Book Review

After You Fell – JS Lark

I am joining the blog tour today for psychological thriller, After You Fell, by JS Lark. Many thanks to Jane, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Creepy, disturbing and genuinely thrilling, this is one page-turner you won’t be able to forget!

As one life ends
Louise’s Lovett’s death was a tragedy.  But questions still swirl about exactly what happened to Louise that day.  Did she fall…or was she pushed?

A new life starts
Helen Matthews’ donor heart saves her life.  But as her new heart beats inside her, Helen feels the pull of its previous owner–despite what everyone is telling her, Helen is certain she has one final message to pass on.

And a dark obsession begins
As the lives of Helen and Louise become ever more entangled, Helen’s obsession gets increasingly out of control.  And the fragile new life she has built begins to fall apart…

after you fell

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

After You Fell is a tricky book for me to review – it took me a while to get into, and in all honesty, I had just as many questions at the end as I had at the beginning, although to be fair I think this was sort of the point, and it is just my personal preference to have everything in a neat box at the end. If you are a fan of a book that leaves you pondering the facts of the tale after you have finished reading, then this is the book for you.

I love the premise of an organ transplant recipient forming an obsession with their donor, and I suspect if I ever found myself in Helen’s situation, I would want to know who my donor had been and what their life had been like. Hopefully though, I wouldn’t go quite as far as Helen does!

It’s hard to say too much without giving away key plot points, and I really do want you to discover them for yourselves. I must say though that neither Helen or Louise turned out to be who I had initially expected them to be, and actually my feelings about most of the characters changed on numerous occasions throughout the book.

After You Fell is a book that really gets you thinking about a variety of mental and physical health issues, and the evolving plot certainly kept me on my toes right up to the very last page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JaneLark_Small VersionJane is a coffee, chocolate and red wine lover, and a late-night writer of compelling, passionate, and emotionally charged fiction.

Jane’s books may contain love, hate, violence, death, passion, a little swearing, and an ending you are never going to forget.

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If you like the sound of this book, head over to the other blogs taking part in the tour to find out more.

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Book Review

Full Disclosure – Camryn Garrett

Today I am reviewing a book which I found highly informative, Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett. My thanks to Camryn, and to Penguin Random House UK, for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

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REVIEW:

From the second I opened this book, I knew that it was going to be an important book for all ages to read. Growing up in the 90s, I had thought that I was relatively well informed about HIV, but I found I learnt a lot from this book that I hadn’t previously considered.

Although Simone’s diagnosis was obviously a constant presence throughout the book, I loved how a lot of the focus of the story was just on how awkward it is being a teenager and discovering who you are, never mind if you are a teenager who happens to be HIV-positive.

People’s reactions to discovering Simone’s diagnosis really shocked me. I thought we were passed a lot of what happened, and it saddened me to realise that maybe we never will be.

Full Disclosure is an inspiring, heart-warming rollercoaster of emotions, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

It was only after I finished reading that I discovered that the author is just 19 years old, and that this was her debut novel. To me, this just makes the book even more astonishing in it’s skill and delicate handling of so many sensitive subjects. I think we can expect great things from Camryn, and I for one will be snapping up whatever comes next from this amazing talent.

You can find out more about Camryn and her writing on Goodreads

Book Review

Only You – Lorna Peel

An embarrassingly long time ago, Lorna Peel approached me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing her book, Only You. I would like to offer Lorna my apologies for just how long it has taken for the review to finally emerge, and also my thanks for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Jane is divorced and the wrong side of thirty. It’s definitely all over for her…isn’t it?

Jane Hollinger is divorced and the wrong side of thirty – as she puts it. Her friends are pressuring her to dive back into London’s dating pool, but she’s content with her quiet life teaching family history evening classes.

Robert Armstrong is every woman’s fantasy: handsome, charming, rich and famous. When he asks her to meet him, she convinces herself it’s because he needs her help with a mystery in his family tree. Soon she realises he’s interested in more than her genealogy expertise. Now the paparazzi want a piece of Jane too.

Can Jane handle living – and loving – in the spotlight? 

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REVIEW:

After a spate of reading some very serious and thought provoking books, I was in serious need of some light relief. When I reminded myself of the blurb for Only You, it seemed like the ideal choice.

I used to read quite a lot of romantic comedy type books, but more recently I have been put off a little by the typical storyline of an arrogant man who comes into the heroine’s life, and who she hates on sight, until they inevitably fall hopelessly in love. Fortunately, there is none of that in this book – Robert Armstrong is a delight from start to finish, and just seems like a dream man. Of course, in my head, I had a very clear image of him looking just like Richard Armitage, so that helped fuel my love for him.

