Aug 232015
 

Saskia Sarginson answers a few irreverent questions, just in time for the release of her latest book, The Other Me.

saskia_328-fin-224x300Saskia was born in Manchester in 1961, but grew up in Suffolk. She has a B.A hons in Fashion Design and Communication from St. Martin’s School of Art and read English Literature at Cambridge University. She was awarded a distinction in her Creative Writing M.A from Royal Holloway University. Saskia worked as Health and Beauty Editor on Company magazine and has written for various publications such as Cosmopolitan, You magazine, The Telegraph, Sainsbury’s Magazine, The Clothes Show, Zest, She and M & S Magazine. She has also been a script reader, copy writer and ghost writer. Her debut novel, The Twins, was published by Piatkus in September 2013. Her second novel, Without You, was published in July 2014, also by Piatkus. She lives in London with her four children, (including twin girls) her partner, Alex, a TV series producer/director – and two cats and two dogs. 

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
When my debut novel was published I collapsed in relief, then stayed awake all night in a state of complete terror – would anyone read it? Would they hate it? What if they hated it? Which was worse – nobody reading it, or people hating it? (You get the picture.) When my partner managed to talk me down from the dizzying heights of my paranoia, we went out for a quiet meal at our favourite local restaurant and raised a glass of champagne to The Twins.

What are your preferred conditions for writing, i.e. silence, background noise, TV?
Shhhhhh. Silence! I can’t even cope with someone breathing in the same room. The only creatures allowed inside my writing space are my animals.

Whose opinion matters most to you?
There are four main people who always read a book first and whose opinions matter the most – my editor and my agent, my partner and my best friend, who also happens to be an editor, luckily for me.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Someone blonde, a bit on the curvy side – maybe Kate Winslet?

Do you have a party trick?
Not really. Not unless I could dance a tango. I could push my youngest son forward, he’s always got a trick up his sleeve, or some impossible riddle to solve.

Do you have pets, and if so, describe them?
I love animals. I have two cats and three dogs. My cats are sisters, with the same birthday as me. They have different personalities; Lola is shy and nervous; Tilly is brave, friendly, funny and best mates with the dogs: Maisy, a tough little border terrier, and Sacha, a big soppy lurcher. My latest dog is a rescue from Spain. When we got Evie she was skin and bone and terrified of men. Somebody (a man presumably) had chopped her tail off, just for fun. Now she’s put on loads of weight, and has become a happy, confident girl. I’d get more rescue animals if I could. But I need to move to the country first!

Many thanks to Saskia Sarginson for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you want to know more about the author, visit her Website, Twitter, Goodreads or on Facebook!


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, irregular feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into our curious heads. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Aug 232015
 

The Other Me Eliza Bennett has the life she always dreamed of. She’s who she wants to be, and she’s with the man she wants to be with. But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She’s escaping her old life and a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family. This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia: one woman, two lives and a lie they cannot hide from.

This book blew me away. It was brilliant. Compelling, emotional and heartbreaking; bringing alive the feelings and thoughts of the individuals so well they jump off the page.

Once I had started it I just could not put it down, turning every page to see what was going to be revealed next. The story is told from 3 points of view – Klaudia, Eliza and Ernst, in 1986, 1996 and the 1930’s respectively. Ernst’s recollections in particular were thought provoking and heartbreaking and each narrative managed to evoke the era very well.

This book shows how quickly a lie can spiral out of control, how what we believe isn’t always the truth and the heartache of families torn apart by miscommunication.

The blurb indicates it is a thriller but I wouldn’t call it that at all, it is a powerful story about a young woman’s journey in dealing with the shadows of her past, accepting there are things she cannot change but do not define who she is now; there is also a love story entwined but is a very small part of the overall story.

Definitely not a book I would normally pick up to read but having been sent it by the publisher for an honest review I am so glad I did.

I would definitely recommend reading this, but put time aside to read as once you start you won’t want to stop!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Saskia Sarginson
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Thriller
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Jul 272015
 

Foxglove Summer (PC Peter Grant 5) I don’t read that much these days, because it’s difficult to find stuff that really grabs my attention.  There are, however, a few exceptions, and the DC Peter Grant books (The Rivers of London series to some) are in that group.  I’ve been looking forward to the paperback release of the 5th book (Foxglove Summer) since it was announced (on account of me being too cheap to buy the hardback), and have been reading it in my lunch break at work since it arrived.

