The first biography of the bestselling author and journalist Marguerite Jervis
During the course of her 60-year career, Marguerite Florence Laura Jervis (1886-1964) published 149 books, with 11 novels adapted for film, including The Pleasure Garden (1925), the directorial debut of Alfred Hitchcock.
In her heyday, she sold hundreds of thousands of novels; she wrote for newspapers, women’s magazines and the silent movie screen; she married one of Wales’ most controversial literary figures, Caradoc Evans. She was an actress, a theatrical impresario, and one of the most successful novelists of her time, but now she is largely forgotten.
Known variously as Mrs Caradoc Evans, Oliver Sandys, Countess Barcynska and by many other pseudonyms, who was she really?
Liz Jones has dug deep beneath the romanticised tale told in Jervis’s own memoir to reveal what made this driven and determined woman and how she became a runaway popular success during the most turbulent years of the 20th century
I was really looking forward to immersing myself in this book. Memoir is one of my favourite genres and Liz Jones really knows how to bring her subject matter to life – I could not put this book down once I’d started it last Sunday in beautiful Pittenweem. Thanks so much to Anne Cater who always picks such great books for me and hosts such fabulous tours. I’ve discovered so many amazing books through blogging and this is right up there amongst my favourite non fiction reads of the year so far.
It was a ‘read right through until the end’ moment and I just loved having the time to plunge right in and savour this fabulous read. It was the perfect book to take my mind off the hustle and bustle of a busy school in the middle of COVID regulations, and travel back into a time gone by and read about this amazing life. This really is a book with something for everyone. It’s a window into another era, recreated with charm, intelligence and a real sense of recording a fascinating and memorable life.
Liz Jones certainly has invoked the spirit of her subject through the pages as she conjures Marguerite to life for you as her world is lovingly recreated in these pages. Many of these fascinating snippets are brought vividly to life as we immerse ourselves in a life that truly is unforgettable. We see all of her unique character quirks as we hear about her runaway successes and some of the facts that her fans might never have been aware of. Liz Jones’ writing is as memorable as the character she’s describing and you finish the book really feeling like you’ve spent time with Marguerite and had the chance to live some of these moments alongside her
I even went off looking up some of her more famous adaptations as I was reading about Marguerite I loved this photo on the front cover and feel like it brings this fascinating and determined woman to life in her rather splendid checked suit and wonderful plumed hat
This book has some absolutely killer lines – and that’s one of the things that made it such a perfect Sunday afternoon read. The fact that Liz emphasises things for us by making us see the woman behind the famous and successful writer and celebrity is one of the things that I loved most about this book – It is also a sharp look at the way society was in those days and the role of women, even if they were hugely professionally successful.
If you love a book where you get caught up in both the writing and the subject matter you’ll love The Queen Of Romance It’s fascinating and entertaining in equal measure and really brings this forgotten celebrity vividly to live through its pages in all her Edwardian glory. This is definitely a memoir where you end up wishing you’d met Marguerite for yourself and witnessing the way that she forged ahead of her time in many ways. But it also works as a rich and satisfying slice of social history too, giving you an insight into the chsnges that have been made in the way that famous women are regarded and the transient nature of fame too…
I ended up re-reading sections to myself as I found myself caught up in this vividly described world and going off to look up real events from its pages as I got so caught up in this period and time of real change. Non-fiction is definitely drawing me in this Spring and I’ll hopefully be sharing more of the memorable characters and places that I’ve ‘met’ through these reads as the month progresses
I totally recommend The Queen Of Romance and think you should definitely buy yourself a copy If you haven’t yet got into memoirs, this might be a great place to start and I wholeheartedly recommend finding out all about this wonderfully interesting life through its pages
This lively and compelling biography reveals how Marguerite Jervis dealt in both illusion and self-delusion, and deftly unfolds the ways in which this apparently indefatigable novelist and owner of two theatre companies adopted multiple identities and kept reinventing herself, from London’s West End to West Wales. Angela V John
This eminently readable biography, meticulously researched, of the life and times of a largely forgotten but remarkable woman will now be her fitting epitaph.Lyn Ebenezer
Writer On The Shelf
Liz Jones writes drama and creative non-fiction, reviews, short stories and journalism ranging from Take a Break to New Welsh Review.
Along the way she has raised two daughters, tried to change the world, worked in a café-cum-bookshop, a housing association, in community development and lifelong learning.
She is now a Teaching Fellow at Aberystwyth University.
My story would not be one of death and suffering and sacrifice, I would take my place in the songs that would be sung about Theseus; the princess who saved him and ended the monstrosity that blighted Crete’
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.
In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?
Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.
A truly spellbinding, epic story taking readers on an unforgettable journey. Perfect for fans of Circe, A Thousand Ships and The Silence of the Girls.
Why should I blame her that she filled my days With misery, or that she would of late Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways, Or hurled the little streets upon the great, Had they but courage equal to desire? What could have made her peaceful with a mind That nobleness made simple as a fire, With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind That is not natural in an age like this, Being high and solitary and most stern? Why, what could she have done, being what she is? Was there another Troy for her to burn?
