The Craftsman – Sharon Bolton 

It is going to be tricky to give a full review of this novel, as I simply just do not want to give anything away. When I was reflecting on my review for this novel, there was one word that I continued to go to and that was “Chilling”. Throughout the book, all I kept thinking was is this crime really over and had Florence really solved it that many years ago. 

We follow the story of Florence who is a police officer who in the current day is coming to the end of her career. She seems to have doubts in her mind about this hideous crime that was committed over 30 years ago and she seems to be riddled with doubt as to whether she had really found the truth out. She returns back and that doubt does not subside, in fact it only increases. She is there with her son Ben, who also seems to understand that this crime his mother has not ever really got over and seems to want to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. 

You are fully emerged into the community as the community was hit hard by such a horrific crime and it would seem that everyone was suspicious of one another and could not fully comprehend what was going on and desperate to protect all children. Even 30 years later, this crime is still talked about and Florence is recognised as a hero. 

We follow in Florence’s footsteps where she attempts to re-trace the steps of the young people who died and find out what actually happened. She does not seem to be able to rest easy about the conviction of Larry and wants to ask more and more questions. Is there someone within the community who is hiding a deep dark secret?

This is the first novel I had read by Sharon and I certainly was not disappointed. Throughout the novel, I was attempting to second guess what was going to happen, but I should not have bothered because I did not get it right. It is a mind blowing ending and very unexpected and even now I still think about this book. This is an amazing novel, and one that you should all read. I believe The Craftsman will make an amazing TV series. 

I cannot wait to read the next novel written by Sharon.

About the Book 

He hid the bodies where nobody could find them. But some secrets aren’t buried deep enough……

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worse nightmares the victims were buried…..alive. 

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Did she get it wrong all those years ago? Or is there something much darker at play? 

About the Author 

Sharon Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career in marketing and public relations. She gave it up in 2000 to become a mother and writer. Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon UK, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark Award in the US. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger, the Theakston’s Prize for Best Thriller, the International Thriller Writers’ Best First Novel award, the Priz Du Polar in France and the Martin Beck award in Sweden. 

The Craftsman is published by Trapeze books 

This book tour was arranged by Compulsive Readers 

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The Sealwoman’s Gift – Sally Magnusson 

I have seen this book everywhere including on the Zoe Ball Book Club and I knew that I had to purchase this book. 

1627 In a notorious historical event, pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted 400 people into slavery in Algiers. Among them a paster, his wife and their children. 

In her acclaimed debut novel Sally Magnusson imagines what history does not record the experience of Asta, the pastor’s wife as she faces her losses with the one thing left to her – the stories from home – and forges an ambiguous bong with the man who bought her. 

The Sealwoman’s Gift is published by Two Roads 

The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night – Jen Campbell 

I have never been a big fan of short stories, however, this has recently changed and this is down to a lovely lady called Jen Campbell. I watch Jen’s YouTube videos and she speaks so passionately about short stories so the fact that she has written her own book is a good place to start. 

The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night brings together a group of stories which are just magical. You will be overwhelmed with fairy tales, magic and I felt a lot of love. I would love to be placed inside Jen’s head to find out how she writes such enchanting stories and how the characters evolve during her writing. 

If you have never read any short stories, or like me are sometimes put off short stories or never reach for them, Jen Campbell is a great advocate for them and she will certainly make you want to read a lot more. 

About the Book 

Stories of family and magic, lost souls and superstition. Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows. 

Mermaids are on display at the local aquarium. A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island. And a couple are rewriting the history of the world in the middle of the night. 

About the Author 

Jen Campbell is an award-winning poet and short story writer. She grew up in a small village by the sea in the north-east of England, and is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops series and The Bookshop Book. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2016, her poetry collection The Hungry Ghost Festival is published by The Rialto, and her children’s picture book series about a dragon called Franklin is published by Thames and Hudson. Jen worked as a bookseller for ten years. She currently lives in London. 

This novel is published by Two Roads 

Paris In The Dark – Robert Olen Butler 

Paris In The Dark is a story of Christopher Marlowe “Kit” Cobb who leads a double life during the First World War. Firstly, he is a journalist, which I felt was his real passion. He was desperate to be on the front line and write real life stories about what really happened there. You almost felt that he wanted to write to the people and tell them the truth without any propaganda. His second job was as an undercover agent for the US government. I did question whether he really wanted to do this role, although, I acknowledge that he was passionate about protecting people. 

During this novel he meets a nurse called Louise, he is drawn to her caring attention to the solders and resistance to the war – she was a nurse no matter what was going on around her and she wanted to provide the best care to her patients. Kit seemed drawn to her passion. Throughout the novel you feel the dilemma that should he tell her what his other job is and what risk would he potentially put her in if he does. 

Kit is requested to look into bombings that are happening in Paris, however, it may not be who you think who is doing the bombings. Kit uses both his journalist talents and his undercover skills to get to the bottom of what is happening. 

