Monday, July 24, 2017

The Last Lost Girl by Maria Hoey



This is a debut novel published by Poolbeg under their new Poolbeg Crimson imprint which offers 'Fiction with an edge'.  This is the story of Jacqueline Brennan. Set in two time periods; the long hot summer of 1976 when Jacqueline's sister Lily disappeared and years later when Jacqueline returns to her home at Blackberry Lane to look after her aging father. We learn that Jacqueline is the youngest child, the misfit, the loner. Lily was the beauty queen, while middle sister Gayle was the homemaker, the peacemaker. Jacqueline's family have never been able to shake off the sadness, the mystery surrounding the unexplained disappearance of Lily and one by one they had scattered, all except for her Dad who had remained in the family home, stagnant. When Jacqueline returns it as though time has stood still. In 1976 Jacqueline had tagged along after her older, glamorous sister, never quite accepted, a nuisance. Lily had been seeing a boy who worked at the carnival and he had been questioned by police but no-one was ever arrested and Lily's body was never found so Jacqueline has always harboured the hope that her sister simply ran away that she is out there somewhere, waiting to be found. An old postcard of an English seaside town gives Jacqueline a clue about where to start her search but Jacqueline learns as much about herself and her place in the world as she does about her missing sister. This is a beautifully written book about family, secrets and growing up. It's a thriller but it's also very much a family story. Excellent writing. I found it unputdownable.

Thanks very much to Poolbeg for a copy. The Last Lost Girl is out now in paperback. 

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne Blog Tour; The Books That Made Me



A gothic and chilling debut from Kate Murray-Browne about a young family; Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters who have just moved into what should be their dream home in Litchfield Road. Stretched to the limit, the renovations have to wait and they decide to get a lodger in to rent the basement, so they can afford the repayments. Eleanor feels the strange atmosphere almost immediately and begins to suffer with chronic headaches and vomiting. Richard is also affected but he is channeling his unhappiness into a Masters Degree that he hopes will change his life, his career and help him find that spark that his current role as a solicitor doesn't give him. The lodger Zoe has quit her job to work in an art shop and left her long term boyfriend. She is hoping to write, or draw or something. She too is seeking change. The Upstairs Room is left empty. It's walls covered in scrawls and pictures from the little girl who lived there before. Eleanor asks the neighbours and they tell her there was an accident, something bad happened in that house. As Eleanor becomes increasingly ill and starts to see her older daughter's behaviour changing she knows she must do something. This is a dark and clever book which uses the tropes of the ghost story to examine the anxieties of three people worried about the cost of housing, about being trapped by marriage, by jobs, by reponsibilities. This book will be published by Picador on July 27th in e-book and hardback. Thanks to Don Shanahan for an e-ARC.

I asked the author to take part in my Books that Made Me Series and here are Kate's choices.


The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James – I first read this when I was seventeen, which is maybe why James’s young heroine ‘affronting her destiny’ appealed to me so much. But it stayed with me, and the ideas about choice, limitation and thwarted desire (not to mention the potential disaster of marriage proposals) all found their way into my first novel, The Upstairs Room.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters – I read this on holiday in Mallorca, basically the least spooky setting ever, and I was still terrified. I remember feeling very sad finishing it because I thought it was one of the best books I’d ever read, but there was no way I could read it again as it was so frightening. I have braved it since (during daylight hours) and found the evocation of the house and its inhabitants just as compelling and poignant, marvelling at how skilfully Waters manages the ambiguity of the haunting.

Things I Don’t Want to Know by Deborah Levy – there are lots of wonderful things about this autobiographical essay, but the thing that stands out for me is the way Levy writes about motherhood – I thought about it a lot when writing about Eleanor, one of my protagonist’s, experience of motherhood. I’m incredibly excited about the forthcoming sequel, The Cost of Living (and I half-wanted to steal the title for The Upstairs Room).

The Blog Tour continues see banner for details




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Even more Jane Austen




There are a lot of articles on the web today about Jane Austen, an awful lot so I thought I would curate some of the more interesting ones for you. I am collecting these various strands together as much for myself as anything else since I am working on an article on Jane Austen and her literary legacy.

Irish Times: Writers on Jane Austen

The Guardian Podcast on Jane Austen with Sara Pascoe and Lucy Worsley

BBC Culture on Jane Austen's final unfinished novel Sanditon

The Guardian asked writers to discuss their favourite Austen novel

and so did The History Girls blog

Lit Hub article on Austen as a political symbol

Finally my friend Meabh wrote a lovely piece on the Jane Austen event we attended last Sunday. There's pictures.