A is for Ariadne herself – a beautiful woman who learns to her cost that sometimes your destiny means being a pawn in other people’s games in a world where being a woman ensures that your agency and self determination areextinguished almost before you get started. This is a book where you become wholly invested in the characters and forget al about the miles and the centuries between you
R is for readability – Many people have a huge fear factor about books that take you back into Greek mythology and fear that they won’t ‘get into it’ or that they will be put off if they don’t have a thorough grounding in the classics. Never fear, this is a wonderfully compelling read that asks you to leave your preconceptions at the door and just enoy a fantastically well-told tale
I is for Island – I loved the descriptions of her life on Naxos and the way that we get totally immersed in her adventures there with the famous Maenads, seeing the God of wine spring to life in vivid technicolour and throwing the rest of her life into relief
A is also for Athens and the very famous Theseus. I think that this aspect of the tale is probably the best known and most familiar to us as readers. However, Jennifer Saint manages to keep even the most familiar parts of the tale fresh as she allows us to see this ultra-male world from the perception of a woman and observe these ‘heroes’ from a very different perspective
D is for Dionysus himself. A stand-out character in this book who leaps off the page both as a god and a man as we read about their encounters. If you’ve ever wondered about the term Dionysian before then you will be wonderfully clear about both its etymology and its lived experience after reading this tale
N is for Naxos. In a year where we haven’t been able to travel, it felt wonderful to be able to inhabit this beautiful characters through the pages of this book and enjoy the sights and sounds of its shores, even if it was virtal. I miss Greece so much and visiting it through these pages gave me even more reasons to love it as a country and a culture so much.
E stands for English teacher. As a fellow teacher whom loves the myths and legends, I take my hat off to Jennifer Saint for the deft and effortless way that she brings these characters to life. I love clasial history and started my review with the Yeats poem that I always use to introduce my classes to it. They say that there are no new stories – and this novel is a case in point. Why do we need new stories if we have writers like this who make the old stories sing and come alive for new audiences? I loved this book that was beautiful both inside and out. I recommend that you buy yourself a copy as quickly as you can – because it’s like nothing else I’ve read this year and I can’t stop thinking about it
I would to thank Maclehose for a copy of Ariadne to read and review and to the lovely Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me on the blogtour.
Don’t just take my word for it however, have a look at the other fantastic reviews on the tour and maybe have a go at writing one yourself…
Praise for Jennifer Saint and ARIADNE:
‘With her wonderfully executed debut that reimagines the classic tale of Theseus, Adriane and the Minotaur, Jennifer Saint joins the likes of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker in forging mesmerising retellings of ancient Greek myths from a female perspective.’ – Waterstones.com
‘Saint’s immersive novel thrusts the reader straight into the heart of Greek mythology with this wonderful reimagining of the story of Ariadne.’ – iPaper
‘What happens after the monster is defeated and the princess leaves with the hero? Jennifer Saint’s ARIADNE is a shimmering tapestry of two sisters bound by deceit and the shadows of family history. . .With a fresh voice and keen insight, Saint adds flesh and bone to an ancient myth, drawing the reader into an uneasy world of ever-afters.’ – Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author of THE NIGHT TIGER
Writer On the Shelf
Due to a lifelong fascination with Ancient Greek mythology, Jennifer Saint read Classical Studies at King’s College, London. She spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher, sharing a love of literature and creative writing with her students. ARIADNE is her first novel and she is working on another retelling of ancient myth for her second.
Hadley thought she’d left the past behind. But now it’s found her.
Hadley is one of those rare people who feels she’s living the perfect life. She has a husband she loves, a charming daughter, and a job that is deeply fulfilling. Sometimes it almost seems like a fairytale.
Then, little by little, things start to go wrong. There’s the creepy guy from down the street who keeps staring at her teenage daughter, there’s the strangely needy woman who moves in next door…
Just little wrinkles, but then Hadley’s world is turned upside down when someone close to her is murdered. And Hadley begins to suspect that the killing is linked to something from her own past. A terrible secret she has never shared with anyone…
As she digs deeper, Hadley realises there is someone out there who knows what she did, someone who is planning to take her perfect life – and turn it into a perfect nightmare.
Only You – the stunning psychological thriller from the author of The Other Couple and The Guest.
When Emma let me know about the #OnlyYou Blog Tour, I bit her hand off. I absolutely love Cathryn Grant’s writing and couldn’t wait to see what she was going to do next. I actually read it in full the day I received it, my anticipation had really reached fever pitch and I couldn’t wait any longer. Let me just tell you that Only You did not disappoint.
