Monday, 20 April 2015

No Other Darkness - Sarah Hilary

Published by Headline

Trade Paperback & E-book 23 April 2015

Paperback 30 July 2015

From Amazon

From the Richard and Judy bestselling author Sarah Hilary. The phenomenal Marnie Rome returns in the outstanding follow up to the critically acclaimed SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN.

Two young boys.

Trapped underground in a bunker.

Unable to understand why they are there.

Desperate for someone to find them.

Slowly realising that no-one will...

Five years later, the boys' bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome's career begins.

Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.

For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this...

* * *

Thanks to Sarah Hilary, I have a brilliant new crime series to follow. I thought the first book, Someone Else’s Skin, (reviewed here) was great however, with the second, No Other Darkness, the author has really taken things up a notch.

I’m not giving away any spoilers when I say that the book begins with a heart-breaking scenario. We know from the blurb on the back that things are not going to end well and when Marnie Rome and her team are called to investigate, they are all affected by what they find.

One of the joys of reading a series from the beginning is that feeling of familiarity when meeting the characters again and Marnie Rome, although in only her second outing, is fast becoming one of my favourite female detective leads. She is excellent at the acerbic put-downs and her exchanges with the (rather smug and often annoying) journalist from her past were great to read. Her partner, DS Noah Jake is another interesting character and in this story we find find out a little more of his private life. There is definitely more to come from Noah and he is a character that I would love to see developed in future stories.

Marnie and her team have a particularly distressing case to deal with and when another voice is introduced to the story, this gives an opportunity for another element to be explored. The story deals with a very dark and difficult subject, but it is done sympathetically. I don’t know if it was the effect of this particular storyline or just natural character progression but to me, Marnie seemed to be little more human and was allowed to show a little more of her compassionate side.

The twists and turns in the story are very cleverly structured and even though at one point I thought I had guessed at part of the outcome, I was completely floored by the events that followed.

Sarah Hilary’s writing just gets better. There are so many crime writers in this genre that it must be virtually impossible to write about something new but the writing here feels fresh and the storyline original.  There are no wasted sentences, just a gripping and powerful story with realistic and convincing characters.

This could be read as a standalone but to get the best from the series, I would recommend that you start with the first book ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ which will give you the background to the characters, and in particular Marnie’s past history which continues to haunt her.

There is so much more to be discovered with these two very complex detectives and one of the downsides of reading a new series when it starts is having to wait for a new book. I am quite mean with my 5* ratings and don’t give them out lightly, but in this case I couldn’t give anything less.

My thanks to Elizabeth at Headline and the publisher for the review copy.  

About the author:

Sarah Hilary lives in Bath with her daughter, where she writes quirky copy for a well-loved travel publisher. She's also worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. An award-winning short story writer, Sarah won the Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2012. NO OTHER DARKNESS is her brilliant follow-up to the outstanding SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN.

You can find out more from Sarah's website, or follow on Twitter or Facebook

Friday, 17 April 2015

Bryant & May: The Burning Man - Christopher Fowler

Published 26 March 2015 by Doubleday

From Amazon:

London is under siege. A banking scandal has filled the city with violent protests, and as the anger in the streets detonates, a young homeless man burns to death after being caught in the crossfire between rioters and the police.

But all is not as it seems; an opportunistic killer is using the chaos to exact revenge, but his intended victims are so mysteriously chosen that the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to find a way of stopping him.

Using their network of eccentric contacts, elderly detectives Arthur Bryant and John May hunt down a murderer who adopts incendiary methods of execution. But they soon find their investigation taking an apocalyptic turn as the case comes to involve the history of mob rule, corruption, rebellion, punishment and the legend of Guy Fawkes.

At the same time, several members of the PCU team reach dramatic turning points in their lives - but the most personal tragedy is yet to come, for as the race to bring down a cunning killer reaches its climax, Arthur Bryant faces his own devastating day of reckoning.

I always said we’d go out with a hell of a bang,’ warns Bryant.