Jane Austen 200


Today is the two hundredth anniversary of the death of Jane Austen and I couldn't let the day go unmarked. I attended a celebration of all things Jane, her life her works and the music, songs, dancing and costumes of the era with a group of fellow Janeites last Sunday. It was great fun and thanks so much to Aislinn Ní Uallacháin of Jane Austen Ireland for organising such a great event. You can like the Jane Austen Ireland page on facebook at the link below and see some photos from the event.
https://www.facebook.com/janeaustenireland/

To celebrate the anniversary Rose Servitova author of The Longbourn Letters is running a special offer and the kindle edition of her book is now free for a limited time at the amazon links below.

UK and Ireland                                 USA

Monday, July 17, 2017

Corpselight by Angela Slatter Blog Tour



I am delighted to be involved in the blog tour for Corpselight by Angela Slatter which is the second volume in the Verity Fassbinder series. If you haven't already read the first book Vigil then get it and read it now, for your own good. This is a gritty urban fantasy set in Brisbane featuring Verity a half Normal, half Weyrd so she has a foot in each world but since she works for the Weyrd council she spends a lot of time dealing with Weyrd and weird stuff. Working for the Weyrd council is a bit like working for the city council only more dangerous and with greater probability of encountering tails and fangs. Verity is tough, brave, super strong, pigheaded, cynical, smart thinking and soft hearted. Imagine Phyrne Fisher transplanted to modern day Brisbane and clothed in doc martens, jeans and leather jacket except on top of all that, in this instalment Verity is also heavily pregnant. As Verity investigates mysterious drownings across the city and does some snooping for an insurance company she is targeted by some muderous kitsune and goes into early labour, luckily she is rescued by a mystery woman, who it turns out has a past very much entangled with Verity's. The storytelling is top notch; it's fast paced, wickedly funny and delightfully dark and the plot is never rushed, even though there is a huge amount of story and information conveyed. Each character is properly fleshed out and well rounded and there are twists that you just won't see coming. This is a perfect read for fans of Rivers of London or the Dresden Files or for any reader that likes their comedy razor sharp and their heroines daring, caring and devil may care.
The book is being launched in the UK/Ireland  and Australia simultaneously so the blog tour is international which is really exciting and includes many bloggers who took part in the blog tour for Vigil last year, because Angela Slatter is the kind of author that inspires fandom. Details of the rest of the blog tour are below, just click to enlarge and you can read my review of Vigil HERE



Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde Blog Tour


I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde. The second novel from Eve Chase is another page turning gothic thriller that you won't be able to put down. There are shades of Daphne du Maurier in the themes explored here and I gobbled it up in a couple of sittings. This is a dual time novel focusing on contemporary protagonist Jessie who is desperate to leave London behind and give her family a new start. She sets her sights on Applecote Manor a beautiful house in need of love and attention in rural Wiltshire. Jessie is mum to toddler Romy, wife to Will and step-mum to teenager Bella, but she feels overshadowed by the ghost of Will's first wife Mandy and Bella seems determined to remind her of her loss everyday. Jessie hopes that escaping London can bring her closer to her prickly step-daughter. But there are shadows and secrets at Applecote too, the locals are reluctant to talk about it but there are rumours of the tragic disappearance of a child. The other strand of the story is that of the Wilde sisters in the 1950s. When their mum takes a job abroad they too leave London for Applecote. They are to spend the summer with their aunt and uncle who have become virtual recluses since the disappearance of their daughter Audrey. As the summer unfolds for Margot Wilde and the winter draws in for Jessie each of them begins to explore the story of the vanishing girl. This is a wonderful story, gothic, dark and yet full of hope and light. Beautiful storytelling, perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Katherine Webb.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde is published by Michael Joseph, in the UK and Ireland 13th July. Thanks so much to Gaby Young for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.



I asked the author to tell me about some of her favourite gothic novels and here's what she told me.


Gothic fiction – Eve Chase
The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde is published by Michael Joseph, 13 July.