The cover hints at the tale which is about to unfold – although if you are a fan of Cathryn’s writing, you’ll discover that the good luck charms might be a bit misleading once the story gets under way and Hadley’s luck begins to run out…
I love a book where everything is not quite as it seems and I’d have to say that once I was three chapters into this psychological thriller I was absolutely invested and could not stop reading. It is rare to be able to dedicate a whole day to reading at this time of the year if you are a teacher – never mind in the middle of a COVID return to school. But this book had me hooked and I just could not stop until I’d found out everything I needed to know and discovered if my suspicions would be confirmed. I really want to chat with someone else who’s read it now as I am keen to see if their thoughts aligned with mine as the story unfolded. It is an absolute belter of a read and I promise you that you won’t be able to stop thinking about Hadley’s tale and the way things begin to unravel.
The thriller’s enduring popularity really means that writers have to think outside the box if they want their readers to be genuinely captivated by the twists and turns of their latest read and I am happy to report that Cathryn Grant manages this with skill and originality. I am also determined to ensure that there are no spoilers as this ending really is worth the wait. I am a literal true crime addict and this felt like getting a fix of something absolutely real. It is one of those novels that you finish and feel like googling as you are so convinced that the events actually happened. I absolutely loved it and think that it would make another superb movie adaptation. I’m surreptitiously casting it in my mind’s eye right now…
I absolutely love a novel where we get the past blurring with the present and Hadley’s past begins to emerge in such a way as you soon become aware that there’s more to this unfolding narrative than meets the eye, but several wonderfully contrasting characters that play with your mind and weave in and out of your sense of direction until you really are left wondering who on earth to trust. The way that the clues are cleverly scattered in such a way as to misdirect and beguile you by Cathryn made for compelling reading that never let you relax for one moment – something else that sets her aside from other more run of the mill writers. The characters are not mere devices to advance the plot but really are people we ‘meet’ in its telling. The story that is uncovered is all the more affecting as we care about the people it’s happening to and Hadley’s situation and everything that unfolds is much more effective because we actually feel that we’ve got to know her as a real person.
As i said, I read this in a single day, being utterly loath to drag myself away from the twists and turns of this situation that we are drawn into. I love books that are even better than the one you’ve been anticipating and I have to say that this novel was definitely her best yet. This book is the narrative equivalent of a kaleisoscope – you know that there’s more going on below the surface and try as you might to decipher exactly why it is, things keep shifting before your very eyes and the final picture eludes you right to the very end. And perhaps even afterwards…
I think it’s difficult to make a thriller genuinely original without seeming to try too hard or feel contrived – but Only You manages the perfect balance of a twisty thriller and a realistic portrayal of characters that you actually feel like you are meeting on the page. A great read that will keep you up too late and genuinely keep you on the edge of your seat and a twist you won’t forget in a hurry…
Cathryn Grant writes psychological thrillers, psychological suspense, and ghost stories. She’s the author of twenty-three novels.
She’s loved crime fiction all her life and is endlessly fascinated by the twists and turns, and the dark corners of the human mind.
When she’s not writing, Cathryn reads fiction, eavesdrops, and tries to play golf without hitting her ball into the sand or the water. She lives on the Central California coast with her husband and two cats.
Cathryn is the author of The Assistant, The Good Mother and many other psychological thrillers. Only You will be her sixth novel published with Inkubator Books.
Adam had it all: a great job, a gorgeous house and a loving family. Then he cheated on his partner. Then she kicked him out. And then he was given twelve months to live.
Despite the devastating news, Adam is determined to turn his life around before it finally runs out. Help comes in the form of an ex-junky, a cantankerous train driver, a nun experiencing a crisis of faith, and a teenager intent on losing her virginity – all living on borrowed time, all deserate to feel alive before their time is up.
It’s such a privilege this sunny spring evening, to be one of the bloggers on the blog tour of one of the best books I’ve read this year so far– and that is no mean feat, as 2021 is already shaping up to be an amazing year for books. The LastAct of Adam Campbell is a book that you’ll be seeing everywhere this Summer and if you’ve not got your Spring/Summer TBR scheduled already, you should definitely make a space for this thought provoking, touching and unforgettable read.