Only You is a funny, warm, light read and proved to be an excellent choice to provide the escape that I needed. I must say though, if my friends ever set me up on a dating site like Mags and Carol did to Jane, it would quite possibly be the last thing they ever did!

You can find out more about Lorna and her books on her Goodreads page.

Meet the Author

William Osborne

I am delighted to be welcoming William Osborne to my blog today, as part of the tour for Jupiter’s Fire. Many thanks to William for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

Your author bio states that you enjoy collecting odd things. Do you have any collections you would like to share with us? What made you start collecting?

Yes of course, I collect old military helmets from the Napoleonic time up to the first world war, British and German, shako’s, and ceremonial wear, mostly cavalry, Dragoons, Hussars, Lancers, but also Picklehaubs, including Life Guard Imperial German and Life Guard English. I also have a beautiful Bearskin, (Russian Bear) Coldstream Guards. 

I collect English modern first editions fiction, Ian Fleming, Huxley, Orwell, Robert Graves, for example, authors I love basically. 

My youngest son and I love to build Lego, we have a Creator Street of fifteen buildings, accessorized by him with additional figures and planes in my office. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World to me.  

I am starting now to look at military ceremonial daggers from the Second World War, Italian and German, but good ones are very expensive.

Where do you do most of your writing?

In my office at home, when I can, but I love to write anywhere, and correcting manuscripts somewhere hot and near the beach is special. I have never had an “office” office except when my children were very young and I had to work out of the house for a few hours a day.

I love working from home so long as there is somewhere quiet and I can turn off the phone and the Internet for a few hours and put on some music quietly in the background.

Do you find that different writing routines and practices work better for novel writing than for screenwriting, and vice versa?

Not really, the way I write has me plotting both novels and screenplays quite carefully before I start and often just thinking about the story I want to tell just in my head for a quite a few weeks or months. 

I do write outline cards, even if the next scene/chapter is just a line or two and then I set to at the computer to write.  Screenplay writing is so less dependent on description and more on just scene setting with a few visual details that the camera can pick up on, whereas novel writing requires you to paint a fuller picture of the scene.

So for example, with screenwriting you can write – ‘ext. downtown street – day’ – and then the art director, location manager, property buying, director, lighting cameraman will decide what that street actually looks like. But if you were writing that in a novel, you would have to do all of those things, the shops, the cars, the weather etc. Does that help?

What works for one that doesn’t work for the other?

I refer the honourable person to the answer I already gave.

You live in a beautiful part of the UK (I enjoyed a week in Norfolk earlier this year). If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be? Or is your heart firmly in Norfolk?

I came to Norfolk to go to school here when I was 13 in 1973. It was a very different place in many ways to what it is now, though it is still beautiful, remote, unspoilt and timeless.  Back then it was the end of the line, literally. The train stopped here and unless you had a reason to be here, no one came. It seems like a different world looking back and I suppose it was.

I do love it still, I can walk for two hours from where I live with my dogs and see no-one and I love that sense of isolation and solitude with the sea in the distance, now filled with lines of wind farms.

If I could, I would spend three months of the year in Italy, probably in the south, Naples and beyond, down the Amalfi coast, the most beautiful coast in the world for me and also the most wonderful people, timeless too in a way but drenched in history from the Saracens, Etruscans, Romans, Neapolitans, French, Spanish. Watch The Leopard, the greatest film ever made about Sicily and Naples, the twin Kingdoms at the time.

More beautiful to me even than Big Sur and Monterey where I spent a year as an exchange student aged 18 and where Robert Louis Stevenson lived for a time and used the landscape to write Treasure Island and other stories. 

I love the Italians, their culture, their style, and their philosophy.  But I am happy right now where I am.

There is a saying isn’t there, wherever you go, there you are.

What have been your biggest sources of inspiration in the writing of your novels?

Many, my family, love of history, a love of story, be that books, fiction and non-fiction, or film/tv from childhood onwards.

But most of all love.  

I believe all great stories in whatever medium have human love at their heart, the yearning for it, the importance of it, the loss of it, the rejection of it, the betrayal of it, but it is the ultimate thing that gives meaning to all of our lives, rich or poor. Every great story has that at its heart. And that is how it should be.

Sorry, but you did ask.

Hope you enjoyed the answers; I thoroughly enjoyed writing them on a cold November evening, with the east wind whistling around and the dogs barking a bit for attention or maybe at the sound or smell of a pheasant or a fox at the end of the field.

