The Child by Fiona Barton – 4.5*s @figbarton @PenguinUKBooks @TransworldBooks #Review

Child

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell… (Per Goodreads)

 

My Review

Somehow this author’s previous bestseller The Widow had passed me by, so this was my first introduction to this author. On this reading I’ll definitely be going back and playing catch up. I loved this book, it has a fascinating and engaging plotline, with intriguing characters and at its heart a mystery whose hopeful resolution keeps you reading.

At the centre of the mystery is the identity of ‘the child’ whose skeletal remains have been discovered by workers excavating a building site. The complication arises when two women believe that the child is theirs. Only one can be the real mother, so how does this situation resolve itself and while one mother can prove her child was taken, the other is decidedly unreliable. But as the plot unfolds, it’s clear that a much murkier and darker story is being uncovered that has repercussions for many people linked to the area where the body was discovered.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints via Angela whose baby was taken from the hospital shortly after birth; via Emma whose troubled relationship with her mother and mental health issues might lead us to question her claim that the baby is hers; and via Kate, the reporter following the case who draws the strands together and uncovers deeper misdeeds along the way.

What I liked about the book was the way the story was presented. By having the story covered by a reporter, rather than purely following a police cold case, it gave us all the joys of the police procedural combined with a much more personal and in-depth investigation of the characters and the background. Kate herself is also a feisty and interesting character in her own right, which also adds another dimension. This is very much a character driven story, that reveals the people behind the headline in what started out as a simple human interest story. The resulting revelations however are far from simple, though I would argue this book is not the ‘thriller’ it portrays itself as, though still a gripping and compelling a read, for me it was more of a mystery. But definitely a highly recommended one.

I received a proof copy via the publisher for my honest review.

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday – I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh – 4*s @claremackint0sh #Review

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. Throwback Thursday was designed as an opportunity to share old favorites as well as older books in our TBR. As I started reviewing on Goodreads long before I started my blog, it seemed a great way of sharing my earlier reviews (which I hope have improved since the early days).

So this week I’m revisiting I Let You Go by by Clare Mackintosh – first reviewed in January 2015.

I Let You Go

 

My Review

This is a brilliant debut with one of the best shout out loud twists I’ve read in years. When it comes it will have you going back to check on what you’ve read. Because of the twists (yes more than one) I have no intention of discussing plot for fear of giving something away. The blurb tells you all you need to know without spoiling what is to follow.

I will say that the book falls broadly into two halves. The first lays heavy emphasis on the police procedural aspect with the search for guilty party, while Jenna attempts to build herself a new life. This part is well done, the police team are likeable characters that are well drawn with glimpses of lives outside the force as well as within which adds an extra realistic dimension to the plot. Jenna is presented as a sympathetic character doing her best to cope, but there are hints that there is something going on beyond what we already know.

Once the perpetrator is revealed part two becomes more about how and why what happened occurred as well as more of a psychological thriller that is quite hard hitting in places.

The plot has it all, grief, loss, romance violence and twists aplenty that will keep you gripped to the end. I can’t wait for the next one.

I received an ARC via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Book Haul – week ended 5 August 2017

Well after last week I anticipated a quiet week book hauling, however as you might have guessed it didn’t work out that way. But I did manage another week without any review copies which is a plus in helping me get through my existing commitments.

Kindle Purchases

 

Hundred HandsA Hundred Hands by Dianne Noble (99p)

When Polly’s husband is jailed for paedophilia, she flees the village where her grandmother raised her and travels to India where she stays with her friend, Amanda.

Polly is appalled by the poverty, and what her husband had done, and her guilt drives her to help the street children of Kolkata. It’s while working she meets other volunteers, Liam and Finlay. Her days are divided between teaching the children and helping with their health needs. But when Liam’s successor refuses to let Polly continue working, she’s devastated to think the children will feel she’s abandoned them.

After a health scare of her own, she discovers her friend, Amanda, is pregnant. Amanda leaves India to have her child. At this time Polly and Finlay fall in love and work together helping the children. Tragedy strikes when one child is found beaten and another dead. Polly feels history repeating itself when Finlay becomes emotionally attached to a young girl.

Can Polly recover from her broken heart and continue to help the children, or will she give up and return home?

 

Hostile WitnessHostile Witness by Nell Peters (99p)

When her husband leaves her and their sons to shack up with a younger model, Callie Ashton thinks she’s hit rock bottom. She’s wrong. Already unemployed and struggling to hold everything together, Callie’s life goes into freefall when she stumbles across the murder of a neighbour. The killer soon becomes intent on despatching Callie too, wrongly assuming she can identify him.

Despite her new man being the officer in charge of the investigation, Callie’s in great danger – and it soon becomes clear the murderer isn’t too worried whom he kills or maims in his quest to eliminate her. No one is safe and the killer seems to know her every movement. Soon, with no resolution in sight, Callie feels she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands…but at what cost to her safety – and sanity?

 

GhostThe Ghost by Andrew Lowe (Free)

A MISTAKE HE CAN’T FORGET
A STALKER WHO WON’T FORGIVE

Dorian Cook is a jaded film critic, haunted by a horrific act of violence that defined his impoverished childhood.

Now, many years later, someone is sending him threatening messages. Someone who knows what really happened on that sweltering day in the UK summer of 1976.

Someone who wants revenge.

 

Lilac GirlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (99p)

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

 

TogetherTogether by Julie Cohen (99p)

Is this a great love story?
Or a story about great love?
You decide.

On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually would. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie’s actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret – one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

 

Tastes Like FearTastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary (99p)

The fragile young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene. A runaway who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to return to the man who understands her and offers her warmth, comfort, a home. He gives her shelter. Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.

He’s the head of her new family.

