Monday, January 27, 2014

Links to interesting book related things around the internet

Joanna Rossiter author of The Sea Change, on The Richard and Judy books blog gives 7 tips to get more reading done and shares her current reading list here

While over on her blog my good friend Mags has recommended an alternative list of classics that are "Must Reads"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Reading Resolutions

Do you read more male or female authors? Will this piece from The Guardian make you change your habits?

I feel I should examine my own reading habits. I know I read a lot of women authors but is it 50/50?
Here is my year in books 2013

The Medici Mirror by Melissa Bailey

This is a haunting historical mystery set in three different time periods. Beginning with Catherine de Medici, Queen of France who cuts a lonely figure as a jealous wife, she begins to dabble in the black arts. Then travelling to present day London where recently divorced architect Johnny is commissioned to redesign an abandoned shoe factory into a designer split level home. Johnny discovers a hidden room in the basement, there he finds a long forgotten Venetian mirror. Spooked by his encounter with the mirror Johnny feels the dark presence that had been locked away in the hidden room spill out into his own life impacting on his burgeoning relationship with Ophelia, both are drawn to the mirror and the secrets it holds. Johnny begins to research the mirror's history and discovers a link to a tragic death which took place in the factory many years before. Is it possible that the mirror is haunted?
This is a wonderful piece of storytelling in the vein of Barbara Erskine, Rachel Hore, Kate Mosse and Helen Moorhouse, with fantastic characters and a thrilling denouement. I enjoyed the way that Melissa drip fed the three story lines throughout the book never revealing too much or too little. I look forward to this author's next book and highly recommend this to fans of the ghostly, the historical and the time-slip.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Liar's Daughter

A new novel from Laurie Graham is always a reason to celebrate. She is a fabulous writer of humour, her new novel The Liar’s Daughter sees her return to the Georgian period, the setting for last year’s bestselling A Humble Companion. Nan Prunty grows up in poverty in Portsmouth, her mother runs an alehouse that she renames The Duchess of Prunty as she claims that would have been her title had her lover Lord Nelson lived to make an honest woman of her. As her mother drinks away the profits of her alehouse and falls on harder times Nan is forced to work on the streets but not every man she meets is bad and she is offered a place at John Pounds makeshift school. Having gained an education Nan seeks to better herself and so she sets off for London and adventure but not before seeing her mother settled and endeavouring to learn as much as she can about Lord Nelson. Once in London she finds work, family and adventure eventually travelling to work as a nurse in the Crimea, but she never gives up her search for the truth of her origins. This is a funny, descriptive, rich and warm hearted novel Laurie Graham has a knack for bringing alive the sights, sounds and smells of yesteryear perfect for fans of Deborah Moggach and Katherine Webb.

This review originally appeared on

The Hurlyburly's Husband

The Hurlyburly’s Husband is at once a glorious bawdy comic romp of aristocratic foppery and folly at the court of the Sun King and a poignant portrait of a man desperate to save the love of his life from depravity. The Marquis de Montespan is a man very much in love with his beautiful wife but with lack of money a constant problem for a couple who enjoy partying, drinking and gaming, an opportunity for Athenais to become a lady in waiting to the Queen seems heaven sent. However when she catches the eye of the King and becomes his mistress Montespan is broken hearted even holding a mock funeral for his lost love. He cuts a tragic figure amongst the other nobles who laugh at his genuine feeling and mock him but when he threatens the King, Montespan is made an outcast. This is a glorious retelling of genuine historic events at the French court in which a quixotic figure is restored to the role of hero of his own tale.

This review originally appeared on

The Witch's Daughter

The Witch’s Daughter is an enchanting and magical read from start to finish. I was delighted to discover that this is the first of a series because I cannot wait to read more from this wonderful author. I knew as soon as I read the blurb that this book would be for me and I was not disappointed. A must for fans of Carol Goodman, Deborah Harkness, Lee Carroll and Diana Gabaldon, The Witch’s Daughter is the tale of Elizabeth Hawksmith born in the early seventeenth century when just the suspicion of witchcraft was a death sentence. Following a terrible sickness that ravages her village Bess’s mother is tried and hanged for witchcraft. She knows that she will soon follow and seeks help from Gideon Masters who teaches her the dark arts. Endowed now with the gift of immortality and the ability to shape shift, Bess keeps moving on to escape the clutches of Gideon who hunts her through the centuries. Continuing to hone her skills as a healer and as a witch, Bess at last finds refuge in the present day and an apprentice witch in Tegan but even here she is not safe and Elizabeth must finally face her nemesis to save not only her own soul but that of the child she has come to love as a daughter. This is a dark and thrilling tale, magically written. Paula Brackston is an author to watch. 