Best wishes, William.

I don’t know about all of you, but just from getting to know William a little through his answers, I am certain that I want to discover more about his books. If you are tempted, here come all the details for Jupiter’s Fire.

Jupiters Fire cover v1

BLURB:

When Franco, a teenager living in the monastery at Monte Cassino in 1944 uncovers a long-lost Roman Eagle, the fabled Aquila for the Jupiter Legion, he sets in motion a desperate struggle to prevent the Nazis from using it to win the war. In a do-or-die mission, Franco and Dulcie, a teenage mountain girl, must steal the Eagle back and escape before its deadly power is unleashed. Pursued by the implacable forces of the SS they will discover not just the secrets of the Eagle but also themselves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

William Osborne – Born 1960 – educated at Greshams School, Holt, Norfolk and Robert Louis Stevenson, Pebble Beach, California,  studied law at Cambridge,(MA),  barrister at law, Member of the Middle Temple. Screenwriter and member of Writers Guild of America (West) – Author (published works, 1994, 1998, Hitler’s Angel, Winter’s Bullet, Jupiter’s Fire).  Lives in Norfolk, enjoys life, film, dog walking, cold water swimming, lego, collecting odd stuff, driving his beach buggy.

Many thanks again William, for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly.

If you would like to find out more about Jupiter’s Fire, why not head over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

Fighting Back (Battle Ground #4) – Rachel Churcher

I am sure by now you have all realised how much I am enjoying the Battle Ground series, and will know just how excited I am to be joining the blog tour for book four in the series. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

If you haven’t already read the first three books, you’re going to want to check them out before reading any further in this post because spoilers are inevitable. Search Rachel’s name on my blog to find my reviews on each of the previous books.

BLURB:

Bex Ellman and her friends are in hiding, sheltered by the resistance. With her family threatened and her friendships challenged, she’s looking for a way to fight back. Ketty Smith is in London, supporting a government she no longer trusts. With her support network crumbling, Ketty must decide who she is fighting for – and what she is willing risk to uncover the truth.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence.

Fighting Back Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Taller Books

REVIEW:

Picking up where Darkest Hour finished, in Fighting Back, we find Bex and her friends in Scotland training under the OIE, and Ketty joining the Terrorism Committee alongside Bracken.

On the whole, Fighting Back is a much less action-packed book than the previous books in the series. With the resistance in relative safety in Scotland, and Ketty based in London, there is a lot more plotting and planning taking place, and this gives the reader the opportunity to really feel the emotions and understand the thought processes of each character. For me, this is a much more emotional book, and I found my heart breaking as Jake hits breaking point, and Ketty struggles without Jackson by her side. I even found myself feeling sorry for Bracken as he approaches rock bottom with his drinking.

Throughout the series, I have found myself questioning whose side I am on in the conflict. Should it be freedom fighter Bex, or Ketty, working for the seemingly corrupt governing forces? Although my head tells me it should be Bex who I want to see triumph, and obviously deep down I do want to see peace restored to the streets of the UK, I am finding more and more often that it is poor, broken Ketty who has my sympathies. Whilst Bex at times struck me as being a bit of a brat, my heart repeatedly went out to Ketty, as she comes to see that she is horribly out of her depth, and her reality comes crashing down around her.

I said right at the start of this series that nothing in the books feels outside the realms of possibility, and as we prepare to head to the polls to vote in what has to be the most uncertain general election in my voting life, this has never felt more true. I think this is one of the things that makes this series so great, and so incredibly thought-provoking.

As the situation in the UK reaches fever pitch, we are gearing up for what promises to be an incredible series finale – just who will, or indeed should, succeed when we reach the Victory Day? More on that in January!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photoRachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Don’t forget to pay a visit to all the other blogs taking part on the tour.

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Book Review

The Child on Platform One – Gill Thompson

Today I am joining the blog tour for one of the most moving books I have read in a long time, The Child on Platform One by Gill Thompson. My thanks go to Gill, Headline, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Inspired by the real-life escape of thousands of Jewish children from Nazi occupied Europe on the Kindertransport trains to London.

Prague 1939. Young mother Eva has a secret from her past. When the Nazis invade, Eva knows the only way to keep her daughter Miriam safe is to send her away – even if it means never seeing her again. But when Eva is taken to a concentration camp, her secret is at risk of being exposed.

In London, Pamela volunteers to help find places for the Jewish children arrived from Europe. Befriending one unclaimed little girl, Pamela brings her home. It is only when her young son enlists in the RAF that Pamela realises how easily her own world could come crashing down.

