Sunday, 4 October 2015

We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

How far would you go for your children?
Would you lie for them? Flee with them? Let someone else mother them if you thought they would do a better job?
As a single parent, Letty does everything for her two children - apart from raise them. Being a mother terrifies her more than she can admit, and so she's always let her mother take that role. When Maria Elena ups and leaves, however, Letty has to confront her fears and become the parent she doesn't think she can be.
Even as she tries to give her children a future, Letty's teenage son, Alex, struggles to forgive his mother for choices she made in the past. But he and Letty are not so dissimilar, and both are prepared to risk everything for those they love.
Honest and compelling, We Never Asked for Wings is about family; it's about the decisions we take, the mistakes we make, the people we trust, and, above all, how - and where - we find love.

We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was published by Mantle (Pan Macmillan) in hardback on 10 September 2015 and is the author's second novel.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh's first novel The Language Of Flowers was one of my first reviews on Random Things, I loved it then and I love it now. It's one of those quiet, slow, beautiful books that leaves a real imprint on your heart. It's a book that I recommend often. I have waited patiently for four years for her second novel, and I am delighted to say that the wait was worth it!

Just like The Language of Flowers, this novel is beautifully structured, the writing is elegant yet simple and the characters are so wonderfully created, each one of them with a voice of their own to add to this enchanting story.

The strongest theme within the story of We Never Asked For Wings is that of parenthood. Letty is the mother of two children; Alex is fourteen and Luna just six, and although she gave birth to them, and has lived with them for all of their lives, she has never been a mother to them. Letty can't tell you when they took their first steps, or said their first words. She's not sure what their favourite meal is or what they like to watch on television.

Becoming a mother at eighteen was not in Letty's life plan. It was not what her parents wanted for her either, or her teachers at high school. Letty was more than happy to hand over the parenting of Alex and Luna to her own mother, Maria Elana, whilst she stayed out late, went to parties and generally behaved just like her teenage friends.

When Maria Elena and her husband go back to Mexico and decide to stay there, Letty is terrified. She is on her own, sole provider and carer for two young lives. However, Letty is a fighter, and a worker and as she and Alex and Luna learn about each other, their love grows and Letty's maternal instincts take over. She becomes determined to make sure that her kids will have the best education, live in a nice neighbourhood and not make the same mistakes that she did.

Throughout this, young Alex is maturing too, and falling in love with Yesenia - a pretty Mexican girl who wears built up shoes and has scars on her back. He's also coming to terms with the fact that his beloved Grandfather will not be returning to guide him through life, so embarks on a mission to find out more about the father that he has never known.

I was completely entranced by We Never Asked For Wings, from the very first chapter. I started the book late on Friday afternoon and finally closed it on Saturday night. The characters had become part of me, I felt as though I was living and breathing their story.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh tells in her Acknowledgements, how difficult she found this second novel to write. She struggled for years and almost completely re-wrote it during that time. I can assure her, and her fans that the struggle was worth it. She once again, has produced a story that is so beautifully crafted, with characters that entrance and delight. Her intelligent insights into family relationships and the workings of the teenage brain is marvellous and adds such depth and meaning to the story.

Huge thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh was born and raised in northern California. 

After studying creative writing, she went on to teach art and technology to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband PK have four children: Donovan, Tre'von, Graciela and Miles. 

Vanessa is also the co-founder of Camellia Network, whose mission is to create a nationwide movement to support youth transitioning from foster care. 

She and and her family live in Monterey, California.

We Never Asked for Wings is her second novel. Her first, The Language of Flowers, was published in over forty countries, and was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller in the UK.

More information can be found at her website

Follow her on Twitter @VDiffenbaugh      Find her author page on Facebook


Saturday, 3 October 2015

On Your Own by Jonathan Miller

On Your Own, Jonathan Miller's story collection, follows the kind of people you know, but reveals the thoughts and feelings they might never tell you.
These characters – young brothers, struggling husbands and wives, aging bachelors, restless office workers – maneuver through the worlds of childhood, sports, marriage, alcohol, sex, the workplace, and longing for connection, under Miller's honest gaze. His clean, straightforward writing does not rely on extravagant plots (though significant surprises occur); he finds a quiet richness in events that can and do happen to all of us every day.
Like the sun providing a rare glimpse down the clear water of a well, the clarity of prose in On Your Own allows us to witness people as their deeper realizations become known.