This review originally appeared on welovethis

Interview with Caroline Finnerty

Caroline is the author of The Last Goodbye and In a Moment which I reviewed last year, you can read my review here

1.     Did you always want to write, did you write stories as a child?

I was a bookworm as a child and loved writing my own stories by ripping out pages of copybooks and stapling them all together, then doing an illustration for the cover. I also loved essay writing in secondary school but at the same time I never would have thought that I could write a book. It was one of those things you always think ‘other people’ do. I had an idea for a story a few years ago and just started writing it down. Ultimately I never finished that one but I was hooked. I realised how much I enjoyed the writing process and kept on at it in various ways writing stories, articles and also blogging. Then after my first child was born in 2009 I had the idea for ‘In a Moment’ and I was very fortunate to see it published in 2012.

2.     Where you an avid reader as a child and who were your favourite authors?

Yes I think I read every Enid Blyton series possible, Two books that have stayed with me as brilliant reads were Marita Conlon Mckenna’s ‘Under the Hawthorne Tree’ and ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ by Phillipa Pearce. Around the age of 11/12 it was onto Christopher Pike thrillers and Judy Blume, and then as a teenager I loved Virginia Andrews (probably not the most suitable) and Stephen King. I would also read whatever my mam had on her shelf at the time too.

I think books like ‘Under the Hawthorn tree’ were very influential on me helping to draw me in to the magic of reading. I remember literally holding my breath as I turned the pages and that’s why I think it’s so important for children to have similar experiences because if they do they will be life long readers.

3.     Do you plan carefully or just see where the writing takes you?

I really, really wish I was a better planner. It catches me out on every book and I always say next time I will plan more first but I just can’t do it that way no matter how much I try. I will usually start with a rough plot outline and the main characters. I usually have the title as well which for me seems to be crucial to forming the story in my head. Personally speaking, I don’t really get to know the story until I get to the end of the first draft and then I go back and bring it all together.

4.     Your writing style and the themes you explore remind me of Jodi Picoult. Did you set out to be an issue-led writer or do the characters come to you first?

No I didn’t actually but I can certainly see this is the route that I am going down and I’m happy with that as these are the books I like to read myself. My plots usually come about with a central issue or theme and then the characters usually come to me secondary. In general I am interested in back-story, the childhoods that shape the people we are today.

5.     Who are your favourite authors now? favourite book this year?

As January is only fresh out of the box, I going to name a few of my favourite reads from last year:

Susan Stairs The Story of Before
John Boyne’s The House of Special Purpose
Donal Ryan The Spinning Heart
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

6.     What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve started on my fourth book titled ‘My Sister’s Child’ but I have a bit of reworking of a storyline to do on my third book ‘Into The Night Sky’ which is due out in September so I will have to go back to that soon. I find it difficult to switch between projects/books though.

7.     Do you have your own writing rituals? a place, a pen, that you come back to that helps get you started.

Not really, I tend to write whenever I can grab a few minutes between family life so I don’t have the luxury of being choosy. Often I write in coffee shops at weekends and I quite like that. The only ritual if you want to call it that is I do have a favourite notebook and when I think of an idea I like to put it there or if I want to thrash out a scene I will do it here. I’ve bought other notebooks since but I always come back to this one.

8. Best writing advice you ever received? and the top tips you would pass on to aspiring authors?

Don’t let the self-doubt hold you back, it’s normal to feel that everything you write is terrible but just keep going, it’s like walking a tight-rope don’t look down until you get to the end and then you have a draft to work with. I’ve quite a few half-finished books and the one thing they all have in common is self-doubt.

Also, I know people hear this a lot but it’s so true, books are very subjective, people like different things, so a no from one publisher/agent doesn’t mean that your work is not good. 

Are you a Bronte heroine?

The title of my blog will no doubt give you a small idea of the place the Bronte's hold in my heart. As a child I walked alone in the rain so that I could think my thoughts and plan my stories. So I could not resist sharing this little snippet

Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year and apologies for my long absence. I have many excuses for not blogging so much in recent months, which I won't go in to too much detail about here, suffice to say for now that I haven't gone away and I hope to have lots of new reviews in the near future and some changes to the blog also. I hope you all had an enjoyable festive season. I certainly did but I'm ready to get back into some regular habits now and take on some reading and writing challenges. So for me 2014 means a fresh page, fresh goals and a new start. Have you made any reading or writing resolutions this year? Let me know.