The Child on Platform 1 Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

It feels wrong to say that I enjoyed a book centred around the Nazi treatment of the Jewish community in Europe and the Kindertransport, but this is a truly wonderful book that touched my heart and reduced me to tears, both sad and happy, on more than one occasion.

I knew a little about Nicholas Winton and his work with the Kindertransport prior to reading this book, but in all honesty had never given much thought to how it affected the families involved. The Child on Platform One really brought home to me how heartbreaking a decision it must have been for the parents who sent their children away, and how terrifying it must have been for the children to be torn from their families and moved to a country with strange food and a language they didn’t understand. In Eva’s desperation to save her child, and Pamela’s longing to save as many as she could, Gill Thompson creates two amazingly strong female characters who are stuck in a terrible situation, but are determined not to be beaten down by it.

As the war and the story progress, Gill includes just enough factual information to create a sense of foreboding about what is to come, without detracting from humanity of the tale she is telling. From the experiments that Josef is asked to work on, to the living conditions and musical performances at Terezin, these little snippets of fact woven into the story only serve to add more heart to the tale.

The Child on Platform One is heart-breaking and heart-warming in equal measure. It is a book that everyone should read, even if historical fiction is not normally a genre you would try. We should never forget what happened, and in this deeply soul touching book, Gill Thompson is helping to ensure that we never do.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gill_Thompson Author PicGill Thompson is an English lecturer who completed an MA in C reative Writing at Chichester University. Her debut novel, THE OCEANS BETWEEN US, was a No. 1 digital bestseller and has been highly acclaimed. She lives with her family in West Sussex and teaches English to college students.

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Make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part on this tour for more information on this emotional book.

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Book Review

Murder in the Multiverse – R.E. McLean

It’s time for me to cross over to a parallel universe and join the blog tour for Murder in the Multiverse by R.E. McLean. Many thanks to the author, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

The Multiverse Investigations Unit – fighting crime across the Multiverse

Alex Strand is finding her way as the newest and most ginger member of the University of Berkeley Physics Faculty.

But when the murder of reclusive internet billionaire Claire Pope proves insoluble, she’s recruited to the top-secret Multiverse Investigations Unit.

Hidden in the parking lot of San Francisco Police HQ, the unit investigates murders by sending officers to parallel universes in which the victim is still alive – for now.

Alex needs to prove herself. With the help of the mysterious Sarita Jones, the bizarrely-bearded Sergeant Mike Long and Schrödinger the quantum cat, can she track down the murderer, prevent the same crime from happening in a parallel version of San Francisco, and get back before closing time?

MIU1 cover v2

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Murder in the Multiverse is very different to Rachel’s usual books, and I must admit that when I first picked it up to read, it was with a mix of trepidation and cautious optimism. I have loved everything I have read by Rachel, and I will admit to having some concerns as to how such a different style would work. Any fears I had though were soon set aside as I remembered what an incredibly talented writer Rachel is.

Murder in the Multiverse is a book that will appeal to people on so many levels, and if you are a fan of the Big Bang Theory, I would definitely recommend that you read it. There were lots of little touches that appealed to my inner science geek, not least the enigmatic Schrodinger. I have always wanted a cat called Schrodinger, although I would hope that if I did, he would prove a little more reliably present that Alex’s own mysterious moggy.

The book is action packed and full of tension, but also sprinkled with humour throughout, making it a light, fun read. The cast of oddballs who work at the MIU, and their interactions with each other, are so endearing that I hope this is a series that runs and runs, just so I can discover all their secrets.

One thing to note is the importance of reading the chapter headings in this book. This is something that I a guilty of not doing in the majority of books, but it is particularly important in this one, and I found myself flicking backwards on more than one occasion to resolve some self-inflicted confusion about where/when exactly I was.

Given how this book ends, I really hope we won’t have to wait too long for the next instalment – I know I will be waiting for it with baited breath!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Murder in the Multiverse RE McLeanGreetings, budding Multiverse Investigator!

My name’s RE McLean and I’m the author of the Multiverse Investigations Unit books and stories.

When I’m not fighting off quantum cats, jumping between parallel universes and wondering how my character got turned into a ten-foot rabbit, I spend my time geeking out with my two sons, laughing at my (very stupid but totally unquantum) cats and planning the next story.

Do YOU have what it takes to become a Multiverse Investigator?

Join Alex Strand and her team of oddballs as they hop between universes, solve crimes, and always get back before closing time. And find out how Alex’s cat Schrödinger became a quantum cat in his EXCLUSIVE origins story. All at multiverse-investigations.com.

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