The House on the Edge of the Cliff – Blog Tour

 

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No one else knows what happened that summer. Or so she believes . . .

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provençal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

The past and present spectacularly collide in this gripping story of love and betrayal echoing across the decades. 

If you love a historical epic, then The House on the Edge of the Cliff might be your new favourite read. I love books that carry me across time, weaving skilfully between the past and the present and Carol Drinkwater manages this superbly, leading us between the Parisian student protests of the 1960s to modern day discussions about Brexit with skill and

I love books that transport me in time and place and I read this during the lovely weather that we’ve just had across exam season– totally losing myself in balmy Provence at times as Carol Drinkwater’s fantastic sense of place is so deftly realised in this immersive read.

But even beautiful Provence is no refuge from the past and now in the present day, Grace has to face up to things from that Parisian Summer that she might prefer to forget. This book is set in two very diverting periods and I felt that they were both drawn with equal attention to detail and I happily moved between them in the novel.  I really enjoy it when books let me see  historical periods through the eyes of the same characters and the fact that we see Grace’s life from several different perspectives was fascinating and really kept me engrossed.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff opens with the upheaval and dissent of the student protests and Grace thinks that her present day life is wholly separate from the turbulent events that happened back then. The elegant and carefree life that she has built with Peter and her children cannot be put at risk for things which happened so long ago.  But as Grace discovers to her peril, sometimes the past refuses to be neatly laid to rest. Each of the succeeding episodes in the novel drip freed us more information about  what Grace might have experienced in her youth – and how her innocence then might jeopardise her entire life now. .  This narrative form was very more-ish and several nights kept me up much later than I’d intended with a real sense of ‘just one more chapter…’

The strong plotting and skilful characterisation combine to draw you into a story bursting with secrets and the stunningly evocative setting – where you could swear that you can hear the Mediterranean beating off the shore all combine to keep you turning the pages. I really liked the way that we are left to discover things for ourselves and the novel credits the reader with a bit of intelligence, rather than spelling everything out straight away as we follow events to their moving conclusion. It’s hard to write about The House on the Edge of The Cliff with no spoilers, but I’ve tried really hard as this is a book that you really need to experience for yourself.

If you like a historical saga,  you’ll love this book and I know that my mum’s definitely going to be pinching it from me for her holidays. I’d like to thank Sriya Varadharajan at Penguin for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a fantastically enticing summer read that will be hard to tear yourself way from once you get started.

Buy yourself a copy here

 

Writer On The Shelf

Carol Drinkwater

Anglo-Irish actress Carol Drinkwater is perhaps still most familiar to audiences for her award-winning portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. A popular and acclaimed author and film-maker as well, Carol has published nineteen books for both the adult and young adult markets. She is currently at work on her twentieth title.
When she purchased a rundown property overlooking the Bay of Cannes in France, she discovered on the grounds sixty-eight, 400-year-old olive trees. Once the land was reclaimed and the olives pressed, Carol along with her French husband, Michel, became the producers of top-quality olive oil. Her series of memoirs, love stories, recounting her experiences on her farm (The Olive Farm, The Olive Season, The Olive Harvest and Return to the Olive Farm) have become international bestsellers.

Carol’s fascination with the olive tree extended to a seventeenth-month, solo Mediterranean journey in search of the tree’s mythical secrets. The resulting travel books, The Olive Route and The Olive Tree, have inspired a five-part documentary films series entitled The Olive Route.

Carol has also been invited to work with UNESCO to help fund an Olive Heritage Trail around the Mediterranean with the dual goals of creating peace in the region and honouring the ancient heritage of the olive tree.

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Breakers Blog Tour

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A toxic family … a fight for survival…

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.

On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.

With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.

A pulsatingly tense psychological thriller, Breakers is also a breathtakingly brutal, beautiful and deeply moving story of a good kid in the wrong family, from one of Scotland’s finest crime writers.