The fact that this book is so wonderfully structured with such clever juxtapositions and thought provoking contrasts means that it is hard to write a review without any spoilers. I really want you to have the same amazing reading experience that I had – so I am committed to not giving anything away that will have an impact on that. Suffice to say that I adored this book – Andy Jones’ writing allows you to fully immerse yourself in Adam’s world and experience the highs nd lows right there alogside him. It’s one of those books that you find yourself thinking about whenever you’re not reading it and imagining what the characters are doing, just as if they are real people that you know…
I really lost myself in the story of Harriet whose unravelling life was so well described that I felt that he was someone I knew after I’d finished reading his story. I felt like I could really transport myself into his world and imagine the impact of these experiences myself. The book deals so sensitively with the impact of trauma and palliative care – yet is sometimes so absolutely hilarious that I just couldn’t get enough of it. I really feel that this is one of the main misconceptions about books that deal with ‘big’ subjects – that they have to be deadly serious throughout. This is a writer who is not afaid to tackle difficult subjects with compassion, sensitivity and a open mind – but isn’t averse to cracking you up with some of the side spilttig moments that are experienced in this novel. It really is unique in that way and I feel the blend of seriousness and humour really helps the readers to gain a much better understanding about the way some of these issues affect the lives of thousands of ordinary people off the page too
I feel that books about dying are perhaps one of the most underrepresented in modern literature and Adam’s story goes a long way towards dispelling some of the misconceptions and allows us to see that this situation might be a lot more complex than the stereotypical idea about someone who receives a diagnosis like this…
Adam is a fabulous character, he definitely felt very real to me as he goes through all of these experiences – from self help books to drama with a twist, through virginity, nuns and everything in between – this was an eclectic, thought provoking and hugely memorable read. Andy Jones’ writing gives us a gradual insight into the back stories of this diverse group of characters and a slow reveal about how and why their current situation has evolved – allowing a real empathy to develop between the characters and the readers. You’ll never have met a cast like this before , and you certainly won’t be able to forget them in a hurry…
Andy Jones has created characters we can really connect with, experiencing emotional dilemmas that have us rooting for them. Adam himself is such a fabulous creation and we definitely feel for him as he experiences the full gamut of emotions that such a diagnosis brings with it. It is a real joy to get to know him as the book develops which makes the way that the plot unfolds all the more compelling. I read this book in a single day over last weekend and I’m so glad that I actually got the time to unwind and lose myself in this emotionally rewarding and thought-provoking read. It is a moving and emotional story and I’d love to see it on the slver screen I am so grateful to the lovely Jenny Platt for inviting me on the tour, it’s been an absolute pleasure and I can’t stop recommending this book to EVERYONE.
Buy yourself a copy right now and experience Adam’s story for yourself. And you don’t just have to take my word for it – look at all the praise this wonderful read has attracted already
‘I’m broken!! Completely and utterly broken!! Andy Jones what have you done to me?! The Last Act of Adam Campbell is a wonderful book and I loved every single page . . . I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I finished it and so it’s one I know will be hard to beat when it comes to my favourite books of the year list at the end of 2020 . . . Very highly recommended by me!
This book should come with a warning, a packet of tissues plus tea and chocolates to help you recover from the end of it . . . The Last Act of Adam Campbell’ is a life affirming and tender story that highlights the fragility of life and the importance of making every second count.
You will need a lot of tissues, as it is funny, sad and touching and really shows the strength of human spirit and how even when everything seems hopeless you can find hope as the group all do in The Rude Mechanicals. A great but heart-wrenching read.
One of the most uplifting books I have read in a long time . . . We have a tendency to worry and fret about stupid things in this life that really don’t matter. If nothing else, this book has given me the chance to change my priorities and focus more on the things that really matter. And for that, I wholeheartedly thank the author.
Wow if this book doesn’t make you cry then I’m pretty sure nothing will . . . This book is sad and brutally honest but also filled with love and fun and a story of friendship that changes every single one of their lives for the better. The ending is heartbreaking but beautiful.
Despite being an emotional mess at times, I cannot express how glad I am that I have read this book. I found it very cathartic and it made me feel very positive.
This beautifully written and heart-warming book is perfect for fans of Nick Hornby and David Nicholls., BooksLifeEverything.blogspot.co.uk
This is an incredible novel and – if you’re not scared to have your heart broken a little (or a lot) – you definitely shouldn’t miss it, BookAfterBook.blogspot.com
Oh my, what a beautiful, moving book it is! Full of poignant moments to bring a lump to your throat, it’s a story not only about death, but about life, love and everything in between. It’s about grabbing hold of life with both hands, no matter how long or short that life may be . . . As difficult as some parts of this book was to read, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. As long as you go in prepared to have your heart broken, aware that it deals with the devastation that death and loss brings, I would say read and experience the beauty of this book for yourself. I know this is a story and characters that will stay with me for a long time to come.Andy Joneshas written a moving, poignant and memorable book to be proud of., CalTurnerReviews.wordpress.com
Writer On The Shelf
In one form or another, Andy has always been a writer. At school, he passed notes in class and scribbled rude words on lamp posts. At university he wrote a PhD in biochemistry and forged tickets to various balls, and as an advertising copywriter, he has written adverts for everything from baby food to booxe. But it wasn’t until he was well into his thirties that Andy started writing fiction. If he could write a letter to his younger self, it would urge him to stop messing about and get on with it. Andy lives in London with his wife and two little girls. Chances are he’s writing something.
This is a blog tour celebrating the publication of this contemporary read, which is published this Thursday (29th April). Lots of people are talking about this book so do check out what they are saying, and thank you as always for taking the time to read and share this post.
The old millennium turns into the new. In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.
Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.
Anna leaves with empty arms.
Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.
The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits. Perhaps beyond . . .
Because Of You is Dawn French’s stunning new novel, told with her signature humour, warmth and so much love.
