chances of survival of those characters you become attached to…no-one is safe.

Another thing this author does extraordinarily well is the death scenes. Heck I love a good death scene – any avid reader of Crime Fiction does…and the clever thing about the way they are written here, and in previous novels, is the ability to make them both gruesome and heart wrenching. Sob. Not that easy to achieve.  It doesnt matter if the character doing the dying is someone you’ve only read two lines about or someone who has been there through it all – you are still going to feel the loss. It all adds up to make a great reading experience.

So. Great story, well told, a yarn, a tale, a wonderful thing. Fun and disturbing, yet another great addition to the Crime genre and one you don’t want to miss. There are crime books and there are CRIME books. This one is definitely the capital version.

Usually I would finish a review by saying “If you havent read this author before you need to start…..” but in this case, as this IS the start of this particular series of books, you can just read this one if you like! And you will. Then you will have a lovely back catalogue to work your way through as well.


Find out more here :  http://www.neilwhite.net/

Follow Neil on Twitter here https://twitter.com/neilwhite1965

Purchase Information clickety click here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Die-Neil-White/dp/0751549444/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380003914&sr=1-1&keywords=neil+white


Also Available: A selection.



To find out about all of Neil’s great books http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/neil-white/


Happy Reading Folks!

More reviewing pitfalls…and the latest policy from Goodreads..



So, on Friday evening I was buzzing around as usual on the internet, chatting away to some good friends discussing books and life in general. Then one of them said “Oh have you seen the latest policy change from Goodreads?” So I tootled over to the feedback portion of said site, where already users were up in arms…Here we go.




Now in principle this doesnt sound too bad…put a stop to adversarial content and internet bullying by ensuring that Goodreads remains a site for readers about books, and that people are protected (both authors and reviewers) from that minority that abuse and threaten. But if you look a little deeper there are several issues here – perhaps not so much with the policy itself, but with the implementation and the lack of specific guidelines and goals within the terms and conditions.

To my mind Goodreads made two significant errors here: Firstly they did a “dump and run” Posted the new policy on a Friday night, ensuring that all users had the weekend to get more and more worked up..which they did..with no staff members being around to answer queries. Secondly, they started arbitrarily removing shelves and reviews without giving the user time to back up their content – or the opportunity to change or update their data to bring it in line with the latest policy. No wonder users are angry….

It also appears on the surface that these changes are very much geared towards protecting authors, rather than the readers and reviewers who make Goodreads what it is. You will no longer be allowed it seems, to let other users know that a particular author is likely to give you grief if you dislike their book or give it a low rating/bad review. Now understandably shelves with the name “This author should die” or similar should not be acceptable to my mind – it is uncalled for and abusive. However Goodreads are not stopping there. Many users have lost shelves AND the reviews that went along with them that are marked such things as “Due to Author”. Now Due to Author can have many meanings. It may mean “I will read every book by this author because they are brilliant” or indeed the complete opposite. Hence the need, I feel, to be a lot more specific..because otherwise this will happen..




Poor Harry Potter!


So a huge error in judgement here from Goodreads, in this reviewer’s opinion. Of course some people are speculating as to the cause of this latest policy update and if you search around, or indeed read the comments on the thread I linked earlier you can find out what that is all about. I pass no comment, having never had a problem with ANY of the authors whose books I have reviewed – nor do I have any actual knowledge of this small group of Self Published Authors who seem to be causing a  problem – therefore I cannot speak with any confidence on the subject. However….




It does feel as if Goodreads are going to lose a certain amount of credibility going forward – reviewers who choose to remain on site are already talking about putting disclaimers in their reviews to cover the fact that they have had to self censure in order to keep them in line. Who is going to trust therefore that these reviews are actually telling it how it is?

Secondly, the authors that are going to be most affected are those authors who need the most help and honesty from bloggers and reviewers – the self published author. I can’t tell you how many messages I have received, or how many comments I have read in various book loving blogs/sites/just generally on my facebook saying that the easiest way to ensure that they do not come under fire is to simply refuse to read or review any book from a self published author, but to stick with those established authors with a publishing house behind them. Therefore giving them the safety net of knowing there is a certain amount of integrity and mutual respect each way. I have to say, reading some of the horror stories its a temptation I have myself. If it wasnt for the fact that I have had dealings with many self published authors, and not ONCE had an issue, then I would indeed be reconsidering when and how to accept books offered for review….


