October 2017 Book Overview  

So, I cannot quite believe another month has gone and soon we will be into 2018. I have picked for this month some new authors, and a wide variety of different books. I hope you enjoy. 

If you would like your book to feature in my monthly book overview, please email me at: – 

thesecretworldofabookblogger@gmail.com

Prison 917 – Samantha Nicklaus 

Heather was taught to never judge a book by its cover, but when she lands in a prison with no supplies, no guards, and no rules, surrounded by dangerous criminals, she starts to question that saying. Unsure of whom to trust, Heather is taken in by Delany, the cold and distant leader of the Red group, but even with a new friend, her new home is dangerous. 

The struggle for food, supplies, power, and answers leads Heather in a thousand different directions. As she learns more and more about her new home, and her new friends, she struggles to remember what she did to get arrested in the first place. One wrong move can kill her, or someone else. The only thing she is certain of is that she does not belong here. 

About The Author 

Samantha is a New York born and Tallahassee based writer. She graduated from Florida State University in 2017 with a Bachelors Degree in History with a minor in Psychology. She has always been a writer, but got more serious about it after winning her first National Novel Writing Month in 2011. Prison 917 is her first self-published novella. 

Find out more about Samantha via her Twitter @SamNicklaus or via her website here


Beyond The Darkness – Simon M.D Brewer 

Venture beyond death with four original gothic stories. 

1. A Bards Tale – When Anya’s husband dies, she finds a way to bring him back from the grave. But is her beloved the same man she knew before?

2. The Testament of Prisoner X – Imran Mehmood witnesses his fellow crewmates killed by an evil temptress. He gives himself to the Siren and opens his heart to darkness. Can he escape her does he want to?

3. A Song of Human Nature – Caesare falls into Mother Nature’s care. He is inflicted with the wolfs curse and somehow must escape the monster inside of him whilst proving to Mother Nature that the humans are worthy of life. 

4.The Fable (Part one) The Tale of Two Brothers – The queen of Ortusland births twin boy but with their arrival comes a foretelling. ‘One will murder the other.’ But which brother is good and which is  evil and is their fate set in stone?

About The Author 

Simon was born in Bolton. He is the youngest of 11 siblings and uncle to 30+ nephews and nieces. Academically he has always enjoyed English Language and has attended creative writing classes at Wigan and Leigh College, Bolton University and Salford Univeristy. His inspiration for his stories comes from the very many nightmares that terrified him as a child. Though he still endures bad dreams in adult life, he funnels them into his imagination and now enjoys his macabre thoughts by capturing them in his notebooks for use in his story. 

If you would like to find out more about Simon you can catc up with him via Twitter @simonbrewer11 or via Simon’s blog here.

Turning For Home – Barney Norris (this book is due out 11 January 2018) 

Once a year, every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house in the country to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, grandchildren, distant cousins- it is a milestone in their lives and has been for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what happened since they last met- and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Robert is determined that this will be the final part. But for both him and Kate, it may also become the most important gathering of all. 

About The Author 

Barney was born in Sussex in 1987, and grew up in Salisbury. Upon leaving university he founded the theatre company Up In Arms. He won the Critics’ Circle and Off-westend Awards for Most Promising Playwright for his debut full-length play Visitor. He is the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford. Barney’s new play Nightfall is one of the three inaugural productions at Nicholas Hytner’s new Bridge Theatre, beginning early 2018. 

You can catch up with what Barney is up to via his Twitter @barnontherun. 

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee 

Yeongdo, Korea 1911

A club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then a Christian minister offers a chance of salvation: a new life in Japain as his wife. 

Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country where she has no friends and no home, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story. 

About The Author 

Min Jin Lee is the national bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, and has recieved the New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship for Fiction, the Peden Prize for Best Story, and the Narrative Prize for New and Emerging Writer. She has written for the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, The Times, Vogue, the Wall Street Journal, and Food & Wine, among others. 

Min’s website is available here.

Dust – Mark Thompson

J.J. Walsh and Tony ‘El Greco’ Papadakis are inseparable. Smoking Kents out on an abandoned cannery dock and watching gulls away on rusting buoys, they dream of adventures. 

Set in a small town New Jersey in the 1960s, Dust follows the boys through the dry heat of their formative years. They face religious piety, sex, tragedy, and ultimately the myraid things that combine to make life what it is for the two friends – a great adventure. But it’s a road trip through the heart of southern America with J.J.’s father, that reveals a darker side to life. 

