Monthly Archives: April 2018
Salt Lane by William Shaw
Having really enjoyed The Birdwatcher that was released in May 2016 and now William Shaw returns with Salt Lane. DS Alexandra Cupidi after leaving the Met and heading to the Kent coastline she is confronted with a shocking murder. Life is different here and so is murder. Salt Lane is a terrifying and gripping crime novel. that I enjoyed even more than Shaw’s previous. This is the start of a new DS Cupidi series and already looking forward to further books in the series.
For Cupidi she has had a lot to deal with that includes a shattered career with the Met and a troublesome teenager. Her daughter Zoe, seems isolated as they live in a much quieter part of the country. Cupidi knows only too well that her job takes up a lot of her time and she is concerned for Zoe, who seems to spend a lot of time walking the marshes as she has taken to birdwatching.
DS Cupidi takes her work seriously and the hours are long. She knows only too well that the affair she got involved in cost her the position she worked so hard for at the Met. Now she is involved in two murders. A migrant worker has been found dead in a slurry pit, a shocking killing. But who was responsible for his death and she is also investigating the death of a young woman found in Salt Lane she is struggling to identify the young woman and what she was doing in Salt Lane. The murdered migrant worker is shocking. He is North African like many in the countryside and William Shaw brings into his novels a fair amount of social commentary and we also learn of the of the use of illegal workers at key times of the year. The illegal migrant workers fall off the radar and then trying to identify them is challenging. Human trafficking has been in the news a lot over recent years and their abuse is shocking.
Working alongside Cupidi is the young and Jill Ferriter, she is keen to learn to more but comes across at times as a little venerable at time but is a good foil for Cupidi. Shaw writes an intricate crime novel with very strong characters and a deep storyline. Many subjects are touched throughout the book and we learn a lot about Cupidi and her relationship with her daughter Zoe. Salt Lane is a very powerful crime novel and if you have not yet discovered the writing of William Shaw then now is your time. Not to worry if you have not read The Birdwatcher as this can be read as a standalone novel. A cracking read.
Thank you Hannah Robinson for the advanced review copy of Salt Lane by William Shaw
Salt Lane by William Shaw is published by riverrun and was published on 3rd May and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
How to follow the OffIcial Blog Tour for Salt Lane
Our House by Louise Candlish
I love a really good psychological thriller, and Our House the latest release by Louise Candlish is compulsive thriller that will have you glued to every page. There are many twists and turns to keep you gripped until the very end. Just imagine arriving home to find all your possessions gone and someone else moving into your home. This is a nightmare scenario and an awesome plot.
When Fi heads towards her home she is confused as she sees a removal van and people moving possessions into a home, at first she thinks it is another house close to hers but then realisation hits home that it is actually her own very home and that a family is moving in. Her heart is racing and she is confused. Is this a nightmare, no it is really happening? This is her home in Trinity Avenue she built up with her husband and family. But their home was not up for sale. Where are all their belongings, the furniture and everything you would expect has gone. Fi is panicking.
Fi and her husband are separated and she has been away on with her new boyfriend, while her ex-husband was looking after the house and the kids? So what happens next is just a fantastic gripping drama that is played out in a series of podcasts that are called ‘The Victim’ where the victim tells her story about what has happened. A brilliant scenario is played between Fi and her ex-husband superbly written and crafted by Louise Candlish, at first you will think the plot is a bit out of the ordinary but then Louise writes a novel that is so believable that you will not want to put this book down. Fi is a woman who you will rally behind and all your sympathy will be with her, but as for Bram you may think he deserves everything that comes his way. Characters are so important in any novel and they really come to life here thanks to Louise Candlish. A superb stylish thriller where it is a case of Fi’s words against Bram’s words and vice versa. I dare you to put Our House down. I know you will struggle to leave this book alone. Highly Recommended.
Thank you to Jessica Barratt for the advanced review copy of Our House by Louise Candlish
Our House by Louise Candlish is published by Simon & Schuster and was published on 5th April and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Hoarder by Jess Kidd
Following on from her successful debut novel Himself Jess Kidd returns with the wonderful The Hoarder which is a dark and quirky but totalling brilliant in its conception and the characters we meet are just so full of personality. If you really loved reading Himself then you must not miss this real fantastic follow up.
The Hoarder starts as a bit of a slow burner as we get to know first Maud Drennan is the new carer for the Cathal Flood who is a grumpy old man for Drennan she is the latest in a long line of carers who have been assigned to Mr Flood and have not lasted but what of Maud, how will she get on? The problem with Mr Flood is he is a bit of a hoarder and that is an understatement. Years of stuff he has collected in his grand home.