On Your Own by Jonathan Miller was published in June 2015.

On Your Own is a collection of short stories and vignettes that capture ordinary lives of ordinary people. The author has managed to do what other short-story authors often fail at; he has created characters that are well-rounded and charismatic within just a few short pages.

Some of his characters feature in more than one story, and my favourites were the two young brothers Nate and Fitz; a lovable pair who are on a journey through life discovering, making mistakes and connecting. Their tales are often funny and warm, their characters are realistic and I cared about them.

On the whole, this collection looks at the the darker side of life and there is a sense of unease within most of the characters, but the author adds some humorous situations to lighten the load.

Jonathan Miller writes confidently, the stories are easy to read and flow beautifully from one to another. I do think that the author has great potential and if I believe that he has written a full length novel, I would be very interested in reading it.

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

Jonathan William Miller was born in Owenton, Kentucky in the United States on July 7, 1968, and has lived most of his life in Central Kentucky. 
He is the youngest of three sons of a Baptist minister father and a schoolteacher mother. 
He attended public schools in Nicholasville and graduated from the University of Kentucky, majoring in journalism. 
After college, he worked at various newspapers as a reporter, sportswriter and website developer and producer in Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky. 
In the mid-1990s he began writing serious fiction. 
In addition to short stories, he has written a novel, a screenplay and poetry.

Follow him on Twitter @jomill


Friday, 2 October 2015

Life on a Plate: The Autobiography by Gregg Wallace

The star presenter of BBC's MASTERCHEF tells his story for the first time.
Gregg Wallace, star presenter of BBC's MASTERCHEF, restaurateur and expert on all things pudding, shares his story for the first time. After leaving school at 14, he started his career as a greengrocer at the New Covent Garden market and went on to create his multi-million pound fruit and veg business a decade later. A star slot on BBC VEG TALK,and an award-winning television programme followed and, in 2005, the chance to front MASTERCHEF, a show that has drawn in over 4.5 million viewers and produced some of the nation's best up-and-coming chefs.
He has since opened two restaurants, Wallace & Co and Gregg's Table, penned numerous cookery books, and has written for the national and trade press. In this, his first memoir, Gregg tells how his early passion for food growing up in Peckham, south London, led to a world of Michelin star restaurants, celebrity chefs and a mission to save Britain's produce - and in an extraordinary turn with more than a few life-changing hurdles - brought him back to his roots.

Life on a Plate: The Autobiography by Gregg Wallace was published in paperback by Orion in November 2013.

People who know me personally know about my crush on Gregg Wallace, he of Masterchef fame. I really really really like him. I once saw him at the Good Food Show and did a little squeal which made my husband move very swiftly to the other side of the arena. I've had a couple of Tweets from Gregg too, and those have made me smile widely and tell everyone within earshot about my tenuous link to Gregg.

Life on a Plate was written a few years ago, but I've only just read it and finished it a couple of weeks ago. I've enjoyed it very much. Gregg is not the world's best writer, but he does tell a cracking tale, with humour and honesty. He's not always been the good guy, he hasn't always treated the women in his life very well, and he's found himself up in front of the judge before, but he doesn't try to hide this, or make excuses for it, he's upfront and truthful, and very very interesting.

I grew up at the same time as Gregg, we are almost the same age and one of the joys in reading Life on a Plate is his memories of the food of the 70s. I too adore butterscotch Angel Delight, and although I do enjoy fine food, like Gregg, I am more than happy to tuck into a good plate of egg and chips or a greasy spoon special bacon butty.

It was fascinating to read about Gregg's rise in the world of greengrocery. He didn't get it right the first time, but he's a hard worker who has learnt many lessons from some huge mistakes, and has shown determination and grit throughout his life.

Life on a Plate is a really interesting read, love him or hate him, you cannot fail to be impressed by his rise from humble Peckham beginnings to the top of his game. I'd really love to read about the years that follow on from the end of this book, and if he does decide to write the next installment, I will be sure to buy it.

Gregg Allan Wallace (born 17 October 1964) is an English television presenter known for co-presenting MasterChefCelebrity MasterChef and MasterChef: The Professionals on BBC One and BBC Two. He is also a writer, media personality and former greengrocer, costermonger and farmer. He has jokingly referred to himself as "just the fat, bald bloke on MasterChef who likes pudding"

For more information about Gregg Wallace, check out his website at
Follow him on Twitter @GreggAWallace


Thursday, 1 October 2015

What Did I Read on my Holiday?