Their story unfolds around the honest and frequently irreverent observations of two young people trying to grow up fast in a world that is at times confusing, and at others seen with a clarity only the young may possess. 

About The Author 

Mark was raised in Stockton-on-Tees and spent many years living in London before moving to Andalucia in southern Spain. He has travelled extensively throughout the United States over many years, harvesting material for writing both literature and songs. He plays guitar in a rock band, and now lives happily in the wilds of North Yorkshire with his partner Liz and three children.

This amazing book is available here and you can keep up to-date with Mark via Twitter @marktwrites. 

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro 

In one of the most acclaimed novels of recent years Kazuo imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life. 

About The Author

Kazuo’s has won wide renown and many honours around the world. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. 

You will find more information about Kazuo here.

The Man Who Died – Antti Tuomainen 

A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just thirty-seven years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What’s more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.  

About The Author 

Finnish author Antti Tuomainen (born 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense autthor. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Antti’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011 and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later, in 2013, they crowned Tuomainen the King of Helsinki Noir when Dark as My Heart was published. The Mine, translated by David Hackston and published in 2016, was an international bestseller. Several of his books have been optioned for TV/film. With his piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and The Man Who Died sees him at his literary best. 

Antti’s website is available here

Interloper – Kim Erin Cowley 

If you had to change everything where would you begin?

Lee Habens has only the first idea of how to find tomorrow. Now, from the ashes of personal devastation, she must create a new life – one with a true sense of self, belonging and perhaps even love. 

Driven by irresistible instinct she will have to learn new ways to live, work and grow. She must transform herself in plain sight into the woman she needs to be- but she must do so in secret. 

Set against the burgeoning London club scene and sexual tumult of the early 1980s, Interloper offers a window to a world where change is the only chance. 

About The Author 

Kim was born on the Kent coast in 1963, in the midst of a winter that famously froze the sea. 

As for so many young people raised in the orbit of London, the pull of the capital proved overwhelming and Kim eventually left for the big city at the age of 19. 

Kim begain a media career in the 1980’s dealing with promoters and record companies on behalf of various music magazines. By the beginning of the 90’s Kim found her way into the film business. Kim has since spent almost two decades providing support services to producers, distributors and broadcasters. 

In addition, Kim needed to resolve the conflict at the heart of her existence. Changing sex has been an experience more challenging and amazing than she could ever imagine. It has been in turns, harrowing, terrifying, infuriating and soul-crushingly lonely, but following raw instinct and a drive beyond reason brings a special sense of liberation – and ultimately, a kind of peace. 

Whilst living through those years,it naturally informed Kim to write Interloper and hopes it will continue to help her to interpret and create in the future.

For more information and for a copy of Kim’s amazing book, please have a look at her website which is available here. In addition, Kim has kindly provided me with an extract from her book:

 “It had been a Sunday, just a few months after Dad had gone. The pain had such a strong hold over her then. She’d been trying to walk off some tears and wondered if a drink might help – it always seemed to in films. His name was Ian and he spoke softly with what she came to know as a Rhodesian accent. She hadn’t been especially attracted to him, but had been drawn to his gentle manner and the way he made her feel cherished that afternoon in his room, two floors above the place they met.

 “I don’t regret it, but he wasn’t someone I wanted to feel anything lasting for, exactly” she heard herself say out loud.

 A last ripple in time lapped at her. A vision of the sun’s fading luminescence, warmed to gold through soft blown nets. She could almost feel again the tender caresses along her thighs. Her mind had still been hostage to grief that afternoon, but her body had been beautifully consoled.

“So, do you see your sexuality as perhaps encompassing relationships with both genders?”

 Lee smiled thoughtfully and said something with which she would later be very pleased, “I think I see my sexuality as something to look forward to”.

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The Sleep Of Reason (The James Bulger Case) – David James Smith 

The definitive book on the James Bulger case, published ahead of the 25 anniversary of James Bulger’s death.

Friday 12 February 1993. Two outwardly unremarkable ten-year-old boys began the day by playing truant and ended it running an errand for the local video shop. In between they abducted and killed a two-year-old boy, James Bulger. In search of an explanation, award-winning journalist David James Smith looks behind the misinformation, misunderstanding and sensational reporting to give an exact retelling of the events of that day. A sensitive and definitive account, The Sleep of Reason achieves a unique understanding of the James Bulger case, and comes as close as may ever be possible to explaining how two ten-year-olds could kill. 