I do think its VERY important to crack down on ACTUAL internet bullying, and I would applaud Goodreads for making a genuine effort to do so. However this particular policy does not seem to have that effect…if anything it appears to allow those very very few authors  who do “stalk” reviewers around the internet, threatening to expose their personal information, carte blanche to continue…with the tacit approval of a large and busy book reviewing internet site. Am I right? Wrong? Only time will tell. And I think things need to settle down first so we can see exactly how this policy will be implemented.


I am very interested to hear the thoughts of anyone reading this post today – most especially authors and reviewers. Please leave me a comment either here or on Twitter.


Happy Reading Folks!

Coming Next Week to Liz Loves Books.

Hey its the weekend again folks – lets hope its a good one. It surely will be for me, a lovely copy of Dr Sleep by Stephen King arrived on my doorstep this morning. As I am near the end of my current batch of books, guess whats next for me? Anyway, I digress…here is what you can find on site next week….





On Monday I shall be passing comment on Goodreads and the recent changes to their policies that have a lot of people up in arms and exiting the building stage left…for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about here is a linky link to help.


I will be giving my thoughts on this and reviewing in general. Hey I’ve had a whole lot of lovely author interviews lately – about time I did some work myself. See what I actually think of the whole thing on Monday….


Next to Die HiRes Vis


On Tuesday as a little teaser for the book release on Thursday, I shall be talking to Neil White all about Next to Die amongst other things…don’t miss that folks, I’m fairly sure you will want to be getting your hands on a copy of this….




On Wednesday my lovely daughter Melissa and I will be talking about “Mutton” by India Knight…a book about growing old gracefully -or not as the case may be – this was a fun read and caused some hilarity in our household. We thought it would be great to give a mother/daughter viewpoint and also India answered a couple  of questions for us. Find out what she had to say on Wednesday…..




On Thursday the actual release date for “Next to Die” I shall be talking about some books that I, personally, am dying to read. And why. And also talking a little bit about that pre release excitement that a lot of readers suffer – yes suffer! You can hear all about that on Thursday…




On Friday I shall be handing the front page over to Amie once more so she can update you on her writing progress amongst other things and we can catch up with her and see how she is getting on.


Hopefully something there will take your fancy!


Happy Reading Folks!





Liz Currently Loves…Nearest Thing to Crazy by Elizabeth Forbes.



I recently read “Nearest Thing to Crazy” the debut novel from Elizabeth Forbes and it was superb. Elizabeth kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me about the novel and here is what she had to say….


Cass is quite a complex character – how well did you know her at the start of the writing process and how did she evolve?


I didn’t know Cass very well when I started to write her story. But I knew that she was vulnerable, and that she was very emotionally honest with herself. As such a large part of the narrative is focalized through her inner life, I wanted her to be both interesting and knowable – in terms of being a recognizable consciousness – to my readers. Being recognizable doesn’t necessarily make her likeable to everybody. And I know that a lot of people have found her vulnerability to be irritating. But, to me, that’s what makes her human. If she’d been a strong, feisty kind of character she wouldn’t have been open to the manipulation. And people can start off feisty and strong in their relationships, and yet get worn down and trapped. They can’t stand far enough outside of themselves to see their situations objectively. I suppose they get a bit eroded, like Cass. You either ‘get’ her or you don’t, as with people in real life.


I never really know my characters when I start to write, but as the process develops I find that they start to tell me who they are rather than the other way around. I get to see who they are by the way they react to the things I throw at them, and by the way their past has shaped them. Isn’t that the way we get to know people in real life too?


Do you have a favourite character from the novel?

Funnily enough, I’m not sure. I understand Cass and the way she is because I created her and, in the same way, I think I understand Dan too. I think he reacted to the situation in a way which many men would understand – which doesn’t make him right, but I don’t think he’s unusual in his behaviour, given the circumstances. And equally Ellie has a backstory which makes some sense of who she is. I suppose if I was pushed I’d probably have to say Cass because I was in her head so much of the time. And I like her dry way of seeing some of the things going on around her. I love the fact that she’s far from perfect. I think I’d like her if I met her at a party because she’s warm, modest and open, and she can be quite funny. But I’d also have to say that being inside her head was often a very uncomfortable place to be!

I’m a terrific fan of twisty tales, is it difficult to write one realistically and still manage to surprise?