D.I. Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl’s disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to face.

 

French LicenseFrench License by Joe Start (£4.99 was free)

This narrative non-fiction story covers the author’s attempt, as a Californian expat, to obtain his driver’s license in Paris. What appears simple enough becomes a tragicomedy as he confronts one obstacle after another. It has taken him so long, that he’s able to steer the reader onto unexpected detours along the way. You’ll cross funny town names, race against the clock, hear how to talk your way out of tickets, berate blasé customer service agents and bump into wildlife.

There are impossible situations, ‘only in France’ characters and cautionary tales from the bumbling of an average Joe. Read until the end to see if he beat the odds and made it or not.

It’s an easy, entertaining and quick read. Although it’s not a how-to, you’ll be informed with many surprising bits that even most locals don’t know. Many facts are published here for the first time in English. The author intertwines facts & figures inside 40 comical stories. Chapters may be read as standalone tales, or as a chronology of mishaps on the road to the pink permit prize.

 

My Summer of Magic MomentsMy Summer of Magic Moments by Caroline Roberts (99p)

When a seaside escape spells a little romance . . .

Claire is ready for a bright new chapter. Winding her way to the coast for a cosy cottage retreat, she prays that three weeks of blissful peace and summer sunshine will wash away the pain of the last year.

Claire’s a survivor – she’s growing proud of the scars that prove it – and she’s determined to make the most of each and every day, to seize those little magic moments that give life its sparkle.

Her plan for peaceful solitude goes awry when handsome, brooding Ed turns up in the cottage next door. Will a little summer romance prove the worst distraction? Or might it be the perfect remedy?

 

Secret ChordThe Secret Chord by Kathryn Guare (£2.53 was Free)

An Irishman on the run. He’s left a lot of things behind him…but they’re not far enough back..

Conor McBride has lost everything, and if he can’t find a way to disappear in a hurry, the next thing he loses could be his life. Running from enemies he’s never met and haunted by his own destructive actions, Conor needs a refuge secure enough to hold his secrets. A farmhouse inn tucked amidst the green mountains of Vermont seems ideal, but when his past catches up with him, Conor discovers the beautiful young innkeeper has secrets of her own, and that hers are more likely to get them both killed.

 

Act of SilenceAn Act of Silence by Colette McBeth (99p)

These are the facts I collect.

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. They next morning she was found in an allotment.

Mariela is dead.

Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning

Linda Moscow loves her son; it’s her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she’s not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?

She’s done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.

Now, the past is catching up with them. As old secrets resurface, Lind is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it’s her life on the line…

 

Just Haven't Met You YetJust Haven’t Met You Yet by Care Woods (Free)

Percy James has everything a girl could want: a comfy flat, a steady relationship and a truly lovely group of friends. Then she is approached by Eros Tech. Eros is ‘the future of love’ – an agency that brings together soulmates using phone data. Percy has been identified as a match for one of Eros’s super wealthy clients. The only problem is she already has a boyfriend . . . but what if this is *destiny*? Would you – could you – pass up a chance to meet your one true love?

 

 

InvitationThe Invitation by Lucy Foley (99p)

It’s 1951. In Europe’s post-war wreckage, the glittering Italian Riviera draws an eclectic cast of characters; lured by the glamour but seeking an escape.

Amongst them, two outcasts: Hal, an English journalist who’s living on his charm; and Stella, an enigmatic society beauty, bound to a profiteering husband. When Hal receives a mysterious invitation from a wealthy Contessa, he finds himself aboard a yacht headed for Cannes film festival.

Scratch the beautiful surface, and the post-war scars of his new companions are quick to show. Then there’s Stella, whose secrets run deeper than anyone’s — stretching back into the violence of Franco’s Spain. And as Hal gets drawn closer, a love affair begins that will endanger everyone…

 

Another Woman's HusbandAnother Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul (on pre-order for 99p)

Two women who challenged the Crown.
Divided by time. Bound by a secret…

1911
At the age of fifteen, carefree Mary Kirk and indomitable Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, separation and the demands of the British Crown until it is shattered by one unforgivable betrayal.

1997
Rachel’s romantic break in Paris with her fiancé ends in tragedy when the car ahead crashes. Inside was Princess Diana. Back in Brighton, Rachel is haunted by the accident, and intrigued to learn the princess had visited the last home of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the crash. Soon, the discovery of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world…

 

 

 

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig – 4*s @AmandaPCraig #Review

Quentin and Lottie Bredin, like many modern couples, can’t afford to divorce. Having lost their jobs in the recession, they can’t afford to go on living in London; instead, they must downsize and move their three children to a house in a remote part of Devon. Arrogant and adulterous, Quentin can’t understand why Lottie is so angry; devastated and humiliated, Lottie feels herself to have been intolerably wounded.

Mud, mice and quarrels are one thing – but why is their rent so low? What is the mystery surrounding their unappealing new home? The beauty of the landscape is ravishing, yet it conceals a dark side involving poverty, revenge, abuse and violence which will rise up to threaten them.

Sally Verity, happily married but unhappily childless knows a different side to country life, as both a Health Visitor and a sheep farmer’s wife; and when Lottie’s innocent teenage son Xan gets a zero-hours contract at a local pie factory, he sees yet another. At the end of their year, the lives of all will be changed for ever.

 

My Review

A year in the life – but what a year! On the face of it, the story of Quentin and Lottie as they,  and their family, come to terms with their marriage breakdown and how to cope with their change in fortunes. Both out of a job and unable to afford a divorce, they rent out their London house and downsize to the Devon, not far from Quentin’s aging parents.

The move proves to be less than idyllic for Quentin, who still likes to bask in his now fading if not absent glory as a columnist and is now reduced to writing scathing pieces about country life. Meanwhile Lottie draws on reserves of patience and resilience built up over the years of living with the arrogant and adulterous Quentin.