David James Smith was born in South London and wrote for Esquire before joining the Sunday Times Magazine, for whom he travelled around the world writing cover stories, investigative articls, reportage and profiles, winning several awards for his feature writing. An article for the Magazine led to his second book, All About Jill: The Life and Death of Jill Dando (2002). The acclaimed Supper with the Crippens followed in 2005, then came One Morning in Sarajevo – 28 June 1914 (2008), a reconstruction of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Young Mandela, his influential biography of the early life of Nelson Mandela was published in 2010. More recently, David has served as a Commissioner at the Criminal Cases Review Commission investigating miscarriages of justice. 

Extract from Book 

God knows, indeed, why James Bulger died. It is as true now as it was then that the murder has never really been explained and the motive for the crime remains a mystery. This book, the result of considerable research and a painstaking, sometimes distressing assembly of the facts, was my attempt to offer some insight and understanding.”

This book is one of the most thought provoking books I have read in some time. I vaguely remember this horrific crime as I happened to be the same age as the two boys who were convicted for the murder of James. I remember my parents whenever it was mentioned always ask why such young children could murder another young child in such a barbaric way. I feel that these questions twenty five years on continued to be left unanswered. 

I can imagine this book is a difficult one to write as you want to be sensitive towards the Bulger family, but also towards Jon Venables and Robert Thompson family, and discuss such a difficult crime that continues to remain in the forefront of a lot of peoples memories. David has done a excellent job of keeping this balance right but, also, trying to get the facts across to the readers. I have to say, after reading this book I still have so many unanswered questions that I feel will remain unanswered. When discussing with friends and family that I was reading this book, there remains a lot of strong views on what should have happened to Venables and Thompson and whether they should have remained in custody which is an interesting debate. But, as I remind them this was a case like no other and one that shocked not just Liverpool but, the whole country. 

This books is due out in paperback on 2 November 2017 and is available here.

 

The Country Set – Fiona Walker 

Love affairs, village rivalries, horses, jealousy and secrets – fans of Fiona Walker’s bestselling Hugo and Tash novels will relish this return to her classic territory with a whole new cast of Cotswold village characters. 

Compton Magna and Compton Bagot sit high on the Fosse Hills to either side of the Gloucestershire / Warwickshire border, just half a mile apart. They farm the backdrop to this rich story of old secrets and new rivalries, as glamourous Ronnie Ledwell returns to take up the reins of her father’s stud farm, years after she scandalised family and friends by eloping with her lover, abandoning both husband and children.

News of her return will well and truly set the cats among the pigeons…….

Fiona is the bestselling author of seventeen novels. She lives in Warwickshire with her partner and two children plus an assortment of horses and dogs. 

Fiona and Head of Zeus have kindly provided a little taster extract for you. 

“Go past it, you daft bat.’ Petra urged her horse on with her legs, but the mare had planted herself firmly on the verge, backed up against a Cotswold stone wall. She was rigid with indignation at the sight of a scarecrow in the garden on the opposite side of the lane, its lumpy body swathed in a psychedelic Boden kaftan, its head styled with a woolly hat and a Donald Trump party mask.

‘I donated that dress to the fête’s nearly-new stall!’ Petra recognised it. ‘I’d only worn it twice!’

‘Not really your colour,’ observed Gill, whose super-obedient dressage horse strode past in collected walk without a sideways glance.

‘Not his either!’ said Bridge, her young Irish pony dancing sideways and ramming Petra.

The mare stood firm, chestnut ears shooting llama high as she spotted another scarecrow in the garden next door, this one crammed into an old pinstriped suit, its head a pink balloon in a multi-coloured Afro wig.

Behind Petra, her two other hacking buddies were experiencing similar difficulties, hoofs clattering on tarmac, snorts rising.

‘You’ve got to admire the village committee,’ said Petra, calves nudging frantically. ‘It’s very bold to give this year’s scarecrow competition a non-binary transgender theme. Come on, Redhead.’

‘Gerronwithit!’ Further back still, Mo gave the familiar cry, issued to stubborn cobs, cows, sheep and children. ‘No offence, but he don’t like the look of that dress, Petra.’

‘It’s better on the scarecrow than it was on me.’

The Saddle Bags, as they’d dubbed themselves, were out in the early morning, a regular midweek meeting. Gathered together by Petra, they were mothers, wives, villagers and horse-owners, sharing a close bond of sisterly secrets and a love of peering over their neighbours’ hedges. Together, they took to the lanes and bridle-paths around Compton Magna and Compton Bagot at least once a week to let off steam about husbands, hormones, horses and – very occasionally – horticulture.