Sometimes a book appears at just the right time in your life – and this was one of those times when I really needed to find a book to lose myself in. I have recommended it to so many people as ‘the perfect book for you’ , talked about it people at my Zoom Book Group and will definitely be buying it as a gift for quite a few of my friends too. I absolutely loved being on the tour for this book and can’t wait to read about what my fellow bloggers thought too…
I don’t think you have had to experience any of these experiences to bond with this book, but by god – if you have there will be moments in this novel that you’ll read and read again saying ‘HOW DID SHE KNOWWW?’ and I think that there will definitely be so many people all over the UK who will be wondering whether Dawn French was sitting behind them in a bar eavesdropping on their conversations as so much of this book feels so utterly REAL that at times you forget that this is an actual novel
I’d like to thank the lovely Kealey for inviting me on the tour and recommend that you follow it and see what all the other fab bloggers had to say about this unforgettable book – this was such a great read to remind me of why I love bookblogging so much – when I get to read fantastic novels like this and tell other people how much they’ll love them too!
Books about motherhood and all the heartache and struggles it can bring alongside it can feel like they are ten a penny – but this one really is different. It’s dark and light in exactly the right ratio to be truly satisfying and there will be moments where you’ll literally be devastated – but by the end the holistic effect is both cathartic and gratifying and I’m so jealous of everyone who hasn’t read it yet…If you don’t have a packet of tissues handy before you start, pop out to the shop and get some in – as I guarantee you’ll need them.
As you will have surmised by now, I literally could not put this book down, I was so caught up in this poignant read and I’m sure you will be too. It really felt like we’d been through this together. Dawn French gets it pitch perfect – there is exactly the right mixture of combination of devastating brutality and moments of absolute normality mean that everyone can identify with some part of this story– it’s a representation of so many things that are never spoken about openly and will appeal to readers who love getting right inside a story and experiencing the highs and lows of characters in books that will tug at your heartstrings so much that you can’t tear yourself away
I loved the idea behind this book: that in the middle of loss and devastation it’s important to remember sometimes that our future might not always be written the way that we think it is. You will need to lock yourself away and clear your diary as you will not be able to look up until you’ve reached the end…
This is the kind of book you’ll be buying for your friends as you will want to spend hours talking about the ideas about motherhood, loyalty and the impossibilities that life can present us with…
Don’t just take my word for it though – check out these other reviews and make sure you follow the rest of the tour
Because of You is the remarkably poignant story perfect for every Dawn French fan, told with her signature humour, warmth and so much love. ‘An extraordinary book – sad, heartening, gripping and reassuringly human’ JO BRAND
‘The final scenes are so perfectly executed they almost broke my heart. Because of You is a story to cherish’ Sunday Express
‘French manages to pick your heart up with the nib of her pen and slowly pull it apart, heart-wrenchingly, page by page . . . A true writing talent’My Weekly
‘Dawn French is a wonderful writer’Daily Mail
‘Moving . . . French’s best yet’ Good Housekeeping
‘Dawn tackles the big ones – love, death, grief, childhood, motherhood, parenthood – head on’Guardian
‘Beautifully observed’The Times READERS LOVE BECAUSE OF YOU:
‘Dawn had me laughing, crying . . . I loved every word’ 5***** Reader Review
Writer On The Shelf
Dawn French has been making people laugh for thirty years. On purpose.
As a writer, comedian and actor, she has appeared in some of the UK’s most long running, cherished and celebrated shows, including French and Saunders, The Comic Strip Presents …, Murder Most Horrid, The Vicar of Dibley, Jam and Jerusalem, Lark Rise to Candleford, and more recently, Roger and Val Have Just Got In.
The members of a local support group in a sleepy welsh town are captivated by the new arrival, Sheena Strachan. Each member of the group has a reason for attending. Some hide dark, sinister secrets, and for others it is the highlight of their week.
But what are Sheena’s motives for attending?
The group’s leader, Rose, unexpectedly stops attending meetings. She goes into hiding, and quickly becomes an outcast. And then she is arrested for her estranged husband’s murder.
Did Sheena really have no involvement in his killing?
With Sheena at the helm, the group goes from strength to strength, both in numbers and commitment. But their behaviour is changing. No story is to leave the room. They trust nobody. Men are the enemy. The residents of the previously peaceful town start turning against each other.
Was this Sheena’s plan all along?
One mystery, however, stands out more than all the others.
Who is here to kill who…?
I AM HERE TO KILL YOU is a compelling psychological thriller that explores the potential power and devastation of manipulation.