I gobbled this novel up in one sitting as I did not want to put the novel down. It is a very unusual war time story, one that I have never read before, but it worked and I just adored the characters especially Kit. He just wanted to get on with his job, but he wanted to do the right thing an acknowledged that there are so many issues with the war going on around them that these bombings are the last thing the Parisans needed. 

From reading this book, I want to buy more novels written by Robert. He is a terrific writer and his books are highly addictive.

About the Book 

Autumn 1915. 

The First World War is raging across Europe. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches, although that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front. Christopher Marlowe “Kit” Cobb, a Chicago reporter and an undercover agent for the US government is in Paris where he meets an enigmatic nurse called Louise. Officially in the city for a story about American ambulance drivers, Cobb is grateful for the opportunity to get to know her. Soon his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, extends his mission and he is active again. Parisians are meeting ‘death by dynamite’ in a new campaign of bombings, and the German speaking Kit seems just the man to discover who is behind this- possibly a German operative who has infiltrated with the waves of refugees?  

And so begins a pursuit that will test Kit Cobb, in all his roles, to the very limit of his prinicples, wits and talents for survival. 

About the Author 

Robert is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of a A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain, and sixteen other novels including Hell, A Small Hotel, Perfume River, and the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series. 

Paris In The Dark is published by No Exit Press 

Paris In The Dark Book Blog Tour was arranged by Random Things Through My Letterbox (Anne) 

Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

I have seen this book everywhere and have never got round to reading it, so this is next on my to be read pile and a full review of my views will be on my blog. 

Sixteen-year-old Aza is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend and a good student. She’s also trying to track down fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, who has vanished without a trace. Alongside her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, Aza sets off in pursuit of the truth – and a $100,000 reward. 

The trail leads them to Pickett’s son, Davis, a sometime friend of Aza’s who might have the clues they need. But as her compulsive thought spirals take an ever-tighter grip on her mind, Aza finds herself struggling to keep her investigations – and her life- from falling apart. 

Turtles All The Way Down is published by Penguin 

Christopher Robin 

When I saw this in the bookshop, I knew I had to pick it up. 

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Christopher Robin, who had many friends in the Hundred-Acre Wood. As time passed, the boy grew up, and lost track of his friends. Then one day, a silly old bear with a love for honey decided to leave the wood and go looking for his friend, Christopher Robin. 

From the streets of London to the grassy banks of the Hundred-Acre Wood. Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin will journey to find each other and remember the magical elements of friendship and play. With Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Rabbit and of course, the ever-sullen Eeyore, the story of Christopher Robin’s return to the Hundred-Acre Wood is an amzig adventure for readers of all age!

If you wish to purchase this novel, please click here 

Anne of Green Gables – L M Montgomery 

I have never read Anne of Green Gables I know where have I been and how can I call myself a book blogger. However I am rectifying this now and have recently purchased this novel. Of course, I will let you know my views on my blog once I have read it. 

When a scrawny, freckled girl with bright red hair arrives on Prince Edward Island, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are taken by surprise they’d asked for a quiet boy to help with the farm work at Green Gables. But how can you return a friendless little girl to a grim orphanage when she tells you her life so far has been a ‘perfect graveyard of buried hopes’? When she longs so dearly to belong. And so the beguiling chatterbox stays. Full of dreams, warmth and spirit, it is not long before Anne Shirley wins their hearts. 

Anne of Green Gables is published by Virago Books 

A Ration Book Christmas – Jean Fullerton 

This novel is certainly a heartwarming read and for an Autumn afternoon it is a great novel to snuggle down to. 

We are back with the Brogan family during the war and we follow their story of trying to normalise their life as much as possible despite the fear of blitz. 

Jean’s writing is so thoughtful and the characters are brought to life in front of your eyes. You are fully involved in the Brogan’s family dynamics the good, the bad and the ugly. You get a better understanding of how families deal with the war with rationing, the bombing and families being torn apart. But, you also see families and communities coming together and being as one and trying to get through the war as best as possible. Ok, with a bit of gossiping but that happens. 

You get the sense that Jean has spent a long time researching this novel and ensuring its accuracies and respecting the communities the war effected. I got the impression that every day Jean would pick herself up from her writing desk and placing herself in the East End of London to watch her novel slowing unfolding before her eyes. Jean to me maybe just one of the best family / community war time writers around. 

This is a perfect read for the run up to Christmas and one that will give you a sense of comfort and satisfaction. 

About the Book 

In the darkest days of the Blitz, Christmas is more important than ever. 

Christmas is approaching and the Brogan family of London’s East End are braving the horrors of the Blitz. With the ment away fighting for King and Country and the ever-present danger of the Luftwaffe’s nightly reign of death and destruction, the family must keep a stiff upper lip. For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters, the war offers new-found freedom and the opportunity for romance. 

But as the bombs continue falling and rationing begins to bite, will the Brogans manage to pull together a traditional family Christmas? And will Jo find the love and security she longs for? 