The children, as children do, adapt – even Xan  – Lottie’s mixed race son, who having failed to secure a place at Cambridge sulkily drifts along believing, nowhere else is worth considering. His move to the country, is a coming of age as he really has his eyes opened to the real world after living his rather gilded existence in London. As well as the family drama that ebbs and flows there is also a mystery – the murdered previous tenant of their new-found home. Why was he murdered and as the culprit is still at large, who did it?

It’s an interesting and engaging plot that in its telling also serves to hold up a mirror to modern British society, it’s extremes, it’s contrasts and it’s shortcomings. It shines a light on the darker side of  the rural idyll with a reliance on immigrant workers, the realities of factory farming and the failings of zero hours contracts. A far cry for Lottie and Quentin from the London chattering class they’ve left behind (somewhat reluctantly in Quentin’s case). Though it’s not just the countryside under scrutiny, the universal problems of caring for an aging population, the challenges of the housing market (especially in London), infidelity and infertility are also covered. In general it cleverly highlights the town versus country debate as well as the prevailing political, social and economic divisions that in the past couple of years has been increasing bubbling up to the surface and look set to continue to do so.

While it starts slowly, it draws you in as you get to know the initial cast of characters and follow them on their journey, along with the wider circle of friends and neighbours that we meet on the way. It’s a year that sees assumptions, beliefs, perceptions and relationships challenged in a way that none of them would have foreseen. It’s very much a character driven plot with an ending that I doubt anyone saw coming. A thoroughly enjoyable read that I happily recommend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday – The Soul of Discretion by Susan Hill – 4*s @susanhillwriter

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. Throwback Thursday was designed as an opportunity to share old favorites as well as older books in our TBR. As I started reviewing on Goodreads long before I started my blog, it seemed a great way of sharing my earlier reviews (which I hope have improved since the early days).

So this week I’m revisiting The Soul of Discretion by Susan Hill, Book 8 in the Simon Serrailler series – first reviewed in January 2015.

 

Soul of Discretion

 

The cathedral town of Lafferton seems idyllic, but in many ways it is just like any other place. As part of the same rapidly changing world, it shares the same hopes and fears, and the same kinds of crime, as any number of towns up and down the land.

When one day DC Simon Serrailler is called in by Lafferton’s new Chief Constable, Kieron Bright, he is met by four plainclothes officers. He is asked to take the lead role in a complex, potentially dangerous undercover operation and must leave town immediately, without telling anyone – not even his girlfriend Rachel, who has only just moved in with him.

Meanwhile, Simon’s sister Cat is facing difficult choices at work that will test her dedication to the NHS. But an urgent call about her and Simon’s father, Richard, soon presents her with a far greater challenge much closer to home.

To complete his special op, Simon must inhabit the mind of the worst kind of criminal. As the op unfolds, Lafferton is dragged into the sort of case every town dreads. And Simon faces the fight of his life. (Goodreads description)

 

My Review

I have read all of the previous titles in the Serrailler series so I was delighted to receive the latest via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

The Soul of Discretion, did not disappoint and was as good as it predecessors. Susan Hill is a great writer and has the knack of drawing you in almost immediately. The books do not depend on shock storylines, or graphic violence and gore which is becoming a growing feature of many contemporary thriller/crime novels. Hill relies on solid plot and great characters to keep you coming back for more.

The series has always been a clever balance of the professional and private in regard to Simon Serailler and this latest novel takes this one stage further and darker. While Simon has gone under cover to infiltrate a paedophile ring, his absence from Lafferton allows his family to come more to the fore than usual, particularly his father who has his own brush with the law when he is accused of rape.

The various story lines focus on many current social issues, the state of the NHS; the debate about end of life care; the nature and consequences of rape; and the nature of paedophilia. Thankfully this latter topic is handled well. Enough detail to leave no doubt that those involved are guilty of what must be one of the most reviled and abhorrent crimes but without being too gratuitous or graphic.

This latest book also sees a shift away from a traditional police procedural as in this case we are well aware of who the guilty parties are. This sees Serailler trying to make sure they face justice and in so this takes him to a much darker place with life changing consequences.

If you have never read any of the Simon Serailler series, I thoroughly recommend that you do, with the proviso that you start from the beginning.

 

Book Haul – 2 weeks ended 29th July 2017

Oh dear, this is going to be a long one. Not only does it cover two weeks, but it includes the 11 (yes 11) I acquired at the Harrogate Theakstons Crime Festival alone. Just as well I post my Urbane Book Box separately or this would be a record breaker.

First of all though, the good news, I have no review copies. I’m desperately trying (despite my missing mojo) to work through my existing list so that I can start to read more of my own books. My trip to Harrogate just re-inforced that for me. There wasn’t one author that I met that I didn’t already own an unread book by. Even worse, in three cases I didn’t even remember owning them until I checked!

So what have I acquired since I last ‘fessed up? – Warning, you might want to get that cup of tea before you start!

Kindle Purchases

 

Hangman's SongThe Hangman’s Song by James Oswald (£3.99 was 99p)

A young man is found hanging by a rope in his Edinburgh home. A simple, sad suicide, yet Detective Inspector Tony McLean is puzzled by the curious suicide note. A second hanged man and another strange note hint at a sinister pattern.

Investigating a brutal prostitution and human trafficking ring, McLean struggles to find time to link the two suicides. But the discovery of a third convinces him of malicious intent.

Digging deeper, McLean finds answers much closer to home than he expects. Something terrifying stalks the city streets, and bringing it to justice may destroy all he holds dear.