Oh yes! I know that lots of writers plan their novels meticulously and know exactly how their novels are going to end. I never do, which makes life difficult at times, particularly when I get within, say, three or four chapters from the end and I still don’t know what’s going to happen. But on the positive side, by not knowing the denouement, I think this helps in not subconsciously laying clues down as to the way the twists will work out. If I don’t know, then hopefully neither will the reader.

I love that you use the word ‘realistically’. Because I want to write stories that really do connect with real life, and that people can think: ‘this could happen to me…’ or ‘I know this person…’. I’m not the first person to call it the domestic gothic, but I think that’s what it is. The real fear of real things which can happen in the home – that aren’t based around crimes or brutal murders. Mental abuse, physical abuse… isolation and depression, things that might be happening right under our noses to people we are close to, but may have no idea what’s going on. To me that’s really frightening.


Can you tell us anything about your next project?

I’m working on it now and hope to have it ready for publication in June next year. Again it will be based around the domestic gothic, and will be an exploration of the relationship of a dysfunctional couple. At the moment they are SERIOUSLY dysfunctional, and not particularly sympathetic, so I am trying to understand what has made them who they are, and what attracted them to each other in the first place, so I hope the reader won’t be put off. I always find the unlikeable characters so much more interesting, and am bemused when people say they don’t enjoy books unless the characters are likeable. Some of the best characters in literature have been pretty nasty, but maybe the point is they have to be understandable and vulnerable too. It’s an interesting dilemma, I think.  I am moving away from first person narration although the story will be focalised through the two main characters; so I get to be a man which is a challenge, and I’m using the present tense which is also a bit of a challenge. I think it will be darker than Nearest Thing to Crazy.

Favourite “comfort” read – either book or author. (or both!)

Jane Austen

First thing apart from loved ones and pets you would rescue from a burning building?

Computer – so then I’d have my photographs, my books and my music.


Favourite thing to do on a Lazy Sunday.

Tea and terriers and chats in bed. Sunday papers. The Archers omnibus – not necessarily because I know what’s going on, but because it’s soothing to have in the background. A visit from my grown up children. Chats in the kitchen with an excellent Bloody Mary made by my husband while roast and vegetables – preferably from the garden – crumble, etc are prepared. Maybe a few friends to join us, and a long, lingering, noisy lunch and then, when everyone’s gone, feet up on the sofa with three dogs squashing me and watching something great on the television – Homeland would be my ideal, but failing that Downton Abbey!


Thank you so much!



So this book had been on my wishlist,  it finally got put into my latest book budget batch – and before I start the review I have to say I chose to go for the print copy rather than the Kindle copy because its got a terrific eye catching cover. Looks great in real life! Kudos to the designer. Sometimes I think that it is becoming a lost art what with technology allowing instant gratification of ebook downloads these days so I’m always on the look out for good ones for my shelf! Anyway apologies to Ms Forbes as I digress….


Cass and her Husband Dan live a quiet life in the country…One day they gain a new neighbour, the glamorous Ellie, arriving to write her new novel in the peace of the rural setting. At first Cass is pleased to welcome Ellie into their midst but a series of events leads her to  start feeling disconnected from her life…and a little scared…but she can’t pinpoint exactly why….


Very much a character driven novel, mostly seen through the eyes of Cass herself, this is a beautiful and brilliantly written example of a psychological thriller, a terrific twisty tale and a completely captivating look at village life to boot. Cass is both amazingly complex and deceptively simple – the author has given her a true voice…and it almost casts a spell over you as you read. Never quite sure whether she is reading too much into things or whether something really is afoot, it will keep you deliciously off balance throughout the story….


A snapshot of village life, the setting is almost a character in itself. Village gossip abounds…the supporting cast can almost be imagined as being in the midst of a rather long running game of chinese whispers…but who is saying what and why? More to the point who is HEARING what and why…cleverly achieved. Despite the fact that the majority of the novel is seen through the eyes of a single character it doesnt read that way…it appears as if they are all talking. And therein lies the magic of the story and the charm of the reading experience for me.

Very enjoyable, a high standard of writing and  lovely prose make this a must read for fans of this type of tale and indeed fans of intriguing storytelling in any genre.


You can follow Elizabeth Forbes on Twitter here. https://twitter.com/lizzieforbes

For purchase information clickety click : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nearest-Thing-Crazy-Elizabeth-Forbes/dp/1908122587/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379314497&sr=1-1


Happy Reading Folks!

A Little Game Called Beat the Author….and the two that got me!