* * *

Despite The Burning Man being the twelfth book, this series had somehow completely passed me by until Sophie from Transworld contacted me about taking part in the recent blog tour (you can read a Q&A with Christopher Fowler here).  

I was trying to think of a way to describe these two senior (both by rank and age) detectives.  The best comparison I can think of is a combination of the TV programmes 'New Tricks' mixed with the irascibility of 'Inspector Morse'.  It isn't quite clear how old they are, but they are well past a normal detective's retirement age.  Arthur St John Aloysius Bryant is very well read with a whole heap of information filed away in his brain and an office full of well used old reference books. He doesn't suffer fools gladly, a character trait which often makes him unpopular with his superiors.   His long suffering colleague John May, who is only slightly younger, appears to be the more patient of the two and is constantly having to keep an eye on his eccentric and unpredictable partner.

Although I hadn't read any of the previous books, I didn't feel that this mattered and actually this book gave me an appetite to start at the beginning of the series to find out their back story. 

Both detectives are part of the 'PCU' - the Peculiar Crimes Unit, headed up by the seemingly lazy and incompetent Unit Chief, Raymond Land.   A covert division, set up about 50 years previously, their task is to prevent public disorder and panic on the street and in the words of Raymond Land "we are in charge of London".

In this case, the City of London is the target of a series of riots and protests, sparked off by the scandal and corruption which has taken place at Findersbury Private Bank.  The story is very much a political commentary of our times, with references to capitalism and banker greed. 

There is a killer running loose, who may be using the riots as cover for his murderous activities.  All the murders have a reference to fire or burning - a homeless man is burned alive in a bank doorway amongst other grisly occurrences.  I don't want to give away anything to spoil the story but there is one particular scene almost towards the end where the tension was almost unbearable.
This has a very different and quirky style to the crime books that I normally read and I did enjoy it, including the historical references to people or places.  Bryant has a particular disregard of authority, nothing new there in crime stories, but it's their colleagues in the PCU who enhance the story with their realism.  Christopher Fowler has created a well rounded cast of characters.  With the exception of 'those in charge', they all pull together and look out for each other.   Arthur Bryant is having to face his own personal issues and some of the scenes involving him are quite moving. 

I started working in the City of London nearly 20 years ago and many of the places mentioned in the book are so familiar, I didn't need to use much imagination to be able to visualise the landscape.  I still remember the City May Day riots that were really very scary if you happened to be caught up in them. 
There are some parts of the story that will make you smile with its dry and dark humour, and others that will make you wince and read through your fingers at the graphic descriptions but if you want something a little bit different to the normal run of the mill police procedurals then I would recommend this one.

My thanks to Sophie and the publisher Transworld and Netgalley for the copy to review. 

About the author:

Christopher Fowler is a Londoner born (in Greenwich) and bred. For many years he jointly owned and ran one of the UK's top film marketing companies.

He is the author of many novels and short story collections, from the urban unease of cult fictions such as Roofworld and Spanky, the horror-pastiche of Hell Train to the much-praised and award-winning Bryant and May series of detective novels - and his two critically acclaimed autobiographies, Paperboy and Film Freak.

He lives in King's Cross.

You can find out more from Christopher's website, or follow on Twitter or Facebook

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Death in the Rainy Season - Guest Post by Anna Jaquiery

Death in the Rainy Season is the second book in the Commandant Serge Morel series, published by Mantle on 9 April 2015.  As part of the tour,  I am delighted to welcome Anna to My Reading Corner. 

A sense of belonging

Last year, we travelled as a family to Europe, for five weeks. We spent half that time in the UK, and half in France. It was my first trip back to France in 11 years. That seemed incredible to me. During all this time, we’ve been living in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia, raising two young boys. Any travelling we’ve done has been in the southern hemisphere. 

I hadn’t really thought about how long I’d been away from Europe, until I returned. I was amazed that so much time had passed, and thrilled to be back. Most of all, I was happy to be in Paris again, and surprised at just how strongly I felt about being back there. It was an emotional reunion.

