Category Archives: Harper Collins
Many who love the writing of Joanna Cannon have been very excited over recent days with the news of her second book Three Things About Elsie due for release in early January 2018. The first copies of the proofs were issued late last week and the early news is that this is going to be a much loved book and will touch all who read it. It will be one of the books of next year that is without doubt.
Joanna’s debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep went on to become a bestseller and today is still selling extremely well and was even selected to be on the Richard and Judy Book Club for WH Smith. It is a remarkable debut novel about two ten-year-old girls Grace and Tilly who set about trying to solve a mystery. Mrs Creasy is missing and there are whispers. A beautiful written novel about secrets behind every front door but it is more than just that.
It came to my attention that there are still some (yes hard to believe) that have not yet discovered The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and as Joanna’s forthcoming second novel is already talk of social media with a cover that is just pure Battenberg, I thought it would be a good time to a competition to win not just one copy but I have two to give away. But that is not all. These editions are the special copies produced in the yellow paperback cover as issued by Sainsbury’s to celebrate Summer as this wonderful novel is set in a long hot Summer that some of us still recall. Sadly, I am not offering free Battenberg as I am keeping that for myself. Sorry!
To enter the competition all you have to do is head over to my Twitter page The Last Word 1962 and answer one simple question:
In what year is the novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep based in. Then follow and RT the main pinned Tweet and you are in with a chance. There I told it was easy. It is easy honest.
Just to recap:
- In what year is the novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep based?
- Follow and Re-Tweet the pinned Tweet
The completion will close at 7pm on Thursday 17th August 2018 and two lucky winners will be selected at random on Friday morning. The Winners will receive a Direct Message from me on Twitter that morning. All being well prizes will be sent out within a few days. Good luck.
To Kill the President by Sam Bourne
Many will know how much I enjoy reading and writing about thrillers so it will come as a surprise that I have not read any of Sam Bourne’s thrillers before now and what a way to start. Just imagine the United States elects to power a President that is disliked by the majority of the world and whom they see as impulsive to say the least. Well in Sam Bourne’s latest blockbuster To Kill the President that is exactly what has happened.
Many who pick up this thriller will very quickly come to the idea that this is really a novel based on the current ‘real’ Commander in Chief and it is not difficult to understand why. Here in this fast paced thriller the President of the United States is in a war of words with the North Korean regime and the world is plunged into fear that the President will launch a nuclear attack on North Korea. The world is on a knife edge and at any moment the world could be plunged into WWIII. What’s more this tyrannical president is backed by his chief strategist Crawford McNamara.
He we have a president that feels he can do anything he wants and is liable to react without thinking through the consequences for the world. Something must be done to stop him. Enter Maggie Costello she served the previous president and she is wise and soon discovers that there is a plot to assassinate the President. Now here is the dilemma. She serves the president so does she do something to raise the alarm or bearing in mind the lunatic in the oval office does she keep quiet and hope the plot succeeds.
I soon realised after just a few pages just how close to reality this novel is based. The world has held its breath a number of times with Donald Trump as president and here in To Kill the President a novel that is just a little to scarily real. The characters are believable and have egos to match their inflated personalities. Gripping thriller that lasts from the first page through to the last and will keep the ardent thriller fan entertained. A thumping good read with a little twist and if you are following the current ‘real’ Commander in Chief’ then you may want to read this sinister page turner.
Thank you to Emilie Chambeyron for the advanced review copy of To Kill the President.
To Kill the President by Sam Bourne is published by Harper Collins and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
How to follow the To Kill the President Official Blog Tour
I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke
I Know My Name (Harper) is the debut psychological thriller from the pen of C.J. Cooke. This is a thriller with more than just the usual twists and turns. It could well be described as dark and disturbing. Just what goes on in the minds of some people. If you like your thrillers like this, then you are in for a treat.