 

Dead HillDead Hill by John Dean (99p was Free)

When a man is killed by being pushed over the edge of a quarry, there is no doubt about who the culprits are. So why can’t DCI Harris lay a finger on them?

The theft of the eggs of a rare golden eagle leads to a murder investigation and a serious questioning of loyalties

Surly and abrasive, veteran detective Jack Harris at times shows more concern for the wildlife in his beloved Pennine Hills than keeping up cordial relations at work. Indeed, when a trio of local criminals try to steal the eggs of a rare bird, DCI Harris treats it almost like a personal insult and readies to envelop them in the long arm of the law.

Yet, when two of the criminals descend from the hills into Harris’ snare, rather than the expected three, Harris finds himself with a murder investigation on his hands. But far from being an open and shut case, it is one that will wrench him out of his rural idyll, and back into the gritty criminal underworld to solve.

When the murdered man is identified as a gangland member, Harris is beset by a troubled local community and doubts amongst his colleagues that he can bring the killer to justice. Doing so will force Harris to confront a nasty episode in his own past and question the loyalties of those around him.

This novel is set in the fictional town of Levton, nestled in the bleak and blustery Pennine Hills in the north of England. It is the first in a series of titles featuring Jack Harris and the Levton Police Force, previously published by Robert Hale, London.

 

Lost WifeThe Lost Wife by Anna Mansell (99p)

When Ellie Moran passes away, she leaves her newborn son and husband Ed behind her. Their marriage was perfect, their lives everything they had hoped for. So why was Ellie keeping secrets from Ed?

Knowing he can never ask his wife the truth, Ed is struggling to cope. When the secrets threaten to tear his whole family apart, Ed turns to Rachel, the one person who sees him as more than just Ellie’s widower.

But then Rachel discovers something Ellie was hiding, something that would break Ed’s heart. Can Rachel help Ed to find peace without the wife he lost – and a second chance at happiness?

 

I Know You're Every MoveI Know Your Every Move by Diane Ezzard (99p was Free)

Is Sophie being followed?
Who is behind the menacing phone calls?
One woman is killed every three days due to domestic violence in England and Wales.
Thankfully Sophie isn’t one of them. 
This dark romantic suspense novel tells the story of Sophie Brown, an attractive, vulnerable young girl from Manchester, England. She is trying to build a new life, working as a counsellor in a women’s centre. She receives a number of sinister phone messages and wonders if her past is coming back to haunt her. 
Sophie forms a close relationship with Cassie, one of her clients and tries to help her escape from the clutches of a violent boyfriend. However, her own life is being turned upside down after a series of disturbing events. 
She believes she is being followed but the more she delves, the closer she gets to danger.

Can she revisit her dark past before it’s too late?

 

City of Drowned SoulsCity of Drowned Souls by Chris Lloyd (99p)

When a child disappears, the clock starts ticking

Detective Elisenda Domènech has had a tough few years. The loss of her daughter and a team member; the constant battles against colleagues and judges; the harrowing murder investigations… But it’s about to get much worse.

When the son of a controversial local politician goes missing at election time, Elisenda is put on the case. They simply must solve it. Only the team also have to deal with a spate of horrifically violent break-ins. People are being brutalised in their own homes and the public demands answers.

Could there be a connection? Why is nobody giving a straight answer? And where is Elisenda’s key informant, apparently vanished off the face of the earth? With the body count threatening to increase and her place in the force on the line, the waters are rising…

Be careful not to drown.

 

Scarlet PeacockThe Scarlet Peacock by David Field (99p was Free) 

He was the son of an Ipswich butcher, but he was no ordinary boy. 

His precocious intellect earned him a degree from Oxford at the unheard of age of fifteen, and his assumption of holy orders was to have an indelible impact on the status of the Church of Rome in England.

Thomas Wolsey first entered the royal service as chaplain to the ageing Henry VII, and stayed on as the first choice counsellor of his heir, Henry VIII. 

Under royal patronage he rose to be Chancellor of England, Archbishop of York, and Papal legate for life. 

But his love of flamboyant display, and his acquisition of ostentatious wealth, were anathema to the old nobility who resented such success by a mere commoner. Chief among these was his old boyhood enemy Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who had a potent weapon in his arsenal. Her name was Anne Boleyn.

Wolsey’s inability to secure the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon was the breach in the wall through which Norfolk and his faction poured poison into Henry’s ear.  Wolsey was stripped of most of his offices and retreated in disgrace on a northern pilgrimage from which he was destined not to return alive. 

No-one was left to mourn his passing other than his loyal protégé Thomas Cromwell, who vowed revenge on the woman who had been the primary cause of the downfall of one of the most able clergymen and ambassadors that England would ever know.

 

Sean O'Casey - a LifeSean O’Casey: A Life by Garry O’Connor (99p was free)

The writer whose greatest creation was himself… 

The character Sean O’Casey designed for himself became real and inhabitable — much greater than any of the great stage characters he carved out of his Dublin upbringing.

Born John Casey in Dublin, 1880, whilst his oldest siblings had been educated to the age of eighteen, before he was fourteen the future playwright had already been sent out to work.  As a young man he embraced Irish nationalism, learnt the language, and Gaelicised his name; it was almost time for Sean O’Casey to enter stage right.

It was during this time he began writing, but, unlike the satirical ballads that became staples for the rebels, it would be 1923 before one of his plays was publically performed.
The Shadow of a Gunman marked the beginning of his relationship with the Abbey Theatre, and before long he was being touted as J. M. Synge’s heir.

Like his creations, drawn from his own life and those of the people around him, O’Casey’s blunt honesty, his readiness to fight over his opinions, incurred measures of ill will.  Sean O’Casey’s life is as rich and layered as any play, yet in this skilfully crafted biography Garry O’Connor reveals the man behind the myth, and all his glorious contradictions.

