Category Archives: Doubleday

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith


The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Hailed by The Bookseller as one of the Rising Stars of 2016 Mahsuda Snaith’s debut novel The Things We Thought We Knew is a story of a young Bengali woman is who confined to bed with chronic pain since an accident some years previous. Here she now reflects on the past.



Ravine has not left her bed in the last decade, confined to the council flat in Leicester since her best friend Marianne disappeared. She has just celebrated her 18th birthday and with a bleak future ahead of her, she cannot leave the flat because she is in so much pain her mother as you can imagine is desperate for her daughter to try and make an effort ‘Will you at least try’ are the words from her mother. There is a sense that coming through the story that Ravine is using the pain as she is not in any hurry to make any effort. Her mother gives her a notebook to use as a pain dairy and then we journey back through the years as Ravine uses the diary to open her heart about her best friend Marianne and her disappearance. What really happened that day? As Ravine writes the reader is pulled into an intriguing journey and a story on an affecting friendship. It is clear that Ravine is hiding from the outside world even scared and hiding beneath the duvet provides her with security.

An intriguing coming of age story that will keep the reader guessing as to what really happened to Ravine’s best friend. This outstanding debut novel has some great characters that are so believable that weave through the story. With Mahsuda Snaith writing the initial novel when she was only sixteen. Impressive writing from a new and exciting author. From here I look forward to future books from Mahsuda Snaith.

304 Pages

Thank you to Doubleday for the advanced review copy.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith is published by Doubleday and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.


You can follow the official The Things We Though We Knew Blog Tour



Fierce Kingdom – Gin Phillips


Fierce Kingdom – Gin Phillips

A mum takes her young son to the zoo in what should be a really special time, but then them events take place that means they have to run and hide in fear of their lives, gunshots are heard then panic sets in. A killer is roaming the grounds of the zoo and the intent is to kill. Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips is a compelling and gripping thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very last. This is one of the most anticipated novels of the summer and is sure to be a bestseller.


4.55pm and Joan and her four-year-old son Lincoln have spent the day at the zoo and it is nearly closing time so they head towards the exits, then Joan hears what she believes is gunshots.

Over the course of the next hours Joan has to think about how to not only how to run and avoid being seen by a madman with a gun who out to kill. She has to try and keep Lincoln from crying, that would attract real and grave danger. I always knew that this was going to be a gripping and tense thriller and how this delivers on every level. At times it left me breathless as you run with both Joan and her young son trying to hide and hope you are not found. Joan as a mother wanted to protect her precious son from this crazed madman. Why was he here killing people? What was his motive? I don’t think I have raced through a book so quickly I just wanted to know what was coming. You just knew something was going to happen.

I have to give credit to Phillips as she has written some incredibly strong characters for Fierce Kingdom, they are just so real which gives this novel such an edge. Incredibly powerful writing creating such dramatic scenes. The idea of setting this within a zoo is just mind blowing there are so many places and buildings not to mention the wild animals. I read this while in hospital and was caught reading during a sleepless night. The book caught the attention of some of the nurses looking after me.

So what we have in Fierce Kingdom is an extremely well thought out thriller that at times is very dramatic and for some would be traumatic I for one despite the setting felt claustrophobic I was there and I wanted to help them escape.  The ending is just as dramatic and I for one never really foresaw the ending. This is pulse racing and edge of your seat thriller that will be one book I am delighted to recommend for your Summer reading list. You will not be disappointed.

288 Pages.

Thank you to Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy of Fierce Kingdom

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips is published by Doubleday on 15th June and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.


Follow the Official Fierce Kingdom Blog Tour

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Reviews of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins & See What I have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Today sees the release of two of this year’s biggest must read books. Paula Hawkins follows up from The Girl on the Train with Into the Water (Doubleday)and a debut novel by Sarah Schmidt called See What I Have Done. (Tinder Press) Two books that are going to be on everyone’s TBR lists this Spring and Summer.

For the first time I am running today on my blog a double book review. Starting with Paula Hawkins Into the Water.


Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Imagine for a moment trying to sit down and write your next novel. Ok you say but what if you were the author of the massive international hit that was The Girl on the Train Then not for a moment can I begin to imagine what Paula Hawkins must be thinking as today see’s the release of her new thriller Into the Water. (Doubleday) Although some readers found that The Girl on the Train with its narrator that we know as unreliable to say the least. Paula Hawkins has gone a different route this time around as this new psychological thriller is very different and if this is at all possible it actually is better that her monster hit that captured the imagination of readers across the globe and was also a massive success on the big screen that starred Emily Blunt.

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What you will find with Into the Water is that here is a thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat as this is a stunning thriller with more than just the usual twists than your average read. This is an ambitious attempt to move away from the formula that gave Hawkins so much success, here there are more characters and the plot is so layered that is gives more to the reader. There is even something Hitchcock about this book and one that many readers will flock to. The story is set in a small riverside town, and the opening sequences are nothing short of horrific as a woman is tied up and then drowned by a group of men. At this point I had to re-read this first part as I was not sure if this was a current event or was this a past event from history and if so was history to play a major part in the novel. A chilling start that set the tone for what was to be a gripping thriller. It is now August 2015 and this little riverside town now becomes centre stage and a small of that river that has a notorious history that involves the drowning of witches. But there has been a much more recent drowning a middle aged woman called Nel Abbott is found dead in this stretch of water but how was this possible? Now let your imagination play with you here. Some including her daughter think Nel planned to end her life but Nel’s sister Jules is not sure. Now the history of this part of the comes to the fore as other deaths by drowning come to light. It also appears that Nel was taking a keen interest into the drownings has she taken some if its secrets and the towns secrets with her.

There are many character here that have a story to tell and they do this in bite size chapters that play a part in telling the real story of what has been going on in this small town. Some of these characters are hiding the truth and it also appears that Nel was not liked by many in the town. Question is why? Add into the story a psychic and you have the recipe for a thriller that is just building page by page with suspense until the very last moment. If you are going to read Into the Water on a train journey, be warned you may miss your stop but at least it stop you looking at people’s homes through the window of your carriage.

368 Pages

My thanks to Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy of Into the Water.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins is published by Doubleday and is released today 2nd May and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.


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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

It is the morning of 4th August 1892 and the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are discovered in their home. They have been brutally murdered with an axe. It was Lizzie Borden who discovered the mutilated body of her father. Here in See What I Have Done (Tinder Press) the debut novel by Sarah Schmidt she tells the story with fact and fiction in a gripping and riveting debut.


I have to admit to not knowing the story of the brutal murders that took place in the Borden home so before I started to read the book I did a little research to prepare myself for the book. Once I started I became hooked on Sarah Scmidt’s telling of the story using both facts and then using fiction to re-tell the infamous story.

When the Police arrived at the family home in Fall River, Massachusetts it becomes clear there was only one suspect and that was Lizzie Borden. Could she really have taken an axe to her stepmother and to her father? Despite the fact that there was other people in the house the police believe that she was responsible for the murders. Lizzie Borden was then tried and acquitted. To this day the murders remain unsolved in what remains one of the most heinous crimes the axe that was used in the murders was never found.

Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden

There are a numbers of characters that Scmidt focuses on in the novel with Lizzie and her sister Emma who at the time of the murders was not present in the family home, then there is the girls Uncle John and then the maid, Bridget. With the facts of the case already known Schmidt then weaves a dark and claustrophobic story. Behind the front door of the family home clearly all was not well. To say this was a troubled family even dysfunctional, there was many things quietly bubbling away under the surface in that steaming hot summer. The entire story just jumps out at you and leaves your pulse racing. This is an incredible first novel that is visceral and truly compelling. Schmidt’s writing is dark and chilling and the palms of your hands become sweaty or was that blood oozing from the pages of this disturbing read. This was clearly a family with many problems hidden behind the shutters of the windows as if they were keeping the secrets from the outside world. The parts of the story as told through Lizzie Borden leave you cold and wondering about her sanity and left me in cold sweats. See What I have Done is a Superb first novel and one I highly recommend.

Thank you to Georgina Moore for the advanced review copy of See What I Have Done.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt is published by Tinder Press and is released today 2nd May and available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.