Ben’s style is very easy going, and that makes reading the books very easy as well.  The tone is informal and inviting and I often think, regardless of the content, I could spend hours just reading his prose and enjoy it in the same way you might enjoy a warm bath.

As is common in the kind of urban fantasy I read, Foxglove Summer has a crime to solve, and in the background there’s a long running arc, some impending doom or event that is being foreshadowed.  Painted over those two features are the lives of the characters that inhabit the story.  Unusually, Ben pretty much pushes all of the key characters into the sidelines in this outing, with DC Peter Grant being sent off out of London.  Other than Beverly Brook, the other regulars (Nightingale, Molly, Leslie, et. al) are all pretty much handled at arms length.  Peter is on his own, and while that presents some challenges, it also left me feeling a little bit bereft.

Two girls have gone missing, and what starts out being a routine check on practitioners for Peter, turns into a full-on Falcon event (the Police terminology in the book for ‘weird shit’).

The pace was okay, although as with some of the previous books, I felt again that the ending was quite damp.  This may be because I had to stop only a chapter from the end and then pick it up again, but it all feels quite gentle.  Maybe this is intentional, police work doesn’t finish with the final chase, but rather with all the paperwork afterwards, but it still leaves me feeling deflated.  In combination with the lack of supporting characters, this means I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the fourth in the series which I feel was much stronger.

However, it’s not all bad.  The police procedural elements are as fascinating as ever, the new characters were great, the setting was interesting and the magical elements were worth the effort.  Foxglove Summer is another quite low key story in the magic department after Broken Homes’ must stronger magical element, but as usual it’s blended with the other elements perfectly.

The humour is great, most of it being delivered through DC Grant’s PoV, which is as engaging and witty as ever.  I really could spend hours just reading about DC Grant going about regular police work.

The plot has twists, and the long running story arc is interesting (but you need to have read the others to get it).

Foxglove Summer is an interesting, entertaining read, albeit diminished by the reduced cast.  What the book lacks in tension, it makes up for with humour, wit and intelligence.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Ben Aaronovitch
  • Series: Rivers of London (5)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Gollancz
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
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Jul 242015
 

As part of the release of Redemption Road, Lisa Ballantyne kindly answered a few of our irreverent questions!

10865828_809984035753883_8254848204158460780_oLisa Ballantyne was born in Armadale, West Lothian, Scotland and studied English Literature at University of St Andrews.

She lived and worked in China for many years and started writing seriously while she was there. Before being published, Lisa was short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize.

Her debut novel, The Guilty One was translated into over 25 languages, long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. The Guilty One was also the Autumn 2012 Richard and Judy Book-club Winner. Redemption Road is her new novel. She lives in Glasgow.

Picture and bio reproduced from Lisa’s website.

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
A character actress or a social worker… but even if I had the talent and skill to be either of those, I would write as well! I will always write, however I earn my money.

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I write at my kitchen table, in a Glasgow tenement, looking out of my kitchen window. There are two huge sash windows before me, still fitted with period glass that slightly blurs my view of trees, the railway, a church spire, and hills in the distance – the scene wavers, as if it is under water.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I had a big party with my friends.

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Nothing particularly gets me in the mood for writing; I daydream constantly and this is the main source of my work, but I find that I have a lot of good thoughts when I am on busses staring out of the window.

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
I am touched when people write me letters to say they’ve been moved by my work.

What do you value most?
The people I love and my creativity.

What is your favourite type of music?
That is such a hard question to answer. I love music and have eclectic taste, but I write listening exclusively to classical music.

Many thanks to Lisa Ballantyne for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you want to know more about the author, visit her Website, Twitter, Goodreads or on Facebook!


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, irregular feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into our curious heads. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Jul 232015
 

Redemption Road The crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she’s spent her life remembering little – her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. Now she has a burning desire to discover who she is and why her life has been shrouded in secrets. What really happened to her when she was a child? Could it have anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life?

Flitting effortlessly between past and present, this is a suspenseful, gritty and emotionally charged journey of an estranged father and daughter, exploring the strength of family ties and our huge capacity for forgiveness.

