Monday, 24 April 2017

Dead Woman Walking
Sharon Bolton

Guest Review
Julie Williams

I'm delighted to have a guest review for Dead Woman Walking for you on the blog today. This sounds like a great psychological thriller by the sounds of Julie's review!


This is my first book by this author and I have to say it has satisfied my current want of good psychological thriller books. The plots are both creative and interesting from the start which held my attention throughout.

The story begins with a balloon ride over the Northumberland National Park with twelve passengers and one pilot aboard, but what should be a tranquil leisure trip turns into carnage as they witness a man murder a young woman on the ground. 

When the balloon crashes with only one survivor she is forced to run as she has looked the murderer in the eye and knows that her life is in grave danger. 

The hunt is on…..

This chilling tale has a mixture of characters including a traveller family, nuns and bent police and with short chapters, that I really like, brings the whole book together. Of course there are some interesting twists that I did not see coming.

Many thanks to Alison Barrow from Transworld books for the ARC and to Julie Boon for posting this review on her fabulous blog.

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Girl Below Stairs
Jennie Felton

This is the 3rd in The Fairley Terrace saga and what a corker it is! There is just as much suspense and family secrets in this one as in the others, so I couldn't wait to get started!

Edie Cooper is working as a maid for the powerful Fairley family and is asked to become a Lady's Maid to Lady Elizabeth's adopted daughter Christina. Although Edie is overjoyed and very proud to be asked to take on this very responsible role, she knows she has her work cut out with looking after the very immature and wayward Christina. 

When Christina starts asking Edie to help her find out what happened on the night of her birth, Christmas Eve, when she was found supposedly, by Edie's mother on the steps of the Vicarage, Edie starts unravelling some secrets that she wishes she hadn't. Could her own mother be more involved in what happened on that Christmas Eve than she is letting on?

Meanwhile Edie has dreams of growing old with her neighbour Charlie, but he seems to have other plans. He wants to head off to the bright lights of London to make his fortune, but has no intentions of taking Edie with him. 

What I love about this book, as with the others in the series, is the twists and turns involving the characters and the author has brilliantly intertwined them to keep you guessing as to who could be Christina's real mother as well as the other characters who are living at the great house. They are certainly not as innocent as they seem!

Thank you Jennie Felton for yet another great part to this series. I really am enjoying reading about the different families and what happened to them after the mining disaster that ripped the heart out of Fairley Terrace. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Traveller's Daughter
Michelle Vernal

I'm delighted to be a part of the blog tour for The Traveller's Daughter by Michelle Vernal. I love the cover of this book and can't wait to read it. I have a great guest piece from the author below.

Guest Piece from Michelle Vernal

My literary agent, (I love saying that it makes me feel like a proper writer) Vicki Marsdon was asked a question recently by an Australian publisher. What, given The Traveller’s Daughter’s theme and that several of my other books are set there my connection with Ireland was. A fair enough question as I live on the opposite side of the world in a small town near the Alps in New Zealand’s South Island. Erm, my parents are from Liverpool if that counts? Actually, there is no familial connection unless you go back generations. I didn’t think asking her to pass on that I was a U2 fan from way back was what they were looking for either. Oh, and by way back I’m talking riding around suburban Auckland on my Raleigh 20 bike blasting U2’s Pride (in the name of love) on my transistor radio. Nope, not the stuff of a writerly profile.
Instead, I told her that I turned twenty-one in Dublin and that I unknowingly stayed with travellers while I was there. It was in Dublin that I stood out in the snow for the first time while watching swans glide down the Liffey. A love of history flared and ignited on O’Connell Street as staring at the bullet holes in the Grand Post Office’s facade the Easter Rising was brought to life. I went back to Ireland again eight years later. The Celtic Tiger was roaring in 2000 when my now hubby and I embarked on our working holiday. It was in Bad Bob’s Bar on his thirtieth birthday that he got down on bended knee – I thought he’d injured himself due to one too many pints, but he was in fact proposing. I said yes of course, and bought my wedding dress with its bodice overlaid in Irish lace second hand from a work colleague carting it home in my backpack, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first time I visited Ireland was in the early 90’s, and the vibe was very different to what it would be in the millennium boom yet to come. The air that time of year was smoggy and smoky, and there was a pervasive feeling of tough times. I’d been living and working in the UK on my first big overseas adventure and arrived in Dublin’s fair city about to turn twenty-one. I was also sporting a bountiful head of hair which wasn’t helped by the inclement December weather. I blame fellow Kiwi, supermodel Rachel Hunter and the spiral perm for the hair situation. How was I to know her curls were natural? So it was I paid a fortune for the ‘Rachel’ spiral only to wind up with a ‘Cornwall Long Wool’ sheep. Anyway there we were in Dublin, me and my hair, along with a boyfriend who wasn’t a keeper – and not just because of his pride and joy - a Mr Bean Mini with a dodgy starter motor.
Mr Not a Keeper had a group of friends he called the Irish, they’d crossed the sea and found work near his home on the outskirts of London a few years back, and we were going to stay with them. Everywhere we pootled to in that Mini we were greeted with warmth and welcomed and usually wound up staying overnight due to the dodgy starter motor. One night was spent in a caravan in the Wicklow Mountains with a friend of his who lived alongside a cluster of other static caravans all up on blocks. I didn’t realise it at the time, but they were travellers. I do remember feeling a sense of wildness in that lifestyle and the countryside around those caravans, though. I can also recall seeing ponies grazing on the strip of grass outside an urban housing estate in Dublin - unruly kids playing alongside them. They too would have been part of the travelling community housed under brick and tiles thanks to government incentives.
There was something special about that time; it caught my imagination and held it. It wasn’t because of the great weather nor was it down to Mr Not a Keeper and his Mini. It wasn’t even because of the massive crush I had on that Irish guy who sung with The Hot House Flowers. Oh and for the record it was never Bono, I always fancied the drummer. Anyway, maybe it was a combination of my age and the romantic in me. Whatever it was, I lodged and filed those experiences away bringing them back out again when I was writing The Traveller’s Daughter many years later. In Kitty’s and Rosa’s story I
hope I’ve managed to bring a little bit of the magic, I felt in the air back then to the pages of the book.