‘Don’t you just love Open Gardens Week?’ Petra glanced over her shoulder.

‘Are the scarecrows always this disturbing?’ asked Bridge, spinning around on her baby-faced grey youngster. A Belfastborn, shoot-from-the-lip hipster chick, she was their most recent recruit, a maverick incomer with black-rimmed specs, a homemade woolly beanie over her helmet and a constellation of star tattoos gathered on her wrists and ankles (she called them ‘ermine marks’). Fearless and speed-loving, she’d only recently broken in her sharp little Connemara pony, who was, she liked to boast, a lot less paranoid than her volatile Polish husband.

‘Our straw man is very dapper.’ Tall, thin and gimlet-eyed, local vet Gill Walcote was in her early fifties but seemed to belong to a different era, when men tipped the brims of their hats. ‘We chose a golfing theme this year. We’ve nicknamed him Sergio Gar-seagrass.’ She was also a fan of extremely bad puns.

‘The goat always eats ours.’ Broad-berthed farmer’s daughter Mo Dawkins let out her trademark laugh. She joked that the only time she got to sit down was on her armchair of a piebald cob.

‘When I suggested to my lot that we make Worzel Gummidge, they all had to get their phones out to google him,’ Petra told them. ‘If he’s not the very embodiment of Jon Pertwee, I’m docking their screen time.’ She was constantly on the lookout for distractions from and inspiration for the racy historical romances she churned out in a shed in her garden, much of it coming from her opinionated chestnut mare, known simply as the Redhead, still stubbornly refusing to go past Donald Trump.

‘Open Gardens Week used to be a lot better,’ said Mo, whose lazy cob had ground to a halt in sympathy and the hope of a sly mouthful of hedge, ‘but the townies who’ve moved in now don’t take village events seriously.’

The Comptons were idyllic outposts on the tip of the Cotswolds’ northernmost Fosse Hills, jewels in the crown of an area affectionately known as the ‘Bardswolds’ for its proximity to Stratford-upon-Avon. Although small, it boasted an abundance of steeply wooded river valleys skirted with orchards and dotted with golden villages into which families ripe for change dropped sweetly each year. The area’s grandest houses – stately Elizabethan and Jacobean piles hidden amid deer parks – had long attracted the super-rich in search of privacy a short helicopter flight from London and Birmingham, and actors settled in villages close to the RSC. In recent years, though, the Bardswolds’ manors and rectories had been traded between media types, like Top Trumps, while its cottages attracted theatre-junkie retirees and thirty-something professionals, all leading a procession out of London to find more bang for their buck. Of the Fosse Hill villages, the small and much photographed Compton Magna was the star, regularly outshining nearby ‘ugly sister’ Bagot, despite the latter’s far longer history.”

The Country Set book is available here

I would like to thank Fiona and Head of Zeus. 

Upstairs, Downstairs – Olivia Hart 

Secrets on your doorstep don’t stay secret for long……

When Daniel Bracci – a musician at Rome’s Opera Theatre arrives at his new apartment, he is surprised by the warm welcome he recieves from his neighbours. Giovanna, however, is more preoccupied with introducing him to her daughter, Anita. But what she doesn’t know is that for the last two years, Anita has been secretly seeing someone else. 

When Anita is introduced to the new tenant, she has the shock of her life- Daniel was Anita’s first love at high school. Can she come to terms with the terrible way things ended between them?

Anita isn’t the only one with something to hide…….. and none of these secrets go unnoticed by Pina, the apartment gossip who writes everything down in her secret diary. 

About Authors 

Olivia Hart is a collective group of authors who met five years ago on a writing course and then could no longer do without each other’s company. They decided to write a novel that would bind them forever. 

Olivia Hart and Aria Publication have kindly provided a sneaky extract.

“Anita suddenly opens her eyes; she’s hugging her pillow. The phone’s ringtone woke her from her daydream. She looks for it amongst the sheets. She checks the name and smiles.

“Hello?”

“Hi.” Mizuki’s tone is always very formal on the phone. They’ve been seeing each other for a long time now, but Anita still isn’t accustomed to his apparent coldness.

“How was your trip?”

“Usual work, usual problems. I’m very tired…” Then the pause comes. Mizuki is famous for his pauses. Anita waits, her heart racing in expectation. She can’t wait to see him again. “Are you busy tonight? Would you like to join me for dinner at home?”

“Sure, yes! What time?”

“Whenever you want… as soon as possible, I guess. I’m already here.”

So his flight wasn’t late. It seems almost cruel that he didn’t call her as soon as he landed.