 I've just returned from a relaxing week on the beautiful island of Paxos, just off the coast of Corfu in the Ionian island group. This was our second visit, we visited three years ago and stayed in a cottage in Loggos. This time we had our base in a self-catering studio in the village of Lakka.

Paxos is a tiny island, just eight miles long, and is the perfect place to get away from it all. It has quite a cosmopolitan feel to it due to the many visiting yachts in the harbours.

I love people watching, and sitting on the harbour front with a glass of wine, watching the beautiful people in the very expensive yachts is a great way to pass an evening.
Our studio was in the Hotel Basta, and was typically Greek, very basic, but clean and comfortable. There is a gorgeous pool on the roof of the Hotel which is accessed by some steep stairs, but luckily there is also a pool bar, so a nice cold beer is ready and waiting when you make the climb!
Of course I read lots whilst I was there. I have a little rule about my holiday reading, I only take books that have been waiting on my shelf for ages. I never take books that I've agreed to review and rarely take new releases.  

This year I made some great choices:

A Perfect Heritage by Penny Vincenzi
Published by Headline, February 2015

I've read everything that Penny Vincenzi has written.  Her first book, Old Sins was published way back in 1989. I fell in love with her writing then and have never looked back.
Penny Vincenzi writes huge books, the paperback version of A Perfect Heritage is almost 1000 pages, but it's a joy to read.  Bursting with glamour and scandal, this story features the story of the House of Farrell - an upmarket cosmetics company that has been trading since 1953.
Times are changing in the industry and new blood is needed to ensure that the company survives. A Perfect Heritage is the story of Athina Farrell - the legendary company founder and her battle with Bianca Bailey, the woman who arrives to bring the House of Farrell up to date.
Full of wonderfully created characters, with an expertly told back story, this really was the perfect way to start my holiday. 

Want You Dead by Peter James
Published in paperback by Pan Macmillan, October 2014
Want You Dead is the tenth in the Inspector Roy Grace series from Peter James. This series has become something of a holiday tradition for me, in fact I've only read this series whilst on holiday. So, two holidays per year means two books in the Inspector Grace series.
I really do enjoy this series. I like Grace and I love the Brighton setting. Reading a series like this is almost like meeting up with old friends, as we get to know a little bit more about Grace and his colleagues.  The story in Want You Dead features obsession.  A young woman, Red Westwood is being terrified by an ex-boyfriend. He's a guy who really isn't who he said he was and he is determined that if he can't have her, then nobody can.
Full of the usual Peter James thrills and twists and turns, I was riveted by the plot, but also intrigued by the continuing personal story about Grace and his own love life. There are some shocks in this one, especially for Grace's police team.  A great read, I'm looking forward to number eleven, but that's for next June, in Corfu!. 

The Twins by Saskia Sarginson
Published in paperback by Piatkus, August 2013
I had heard great things about this book, quite a few of my friends had recommended it to me. I have no idea why it took me so long to get around to reading this as I absolutely loved it.  I was gripped from page one and found it really difficult to put down.
The story is full of suspense and the characters of Isolate and Viola are magnificent.  Their present day stories are just as convincing as their background tales. The writing is incredibly haunting, and the description of the young twins life living in the forest with their hippy mother is excellent.  I especially loved the ending, my favourite kind of conclusion; open and left up to the reader to imagine.
I'm delighted that I have a copy of Saskia Sarginson's latest novel on my shelf and certainly won't be leaving this one there for as long.

What Women Want by Fanny Blake
Published in paperback by Harper, April 2011
Somehow, I have missed out on Fanny Blake's books in the past, but recently read With A Friend Like You which was published in August of this year. I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought a copy of What Women Want, her first novel.
I love how Fanny Blake gets under the skin of her characters, making them appear so real. Her female stars are women of a certain age; with a few greying hairs, a spare tyre around the middle and a wealth of experience. They are real women. They are women who I can identify with and she creates wonderful plots for them.
What Women Want features Bea, Kate and Ellen. Three women who have been there for each other through thick and thin. Through betrayal and divorce, through sadness and bereavement, through the trials of parenting and the career difficulties.
Fanny Blake writes with charm and wit, the story is engaging and true to life and the characters are very special - the reader really begins to care about them, to root for them and to wish them well.
Another fabulous read, I enjoyed it so much and look forward to catching up with more from Fanny Blake. 