I have a complicated relationship with France. I am part French. We moved around a great deal while I was growing up, and I went to French schools nearly everywhere we went. Each year, we returned to France to visit my grandmother and to spend part of the holidays. When I was 17, I moved to Paris alone and went to university there. The next few years were difficult. Until then, my experience of being French had always been an expatriate one. For a long time after I moved there, I felt like a foreigner. Paris seemed alien and unwelcoming. 

And yet, when I returned last year, I realized just how strong the connection is. Paris isn’t home, not really, but a part of me does feel at home there. And another part of me sees Paris through a foreigner’s eyes. I am a tourist, not a resident. That dual sense of familiarity and distance is what fuels my writing. It has made it possible for me to create a senior French detective who knows Paris like the back of his hand, even though I couldn’t be living further from France. And bringing Serge Morel to life allows me to wander through familiar streets, at least in my mind.

Far from home secrets can be deadly . . .

Phnom Penh, Cambodia; the rainy season. When a French man, Hugo Quercy, is found brutally murdered, Commandant Serge Morel finds his holiday drawn to an abrupt halt. Quercy - dynamic, well-connected - was the magnetic head of a humanitarian organisation which looked after the area's neglected youth.

Opening his investigation, the Parisian detective soon finds himself buried in one of his most challenging cases yet. Morel must navigate this complex and politically sensitive crime in a country with few forensic resources, and armed with little more than a series of perplexing questions: what was Quercy doing in a hotel room under a false name? What is the significance of his recent investigations into land grabs in the area? And who could have broken into his home the night of the murder?

Becoming increasingly drawn into Quercy's circle of family and friends - his adoring widow, his devoted friends and bereft colleagues - Commandant Morel will soon discover that in this lush land of great beauty and immense darkness, nothing is quite as it seems . . .

A deeply atmospheric crime novel that bristles with truth and deception, secrets and lies: Death in the Rainy Season is a compelling mystery that unravels an exquisitely wrought human tragedy.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Other Half of My Heart - Guest Post by Stephanie Butland

Its my turn on the final day of the blog tour for 'Letters to My Husband' by Stephanie Butland, published in paperback on 9th April 2015 by Black Swan/Transworld (originally published in hardback in 2014 as 'Surrounded by Water') and I am so excited to have the honour of an EXCLUSIVE reveal for Stephanie's next book.

Welcome to Stephanie, who will tell you a little more 

Photo credit: Topher McGrillis

I'm really excited about THE OTHER HALF OF MY HEART, which is published this autumn. 

It's about Bettina, a woman in her thirties who is hiding from her past. She lives above the bakery in Throckton, which she runs with passion and ambition, while negotiating a new relationship and making sure that her ailing mother is cared for. Everything is going on fairly steadily, until someone from her past shows up, and Bettina has to decide how to really face up to things she would rather forget. Bettina is new to Throckton, but readers of LETTERS TO MY HUSBAND will recognise many of the characters she spends time with, and has relationships with. 

Writing the book was brilliant fun (apart from the emotionally wracking bits...) and as part of the research I started making my own bread, and spent a lot of time thinking about how we nourish ourselves, physically and emotionally. I'm longing for readers to get their hands on this and tell me what they think!

Thank you Stephanie, and now for the exclusive cover reveal, isn't it gorgeous?

The Other Half of My Heart will be published by Black Swan on 22 October 2015

Monday, 13 April 2015

'Meet Oliver' - Unravelling Oliver Blog Tour - Liz Nugent


Unravelling Oliver was one of my top 10 reads of 2014 (reviewed here) and I was thrilled to be asked to take part in this tour to introduce readers to the character at the centre of Liz Nugent's novel.   You can read the first chapter across 5 blogs over 5 days

Yesterday it was the turn of thewelshlibrarianblogspot to host Extract No. 4 and you can read the final extract below. 


Returning to the house on the night Alice pushed me too far, I fumbled with the key in the door. I stepped into the dining room. She wasn't on the floor, thank God. She was sitting in the kitchen, nursing a mug of tea. Her hand rubbed at her face. She looked at me without affection. I noticed that her jaw was quite red on the right-hand side.No bruise. Yet. I looked at her. Smiled.