“I’ll be there!”

“I’ll send a taxi for you…” He’s so thoughtful.

“No thanks, I don’t need it. I have Isotta.” Anita doesn’t like taking taxis. She never knows what to say to the driver. Mizuki, on the other hand, who always travels for business, couldn’t survive without taxis. Always in a different city, meetings, business lunches, dinners… “Oh my God – Evelyn!” Anita suddenly remembers. “I wonder if he saw her in Brussels.” Evelyn is the mysterious woman that he almost married. Mizuki has never told Anita much about their relationship. When she tried to ask questions, he retreated into his suit of armour like a samurai. But she sensed he’d suffered a lot.

“Ok. As you say…” Anita waits impatiently for the rest of the sentence. In the meantime, she fills the emptiness of one of Mizuki’s Pauses by imagining what she would like to hear: “I missed you so much, I thought of you all the time…”

“… But you know I don’t like you to drive the scooter at night.”

“And do you know that you’re irresistible when you worry about me?” She replies in an ironic tone. “I’ll be there in a flash!… Oops, on the other hand – I will be very careful, driving slower than a snail. See you later, kiss!” And she hangs up.

She gets ready quickly, grabbing clothes from the closet. A long black skirt, a soft, mauve sweater with a deep V neck and a jacket she found at the flea market in Porta Portese. The result is not too bad, she just adds the final touch: an emerald green scarf, which makes an interesting contrast with her hair colour. “Goodnight, Mum. Don’t wait up for me.”

*

Sitting in the middle of a Roman traffic jam, she almost regrets that she refused Mizuki’s offer of a taxi. She could have been relaxing in the back seat of a car instead of yelling at drivers who cut her up with their horns blaring. But she’s so happy that no bully can bring her down tonight. She checks the time, speeds up and parks on the pavement in front of a store. She buys a pack of Beta Green Mochi, because Mizuki adores them. The sophisticated Asian delicatessan looks like a Shinto temple and these greenish sweets cost a fortune! But she doesn’t care.

She arrives in Via Gramsci and already feels at home. She takes off her helmet and walks towards the huge, dark green door.

“Watashi!” She exclaims into the intercom, her excitement growing.

“Come in, please.” It sounds almost like a recording, but Anita knows it’s him.

As soon as she enters the large atrium, she looks up at the curved, wide Carrara marble staircase, shaped like a shell. “Beautiful!” She always thinks. “Would it be too chilly to eat on the terrace?” It’s her last thought before Mizuki opens the door. He’s already wrapped in his yukata. A classic. His broad shoulders emphasise its elegance. He has many, but this one must be new. She hasn’t seen it before. The contrast of cobalt blue with emerald green is amazing.

Mizuki’s gaze moves over her from head to toe, then pauses on her eyes. He bows gently to invite her to come in. “Your yukata is ready…”

“And this is for you.” She gives him the sweets, kissing him and then moving to the bedroom.

It’s been a long time since she was last in his apartment. She loves the big spaces, the tall ceilings and the minimalist setting with just a few ornaments and pieces of perfect furniture… a sophisticated, serene feeling. The light scent of incense surrounds her.

On the bed she finds a yukata of pure silk. Anita undresses and puts it on. The sheer fabric caresses her body and a shiver runs from her spine up to the nape of her neck.

She smiles and feels lighter.

Upstairs, Downstairs is available here.
Many thanks to Olivia Hart and Aria Publishers 

Three Weddings And A Scandal – Wendy Holden 

She’ll need a triple-barrelled name for the castle one. 

She’ll need a gallon of glitter for the woodland one. 

She’ll need a lobster-shaped hat for the Shoreditch one. 

Laura Lake longs to be a journalist. Instead she’s an upaid intern at a glossy magazine – sleeping in the fashion cupboard and living on canapes. But she’s just got her first big break; infiltrate three society weddings and write a juicy expose. 

Security will be tighter than a bodycon dress, but how hard can it be? Cue disappearing brides, demanding socialistes – and a jealous office enemy who will do anything to bring her down.

Number one bestselling author, Wendy Holden was a journalist on Tatler, The Sunday Times, and the Mail on Sunday before becoming an author. She has since written ten consecutive Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers. She lives in Derbyshire.

Extract from Book 

Head of Zeus and Wendy Holden have kindly provided a sneeky extract from this amazing book. Enjoy! 


In addition, have a look at Wendy’s website and her other amazing books here. And, of course, Head of Zeus website here.