So when I read a wonderful twisty tale I always play a little game called Beat the Author. Can I work it out? Will I end up with my jaw on the floor or a smug sense of satisfaction that I got there before the end…

I’m not beaten very often. In my younger years as an avid reader of the (still) Queen of Crime Agatha Christie, I was often floored by the ultimate resolution. Hercule Poirot  always had a far superior intelligence as did Miss Marple…as soon as it became clear that THEY knew the answer, at whatever point in the novel that was, but I didnt, I knew I was beaten.

Strangely, apart from the two authors you can hear from in a moment, the other living author who has often come close to beating me is Sophie Hannah – not quite but nearly. Her twisty tales are, for me, oddly similar to Ms Christie’s, and now she is the author chosen to give us a new Poirot story. I know that this decision has been controversial (not necessarily that Ms Hannah is the one but that anyone at all should dare) but I am excited and enthralled by the news. I’m positive that great things are about to happen…

Now to the point. Two authors whose books I love, with one of their creations, managed to utterly, unequivocably and with dramatic flair, completely beat me. I never saw it coming, could not have imagined such a thing, and certainly I now understand the phrase “Jaw Dropping” in the very literal sense…

I asked both these lovely ladies the same questions about these books. And here is what they had to tell me. Lets start with this….




Also author of The Poison Tree and The Sick Rose, I am a huge fan of Erin Kelly. Certainly The Poison Tree was a book that stayed in my soul, and in the future you can hear more about that. Today however, its “The Burning Air”…a book that had such an unexpected turnaround and game changing twist  that I stayed up all night to finish it….Yes Ms Kelly you got me. And properly as well!

When you wrote “The Burning Air” did you start with the twist and work around it or was it more organic than that?

It was definitely an organic process. I don’t plan much in advance, writing in scenes rather than chapters, and the plot evolves as I go along. My books are character-driven and I would find it hard to start with a twist, or a concept, and work backwards from there.
The Burning Air is about a family weekend in a country house that goes horribly wrong when the youngest member is kidnapped. As the book progresses, it emerges that the baby was taken for reasons that are rooted years in the past. The book essentially tells the same story from the viewpoints of five different characters. The first part of the novel tells the story of baby Edie’s abduction from her mother’s point of view, and I always knew that I wanted to end the book by telling the story’s conclusion from the perspective of Edie’s grandfather. But during the first draft I left the middle open ended, because three people were in the running to be the culprit and I wanted to get to know my characters a little more before I committed to one. Only when I read it through for the first time did I see the opportunity for the twist, and I hesitated for a long time before I went for it. It’s more tricksy and audacious than anything in either of my other novels, and I almost didn’t include it at all.
How does it feel when a reader tells you that you surprised them and they never saw it coming?

Very satisfying indeed. It’s sort of what I live for.
Do you have a favourite twisty tale that you have read?
My favourite plot twist of all time comes halfway through Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. I don’t think it’s giving too much away to reveal that it relates to a certain character’s identity, and it’s a masterclass in how to create a twist that shocks the reader without ever cheating them – when you look back, the clues are there, and that should be true of all fiction but especially suspense and thrillers. It’s a handbrake turn that changes the direction of the rest of the book and recasts everything that’s come before in a new light. And the reveal takes place within a brilliant, atmospheric scene that is one of the great set-pieces of the book. Jake Arnott plays a similar trick to brilliant effect in He Kills Coppers, as does Ira Levin in A Kiss Before Dying.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is the book I wish I’d written. If, like everyone else on the planet, you’ve read Gone Girl, you’ll know that in Flynn’s writing the twists and turns come thick and fast, and the beauty of Sharp Objects is that ‘the big reveal’ is followed a few pages later by the real truth, which got me so completely that I had to put the book down for a moment and think about what I’d read. Again, it’s so hard to discuss without including spoilers, but I’ll just say that every now and then on Twitter, I see a tweet along the lines of ‘Oh my god, I’ve just got to the bit with the teeth!’ and they’re always talking about Sharp Objects.