The Monkey’s Paw by WW Jacobs was the first gothic story I remember reading, or quite possibly hearing – it’s embedded in that bit of childhood where books and stories spoken aloud are interchangeable, as vividly alive as an imaginary friend. (Children are naturally gothic creatures!) It’s about being granted three wishes and, of course, each wish having a terrible consequence. I was chilled and delighted by it: fear feels damn good when you experience it vicariously, tucked up safely in bed. I still think about that short story’s premise; the ultimate be careful what you wish for. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is another creepy story that’s stayed with me all these years. Not only because I’m a huge fan of the dazzling Wilde and will happily read anything he’s written, or because it works on many different levels – satire, gothic tale, a dilemma of deviance – but mostly because it’s an unbelievably cracking story. It is still modern. It still speaks to us. After all, who wouldn’t be tempted to sell at least some of their soul for everlasting youth and beauty? You wouldn’t? Really? Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is also powerfully universal – the story of a second wife, haunted by the presence of the first - despite its Cornish setting and Maurier’s unique narrative voice. It’s inspired many other novels and writers, myself included, but has never been bettered. While we’re on the subject of mysterious terrible others, creaking houses and forbidden erotic thrills, I’ll confide that my teenage self (still alive and kicking, although my face, unlike Dorian’s, is now inhabiting a more distant decade) also has a soft dark spot for the novels of Virginia Andrews. The best one is Flowers In the Attic, a thrilling yarn of wicked mothers, grand estates and – oh joy! – incest. I tried to read it again recently but couldn’t – it felt like reading a diary of my own teenage years, something private, cringe-worthy and infinitely precious. Great gothic stories knit their narratives into your own life. And they make very reliable imaginary friends.


Copyright Eve Chase 2017
The blog tour continues for the rest of the week, details below.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Celebrating 200 years of Jane Austen


The 18th July this year will be the two hundredth anniversary of the death of a literary icon. Creator of some of the most memorable characters in English fiction, Jane Austen was a master storyteller. There will be celebrations among Janeites all year and all over the world but this weekend sees a celebration commence closer to home, in Limerick in Ireland which will continue until December. I am including the full press release below.






JANE AUSTEN200 - LIMERICK
CONTACT: ROSE SERVITOVA
EMAIL: roseservitova@gmail.com

A SERIES OF EVENTS FROM JULY TO DECEMBER 2017 CELEBRATING JANE AUSTEN’S BICENTENARY & LIMERICK’S GEORGIAN HERITAGE

July 16th Austen Afternoon Tea & Talks at No. 1 Perry Square sold out. This event included an introduction to the select teas for the event provided by local tea-merchants, Cahills of Limerick. Serving of Afternoon Tea delights. Historian, Sharon Slater, gives a talk 'Tom LeFroy - Jane's Limerick Beau'."A few words about tea from Emma's friend, Miss Bates of Hampstead" performed by Vanessa Hyde. Presentation and talk from Sinead Ryan Coughlan of the Irish Historical Costumers on Regency Fashion (with model, Sinead Finegan). Melissa Shiels will sing two Irish airs that were found amongst Jane Austen’s music collection.


Other events include;
Culture Night, September 22nd(8pm) at Friarsgate Theatre, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick – a free workshop Historical Costumer & Workshop Presenter, Melissa Shiels, will give a very entertaining and informative talk entitle “Georgian Clothing, Customs and Material Culture”. Melissa will have many examples and recreations at hand for what promises to be a great evening.
September 23rd (2pm) at No.1 Pery Square – Austen Afternoon Tea & Talks – Speakers include editor & journalist, Tim Bullamore on “The Joy of Jane”, Kim Arnold presents a talk “Obstinate Headstrong Girl!: Maxims & Manners in the novels of Jane Austen” and we will have a presentation of men's fashion in the late 18th and early 19th century by the Irish Historical Costumers all accompanied by delicious afternoon tea treats and an occasional song. Attendees will also receive a customised keepsake.
October 5th sees two events facilitated by world-renowned period costume designer and Limerick woman, Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh. Eimer worked as costume designer for “Becoming Jane”, “Love & Friendship”, “Brideshead Revisited” and “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” amongst many others. Eimer will visit her former college, The Limerick School of Art & Design, to present an informative talk to students on working in theatre and film. That evening, at a public event, Eimer is guest at “An Evening with Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh” at the intimate drawing rooms of No. 1 Pery Square (7pm). Here she will have some of the costumes from “Love & Friendship” and partake of a Q&A session.
October 23rd 7.30pm– Oscar-nominated movie director and screenwriter, Whit Stillman will join us for a screening of Austen adaptation, the comedy “Love & Friendship” at the University Concert Hall, Limerick. Niall MacMonagle will host a Q&A session with Whit Stillman directly after the screening.
November 3rd (Friarsgate Theatre, Kilmallock) & November 9th (Belltable, Limerick) host New Zealand woman Penny Ashton’s world tour of “Promise & Promiscuity” in a humourous show as she tackles all of Austen's characters with song, dance and appalling cross-stitching. 
Other events include;
  • a talk by Sandra Lefroy on family connections to Austen and William Wordsworth hosted by the Limerick Chapter of the Irish Georgian Society.
  • a collaboration between Sound Heritage Ireland and the Irish World Academy of Music & Dance which will see a musical event of the era re-enacted in a Georgian setting.
For further details please check out our facebook page www.facebook.com/janeausten200limerick where links to events/tickets/websites will be available once finalised.