Centaur by Declan Murphy & Ami Rao


Centaur by Declan Murphy & Ami Rao

The May bank holiday Monday of 1994 the world was still coming to terms that weekend of the deaths of racing drivers Roland Ratzenberger and the three times World Champion Ayrton Senna at the San Marino Grand Prix. At Haydock Park the celebrated jockey Declan Murphy was riding Arcot the favourite in the Swinton Hurdle as they approached the final hurdle they were lying third after coming through the field. Arcot misjudged the hurdle and they fell for Declan Murphy the world just seemed to disappear into a world of blackness then a following horse crashed into Murphy with one hoof colliding with his head causing 12 fractures in his skull. It was so severe that soon after Declan was given the last rites. He was not expected to survive such dreadful injuries.

Declan & Ami

The world of sport now held its breath, one of this countries’ top sportsmen was now in such a critical condition that the Racing Post ran his obituary. Despite he was facing having his life support switched off Murphy in a dark world was not giving up he was fighting and fighting hard. Now 23 years later Declan Murphy with Ami Rao tells his story in Centaur in what is one of the most incredible and brave memoirs that many will want to read and is surely in the running to win the William Hill Sports book of the year. This is a brave and open memoir of Murphy’s fightback from a man who looked death in face and lives to tell his story. Hidden within the pages of Centaur is a secret that at the time he kept from his loved ones and that for the celebrated Jockey is shattering. For coming back from the dead there was a price to be paid, as he fought to regain his health there were choices to be made some so painful that even this part of Declan’s journey brought a tear to my eyes. This brave man was going to overcome this crisis in his life he was mend his shattered injury and he was going to do this in the only way he could by shutting the world and those close to him away. This fight was personal and some may say selfish but I would like to call it brave.

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Just eighteen months later Declan Murphy recovered to ride again in what some would call sheer madness after facing death. The date was Tuesday 10th October 1995 Murphy rode Jibereen at Chepstow to win. This was the comebacks of all comebacks. To have your obituary in the Racing Post then comeback not only to ride again but win. This long tunnel that Murphy was in finally was the end was reached but for this brave sportsman that had to be more to life that riding and for Declan Murphy after a spell in New York and now Barcelona he has found peace and personal happiness. An extraordinary memoir that is so beautifully written. Riding a horse there is symmetry between both the rider and horse in Centaur there is symmetry between both Declan Murphy and Ami Rao and the result is a book worthy of the highest plaudits. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Thank you to Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy of Centaur

Centaur by Declan Murphy and Ami Rao is published by Doubleday and is published on 27th April and available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

Hold Back the Stars by Katie


Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

Katie Khan has a fascination with the stars in the night sky so much so that back in 2012 she came up with the premise of the story-line and so it was Hold Back the Stars was born and now it is one of the most talked about debut novels of 2017. In Katie Khan a new literary star has really been born. This is an incredible story so beautifully woven and seamless.


The Europe as we know it today is Europia of tomorrow and this is where Hold Back the Stars it is set the Europe of the future after the World is torn apart by conflict and a new society was born but from this, the idea of young people falling in love is something that is not allowed that is for later in life. Our story begins in space two young astronauts are tumbling through space they have manged to escape their dying ship, but something is wrong and now they have only 90 minutes of air remaining and nothing else to help them. They are drifting further and further away and panic is setting. These two young lovers whose hearts have become one they have been drawn together as it was always meant to be and in a society where this is frowned on, now all seems lost. Imagine just helplessly drifting through space among the bright stars that just hang there. In space they say there are more stars than there are grains on sand on every beach on Earth.

What Katie Khan presents us is an act of sheer desperation so perfectly set in her writing and the tone, as both Cary’s and Max try everything to come up with a plan to save themselves at the same time they are looking back at their lives in moments of flashbacks. From the very start of this outstanding book I was hooked and never wanted to leave the young couple for too long. Cary’s is one amazing character she is full of life and one feisty young woman they are just a young couple with dep feelings for each other despite what the law makers think and want. It is so beautifully written I have found it difficult to pin this novel into any one genre as it crosses many of them. It is clever and also unusual but it really works and the ending well I am not giving any spoilers here but this is the only way it could have ended. You may need a handkerchief to hand. My goodness this is just so very special. It was written in the stars, but Hold Back the Stars really was written in the stars and for Katie Khan the future looks as bright as a night sky full of stars. Now you can add a new one.

Thank you to Sophie Christopher for the advanced review copy.

Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan is published by Doubleday and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys


A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

There is something of a mix of old and new in A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys. If you have ever enjoyed reading the classic old mysteries, then I would make a note of this book’s release date and pre-order a copy because you will enjoy reading this old school mystery.

The story unfolds not on land as you may expect but at sea during a five week sailing from Tilbury Docks to the other side of the world. August 1939 and Britain is on the verge of World War II and for many the world would change forever. The story centres around Lillian Shepherd she is young and has left her job as job as a servant and is now seeking a new life for herself in Australia. Leaving behind a country teetering on the brink of an abyss. Once on board the Liner Orontes Lilian begins to see a life full of difference the wealthy and those fleeing from the Nazi regime that is about to engulf all of Europe. The real beauty in Rachel Rhys writing is that the pace of the story is somewhat leisurely it is not hurried now bearing in mind this is a story unfolding on a long voyage aboard ship.


All the passengers have stories to tell and there is a real mix of people and nationalities on the ship for Lily with whom you have a real sense of feeling the question I guess is Lilian leaving or running away, the answer lies within the pages of A Dangerous Crossing.  Lilian soon settles into being a passenger as opposed to the role of being a servant. While on the voyage she has a chance to mingle with the passengers including those who would I guess look down on her. In the confines on a ship you are always going to find a rich mix of characters and taking into consideration the timing of the events there are some interesting people Lily meets including sitting at a table with George Price and his support for Hitler and racist tone. Lilian makes friends with Maria Katz a young Jewish woman fearing for life and who has left behind a Europe amid rumours of Jewish persecution ahead of Hitler’s rape of Europe cities.

Along the journey the Orontes docks at various ports to take on more passengers and provisions and Britain is soon left behind as well as Lilian’s past as the story progresses Lilian settles into her ‘new lifestyle’ and gets to know her close circle of passengers. Sometimes though just when you think you know someone you actually don’t know them at all. And this is the crux of the story as much later into the story something happens that will shake Lilian’s faith in that.

This is superb piece of writing telling of differing people, and faiths all in a mixing bowl aboard ship at a time when the world was about to embark on fighting tyranny. There was something that struck me as I read A Dangerous Crossing something of the current times we are living in. All a bit worrying really. But this is wonderfully crafted story told in a way of the old mystery novels of times gone by. The documents at the end of the book tell of a true story on the Liner Orontes while on a voyage to Australia.

Thank you to Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy.

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys is published by Doubleday and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops from 23 March. Available now to pre-order.

Different Class by Joanne Harris

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Different Class by Joanne Harris

 The Last Word Review

When you think of Joanna Harris you would not think of crime novels but in her latest release Different Class this is in fact her third crime novel a twisting psychological thriller set in a fictional Yorkshire town of Malbry with the backdrop being a boy’s grammar school and brilliantly written this is the third in the series of novels and follows on from Gentleman & Players.

The story is narrated through the boy’s Latin master Roy Straitley, so the story goes that the school has seen better days and now a schoolboy has been murdered. The school is in desperate need of some good fortune but it is in turmoil with the head and some of its tutors leaving, a new term and Straitley now in his sixties arrives for another term postponing his retirement but more problems lie ahead for him.


Johnny Harrington the new head arrives and he is smart in more ways than just his attire, he will be bringing new ways of education the boys and also installing a ‘paperless office’ regime into the school. But for Roy Straitley there is a real problem here the new head just so happens to be one of the boys he taught, but has brought the past to the current as there is a scandal to be told here involving the head when he was a boy that led to one the teachers spending time in one of her majesty’s prisons. This is not an ideal working relationship and the tension is palpable. Should Roy have just walked into retirement?

The story moves between the years 1981 and to the current timeline of 2005 bring to life the story as he reminisces of the time when the scandal was unfolding that includes an unnamed boy and to the current day as Roy agonises of the events that overshadow the school and threaten its very survival. Roy is very much old school and encompasses the values and traditions of the old way of teaching and the school as he remembers as it should be. One thing that you do take from reading the diary entries is the relationship between master and pupil and vice versa. A story that tackles many issues including loyalty and consciences.

This is one book that you will be lured into by the intricate plot and storyline and is excellently executed as a thriller you know that something is lurking within the story and there is real trouble brewing and it delivers on all fronts it is dark and at times unsettling. I have not read the previous two books in the series and will be keen to go back and start the series from the beginning though Different Class can be read as a stand-alone book but whatever it should not be missed and one I fully recommend.