 

Tropical ConnectionsTropical Connections by Susie Vereker (99p was free)

A spirited tale of life, love and courage in tropical climes – Art historian Claire takes a job on an obscure tropical island, cataloguing Buddhist art, and finds her new exotic surroundings both fascinating and challenging. Her personal life becomes confused too-ex-pat banker Howard loves her, but she falls for elusive Australian Drew. Then she becomes involved with the darker side of island life and, quite by accident, finds herself in terrible danger . . . 

 

 

Winston ChurchillWinston Churchill by Robert Lewis Taylor (99p was free)

“For seventy-seven years he has flashed over the public scene, a beckoning, outsized diamond in a trumpery world. Before moments of British crisis, he has been so uniformly right that his incandescent prescience has itself become a burden to his colleagues and to his countrymen at large.”

Former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, led one of the most astonishing lives that public service has ever witnessed. 

Focusing on the school years of a young Winston Churchill and the early experiences that shaped his ambition, this fascinating biography delves into the private life of Churchill as a student, a journalist and a soldier. 

 

Complete Novels of Virginia WoolfThe Complete Novels of Virginia Woolf (99p was free)

This carefully crafted ebook: “The Complete Novels of Virginia Woolf (9 Unabridged Novels)” is formatted for your eReader with a functional and detailed table of contents. Adeline Virginia Woolf (25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer, and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One’s Own (1929), with its famous dictum, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Content: * The Voyage Out (1915) * Night and Day (1919) * Jacob’s Room (1922) * Mrs Dalloway (1925) * To the Lighthouse (1927) * Orlando (1928) * The Waves (1931) * The Years (1937) * Between the Acts (1941)

 

Complete Rougon-Macquart CycleThe Complete Rougon-Macquart Cycle by Emile Zola (99p was free)

Les Rougon-Macquart is the collective title given to a cycle of twenty novels by French writer Émile Zola. Subtitled “Natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire”, it follows the life of one family during the Second French Empire (1852–1870). In this tremendous work Zola first and foremost examines the impact of social environment on men and women, by varying the social, economic, political and professional milieu in which each novel takes place. It provides us with a close look at everyday life, gives us a deep insight into important social changes and it shows us the true people’s history of the Second Empire. 

 

Ludlow Ladies SocietyThe Ludlow Ladies by Ann O’Loughlin  (£3.79 was 98p)

Connie Carter has lost everyone and everything dear to her. Leaving her home in New York, she moves to a run-down Irish mansion, hoping to heal her shattered heart and in search of answers: how could her husband do the terrible things he did? And why did he plough all their money into the dilapidated Ludlow Hall before he died, without ever telling her?

At first Connie tries to avoid the villagers, until she meets local women Eve and Hetty who introduce her to the Ludlow Ladies’ Society, a crafts group in need of a permanent home. Connie soon discovers Eve is also struggling with pain and the loss of having her beloved Ludlow Hall repossessed by the bank and sold off. Now, seeing the American Connie living there, the hurt of losing everything is renewed. Can these women ever be friends? Can they ever understand or forgive?

As the Ludlow Ladies create memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface. But can Connie, Eve and Hetty stitch their lives back together?

 

TormentTorment by David Evans (£1.99 was 99p)

Torment: A stunning & original detective thriller

A message left in error on a young woman’s answerphone is the catalyst for uncovering some dark deeds. Three young women are missing; luxury cars are being stolen; and just what did happen to two young schoolgirls, missing since the 1980’s?

DI Strong and journalist, Bob Souter are drawn into murky and dangerous worlds.

 

Robbing the DeadRobbing the Dead by Tana Collins (99p)

In a small Scottish university town, what links a spate of horrible murders, a targeted bomb explosion and a lecturer’s disappearance? Is a terror group involved? If so, who is pulling the strings? And what does something that happened over forty years ago have to do with it? 

Having recently returned to Castletown in the hope of winning back his estranged wife, DCI Jim Carruthers finds himself up to his eyes in the investigation.

Struggling with a very different personal problem, DS Andrea Fetcher assists Jim in the hunt for the murderous perpetrators. To prevent further violence they must find the answers quickly. But will Jim’s old adversary, terror expert McGhee, be a help or a hindrance?

 

Care to dieCare to Die by Tana Collins (£1.99 was 99p)

Struggling with his demotion back to DI and his concern for the grieving DS Andrea Fletcher, Jim Carruthers is thrown in at the deep end when the body of an old man is discovered stabbed to death in a nature reserve- a ball of cloth rammed into the back of the victim’s throat. The only suspect is a fifteen-year-old neighbour who is known to the police for antisocial behaviour. But the teenager has an alibi. 

When a second elderly man is also found dead at the same locale, with the same MO, Carruthers starts to wonder if they have a serial killer on their hands.

On discovering that the first victim, Ruiridh Fraser, has an estranged son living in Iceland, Carruthers flies out to interview the man, now convinced that the reason behind Fraser’s death lies in his past.

But what does the disappearance of a twelve year old boy forty years before, the brutal murder of a former journalist and a bitter local dispute about a nature reserve, have to do with the investigation?

Can Carruthers and Fletcher solve the case while battling their own demons?

And are they hunting for one killer or more?

 

BirdwatcherThe Birdwatcher by William Shaw (99p)

Sergeant William South has always avoided investigating murder. A passionate birdwatcher and quiet man, he has few relationships and prefers it that way.

But when his only friend is found brutally beaten, South’s detachment is tested. Not only is he bereft – it seems that there’s a connection between the suspect and himself.

For South has a secret. He knows the kind of rage that killed his friend. He knows the kind of man who could do it. He knows, because Sergeant William South himself is a murderer.