The curator of Jane Austen 200 is Rose Servitova the author of the Longbourn Letters and I asked Rose to tell me about why Jane Austen is such a big influence, why she decided to write a Pride and Prejudice inspired novel and why she felt that Limerick was the perfect place to celebrate 20o years of Jane. This is what she said.




How Jane Austen Inspired Me?
It was at my grandmother’s house on the foothills of the Ox Mountains in Sligo, during summer holidays, that I discovered my love of reading and there, I found all the classics including the works of Jane Austen. I fell in love with her writing and it has stayed with me since. For years, Pride & Prejudice was my comfort blanket - the book I went back to time and again whenever my life sucked for some reason or other. It was like being held, rocked and soothed. The familiar never bored me instead I sought it out whenever the bottom was falling out of my world and it held me together.
For at least ten years, the idea of writing some kind of tribute to Pride & Prejudice had crossed my mind but I had absolutely no idea what to write. Occasionally, Mr Collin’s diary sprung to mind and when I eventually sat down last year and commenced writing, I knew immediately that it would be disastrous. How could anyone read more than a few pages of his self-importance, deluded gibberish? Instantly, the solution came to me in the form of my other favourite character, Mr Bennet. Four letters existed between these two men in Pride & Prejudice so I would merely have to fill in the gaps and continue until it reached a natural conclusion. They contrasted with each other perfectly and gave me the opportunity to write some great dialogue and witty interaction. That is how The Longbourn Letters came about.  I laughed so much when writing it and I hoped that others would too. Because I love Austen so much and find her minor characters so brilliantly drawn, there was no need for me to go off-track but to stay loyal to her portrayal and hopefully add a bit more detail. Her clever, witty dialogue has influenced my writing greatly – it is what I seek out in other novels and hope to emulate in my own.


How I got involved in Jane Austen 200 – Limerick
Before The Longbourn Letters was published, I began connecting with Jane Austen fans and groups all over the world. I was amazed to see how many were organising celebrations for her bicentenary and, in particular, I was amazed that cities that did not exist 200 years ago were having dances, plays, talks etc… I thought ‘well done, guys’. I always felt that Limerick was a perfect spot to host a Georgian festival as we have the largest Georgian quarter outside of Dublin but when I looked into the Jane Austen angle, I found that we also had many connections with the author. As a qualified event manager and without wanting the bicentenary to pass unacknowledged, I decided to organise an afternoon tea and talks event to mark the occasion. A number of weeks later, I found myself curating a whole series of events running from July to December that include theatre, fashion, music, dance, literature, screen, talks/workshops and tea!! It’s great to see that other parts of the country are doing likewise with events  being held in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Longbourn-Letters-Correspondence-between-Collins/dp/1911013750/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1499774930&sr=1-1




Rose's book continues the story of the Bennets of Longbourn and Mr and Mrs Collins of Rosings through the letters between the two cousins; the taciturn Mr Bennet and the silly Mr Collins. It is a fitting and joyful response to the original. The perfect book to read this weekend as we celebrate Jane Austen and her legacy.