Words by Michelle Vernal

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The People at No. 9
Felicity Everett
Blog Tour

I'm delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for The People at No. 9 by Felicity Everett. I have a Q&A with the lovely Felicity Everett for you. Enjoy....


Hi. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing.

Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?

Hi Julie, thanks for inviting me to your blog. I am a middle-aged, married Mum of four, the youngest of whom has just flown the nest. I studied English Literature at Sussex University where I met my husband Adam. Work took us to London, where we lived for twenty-five years, and raised our family in a street not unlike the one I describe in my new novel The People at Number 9. I worked for a children’s publisher for ten years, writing and editing around twenty works of fiction and non-fiction and then, as family life got more demanding, I went freelance and published another four children’s books before collapsing in a heap! After a couple of years out, finding myself effectively unemployable, I decided I had nothing to lose and might as well have a crack at writing adult fiction, as I had always wanted to give it a go. I enrolled in a creative writing course at Goldsmith’s University, and after producing the inevitable bottom-drawer prototype, I published my first novel The Story of Us in 2011. By the time it came out, Adam’s work had taken us to Melbourne, where I spent four wonderful years. I had plenty of time at my disposal, and put it to good use, writing The People at Number and work-shopping it with the Melbourne writer’s group I had joined. We came back to the Uk three years ago, moving to a cottage in the Gloucestershire countryside, which is idyllic and a little bit spooky.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

I can remember saying I wanted to be a writer when I was at primary school, but I never really thought it was an option. Even when I was writing children’s books, I didn’t think of myself as a writer, with a capital W, just someone who worked in publishing. So it wasn’t until I published my first adult novel, that I really admitted to myself that a writer was what I had become. I still have trouble saying it when I meet people. I want to pinch myself.

What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?

I have only ever worked in publishing, so I suppose you could say I was a writer from the get-go, although writing advertising copy promoting medical textbooks such as ‘Surgery of the Anus Rectum and Colon’ is hardly the stuff that dreams are made of! After that I worked for Usborne publishing, writing children’s books, which was great fun in its own right as well as a useful apprenticeship for writing my novels. Some of the best jobs I’ve had were as a teenager and student – I worked as a theatre usherette, and got to see lots of plays for free, which was a great foundation for writing. I also did a brief stint working as a ground hostess at Manchester Airport, where I honed my diction on the public address system!

How do you carry out the research for your novels?

I don’t tend to do much research as I write well within the realms of my own experience and imagination. If I do need to check something, Wikipedia will usually suffice. My secret writing short-cut is to use Pinterest and Google Image as writing prompts when describing a scene or ‘dressing’ a minor character.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

I find writing dialogue easy and I really enjoy it. I find out who my characters are by listening to them talk. I’ve always found description a bit more arduous, but I’m learning to love it and when it goes well, it gives me enormous satisfaction. Perhaps the hardest thing for me, is moving backwards and forwards in time, or having a character digress, during an internal monologue -maybe reminiscing about their child-hood, or some seminal event in their lives – before moving back to the here and now. Judging the length and tone of that kind of digression can be really tricky. The very best example of this I’ve ever read, if anyone is keen enough to look it up, is in a short story by Tobias Woolf called ‘Bullet in the Brain’ in which the writer pauses, in the millisecond that a bullet enters the brain of his protagonist, to recount the formative years of this character up to the moment of his death, going on for several paragraphs, before returning to the action at the end. It’s breathtaking.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing in bed, when I wake up in the morning. It works better if I sneak up on it. I don’t like to consider this a routine, as the idea of routine, to me, is a pressure. It has become one, though, by default. I used to think I needed a special writing place – ideally a picturesque shack in the garden or a monastic cell. Actually, I write best with the noise of family in the background and a sense of being connected, but simultaneously disconnected from life going on around me.