 
  

     

Trust Me – Zosia Ward 

Twenty seven year old Lizzie has a great relationship with her teenage stepson, Sam, even though they could pass for brother and sister. 

When Sam becomes sullen and withdrawn, Lizzie starts to suspect that something sinister is going on at school. But no one believes her – and then suspicion falls on Lizzie herself………

Zosia is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. This is her first novel.

pg.296 

“He’s confused right now. He isn’t sure. That line is not so clear for him. His father has attacked him. His mother has begun a new life that he isn’t part of and she’s too far away at the moment to help. He needs me and I have to be confident and brave.”

Oh my goodness, what a book and what a story. I have read on so many occasions this kindof story happening in the press. Zosia manages to make you feel uncomfortable about what is going on which I found very clever. I believed Lizzie’s story throughout, I just could not work out what was going to end up happening and its a real surprise. I did empathise with Lizzie as she desperately wanted to fit in with her boyfriend’s family and ensure she is almost like a surrogate mother, which of course came back and bit her. This book does make you think twice about your behaviour and approach to people and whether you give the correct message or whether this could be misinterpreted. 

This is a great debut novel!

This book is available here.

A Seaside Escape – Lisa Hobman 

All work and no love can make for a dull life. But cupid’s arrow has a habit of striking when you least expect it. A heart warming feel good romance to curl up with. 

Mallory Westerman is the successful prioprietor of Le Petit Cadeau, a gift shop extraordinaire in thriving Leeds. Concentrating solely on her business she has almost given up on finding someone to love. That is until she literally falls into the arms of a handsome, intriguing stranger who becomes her knight in shining armour. 

The whirlwind romance that ensues changes her life plan irrevocably. However, the road to true love is never smooth and things don’t always turn out how you expect…….

Lisa’s debut novel was shortlisted in the 2014 RNA. Her stories centre around believable, yet down to earth characters and the places in Scotland she has visited and fallen in love with. She is a happily married mum of one with two energetic dogs. 

“Mallory spent a couple of hours catching up with the Buchanans, reassuring them that she wasn’t falling to pieces and that she was eating and getting out of the house. The fact that they cared so deeply for her, even though she and Sam had never actually married, filled her heart to the brim. She was glad to have them in her life and regardless of what happened in the future. She would always consider them her own family.” 


” Walking through the door of the house felt good. This was the first time she walked in and felt at home fully; totally. She signed in a mixture of melancholy sadness and hopeful happiness. She had serious thinking to do.”

Lisa’s website with all of her amazing books are available here. Or you can follow Lisa via her Twitter which is @LisaJHobmanAuth. 

Many thanks to Aria Publication and of course to Lisa. 
 

September 2017 Book Overview 

It’s that time of the month again, time to share eight books in my September overview. If you would like to feature, please email me at 

thesecretworldofabookblogger@mail.com for details. 

Fragile Lives – Professor Stephen Westaby

Grim Reaper sits on the heart surgeon’s shoulder. A slip of the hand and life ebbs away. 

The balance between life and death is so delicate, and the heart surgeon walks the tightrope between the two. In the operating room there is no time for doubt. It is flesh, blood, rib-retractors and pumping the vital organ with your bare hand to squeeze the life back into it. An off-day can have dire consequences – this job has a steep learning curve and the cost is measured in human life. Cardiac surgery is not for the faint hearted. 

Professor Stephen Westaby took chances and pushed the boundaries of heart surgery. He saved hundreds of lives over the course of a thirty five year career, and now, in his astounding memoir, Westaby details some of his most remarkable and poignant cases – such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks by the age of six months, a woman who lived the nightmare of locked in syndrome, and a man whose life was powered by a battery for eight years. 

Logical Family A Memoir – Armistead Maupin 

In this long-awaited memoir, the beloved author of the bestselling Tales of the City series chronicles his odyssey from the old South to freewheeling San Francisco, and his evolution from curious youth to ground breaking writer and gay rights pioneer. 

Reflecting on the profound impact those closest to him have had on his life, Maupin shares his candid search for his ‘logical family’, the people he could call his own. From his loving relationship with his palm-reading Grannie, who insisted Maupin was the reincarnation of his artistic bachelor cousin, Curtis, to an awkward conversation about girls with President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office, Maupin tells of the extraordinary individuals and situations that shaped him into one of the most influential writers of the last century. 

Maupin recalls his losses and life-changing experiences with humour and unflinching honesty, to deliver an illuminating portrait of the man who depited the liberation and evolution of American’s queer community over the last four decades with honesty and compassion – and inspired millions. 