The wooden box in which I had locked away my darkest secrets lay open on the table in the hall, its lid agape, lock smashed, contents violated.

‘Liar!’ she said, her voice breaking.

It was clear that she intended to ruin me.

The second time I hit Alice, I just couldn't stop. I am very sorry about that indeed. I have been in control of my life since I was eighteen years old, and to lose control is a failing. Needless to say, I am not allowed to visit her in hospital. It is silly really. It is February 2012, so it’s been three months now. In her condition, she wouldn't know if I was there or not.

It turns out that I am a violent man after all. It comes as a shock to me. I have been psychologically assessed. I decided to tell them almost everything. Apparently, I have been harbouring bitterness, resentment and frustration since my childhood. Now, there’s a surprise.

What will the neighbours think? What will anybody think?

I really couldn't care less.

Liz Nugent's gripping novel of psychological suspense, Unravelling Oliver, is a complex and elegant study of the making of a sociopath in the tradition of Barbara Vine and Patricia Highsmith.

Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children's books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease - enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.

Only Oliver knows the lengths to which he has had to go to get the life to which he felt entitled. But even he is in for a shock when the past catches up with him.

Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theatre and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written short stories for children and adults. Unravelling Oliver is her first novel.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Lie - C L Taylor

Published 23 April 2015 by Avon

From Amazon: 

This was no accident…

Haunting, compelling, this psychological thriller will have you hooked. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Daughter.

I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves . . .

* * *

Having read C L Taylor's debut thriller last year, The Accident, (reviewed here), which I loved, The Lie was on my wishlist as soon as it was announced. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from the publisher which has been glaring at me from the bookshelf, until I couldn't wait any longer and bumped it up to the top of the TBR.

Five years ago, Jane Hughes was called Emma Woolfe and she and three friends set out for the holiday of a lifetime to Nepal. The fun that they were expecting however soon turned into a nightmare.

The suspense starts at the very beginning when Jane receives a letter at the animal sanctuary where she now works, indicating that someone knows her secret. I was hooked already and intrigued to find out why Jane changed her name and what did she have to hide? The story then flips between the present and the past. We’re with the girls as they excitedly prepare for their holiday retreat in the mountains. We also see the cracks that gradually appear in the friendship and watch it becoming something nasty and frightening.

The characterization is so good - people who you thought were trustworthy turn out to be anything but and the sinister undertones increase as gradually the story unfolds. All four friends had flawed but interesting characters. They may not have been very likeable but each had their own issues which all played a part in the trauma that was to follow. The Ektanta yatra retreat, where they were staying, was anything but a haven of peace and tranquility, some of the people there may have seemed charming and welcoming but a few had an agenda of their own. Most of the time my sympathy was with Emma – there were times when I thought she was a bit naive but I could identify with her character and I felt for her at the way she was treated.

This excellent story has so much going for it – there is a wonderful sense of place, particularly the setting in Nepal and there is darkness to the plot which made me worry for the four friends and added to the sense of fear as I turned the page. There are so many psychological thrillers out there now but C L Taylor has certainly found her place in this genre and I’m very much looking forward to the next book.

My thanks to the publisher Avon, for the advance reading copy. 

About the author:

CL Taylor studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle and currently works 4 days a week as a Distance Learning Design and Development manager for a London university, looks after her toddler son 3 days a week and squeezes in writing her novels when she should be sleeping

You can find out more by following on Twitter, Facebook or from the author's website

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Disclaimer - Q&A with Renée Knight

Disclaimer is Renée Knight's debut novel, published on 9 April 2015 by Doubleday/Transworld.  The two week blog tour started yesterday with Laura's Little Book Blog and today I'm hosting a Q&A with Renée - welcome to My Reading Corner Renée and thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. 

copyright Colin Hutton

Can you tell us what inspired you to write Disclaimer? Is this your preferred genre?