Monday, July 10, 2017

Blog tour alert

I am delighted to be kicking off the Blog tour for Eve Chase's new book The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde, check out the details below and watch this space on Thursday.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Irish Women writing YA Fiction and Making it their own


I wrote a piece which Children's Books Ireland kindly featured on their website, on the fantastic Irish Women who are writing Young Adult fiction. And as Louise O'Neill moves to riverrun the new upmarket crime imprint of Quercus Publishing, I mused who might take her place on the awards and bestseller lists. There is certainly no shortage of talented women to add to your reading lists. This article has been shared quite a bit on facebook and twitter so I  am delighted if it spreads the word. You can see it at the link below.

http://childrensbooksireland.ie/features/21950

Friday, June 30, 2017

Lisa's Links, Lists and Inspiration



This is one of those blog posts in which I take to the internet to tell you about other people's great posts on other parts of the internet or to put it another way; here are some articles that I really enjoyed and I wish I'd written them. Anyway I'm currently attempting to edit an article I've written, editing the outline for my novel, working on the second draft of my novel, reading an imaginative time travel fantasy about magic and science. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. and organising my daughter's birthday sleepover. So what better time to write a blog post?

Earlier this week I shared M. L. Rio's Books that Made Me so below is a link to a guest post that she wrote for the Waterstones blog (which I also occasionally write for by the way) in which the author writes about some of her favourite Shakespeare inspired novels.





https://www.waterstones.com/blog/if-we-were-villains-m-l-rios-five-best-novels-inspired-by-shakespeare






If you haven't already done so you should check out today's Google doodle which features Victor Hugo. On this day in 1862 he published the final chapter of Les Misérables  learn more about the man and his work here

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/6/30/15894886/victor-hugo-les-miserables-google-doodle



If like me you love reading books about books and books about readers then you will love this list from Off the Shelf which will give you another thirteen books to add to your wishlists and TBR piles.

http://offtheshelf.com/2017/06/13-tales-of-reading-for-bookworms-everywhere/?cp_type=OfftheShelf&rmid=OFF_THE_SHELF_2017&rrid=38228562






If you are contemplating doing Camp Nanowrimo you can sign up on the site below but even if you aren't taking part you can read words of wisdom and encouragement from a whole host of great writers by checking out the author pep talks at the link below.

http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks



With a new version  of  My Cousin Rachel  just hitting our cinema screens there has never been a better time to re-read Daphne du Maurier's classic gothic masterpiece. Julie Myerson reviews both

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/17/rereading-my-cousin-rachel-daphne-du-maurier?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Bookmarks+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=231155&subid=8157735&CMP=EMCBKSEML3964





I can never resist anything about the Brontës so the following two articles immediately drew my attention one is about the wonderfully successful Bradford Literature Festival and the other is about the influence of Branwell on his sisters' creative lives. 

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/26/bradford-literary-festival-diversity-women-brontes-buddhist-poetry

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/26/its-time-to-bring-branwell-the-dark-bronte-into-the-light





Finally some writing inspiration for the weekend I subscribe to the newsletter of the wonderful Nephele Tempest, who is an agent at The Knight Agency and every Friday she shares some writing inspiration so here are two of the articles she shared that I felt really spoke to the struggling writer in me.


https://catapult.co/stories/publishing-shop-talk-why-being-a-literary-agent-doesnt-make-it-easier-to-write-a-book#




https://parnassusmusing.net/2017/06/25/jennifer-close-writing-tips/



Happy Reading and Happy Writing until next time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Books that Made Me M.L. Rio




Today I welcome M. L. Rio to the blog to tell us all about some of her favourite books in this week's edition of The Books That Made Me.

The first book I have distinct memories of is The Hobbit. My mother read it out loud to me and my brother when we were too young to read it ourselves. It was what we did after dinner instead of having dessert, and we looked forward to it the same way other kids probably looked forward to ice cream or Oreos. I still have a soft spot for Tolkien, because he was the first author who really captured my imagination and invited me into a new world. Middle Earth, with all its mythology and all its tangible detail, was where I lived and got lost in the long afternoons of elementary and middle school. Sometimes I still go back to visit.
Around the same time I embarked on The Lord of the Rings on my own, I discovered Shakespeare in my parents’ library. The first play I read was The Comedy of Errors, and though it’s not the best play, I immediately wanted more. I tore through the Complete Works, and by the time I turned thirteen I had read every play and every poem, most more than once. A year later I appeared in my first Shakespeare play—I was Feste in Twelfth Night—which only fueled the fire of Bardolatry. I was captivated by the language. It’s so rich and complex that ten years later I still discover new things hidden between the lines every day. You might say Shakespeare is my muse. His works have not only been the focus of my graduate degree but the inspiration for my first novel, If We Were Villains (which takes its title from my favorite play, King Lear). Miraculously, I’m not any less in love with Shakespeare now than I was when I read him for the first time.
Like Shakespeare, John Knowles had a significant impact on my reading and writing habits. I first read A Separate Peace in a sixth grade English class (I was eleven), and then proceeded to re-read it almost every year that came after. It was my first campus novel, my first war novel (in a way), and the first novel that really upset me. Up until then, I hadn’t realized that fiction could be so unfair. I had grown accustomed to happy endings and moral absolutes and Knowles ripped the rug out from under me. It is a brutally beautiful book, and it will always have a place on my shelf, wherever in the world I may be.