About the Author 

Jean is the author of eleven historical novels. She is a qualified District and Queen’s nurse who hs spent most of her working life in the East End of London, first as a Sister in charge of a team and then as a District Nurse tutor. She is also a qualified teacher and spent twelve years lecturing on community nursing studies at a London university. She now writes full-time. 

If you wish to purchase this novel or to find out more about Corvus Books, please click here.

A Ration Book Christmas Blog Tour was organised by Rachels Random Resources
 

 

Till It Stops Beating – Hannah R Goodman 

Throughout Till It Stops Beating we go through the life issues of Maddie Hickman. What I found comforting I felt that the issues she was going through were genuine concerns that we all have in everyday life. We go through the journey with Maddie and how she copes or learns to copy with real life issues. Maddie acknowledges that she is far from perfect and perhaps does not deal with issues in the right way, but I felt that throughout the novel she was learning how to deal with crisis in her life, she was learning about herself and delving into that toolbox she has to pick up the right tools to cope with whatever life throws at her. 

This is the first novel that I have read of Hannah’s and I certainly got the sense that she is a passionate advocate of mental health and promoting mental wellbeing in people. As I have a long history of working with people with severe and enduring mental health problems I can only applause writers like Hannah writing about this topic as we need to talk about it a lot more, it has improved, but we still have a long way to go to improve the mental health services and the discussions we have about this. Thank you Hannah for talking about this subject and I hope you continue to write more and more. 

Big thank you to Hannah for sending me your amazing book. 

About the Book 

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab.)

Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book About The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever-mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear. 

Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live. 

About the Author 

From college essays to resumes to books, as a writing coach, Hannah specialises in helping people find their writer’s voice. Her twenty-year career also includes the titles, author, teacher and more recently mental health counsellor. Among the many titles she has, mother to three girls, two humans and one feline- is most important. 

If you would like to find out more information about Hannah or purchase Till It Stops Beating, please click here.

Till It Stops Beating Blog Tour was arranged by Rachels Random Resources
 

 

Under My Skin – Lisa Unger 

About the Book 

Her husband’s killer may be closer than she thinks……

It’s been a year since Poppy’s husband, Jack was brutally murdered during his morning run. She’s trying to move on but what happened that morning is still haunting her. And now she’s sure she is being followed……

Sleep deprived and secretly self-medicating, Poppy is unable to separate her dreams from reality. She feels like she’s losing her mind. But what if she’s not? What if she’s actually remembering what really happened? What if her husband wasn’t who he said he was? And what if his killer is still watching her…

About the Author 

Lisa is the New York Times and internationally bestselling award-winning author of 15 novels, including the latest psychological thriller The Red Huner. 

Her books are published in 26 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Lisa lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida with her husband, daughter and labradoodle. 

Lisa has kindly written a guest post for you all to enjoy, I want to say a big thank you to Lisa for taking the time in writing this post. Lisa has answered the question do you start with plot or character?

“All plot flows from character. Each of my novels begins with a germ, a seed, which might come from anywhere – a news story, a line of poetry, a photograph, or, in one case, a piece of junk mail. This usually leads me to a swath or research about a topic that fascinates me. In the case of Under My Skin, it was a Carl Jung quote: “Between the dreams of day and night, there is not so great a difference.”

This idea kicked around my head for a while, then led me to start researching sleep, dreams, and the brain. After a while, I started hearing the voice of Poppy Lang. 

This has been the process for almost every novel I’ve written. When I first meet a character, or hear his or her voice, we are not well acquainted. It takes time. I get to know my characters on the page. They arrive fully formed, just as any person I meet does. And as I follow character voice, or voices, my characters reveal themselves to me and that’s where I start to understand what’s happening in their lives. 

When I sit down to write day to day, I have no idea who is going to show up, what they are going to do. I don’t know how the book is going to end. And I’m not always a hundred percent sure what the book is about until I’ve written it. I write for the same reason that I read, because I want to know what is going to happen to the people living in my head. This way of writing keeps me intimate with the story, writing it from the inside out. I am totally involved with my characters and I’m thinking about them even when I’m not writing. 

Even though I know that each character is some magical alchemy of my imagination, my observations, my experiences, my ideas about peope and who they are, I don’t experience it that way. Long ago, I stopped thinking about my characters as people I create and started thinking about them as people that I meet. They reveal themselves to me in layers, like all people getting to know each other do. I treat them all with empathy, even the most deranged among them. And I love them all, even those of them who do wrongheaded and terrible things. 

Story is like life. I can tell you what I plan for my day. But I can’t tell you about it until after I lived it. Likewise our relationships evolve in layers. Plot is indivisible from character, character from plot. The union of these two things is what makes a deep and compelling story for me, as an author, and hopefully, also for my readers.” 

If you would like to purchase or find out more about Under My Skin or find out more about Harper Collins, please click here.