2017 is promising to be a fantastic year for new book releases, if my TBR pile is anything to go by anyway.
As I have not done a haul in a while, I wanted to blog about some of the fantastic books that my letterbox has received to review. I also haven’t been able to resist buying a load of books too (much to the boy’s complaints.)
The first book in this haul is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (released by Walker Books, May 2015.) I kept seeing the trailer for the film adaptation of this book at the end of last year and it is this that brought the novel to my attention. The imagery in the trailer looked absolutely stunning and the plot looked really intriguing. I knew it was a book I had to go and buy and one I very much look forward to reading. I want to read this before I see the movie. This looks like it would be a story that resonates with a lot of people.
Connor has the same dream every night; the one he’s been having ever since his mother fell ill and stopped having treatments that didn’t seem to be working. This one particular night is different though. When Connor wakes, there is a visitor at his window. Ancient and elemental, it’s a dangerous force of nature and it is wanting the truth from Connor.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella was released by Bantam Press on 9th February. Becky Bloomwood is one of my favourite fictional heroines. However, I have a big soft spot for books outside of the Shopaholic series too; Can You Keep A Secret being one of my favourite books. This book looks as fantastic as you’d expect Sophie’s novels to be. The cover is incredibly cute and the subject matter does look very topical especially with Social Media seemingly taking over everywhere. This is currently sat on my pile of books to read (having brought it a couple of weeks ago,) and I am itching to read it.
Katie is living the perfect life. She has a glamorous job, a flat in London and a cool instagram feed. In reality, she rents a tiny room with no space, has to commute to a low paid admin job and what she shares on Instagram isn’t even hers. Then, to add insult to injury, she looses her job. Katie ends up moving back to Somerset to help her Dad with his glamping business. Her ex boss books in for a holiday and Katie sees her chance. Should she get revenge or try and get her job back? Also, is her boss living as perfect a life as she portrays?by
Welcome to the Novel Kicks Online Book Club.
I love books and I love chatting about them even more. Every month, I pick a new book for discussion. I will post a question to kick things off in the comments box below. A good thing about this book club is that everyone is welcome to take part. It’s open to all. You can read the book at any point in the month or if you’ve already read it, tell us what you think.
The best part… it’s all from the comfort of your armchair/sofa/bed/comfy place.
This month, it is All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all.by
A big welcome today to Beth Underdown and the blog tour for her novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister which is due to be released by Viking tomorrow (2nd March 2017.)
‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’
1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.
To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?
Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.
Alice has just lost her husband. With little option available to her and nowhere else to go, she has to return to the home of her brother, Matthew Hopkins, ‘the Witchfinder General.’
Many rumours are circulating about Matthew’s conduct. Alice doesn’t want to believe her brother is capable of these things. The longer she is around her brother, the harder it is to avoid the feeling that the rumours are true.
It was easy to sympathise with Alice. She is governed by her circumstances and isn’t really respected by the men around her. Most of all, her brother.by
Christie Chapman is a single mum who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It’s not an easy life but Christie finds comfort in her love of crafting, and spends her spare time working on her beautiful creations. From intricately designed cards to personalised gifts, Christie’s flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it’s not long before opportunity comes knocking.
Christie can see a future full of hope and possibility for her and Finn – and if the handsome Max is to be believed, one full of love too. It’s all there for the taking. And then, all of sudden, her world is turned upside down.
Christie knows that something has to give, but can she really give up her dreams and the chance of real love? Will Christie find her happy ending in . . . Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses.
Knowing this story is based on a real-life person (Christie Chapman – look her up and also read her review on Amazon.co.uk) added a slice of intrigue to my reading. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pretend to know any of Christie’s actual story, but if it was as heart-rending and inspiring as PH&SK portrays, then all hats should be doffed to the lady and her son.
Our main characters are Christie and her son Finn and it’s through Christie’s eyes that we see her struggle to support her son, whilst bringing him up as a single parent, not made any easier by the constant worry caused by Finn’s mysterious headaches, which never go away and keep him off school. Her parents are a wonderful source of support and when Christie finds herself jetting off to the USA for a crafting course by an up and coming US-based company, this is thanks to her mother.by
A lovely big massive welcome to S.D Robertson and the blog tour for his new novel, If Ever I Fall which was released by Avon on 9th February 2017.
Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job is on the line, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?
Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.
Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?
In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?
Stuart and Avon have kindly given me an extract from the novel to share with you today. I have also reviewed the book below. Enjoy.