I had written a novel before Disclaimer which wasn't published and in it was a section which touched on an episode from my adolescence involving a friend of mine. I knew she would recognise herself and I began to think about how terrible it would if the book were ever published and she read it before I had a chance to tell her about it. So that's where the idea came from. As it turned out, I sent her the finished manuscript and she was fine about it and nobody wanted to publish it anyway.

Is this my preferred genre? Yes, I suppose it is although I don't really think about genre when I start writing. I work out the story and tell it in what I hope is the most effective way.

How long did it take you to write the book and did you plan the storyline in detail at the beginning or just run with it?

It took me about a year to get a first draft down and yes I did work out the storyline and structure before I started writing but then I changed it as I went along. I had started out with one end, but half way through came up with something else. I need a structure before I begin writing but I also know it is a flexible thing which I am prepared to junk.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever been given?

To not show your work too soon. When I finished a draft I put it away for a few weeks and then looked at it again and re-wrote it. You don't get a second chance so do not be too hasty in sending out your work. 

What sort of books do you enjoy reading, and what are you reading now?

I'm reading The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer, which I'm really enjoying. It reminds me a little of one of my favourite films: 'Night of the Hunter' by Charles Laughton. I enjoy a real variety of books but it's honesty I look for - something unflinching and bold. 

What do you do to relax?

Walk or read.

What are you working on at the moment?

My second novel and the screenplay for Disclaimer.


Friday, 10 April 2015

Bryant & May: The Burning Man - Christopher Fowler - Blog Tour

I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Burning Man, (no 12 in the series) and published by Doubleday on 26 March 2015. I'm currently reading this and my review will be posted next week.

In the meantime, I'm pleased to welcome Christopher who has kindly agreed to answer a few questions:

Which non-crime book would you most like to have written?

Tricky one – I think ‘Titus Groan’, the first part of Mervyn Peake’s trilogy, or Phillip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. I may change my mind when Hilary Mantel finishes her trilogy!

Which crime novel would you most like to have written? And why?

I regard ‘All The President’s Men’ as the most brilliant high-stakes crime novel ever written, even though it’s true. It has real heroes and villains. The modern novel would be AD Miller’s ‘Snowdrops’. The former is perfectly balanced reporting in a form as enthralling as any fiction, the latter achieves something crime writers can only strive for – successfully questioning what the nature and price of a crime might be. Both are game changers.

Which, of your own work to date, is the book which you consider came off best?

Although I wasn’t happy with it at the time (and neither were my publishers, who were confused by my genre-straddling plot) I’d have to say ‘Calabash’, the story of a boy with too much imagination. It’s half-set in a 1970s British seaside town and half in ancient Persia. I still love certain passages in it – it has never been reprinted, sadly.

How did you become a writer? Was it always your ambition to get published?

I always wrote, but I didn't have the confidence to think I could ever be published. Two things happened; I moved to the USA and suddenly had a lot of free time (not a lot to do there if you don't like sports or the gym), so I began concentrating on short stories. And Clive Barker wrote the Books of Blood, which were hugely successful and opened the way for other authors selling short story collections. Even so, my first two books were humour books, as I built my confidence. Then the collection 'City Jitters' followed.

Did your childhood influence your creative talents?

There's a big age difference between me and my brother so I was alone during my formative years, when books become friends.

You have an extraordinary memory for detail in your writing. How do you remember or document everything that you may want to write about later?

It's an embarrassing admission, but I kept diaries in the form of a sort of house magazine right through my teenage years, and although they don't directly report on my family, I was able to reread these and fill in the gaps. For 'Film Freak' I had my memories of the company, and many of my friends who are still involved there.

Tell us about your writing process - e.g. do you only work on one book at a time?

I try to, but lines get blurred. You're thinking of other ideas for books that won't appear for at least two years and copy-editing a book you've almost forgotten about at the same time, so it rolls forward in different time-frames. But I do try to concentrate on only writing one book, partly because it requires a specific mindset.

Who has been your greatest influence as a writer?