I absolutely love Chris Westlake’s writing and adored 30 Days InJune and if you haven’t read it you need to add it to your TBR pile without delay as it satisfied my urge to read a story that confounded my expectations and proved that sleepy Welsh towns have a lot more going on beneath the surface than you might ever have thought…
Although I was totally absorbed in the story in I Am Here To Kill You, it is the characters in this absorbing psychological thriller that makes it such a treat to read. The story of Sheena Strachan and the waves that her arrival makes in the small Welsh town of Pontbach is so perfectly realised that it was hard at times to remember that they are fictional characters rather than real people whose lives had become entwined with mine. Sheena is a grade A manipulator and you have to admire her absolute audacity as she sets about her plan and inveigles herself into the town and its women’s live. The Welsh setting was something that really appealed to me as I love reading books set in a place that I know well. Added to this was the fact that the other bloggers on the tour had all commented on the fact that this was a really original read and I was bursting to find out if they were right…
Sheena is never presented as just the sum of her experiences, I think that it’s a testament to the plotting here that we get so caught up in wondering what Sheena will be up to next that it’s easy to forget that it’s a novel and you’re not caught up in this story yourself. The mystery surrounding her motives about coming to Pontbach and what exactly she hopes to achieve once she’s here is well sustained and will definitely keep you guessing as you read.
The novel’s portrayal of this town is never formulaic and writer’s portrait of Sheena and the women she meets feels really vivid and true to life as we get presented with some harrowing and challenging situations. You will definitely find it hard to put this book down as you’ll be so wrapped up in this story that you’ll needto keep reading and find out how it all ends. Expect the unexpected when reading I Am Here To Kill You – it’s safe to say that there were parts of this novel that I read with a thudding heart and sweaty palms as I was not sure how it was all going to end. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and if you are yet to start reading it, you’re definitely in for a treat.
I absolutely recommend this book to people who really like to get their teeth into a story that is original ,compelling and frightening in equal measure. In the present reading climate, many books seem a bit too much like something you’ve read before – and this book certainly stood out a mile for me. I loved the characterisation as much as I enjoyed the plot and I will definitely be recommending it to friends of mine who enjoy a page-turning read with characters that feel like they step right off the page. Buy yourself a copy here and enjoy travelling to rural Wales and experiencing a tale that you won’t forget in a hurry from Chris Westlake…
Writer On The Shelf
After completing a Creative Writing course in 2010, Chris Westlake’s short story, Welsh Lessons, was awarded 1st place in the Global Short Story Award (not bad for the first writing competition he had entered). He followed this up with 1st place in the Stringybark Erotic Fiction Award and 2nd place in the HASSRA Literary Award.
Chris has written three novels. 30 DAYS IN JUNE is his first crime thriller. He is currently writing his second thriller, on schedule to be completed in 2020. He is determined to write many, many more – his main regret is that he didn’t start writing earlier.
Chris considers himself to be a developing author. He is always looking to improve, to make his next novel even better than the last. He is continuously experimenting with different styles, different genres.
She knows she’s alone on an abandoned island with a killer on her trail.
She knows that to get home to her children, she must survive long enough to understand why this is happening.
She knows someone tried to kill her for a secret.
What she doesn’t know is what that secret is . . .
Detective Frank Travis doesn’t know enough . . .
He doesn’t know where to find Louise Mason. He doesn’t know how and why she vanished into thin air three months ago. He doesn’t know the identity of the man last seen talking to her. Not yet.
But what he does know it that he’s a week away from retirement — and if he doesn’t find out where Louise went, no one will.
What neither Rebekah nor Detective Travis realise is that each holds a missing piece from the same puzzle — and it will cost them everything they love to finally solve it . .
As a real fan of an intriguing mystery, I was definitely seduced by the premise of this book featuring a struggle for survival, a missing person and some shocking revelations – when I discovered that it was set on an abandoned island too, that really sealed the deal for me and it quickly zoomed to the top of my TBR pile. I was delighted to be invited on the tour by the lovely Chrissie from Michael Joseph and couldn’t wait to see if it was as clever and captivating as I expected
This book definitely did not disappoint, it grabbed me and pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book: that we will puzzle our way through the many clues and trails about what might have happened in the past and how this impacts on the safety and survival of Rebekah in the present day – and this really added to the story for me. The isolated setting and the ghosts of the past that begin to emerge and surround the prsent day mystery really kept me turning the pages as the novel unfolds.
The fact that Tim Weaver is a writer who bases his novels on real life missing persons cases too was another factor that made me love this book as I was fascinated by the way that he takes real events and transposes them into amazingly well crafted and compelling pageturners that never allow you to move your eye off the action for a second, as you have become so engrossed in the story. The way that Rebekah and Detective Travis both have different insights to the same mystery makes for intriguing and tense reading and will keep you up far too late trying to work out what’s going to happen next…
I absolutely loved the present day setting of this novel and definitely found the mystery of Louise Mason’s disappearance quite addictive too. It was intriguing to see which trail of breadcrumbs would prove to be the right one as Tim Weaver kept me changing my mind from one moment to the next. The fact that each chapter presents us with fresh clues and small insights into what has happened in the past was a fantastic device and really kept me on my toes as a reader as this clever and fast-paced novel unfolded
Even though there have been lots of novels this year that focus on people going missing, Tim Weaver’s writing ensures that the characters we meet allow this plot to unfold in an original way which makes the story feel fresh and innovative, rather than ploughing a familiar furrow. The characters all feel very much like real people – rather than mechanisms to provide clues about Louise or how this connects to Rebekah’s predicament – which I’ve often found in novels like this with characters who may or may not know the answer to the mystery. I think that the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle, where you strive to find the missing pieces is an excellent analogy for this book and even the most fiendish puzzle solvers will find much to occupy their brains here as it’s so well-crafted.