 

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For weeks, my Twitter timeline has been FULL of people who have been shouting about how much they’ve loved this book and it’s been hard to keep to my reading schedule and be disciplined as I knew that it was going to be something really special before I even opened it. I absolutely love Doug Johnstone’s writing and adored Faultlines and if you haven’t read it you need to add it to your TBR pile without delay as it deserves every single one of its plaudits and more – so when Anne Cater asked me if I’d like to take part in the blog tour for Breakers, I bit her hand off…

Although I was totally absorbed in the story in Breakers, it is Doug Johnstone’s writing itself that makes it such a treat to read.  The story of Tyler and his sister 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. Tyler ends up in a horrifying situation when his break-in goes wrong and your heart really goes out to him when you understand just how awful a situation he has managed to get himself into. The Edinburgh setting was something that really appealed to me as I love reading books set in a city that I know. Added to this was the fact that I’ve heard Doug speak so many times  that I could almost imagine his voice as I read it and hearing him describe some of the Edinburgh settings for me as I read.

 

 

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Tyler is never presented as just the sum of his experiences, I think that it’s a testament to the strength of the writing that we are rooting for him throughout the novel as we see all of the potential within him. His relationship with his wee sister, Bean is convincingly and movingly depicted and gives tiny chinks of relief in what can be at times a relentless and tough read.  Tyler’s sense of decency and protective side are really brought out through the way that he looks out for her as their parents are too lost in their own addictions and hopelessness to provide her with any kind of care or comfort at home and Tyler is basically the only real parent that she has.

As well as his relationship with Bean,  we are also given a very vivid insight into his developing friendship with Flick – whose background at first seems the polar opposite of Tyler’s. Flick is the girl with everything – on the surface at least – a boarding-school education, a swanky car and a carefree life. What I loved about this book was that we soon start to see that money does not necessarily buy you a happy life and although Flick is richer in material things certainly, her life is in some ways more similar to Tyler’s than anyone might have guessed.

Even though on the surface they are dealing with very different issues, Flick and Tyler are essentially connected by more than divides them. The novel’s portrayal of their relationship is never formulaic: ‘rich girl meets poor boy’ and feels really vivid and true to life as they navigate some harrowing and challenging situations. You will definitely find it hard to put this book down as you’ll be so wrapped up in their story that you’ll need to keep reading and find out how it all ends. Deke Holt – crime lord – is not a character to cross, so 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 I’m really jealous of anyone who’s yet to start reading Breakers as they are definitely in for a treat.

I absolutely recommend Breakers to people who really like to get their teeth into a story  that is as far from formulaic and predictable as it is possible to be. In the present reading climate, many books can seem very same-y and this book certainly stood out a mile amongst the competition.  I loved the deft characterisation as much as I enjoyed the plot and I will definitely be recommending Breakers to friends of mine who enjoy a page-turning read with a real heart. Bravo, Doug – it’s only May but Breakers is really looking like a contender for my ‘Best of 2019’ list already. I was gutted to miss Doug’s event at Blackwells earlier on, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll hear him talking about Breakers somewhere in Scotland before the year’s out!

Karen Sullivan has done it again and made me feel like if my TBR pile hasn’t got an Orenda book ion it, then it’s somehow incomplete.  I’ve already got A Modern Family in mysights as my final read of the month and can’t wait to get it started.

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Writer on the Shelf

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Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Crash Land. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year.

Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and been Writer in Residence at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors.

He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, reviews books for the Big Issue, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

 

Catch up with him on his website here

And follow him on Twitter here

 

About the Publisher :

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Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016.

In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime.

Six titles have been short or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions.

Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.

Website
Twitter

 

Juliet the Maniac Blog tour

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It’s 1997, and 14-year-old Juliet has it pretty good. But over the course of the next two years, she rapidly begins to unravel, finding herself in a downward trajectory of mental illness and self-destruction that eventually leads to a ‘therapeutic boarding school’ in rural Oregon.