Thank you to Patsy Irwin (Transworld Publishers) for a review copy.

Different Class by Joanna Harris is published by Doubleday and is available in Hardback through Waterstones and all good bookshops.


Meet the Author Interview and review of The French Lesson by Hallie Rubenhold

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The French Lesson by Hallie Rubenhold




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In the latest in a series of Meet the Author Interviews I talk Hallie Rubenhold about her latest historical novel The French Lesson which is has just been released through Doubleday and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.

I began by asking Hallie about her latest novel.

Congratulations on your latest book The French Lesson published by       Doubleday. Being a lover of history and historical novels, I have to admit at enjoying it very much. As it is just published can you give a brief synopsis of The French Lesson?

 I’m so pleased you enjoyed The French Lesson! I always have a very hard time giving a synopsis of this book because I feel I’m too close to it to be able to discern the woods from the trees.

 It’s about a lot of things, but I think it’s quite well summarised in the phrase, ‘it’s Dangerous Liaisons meets A Tale of Two Cities’, with a little bit of Thackeray thrown in for good measure. The French Lesson is the second book in a trilogy about my heroine, Henrietta Lightfoot and how she evolves from being an innocent girl to a scheming woman (which hints at what’s to come in the third novel). It’s told in first person, as a memoir when Henrietta is much older and involved in an on-going battle over reputation with her very dysfunctional family.  I won’t reveal anything more than that as there are many twists and turns in this story and I don’t want to give anything away. Although it’s part of a trilogy, it’s also very much a stand-alone read.

 What made you want to be an historian and historical writer and become involved in broadcasting and historical consultancy work for television drama’s such as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell?

 I’ve always loved history, writing and filmmaking since I was a child. In fact they really are just extensions of the same thing – story telling. I find the past fascinating and I think that growing up somewhere where a sense of the past was so noticeably absent – Los Angeles – made me more desirous of connecting with it on some level. I also blame the place of my birth for my interest in film. 

 Do you think history is important today?

History is absolutely important today, however if we define history as simply a memorised roll call of names and dates, then it loses all meaning. I feel very sad when I hear that this definition of history is what so many people associate with the subject.

 Personally, I feel that social history has the most relevance in our lives – it’s fundamental that we understand how we lived and how we have evolved as a society. History is and should be the study of what it means to be human. 

 Is there a favourite period in history that you like to write about?

 The period called the Long Eighteenth Century (c. 1680 – 1837) really is the era that I most love, though I find the nineteenth century and the seventeenth century pretty fascinating too.

 If you were about to make a long journey and could take only one historical book with you what would that book be? Apologies for putting you on the spot with this one?

 I’m assuming you mean historical novel.  I’d take Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, which is one of my all-time favourites. This novel is so layered that I’d never tire of re-reading it and contemplating the complexities of its characters.

 I like talking to authors about their writing routines, some can be creative in the early hours and others like to write in busy coffee shops with the hustle and bustle of everyday life around them, can you tell me about your writing routines and what motivates you.

 I’m useless in the morning and have always been so. I’m not a great sleeper so my brain usually doesn’t kick into gear until after 10 am. If I’m working from home I try to do my chores in the morning – answer emails, go to the gym, the supermarket, etc and then settle into work around lunch time. I try to work from the London Library at least a couple of days a week when they have late opening. This means I can interact with other people, which keeps me sane. The London Library is a great resource for writers – there’s a nice community of us there and we’re all quite supportive of each other’s work. 

I tend to work fairly late into the evening, unless I’m going out. Often I’m writing until midnight, with breaks for dinner and coffee. I seem to really hit my stride after 4pm, which annoyingly is when many people are just starting to wind down their working day.

I love the silence of a deserted library in the evenings. I love it when my mobile stops ringing and the emails taper off. That’s pure writing bliss.

 With your busy schedule do you get time to read? Are you currently reading a book at present?

 I’m a very peculiar and fussy reader. When I’m writing fiction I can’t read fiction as I find that the voices of other authors start to intrude on my own. I read nonfiction when I’m writing my novels, and I read novels when I’m writing my nonfiction.  At the moment I’ve been reading a lot of late nineteenth century journalism and commentary about the lives of the poor which will factor into my next book.  I’ve just finished Jack London’s People of the Abyss, which was completely absorbing.