Tim Weaver is an intriguing new writer for me – it’s hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by Bec’s unenviable situation and want to read on and find out exactly what is behind this mysterious disappearance in the past that seems to be having such a seismic impact on the present day. It’s not one of these ‘keep looking for the big twist’ stories that people are getting a little bored of now. It is just that things start to appear through the murk and you’ll not be able to believe you never noticed them before – in a wonderfully well-constructed way.
Anyone interested in twisty and dynamic reads and who loves trying to work out which characters to trust…ot not…will love this multi-layered and gripping novel. I had really high hopes for Missing Pieces and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. It was definitely a book that I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally intrigued by its characters, its pace and the way it really kept me guessing
I can’t wait to explore Tim Weaver’s back catalogue and have already ordered some more David Raker myssteries. The idea that life can be a lot darker and more interesting than you might think on the surface is a very intriguing one. I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion…
Buy yourself a copy here if you want to get to the heart of the mystery and if you loved it, grab yourself a copy of No One Home too!
Writer On The Shelf
Tim Weaver is the Sunday Times bestselling author of the David Raker Missing Persons series. He has been nominated for a National Book Award, selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, and shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library award, which considers an author’s entire body of work.
He is also the host and producer of the chart-topping Missing podcast, which features experts in the field discussing missing persons investigations from every angle. A former journalist and magazine editor, he lives near Bath with his wife and daughter.
A hugely anticipated debut thriller from former CNN international news executive Sarah Sultoon. Inspired by Sarah’s own time in the newsroom, The Source follows a young TV journalist who is forced to revisit her past when she’s thrust into a sex-trafficking investigation in her hometown. TV rights have already been sold to Lime Pictures, with Jo Spain writing the screenplay
1996. Essex. Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives in a disenfranchised town dominated by a military base, struggling to care for her baby sister while her mum sleeps off another binge. When her squaddie brother brings food and treats, and offers an exclusive invitation to army parties, things start to look a little less bleak…
2006. London. Junior TV newsroom journalist Marie has spent six months exposing a gang of sex traffickers, but everything is derailed when New Scotland Yard announces the re-opening of Operation Andromeda, the notorious investigation into allegations of sex abuse at an army base a decade earlier.
As the lives of these two characters intertwine around a single, defining event, a series of utterly chilling experiences is revealed, sparking a nail-biting race to find the truth… and justice.
A tense, startling and unforgettable thriller, The Source is a story about survival, about hopes and dreams, about power, abuse and resilience.
With all the emphasis on Line of Duty and investigating corruption at the moment, it was fantastic to be able to immerse myself in a high quality piece of crime fiction that felt every bit as tense, intelligent and compelling as any crime series I’ve ever watched. I’m so excited to hear that the television rights have already been bought and cannot WAIT to see it on the screen. I love books that deal with gritty subject matter and Karen definitely has a nose for a good story so I was really excited to read Sarah Sultoon’s novel as soon as I could. The Easter Holidays arrived and I was delighted to have some time to dedicate to this hugely anticipated crime thriller and can assure you that I was certainly not disappointed – this book brings the idea of an unputdownable read to a new level and I enjoyed every single moment of this tautly plotted and gripping read.
I absolutely love books that are set in two distinct timelines and really enjpyed travelling back to the 90s with Carly then seeing things from Marie’s perspective a decade later. This book starts with a punch right between the eyes and the pace never really lets up until you’ve turned the final page The fact that these two characters have such different backgrounds and experiences makes for a fantastic reading experience as you see the differences in the way that they perceive and reflect on events and the way that their individual sories affect us. You will feel protective of Carly who alongside her younger sister Kayleigh is growing up in the most challenging circumstances – the path she is being led down becomes clearer and clearer as the novel progresses and the difficult reality of grooming and how insidiously it works is brilliantly captured and brings its true horror to life extremely effectively as we see and undertand the situation very differently from this vulnerable young girl – however streetwise and mature she feels that she us.