M.L. Rio is the author of the phenomenal thriller that everyone is talking about this summer If We Were Villains, it's been compared to Donna Tartt's The Secret History and has won widespread critical and popular acclaim. Available now from Titan Books (UK).

Monday, June 12, 2017

Widdershins Blog Tour The Books That Made Me


As part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the release of Helen Steadman's first novel I asked Helen to tell me about some of her favourite books as part of my new series The Books that Made Me. Helen responded with three of her favourites from her teenage years and insists that she must have been a contrary young reader as they are rather surprising choices for a writer of historical fiction, nonetheless as the wonderful Meg Ryan said in You've Got Mail "When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does" So on with the books.

The Books Made Me: Helen Steadman The Teenage Years

1984 by George Orwell
‘Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.’
This was the most striking book I had ever read, and I don’t think any other book has ever had the same effect on me since. It was the first time I’d read a book underpinned by such enormous ideas. Sinister concepts like thoughtcrime and newspeak were terrifying, as was the totalitarian setting. This book made me think about the world in a different way. It should be compulsory reading for everyone.
Mort by Terry Pratchett
‘Alligator sandwich,’ he said. ‘And make it sna—’
One Saturday afternoon, I found a Discworld book lying in a puddle of beer in the Haymarket, a much-missed Newcastle watering hole. I was a bit bored, and it didn’t seem appropriate to whip out my knitting, so I read the book. It was hilarious and I was immediately hooked on Terry Pratchett. Of all his books, I have a soft spot for Mort, because I love Death as a sandwich artist. Finally, I owe Terry Pratchett because it was in his Discworld books that I first heard the word ‘widdershins’.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
‘Man, when you lose your laugh, you lose your footing.’
This book broke my heart when I first read it because it was so shocking that people should suffer like this, and it was my first real inkling of there being such a thing as mental illness. Beyond the shocking and upsetting subject matter, though, was Kesey’s writing. It was unlike anything I’d ever read previously, making me feel as though I was inside the head of someone mentally ill. He also captured language perfectly, so it felt very real and immediate.


In case you missed my review of Helen's outstanding book you can find it HERE

Thanks so much to Helen for taking part in The Books That Made Me 
Helen's book is published by Impress Books and thanks to Natalie for an early reading copy
The blog tour continues details below.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Spandex and the City by Jenny T Colgan Blog tour


Spandex and the City is the second novel from Jenny T Colgan, the pen-name of bestselling and award winning romance writer Jenny Colgan. It's a fairly flimsy disguise especially as the author's lovely, smiling face adorns the back of the book and I'm guessing there are two reason Ms Colgan is hiding her science fiction alter-ego in plain sight; firstly because she is utterly unashamed of her passion for and interest in stories about superheroes and time travelling doctors and secondly because she wants you to try her delightful genre mash-up and admit that you like it too. I am a big fan of science fiction, fantasy, comics, superheroes and romance so the idea of this book really intrigued me. It's a bit like Bridget Jones falling in love with Superman and it's as wild, funny and laugh out loud as that description sounds.
Holly Phillips is hungry for a job in journalism she wants to write about exciting things, but for now she's working in the PR section of the Mayor of Centreton's office writing boring press releases about subway repairs and traffic disruption. One Friday night while clubbing with best friend Gertie she is rescued from a villain by the city's resident superhero Ultimate Man and throwing her over his shoulder he exposes her underwear to the world. Just hours later her image has gone viral and she's become "Panties Girl". Holly just hopes that interest will die down and that'll be the end of it but as an evil super villain tries to attack Centreton again and again Holly just can't help bumping into Ultimate Man and before she knows it, they are on a date, well sort of.
This is a delightful and funny romantic comedy which has some deep moments and some truly laugh out loud moments. I really loved it. Jenny T. Colgan is a smart, sassy writer who knows her genres and yet breaks all the rules to create something new. If you've wondered how Lois Lane puts up with being Superman's girl and all the drama that entails then you'll love Holly's story. Perfect for fans of Superheroes, contemporary romance and Doctor Who.
Available now from Orbit in paperback. Thanks to Clara Diaz for a copy of the book and a chance to take part in the Blog tour.