The Children Act – Ian McEwan 

Fiona Maya, a leading High Court judge, renowned for her fierce intelligence and sensitivity, is called on to try an urgent case. For religious reasons, a seventeen year old boy is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life. Time is running out. 

She visits the boy in hospital – an encounter which stirs long buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. But it is Fiona who must ultimately decide whether he lives or dies and her judgement will have momentous consequences for them both. 

About Author 

Ian’s first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award. The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Price, Atonement, Saturday, On Chesil Beach, Solar and Sweet Tooth. In 2011 he was awarded the Jerusalem Price. 

Extract from Book 

pg94

“In the afternoons, after school, her friends would come, awed to be making a grown-up independent hospital visit. When the awe wore off, three or four girls would be round Fiona’s bed shaking and clucking with held-down laughter at nothing much at all – a nurse striding by with a frown, the over-earnest greeting of an ancient lady with no teeth, someone at the far end of the ward being raucously sick behind a screen.” 

Poems – Wilfred Owen 

pg28 

Asleep 

Under his helmet, up against his pack, 

After the many days of work and waking, 

Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back, 

And in the happy no-time of his sleeping, 

Death took him by the heart. There was a quaking 

of the aborted life within him leaping……..

Then chest and sleepy arms. Once more fell slack, 

And soon the slow, stray blood came creeping

From the intrusive lead, like ants on track. 

Lucian Freud Eyes Wide Open – Phoebe Hoban 

Phoebe Hoban, author of definitive biographies of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Alice Neel, now turns her attention to Lucian Freud, the grandson of Sigmund and one of the greatest painters England has produced. 

In Hoban’s dramatic and fast paced narrative, we follow Freud from his birth place in Berlin to London, where he fled with his family in the 1930s, and then to Paris, where he mixed with Picasso. He led a dissolute life in Soho after the war, gambling and womanising with fierce energy. He painted his wives nude, his children nude, himself nude. He married twice, had an uncountable number of children, and kept working through it all, painting everyone from close friend and rival Francis Bacon to Kate Moss and Queen Elizabeth. He sometimes spent years on a single painting, which could require hundreds of hours sitting. However, various his subjects, his intent was always the same to find the real character hidden within by means of his intense visual imagination. 

pg138

“In 2002, Freud painted another powerful self-portrait. Still painting day and night, the artist depicted himself as palpably frail. There is a tentative tremulous feeling to this work that sets it apart. Surrounded – and almost absorbed by – an impressive impasto of brush strokes on the wall, his face looks wistful of dark folds and shadows. Although he is wearing a jacket, he is shirtless, and one hand clutches his grey-blue cravat. The image exudes an unmistakabble aura of finality.”

The Sister – Louise Jensen 

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend. When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s strangely and Grace is sure tht someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna is, Grace in terrible danger? 

About Author 

Louise always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead. 

Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots. 

Louise lives in Northhamptonshire with her husband, sons, a dog and a cat and also teaches mindfulness. 

pg172 

“There’s a beat where I hesitate before running out into the court yard. A crowd of crying children encircles the swing set. Pushing through to the front, I see Emily on the Astroturf, her arm at an unnatural angle. My eyes blur. Emily morphs into my dad lying on the road so many years before. I began to sway and drop to my knees.”

The Captains Girl – Nicola Pryce 

Cornwall 1793 

As the French Revolution threatens the stability of England, so too is discontent brewing in the heart of Celia Cavendish. Promised to the brutal Viscount Vallenorth, she must find a way to break free from the bounds of a life stifled by convention and cruelty. 

Inspired by her cousin Arbella, who just a few months earlier followed her heart and eloped with the man she loves, she vows to escape her impending marrage and take her destiny back into her own hands. She enlists her neighbours, Sir James and Lady Poltarrow, who have themselves made a dangerous enemy of Celia’s father, in the hope of making a new life for herself.

But can the Polcarrows’ mysterious friend Arnaud, captain of the cutter L’Aaigrette, protect Celia from a man who will let nothing stand in the way of his greed? And will Arnaud himself prove to be a friend……or foe?

About Author 

Nicola trained as a chemotherapy nurse before completing an Open University degree in Humanities. She is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. Together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure. 

Extract from Book 

pg.171

“It was hard to know which jumble of buildings was which. The different businesses merged together in the vast warehouse, overlapping one another, towering above us. We stood in the courtyard looking through an arch, Pengelly Boat Yard written above us in bold paint. Hammering filled the air. I could hear men shouting, the rattle of heavy chains, the creak of the pulley as newly planked wood was hoisted in the air. Smoke from the forge filled my nostrils. It was noisy, smelly and I stood breathing in the acrid air, envying their sense of purpose.” 