When you're not writing, what do you like to read?

I like to read the kind of books I am striving to write. That is, contemporary, realist novels about the politics of family and relationships and the internal dramas of the human heart. I read the occasional thriller, but on the whole I find the most exciting twists and turns come from people’s real passions and contradictions and the good and bad choices they make. For me, character is plot. The best exponents I know of this sort of fiction at the moment include Jonathan Franzen, Colm Toibin, Anne Enright, Elizabeth Strout and Marilynne Robinson. I am also a massive fan of American short stories and highly recommend The New Yorker’s fiction podcast. I’ve discovered some wonderful writers that way.

Could you tell the readers a bit about your latest book?

My latest book The People at Number 9 is a cautionary tale about a couple-crush between to sets of very different neighbours in a London suburb. Sara and Neil are ordinary down to earth pair with two kids and perfectly happy, if humdrum existence, whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of some new neighbours, Gavin and Lou – arty bohemian and intriguing. The foursome bond, despite their differences, and before long, Sara in particular, has become so obsessed with her new friends that she has started to reshape her life and that of her family in their image. But as their new friends make more and more demands on them, Sara and Neil will discover that every lifestyle choice comes at a cost, and sometimes its not one worth paying.

Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?

The character I would most like to be is a minor character called Carol. She is seen by my main protagonist Sara as nice, but dull, and for a lot of the book, she is scorned in favour of the much more glamorous Lou. Carol is very straight and even a bit of a snob, but she’s a good person at heart and essentially, she is pretty content with who she is. That’s why she appeals to me.

Is there anything else you would have liked to be asked?
Maybe, ‘Who is my ideal reader?’

And the answer would be a well-read and quite stroppy friend who would pay me the compliment of reading critically and being honest about the strength and weaknesses of my novel. She’d have to be tactful, mind you, or I wouldn’t ask her round again!

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.
Thanks for asking me.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Escape
C L Taylor
Blog Tour

I thoroughly loved this latest thriller by Cally Taylor. It had me so engrossed from the beginning as it has a fast paced storyline which is packed with tension and menace.

The central character is Jo Blackmore, mother to 2 year old Elise and wife to crime journalist Max. Jo suffers from agoraphobia and anxiety which began when she miscarried at 4 months with Henry. This sad event has made her over protective of Elise and unknowingly she is pushing her husband away. 

At first I wasn’t sure if Jo was suffering from mental health issues or just plain crazy but as the story unfolds my heart ached for Jo and I began to sympathise with her.  

There are some nasty characters’ in this novel; Paula who I am positive is crazy, as well as being a manipulative,deceitful and plain evil individual. Max is also not the normal ideal husband that we are led to believe at the start and it is his shady past that puts both Jo and Elise in danger. 

Jo’s Mum Brigid is a quiet woman who devotes her time to looking after her ill husband but she holds a family secret that plays a part in this drama and unites old friends in Ireland as the story reaches its crescendo.

Thank you Julie for a great review. I too, have read this book and agree that it is a thriller that will keep you gripped and guessing as to who is trustworthy and who isn't. What I love about Cally Taylor's books, is that she involves all the characters to the point where I just don't know who the good guys are!!

Well done Cally for yet another gripping psychological thriller. I have read all of her books now and they just seem to get better and better!

To order a copy of The Escape click here

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Food of Love
Amanda Prowse

Guest Review
Julie Williams


The Food Of Love is the latest powerful heart breaker read from the talented Amanda Prowse. In this book Amanda deals with the subject of anorexia which I find is tackled with honesty and knowledge that I am sure comes from hours of research.

The Braithwaite’s are your average normal family unit consisting of Mum Freya, Dad Lockie and their two teenage girls, Charlotte and Lexi. Freya writes about food for a living and strives to nourish her family by providing them with healthy balanced meals. 

One day Freya is asked to come into school as they are concerned about Lexi and it is only then that Freya becomes aware that her daughter has lost weight but she thinks it is only a ‘blip’ that she, as her mother, will be able to fix.

This compelling story pulls no punches and has left me with the knowledge that eating disorders are illnesses that can strike ordinary families at any time. 

This novel shows how this often taboo subject affects over the whole family and not just the sufferer and the complex fragile toll it takes on all the members. 

Freya feels guilt, as her role as a mother to protect and care for her child, cannot be fulfilled in this situation. Also she is aware of abandoning Charlotte's needs as her and husband Lockie’s attention is focused on Lexi. Charlotte feels left out and forgotten at times which puts another strain on events.

 My heart really goes out to Lockie as he comes to terms with frustration and anger as he sees his precious daughter slipping away before his very eyes.

Well done Amanda you have produced yet another tear- jerker and total page turner of a book.