A woman wakes up on a Greek Island she does not know how she got there, she does not recall anything. Luckily there are a group of people on the island that want to help her. But who is this woman? Meanwhile in London Lochlan’ wife Eloise has just vanished without trace and no-one knows where she is her two young children have been left without their mother.
So now we see the story told from both Eloise and Lochlan. The real stories lie behind each character, Eloise is just desperate to find out who she is and how and what is she doing on a Greek Island. She wants to know were home is and to return. Imagine waking up on a strange island not knowing even what your name is and not recalling anything. Frightening thought. Meanwhile for Lochlan he too is looking for answers what has happened to his wife, why did she just walk out on her two young children while they slept with no warning.
Now you have to try and get inside the minds of some of the characters and try and find out who they really are and also what they are really like. Cooke really plays with the reader throughout the book as she tries to play on the suspicions of people and then keeps them guessing and this moves the story along at great pace. With each new chapter you are not sure of anyone.
A deeply thought provoking story I know My Name is a page turner of a thriller being compulsive and compelling.
Thank you to Harper Collins for the advanced review copy.
I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke is published by Harper Collins and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
How to follow the I Know My Name Blog Tour
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I am going to say this now the debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Harper Collins) is a leading contender for book of the year 2017. That is quite a statement. But read on and you will have a taste of why this is THE book of the year.
Be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions through this novel but there is a message of hope written through the pages and this will resonate to every reader. Meet Eleanor Oliphant she is a real character; she lives each day at a time, never straying too far and avoiding straying from a carefully straight line that each day brings. She will wear the same clothes to work, even eats the same lunch every day. Then there are the crosswords every lunchtime. Eleanor believes she has everything in her life she needs, but actually when you get to know Eleanor everything seems to be missing.
Every weekend it is the same two bottles of vodka, no-one comes to call at her home and her phone never rings. At first you may not like Eleanor that much, but I promise you one thing that by the time you come towards the end, you are going to care a lot about her. Some may think that Eleanor Oliphant is a lost soul, but there is much more to this story and the journey you are going to take with her. Prepare to live in her world and the rollercoaster will take you to places that at times is very funny to just utter heartbreak. Eleanor Oliphant lives a life of isolation.
The story of Eleanor evolves throughout the story, and it just takes a moment an act of pure simple kindness to change Eleanor’s perfect world. There is so much in the story it would be wrong of me to give it away but there is a crush on a singer that does not go well, which leads to a whole series of events that in turn lead us to getting to know Eleanor’s life and how she got to where she is at the present. There is so much emotion throughout the story, yet it is a real joy to read. There are so many twists that at times you just never knew what or where it was leading you to. But that is one of the beauties of this story. There are some moments in the story that will make you laugh out loud so if you are going to read this on a journey be prepared.
If I could buy one novel this year for everyone I know it would be Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is it just staggeringly brilliant in every aspect from the storyline to the writing which flows easily and captures the reader from page one to the ending. One book that will stay with me for a long time to come. This is one book that I am delighted to HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Thank you to Jaime Frost for the advanced review copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is published today 18th May by Harper Collins and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby
The balance between life and death is so fine, something we take for granted as we go about our busy lives every day. Professor Stephen Westaby a Heart Surgeon has dedicated his life in the pursuit of saving people’s lives. This is his life story in his own words a truly remarkable memoir of an outstanding career. When I was approached my Harper Collins if I would review Fragile Lives I have to admit to being concerned as I have been through heart surgery over recent years and the concern and worry this has brought not only to my but family and friends.
Stephen Westaby is not just a renowned heart surgeon but he is a pioneer of new heart surgery techniques that have saved many lives. He is a no-nonsense surgeon and this really comes through in his own words through the pages of Fragile Lives. For Stephen Westaby this is his story in his own words on how ‘the back-street boy’ from Scunthorpe decided he wanted to be a Cardiac surgeon all this at the very young age of 7 years.