Moving from the storm-lashed, bird-wheeling skies of the Kent Coast to the wordless war of the Troubles, The Birdwatcher is a crime novel of suspense, intelligence and powerful humanity about fathers and sons, grief and guilt and facing the darkness within.

 

Red is the ColourRed is the Colour by Mark L Fowler (99p) 

It is the summer of 2002. The corpse of a 15 year old boy, who has been missing for thirty years, is discovered in Stoke-on-Trent. The city is on the cusp of change and Chief Superintendent Berkins wants the case solved quickly. 

DCI Jim Tyler has arrived from London under a cloud, moving to Staffordshire to escape his past. He is teamed up with DS Danny Mills to investigate the case, but there is tension between the detectives.

When the dead boy’s sister comes forward, describing a bright, solitary child, she points a finger at the school bullies, which puts important careers at stake.

Then one of the bullies is found brutally murdered and when Tyler and Mills dig deeper they start to suspect a cover-up.

What is the connection between the death of a schoolboy in 1972 and this latest killing? 

With the pressure building, and the past catching up with DCI Tyler, will he and DS Mills be able to put aside their differences in order to catch a cold-blooded killer?

 

Summer at the Dog & DuckSummer at the Dog & Duck by Jill Steeples (Free)

Ellie Browne has found happiness running The Dog and Duck pub in the idyllic village of Little Leyton, and her blossoming romance with tall, handsome property developer, Max Golding, is going swimmingly. With her new best friend, Digby, the black Labrador at her side, life just couldn’t be sweeter.

But their peace is shattered when Max‘s younger sister, Katy, turns up unannounced with a whole heap of attitude. And Max‘s loyalties are stretched further when his glamorous ex, Sasha, re-appears with her own burgeoning secret.

With the master of the manor preoccupied with the demands of his ‘other women’, Ellie‘s forced to consider if she has any role to play in Max‘s life or in the village of Little Leyton

Can Ellie get her life and relationship back on track in time for the summer charity ball at Braithwaite Manor?

 

Man's DyingA Man’s Dying by Gail Bolland (Free)

The Luceys were farmers to begin with. A family like any other: mother, father, one son, four daughters and various partners. They had land and money, but that wasn’t enough to guarantee happiness or keep the family together. And when old Joe Lucey dies suddenly, the family begins to fall apart.

An inheritance can easily lead to greed, jealousy and lust, especially with fraud and suspicion to help them along. One of Joe’s four daughters, Martha, believes there’s something wrong with the will, which leaves the farm to Joe’s youngest child, Gregory, his only son. Martha begins to investigate and soon gets the support of her sister, Alex, a superintendent in the local police force. Perhaps Joe was helped to die, and perhaps Gregory’s comfortable life and his perfect marriage have been built on quicksand.

As things disintegrate, the family needs to pull together. But one suspicious death is bound to lead to another, and the truth cannot stay submerged for long.

 

Grace me with Your PresentsGrace Me With Your Presents by Pippa Franks (Free)  

With a yearning for another child as she approaches her forties and a daughter who has just flown the nest, Grace Carter must take stock of her life and confront a secret from her past.

A family crisis drives Grace back to Eskton, the (once) sleepy village just outside Whitby, where she grew up. While caring for her aunt after a fall, she encounters Terence (Tippy) Tippleton, the ‘bad boy’ of the village; Alfie Hammond, the Know-it-all grocer; an alcoholic vicar, and a transvestite farmer. She’s almost too busy to miss her husband and their life in London. However, the physical distance between them highlights the emotional distance, and she vows that once they’re back together, she will reveal the secret that’s been smouldering in the back of her mind for far too long.

Grace falls in love with the village and its quirky inhabitants. Can she convince her husband that life will be better away from the hubbub of the city? Will she even have a husband once the truth comes to light?

 

Book Purchases

 

SeagullThe Seagull by Ann Cleeves (purchased at Harrogate in advance of publication on 7th September)

A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper – and Vera played a part in his downfall.

Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. He tells her that Marshall is dead, his body buried close to St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two.

This cold case takes Vera back in time, and very close to home, as Brace and Marshall, along with a mysterious stranger known only as ‘the Prof’, were close friends of Hector, her father. Together, they were ‘the Gang of Four’, and Hector had been one of the last people to see Marshall alive. Vera must confront her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth, as the past begins to collide dangerously with the present . . .

 

Ash and BonesAsh and Bones by Mike Thomas (charity shop purchase)

A cop killer on the loose in Cardiff – introducing a dark and gritty new voice in crime fiction, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride and David Mark

At a squalid flat near the Cardiff docks, an early morning police raid goes catastrophically wrong when the police aren’t the only unexpected guests. A plain clothes officer is shot dead at point blank range, the original suspect is left in a coma. The killer, identity unknown, slips away.

Young and inexperienced, Will MacReady starts his first day on the CID. With the city in shock and the entire force reeling, he is desperate to help ­- but unearths truths that lead the team down an increasingly dark path…

 

Freeze FrameFreeze Frame by Peter May (charity shop purchase)

ILE DE GROIX, FRANCE.

A Frozen Island.

This tiny isle off the coast of Brittany is the scene of a murder left shrouded in mystery and grief.

A Frozen Crime.

Adam Killian’s study has been left intact since his death – the perfect state for Enzo Macleod’s forensic investigation.

A Frozen Heart.

Killian’s daughter-in-law is still hoping; the first suspect is still hiding; and the treacherous island itself still has a revelation for Enzo.

 

Freebies from Theakstons Crime Festival at Harrogate

 

Chalk ManThe Chalk Man by C J Tudor (due 11/1/2018)

THE book of 2018. The Chalk Man is coming . . .

