Wednesday 28 February 2018

The Luckiest Thirteen by Brian W Lavery @brianlavery59 @BarbicanPress1 #TheLuckiestThirteen

A true-life drama of an intense battle for survival on the high seas. 
The Luckiest Thirteen is the story of an incredible two-day battle to save the super trawler St Finbarr, and of those who tried to rescue her heroic crew in surging, frozen seas. 
It was also a backdrop for the powerful stories of families ashore, dumbstruck by fear and grief, as well as a love story of a teenage deckhand and his girl that ended with a heart-rending twist. 
From her hi-tech hold to her modern wheelhouse she was every inch the super ship the great hope for the future built to save the fleet at a record-breaking price but a heart-breaking cost. 
On the thirteenth trip after her maiden voyage, the St Finbarr met with catastrophe off the Newfoundland coast. On Christmas Day 1966, twenty-five families in the northern English fishing port of Hull were thrown into a dreadful suspense not knowing if their loved ones were dead or alive after the disaster that befell The Perfect Trawler. Complete with 16 pages of dramatic and poignant photographs from the period.

The Luckiest Thirteen by Brian W Lavery was published in hardback by Barbican Press on 9 November 2017. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

A while ago I heard Brian W Lavery, the author of The Luckiest Thirteen speak about his previous book; The Headscarf Revolutionaries, which was published in 2015. He is a fascinating speaker and kept his audience spellbound. When I heard about this latest book, I was intrigued by the subject and determined to read it.

The Luckiest Thirteen is a true-life drama, Brian W Lavery tells the horrific story of what happened to the St Finbarr and her crew during those two freezing days of Christmas 1968.
Apart from the fact that I knew that Brian W Lavery would write this story with compassion and empathy, there were other factors that made me want to read it; I'm familiar with Hull as I live just over the border in Lincolnshire and my mother comes from a family of trawler men who fished off the north west coast of Ireland. I was brought up to both fear and respect the sea.

What I enjoyed the most about The Luckiest Thirteen (although 'enjoy' does seem the wrong word to use when talking about such tragic events), is the fact that the author enables his readers to really get to know the characters. He details their home lives, tells us about their families, and their backgrounds. We are privy to their hopes and their dreams. It is this that makes this a stand-out read, whilst the facts are impeccably researched and written with authority, it is the humanity of the story that is most compelling.

Ordinary, hard-working men from Hull. Men who braved the ferocious seas, year in and year old, in order to provide for their families are depicted so well. The streets of Hull, the pubs and the whole community are brought to life through the author's colourful and vivid writing.

Sadly, the sinking of the St Finbarr is not remembered by many people, yet it was a tragedy that affected the whole of the city of Hull. Brian W Lavery's book will enlighten and will shock and is a very worthy tribute to the men who died.

Brian W Lavery was born in Glasgow’s East End in 1959, the fourth of six sons. His father William was a sheet metal worker and his mother Margaret a shop assistant. 
He has been a factory worker, car valet, market trader, waiter, university dropout, VAT officer (very briefly) and latterly a journalist, university tutor and writer.
After more than twenty-five years of various senior roles in national and regional journalism he returned to higher education and gained a first in English literature and creative writing at the University of Hull. His first book, The Headscarf Revolutionaries (Barbican Press, 2015) – now optioned by a major television production company – derived from a funded PhD at that university, where he taught creative nonfiction. 
His latest book, The Luckiest Thirteen (Barbican Press 2017) hit the shelves in November. In 2017, he has contributed to End Notes, a collection published by the University of Hull as part of its Crossing Over project; and Hull: Culture, History, Place (Liverpool University Press, 2017) – with a chapter about trawler safety campaigner Lillian Bilocca. 
His programme for BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought series, entitled Courage and Effect, was also drawn from his doctoral research. The Oxford University National Dictionary of Biography (‘the biographer’s Bible’) commissioned him to write the entry on Mrs Bilocca, aka Big Lil. 
Planet Publications (Wales) and Umber has published his short fiction over the years, and Other Poetry, About Larkin and the Larkin Press have published his poetry. 
Dr Lavery has lived in Hull with his wife Kathryn for more than thirty-five years. They have two grown-up daughters, Catriona and Rose, and a border collie called Dylan. 
He is an honorary research associate at the University of Hull and works as a writer, journalist and creative writing tutor. He is proud to teach with the Workers’ Educational Association. 