From there, deep in the woods of the Northwest, comes an explosive portrayal of teenage life from the perspective of The Bad Friend, and a poignant reflection that refuses the traditional recovery arc.

Voted by both Bustle and Nylon as a most anticipated novel of 2019, this portrait of a young teenager’s fight toward understanding and recovering from mental illness is shockingly dark, funny, and heartfelt. 

A highly anticipated debut—from a writer hailed as “a combination of Denis Johnson and Joan Didion” (Dazed)—brilliantly captures the intimate triumph of a girl’s struggle to become the woman she knows she can be.

 

Like Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life, Juliet the Maniac offers no clear answers, no definitive finish-line, just the wise acceptance of the challenges ahead. This punchy debut marks the breakout of a bold and singular young writer.

Sometimes your reading schedule really needs a palate cleanser – you know, something that really stands out from everything you’ve read recently and makes you sit up and take notice. I’ve been reading a lot of historical novels this month for some reason and when I picked up Juliet the Maniac after these, the effect was the equivalent of spending a month listening to Classic FM  and then walking into a room with a gig in full swing from The Clash. Juliet the Maniac stood out for all of the right reasons and I’m so happy to be joining the Blog Tour today.

Juliet Escoria’s novel reminded me of the first time I read Prozac Nation. It hits you right between the eyes and definitely does not pull any punches. The writing style is fresh and invigorating, I know that she’s attracting a lot of comparisons – from Sylvia Plath to Denis Johnson – but the truth is that Juliet Escoria has a voice all of her own and it’s a startling and very impressive one.

It was intriguing that her character Juliet shares a name with her and it did make me wonder how autobiographical this novel actually was. I loved the strapline that indicated that this novel is ‘a girl’s struggle to become the woman she knows she can be’ and I wondered if Julia Escoria is the woman that this character became…maybe one day I’ll hear her speak and find out for myself

Juliet is a character that you won’t forget in a hurry. Just like Elizabeth Wurtzel in Prozac Nation or Cat Marnell in her writing, you feel torn at times between wanting to hug her and wanting to give her a bloody good shake. Her drug use is not something that I could sympathise with, but the torment, the voices and the agony she was going through was so vividly described that it was very difficult to sit in judgement of her. One of the things that stood out to me was the use of language and how Juliet’s pain is so evocatively described. It’s a haunting read and not one for the faint-hearted – but definitely, a book that you will not forget in a hurry.

The novel is structured in four distinct sections, each one dealing with a part of her mental health journey and this allows you to experience the highs and lows alongside her. It is quite relentless at times to be on this journey alongside her, but the structure allows you to experience these situations in bite-size pieces and this is a more manageable experience for such a hard-hitting read.

 

Escoria’s writing is razor-sharp and will challenge her readers’ preconceived ideas about mental health. It was hard to believe that this is a debut novel as her voice is so assured – I will definitely be looking out for whatever she does next as her skills at bringing a character to life, vividly on the page are remarkable and I’m definitely not going to forget Juliet in a hurry…

I would like to thank Melville House for a copy of Juliet The Maniac to read and review and to Nikki Griffiths for inviting me onto the blogtour. Doesn’t it look fabulous in my #OnTheShelfie

Buy yourself a copy here

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Writer On The Shelf

Juliet Escoria

JULIET ESCORIA is the author of the poetry collection WITCH HUNT (Lazy Fascist Press 2016) and the story collection BLACK CLOUD (CCM/Emily Books 2014), which were both listed in various best of the year roundups.

Her writing can be found in places like Lenny, Catapult, VICE, Prelude, Dazed, and Hobart and has already been translated into many languages.

She lives in West Virginia with her husband, the writer Scott McClanahan.

A Patient Man – Blog Tour

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It is 1976 and Mikey, eight-years-old and street-wise beyond his years, is looking forward to a summer of freedom, roaming the creeks and the mud-flats of Canvey Island. But violent emotions are rumbling beneath the surface, about to destroy all that he thought he knew. 