Do you play a version of “beat the author” yourself and if so, how successful are you?
I think everyone does that when they’re reading to some extent, even if we don’t consciously make a game of it. I do read books in my own genre slightly differently since I have been published. I can’t help but wonder where I would be taking the story if it was mine. And I have to say that the more I read – and the more I write – the easier it gets to tell where things are going. Maybe that’s because I don’t select my own reading as much as I used to. I get sent three or four books a week, often debuts, by publishers looking for blurbs. I try to read as many of these as I can and the law of averages means that some of them will be predictable.
I’ve probably read three or four psychological thrillers in the past year where I was completely swept along without a clue where the author was taking me: the first that come to mind are Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald and The Sacrificial Man by Ruth Dugdall. When books are this well-written, this tight and convincing and atmospheric, I don’t want to beat the author. I just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Follow Erin Kelly on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/mserinkelly




Next we come to Tina Seskis and “One Step Too Far”. The question this book asked was..”No-one has ever guessed Emily’s secret…will you?”. And I said. Of course I will. I am extremely clever and NO-ONE gets me (except Erin Kelly). Sigh. Did I get it? Well of COURSE not! Otherwise you wouldnt be reading this now. Here is what Tina had to tell me…


When you wrote “One Step Too Far” did you start with the twist and work around it or was it more organic than that?

I actually had the idea for that twist whilst on holiday in Venice, completely out of the blue, for no good reason at all.  Up until that point I’d had no intention of writing a novel (having tried once many years ago – for about half an hour – on a beach in Goa), but when I got the idea for One Step Too Far I was so excited by it that when I got home I started writing the story down, and it went from there.  Re the other twists in both my books, half of them I don’t even know are going to happen myself until I’ve physically written them down, so they can come as quite a shock to me too!

 How does it feel when a reader tells you that you surprised them and they never saw it coming ?  
I always hope that I surprised them in a good way – in that revealing the twist allowed the novel to make sense at last, that it was plausible, that they could relate to the characters and maybe feel some of their emotions.  I have been humbled by some of the comments I’ve received.
 Do you have a favourite twisty tale that you have read?  
Any of Agatha Christie’s classics – I devoured all her books as a child.  Plus a few years ago I read a more contemporary novel that I must confess I didn’t enjoy that much but that completely got me at the end.  I suppose thinking about it now its twist is a little similar to the one in One Step Too Far – although I can’t tell you which book it is in case it gives the game away.  Aha, now you can play “Guess the novel that One Step Too Far is influenced by!!”
Do you play a version of “beat the author” yourself and if so, how successful are you?  
I am RUBBISH at guessing twists, so I almost never get them.  (I’m even worse with films.)
Follow Tina Seskis on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/tinaseskis
Thank you both so much for taking part have loved to hear some of the background to two such terrific books! Reviews for both of the books mentioned can be found in the “Highly Recommended” section of this site.
Happy Reading Folks!

Joanne Graham and Lacey’s House.



So a few weeks ago I read a wonderful novel, Lacey’s House, and it was emotional and compelling. I caught up with the author, Joanne Graham and asked her a few questions – here is what she had to say.


I believe Lacey’s character was inspired by your maternal grandmother. Can you tell us a little more about that?

My Grandmother Hilda was a fairly unique person. I remember that growing up everyone treated her gently when she came to visit, as though she may break. We spoke more softly around her, we didn’t criticise anything or play too vigorously. As I got older I learned about her depression when my mother was younger. That my mother had lived for a while with her own Grandmother when my Grandmother was struggling. I learned of her overwhelming grief following the deaths of two of her children and that ultimately she received electric shock treatment and was lobotomised as a result. When I first started researching the history of lobotomy in order to develop Lacey as a character, I was horrified by what I found and some of these horrors made their way into the book because I felt they were stories that needed telling. Although Lacey herself is a fictional character, some of her experiences were based in a reality that caused suffering and heartache for many people. The sad fact is that my Grandmother’s depression was treated with violence and cruelty and her story brought into sharp relief the tragic lack of understanding that existed around mental health issues; issues that, to an extent, still exist today. I wanted to create a character that was both sympathetic and likeable but also confused and struggling with reality.

You have created two very strong yet haunted female characters – did they evolve over the course of the writing or did you know pretty much everything in advance? 


Perhaps a little of both.  I knew the sort of person I wanted Lacey to be and I knew that I wanted Rachel to carry her own wounding with strength as well as vulnerability. I had written a character analysis for both of them around these points. But their character’s really developed fully when I started weaving their stories together, as the story unfolded and they began reacting to one another in such a way as to create the personal bond that grows as the tale is told. I knew roughly how each of their stories would end before I had even begun to write the first draft but there were some things that happened that came as a bit of a surprise even to me, things I hadn’t thought of until I reached a certain point in the story.