Monday, May 15, 2017

Madwoman in the Attic #6 Frances Power Cobbe


Frances Power Cobbe was born on December 4th 1822 at her family's estate at  Newbridge House in North Dublin. Her family were strongly evangelical in their faith but Frances began to question conventional religious belief and after her mother's death in 1847 she stopped attending church services. In 1855 she published Essay on Intuitive Morals setting out her own belief on religion and ethics. This caused a rift with her father and she left home permanently soon after. Frances travelled extensively in the years that followed and published Italics (1864) about her travels in Italy. She became involved with the Ragged Schools movement in Bristol and her time working with poor, sick and unemployed women fueled her interest in women's rights. She wrote a number of pamphlets and essays on women's education and women's suffrage, campaigning for assault to be grounds for separation. She was a leading member of the National Society for Women's Suffrage. In the 1870s she focused mostly on her campaigns against vivisection and was a founding member of both the National Anti-Vivisection Society and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.
A regular contributor to a number of magazines and periodicals she also wrote an autobiography published in 1894. Frances lived with her lifelong partner the sculptor Mary Lloyd from 1860 until Lloyd's death in 1896. They are buried together at Llanlltyd in Wales were they lived most of their lives.

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser



Song of the Current is the debut novel by Sarah Tolcser and it's a thrill a minute tale of river girl Caro and the cargo she must carry to Valonikas. The cargo however turns out to be a snotty, aristocratic although admittedly rather handsome boy. Chased by the Black Dogs Caro soon discovers that the boy is more than just a hindrance aboard her ship, he's much more important than he's letting on and by taking him upriver and being chased by Black Dogs she is endangering all their lives. I really, really enjoyed enjoyed this immersive and romantic fantasy tale. There is a diverse cast, lots of strong women and a great deal of witty rejoinders. Not to mention adventure on the high seas, battles, bullet wounds and dastardly magicians to contend with. A thrilling and fantastic debut. Aimed at the 14+ age range it will appeal to fans of Sarah J Maas, Laini Taylor, V. E. Schwab and Marissa Meyer.  Published in June by Bloomsbury Kids. Thanks to LoveReading for a copy. 

Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Currently Reading


Widdershins by Helen Steadman is based on the Newcastle Witch trials of 1650. Very little is known of the event other than a list of names of those who were executed, and even that is disputed. With so little information it was a subject ripe for fiction and Helen Steadman has delivered a truly compelling and thrilling tale. Divided into two narratives; Scotsman John Sharp and apprentice healer English girl Jane Chandler are the fictional creations who become entangled in this all too tragic occurence. The 1650s were a time when puritan values took hold, when pastors preached fire and brimstone and the evils of the flesh and neighbour turned against neighbour. The depth of Helen's research is immediately apparent. This book is a treasure trove of the cunning woman's knowledge of herbs and healing, birth and death. (Image courtesy of publisher Impress Books)


Jane learns how to make infusions and syrups from a young age. She knows the right berries to pick and the right time to pick them. She doesn't think there is anything sinister in the salves and tinctures that she makes. Her mother makes them too as did her grandmother before her as does their neighbour old Meg. However this is a time of change when old superstitions start to become something else, something darker. Meg upbraids Jane for falling asleep beneath the elder tree in case she is snatched away by the little folk but around the same time John Sharpe is a witness to the trial of Kirstie Slater who is accused of picking bewitched fruit from the elder tree in the kirkyard in order to commune with the devil even Meg refers to the elder as the witch tree. Helen Steadman has placed her story just at the point where the old ways are being scorned and the Puritan ideal is taking hold. The research here is stunning and the story telling is compelling. Jane is a wonderful lively narrator and she grows from wild young girl to wise young mother while John crushed by cruelty early in life grows darker and crueler with time. This is essential reading for anyone with an interest in history particularly the history of the North East of England, the history of medicine, women's history and witchcraft in general. I cannot wait to see what Helen writes next. If you are a fan of Beth Underdown's The Witch Finder's Sister then you need to read this book. I would also recommend it to fans of Karen Maitland, Diana Gabaldon, Nicola Cornick and Hannah Kent. It is excellent. Thanks so much to Natalie at Impress Books for the chance to read an early copy. Widdershins will be published in July. 