Well this is not my usual kind of book, in fact there is no romance at all, so why did I pick it up? The blurb on the back cover intrigued me and the publisher sent me a copy for review, and boy am I glad they did. This is a really compelling book and once I got into it, I could not put it down.

It did take me a few chapters to get into it, as it is told from three different perspectives (and also 2 different eras). I often struggle to keep it all straight in my head to start with and have to keep going back to check dates etc! Having said that, after those first few, I was dragged in and read it at every opportunity. Once I got used to the characters and the way the book told the story, it flowed very well. I felt it was very well written and vividly descriptive.

Parts of the story I could easily see where it was going and there wasn’t any surprise when it happened, but I was still compelled to keep reading, to see everything tied up. This story shows how one mistake, one miscalculation of judgement can ruin everything and leave hopes and dreams in ashes.

The characters are believable and fallible and I especially felt drawn towards Big George, even when I felt I shouldn’t! I liked the way their layers were revealed bit by bit and this story shows you should never take things at face value.

It was emotional and a real page turner for me, not something I would usually pick up, but I can definitely recommend it.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lisa Ballantyne
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 212015
 

Tracer A huge space station orbits the Earth, holding the last of humanity. It’s broken, rusted, falling apart. We’ve wrecked our planet, and now we have to live with the consequences: a new home that’s dirty, overcrowded and inescapable.

What’s more, there’s a madman hiding on the station. He’s about to unleash chaos. And when he does, there’ll be nowhere left to run.

Riley Hale is a tracer – part of a group of people who make money delivering goods to different sectors of the space station. She never looks at what she is carrying until one day it all goes wrong, she inadvertently sees her cargo and nothing is the same again.

This book literally explodes into life from page one and while it’s not the sort of book I usually read, I was dragged in by both feet! With explosions and betrayals, you end up looking at everyone and thinking ‘are they a good guy or are they about to turn round and shoot you’?

Riley is fast and resilient and can definitely take a punch or two, although I’m not sure how she managed to stay standing at times.  She is a strong heroine but has hidden depths and when the time comes, she shows just how strong she really is.

Darnell is the main villain of the piece and he’s evil, nasty, completely nuts and so well written I could imagine him very clearly.

There is also a large cast of supporting characters, all of whom are interesting and multi layered.

The world building is good and you get a sense of the despair felt by people living on this crumbling space station – it makes you want to think about taking better care of this planet we are on!

I guess my only criticism would be that at times it felt like I was watching an action film at the cinema (and this would translate to a big budget blockbuster very easily). You could argue of course that feeling like I was watching a film shows the quality of the writing – that I can see it all so clearly, but for me at times I felt it was a bit over the top.

Overall, I did enjoy it and it is a good book, just not my usual genre (although there was a teensy bit of romance).

Generally though this is a non stop action thriller set in space, and if that is the sort of book you enjoy, you will love this. Very well written, descriptive and immersive.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Rob Boffard
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Genre: Science Fiction
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Jun 232015
 

Truly, Madly, Greekly: Sizzling summer reading Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…

Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy.

With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist.

But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Another great book from Mandy Baggot and a bargain at only 99p – and the best cover of any of her books by far.

I always look forward to Mandy’s books and this one was no exception. Ellen and Lacey have gone to Corfu to start planning Lacey’s wedding. Ellen is glad to get away from her everyday life which is crumbling around her, but she finds it impossible to relax and enjoy the holiday. Enter Yan, a member of the hotel animation team who finds himself both irritated and intrigued by this uptight Englishwoman.

This is a great story for reading on the beach but you could read it anywhere and instantly be transported into sun, sea and sand. One of the things I love about Mandy’s books is the realism – forget billionaires falling in love with secretaries, this is something you actually could see happening. It was also interesting getting a bit of an insight into the life of the animation team – having been on package holidays I never really gave much thought to what they get up to on their time off!

I love Yan and Ellen and the fact they are normal people, they are both wounded, both hiding secrets and neither are looking for love. I am a sucker for accents on men and I had no trouble imagining the sexy accent Yan had – an accent always adds to the hero’s appeal. This is a story not just about a holiday romance but about trust, family, believing in yourself and not letting anyone hold you back.