Find out more at
Follow him on Twitter @brianlavery59

Come A Little Closer by Rachel Abbott @RachelAbbott #BlogTour @MauraRedPR #MyLifeInBooks

 They will be coming soon. They come every night.
Snow is falling softly as a young woman takes her last breath.
Fifteen miles away, two women sit silently in a dark kitchen. They don't speak, because there is nothing left to be said.
Another woman boards a plane to escape the man who is trying to steal her life. But she will have to return, sooner or later.
These strangers have one thing in common. They each made one bad choice - and now they have no choices left. Soon they won't be strangers, they'll be family...
When DCI Tom Douglas is called to the cold, lonely scene of a suspicious death, he is baffled. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she get there? How many more must die?
Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?

Come A Little Closer by Rachel Abbott is published on 13 February 2018 by Black Dot Publishing. My thanks to Maura Wilding PR who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour.

I'm pleased to welcome the author, Rachel Abbott here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books - Rachel Abbott

The first book I remember holding as a child is The Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling. I remember the cover to this day – dark red, with a big elephant on the front. My dad used to read the stories to me then, but I loved the feel of the book – it had thin shiny pages, with wonderful illustrations.

After that, I moved fairly quickly on to Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven and Famous Five, both of which I loved because they were little mysteries. It was obviously in my blood from an early age.

I think I was about eleven when my mum thought that I was up to reading Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and I loved that book so much. I recall being cross with Scarlett for having a thing about weedy Ashley Wilkes when she could have focused on the wonderful Rhett Butler. I think that book taught me a lot about the importance of strong characters in novels.

During my teens I read anything and everything – from romances in my mum’s magazines to Agatha Christie. But it was Daphne du Maurier who changed the way that I thought about books. Reading Rebecca was possibly the biggest influence on me. Fear comes in all guises in the book and that in itself was a lesson in how to create suspense. But the biggest surprise was that a murder has been committed and yet, as a reader, I was desperate for the killer to get away with it! I can still remember the tense moments as almost the full cast of characters wait for the magistrate to turn up at the house, and can still feel the unnamed protagonist’s dread of what was to come. It was a significant influence on my feelings about right and wrong (in a story, obviously!).

I studied English Literature to ‘A’ level, so obviously I read Shakespeare, poetry, and a whole range of books that I wouldn’t normally have considered. Of those, the one that stood out the most was The Go-Between by LP Hartley. I love the opening line. “The past is a foreign country. The do things differently there.” It made me realise how important an opening line can be.

I went through all kinds of reading phases after that, from romance to witchcraft, but my love affair with thrillers was just beginning, and so many of the stories have stayed with me. I particularly enjoyed books by Minette Walters – I think my favourite was The Dark Room, but I loved all her early books. So tense and thrilling – I was beginning to get a feel for the kind of books I would like to write.

I remember the day that I bought my first Harlan Coben book. It was at Stansted Airport, and I had never heard of him! The man in the bookshop said he thought I would enjoy it, and it was an airport exclusive – not available in most of the bookshops that I haunted. The novel was Tell No-one and what I loved was that the story seemed so improbable. I couldn’t see how it would play out, and that’s what kept me turning the pages. And that’s also why I have read every one of his novels since then.

Now, I read thrillers almost exclusively. I look for writers who not only have a strong plot line, but who excel at characterisation and a sense of place. There are too many to mention them all, but I would always read anything by Sharon Bolton, Clare Mackintosh and Kate Rhodes. So many great writers, and never enough time to read them all.

Rachel Abbott - February 2018 

Rachel Abbott's debut thriller, Only the Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US. This was followed by the number one bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child, Nowhere Child (a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child), Kill Me Again and The Sixth Window. Her most recent novel, Come a Little Closer, is available from February 2018.

Rachel's novels have now been translated into over 20 languages and her books have sold over 2.8 million copies in the English language. 

In 2015 Amazon celebrated the first five years of the Kindle in the UK, and announced that Rachel was the #1 bestselling independent author over the five-year period. She was also placed #14 in the chart of all authors. Stranger Child was the most borrowed novel for the Kindle in the first half of 2015.

Rachel splits her time between Alderney - a beautiful island off the coast of France - and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction. For more information, see Rachel's website, or follow her on Twitter.

Come a Little Closer
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For information and images of Rachel Abbott, please click
this link.
For bloggers involved in
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t can be found

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Sleeper : The Red Storm by J D Fennell #CoverReveal @jd_fennell @DomePress #TheRedStorm #Sleeper2

I'm delighted to feature an exciting COVER REVEAL on Random Things today.

The second in the Sleeper series by J D Fennell; The Red Storm is published by The Dome Press on 24 May 2018 in hardback and ebook, followed by paperback publication on 25 October 2018.

Sleeper spy, Will Starling, has been drafted into the SOE, joining forces with the French Resistance in the fight against the Nazis; but Will’s memory is fractured and only occasional flashbacks reveal fragments of his past. 
Despite this, he has not forgotten his pledge to find and rescue his sister, Rose - if she is still alive.
When his mission in France is compromised, Will suspects he’s been betrayed. 
Back in London he hears that VIPER are in league with the Axis powers and are developing a new and deadly weapon. 
As he and MI5 agent Anna Wilder set out to destroy it, their every move is anticipated by their enemies. Who is the mole in the British Secret Service?
As they close in on VIPER’s Swiss headquarters it seems no one can be trusted. 
Are Will and Anna able to prevent the unleashing of the Red Storm that will bring mass destruction on a scale even the Nazis haven’t dreamt of?
While Will tries to save the world, Rose has become the key to VIPER’s future plans and is drugged to dull her kinetic powers. 
But Rose faces danger from an unexpected enemy and her time is running out.

J.D. was born in Belfast at the start if the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help understand the madness unfolding around him. 
A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books - his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës. 
He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry. 
These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs. 
J.D.’s debut, Sleeper, was published by The Dome Press in April 2017.

Find out more at
Follow him on Twitter @jd_fennell

Monday 26 February 2018

Forest Dancer by Susan Roebuck #BlogTour @crookedcatbooks @sueroebuck @BrookCottageBks #Win #Giveaway

It’s a long way to go to create a new life for yourself.  
Classical ballerina, Flora Gatehouse, has no choice but to take a risk. Having failed an important ballet audition in London, she moves to a small cottage in a forest just outside Lisbon, Portugal, her only inheritance following her father’s death. 
Soon, Flora is involved in village life, where fate takes a new twist when she becomes attracted to forest ranger, Marco. But they are off to a shaky start. 
Can Flora find acceptance in a foreign land, in a magical place that harbours secrets and heartache?

Forest Dancer by Susan Roebuck was published by Crooked Cat Books on 20 February 2018 

As part of the Blog Tour organised by Brook Cottage Books, I'm delighted to bring you an extract from Forest Dancer.  There's also a giveaway with three great prizes, entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the bottom of this post. 

1st Prize: A signed paperback copy of the book (Europe/UK only) or
2nd Prize: An ecopy of the book (2 prize winners outside UK/Europe)
3rd Prize: A £10 Amazon gift token (open internationally)

Extract from Forest Dancer

Two saplings had fallen, perhaps in a recent storm, and one had caught between two larger trees creating a perfect barre at exactly the right height. How could she resist? Especially as she hadn’t worked out for several days and her muscles would already be weakening.
A blackbird screeched a warning (reminding her of the Ballet Master) as she began to warm up her neck, shoulders and arms before moving in to pliés, ensuring that her back remained straight.
The forest was alive, a living being. The light leaking through the upper foliage was golden, an autumnal glow that was filled with dancing seeds, gossamer webs and tiny flies. It brought to mind the music the taxi driver had played on their way to Aurora. The melody of The Moody Blues’ Forever Autumn once again filled her mind, and again she imagined herself dancing in a floaty fine tunic amid falling leaves of all shades and hues of autumn. She worked through the routine of tendus and degagés as the music played in her head. She slowed into a final deep stretch, touching her toes. How good it felt to exercise her muscles again.
As she straightened, ready to try the routine again, her attention was caught by a movement, and she was in time to see a figure in the trees slide into the shadows.
“Marco?” she said, her voice low.
He came into the clearing and gave her a small nod.
“Were you watching me?”
He looked away. “Maybe.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Susan Roebuck was born and bred in the soft south of the UK but was exported to Portugal after meeting her husband in London. She now lives overlooking the mighty Tagus River which is a wonderful source of inspiration.

She loves being in her adopted country and believes that Portugal has a huge heart, which the world should know more about. Portugal also doesn’t appear in many English-language novels and Susan hopes that, now, that will change.
“Forest Dancer” is her fourth novel but it is her second one set in Portugal (in the forests near Lisbon).

“Rising Tide” was her first book (third one published) set in Portugal, in a tiny fishing village on the beautiful, rugged Alentejo coast. One of the themes of this book is man against the sea.
They are both contemporary romance/suspense stories.

Her first novel was “Perfect Score”, set in 1960s USA and is a LGBT romance/suspense covering many social issues of the time – including having to cope with dyslexia.

“Hewhay Hall” is a dark fantasy which won the EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) Award in 2013 in their horror category.

Do pop over to any of her social media sites and say hello. Susan loves to hear from readers. 
Twitter: : 
Goodreads Author Page: 
Blog and Website:

The Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green @sophiegreenauth @LittleBrownUK @ClaraHDiaz #BlogTour

In 1978 in Australia's Northern Territory, life is hard and people are isolated. Telephones are not yet a common fixture. But five women find a way to connect.

Sybil, the matriarch of Fairvale Station, misses her eldest son and is looking for a distraction, while Kate, Sybil's daughter-in-law, is thousands of miles away from home and finding it difficult to adjust to life at Fairvale.

Sallyanne, mother of three, dreams of a life far removed from the dusty town where she lives with her difficult husband.

Rita, Sybil's oldest friend, is living far away in Alice Springs and working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
And Della, who left Texas for Australia looking for adventure and work on the land, needs some purpose in her life.
Sybil comes up with a way to give them all companionship: they all love to read, and she starts a book club. As these five women bond over their love of books, they form friendships that will last a lifetime.
Warm-hearted, comforting and richly told, this Australian bestseller is the perfect feel-good read for book lovers everywhere.

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green is published in trade paperback on 1st March 2018 by Little Brown. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour.

When I heard about this book, and read the blurb, I instantly knew that this was a book that I would love. Set in the late 1970s and early 80s, and all about a book club. What more could I ask for?

I have been engrossed in the lives of the main characters for the last few days. This is a story that although is set fairly recently, reads as though it should be from the 1950s or 60s. Fairvale is a cattle station in the Northern Territory of Australia. You probably couldn't find a more remote and isolated setting; with everything dictated by the seasons.

Whilst the story does feature male characters, it is the five female leads who are at the centre of this book. Sybil; the matriarch of the piece and Kate her English daughter-in-law. Sallyanne; a young wife with small children who is unhappy but eager to please. Rita; a medic who works for The Flying Doctor service in Alice Springs and Della, from Texas, and the only cowgirl working on the stations.

This is a story of female friendship; of how women support and help each other through the toughest and most emotional of times. These women are brought together through their love of reading and for me, this was an incredibly important part of the book as they discussed some of my own favourite reads. I rediscovered The Thorn Birds and A Woman of Substance through their book chats, and there are some striking similarities to both of these books, both in the writing style and the plot lines.

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club is a satisfying and gentle read. The characters are carefully and sympathetically created and the Northern Territories setting is stunning. There's no romanticising here, the reader is made aware of the harsh realities that these women faced when raising their families and creating a home.

Warm and atmospheric. I enjoyed it so much.

Sophie Green is an author and publisher who lives in Sydney. 

She has written several fiction and non-fiction books, some under other names. In her spare time she writes about country music on her blog, Jolene. 

She fell in love with the Northern Territory the first time she visited and subsequent visits inspired the story in The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club.

Follow her on Twitter @sophiegreenauth 

Sunday 25 February 2018

The Mother's Secret by Clare Swatman @clareswatman @panmacmillan @rosiewilsreads #TheMothersSecret

Love keeps us together
Sisters Kate and Georgie have always shared a close bond. While Kate enjoyed the freedoms of youth, Georgie remained at home. But now Georgie is grown up, it’s time she started exploring.
Love can tear us apart
Their mother Jan loves her daughters with all her heart. So what if she kept them out of sight when they were young? She just cared for them so much. She wanted to protect them.
What if your life was based on a lie?
Maybe there was another reason for Jan’s protective behaviour? If they ventured too far afield, it might destroy the facade of their childhood. This family’s about to discover that while lies can cause pain, the truth could destroy them all.

The Mother's Secret by Clare Swatman is published in paperback by Pan Macmillan on 22 February 2018, and is the author's second book. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I read and reviewed Clare Swatman's first novel, Before You Go (published in February 2017), here on Random Things and I was very impressed. I've been looking forward to her second book for a long time. I haven't been disappointed, this is a wonderfully written story that is emotionally touching, I loved it.

The Mother's Secret opens with a mysterious prologue that is both chilling and a little disturbing. Georgie is dreaming of her childhood home, but it is empty of all possessions, it is dark and unwelcoming and there's something strange in the garden. This feeling of unease accompanies both the reader, and Georgie throughout the rest of the story.

Present day; and adult Georgie has made a decision. She's never been adventurous, she's never flown, she didn't marry the father of her daughter. She's decided that it's time to change things. She's going to take the opportunities that her sister Kate always embraced. She will take her family on their first family holiday, abroad.
Georgie and Kate have a close, loving sisterly relationship. Brought up by a single mother, they were protected as children, but Kate was always given a little more freedom than Georgie. Their mother Jan has early onset dementia and Kate seems to be taking most of the responsibility for her care. Georgie always felt like the odd one out.

Georgie has to search Jan's attic to try to find her birth certificate. She's never had a copy, she's never needed one. Her mother always told her that getting married would spoil her relationship, and why on earth would she need to holiday abroad. She doesn't find the birth certificate, but what she does find, and what is clearly missing will change Georgie's whole life. It seems that Jan has long-held secrets, and these are devastating, both for Georgie and her family, and for another family who have suffered for many years.

Clare Swatman has written a story that really pulls at the heart strings. Both the modern-day story and Jan's own tale, set back in the 1970s are emotionally fraught, beautifully developed and conjure up questions for the reader. What would I do? What would I feel?

The devastating loss of a child is told through different points of view, and in very different circumstances, but each mother in this story has suffered their own personal and horrifying loss. Despite the rights and wrongs of the actions of the characters, the reader cannot help but empathise with what happens, and why.

I was especially impressed with the author's ability to seamlessly join together the two strands of her story. Jan's story, set in the 1970s was a nostalgic trip back in time for me and evoked a strong sense of era. whilst the modern-day telling from Georgie herself is bang up to date and relevant.

Clare Swatman is a talented author, who is going from strength to strength. The Mother's Secret is a profoundly touching and very moving. With themes of love and loss, and hidden truths, I found it impossible to put down.

Clare Swatman is a journalist for a number of weekly women's magazines. 
The Mother's Secret is her second novel.
Clare was Features Editor for Bella and has written for Best, Woman's Own and Real People.
When not working on her next novel, she also writes for her local magazine as well as the travel pages for Take A Break.
Clare lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two boys

For more information visit
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @clareswatman

Friday 23 February 2018

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave #BlogTour @HollyACave @QuercusBooks #MemoryChamber

True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.
Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal - and married - clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.
But when Jarek's wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds...

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave was published in hardback by Quercus Books on 22 February 2018 and is the author's first novel.  My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Imagine a time where the thought of dying is not quite as terrifying as we know it. Imagine knowing for a fact that when you die you will be reunited with your dearest memories. You'll spend time with your loved ones, sharing happy times and favourite moments. That's the premise of this quite original and strangely compelling first novel from Holly Cave.

Lead character Isobel is a Heaven Architect. She creates a personal, individual Heaven for her clients. She's very good at what she does, in fact she's the best architect in the business. She's committed and thorough and totally dedicated to her work.

Set sometime in the future, The Memory Chamber can be called speculative fiction, and if I'm honest, that classification scares the hell out of me. Despite this, I began to read and soon found myself caught up in this intriguing, if somewhat complicated story. Whilst Holly Cave quite obviously draws upon her science background in her creation of this story, it is very accessible to those of us, like me, whose brain doesn't work in a particularly scientific way.

Woven into the details of neurons and brain cells and the whole process of creating a virtual heaven is a story that centres on an age-old love story. Forbidden love; falling for someone that you really shouldn't, and also the moral and ethical processes behind both the illicit love and the concept of having the wealth to be able to create a better afterlife.

The plot veers off to directions that I really didn't expect, but that I found quite fascinating at times. Isobel is a character who is difficult to like, or to understand, but she's incredibly well created and quite enigmatic.

Part science-fiction, part crime thriller, part love story; The Memory Chamber can be a challenging read at times, but it is quite riveting and I enjoyed the story very much.

I'm delighted to welcome the author, Holly Cave here to Random Things today, she's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books

My Life in Books - Holly Cave

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
These children’s stories are so full of warm truths that they continue to resonate with me now. Every night, my parents would take it in turns to make up their own story with Milne’s cast of characters, including one important addition, Holly-in-the-Oak-Tree. She was a lot like me, and she’d have Pooh and Christopher Robin and the rest of them out on a different adventure each bedtime. I guess that made me believe that my favourite stories could be ones I made up myself.

Pisces Rising by Peter Cave & Margaret Wredden
My dad was a writer, too, and he wrote this novel with my mum before they got married. I read it as a teenager and adored it. When I decided I wanted to write a book of my own in my twenties, a modern, YA rewrite of this became my first project. I still think I might return to it one day.

The Darkness Out There by Penelope Lively
This isn’t a book, but a short story which was part of my GCSE English Language Anthology. I developed a bit of a teenage crush on it and could, at one point, recite whole passages by heart. Now I can only remember one line: The darkness was out there and it was a part of you and you would never be without it, ever. It’s still my go-to case study every time I sit down to write a short story, because I think it’s just utterly perfect. And ever since then, I’ve been drawn to the darker side of human nature in my own writing.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
In 2010, I knew I wanted to write full-time, I just didn’t know how. So, I did the obvious thing and quit my job. I spent my first two months in India, during which time I read this amazing novel. Everything I found in India – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes – was reflected back at me by the book, and vice versa. It helped me understand this otherworldly country I found myself in, and somehow made me feel more part of it – a unique experience.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
This genre-defying masterpiece showed me that I could write the kinds of stories I wanted to write. It will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason.