When Mikey’s neighbours, the Freemans, win a great deal of money, the old couple become the targets of a criminal act that leaves Peggy Freeman dead and her husband, Bert thirsting for revenge. Believing that young Mikey’s family is responsible, Bert devises a highly unusual but devastatingly effective form of reprisal. But where does the guilt really lie, and will there be punishment or redemption? 

Told from Mikey’s viewpoint with light touches of humour, A Patient Man is a gripping crime novel peopled with believable characters who are drawn inexorably in to a story that explores the effects of greed, money and the human need for retribution.

Nine-year-old Mikey has a pretty distinctive voice, and this novel stays in your thoughts precisely because his voice is so very memorable. Mikey grows up wild, combing the vast and empty mudflats of Canvey Island, in a world before technology or games consoles kept children indoors and where their childhoods were a little more ‘free-range’  Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and taking me down memory lane for some of these experiences!

Mikey’s childhood setting  has a lot in common with mine – where building dens, skinning your knees and going on ‘adventure’ kept us out of doors from dawn til dusk and where our parents knew very little about the kinds of things we were up to ( which is probably for the best)

Mikey’s adventures definitely go a bit further than we ever did and although this read might alienate some readers because of its very distinct writing style, I really enjoyed finding out about Mikey’s adventures and wondering exactly where this was all going to end.

Scott’s novel is a fantastically evocative portrayal of this era and makes you remember a time where life literally did feel like it was rolling past in ‘black and white’ rather than in colour. Mikey and his circle are brought to life pitch perfectly and I felt like this novel was the equivalent of Morrissey singing ‘Every Day is like Sunday’ as we feel trapped with Mikey in his world of poverty, stagnation and a lack of escape.

The murder of a neighbour is an aspect of the novel, rather than the main event in this novel and I found this quite an intriguing approach. Mikey’s reflections on life and how he views the world around him are treated with just as much interest as the crime and this feels very true-to-life and makes you feel drawn into this adolescent world very effectively

You are not presented with any easy or neat solutions in this novel and you will definitely end the novel wondering if what happened really was in Mikey’s best interests after all. Blood, after all, is thicker than water…

This was an enjoyable read for me and I will be curious to see what Scott does next as it will be hard to create another character as believable as Mikey. This novel grew on me as I read it and I have found myself thinking about Mikey and his story a fair bit since I finished reading it.  Treat yourself to a copy and meet Mikey for yourself

Writer On The Shelf


S. Lynn Scott began her adult life determined to take the theatrical world by storm. The theatrical world, it turned out, wasn’t quite so keen to embrace her as she had expected it would be, and so, nothing daunted, she successfully turned her undoubted talents to Terpsichorean entertainment in dark, exotic places.

There she learned that a jewelled bra and a very large feathered fan are no substitutes for a good book and a cheese and Branston Pickle sandwich. Her further youthful adventures are, mercifully, lost in the mists of time and she now lives with suitable decorum in Leicestershire where she writes, insists on directing others who are better at acting than she is, dreams of working for the RSC and then writes some more.

“Elizabeth, William…and Me” was her debut novel. A Patient Man is her second novel.

Follow @SLSwriter on Twitter,  or visit her website on slynnscott.com

Worst Case Scenario – Blog Tour

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Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

A deliciously dark, unapologetically funny psychological thriller by the international bestselling author of The Cry

‘It takes a special kind of evil genius to write crime this dark and make it this funny. I feel like ONLY Helen FitzGerald could have created this book. Shocking, gripping and laugh-out-loud hilarious from the first line to the last. Brilliant’ Erin Kelly

‘The main character is one of the most extraordinary you’ll meet between the pages of a book’ Ian Rankin