A Night on the Orient Express by Veronica Henry
Published in paperback by Orion, July 2013
Veronica Henry had a special talent in creating settings that are so evocative, the reader is transported to places that are wonderfully special, accompanied by characters who are interesting and colourful.
An eclectic group of people are all setting out for a night on the Orient Express. There's Imogen who is travelling to Venice to collect a mysterious birthday parcel. Riley, the photographer who realises that he is not invincible after all, and is determined to make sure that his one true love will be by his side for ever. Archie and Emma are there by chance, neither of them are sure what to expect, but both of them are in for a life-changing night. Stephanie is travelling with her lover Simon and his two grown up children, a baptism of fire as their new stepmother, with all the problems and family squabbles that are bound to happen.
Alongside the modern day story is the story of Imogen's grandmother Adele. A beautifully told tale of decadence and intrigue, of glamour and deceit. 
A Night on the Orient Express was the perfect read to end my holiday with, I was swept along with all of the wonderfully drawn passengers to an exotic location.

So, I had some fabulous reads whilst I was away. I love the fact that I can spend hours reading when I'm away, with no worries about work, or what to cook for tea, or whether I have to do the ironing.
I love the fact that Martin and I can go out for coffee, or a glass of wine and sit in the sunshine and read our books (or iPad for him!).  Holiday reading is the very best kind of reading!


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

How To Be Brave by Louise Beech *** BLOG TOUR ***

All the stories died that morning ... until we found the one we’d always known. 
When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. 
They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. 
Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. 
Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Braveweaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. 
A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love ...  and what it really means to be brave

Welcome to the How To Be Brave by Louise Beech Blog Tour.

How To Be Brave is published by Orenda Books in September 2015 and is the author's debut novel.

Author Amanda Jennings is quoted on the front cover of How To Be Brave, she says;

"Moving, engrossing and richly drawn, this is storytelling in its purest form .... mesmerising."

Amanda has summed up exactly what I would like to say about How To Be Brave, especially her point about storytelling. This really is a perfect example of how a story should be told, and Louise Beech tells not just one story in How To Be Brave, but two. Her modern-day tale of Natalie and Rose, and how they deal with a devastating medical diagnosis is beautifully woven together with Colin's story of survival during World War Two.   

Two very different stories of battle and endurance, set in different eras and dealing with different issues, but bound together by hope and resilience.

Natalie and Rose had the strongest of mother-daughter relationships. With father Jake away fighting in Afghanistan, Natalie has the responsibility of ensuring that Rose's everyday needs are met, that she is happy and that she doesn't miss her father too much. Rose and Natalie share a love of books, and Rose spends hours curled up in her 'book nook' escaping to the places in the stories in her books.

Their relationship shatters when Rose is diagnosed with diabetes. Although she's a bright and mature child, she's only nine-years-old and her fear manifests into bad behaviour, surly retorts, foul language and a sudden hatred of books. Natalie struggles to cope, she hates having to inflict pain onto her daughter, yet knows that the regular injections and blood tests are vital for Rose.

Alongside Rose and Natalie is a shadowy figure of an elderly man who tells them to 'find the book'.
This is when the diary of their ancestor Colin starts to play a big part in their life. Colin's account of the time that he was 'lost' at sea becomes their focus, and their guide, and enables them to find their own way through their upheavals.

With a hint of ghost story, mixed up with contemporary, up to the minute narrative and a good dose of wartime history, How To Be Brave is a very special, unique and quite beautiful story.  The stories are blended to perfection, the author masterfully and seamlessly knits them together resulting in a hugely satisfying, intelligent and emotional creation.

Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea, and regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. 

Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. 

Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull –the UK’s 2017 City of Culture –and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.  

She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show. 

This is her first book, based on her experience with her own daughter’s diagnosis and the true story of her grandfather, Colin.