Dickens, above and beyond all. JG Ballard, my great hero, Woolf, Firbank, Forster, Waugh, all the English greats. Waugh especially for his still-shocking mix of darkness and humour (I'm trying to recall the novel in which the hero accidentally eats his girlfriend). The last chapter of the social satire 'A Handful of Dust' is in many horror collections. That's how close he comes to crossing the line.

Bradbury and Poe, Jim Shepard and Gary Indiana from the US. But I read so many books that you could ask me any day and get a different answer. Hilary Mantel for sheer thrilling storytelling. I've never known so much excitement around a single (as yet unpublished) book as 'The Mirror and the Light’.

How does it feel to be nominated for awards for your writing? What does this mean to you?

It's nice to win but all rather random. Having been a juror for the CWA Daggers, I know the process and see how capricious it is. What is decided one week could be decided in an entirely different way the next. The Daggers are well-judged but many competitions are flawed.

About The Burning Man

London is under siege. A banking scandal has filled the city with violent protests, and as the anger in the streets detonates, a young homeless man burns to death after being caught in the crossfire between rioters and the police.

But all is not as it seems; an opportunistic killer is using the chaos to exact revenge, but his intended victims are so mysteriously chosen that the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to find a way of stopping him.

Using their network of eccentric contacts, elderly detectives Arthur Bryant and John May hunt down a murderer who adopts incendiary methods of execution. But they soon find their investigation taking an apocalyptic turn as the case comes to involve the history of mob rule, corruption, rebellion, punishment and the legend of Guy Fawkes.

At the same time, several members of the PCU team reach dramatic turning points in their lives - but the most personal tragedy is yet to come, for as the race to bring down a cunning killer reaches its climax, Arthur Bryant faces his own devastating day of reckoning.

‘I always said we’d go out with a hell of a bang,’ warns Bryant.

You can find out more from Christopher's website, or by following on Twitter or Facebook

Friday, 3 April 2015

The Faerie Tree - Jane Cable

Published March 2015 by Matador

From Amazon:

How can a memory so vivid be wrong? 

I tried to remember the first time I’d been here and to see the tree through Izzie’s eyes. The oak stood on a rise just above the path; not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings – pieces of ribbon, daisy chains, a shell necklace, a tiny doll or two and even an old cuckoo clock. 

"Why do people do this?" Izzie asked. 

I winked at her. "To say thank you to the fairies." 

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart. 

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right? 

With strong themes of paganism, love and grief, The Faerie Tree is a novel as gripping and unputdownable as Jane Cable’s first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It is a story that will resonate with fans of romance, suspense, and folklore.

* * *

Having really enjoyed Jane's debut novel, The Cheesemaker's House (you can read my review here), I was really looking forward to reading this, her second book - and I wasn't disappointed.  

Her writing seems to have changed slightly with this book - it's still excellent, as before, but this time its also a little bit edgier which fits perfectly with the two main characters - Robin and Izzie.

Izzie and Robin haven't had the best of lives - Izzie is now widowed at only 44 and Robin has had his share of heartbreak and loss too.  When the two meet again after 20 years apart, they seem to fit together so well - and Robin finds a fan in Claire, Izzie's teenage daughter.

However there is something troubling about their stories - both have different memories of the first time they met and fell in love - why would that be, surely even after 20 years apart, you would still remember?

This is a lovely story of lost love, relationships and also grief and how it affects us all in different ways.  The characters are expertly drawn - to the extent that I was sometimes shouting in my head at the older Izzie not to keep picking a fight - it isn't every author that can you make you feel about the characters and really care about them.  I have to admit I fell a little in love with Robin myself and Claire, whilst being a typical teenager, was wise beyond her years in many ways and was so often the voice of common sense and reason.

Both Robin and Izzie are complex characters and both know what they want ... and don't want from a relationship. They fell in love once but can they do it again and make it work this time - or should they just admit that too much has changed between them and walk away.  