The problem with many hoarders is that they do not believe there is a problem at all and it is everyone else who thinks they have. So for Maud she has the unenviable task of putting up with everything that Cathal throws at her, the abuse has scared many off in the past but not our Maud, she is made of stronger stuff and over time Cathal begins to see she is different and slowly he starts to open up and stories from his past start to come to the fore.
All homes have secrets and they eventually give up their secrets and for Maud she is become deeper and deeper into the past of Cathal’s past. For Maud she has something in her own life and is followed by the ghostly saints who pass on information on a daily basis to her. Then of course there is her neighbour Renata who is something of a personality all by herself. There is a secret in the old man’s home and Maud is getting closer to the secret but is this a secret that is best left alone buried under years of junk collected by the cantankerous Mr Flood.
At times this had me laughing and at times just sad. But The Hoarder is just brilliant and Jess Kidd is forging herself a name to be reckoned with in the world of writers. The way she crafts her stories are something to be behold and the characters are people you really want to learn more about. The Hoarder is at times creepy but also a mystery, the pace of the story moves along at a well-balanced pace and there is something here for everyone who just loves a truly great novel.
I have to say I loved The Hoarder and I know many more who are yet to discovers Jess Kidd’s writing will also warm to her characters. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you Susan Armstrong (Conville and Walsh Agency) for the advanced review copy of The Hoarder by Jess Kidd
The Hoarder by Jess Kidd is published by Canongate Books and was published on 1st February and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Keeper by Johana Gustawsson
One of last year’s books I really enjoyed was Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson and Johana returns with a gripping and bloody page turner in Keeper (Orenda Books). Sometimes a book will come along and the cover will tell you what to expect and with Johana’s latest it really jumps out at you and so it is that Keeper is just an incredible and compelling. A novel that delves into London’s Whitechapel area of 1888 and Jack the Ripper is terrifying London. Fast forward to 2005 and the Tower Hamlets area of London and a series of murders. It is now 2015 and actress Julianne Bell has been taken. This after a number of murders in London and Sweden that all seem so similar to the murders of 2005. But there is man already charged and jailed for these 2005 murders. So who is now behind these latest copy-cat abductions and murders? Stand by for a thriller that has many twists. Just when you think you have solved the crime, Johana Gustawsson will make you think again.
With the murders of 2005 in the Tower Hamlets area of London seeming so similar to the horrific murders of Jack the Ripper. Is there now a serial killer on the loose in 2015? Was the man charged and jailed the right man or did he have an accomplice who has now struck? Julianne Bell was just getting into her car and now she has gone missing. In Falkenberg, Sweden a woman’s body is found and the murder is a copy-cat style murder from London in 2005.
Two investigators Alexis Castells who is crime author and Emily Roy working for Scotland Yard are in a race to find the killer before he strikes again. They have to find Julianne Bell before it is too late.
Throughout Keeper there are flashbacks to 1888 and the reign of terror by Jack the Ripper who preyed on women who worked as prostitutes in the poorest areas of the East end of London, and his murders were nothing short of gruesome. I just have to mention how Gustawsson really manages to capture the historical true-life crimes and weaves them into a modern day crime novel, and is more than enough to keep you awake at night as it really did for me. A well thought out and plotted novel that deserves many plaudits and accolades. The characters of Castells and Roy we have met before in Block 46 and make a welcome return here along with some new characters that really add to the thriller. I am not going to give any spoilers as to what happens next in Keeper as this is superb edge of your seat read that deserves to be read. I make no apologies in saying you are going to have to go and buy a copy and see for yourself. There are many twists and turns to keep you guessing.
I am a big fan of Johana Gustawsson’s writing and cannot wait to see what we have coming next. Keeper I am delighted to highly recommend Keeper and this will be right up there come the end of the year in my best of the year books.
Thank you Karen Sullivan for the review copy of Keeper by Johana Gustawsson
Keeper by Johana Gustawsson is published by Orenda Books and is published on 28th April 2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and your local independent bookshops.
How to follow the Keeper by Johana Gustawsson Blog Tour
I am delighted to be apart of the celebration of Baltic literature that will be the Market Focus at the 2018 London Book Fair that runs from 10-12th April.
As part of the celebrating the Baltic literature I am delighted to welcome to my blog Estonian author Andrei Ivanov and he talks about his life experiences that inspire his novels.