Follow her on Twitter @LouiseWriter

All the stories died that morning ... until we found the one we’d always known.
When nine
old Rose is diagnosed with a

threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her
daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in
a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man
who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic
Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued.
Poignant, beautifully
written and tenderly told,
How To Be Brave
weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her
child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. A simply
nforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love ... and what it
really means to be brave

Thursday, 17 September 2015

After You by Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark has lots of questions.
Like how it is she's ended up working in an airport bar, spending every shift watching other people jet off to new places.
Or why the flat she's owned for a year still doesn't feel like home.
Whether her close-knit family can forgive her for what she did eighteen months ago.
And will she ever get over the love of her life.
What Lou does know for certain is that something has to change.
Then, one night, it does.
But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answers Lou is searching for - or just more questions?
Close the door and life continues: simple, ordered, safe.
Open it and she risks everything.
But Lou once made a promise to live. And if she's going to keep it, she has to invite them in . . .

After You by Jojo Moyes is published by Michael Joseph (Penguin) on 24 September 2015 in hardback and ebook. After You is the long awaited sequel to the worldwide phenomenon Me Before You.

I have been a huge fan of Jojo Moyes for many years. Ten years ago I read The Peacock Emporium whilst on holiday in Kefalonia and was hooked from there on. Since then, I have eagerly awaited every one of her books, I've enjoyed all of them and recommended them to my friends. It wasn't until Me Before You was published in 2012 that Jojo Moyes really became a huge name. Me Before You has sold over 6 million copies worldwide and went to the top of the charts in nine countries, including Germany where it held the number one slot for 46 weeks.

A major film adaptation of Me Before You, starring Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games) and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), has just wrapped and will be on the screens in 2016.

After You, the sequel to Me Before You has to be one of the most anticipated books in recent years, when I saw the announcement that Jojo Moyes was going to write a sequel I was delighted, everyone who read about Lou and Will must have wondered what happened next ....... here it is .....

The most important thing to remember when picking up After You is that it is a sequel, and whilst you could probably get away with reading it as a standalone novel, I'd personally recommend that if you haven't read Me Before You yet, then you really should. Knowing Lou and Will's story will enhance this story, it will mean more to you, and you'll also be catching up on a damn fine book.

Lou Clark, or just Clark has she is affectionately known has struggled to move on for the past eighteen months. The end of her relationship with Will has left a huge hole in her life and she's lonely and isolated. The gap between her and her family widens daily, her flat is almost bare, the colourful wacky vintage clothes she used to love are consigned to boxes and she spends her days serving drinks to passengers at an airport.

Oh, she's traveled, she spent time in Europe, drifting through different countries, but her heart and her head are still filled by Will. Lou watches the planes take off and touch down, the passengers forging ahead with their lives and wonders how she will ever move on. The pain is overwhelming, it doesn't seem to change, she grasps at things that remind her of Will, yet at same time hides herself away from the world.

Lou's life changes one night, with a bang, literally. She has a nasty accident and suddenly a whole host of new people enter her life, and change it considerably. Moving on, she begins to allow herself some freedom from the grip of her memories of Will, but also learning some surprising and quite shocking truths about him.

After You is a story of grief and love and could be depressing and gloomy, but Jojo Moyes deals with the subject with her trademark warmth and beautifully developed characters.  Lou becomes involved with a group of people who all have issues of their own to cope with, and the scenes set within this group are quite beautiful, bringing a gentle humour to this special special story. There is a real feel of being British in After You; the stiff upper lip compounded with the morbid and black humour that only the Brits can do so well.

I was delighted to be re-introduced to Lou's fabulous family, her parents often steal the scene from the accompanying characters, they are ordinary people, yet extraordinary too; funny and witty, infuriating and daft, yet fragile and gentle and very lovable.

Lou herself is still that same headstrong colourful character that we fell in love with in Me Before You. She's a little blurred around the edges, but as the story unfolds and she begins to open her heart again, that honesty and loyalty reappears. Her special relationship with young Lily is a joy to behold, their interaction is real and charming, they spark off one another, bringing out the worst and the best in each other.

So, I haven't told you anything about the plot of After You, or even what happened in Me Before You, that's not for me to do, and why would I when Jojo Moyes has done it so brilliantly? Fans of the first book shouldn't worry, the author hasn't done anything awful to Lou, or to the memory of her relationship with Will. She has, however, carried on that beautiful story with ease, she's dealt with some pretty serious issues, but dealt with them extremely well, incorporating some dark themes into an uplifting and quite joyous book.

It is clear that Jojo Moyes loves and cares for her characters as much as the readers do, and although there are scenes that will have you reaching for the tissues, and times when the characters really do hurt, on the whole, this is a compelling story of hope and positivity.