Marie is a completely different kettle of fish – although on the surface she might appear to be the stronger character as a successful TV producer and investigative journalist in actual fact she comes across as far less confident and capable than Carly in many ways. This juxtaposition was one of the things that I enjoyed most about this read and is actually one of the key things I enjoy about Orenda books – that their characters are never stereotypically what you might expect and you can’t always pigeonhole them and have a clear understanding of how they’ll behave or how their narrative will unfold. These two characters worlds collide when Marie gets caught up in Operation Andromeda and once stones start being overturned we are caught up in a race against time. We are thrust into a dark world of depravity, corruption and cruelty that will have you both angry and horrified alternately as you experience the depths which human beings will stoop to and you won’t be able to look away. This is a dark read without a doubt, but it never feels exploitative or gratuitous as Sultoon never loses sight of Carly’s humanity and the realisation that there are many hundreds of girls and women caught up in situations like this and this hard hitting novel never lets you forget this
Although I was totally absorbed in the characterisation of The Source it is undoubtedly the intelligence and deftness of its plotting that raisees it head and shoulders above its competition. Orenda reads are my favourites for a reason and it’s incredibly difficult to imagine that this is a debut read The story of Marie and her immersion in the twists and turns of this case is so perfectly realised that it was hard at times to remember that these are fictional characters rather than real people whose lives are unfolding on the page and it made me wish that time would pass more quickly so that I can see these gripping events unfold on the screen and so that more people can experience the quality of Sultoon’s writing and characterisation.
Carly is one of those characters that feel absolutely real from the very first page. She likes to imagine that she is much more grown up and tough than she actually is and because we can see the writing on the wall far before she does, it makes for incredibly poignant reading at times. This story really came alive for me and it was one of those novels that you blink and look up from and discover that you’ve just spent the last three hours immersed in it, it’s so captivating and immersive a story. I will admit to have to step away for a breather at times as it got so intense and once you get caught up in these events, you will definitely see what I mean.
The characters in The Source are never merely presented as devices to drive the plot along – although it does unfold at an absolutely cracking pace I think that it’s a testament to the strength of Sultoon’s writing that we are so completely immersed in this journey into this heart of darkness that we are happy to be led up several blind alleys through the skilful plotting and are holding our collective breath by the end as there is so much tension being so expertly managed. The juxtaposition between the very ordinariness of the setting with the depravity of these events is convincingly depicted and the tension never lets up for one second in what can be at times a relentless and dark read. I particularly enjoyed the fact that many of the threats are never explicitly spelled out for us and the horror that is conjured as a consequence of this is far more horrifying than any gratuitous diaplays of brutality could ever be…
You will definitely find it hard to put this book down as you’ll be so wrapped up in this gripping and brilliantly plotted read – you’ll needto keep reading and find out how it all ends. Despite her reserved nature, Marie is not a character to give up easily, no matter the circumstances, so it’s safe to say that there were parts of this novel that I read when I was literally holding my breath, not sure what was going to happen next. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and I’m really jealous of anyone who’s yet to start reading this book as it really stands out and once you’ve locked yourself in, you are in for a white knuckle reading ride!
I recommend this wonderfully tense and hard-hitting novel to people who really like to get their teeth into a story that is as far from predictable and formulaic as it is possible to be. In the present reading climate, many books can seem almost interchangeable and this book certainly stood out a mile. I loved the intelligent characterisation as much as I enjoyed the fast-moving and gripping plot and I will definitely be recommending it to friends of mine who enjoy a read that will be like nothing else they’ve read this year and I know that it’s going to be much talked about as it feels like one of those books that becomes a word of mouth hit – it really is that good!
Buy yourself a copy and experience this unforgettable read before it appears on screen. It’s definitely one of my favourite reads of 2021 so far and I’m going to be passsing it on to my bookish crowd as a ‘must read’ for all crime thriller fans this year! Thank you so much to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the tour and thanks again to Karen for always making my TBR a thing of beauty and ensuring that I’m never stuck for a supply of brilliant and talented debut writers, as well as all my established Orenda favourites.
‘Tautly written and compelling, not afraid to shine a spotlight on the darker forces at work in society’ Rupert Wallis
‘So authentic and exhilarating … breathtaking pace and relentless ingenuity’ Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
‘A powerful, intense whammy of a debut that is both uncomfortable and exhilarating to read … Thought-provoking, tense, and expressive, The Source is an utterly compelling debut’ LoveReading
‘A gripping, dark thriller’ Geoff Hill, ITV
‘A cleverly constructed story that offers an authentic view behind the scenes in a British newsroom … an original and wholly engaging debut. Definitely a name to watch’ Crime Fiction Lover
‘My heart was racing … fiction to thrill even the most hard-core adrenaline junkies’ Diana Magnay, Sky News
‘Unflinching and sharply observed. A hard-hitting, deftly woven debut’ Ruth Field
‘With this gripping, fast-paced debut thriller, it’s easy to see what made Sultoon such a great journalist. She has a nose for a great story, an eye for the details that make it come to life, and real compassion for her protagonist’ Clarissa Ward, CNN
‘A hard-hitting, myth-busting rollercoaster of a debut’ Eve Smith
‘A dazzling debut’ The Reading Closet
‘I could picture and feel each scene, all the fear, tension and hope’ Katie Allen
‘Gripping, emotional, eye-opening and so brilliantly written … a stunning debut by a very talented author’ Anne Cater
‘Thought provoking, emotional and sometimes brutal … both thrilling and heart-wrenching’ Live & Deadly
Writer On The Shelf
Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs.
As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if…