Estonian author, Andrei Ivanov uses his fascinating life experiences as inspiration for his novels. Raised by a Russian, typically Soviet family, but born in Estonia, Ivanov struggled with his Russian and Estonian identity. At the age of 16, Ivanov developed a passion for punk music and its ideology, leading to feelings of discontentment and detachment from his life in Estonia. Ivanov fled the country, and for three years he lived in a refugee camp in Denmark – his most famed novel, Hanuman’s Journey to Lolland (Vagabond Voices, 2018, translated by Matthew Hyde) is based upon this time.
Hanuman’s Journey to Lolland was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize (2012) and won the Cultural Endowment of Estonia’s Prize for Russian-Language Literature (2010). Ivanov will be speaking at The London Book Fair as part of The London Book Fair 2018’s Market Focus on the Baltic Countries.
It came naturally that hunger, anger and fear became the forces that propelled my writing, and people, of course, they are inexhaustible sources of inspiration. But it was me and my experiences that inspired me the most. I’m full of surprises – I was born in Estonia but received an alien’s passport, due to my parents both being Russian. I was disillusioned at first, in my parents and their belief in communism; then as a teenager I had contradictions with my father (he was a policeman) and I revolted against the system that he represented.
After the fall of the USSR, I was cynical about the Republic of Estonia, because it tried to force me to be someone that I was not, naturalisation, so to speak, which is reflected in my novels Cinder and The Handful of Dust. It’s not easy to be a Russian in Estonia, because Russians constantly fight amongst themselves, they make mental barricades, terms, rules, requirements. It’s always been like this and it is like that everywhere they stay – they are living like secants! Pro-Russia and Anti-Russia, Russophobic and Russophile – all of them want me to take sides, but I never do, I recoil from them all instead.
I live as a foreigner in my own country, and therefore choose to write the majority of my novels in English. During my time in the Danish refugee camps, English was the shared language used by all – it bought people together from whatever country they originated from. Unlike the Estonia that I had grown up in, the refugee camps were a community that allowed different identities to live together. It’s this aspect that I’ve tried to recreate through my work, using those unique individuals that I met as my muses for the characters in my books.
My thanks to Hannah McMillan at Midas Public Relations for setting up this guest post and the Baltic Books Blog Tour.
Baltic Books Blog Tour – Celebrating Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian literature at the 2018 London Book Fair.
Two Steps Forward – Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist
Many people from all walks of life take time out and take the Pilgrims walk from France to Santiago de Compostela in north western Spain on the Camino (The Way). Many do this walk for personal reasons or to try and find themselves. It is a highly personal experience and The Way changes you for many reasons. The International bestselling author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect Graeme Simsion and his wife and fellow author Anne Buist to tell a story of two people who embark on their own personal journey on the Camino de Compostela in Two Steps Forward (Two Roads)
Two Steps Forward follows two very different people who set out on their long walk from Cluny in France to Santiago de Compostela. Both are struggling because of the recent pasts for Zoe it is because of the sudden death of her husband and Martin is getting over a rather messy divorce. A funny and romantic story told with both Zoe’s and Martin’s stories told in alternating chapters. Two people who find themselves on The Way of St. James in the hope of finding a way forward in their lives a spiritual quest. The beauty of this story is that that both Simsion and Buist bring their own unique writing to this heart-warming story of two lost souls.
Both Zoe and Martin set out alone from Cluny in France and ahead lies two thousand kilometres of tough walking. Both wondering what lies ahead in the journey and people that they will meet that will have great influence on them and their lives.
Along the way both Zoe and Martin keep meeting and there is a sense of both slowly getting to know each other a little more every time they bump into each other. Sharing their experiences and tips and also an insight into their personal lives. They may be different in terms of backgrounds but both are on this journey for a reason and there is a sense that both are beginning their own journey’s to start again in life and also to love again.
What we the reader share is not only their personal story and journey on the Camino but also the stunning landscapes and towns and villages and also the interactions of many of the people they meet.
A beautiful story that was written so wonderfully constructed, a book that is a slow burner but this is not meant to be a fast paced story or a race to the finish in Santiago. A novel exploring emotions and complex individuals. I felt I was walking with The Way myself but this is a personal journey I will be taking in the years to come.
In the meantime, if you love a good book with a warm and at times funny storyline but also a very moving story about two people a human story that touches so many levels. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist I highly recommend.