 Are currently working on another project?

My next book is going to be a nonfiction book about the five women who were killed by Jack the Ripper. It’s absolutely shocking that in nearly 130 year’s no one has ever thought to write a collective history of these women’s lives. The amazing thing is that everything we think we know about them is wrong. Only one among the five was what might be considered ‘a career prostitute’.  None of them came from the East End – they were from all over. One of them came from Sweden, another had lived on a country estate as the wife of a coachman. With the exception of one, all of the women were in their 40s, and most had been married and had children.

I’m really excited about writing The Five, which hopefully should be completed within two years. Watch this space!

I am extremely grateful to Hallie Rubenhold for taking the time out of her busy schedule to take part in ‘Meet the Author’. If you would like more information on Hallie’s work or further details of The French Lesson  please visit Hallie’s website:


My thoughts on The French Lesson

The new historical novel by Hallie Rubenhold called The French Lesson is the second book in a trilogy about Henrietta Lightfoot and is written looking back at her time in Paris during the bloody French Revolution.

We find Henrietta caught up in the bloodletting that has set neighbour against neighbour and friend against friend and even Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are not immune from the Revolution and are imprisoned. Henrietta’s lover has let her go and despite the fact she could have escaped the fighting and gone back to London our heroine chooses to stay and sets off in pursuit of her one great love George William Allenham and soon there is trouble for Henrietta as well as grave danger and she needs help and support to survive.

Along comes Grace Dalrymple Elliott no ordinary woman is our Grace, she has a reputation and soon Henrietta soon falls under the protection of Grace but with this comes one very heavy price to our heroine and she comes face to face with some of the most powerful women in France and she put her own life on the line as she tries to find her lover.

The French Lesson is a fabulous gripping account at a time of war and tyranny and the smell of blood is in the air and heads are rolling literally. This is so wonderfully written with a blend of factual and real life people put together in a tale of love and lust and nothing is as it seems as the old order is put to the sword or the guillotine. This is not to be missed.

The French Lesson follows on from the first book Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot- Mistress of Fate and the third book will follow in time but The French Lesson can be easily read as a stand-alone book.

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My thanks to Patsy Irwin at Transworld Publishers for a review copy.

The French Lesson written by Hallie Rubenhold and published by Doubleday and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.  


Now here is your chance to win a copy of the excellent The French Lesson by Hallie Rubenhold. Just head over to my Twitter feed @Thelastword1962 and follow and Retweet the pinned review tweet. You will be entered into the draw.  Terms and Conditions: Open to UK residents only.  The free draw closes on Monday evening at 20.00hrs 25t April 2016 and entries after this time will be excluded.  The winner will be selected at random and a copy will be sent out by the publishers.


Fever at Dawn by Péter Gárdos


Fever at Dawn by Péter Gárdos

The Last Word Review

Based on a true story this is moving and compassionate novel that is packed with emotion

When the war ended in 1945 and the horrors of the concentration camps were clearly visible to the world for those that survived the death camps it was time to rebuild their shattered lives and try and find husbands, wives, sons, daughters and other family members for many the sad truth is that families would never be reunited as they were murdered at the hands of the Nazis running the concentration camps.

Fever at Dawn is the deeply moving true story of two survivors from Belsen now free and recovering from their ordeal.

The author Péter Gárdos painstakingly retraces the lives of his father and mother through an incredibly moving account of their letters and their story in Fever at Dawn. It is beautifully written totally flawless.

We find Miklos in Belsen concentration camp barely alive when he was rescued by the Red Cross they found he had no teeth he was eventually moved to a hospital in Sweden while there he was diagnosed with TB and was only given six months to live. Miklos was not going to sit around waiting for death to come and visit after surviving Belsen.

At the same time that Miklos was being rescued from Belsen we find Lili also at the same camp also being saved by the Red Cross, Lili was also in a very bad way suffering severe malnutrition, the Red Cross also moved Lili to a hospital in Sweden. Both Miklos and Lili despite being in the same death camp had never previously met.

How they finally met is a true love story in defiance of death. While recovering in hospital Miklos managed to obtain a list of over 100 Hungarian women that survived the death camps and were recovering in various hospitals in Sweden. Miklos wanted to find love and wanted to find a wife before he died.