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Learn more about Helen at her excellent website    http://helensteadman.com/

Friday, May 12, 2017

More new books to be excited about in 2017

2017 is proving to be an absolutely top notch year for books. Not only are there new books on the way from some of my favourite historical fiction authors Bernard Cornwell, Ken Follett, Hazel Gaynor and Diana Gabaldon as well as new books from fantasy authors Philip Pullman, Celine Kiernan, Frances Hardinge and Ilka Tampke there are all of these lovelies to look forward to also.

Just Published 


The bestselling author of The Bees returns with a powerful environmental thriller about friendship and obsession. Perfect for fans of Rosamund Lupton and Peter May. Out now 4th Estate.


Lucy Atkins third novel features a TV historian, a Victorian diary and a web of secrets and lies. This sounds just amazing. Out now Quercus Books


Rebecca Mascull has just released her third novel and it features women pilots in Edwardian England and the Great War. I am really looking forward to reading this. Out Now from Hodder Books. For fans of Katherine Webb and Helen Dunmore.



A new book from Carol Goodman always makes me sit up and take notice and this one seems intriguing as it features a spooky, possibly haunted house in the Hudson Valley, which is having a menacing impact on the couple who have taken it on. This is out now from William Morrow. Goodman is a must read for fans of Gothic thrillers.

Coming in June




The second book from Irish author of YA fiction Moira Fowley-Doyle. Rose, Ivy, Hazel and Rowan hope that a mysterious spellbook will help to find the things they have lost; big and small but slowly they begin to wonder if its actually revealing secrets that were never meant to be told. Out on June 1st from Corgi Children's part of PRH. 


The new novel from Rowan Coleman features Luna; a young woman reeling from the impact of her mother's death. Somehow Luna is transported back to 1977 and meets her mother as a young woman. Can she save her from suicide? I have heard wonderful things about this novel which is being called spellbinding and heart-breaking. Out on 29th June from Ebury Press (PRH)



The companion to This Savage Song brings V.E. Schwab's Monsters of Verity series to a thrilling and high-octane conclusion. Out on June 13th from Titan Books.


Coming in July



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The first book in the Midnight Queen trilogy is released in paperback this summer. It features an alternative 19th Century England fully of myth, magic and intrigue. It's ideal for fans of Susanna Clarke, Genevieve Cogman and V.E. Schwab. (Alison & Busby)


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The second book in Angela Slatter's Verity Fassbinder series is coming this July and I cannot wait. I adored the first book about Verity's adventures. Verity is a paronormal investigator with a difference. For fans of Lisa Tuttle, Jim Butcher and Ben Aaronovitch. Read my review of the first book HERE

Coming in August


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First and foremost I have to mention this book by the brilliant Hazel Gaynor. It will be published by William Morrow Books in the US and Canada in August but fans on this side of the Atlantic will have to wait a little longer. There will be a special early edition for Ireland in September and a paperback for the UK next March. (Harper Collins) I actually feel like I have been waiting for this book for so long as I read about it in the Bookseller when Hazel signed the deal for this book. This will be Hazel's fourth novel and is the tale of the sisters who convinced the world that they had photographed fairies in their garden. Hazel is a wonderful writer her books are the ultimate comfort read. This is a story I cannot wait to explore. 


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Taking inspiration from some classic horror and science fiction this book features Mary Jekyll on the hunt for clues to her father's past. She seeks the aid of Holmes and Watson and crosses paths with women who are the creations of a secret society of power crazed scientists. It sounds utterly thrilling and will be released by Saga Press NY in August

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The second book in Lisa Tuttle's dazzling new paranormal crime series sees Jesperson and Lane travel to Norfolk to investigate the curious death of Mr Manning and the strange shrieking pits. I am really looking forward to revisiting these characters and just look at that cover. Read my review of the first in the series HERE  (August Jo Fletcher Books)

Image result for the eye of the north sinead o'hart

A thrilling debut from an Irish author about a young girl kidnapped and taken to the icy north. This looks perfect for fans of Abi Elphinstone and Emma Carroll. From Alfred A Knopf in August. 


and Finally coming this September 

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A new book from Frances Hardinge. Yay. All I needed to hear about this were the words dark historical tale. This is set during the English Civil War and features a family cursed to carry the souls of seven ancestors.  Makepeace Felmotte inherits not only those angry men but the spirit of a bear and it is this strength that she uses to escape. Sounds amazing. Macmillan 21st September.