This is a no-holds barred memoir that tells it straight it life and death. Sadly, it really is as simple as that. My emotions were shot by the time I finished reading, every life is precious as he describes some of the cases he has treated and not just in the UK either. At times I found my emotions just got to me having been through heart surgery and knowing what was involved. Fragile Lives may not be for everyone as it can be quite graphic in detail at times but it really gives an insight to the inner workings of the heart and also at the same time the strain that Stephen Westaby was under. Every life matters. Sadly, not all make it through. There is also a price to be paid for a life devoted to saving others and Westaby’s own private life especially with his first wife and children suffered as a direct consequence.
It is incredible the amount of progress that has been made since the 1960’s when so many died from a heart attack now so many are saved and this is because of the dedication of Cardiac surgeons like Stephen Westaby and he is also a flag waver for the NHS and is not afraid of taking a swing at those running the NHS as he clearly states ‘The rise and fall of the NHS’ We owe so much to surgeons like Westaby and many owe their lives to them that is why we must do everything in our power from allowing The Grim Reaper to take the NHS. It must survive for future generations.
Fragile Lives is an outstanding memoir from an outstanding man who we should all be extremely grateful to. There is humility mixed with some dry humour. Life and Death in their hands it is but one book that should not be missed. I for one will always be more grateful than I can put into words for Cardiac Surgeons like Professor Stephen Westaby. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you to Caroline Saramowicz for the advanced review copy.
Fragile Lives by Professor Stephen Westaby is published by Harper Collins and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Chaos – Patricia Cornwell
The Last Word Review
The twenty-fourth thriller starring Dr Kay Scarpetta from the pen of the bestselling Patricia Cornwell has arrived and fans of the million selling author will be delighted with the latest offering Chaos.
I recall reading the very first in the series Postmortem all those years ago that stars the super forensic expert Dr Kay Scarpetta and all these years later book number 24 landed with on my desk. And so it was to a weekend of reading Cornwell’s latest that snared me from page one.
The story is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts it is her home and the place of her work. It is an early autumn and the heat is intense so much so a twenty-six- year old woman Elisa Vandersteel is found dead alongside her bicycle. At first it is believed she was struck by lightning. For Dr Scarpetta she was talking with the very same young woman just a few hours before. And so the investigation begins but there is more to this story that you believe. Scarpetta’s husband has been receiving strange telephone calls that apparently are from Interpol. Dr Kay Scarpetta is being targeted but by who and why? Who is behind this and just wanted happened to the young woman cycling along the river, it was a clear sunny day and lighting could not have struck her, but then again what caused the smell of burning coming from the body?
The story is engrossing and moves quickly along at a pace and the way the characters are drawn into the storyline. This is a crime that needs to be solved and quickly as Scarpetta is being harassed by someone calling himself Tailend Charlie and there are a series of poems that arrive it is time to call for reinforcements and this includes her niece Lucy but this Tailend Charlie is one slippery fish of a character Scarpetta just cannot get close enough to him. Adding to drama Scarpetta’s Dorothy has arrived to hear her give a talk. The two have a frosty relationship. But why has she chosen to come to the lecture of all times now?
Chaos may not be Cornwell’s best of the twenty-four thrillers but it still had me hooked and there are a number of twists to keep you in suspense to the very end.
Put the cat our, lock the doors and switch off your phone pour a large glass of wine settle down with the ultimate crime writer.
Thank you to Hayley Camis at Harper Collins for the advanced review copy.
Chaos by Patricia Cornwell is published by Harper Collins and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
CHAOS – The Official Blog Tour 2016
The Ashes of London – Andrew Taylor
The Last Word Review
Andrew Taylor is a British crime and historical writer, best known for the international bestseller The American Boy and The Fallen Angel Trilogy. But in his latest novel Andrew Taylor turns his attention to a part of London’s history. In The Ashes of London this could well be one his best yet. A murder mystery like no other that I can remember. It is September 1666 The Great Fire of London has been burning for a number of days nothing can stop the flames it consumes everything it its way even St Pauls Cathedral which has been London’s landmark is burning. The immense heat from the flames, the chocking smoke and the crackling of the fire as it consumes the wooden structures. Just a year after the Black Death now London is being destroyed and nothing can be done to stop it. Treasures are going up in smoke. And the people can only stand and stare as their homes are destroyed.