If you do read Two Steps Forward and feel inspired to take your own pilgrimage, the official website offers more information to those thinking of walking ‘The Way’ Camino de Santiago
Thank you Rosie Gailer for the advanced review copy of Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist
Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist is published by Two Roads and was published on 5th April and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Reading Cure: How Books Restored my Appetite by Laura Freeman
Laura Freeman is a freelance writer and has written for magazines and newspapers such as The Spectator, Standpoint, The Times, TLS, and Slightly Foxed to name but a few. Laura has recently released her first book and what a read this really turned out to be. Not hard to see why I have always enjoyed reading Laura’s writing. The Reading Cure: How Books Restored my Appetite is a memoir. Laura at the age of fourteen was diagnosed anorexia and his is her story, a journey of how books and reading helped her on her road to recovery.
I know at first hand as a family member suffered from anorexia for many years with little or no help apart from the love of her family around her. For Laura Freeman like all who have suffered from anorexia, they come to loathe themselves and will avoid eating and any situations that will involve food. For more than fifteen years Freeman has been a recovering from this dreadful illness. There was one part of Freeman’s life that she continued to enjoy and that was her love of literature and through reading she discovered food and learned to start enjoying food through the pages of her favorite books.
The journey to recovery is never an easy journey to take and not always a successful one as she writes in her memoir, Laura’s mother fought very hard to keep her out of a clinic and looked after her while on bedrest at home. she read Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man and this tells of him devouring boiled eggs and cocoa. So this was the beginning of the road to recovery for Laura Freeman. Then she progressed onto Dickens and we all know of how well food is talked of in Dicken’s novels. From here she clearly could see that there was a better life to be had.
Freeman writes just beautifully and it is inspiring. She openly talks of her younger life and how her anorexia started and the chaos that her life became, her descriptions of food are just bountiful that you can almost taste the fare on offer. Freeman’s joy of literature and reading is there to be enjoyed and to rejoice at. The optimism of how she copes on her journey is just breathtaking. This is her story of hunger and also obsession, there is happiness here to. The Reading Cure is a brave account of her recovery. Books and reading can cure. Here is the proof if it was ever needed moving and evocative. Delighted to recommend The Reading Cure by Laura Freeman.
Thank you to Rebecca Fincham and Weidenfeld & Nicolson for the advanced review copy of The Reading Cure: How Books Restored my Appetite by Laura Freeman.
The Reading Cure: How Books Restored my Appetite by Laura Freeman is published by and was published on and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Never Greener by Ruth Jones
Many will have come to love Ruth Jones for her role as Nessa Jenkins in the hit TV comedy Gavin and Stacey and also her other roles she has become so well known for as well as a script writer, but now we can add author the list. Released on 5th April is Ruth Jones’s debut novel Never Greener (Bantam Press).
I must be one of the luckiest people around who gets the chance to read books before they hit the shops and every now and then a book comes along that just knocks me over. Never Greener is one of those books it is big and oh so wise. A book telling the story of second chances and also at times funny. Ruth Jones is not just a great actress she is also a terrific writer.
The characters are so real that you just do not want to let them leave your life. We meet Kate and Callum who had a passionate affair, Kate was young in her early twenties and Callum old and married, he should have known better, was he looking for some excitement in his ‘mid-life’ what was Kate really hoping for? Sadly, for Kate it ended and left her bereft and heartbroken. Callum carried on with his life his secret hidden.
Fast forward seventeen years and life is about to get very complicated. Kate is now doing very well for herself, a successful actress in her own right. Well known wherever she goes. Callum is still married and has a family and happy in Edinburgh. Secrets buried in the past never to be spoken of.
Kate and Callum now meet again Kate the successful actress is invited back to her old school and this is where Callum is a teacher, and so it begins again their passionate affair, this is more than just a spark. It is an inferno that could consume all and everything. No spoilers from me as to what happens to Kate and Callum. Go and buy the book and see for yourself what happens next.
Superbly written with great characters. They be floored characters but I just loved reading about them, affairs generally always tend to end in disaster with a trail of destructing left in its wake. But let’s not detract from a fantastic debut novel that many will love. There are funny moments and moments that will leave you wincing and just wondering what that hell next. There is so much packed into over 400 pages. Every emotion possible pours out of the pages. A brilliant novel.
Ruth Jones is going on a book tour to go alongside the launch of Never Greener. If you are close by to any of these locations this will be an event not to be missed. #NeverGreener
Thank you Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy of Never Greener by Ruth Jones.
Never Greener by is published by Ruth Jones and is published on 5th April and will be available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.