Tainted Jewel – S.M. Hope 

It was love that dragged Katie Reilly into the criminal underworld. Once in, it’s not somewhere you easily leave. Even if she wanted to. 

Kate likes the attention she gets from Mike Taylor – the worst of the Taylor brothers in her mother’s humble opinion. 

As a young girl, Kate is happy to use her ‘magic’ skills at unpicking locks to help Mike and an assortment of his friends who have carelessly locked themselves out of their homes or their safes. 

As she shows up, it finally dawns on Kate that maybe Mike isn’t the gentleman she thought, but by then she’s hopelessly, obsessively in love. What’s more, she’s so involved in the criminal lifestyles of Mike and his cohorts that there’s no escaping. 

She’s not entirely sure she wants to try. 

Until the night of her eighteenth birthday. 

Then changes everything. 

About Author 

S.M.Hope released her debut novel Tainted Jewel through the BNBS crowdfunding campaign for pre-orders. The campaign exceeded all expectation and took only 18 days to be 100% funded. S.M. Hope was still getting enquiries of Tainted Jewel even after the campaign had ended.

In the real world away from thoughts of gangsters and who to kill off next, she manages the day-to-day running of a busy engineering company – or tries to keep up to date with her teenage son and his capers- while they decided who’s turn it is to take their two pet dogs for a walk. 

Writing is one of her many hobbies as well as arts and crafts which means her dining room table is normally split between the laptop and glitter / glasses. Maybe when she retires she may get to eat a meal from the table, but until that time, glitter flavoured casserole it is.

pg79

“He still never gave me any eye contact. Maybe he’s forgotten the things I said. I called him Homer Simpson and called him fat. I smiled at myself thinking of how mad I was and how I felt even worse when I got home and realised I’d had my period that day. Hence the fact I was so moody. I wish I was like other girls and regular, then I would know when it’s coming so if I ever do feel angry I can lock myself in a cupboard till it’s over. Instead, I end up some have-ago hero, shouting and bawling at gangsters and getting slapped.” 

The Note – Zoe Folbigg 

One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn’t orginary at all Maya knows immediately and irrevocably that he is The One. 

But the beautiful man on the train always has his head in a book and never seems to notice Maya sitting just down the carriage from him everyday. Eventually, thought, inspired by a very wise friend, Maya plucks up the courage to give the stranger a note asking him out for a drink. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? 

And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it. 

Based on Zoe’s true story, The Note is an uplifting life affirming reminder that taking a chance can change everything. 

Zoe is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, Look, Top Sante, Mother & Baby, Elle, Sunday Times Style and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year long round the world trip with ‘Train Man’ a man she had met on her daily commute. She has since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. This is her debut novel. 

This story is the modern day fairy tale, Cinderella. Instead of a glass slipper, its a note and the ugly sisters are the commuters and Maya’s work colleagues. You are part of a love story slowly unfolding before your eyes, it’s a real insight and you feel lucky to have been a part of it. Zoe’s real life love story has caught the eye of the media, to the extent that her book was released a couple of weeks earlier. 

Maya falls for a fellow commuter and her friends and ‘eight hour friends’ aka work colleagues follow her love story with “Train Man” “Even Lucy knows about Train Man now, and as editorial director she’s far too important to discuss the minutide of Maya’s crush; what he’s wearing, whether his black converse suit him more than the white ones, or deciphering from the books he reads whether he is single or in a relationship, with a woman or a man. But despite circular brown eyes framed by the blunt fringe of a golden buttery bob, Lucy thinks the whole notion of falling in love with a stranger on a train is wonderful.” The story is a mix of old and modern love story with a real life fairy godmother, Velma who provides support and guidance to Maya in her time of need. 

As you are aware of the end result of this love story, it does not spoil the story, it just made me interested in how Maya and James managed to become a couple. As I do not commute, I only hope other love stories happen and people look up from their books, newspapers or mobile phones to find their one true love. 

I loved Maya as a character, she had the right amount of fiestiness without becoming annoying. She clearly made a good friend, although did get frustrated with her work place and did seek revenge on the comings and goings there. This was not done maliciously it was simply allowing the company to reflect on their behaviour. 

The Note is a great book to bring faith back into falling in love the “old fashion way” instead of meeting someone online. 

This amazing book is available here.