The Great Fire is key to the latest work from Andrew Taylor. As crowds gather to watch St Pauls burning to the ground a young boy breaks through the crowd and wants to run into the burning cathedral as if he is being pulled into the flames but a young man manages to grab the boy at the last moment his name is James Marwood. The boy however is not a boy but a young girl. But before he can find out more she flees from Marwoods grasp and disappears into the crowd of people.
Marwood is now the centre of the story, his elderly father was a supporter of Cromwell and the civil war that saw the execution of Charles I. Marwood has a role albeit a rather junior role within Whitehall but here Marwood seems to spend a lot of time hiding information from his peers. But now a body has been found in the ruins of the cathedral and Marwood has been called in to look at the body but the man did not die in the fire. This was murder. Was the body left there so the fire would conceal the truth?
The character Marwood now goes on to tell his story and the investigation in his own words, which I found I was so well told being at a time when both politics and religion seem to drive the passions throughout the land. The Monarchy is back but the divisions are still present in society and as Marwood finds out there is much at stake.
We meet another character Cat, she has dreams and passions for the future but she is a young lady with intelligence and desire. But now she is in dire trouble and her life is in peril. She has no choice but to run.
The Ashes of London turns out to be a first rate read from start to finish. There is so much detail on every page at times it seems hard to keep up but that is down to the research by Andrew Taylor it is part history and part crime novel of sheer brilliance. The stories of the leading characters and other players involved tell a tale of truths and lies and the detail of London at this time from the buildings to the social times of the seventeenth century. One of my favourite periods in English history so reading this was something I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. This is one book I am delighted to recommend if you are a lover of historical fiction.
One question is will Andrew Taylor be writing more historical fiction from this time in history?
The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor is published by Harper Collins and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.
A Divided Spy – Charles Cumming
The Last Word Review
Thomas Kell returns in what is the third novel in A Divided Spy by Charles Cumming. For those who enjoy a gripping spy novel and have not encountered the series by Charles Cumming then I must recommend you seek out the series so far. A Divided Spy I found can be read as a standalone novel but you will then want to read the previous two in the series A Foreign Country and A Colder War as then you will really get behind the lead character Thomas Kell.
We join A Divided Spy with Kell now a former MI6 agent, seeking and plotting to avenge the death of Rachel the woman in his life and the woman he loved. Rachel was murdered by a Russian Agent and he wants the chance to find this man and to avenge the killing of Rachel. As with a lot of spy novels the key character has lost faith and trust in those he was working for. Is it a stroke of luck that his chance has come?
Within the story there are two subplots developing with the first Kell is seeking to find and deal with the Russian spy and then a young Muslim man returns to the UK after fighting with ISIS and he is planning a suicide attack in Brighton. Both storylines are carefully woven together as Kell showing no trust goes about his business in seeking out the Russian Minasian and confronting him. Though Kell’s hierarchy are not that happy about Kell seeking revenge.
I have read many espionage novels but I have to say Cumming nails this for the sheer tension as the story starts to reach its explosive climax. Having not read the previous two books I immediately took a liking to Thomas Kell and wanted him to succeed, a likable lead character with all the usual weaknesses you find in our heroes.
If you enjoy reading Ian Fleming or John le Carré then without doubt you will really enjoy reading A Divided Spy with a warning you struggle to put this one down. Cumming writes with authority and the writing grabs you and pulls in and does not let go until the last page.
If you are hitting the beach this Summer, then pack this along with the beach towel and sun lotion it is essential holiday reading.
My thanks to Jaime Frost from Harper Collins for an advanced review copy.
A Divided Spy by Charles Cumming was published by Harper Collins on 2 June and is available through all Waterstones and all good bookshops.