With not very many wanting to enter into any correspondence only Lili Reich seemed to summon up the courage to write back. From this moment their lives were about to change and the beautiful love story was born through letters.

Fever at Dawn is an incredibly moving account of the letters between Miklos and Lili as two young people try and rebuild shattered lives after the sheer brutality of war and we see two fragile lives now daring to dream of a future.

I am not going to spoil the story from here needless to say it moved me in a way only these stories from survivors could. For me it is a must read novel. A heart-stopping love story.

Péter Gárdos is a well renowned Hungarian film director with more than 20 international awards awarded. It was just three days after his father Miklos’ death that his mother decided to tell him the story and gave him a pack of letters tied with coloured ribbons, not opened since 1946.

A film based on the novel Fever at Dawn will be premier at major film festival during this coming year.

I am very grateful to Alison Barrow and Doubleday UK for an Advanced Review Copy.

‘Fever at Dawn’ written by Péter Gárdos and published by Doubleday. Published on 7 April 2016.


For The Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

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Delighted to say that as part of the Official Blog Tour For The Most Beautiful I talk to the author Emily Hauser about her debut book. I also review For The Most Beautiful and there is an exciting opportunity to enter a free prize draw to win a signed copy.





In the latest in a series of Meet the Author Interviews I talk Emily Hauser about her debut novel For The Most Beautiful which is has just been released today 28 January and available through all good bookshops.

 Congratulations on your debut novel For the Most Beautiful. For those that are about to discover your book for the first time, can you give us a brief synopsis?

Thank you, John! For the Most Beautiful tells the legendary story of the Trojan War, as immortalised in Homer’s Iliad, from a new perspective – from the points of view of two women, Briseis, a princess of Pedasus, and Krisayis, daughter of the High Priest of Troy. When Helen arrives on a ship with Paris, prince of Troy, bringing war and destruction in her wake, the lives of both women are changed forever. As war takes over the Trojan plain, they are taken captive in the Greek camp by Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen, and Agamemnon, a cruel and brutal king – but will they allow themselves to be overtaken by fate, or will they fight to defend their homeland? … and I’ll stop there, I don’t want to give too much away!

 For the Most Beautiful is stunning and is the first in the Golden Apple Trilogy. What made you want to write about the Women of Troy, Krisayis and Briseis?

Homer’s Iliad, and the tale it tells of the Trojan War, is one of the oldest and richest cultural myths in the west. But although the women are just about visible in the epic – hiding behind the walls of Troy; captive in the Greek camp – I wanted to bring their story to the fore. Their tale is one of incredible power, hidden in the pages of the Iliad just waiting to be told – but it so often gets overshadowed by the better-known tale of the rage of Achilles. I wanted to uncover that story. And when you look a bit deeper, you begin to see that these women – in particular, Briseis and Krisayis – had pivotal roles in the way the Trojan War played out: that, in fact, nothing would have happened the way it did without them! That’s what really fascinated me, and I felt that it was a story that needed to be told.

 When you decided to write For the Most Beautiful you must have had to face a lot of research when retelling Homer’s Iliad. What challenges did you come across during the writing process and how long did it take to write?

I actually really enjoyed doing the research for For the Most Beautiful. As I’m currently studying for my PhD in Classics, I am fortunate to be immersed in this world on a daily basis. I’m lucky enough to have some amazing university libraries at my disposal, and while I was writing I would spend hours trawling through the stacks in search of old records of Mycenaean archaeology. I even came across an archive of old maps of Troy at Yale, with one dating back to the 16th century! For me, most of the research centred around getting the historical feel of Bronze Age Troy as accurate as I could – I’m fortunate in that I know the Iliad fairly well as a classical scholar, but I wanted to make sure that the reader really felt that Troy was historically accurate, as well as true to the details of the Iliad. So I spent a lot of time investigating the finds at Hisarlik (the site of ancient Troy), making drawings of Bronze Age armour, maps of the terrain of the Troad (the plain of Troy) and so on! My husband and I even made a trip to Troy, which was an incredible experience.

As for challenges, the main challenge for me I think was to be as true to the spirit of the Iliad as I could, whilst at the same time giving my own spin on it. It was probably the main reason why, for example, I included the scenes on Mount Olympus – so many modern authors choose to ignore the gods, but I felt that they were such a vital part of the world of Homer (and the Trojans) that they had to be there.