Looking back, it all started on the day of the fair and the terrible accident. When twelve-year-old Eddie first met the Chalk Man.

It was the Chalk Man who gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages between his group of friends.  And it was fun, to start with, until the figures led them to the body of a young girl.

That was thirty years ago and Ed thought the past was behind him. Then he receives a letter containing just two things: a piece of chalk, and a drawing of a stick figure. As history begins to repeat itself, Ed realises the game was never over . . .

Everyone has secrets.       Everyone is guilty of something.      And children are not always so innocent.

 

CollectorThe Collector by Fiona Cummins ( due 25/01/18)

Jakey escaped with his life and moved to a new town.
His rescue was a miracle but his parents know that the Collector is still out there, watching, waiting…
Clara, the girl he left behind, is clinging to the hope that someone will come and save her.
Life has fallen apart for Clara’s mother as she starts to lose hope.
The Bone Collector has a new apprentice to take over his family’s legacy. But he can’t forget the boy who got away and the detective who had destroyed his dreams
Detective Etta Fitzroy’s life collapsed when the Collector escaped. With Clara still missing, and a new wave of uncannily similar murders beginning, will she be able to find him again?
The Collector is back and this time he has nothing to lose . . .

 

Give me the ChildGive Me the Child by Mel McGrath

An unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…

 

Here and GoneHere and Gone by Haylen Beck 

Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.

Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.

As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining. . . 

Dark secrets and a heart-pounding race to reveal the truth lie at the heart of this page-turning thriller.

 

Word is MurderThe Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz (due 24/8/17)

A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.

A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.

A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control.

What do they have in common?

Unexpected death, an unsolved mystery and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new thriller. 

 

Mitford MurdersThe Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes (due 14/9/17)

It’s 1919, and Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping her life of poverty in London, and most of all her oppressive and dangerous uncle.

Louisa’s salvation is a position within the Mitford household at Asthall Manor, in the Oxfordshire countryside. There she will become nurserymaid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy – an acerbic, bright young woman in love with stories.

But then a nurse – Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake – is killed on a train in broad daylight, and Louisa and Nancy find themselves entangled in the crimes of a murderer who will do anything to hide their secret . . .

Based on a real unsolved crime

 

House LelicThe House by Simon Lelic (due 17/8/17)

THE PERFECT COUPLE. THE PERFECT HOUSE. THE PERFECT CRIME.

Whose story do YOU believe?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door. And now the police are watching them.

THIS STORY IS THEIR CHANCE…  TO PROVE THEY’RE INNOCENT.   OR TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.

 

ConfessionThe Confession by Jo Spain (due 28/1/18)

You find out who did it on the very first page. On the last page, you’ll find out why.

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

 

Close to HomeClose to Home by Cara Hunter (due 28/12/17)

TIPPED TO BE 2018’S BIGGEST NEW CRIME SERIES

Someone took Daisy Mason.
Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying.  And that Daisy’s time is running out…

 

If you’re still here – well done and thank you – get yourself another cup of tea now!!

 

My Harrogate Theakstons Crime Festival 20-23 July 2017 @TheakstonsCrime

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Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

20-23 July 2017 | Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate | home of crime

 

“The world class, award winning Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, now in its 15th year, celebrates the very best in crime fiction at the magnificent Old Swan Hotel each July. The Festival is a firm date in the literary calendar and has achieved international acclaim for the programming, organisation and atmosphere.”

 

I have never been to this festival before, or any other literature festival for that matter. Consequently it was with some trepidation I arrived in Harrogate on Thursday afternoon. I’d originally planned to come with my friend but personal circumstances meant that couldn’t happen so I was running solo. I had already booked some events before I arrived so I had a rough plan of action, but that still left lots of empty space to fill in between – I went armed with my trusty Kindle just in case! So here’s a run down of my time in Harrogate.

 

My events

Thursday 20th July

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An entertaining session which also offered an opportunity to bump into other bloggers including Jo from My Chestnut Reading Tree, Emma from Damp Pebbles and Steph from Steph’s Book Blog. It also introduced me to another lovely group of people who kept me company at various stages over the weekend namely Jen from Jen Med’s Book Reviews author Abigail Osborne and her friend Leah.

Friday 21st 

1pm – 1:45pm

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An interesting and informative session with the examples taken from The Seagull the new book by Anne Cleeves. I’m certainly more informed about crime scenes and procedures now should I ever need to dispose of a body!

6pm

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The Dead Good Reader Awards was a fun affair accompanied by numerous opportunities to acquire even more books than those provided in the goody bag. This year’s nominees and winners were:-

The Kathy Reichs Award for Fearless Female Character:

Winner: Helen Grace, M J Arlidge

Shortlist:
Lori Anderson, Steph Broadribb
Erika Foster, Robert Bryndza
Ruth Galloway, Elly Griffiths
Helen Grace, M J Arlidge
Isabella Rose, Mark Dawson
Jane Rizzoli, Tess Gerritsen

 

The Case Closed Award for Best Police Procedural:

Winner: The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly

Shortlist:
Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey
Love You Dead by Peter James
Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin
The Taken by Alice Clark-Platts
Written in Bones by James Oswald
The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly

 

The Hidden Depths Award for Most Unreliable Narrator:

Winner: The Escape by C L Taylor

Shortlist:
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
The Escape by C L Taylor
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry
My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

 

The Page to Screen Award for Best Adapted Book:

Winner: Never Go Back by Lee Child

Shortlist:
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Never Go Back by Lee Child
The Night Manager by John le Carré

 

The Cat Amongst The Pigeons Award for Most Exceptional Debut:

Winner: Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

Shortlist:
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb
The Dry by Jane Harper
Rattle by Fiona Cummins
Sirens by Joseph Knox

 

The Dead Good Recommends Award for Most Recommended Book:

Winner: The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

Shortlist:
The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
The Escape by C L Taylor
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

 

10pm

Where the Bodies are Buried

I was lucky to get in at the last-minute for this brilliant session. With such a stellar selection of authors guided by the irrepressible Sarah Millican it was always going to be a festival highlight and it was.

 

Saturday 22nd

Ian Rankin Royal Hall

A veritable Ian Rankin fest for me today as I attended the morning session at the Royal Hall, a switch made due to the demand for tickets, such is the popularity of the likeable and affable creator of the curmudgeonly John Rebus. Despite heavy rain on the way in, it eased of for the book signing afterwards.

 

Ian Rankin Whisky

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Another chance to spend some time with Rankin and Rebus. A last-minute unexpected ‘purchase’ on Saturday morning as I expected this to be sold out. While I’m not normally a whisky drinker I took the opportunity to sample the Rebus 30th anniversary edition created by Highland Park (my late dad’s favourite whisky so Sláinte dad!). This was indeed an intimate session which closed with a free copy of  Rather be the Devil which Ian kindly signed for everyone.

 

 

Peter May

I’d been looking forward to this panel as I love both authors. If I’m honest, I don’t think it was quite as I anticipated. Prior to arriving, I’d understood it to be a conversation between the two and not an interview with Danuta Kean. I don’t think she suited the occasion or these two authors and for me, she lacked spontaneity. It made the panel a much more formal affair which was a shame, despite the efforts of both authors to lift proceedings.

Sunday 23rd

Vera

My final panel and a lovely warm and funny event, with all participants contributing and offering insights into the making of the programme and the creation of ‘Vera’ herself.

 

My book signings 

 

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Ian Rankin

 

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Peter May and Stuart MacBride

 

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Kenny Doughty and Brenda Blethyn from ‘Vera’

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Anne Cleeves

 

My fangirl moments

 

Before I plucked up the courage to produce the camera, I was like a 12-year-old asking for autographs and managed to accost some of my favourites namely Mark Billingham, Stuart MacBride, and James Oswald. These were later added to by Lee Child and Val MacDermid.

 

My new friends and rediscovered authors

Over the course of the weekend I had the chance to chat to some lovely people both bloggers and authors. I also embarrassingly discovered (on more than one occasion) that, as conversations developed,  I’d previously bought that author’s book and it was still sitting unread.  So a shout out to Graeme Cumming and Malcom Hollingdrake it was great meeting you and as I was obviously keen enough to buy your books, I promise to make time to read them – sooner rather than later.

Special mentions go to Abigail Osborne who is an eager little whirlwind of energy,  Jen (you are no longer anonymous), thanks for your dry humour and balanced take on life and Leah who happily and patiently put up with us all. It was great to meet you all. Congratulation too to Abbie who has just announced she has signed with Bloodhound Books – onwards and upwards.

Curry Night at Wethersooons

Abbie, Me, Jen and Leah

 

Sue Hampson from Books from Dusk till Dawn was my little life saver when I had a little confidence blip and worryingly realised by the end of the weekend she might have unleashed a monster. As I bravely introduced myself to Luca Veste at Harrogate station – I really do know your Aunt Gina honest! (and yes I also have one of your books patiently waiting) I also confessed to Mark Hill on the train, I was the one who only gave his book 3.5*s (he now knows exactly why – I will say one word – cockroach).  I was delighted to have met you Sue and hope this meet up will be the first of many.

Me and Susan

 

Without Sue I wouldn’t have met David Evans and Glynis Smy, who also helped to make my Harrogate experience memorable and enjoyable. We spent lots of time chatting in the beer tent between events and queueing for signings together. Dave was another author whose book I’d already bought and forgotten about, to make amends I’ve since bought another! Glynis is also an author and told me a fascinating story about the background to her latest book, which made her an ideal candidate for my Time and Place feature – especially as it also has a family history link which is a common thread with my others. Keep your eyes peeled for that forthcoming feature.

 

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Me, Glynis and David

 

My book haul

As anyone who has been to the festival it is impossible not to acquire books. Most of mine came from the Dead Good Awards tent as the generous goody bag was supplemented by a giveaway and several wins. An additional kind donation and a purchase bumped the total up to 11.

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Other Harrogate highlights

Getting the opportunity to meet up with my Facebook friend Christine. We ‘met’ on another author’s site and would comment on similar things, we are both WASPI women and discovered recently we are also both Hull lasses. As it turned out we lived less than half a mile from each other at the time!  We met up at Betty’s (a highlight in itself) for tea and cake on Friday morning and the time flew by. It was like we had known each other for ages and we had lot’s of things in common (quite spookily so). We are hoping to meet up in Manchester in October when we’ll be making our political presence felt.

 

Saturday saw the official opening of Imagined Things,  a new, independent bookshop. So with a bit of time to kill on Saturday afternoon I went along to have a look and also introduce myself to local author Jackie Buxton  who was having a book signing.  It will come as no surprise to know that her book Glass Houses is another one already waiting patiently on my Kindle.

 

My final highlight was meeting the lovely Heike, a teacher from Berlin, who was staying at the same B&B as me. This was her 3rd time at Harrogate and she’s already booked for next year, so maybe we’ll get the chance to meet again. As she kindly donated part of her festival goodie bag to me as she only had hand luggage on the plane, I’ll have more than memories to remember her by.

Me and Heike

 

So that was my Harrogate festival. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that re-inforced several things for me and also made me think about what I want, and need to do going forward. With regard to the latter,  foremost is actually start reading my own books, something I said I’d do this year but have failed abysmally to achieve.

If you get the chance to go to this or any other festival please take the opportunity I’m sure you won’t regret it.