‘Outrageous, extremely funny and ultimately devastating’ Ambrose Parry

It’s fantastic to be taking part in  the #BlogTour for a book I fell head over heels for – Helen Fitzgerald’s “Worst Case Scenario”. Orenda books are the very best that there are and I know that if Karen has chosen a book then I’m going to absolutely love it.  Thanks to the lovely Anne Cater at Randomthingstours for inviting me to take part – she knows what I like and always recommends great reads that keep my bookshelf groaning at the seams…

Helen Fitzgerald is definitely a writer at the top of her game and I could not put this book down once I’d started it over my half-term break in gorgeous Elie. It was the perfect book to take on holiday with me as it certainly gave me a great deal of food for thought as I relaxed in the sunshine.

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This really is a book with something for everyone. It’s perfectly pitched as a social commentary, a thriller and it’s also darkly hilarious at times. What an addictive combination.  Mary’s battles against the system – and the menopause – are brilliantly depicted and she definitely comes alive on the page even as her world is unravelling all around her. I love a book where the main character has you from the very first page and Mary’s first few meetings will have you hanging on her every word – whilst feeling like you are on the edge of your seat wondering just how this is all going to end…

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Mary’s job is definitely unenviable and if you find it difficult to think about the world that she inhabits – peopled with paedophiles and violent offenders – then this might not be the novel for you. Mary is a survivor, but even her strategies are wearing thin as she battles a system where it is almost impossible to feel like you are making any sort of difference.

Mary’s voice is distinctive and laugh-out-loud funny at times, whether battling her supervisor or the loathsome Jimmy McKinley and you will definitely be rooting for her even though it’s fair to say that she is not a big believer in following protocols, biting her tongue or keeping herself out of bother.

 

This book has some absolutely killer lines – and that’s one of the things that made it such a perfect holiday read. Again, if you are easily offended by some pretty ‘choice’ language and feel queasy thinking about violent crimes then this might not do it for you – but I fell for Mary hook line and sinker and couldn’t tear myself away from her story until I found out how things were going to end. What a read!

Her relationship with Liam MacDowell was perfectly portrayed and I would love to see it evolve on camera. This would make a perfect TV adaptation and I’m really praying that someone sees sense and brings Mary and her exploits to our screens sooner rather than later. I think that she’s a cult heroine in the making and some of her ‘killer lines’ could definitely catch on in a big way…

If you like your novels compelling and witty, with a side order of black humour then I definitely recommend that you treat yourself to a copy. Maybe not one for the easily offended or squeamish, but certainly a novel that grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go and one that I couldn’t stop thinking about since I finished reading it.

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I ended up re-reading sections to myself for its turns of phrase and really can’t wait for someone else I know to read it so we can talk about the world it depicts. I would love to recommend it to my book group and see what they made of it as there is certainly a lot to discuss here and I know that some of them would love Mary’s attitude and get as caught up in her story as I was. You should definitely try and get yourself a copy as soon as you can and get to know Mary for yourself. She’s some woman!

Ian Rankin’s recommendation surely holds more weight than mine, so what are you waiting for?

Buy yourself a copy here

 

Writer on the Shelf

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1.

Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years.

She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf – Blog Tour

 

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As heard on BBC Radio 2 The Steve Wright Show . . .

‘An enchanting contribution to the popular new trend of “up lit” such as Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine‘ Irish Times

‘Captivates. William has what seems to be the best job in the world . . . Honest yet lyrical, Cullen’s characters are drawn with sympathy. Lose yourself’ The Scotsman

 

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Inside East London’s Dead Letters Depot, William Woolf unites lost mail with its intended recipient. White mice, a miniature grandfather clock and a full suit of armour are among the more unusual items lost then found thanks to William’s detective work.

But when he discovers a series of letters addressed only to ‘My Great Love’, everything changes. Written by Winter to a soulmate she hasn’t yet met, her heartfelt words stir William in ways he has long forgotten. Could they be destined for him? But what about his troubled marriage?

William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve the mystery of his own heart.