 At Cambridge you studied Classics you now live and work in the United States – have you continued this journey? And did this inspire you to decide to start the Golden Apple Trilogy?

The idea for For the Most Beautiful was born from a class I took during my first year of my PhD at Yale, called “The Invention of the Classic”. One week we were assigned to read Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad – a re-telling of the Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective, and a read I would highly recommend! – and I thought, “Why has nobody done this for the Iliad?” And that’s how it all started!

 I talk to a lot of authors about their writing routines: some are more creative in the early hours; some can write in a busy coffee shop.  What are your writing routines? And what are your hopes and fears?

I have a very simple writing routine: I write in the morning and do whatever else I have to do in the afternoon, and yes, I work in coffee shops! As I’m often working in libraries for my academic research, I love the buzz and the feel of other people conducting their lives around me that you get from a busy café – that’s really the heart and soul of literature, isn’t it? I always set myself a target for the day – usually 700 words – and once I’ve done that I’ll stop and move on to whatever other work needs to be done for the PhD. While I sometimes change the order in which I work, I find the routine and structure helpful and productive to combine my writing and my love of research.

Have you started writing the second book in the trilogy? Can you give us an idea of what we can look forward to?

Yes, certainly! The second book in the Golden Apple trilogy tells the story of Atalanta, a courageous and determined female warrior who sets out on the legendary voyage to capture the Golden Fleece with Jason and the Argonauts. Exposed on a mountainside to die at birth because she wasn’t a boy, Atalanta is determined to prove to her father, the king of Pagasae, that she is worthy to be his heir. There’s more at stake than just the Fleece, though, as Atalanta also has her own kingdom to fight for…

What are you currently reading?

Pompeii by Robert Harris. It’s one of my favourite books and one I re-read at least once every few years! I adore the vividness of the picture he paints of pre-eruption Pompeii, as well as the pace and adrenaline of the plot. Historical fiction on the ancient world at its best!

Thank you to Emily Hauser for taking the time to take part in Meet The Author on a busy publication day. You can find out more about Emily Hauser by visiting her official web site.  Here

The Last Word Review

 A new writing talent arrives with a fresh new take on Homer’s epic masterpiece

 Emily Hauser has taken a fresh new look at Homer’s epic Greek epic Iliad and the siege of Troy, but with a here is a fresh twist on the Greek myth.

The story is based around the Women of Troy namely Krisayis who is the daughter of the Trojan’s high priest and Briseis who is a Princess of the City of Pedasus close to Troy.

I recall reading Homer’s Iliad nearly 38 years ago and thanks to this I got interested in the classics.  So anyone who has read Iliad knows the story and how the fate of Troy was sealed.

Emily Hauser has written the story through the eyes of the two women of Troy and how they used what power they had to influence the outcome.

Paperback 2.

Paperback edition – Available July 2016

For The Most Beautiful is an epic tale in its own right as Hauser tries to describe to the reader how life was living in the shadows of the gods of war. I have to admit that my favourite of the women was Krisayis she is brave and does everything she can to assist the Trojans by learning the Greek plans after she is captured by them.

You always know a good book when you get drawn into the storyline, and what Hauser has done here is to create a new and vibrant retake on the story of Troy not so much a retelling as I don’t think that this is how it comes across. Indeed, within in the interview I have done with Emily Hauser she says ‘It is a story that needed to be told’. For those not familiar with the epic Greek tale there is a handy detailed glossary of names and places at the back of the book. I compliment Hauser’s prose it is peerless. A truly outstanding debut.

For The Most Beautiful is the trilogy and each can be read on their own, and with the second book now underway I am already looking forward to the next instalment.

For The Most Beautiful written by Emily Hauser published by Doubleday. 28 January 2016.

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Competition time. I have a signed copy of For The Most Beautiful to give away in a free prize draw.  Head over to my Twitter page: @Thelastword1962 Just follow and retweet the post for ‘Pinned’ Tweet and you will go into the draw to win a copy of For The Most Beautiful.

* Please note: UK only prize draw. Winning book issued by publisher. Entry closes today 28 January 2016  at 8pm entries after this time will not be included

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