Writing After You was a brave move for Jojo Moyes, but I am delighted that she did. It has been an absolute pleasure to read about Lou and her family once more, and to meet the new characters in her life. After You is a triumphant return for Lou Clark, for Jojo Moyes and for her readers. I loved every page, it is thought-provoking, totally absorbing and extremely satisfying.

Huge thanks to the author and publisher who arranged my copy for review.

Jojo Moyes is a novelist and journalist. She worked at the Independent for ten years before leaving to write full-time. 
Her previous novels have all been critically acclaimed and include Me Before You, The Girl You Left Behind and the Sunday Times number one bestseller The One Plus One.

Jojo lives in Essex with her husband and their three children.

For more information, visit the Jojo Moyes website
Find her author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @jojomoyes

Check out the Book Trailer for After You


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Please Don't Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler *** BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY ****

Kurt Cobain stands at the top of the stairs, wearing the brown sweater. ‘Please don’t leave me,’ she yells up at him. But it’s too late; he’s turning away.

Is Brigitte a loving wife and mother, or a cold-blooded killer?

Nobody knows why she was out so early on the morning she was knocked down in a hit-and-run. Or why a man was found beaten to death in her apartment that same day.

Brigitte claims she has no memory of what happened, but when the investigation is reopened fourteen years later, unwanted questions start cropping up:

What was Brigitte doing before she was run over?

Who killed the man in her apartment?

And why is she haunted by the face of Kurt Cobain, who reminds her of someone she’d rather forget…?

As Brigitte’s world begins collapsing in on her, she is forced to confront the truth about that night – even if it means losing her husband, her kids, and maybe even herself.

Welcome to my spot on the Blog Tour for Please Don't Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler, published by Scribe on 24 September 2015.

I have a copy of Please Don't Leave Me Here to give away to one of my blog followers. To enter, please complete the widget at the end of this post. The giveaway will be open for two weeks, UK entries only please.

How I love an unreliable narrator, and in Tania Chandler's stunning debut you meet one of the very best of them, Brigette could be anything, and whilst the reader is privy to her private thoughts, her dreams and her reality, we really don't know quite how honest she is.

The story opens in 2008. Brigette and her policeman husband Sam have toddler twins, their relationship feels a bit fraught, right from the start and when Brigette finds out that an old, unsolved murder case is about to be re-opened, she falls to pieces.

Brigette swiftly spirals out of control, developing a love-hate relationship with Sam's colleague Aiden. Her drinking becomes heavier, her dependence on painkillers and tranquillisers muffles her world, and her dreams become more vivid, with Kurt Cobain watching her, speaking to her, frightening her.

Part two of the book takes the reader back to 1994, the time of the murder that has evoked such a strong reaction. We were given titbits of information in part one; was Brigette involved in the murder? Did Sam cover for her? Is Aiden getting uncomfortably near to the truth?

In 1994, Brigette was a stripper, she earned a lot of money dancing provocatively, wearing little but a g-string and going home every night with handfuls of dollar bills. Brigette was unhappy, she wanted more, she wanted to study, to write, to be more than an object for rich men to lust after. Brigette was controlled by her older lover Eric, a man who controlled her, owned her and disgusted her.

Please Don't Leave Me Here is a challenging read, it's complex and complicated and just a little bit strange. However, that really shouldn't put anyone off reading it because it's also incredibly clever and teases the reader all of the way through. The dream sequences are, at times, a little off putting, yet they do add to the darkness and tension that runs throughout the story. There's a seediness about Brigette that even when married to a respectable policeman is difficult to shake off. Her earlier life and experiences seem to have shaped her later years, and it seems incredibly easy for her to slip back to the drink and drugs that played a huge part of her early years.

The character of Brigette totally overshadows the plot, she's larger than life and incredibly well put together. Please Don't Leave Me Here is the story of Brigette, with an unsolved murder and the ghost of a dead rock star co-starring.

A clever and quite chilling story. Tania Chandler is a convincing writer. I will look forward to reading more from her in the future.

TANIA CHANDLER is a Melbourne-based writer and editor. 

Her work was awarded a special commendation in the 2013 Writers Victoria Crime Writing competition. 

Please Don’t Leave Me Here is her first novel, and she is currently working on a sequel.

Find out more about the author and her writing on her blog, Tania Chandler writes 

Find her author page on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter @Tania_Chandler

One copy of Please Don't Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler