Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Our Stop

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams
Published by Avon Books
August 2019


Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine.
Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his dad died.
One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper:
To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?
So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.

Our Stop is Laura Jane Williams' first foray into the fiction market following the successful publication of two non-fiction titles (both of which are very good by the way) and I think it is probably set to be THE beach read of the summer, and probably a film to boot - Reese Witherspoon are you listening?!

Nadia and Daniel both get the 7:30 train every morning without fail - well Daniel does, Nadia's dependability is sometimes hampered by events of the night before, but this time it's different, she's starting her new life, one where she will be glamorous and organised and healthy, oh and on time too!  One morning when she has actually managed to catch the train, her best friend sends her a text showing her a message from the Missed Connection section in the daily paper.  She's convinced it's been written about Nadia, but our heroine isn't convinced; I mean who on earth on her train would write to her?

Encouraged by her friends, Nadia responds and so begins our written romance - drawing with it it's own hashtag #ourstop as people in the online community follow the back and forth dialogue of two strangers on the same train.  As you may imagine, the path of true love never did run smooth and there are lots of near misses and close encounters as the book progresses.  Will Daniel and Nadia ever get it together?

Well reader, I can't possibly divulge that information online, you are going to have to get yourself a copy and find out for yourself (and if you have a kindle, you can get it now ahead of its paperback release date currently for only 99p). What I will say is that Laura Jane has written a fantastic novel, I couldn't stop reading it and loved both Nadia and Daniel and the journey that they embark on through these pages.  Seriously - big screen here they come!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Monday, 17 June 2019

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not by Claire Allan
Published by Avon Books
May 2019



I disappeared on a Tuesday afternoon. I was there one minute and the next I was gone. They’ve never found my body…
 
It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road.
 
Clare dies minutes later, but not before whispering her haunting last words to Elizabeth.
  
When it becomes clear that Clare’s killer has more than one murder on his mind, Elizabeth has to take drastic action or face losing everything.
 
But what if she can’t stop a killer determined never to be forgotten?

Walking her dog early one summer morning, Elizabeth O'Loughlin discovers the body of a young woman with horrific injuries.  She is alive, but barely and as they wait for the ambulance to arrive, her final whispered words are "warn them".  But who does Clare mean for Elizabeth warn; they haven't even met before.

Clare has two best friends, Rachel and Julie and their lives are torn apart when they learn of her horrific death. To make things worse though, the police think that the killer may have a grudge against them too as a seemingly innocent bunch of forget me nots, sent to Julie, seem remarkably similar to a bunch that were left where Clare died and the messages on them aren't those normally associated with flowers left to remember the dead.

Laura isn't sure who she can turn to, her husband has been very distant of late and her lover Michael is growing impatient at their lack of time together. When a man approaches her youngest daughter at her nursery school she realises that things might be a little more serious than first anticipated.

Elizabeth tries to bury the discovery of Clare's body in the back of her mind but the persistent calling of a journalist for more information about that day opens up a can of worms into the suicide of her own daughter Laura.  What she doesn't expect to happen is to discover that Laura went to school with Clare - can there be some strange connection between what happened to her daughter and the murder of Clare?

Forget Me Not has lots of twists and turns, leaving you wondering which character's to believe or which to suspect.  I was wrong in my assumptions by the way!  I think this book definitely calls out to appear on television - it would make a great mini series!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

In conversation with Anna James

Today I am in conversation with Anna James, author of an exciting new series of children's books called Pages & Co.

Image result for anna james author


Your first novel is set in a world of books, was this important to you?
Books are so much a part of me and my life that I don’t think the first time I wrote fiction it could have been any other way to be honest. It wasn’t so much a conscious decision, as a natural and instinctive thing to write about what I love. I also really enjoy reading books about books and writers and libraries and I think it’s important to write something you would love to read. On a more specific level and once I had the basic idea sorted, it was really exciting for me to hopefully be able to introduce some young readers to some older books such as Anne of Green Gables and A Little Princess which I think have absolutely stood the test of time.





Why did you choose to write a children’s book as opposed to a book for adults?
Again this wasn’t really a conscious choice and I think often the idea you have dictates your audience. I actually wrote about a page of a book that was very loosely the start of Pages & Co but it didn’t work at all. I love children’s books; I think that usually the books that have the most formative effects on us as those we we read at around the age of 10 and so it’s a huge privilege to write for that age group – if Pages & Co means what my favourite books meant to me to even just one reader then I feel I’ve done my job. On a more technical perspective, I also felt the story would benefit from the sense of whismy and adventure and lack of cynicism that MG allows for.


What were your favourite books as a child and are they still favourites now?
I read voraciously as a child and it’s hard to pick out favourites but among them were many that are still my favourites; Anne of Green Gables, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Momo by Michael Ende, Eva Ibbotson and Diana Wynne Jones. I still reread these books.


Any advice to anyone dreaming of becoming an author?
It’s the most common advice but I think that’s probably because it’s the best; read. There’s a level of storytelling you have to have inside you to write fiction that I think you just soak up and learn from reading for pleasure. I would also write what you love to read, try not to think about what you think other people want to read.


Where do you get your writing inspiration from?
Primarily it’s books; obviously not stealing ideas or anything, but I’m inspired by reading things that I love, that change me, that challenge me, that test and play with what fiction can do. I often read before I start writing – nothing similar but something that reminds me of the power of writing and how it can make you feel. It makes me want to get as close to that as I can in my work. There’s also just the beautiful serendipity of ideas and how a phrase or a picture or anything at all can be the seed of a new idea.


What are you working on next?
I’m currently at the latter stages of editing Pages & Co 2, which is called Tilly and the Lost Fairytales and comes out in September this year. It’s a direct sequel to the first book, and sees Oskar and Tilly visit Paris, and do some bookwandering in fairy tales, where things aren’t quite what they’re expecting. There’s a sneak peek of the first chapter in the paperback edition of Tilly and the Bookwanderers which comes out in June.


If, heaven forbid, there was a fire, what possession would you grab first to save?
I am generally not too sentimental about books as physical objects but there are a few that are incredible precious to me; books that my grandparents gave me, a signed first edition of my favourite book, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, a signed copy of Wolf Hall, my dad’s childhood copy of Momo by Michael Ende. So I’d try and grab as many of those as possible!


What five people, living or dead, would you choose to invite to a dinner party?
Ever since reading Royal Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s extraordinary essay for the London Review of Books (https://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n04/hilary-mantel/royal-bodies) I would say I would invite Anne Boleyn, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, and Hilary Mantel to discuss said essay and its ideas, and I would invite Virginia Woolf as my fifth because I think she’d have a really interesting take on it too!

Thank you Anna for taking the time out to chat with me about your books.  The first book in the Pages & Co. series, Tilly and the Bookwanderers is out now!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x


Tuesday, 21 May 2019

From the Wreck

From the Wreck by Jane Rawson
Published by Picador
April 2019


When George Hills was pulled from the wreck of the steamship Admella, he carried with him memories of a disaster that claimed the lives of almost every other soul on board. Almost every other soul.
Because as he clung onto the wreck, George wasn’t alone: someone else – or something else – kept George warm and bound him to life. Why didn’t he die, as so many others did, half-submerged in the freezing Southern Ocean? And what happened to his fellow survivor, the woman who seemed to vanish into thin air?
George will live out the rest of his life obsessed with finding the answers to these questions. He will marry, father children, but never quite let go of the feeling that something else came out of the ocean that day, something that has been watching him ever since. The question of what this creature might want from him – his life? His first-born? To simply return home? – will pursue him, and call him back to the ocean again.

This was an interesting read in as much as I don't usually read science fiction as a preferred genre.  However I had heard such good things about this book that I wanted to give it a try to see if I could jump on the bandwagon too.  We begin our tale in 1859 when the steamship Admella begins to sink in the middle of the Southern Ocean on it's way to Australia.  Only two people survive the shipwreck, out central character George Hills and Bridget, the woman who wrapped herself around him whilst waiting to be rescued.  However when the crew turn up, George is the only living soul about.

As the years go by, George cannot stop thinking about this woman; she is always at the back of his mind and when his first child Henry is born, that tie becomes stronger.  Henry is not like other boys, and bares a birthmark on his back, one that if you asked him, he would say can change shape and needs feeding regularly.  George is not aware of this but this creature is Henry's closest, most intimate friend.

When George gets a letter from a woman who claims to be Bridget, he is immediately drawn to meeting up with her and getting her to release her hold on him, but is she the woman that she claims to be and will removing her grip on the man she saved from the ocean have deeper consequences?

George Hills is in fact Jane Rawson's great-great-grandfather and the Admella really did sink on August 6th 1859.  However as to whether a creature from the deep were on the boat that day none of us will ever actually know!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Monday, 15 April 2019

Sleep

Sleep by C. L. Taylor
Published by Avon Books
April 2019



All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…
To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.
Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they're on the island. There's a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they've set their sights on Anna.
Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.
Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

Another twisty thriller by C.L.Taylor and this is set on a remote Scottish island in the middle of a storm.  There's someone out to kill housekeeper Anna but which of the seven guests on the island could it be, and will she discover who they are before it's too late to save her own life?  

Anna is escaping from her past, she was involved in a car accident which left two of her work colleagues dead and another paralysed though she walked away with only minor injuries.  She wasn't held accountable for the incident but that doesn't leave her feeling riddled with guilt.  When she sees an advertisement for someone to work in a hotel on the island of Rum she applies for the job and is hired on a trial basis by owner David.  She breaks up with her boyfriend Alex, gives him their flat and flees the country.

Having had the suspicion that someone was following her back in London, it's a relief for Anna to stop looking over her shoulder all the time, however it isn't long after the guests have checked in that Anna starts to feel that again someone is constantly watching her.  Mysterious messages all about sleep keep appearing and Anna knows what it is like to want to be able to sleep properly again - something that she hasn't managed to achieve since the accident occurred.

So which of the guests could be interested in her?  She has met none of them before and there seems to be no link to her past with any of them.  As the impending storm comes crashing down on the island, Bay View hotel is cut off from everyone on there which leaves Anna trapped in a hotel with someone who wishes her harm.

This has a ring of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None to it but obviously in a modern context.  At first glance the guests all appear to be normal holiday makers but as the story progresses you become suspicious of one character and then another until you start to feel that they all did it!  Can you guess the killer before they strike one more time though?

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Keep Her Close

Keep Her Close by M. J . Ford
Published by Avon Books
March 2019



Someone is playing a deadly game…
When a young woman goes missing from Jesus College, Oxford, DS Josie Masters is plunged into a world of panic as fear grips the city. Along with Thames Valley Police’s newest recruit, the handsome DS Pryce, Josie must act fast – and when two more students disappear from Oriel and Somerville colleges, she realises the killer is sending her a deadly message in a cruel game of cat and mouse. This time, the case is personal – but who is the perpetrator?
In a desperate race against the clock, Josie hunts for the kidnapper, and soon discovers he could be a lot closer to home than she’d ever thought…

This is the second novel by M. J. Ford following on from his debut Hold My Hand.  Prior to reading this, I did think I had already read the first book but it turns out I haven't so I'll be putting that right shortly after posting this I think!
DS Josie Masters is on a new case, a student has disappeared from Oxford University in circumstances that appear somewhat troublesome.  Her step-father, an MP doesn't want any publicity and as the case progresses, two other girls go missing in somewhat similar circumstances.  Alongside this, Jo is also troubled by her home life.  Boyfriend Lucas seems to be keeping something from her, saying he is working when he clearly isn't.  After the issues she had with her previous boyfriend Ben, Jo isn't sure she totally believes Lucas is telling her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  But if he isn't, then what exactly has he got to hide?
The book ties in somewhat with the previous novel but that doesn't mean you have to have read it to enjoy this.  It's quite the page turner as it is clear that the person behind all of this seems to have a vendetta against Jo.  The question is though who could it be; someone in Jo's past, or someone in Jo's present?  And if it is the latter, then who the heck is it?
I love a crime thriller and this did not disappoint.  Jo is a likeable cop, complete with baggage as our fictional detectives tend to be, and she has a polar opposite detective working with her, in the form of hunky DS Jack Pryce.  Between the two of them, can they find who has taken these girls before it is too late for any of them or will Jo come face-to-face with her nemesis?

I'm hoping that there will be a follow-up to this and soon!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Monday, 11 March 2019

Daisy Jones and The Six

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Hutchinson
March 2019


For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split.

Nobody ever knew why. Until now.

They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn't believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently.

The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed.

Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin.

If Reese Witherspoon says she likes a book and picks it for her online book club then in my humble opinion it's usually pretty good and when I saw that Daisy Jones and The Six had been chosen as this month's choice (and a possible mini series) it seemed to be a good book to pick up next and I am so glad I did.  I can pretty much say right now that this is certainly going to end the year as one of my top reads, it's bloody brilliant. There is no point in trying to find clever superlatives here when that does the job.

The book is an interview with the band members of The Six, once famous throughout America in the 1970s and of a solo singer  called Daisy Jones whose talents were combined together to make a stunning album called Aurora.  The band were everything, they were everywhere, their connection to each other was out of this world and then suddenly they were no more.  No explanations were ever given, no interviews were made until now, in this book.

We are taken back to the formative days when the Dunne brothers formed a band that were eventually to become known as The Six.  Their lead singer Billy hit the big time hard: sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll were definitely his vibe despite a wife and baby on the way.  Daisy Jones was a girl who had everything and wanted for nothing and yet wasn't satisfied with life.  She too hits a path of drink and drugs, yet unlike Billy has found nothing to quit for.  Separately their individual music is good but when serendipity brings them together their music is formidable.

This book is about the band, the music but more importantly it is about the people who are part of the music.  Taylor Jenkins Reid focuses on Billy and Daisy, but spends just as much time building the characters of the rest of the band plus those loved ones whose lives are ultimately affected by everything that they do.  Many have said that they think the book is loosely based on Fleetwood Mac but I don't know about that.  What I will say is that I believed that Daisy Jones and The Six were real from the moment I finished the first page of the book until I read the very last word, and I am not the only one to say how sorry I am that the music defined through these pages does not exist in real life because I know without a doubt I would be playing those songs again and again and again.

Daisy Jones and The Six is about music, it's about passion, it's about following your dreams, it's about relationships, it's about loving someone and them not loving you back, it's about life, it's about death, it's about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.  It's about everything.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x