 

SHORTLISTED FOR NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR, IRISH BOOK AWARDS

‘If you liked Harold Fry and Me Before You, you will love Cullen’s nostalgic debut. This life-affirming book will draw you in and keep you there’ Independent

‘Delightful’ Sunday Times

‘Deeply moving’ Irish Times

‘I found myself totally transported into William’s poignant and beguiling world of lost opportunities and love’ A. J. Pearce, author of Sunday Timesbestseller Dear Mrs Bird

 

Am so happy to be on today’s Blog Tour of The Lost Letters of William Woolf after being so intrigued by other lovely bloggers’ posts about how much they loved this book. I am a fan of the ‘up lit’ trend in general and think it’s great that there are a growing number of writers crafting novels that both entertain you and make you feel good about human nature. Portybelle – otherwise known as Joanne – wrote a fantastic #WilliamWoolf post that made me want to meet William myself and hopefully be as charmed as she was by his character and his story.

 

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I absolutely loved this book.  It’s a warm and uplifting read that will genuinely draw you into its world and make you feel part of East London’s Dead Letters Depot as you discover how hard they work to connect people with their lost or missing mail. I have a real obsession with ‘found’ objects and have a wee box of strange writings that I’ve found in charity shops stuck inside books and I think that this is something that made me all the more intrigued by William’s job and the lengths he goes to in the story to find the real tale behind the letter addressed to ‘My Great Love’…

William was without a doubt a fantastic character that you can totally believe in. When he gets so drawn into the story behind the letters he finds, it’s an easy sentiment to connect with – I’m sure lots of you will have had that feeling when you hear a snatch of conversation or see a scribbled note and wonder what the ‘story’ is behind the story and this wonderful novel allows to to relive that feeling alongside William and work with him to follow the thread of the story and try to find its source.

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William’s determined efforts to get to the heart of Winter’s story by following the clues in her letters is definitely one of  the best things about #WilliamWoolf. You really care what happens to the characters in this book and find yourself thinking about them when you are ‘away’ from them and wanting to return to their story.  I was really drawn in and was imagining all sorts of resolutions to the story – Was William going to find Winter and BE her ‘Great Love’ or was he destined to get back together with his own lost love Clare and prove that reality is better than a daydream. You all know that I have a strict #NoSpoilers policy, so all I can say is that you will need to buy the book for yourself and get as lost in William’s story as I did so that you can find out for yourself.

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Helen Cullen has written this book from the heart, and it shows.  It presents us with such a number of intriguing tales and characters that it immediately made me want to go out there and start writing letters to all the people far away that matter to me – as it made me think about the fact that it’s so rare to get anything other than bills and admin through or letterbox in the modern world. I’d absolutely love to hear that this book has been optioned for our screens in the future. I’d love to be able to cast these characters and think it would be an awesome and heartwarming film that would be a real antidote to some of the depressing things we are currently surrounded by.

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I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sriya from Penguin Books for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour – I certainly have loved this novel every single bit as much as I had hoped to and it’s been an honour to read it and share its story – I’m totally certain that it’s going to be an amazing success.

Buy yourself a copy here and read it as soon as you can, you definitely won’t regret treating yourself to this uplifting, sincere and heartfelt read

Writer On The Shelf

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Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London. She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010. In the UK, Helen established a career as an events and engagement specialist before joining the Google UK marketing team in 2015.

The first draft of her debut novel THE LOST LETTERS OF WILLIAM WOOLF was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.

‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ will be published in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Greece and Israel.

Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.

BLACK WOLF – Blog Tour

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A young woman is found dead on the outskirts of St Petersburg on a freezing January morning. There are no signs of injury, and heavy snowfall has buried all trace of an attacker.

Captain Natalya Ivanova’s investigation quickly links the victim to the Decembrists, an anti-Putin dissident group whose acts of civil disobedience have caught the eye of the authorities. And Natalya soon realises she is not the only one interested in the case, as government security services wade in and shut down her investigation almost before it has begun.

Before long, state media are spreading smear stories about the dead woman, and Natalya suspects the authorities have something to hide. When a second rebel activist goes missing, she is forced to go undercover to expose the truth. But the stakes are higher than ever before. Not only could her pursuit of the murderer destroy her career, but her family ties to one of the victims threaten to tear her personal life apart.

A captivating, pacy thriller that plunges right into the beating heart of Putin’s Russia.

‘Natalya Ivanova does for St Petersburg what Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko did for Soviet-era Moscow. . . taut, fast-moving and compellingly believable.’ TOM CALLAGHAN, author of A KILLING WINTER

‘One of my favorite procedurals with a female lead set overseas was the Saudi trilogy by Zoe Ferraris. If the next two are as unique and satisfying as this, Abson’s place beside Ferraris will be well earned.’ MenReadingBooks.com

‘Scandinavian noir takes a detour through Russia in this first in a new series featuring an idealistic policewoman surrounded by compromised officials and fellow policemen. . . Gritty, dark, fast-paced, and satisfyingSno-Isle Libraries

GD Abson has cultivated contacts in the St Petersburg police force in order to write this novel and it shows – though he wears his learning lightly and it never feels crow-barred in.  This gripping, fascinating and unusual read never feels like a lecture – it makes you think deeply about a wide range of topical issues whilst keeping you absolutely wrapped in its narrative and it is definitely one of  Abson’s strengths as a writer that we never feel as if his research has merely found its way into a novel.

Having enjoyed Motherland so much, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Black Wolf  as I loved his writing style and pacy narrative. I have always wanted to travel to beautiful St Petersburg and I loved literally following in Natalya Ivanova’s footsteps in trying to solve this fascinating case.

I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to dwell too long on the plot of  Black Wolf – suffice to say that the skilful way that Abson weaves ingredients of this thriller into a convincing depiction of Putin’s Russia is superbly done and remains convincing throughout. I know at times it can feel like the fictional world is saturated with crime and thriller novels but this is a pleasing departure for me and I zipped through it over a sunny weekend, lost in its twists and turns and desperate to reach the heart of the mystery.

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I loved the way that this novel wove many threads together – a convincing detective story, a consideration of modern espionage and its impact on society, an examination of the nature of protest and the impact it can have on our lives in a much wider way than we might have anticipated – and I also enjoyed the fantastically realised setting of the novel that definitely made me resolve to read more texts set abroad this year and try to expose myself to novels set in other cultures and countries on a more regular basis.

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Dissidents and their travails isn’t a topic that I’m normally drawn to but his novel never allows you to forget is that that this actually happen all the time Although this is a novel, the events that you are reading about have definitely happened to many people, many times and I think that Abson balances this fine tissue of truth and fiction perfectly. No one reading this book could possibly ignore the fact that this is not just a fictional crisis and it’s been a hard book to follow as I find myself continuously thinking back to it and thinking about the way that we express ourselves in a 21st century post-truth world where alliances are ever more complex than they appear.

Black Wolf is definitely one of those novels that stays with you long after closing its final page and one that I will definitely be recommending to my friends – it packs a powerful emotional punch; educates just as much as it entertains and makes you wish that you could step into this intriguing world for yourself. If you enjoy an immersive and intelligent read that will ask you to think about your own attitudes and examine the way that you think about modern politics and challenge your preconceptions then you will love this book as much as I did.  I can’t wait to see what G.D Abson does next…

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Follow the Blog Tour and catch up with what the rest of these fab bloggers thought

Thanks so much to Mel from Mirror Books for inviting me onto the tour.

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Writer On The Shelf

Garry Abson

G.D. ABSON works as a freelance business analyst and lives in the South West of England. He has cultivated contacts in the St Petersburg police force in order to write this novel, and has more Natalya Ivanova crime novels planned.