Don't be put off by the folklore aspect, although this is an integral part of the story it is not overpowering and whatever your beliefs, I'm sure you will find, as I did, that this added a little bit of magic to the story.  I loved the idea of children writing letters to the fairies....and that they were being answered!  

I really enjoyed The Faerie Tree and was delighted to be asked to take part in Jane's recent blog tour for this book - you can read more about the Faerie Tree itself here.

My thanks to the author and publisher for the copy to review via Netgalley.

About the author:

The Faerie Tree is set to be as gripping and unputdownable as Jane's first book, The Cheesemaker 's House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show's People's Novelist competition.

Following the success of her debut novel, The Cheesemaker 's House Matador, 2013, Jane Cable divides her time between writing and her chartered accountancy business. Although born in Cardiff, Jane now lives on the Hampshire/Sussex border and The Faerie Tree is set nearby.

You can find out more from Jane's website, or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads 

Friday, 27 March 2015

A Place Called Winter - Patrick Gale event at Foyles, March 26 2015

Thursday evening saw me at Foyles, Charing Cross Road in London.  I had booked my ticket for this event several weeks ago and was very much looking forward to it.   I absolutely loved the book – so much so that I was even more excited at having the opportunity to hear Patrick Gale talk about it.

Claire Armistead and Patrick Gale
I met up with Nina, a friend and fellow book lover (@Matineegirl) at Foyles and we had a seat in the front row – a perfect grandstand view. The event was chaired by Claire Armistead, Books Editor for the Guardian.  Patrick began by showing a few pictures of his family members who inspired the story – Harry Cane, his wife Winifred, and her mother and sisters – all of whom feature in the book.

It was a relaxed and informal chat – Patrick has a very natural manner and had the audience laughing several times with his replies. He talked about his reasons for writing the book and explained that because there was so little information known in the family about Harry Cane, it was necessary to add fiction to the fact so that the story would work. He explained how he did his Canadian research and described his visit to the area of land in Winter that Harry actually farmed.   He also read an extract from the book – unlike some authors I’ve seen read, he didn’t stumble once, I was very impressed.  He then took questions from the audience and talked a little about his earlier writing and gave a little teaser of his future writing plans.

Sadly, all too soon the hour was up  - he was so interesting to listen to I could easily have stayed for hours!

I wasn't going to leave empty handed though and I made sure that I picked up a couple of books to purchase for signing.

This was a really enjoyable event and if you get the chance to go to any of these talks by Patrick then I recommend that you do go - you can be sure of a very interesting and entertaining time.

I was delighted to be able to finally meet Georgina of Headline (@PublicityBooks). We have tweeted many times and its so nice to actually meet in person. 

I've had a couple of Patrick's earlier books in my collection forever (I know I have Notes From an Exhibition and at least one other) which have been bypassed for no apparent reason but now I will certainly hunt them down and make sure I read them.  

If you haven't read A Place Called Winter, I can highly recommend it - you can read my review here

Edited:  In the Saturday 28 March edition of The Guardian, is an article which includes the family photos mentioned here.

About the book:

In the golden 1900s, Harry Cane, a shy, eligible gentleman of leisure is drawn from a life of quiet routine into marrying Winnie, eldest daughter of the fatherless Wells clan, who are not quite as respectable as they would appear.

Winnie and Harry settle by the sea and have a daughter; conventional marriage does not seem such a tumultuous change after all. When a chance encounter awakens unacknowledged desires, however, Harry is forced to forsake the home and people he loves for a harsh new life as a homesteader on the newly colonized Canadian prairies. There, in a place called Winter, he will come to find a deep love within an alternative family, a love imperilled by war, madness and a man of undeniable magnetism.

In a dramatic departure from anything he has written before, Patrick Gale boldly projects his own fears and loves to tell the dramatic story of an Edwardian innocent's gradual understanding of his own nature. Based on the real life mystery of the author's own great-grandfather, and drawing on the understanding of psychology and relationships which infused Rough Music and Notes from an Exhibition, A PLACE CALLED WINTER charts the gathering of wisdom of a kind suppressed in most family histories.