Wool by Hugh Howey
When I first decided to self-publish my first book, The Generation, it felt like second best. But then I read Wool and I read about Hugh Howey’s journey from indie author to bestseller. The book itself is brilliant – stunningly original – but his story, so honestly shared, changed my life and gave me the belief that I could achieve whatever I wanted to.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
I read this epic novel a few years ago, and I know I will read it again one day. It’s one of my all-time favourites, bursting with truth and gothic beauty. Ultimately, though, it’s about the transformative power of literature. If you haven’t read it, I compel you to do so.

Asking for It by Louise O’Neill
I read this quite recently after enjoying her debut, Only Ever Yours. She’s a ridiculously talented writer. It’s a tough read at times, emotionally, but it’s one of the few books I genuinely believe everyone should read. It’s brave, unflinching, and so relevant to rape culture in today’s society. I
think of it every time I read an article about sexual assault and find myself shocked by people’s attitudes towards victims. Read this, I want to tell them, and you might begin to understand. 

Holly Cave - February 2018

Holly Cave was born in Devon, UK, in 1983. She has a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College London. She spent four years working at the Science Museum in London. After a career break to travel the world, Holly became a freelance writer and now writes about science and technology alongside her fiction work. She lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, son and dog. 

THE MEMORY CHAMBER is her first novel with Quercus UK. She self-published THE GENERATION in 2015, and also wrote a number of unpublished works with her father on his typewriter in the 1990s.

Find out more at
Follow her on Twitter @HollyACave

Thursday 22 February 2018

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton @KJHAuthor @Bookish_Becky @headlinepg @Wildfirebks

Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She's even become a flight
attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she'll make sure no one stops her from
getting exactly what she wants.
True love hurts, but Juliette knows it's worth all the pain...

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton is published in hardback by Headline/Wildfire Books on 22 March 2018 and is the author's debut novel. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I don't think I've stopped thinking about this book, or talking about it, or telling everyone that I come across to read it since the day I started it. There are some books that just capture the imagination and totally consume the reader. The Perfect Girlfriend is one of those books. I raced through it, and was then annoyed with myself for finishing it so quickly. I wanted to spend more time with lead character Juliette; she's incredibly well created.

Remember that saying; 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned', from The Mourning Bride by William Congreve? Well Juliette really is a furious, scorned woman. I can assure you that you will not like her, or the choices that she makes, but my goodness, you will be transfixed by her.

Juliette, or Lily as she was known then was in a relationship with Nate. Nate is a pilot and Juliette/Lily really had made herself into the perfect girlfriend. Slipping comfortably into her role; learning to ski, cooking delicious meals, and being the perfect hostess. However, Nate wasn't so keen on commitment and when he told her that their relationship was over, she was determined that it wouldn't be.

Karen Hamilton cleverly weaves tiny snippets from Juliette's history into the the present story, and despite the reader knowing some of the traumas that she's endured over the years, it's still really difficult to empathise with her. Now Nate is no gentleman; he's spoilt and privileged. He lives a life of glamour and style as a well-paid respected pilot, and Juliette figures that the only way to ensure that Nate realises what he is missing is to get a job as cabin crew, for the same airline.

What follows is a story of devious devilment, of intricate and wickedly well plotted revenge. Amongst the jaw dropping events that Juliette conjures up are some spots of black humour that ease the tension, just a little, but it is so tense, and twisted and deliciously twisted.

The Perfect Girlfriend is a story of revenge. Juliette holds many grudges and these are slowly uncovered throughout the novel, creating more surprises with each chapter. Juliette is a brilliant study in narcissism; with hints of both sociopathy and psychopathy entwined in her character.

And then, there's that ending. Oh, that ending. Genius. I loved every page of The Perfect Girlfriend and am eager to see what Karen Hamilton produces next.

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. 

Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy, and having now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband, she satisfies her wanderlust by exploring the world through her writing. 

THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND is her first novel.

Follow her on Twitter @KJHAuthor