Morning, Jack. You’re up bright and early.’
Miles is unloading a large bag of beans into the built-in coffee machine above the oven. I smile at him, say good morning and accept his offer of breakfast. But behind the facade I’m cracking up. How did I get here? I’ve no memory of waking, getting dressed and coming downstairs. And what happened yesterday? Or the day before? My memory’s all messed up: confused by shadows of half-remembered dreams.
The last thing I remember for sure is being in the car with Miles in the village and that weird incident in the hardware shop. Was it real or a dream?
I should tell Miles what’s going on. He is a doctor after all. But I’m not sure I trust him. I’m not convinced he’s ever taken me to the hospital. He says I’ve been there, but I’ve no memory of it.
There’s something off about all of this. What if he’s drugging me? Mind-altering substances could explain a lot. Maybe even what I saw – or thought I saw – in the shop. How has this not occurred to me before?
I wait until he’s finished with the coffee machine and then, as he looks at me, hold my hand to my stomach and wince.
‘Problem?’ he asks.
‘Stomach cramps. Think I’d better get to the toilet.’
‘Oh dear. Hope it’s not the crab we had last night.’
Crab? I’ve no memory of that. Shutting the kitchen door behind me, I head to the foot of the stairs. I wait there for a moment, to make sure he’s not coming after me. Then I slip out of the front door.
It’s cold outside this morning, another biting wind blowing in off the sea. Again, I don’t have my jacket with me, but there’s no time to find it now. I have to get out of here. As far away as possible. And it has to be now.by
Will must run from the gang that controls the estate where he lives or die. He has witnessed the murder of his Aunty and so he is running for his life. He needs to find somewhere to hide
In doing this, he ends up in the area outside the estate he has known all of his life. It’s all very different. People don’t walk around looking over their shoulder and businesses thrive.
He finds shelter in what he calls a ‘glass house.’
Soon after that, he meets Padma and falls in love. He feels he could actually make his life better. Then his past catches up with him.
This book is based around/ is an updated version of Beauty and The Beast. When I started reading, I did wonder how this was going to be achieved. The story is so well-known. It’s all be integrated really well.
The description of the green house and the plants are so vivid. I felt as though I was there. The writing is fast paced and page turning.
I read this in pretty much one sitting (it’s a hundred pages long) but it drew me in. I even like how Amanda included the roses.
Will has been told he is one thing all of his life. He assumes that all he has ever known is all he will ever be. Escaping shows him a different path. You’ve just got to want it. Also, first impressions and appearances are not always to be trusted.
This is a great addition to the Quick Reads library. I enjoyed it very much.
Finding the time to write can sometimes be hard to do. Work, school runs, bedtime routines… there are many things in life that can get in the way.
The other battle is once you’ve sat down to write, your inspiration disappears and that blank space on the page can be incredibly daunting. No matter how long you sit there, the words will not come.
This is why I like writing prompts. Your brain is like a car engine. It works better when it has warmed up. Today I wanted to share two books that I’ve found so helpful.
Form letters by Laura Olin is a series of letters where you fill in the blanks. In the form of a workbook, it has a series of pages that include a letter to an internet friend who you’d like to know better, a note of encouragement to yourself, a letter to your sibling, your valentine and the ex whose instagram you’re stalking.
‘Fill in the blank notes to say anything to anyone.’
If you need something to get the creativity going, this book could be perfect. You never know what these letters will spark.by
Once again, I have embarked on the Goodreads reading challenge for 2017. Last year, I managed to get to the target of forty books but it was seriously by the skin of my teeth. I finished the last page of my book about three minutes before Big Ben donged in the new year. I know how to rock my new year you know.
This year, I have increased my book target by.. wait for it., one. I didn’t want to go crazy with the target as you can see.
As I was setting my target, I ended up having a look through all the books I have read and logged since I joined in 2013. I’ve read over a hundred and seventy books. I know there are some I’ve not logged. One hundred and seventy. That, for me is an incredible number.
I then got to thinking about how many of them had been adapted into movies. The Girl on The Train for example. In a year where Hidden Figures will be coming to the big screen and adaptations of A Handmaid’s Tale (can’t wait,) and Anne of Green Gables are coming to streaming services, I thought I’d look through my list of ‘read’ books in my Goodreads list and share the ones I’d like to see adapted.
The first one on my list is one that I have mentioned recently and that is Before You Go by Clare Swatman. I love this novel so much. I absolutely adored this book. It was in my January favourites and even though it’s been days since I finished it I am still thinking about it. It has a Me Before You feel to it.
As I was reading, I could imagine the scenes in the book as a movie. I could see the settings so clearly. It would make a great adaptation. It would be one that made you cry though. For sure.
Zoe and Ed are two characters I loved very much and grew to care about. I am not sure who I would cast in the roles. No one seems right for me. I can cast my own stories but not always been good at casting other stores.
Zoe and Ed have been together for years. When Ed dies, Zoe is devastated but soon finds herself getting the chance to change her past and then hopefully, her future.
Kill Me Again by Rachel Abbott is a book I’d like to see adapted into a film. Actually, all of her novels would translate well. Although a film would be good, I can also see this as a TV show. I think it could be as good as Thorne: Sleepyhead.
Rachel’s novels are so moreish that I always manage to storm through them quite quickly. She is very good at the tension which is what you need for a good crime adaptation. I can hear the soundtrack music already.
Kill Me Again had me on the edge of my seat all the way through. Tom Douglas and Becky Robinson are worthy enough to fill the gap we have for a good detective duo (which is what I am going to need after Bones finishes.)
Maggie thinks she knows her husband. She comes home one evening and Duncan has disappeared. She also is not the only one looking for him. When a woman who looks like Maggie is murdered, DCI Tom Douglas is brought into investigate. If you’ve read it, who would you have in the main roles?by
A huge lovely welcome today to Helen Fields and the blog tour for her new novel, Perfect Remains (a DI Callanach thriller,) which was released by Avon on 26th January 2017.
On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.
In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…
Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.
It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.
Helen and Avon have kindly shared an extract from Perfect Remains. Enjoy!
Jayne Magee was about as unlikely a target as anyone could imagine. There was no suggestion that Elaine Buxton was a regular at any church at all, so religion wasn’t the link. The pathologist hadn’t been able to estimate Elaine’s time of death, meaning they had no established pattern to follow, only the knowledge that she’d been missing sixteen days before her body was found. This time, the abductor might keep Jayne alive for weeks or she could be dead already. The killer had become a male in Callanach’s mind. There was no evidence, nothing solid, only years of past cases and what was screamingly obvious. Maybe it was more than one person, he considered, but Ava was right about looking at personality first. He couldn’t see such an obsessive character working well as a team player.
Callanach met with Jayne Magee’s assistant, Ann Burt, that afternoon. She dropped a dripping umbrella into Callanach’s bin then removed and folded her headscarf before sitting down.
Callanach instinctively tidied his desk as she settled in. Stick thin, shrill and at the far end of her sixties, he guessed, Ann Burt told it like it was. She reminded him of his grandmother, distant though those memories were.
‘So I’m talking to the detective inspector, am I?’ she began. ‘You’re the third person I’ve repeated myself to today. Would you like to tell me what’s going on?’by
A new month. We’re already reaching the end of the first week of February. How is that possible?!
There are some wonderful authors releasing books this month and I wanted to share a few of the ones I am looking forward to getting my hands on.
Norse Mythology is the latest release by Neil Gaiman and it sounds amazing. It’s released on 7th February by Bloomsbury.
I am fairly new to Neil’s books (although I loved Stardust when it was released as a movie.)
I am also interested in the subject matter of this book.
The norse myths are woven into our story telling. Neil Gaiman reaches back through time to the original source stories. Norse mythology is a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great norse tales; Ragnarok, Twilight of the Gods, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya. These are all irresistible in Neil’s latest book (although Tom Hiddleston as Loki is pretty irresistible already if I am honest.)
Backstabber by Kimberley Chambers is due for release on 9th February by Harper Collins. Kimberley’s books always sound like they would completely draw me in. I might have to pull this up the TBR pile a bit.
One of them has a gun to his head. Who will pull the trigger?
King of the underworld, Vinny Butler goes into business with respected villain, Eddie Mitchell. It’s a match made in East End legend.
Friends and Family are treated all, enemies like rats.
Then a mysterious package arrives; dead creatures and threats. Someone is out for revenge. Who the enemy is, no one knows. There are some people you should never cross, some who can’t forgive or forget.
Six exciting new Galaxy Quick Reads titles released on 2nd February.
These books are part of the annual campaign to improve adult literacy.
This is the seventh year Quick Reads has been sponsored by Galaxy and the second year it has been run by the Literary Agency.
One in six adults struggle with reading in the UK. This year, Quick Reads will continue its work to break down the barriers that prevent people from picking up a book.
From a re-imagining of Beauty and The Beast, to a road trip in search of Poldark, the titles include books from Jenny Colgan and a special edition of Feel The Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers.
There is also a crime collection featuring Harry Bingham, Clare MacKintosh and Mark Billingham.
The first Quick read is Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Released by Ebury, this is a specially adapted book drawing on the landmark self-help book by the late, Susan Jeffers. This is the first time a self-help book has been released in this series and what a great one to kick it off.
Everyone has fears and worries that stop them from progressing and going for the things they want in life. The simple life-changing exercises in this book will teach anyone to turn uncertainty into action.
The second, released by Orion is Dead Simple. This is a collection of short stories from some of the UK’s best crime writers.
Authors featured include Mark Billingham, Clare MacKintosh, James Oswald, Jane Casey, Angela Marsons, Harry Bingham, Antonia Hodgson and CL Taylor.
There are eight stories that will have many twists and turns; a man who attempts to commit the perfect murder, a widow who is about to lose more than her husband and a murderer who, when is he is about to be hanged realises that there could be worse things that happen to him.by
It’s blog tour day for the brilliant debut novel, Before You Go by Clare Swatman.
When Zoe’s husband Ed dies, her world caves in. But what if Zoe can get Ed back?
You find your soulmate . . .
Some people stare love in the face for years before they find it. Zoe and Ed fumbled their way into adulthood, both on different paths – but always in the same direction. Years later, having navigated dead-end jobs and chaotic house shares, romance finally blossoms. Their future together looks set . . .
Then the unthinkable happens.
One morning, on his way to work, Ed is knocked off his bike and dies. Now Zoe must find a way to survive. But she’s not ready to let go of the memories. How can she forget all of the happy times, their first kiss, everything they’d built together? Zoe decides she has to tell Ed all the things she never said.
Now it’s too late. Or is it?
I’ve reviewed Before You Go below but first, I had a chat with Clare about her novel and her writing process. Hi Clare, thank you so much for joining me today. Your new book is called Before You Go. Could you tell me a little about it and what inspired it?
Thank you for having me. Before You Go is the story of Zoe and Ed. When Ed dies Zoe is left grieving and wishing she could go back and say all the things she didn’t say to him before he died. Then one day, after hitting her head, she wakes up as her 18 year old self, and realises that, for whatever reason, she’s back in the very first day she met Ed, and that she’s going to get the chance to see him again. Slowly, she realises she might even have been given the chance to change the past – and her future. It’s a story about enduring love, and regrets, and second chances.
Most of my ideas are inspired by people’s real stories. I was a true life magazine journalist for years and found that people’s real stories were actually a lot more interesting than anything you could make up! The spark for this came from a story I read about a woman who had an accident and when she woke up she thought she was 17 and didn’t know who her husband and kids were. Although this isn’t what Before You go is about, it got me thinking about what it would be like to wake up as a 17 year old again – and that sparked the idea for the book.
Which writers inspire you?
Margaret Atwood has always been one of my favourite writers. I love the way she writes really simply but conveys so much. I also adore Maggie O’Farrell. For me her stories just flow beautifully and her characters zing from the page. Her writing makes me want to be better. Last year I also really enjoyed the quirkiness of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon so I hope she becomes one of my favourite authors, and I love Kate Atkinson too; although her books require a bit of concentration, they’re worth it!by
How Not To Fall In Love Actually is the brilliant debut novel from Catherine Bennetto.
Emma has a job in television which is distinctly less glamorous and exciting than it sounds. She’s managed to claw her way up the ranks from Tea-Maker and Rubbish-Collector to 2nd Assistant Director (heavy on the ‘assistant’. Even heavier on the ‘2nd’).
So when she finds she’s accidentally very pregnant and at the same time accidentally very sacked (well, less accidentally: she did tell her boss to stick his job up his bum), she knows things are going to have to change.
Luckily she’s also accidentally the heir to a lovely cottage in Wimbledon, with a crazy Doberman-owning octogenarian as a neighbour and a rather sexy guy as an accidental tenant. But this baby is coming whether she likes it or not, and she needs to become the sort of person who can look after herself let alone another human being – and quickly.
Catherine shares with us today her top ten alternative romantic novels. Over to you Catherine…
I’ve not seen the movie but you’d have to be living under a rock in Snezhnegorsk (Russia) to not know Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger played the main characters. And regardless of sexual orientation you’d be a fool, A FOOL I SAY, to turn either one of them down. Sadly, the written characters are much less lust worthily depicted…. But it’s a fabulous story with unique characters and a satisfyingly heart-wrenching conclusion.
ME BEFORE YOU
This book was so fascinating I read it in one day. A romance develops between two unlikely characters: Louisa; who is relatively normal, and Will, completely paralyzed, wholly dependant and with a very genuine, and not unwarranted, death wish. And oh how I wanted it to work out in the end! Couldn’t he just miraculously recover? But I’d have liked the story less and would have called it unrealistic and twee. So die he must, be sad she was, and cry I did.
BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY
Instead of the typical mid 20’s heroine working in advertising and wearing amazing shoes, meet Bridget; thirty-something with an average woman’s body and an average woman’s job, bumbling around London in big pants trying to hook up with the bad guy while accidentally falling in love with the geek guy. It was a refreshing change to the romantic comedy trope and I (along with scores of others) adored ridiculous, kind, forever-willing-to-dust-off-and-try-again Bridget.by
I don’t think I will ever end my love affair with beautiful book covers. They are the thing that will attract me to a book. If it’s a pretty cover, I will sometimes stop reading and just look at it for a while (anyone else do that? Just me… ok.)
I have been thinking again about my favourite book covers. I did a post about this back in 2015 (want to see them, click here,) and I thought it was about time I thought about five more favourites.
It was hard picking just five. I think I have managed to narrow it down.
My first favourite is the 10th Anniversary edition of Looking For Alaska by John Green (HarperCollins Children’s Books, January 2015.) The original cover (which is black with a white daisy) is lovely but this cover is so beautiful.
Gold, the cover is gold. I brought a copy of this edition just because I loved the cover. I already had a paperback copy.
Miles’s life is one big non event until he meets Alaska Young. Alaska draws Miles into her reckless world and steels his heart in the process. His life will never be the same again.
My next favourite is Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (Penguin, October 2016.) This cover is simple but yet so pretty. Sometimes less is more and this was one of my favourites from last year.
Everyone thinks they know Libby – the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen.’ No one has looked past the weight to see who she really is.
She’s been trying to deal with the grief of loosing her mother.
Now she is ready for school. For new friends. For a new life.
My third favourite is The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley (which is due to be released by Bantam Press in March.)
This cover is absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to be able to add it to my book shelf. I absolutely adore it. The illustrations are just lovely and has such wonderful detail.
Alice was discovered on the Yorkshire Moors above Haworth as a baby.
Adopted but then later rejected by a horrible step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking brings her a sense of comfort.
When Alice does return to Haworth, she returns to baking. She makes friends but there are a couple of last twist and turns in her story.by
It’s Friday. Yey!
I hope you’ve all had a great week and have lovely things planned for the weekend. If you’re looking for something to read over the next few days, there are some cracker titles out this week.
The wonderful Jill Mansell released her latest novel, Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay on 12th January 2017 by Headline Review.
There is love in the air in St Carys, not that you’d know it. The residents are good at keeping secrets.
The man that Clemency loves is in love with someone else. When she ropes into a friend to help, wires get crossed.
For the first time in Ronan’s life, his charms have failed him in getting him the woman he wants.
Belle seems to have the perfect boyfriend but something isn’t quite right. A secret is also rising to the surface. The truth has a funny way of revealing itself and when it does, St Carys will be very different.
The new book from Jane Fallon is called My Sweet Revenge and was also released on 12th January, this time by Penguin. To read my review, click here.
‘I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.’
Paula put her own acting career on hold in order for her husband to have his own success. Robert is now a regular on a popular daytime TV show.
Despite that, Paula is pretty happy with her life. It feels perfect to her. Until she finds out that Robert is having an affair.
Before she tells him it’s over, Paula wants Robert to be reminded just what he’s sacrificing. Then once she has won him back, she wants to break his heart. It will be her greatest acting role.
Next up is The Bone Field by Simon Keruick which was released by Century on 12th January.
There is a missing girl, a ruthless crime gang and a man so evil he must be stopped at any cost.
DI Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyce begin a hunt for the truth that will take them into a dark and terrifying world. One of corruption and deadly secrets.
The bones of a 21-year-old woman are found in the grounds of an old catholic school. This girl went missing in Thailand in 1990.
Her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance is now a middle aged university lecturer. He comes forward to say that he knows what happened. He knows who killed Kitty.