How did it feel to win the 2012 Luke Bitmead Bursary and can you tell us a bit about it?


I’ll never forget how it felt to win the Luke Bitmead Bursary. It had never occurred to me that I would win. I knew that I could write but I have never been particularly confident in my own creative ability and so I was thrilled simply to have been shortlisted. I thought that I would go to London for the awards ceremony, meet some other writers, toast the winner and say congratulations and then go home again. It was a very surreal moment when I was announced as the winner and it is something that only really exists in a blur, I think that perhaps I went in to shock. In that moment my pipe dream career became a reality and I never thought that would ever be the case. It made me realise that you should always aim high and reach for your dreams because sometimes they do manifest in ways you never believed possible.


Favourite genre to read ?


I love to read thrillers, anything that has me on the edge of my seat and turning the pages super fast and, equally, I love fantasy such as David Eddings’ Belgariad. I love tales told around mystical lands, magic, dragons and unicorns, for me that is the ultimate in escapism.


Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday?


On the very rare occasions that I have a lazy Sunday, I find pyjama days utterly blissful. Snuggling up on the sofa with piles of snacks, a good film and a pile of cushions. Hair unbrushed, feet stuffed into fluffy socks and a chilled bottle of dry white wine as night falls. Sigh!


Favourite comfort food?


Ooh comfort food…so many to choose from. I would have to say that savoury would be something rich and spicy, I adore a spicy Chilli topped off with an obscene amount of sour cream and grated cheese and sweet would be some kind of fresh cream cake, preferably raspberry pavlova but anything creamy and cakey really, it’s all good!


Thanks Joanne!




Lacey is the village enigma. Considered to be a mad old lady, ignored by the locals and teased by the children she lives a solitary life. When Rachel moves in next door an unlikely bond forms between the pair…could it be that they have more in common than they realise?


What a pair of amazing female characters Joanne Graham has created here…both with great sadness in their past and worries about their future, watching the friendship develop over the course of this novel was a beautiful thing. Told chapter by chapter with either one or the other taking the lead, we slowly find out what has affected them so deeply and just why they are perfect companions – yes there is a mystery here, the mystery of Lacey and whether or not she can be trusted and just what she might have done but that is really kind of peripheral to the point for me. Its a story of friendship. How the most unlikely people can become the ones closest to your heart – a story of love, of loss and of trust both given and received.


Its a gentle tale but a compelling one. An interesting look at how a less than perfect childhood can affect your whole life – and yet both these ladies are strong in their own way, perhaps because of that. The writing style is easy and flowing with a clever eye to reality. The ups and downs of village life are apparent…and how one rumour can last a lifetime.


I loved it. Insightful and intriguing, heart wrenching and wonderful, keep the tissues handy when you are reading this one. I needed a box full. I can’t wait to see what this author gives us next.


You can Follow Joanne on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/YarrowH

Find out more about Legend Press here: http://www.legendpress.co.uk/

Find out more about the Luke Bitmead Bursary: http://www.lukebitmead.com/

To Purchase Lacey’s House clickety click. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Laceys-House-Joanne-Graham/dp/1909395676/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378969344&sr=1-1&keywords=laceys+house


Happy Reading Folks!



My Life In Books – A-Z Questions.



So thanks Susi for encouraging me to do this – its been terrific fun. And here are my answers!


Author You’ve Read The Most Books From

Stephen King. No doubt. I have read everything he has ever written and more than once as well. Amazing writing, totally absorbing every time, I’ve never met a Stephen King novel I did not love.

When I was in my teens Victoria Holt and Agatha Christie also  took up my time along with Mr King. Victoria Holt wrote romantic historical mysteries and I have the complete collection which I return to on occasion. Agatha Christie of course still reigns as the Queen of Crime all these years later. I still find reading her novels fascinating.




Best Sequel Ever.


Oh tough one. I’m going to go with “The Lonely Dead” the second of the Straw Men Trilogy from another of my favourite authors, Michael Marshall. Expanding on the mythology of the tale beautifully, I probably enjoyed this one even more than the first because I already knew and loved the characters. The standard did not drop with “Blood of Angels” the third in the trilogy and currently the last. I live in hope though….




Currently Reading.


The Mermaids Singing by Val Mcdermid as I embark on a re-read of all her books to update her page here. Alongside that I am also reading a brilliant debut, “The Twins” by Saskia Sarginson and a wonderful twisty tale “Game” by Anders De La Motte which is coming soon.


Drink of Choice while Reading


Coffee or Coca Cola. Which is pretty much all I drink most of the time. And the odd gin of course – but normally not while reading!


E Reader or Physical book.


Both! I love a great print book but the ability to read what you want NOW is compelling. I love my Kindle and my book collection – try and take either one away from me and there WILL be blood!

I buy print books now either to complete a collection or because the cover art speaks to me. Great covers are becoming a lost art in the digital world – lets bring them back! If you want me to buy your book in the physical form then give me a reason to love it! If the cover compels me I will purchase the novel and keep it safely on one of my beautiful shelves.


Glad you gave this book a chance..


The Humans by Matt Haig. The book that saved my life. Not in my immediate comfort zone genre wise, it might have passed me by. Thanks to the joys of Twitter it did not. And now it is one of my best loved books of all time and I do not jest when I say I am still in this world because of it.




Hidden Gem Book.


The Devil You Know by Mike Carey. Practically forced upon me by a good friend, it was my first foray into the Urban Fantasy genre. I loved it and I love those types of books now. I read them all. Matthew Swift, Dresden, Peter Grant I love them all!


Important Moment in your reading life…


Finding a copy of “The Stand” on offer in my local shop. When it was released in paperback in the uncut version they ran a promotion. In those days I was young and living on pocket money, I picked it up simply because I wanted something to read and it was within my budget. Imagine if I had not – A life without King possibly? It doesnt bear thinking about….


Just Finished.


The Reluctant Cannibals by Ian Flitcroft. A most amazingly delightful book, if you adore reading and are looking for a terrific tale, pick this one up. A culinary delight!




Kinds of books you won’t read…


I don’t read and never will again, books about child abuse like the ones written by David Pelzer. I have read two – one of his and one other. Its not because I find them hard to read, although true stories of this nature are heart wrenching, but because I have found several times that the so called “true” nature of some of these tales have been outed as, in fact, false. I know that there are genuine novels from genuine sufferers out there and my heart goes out to them – but sorry I’m not reading your stories because its an emotive subject and one that should be taken extremely seriously and not used solely for financial gain. This is absolutely a personal opinion – there are a lot of these books out there and they tend to sell well, so people obviously want to read them. Everyone should be allowed to make their own reading choices without censure or judgement. They are just not for me.

I don’t tend to read a lot of true life stuff anyway. Unless its books by profilers about profiling – a subject I find endlessly fascinating.


Longest book you’ve read.

Hmm I’ve read a few long ones. Probably The Stand by Stephen King and Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I do love a good long book – some books are over before you know it!


Major Book Hangover because of …


The Book  Thief. Thanks Will Carver for insisting I read it, but I cried forever and actually get tears in my eyes when I look back on it. Runner up would be 11.22.63 by Stephen King – the bit at the end had me in pieces.




Number of Bookcases you own..


3 in the Dining Room which also doubles as my office for the blog. 5 dotted around the front room and a couple upstairs. I also have a book cupboard, an attic full and my dining table teeters on the edge of book destruction….


One Book you have read multiple times.


Way too many to mention…Re-reading is one of my great joys. I am currently in the midst of a re-read of John Connolly, Stephen King, Val McDermid, Michael Marshall and R J Ellory so I can update all their pages.

Stephen King is my most re read set of books. They are my comfort novels and if I feel even vaguely distressed, his is the shelf I turn to…


Preferred place to read.


Curled up in bed or in my gigantic comfy swivel reading chair that takes pride of place in my front room and overlooks the garden…


Quote that inspired you from a book you read…


“Your Life will have 25,000 days in it. Make sure you remember some of them. ”

The Humans. Matt Haig.


Reading Regret.


None. Even when I don’t like a book I don’t regret picking it up. I don’t waste time though. If you havent captured me by chapter 3, you are not capturing me at all and you will end up lost in the mists of time ( or my local charity shop to be precise)


Series you started and need to finish…


The Sanctus Trilogy from Simon Toyne. Kate at Harper Collins sent me the first one as I was refusing to read it on principle (I hate Religious Conspiracy Thrillers in the ilk of Dan Brown) and I had a massive reading  turnaround by loving every bit of it. I immediately bought the other two and they are on my shelf looking at me but I’m busy…Soon though..soon. And I can’t wait to read the third in “The Passage” trilogy from Justin Cronin. I wish it would hurry up!




Three of your all time favourite books.


The Stand by Stephen King, The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway and more recently The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell.




Unapologetic Fangirl for….


Neil White. Love that guy and his books. I WILL force you to read them if you havent already….




Very Excited for this release more than others…


Dr Sleep by Stephen King of course! The Shining being a terrific novel ( and no it has yet to be made into a film that matches the brilliance of the reading experience, despite the fact that Jack Nicholson rocked!) I cannot wait to find out whats next for Danny. And with the exception of The Dark Tower series and The Talisman books written with Peter Straub, Stephen King doesnt do sequels….although if you are a “Constant Reader” you know he gives you character updates….




Worst Bookish Habit…


Throwing books I’ve disliked out of the window. Literally. Little piles often hang around until someone else in the household does something useful with them….


X marks the spot…start at the top left and pick the 44th Book.


Like Susie, I have gone with my age for this one. I landed on “The Likeness” by Tana French. Such a terrific writer I’m sure she should be more famous than she appears to be….


Your latest book purchase.


The Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell. Having read The Shadow Year I can’t wait to get into this one…


ZZZ snatcher book.


Stayed up all night finishing “Black Chalk” by Christopher Yates because I HAD to know. Erin Kelly’s “The Burning Air” as well. HAD to finish that one. Would have died trying if necessary….




So there you go. Hope I’ve managed to be vaguely interesting. I would encourage other bloggers to do this one – it was great fun!


Happy Reading Folks!

Woman Walks Into A Bar….Rowan Coleman on behalf of Refuge.



In a moment you can hear from Rowan Coleman all about her book and the things she is trying to achieve – I caught up with her and asked a few questions. Before that though….

First of all I’m going to tell you the most important thing about today’s post. You can help support Refuge and get a great story to read to boot, by clickety clicking the link and purchasing Woman Walks Into A Bar. 100% of royalties will go direct to Refuge and the aim is to raise £10,000. We can do that…right? Its a great cause and a lovely thing that Rowan is doing and if you love reading it is a fun way to help out if you can of course.



So I talked a little to Rowan about it all and here is what she had to say.


Domestic abuse is an emotive subject – were you surprised at the response you got when researching for your writing?


Surprised and shocked, and horrified. I suppose, like many people I thought that abuse with in a relationship was rare, happened to people far away, who lead very different sorts of lives. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, it affects women, men, children. And yet its still a problem that exists in the shadows and behind closed doors.


Are the characters in “Woman Walks into a Bar”  based on anyone you know?


They are not. Its funny, when I wrote that book I had Sam, the lead character very firmly pictured in my mind, she was very vivid to me. Its been nice to get responses from people who’ve read who feel sure she is a real person. Also when I wrote Sam’s daughter, my daughter was 5, she is 12 too now, and I recognise a lot of traits in her!


Tell us a little bit about Refuge – the charity that you are supporting.


Refuge was founded in the year I was born 1971, and it was one of the first organisation to seek to offer help, advice and a place of safety to women and families seeking to escape an abusive situation. It’s done amazing work in brining the problem of domestic abuse into the public eye over the decades, and continues to work hard reaching out to people who need help, giving them the support and courage they need to make the break. I am very pleased to be able to do my small bit to support them, although its mainly the bloggers who are helping me spread the word and especially the readers that download the book, that are the ones to thank. So, thank you! xxx


Thank you Rowan and good luck! I will certainly be purchasing a copy and I will review it on site soon.


Book Synopsis

A night out with the girls changes Sam’s life forever…

28-year-old single mother Sam spends her days working in the local supermarket and her Friday nights out with her friends letting her hair down at the White Horse. Life hasn’t been easy for Sam and her daughter, Beth (who always looks on the bright side) but she’s always hoped that one day she’ll break free from her past and meet The One.

But after a series of terrible dates with men she’s met through an internet dating site, that have all been as awful as her daughter’s terrible jokes, she’s starting to lose heart – until her friends tell her they’ve set her up on a blind date. Sam’s horrified but finally she agrees to go. After all you never know when you might meet the man of your dreams; just maybe Sam’s happy ending is just about to begin….

But will Sam have to face up to her past before she can find a new future?


Find out more about Rowan and the books here: http://rowan-coleman.tumblr.com/

You can follow on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/rowancoleman


To find out more about Refuge and how they help : http://refuge.org.uk/


Happy Reading Folks!