The only thing that slightly irritated me about this book was Lacey.  I found it difficult to warm to her and wanted to give her a slap at times, but having said that it didn’t spoil the book for me. I had a wonderful couple of hours curled up in my chair, with the rain hammering down outside, imagining myself in a sunny resort in Corfu.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mandy Baggot
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Bookouture
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
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Jun 192015
 

Some Kind of Wonderful Her whole life, Puffin Islander Brittany Forrest has dreamed of adventure. And at the age of eighteen, she thought she’d found it in bad boy Zachary Flynn. But after just ten tempestuous, smouldering days, their whirlwind marriage went up in smoke, and Brittany resolved to put him out of her mind forever.

Zach knows he let Brittany down, but being back on Puffin Island and seeing Brittany again stirs up long-buried emotions. This daredevil pilot has never felt worthy of her, yet he can’t stay away—even when he knows the chemistry between them will only complicate his life.

Wow, just wow, I loved this book – sexy and romantic, what more can a girl want! This is the second book in the Puffin Island series and I think it’s better than First Time in Forever. While you do not need to have read the first book, I’m a great believer in doing so and I think you come to appreciate the characters more.

What can I say about Zach? Inside that luscious body, he is still a wounded and scarred child, thinking everyone is going to turn on him. The easiest way not to let anyone hurt him is to refuse to let anyone in.  I just wanted to give him a hug (among other things). Thankfully Brittany soon realised that trying to keep her distance was futile.

Brittany is frustrated that she is stuck back on Puffin Island while her broken arm heals, and seeing Zach again throws her completely off balance. Her mind says stay away, her body says go for it. Together they need to navigate their feelings and work out a way to cope with living on the same island.

I loved getting to see all the Islanders again and especially enjoyed the insight into summer camp. The addition of Jaws was a tense scene but it just goes to show again what an amazing guy Zach is. Shame he can’t see it himself.

This is perfect to read at home or on the sun lounger, hell if you like romance it is perfect to read anywhere! As I love romance this is the perfect book for me; I love the setting, I love the characters and I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Morgan
  • Series: Puffin Island (2)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

May 252015
 

The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) When Rosie Potter wakes up one morning with what she assumes is the worlds worst hangover, the last thing she expects is to discover that she’s actually dead. With a frustrating case of amnesia, suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise, and stuck wearing her ugliest flannel PJs, Rosie must figure out not only what happened last night, but why on earth she is still here.

This was hilarious right from page one, from the minute she describes feeling like a sausage being squeezed out of its skin I was hooked and did not stop laughing throughout. Strange you might think, considering Rosie is dead, but this is just not a sad story. Yes there are some bitter-sweet moments but this is the true definition of a romantic comedy.

Having the story told from Rosie’s point of view is great and it is so funny watching her adjust to being dead, how she reacts when she realises someone can see her and how she goes about haunting someone who just really ticked her off. Her personality and wit have not diminished just because she is dead and she does keep worrying about those ugly pyjamas she is now stuck wearing.

With a whole host of other characters, this book had a great pace throughout and I did not want to put it down until I found out what actually happened. Rosie found out things about herself and her friends she never knew while she was alive and starts to realise just what she had been missing out on.

I am normally the sort of person who avoids stories where the heroine is dead because I do like predictable  happy endings, having said that, this is a good ending and I am so glad I read it.

I highly recommend it and I will very definitely be looking for the author’s next books.

 

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kate Winter
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Sphere
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
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May 142015
 

Cat's Lair (Leopard People) Cat Benoit has finally escaped her past. She’s off the grid, underground but watchful, and creating a new life for herself in Texas, far from the torrid dangers of her native New Orleans. She’s safe. He’ll never find her this time. Cat has to believe that, it’s the only thing keeping her sane.

Oh wow this is hot, hot, hot. The Leopard People series is my favourite of Christine’s and I loved this book.

Cat is frightened and mistrustful of everyone (with good reason), while Ridley Cromer manages to get under her skin in every way possible. She is just starting to trust him when her world comes crashing down and her past catches up with her.

The main characters in this book are strong and well written. Often I find the author’s alpha males just a bit too misogynistic for my taste but oh I loved Ridley. Yes there is the pattern of a very alpha shapeshifter but I did not think it was over the top. Cat is scared of what is within her and Ridley has to make her see that her leopard is as much a part of her as breathing. As a result there is a large part of the book just with the two of them which means lots of discussion and hot and heavy sex, with little moving forward with the plot; but hell I didn’t care  – who needs Fifty Shades is all I can say! I don’t think it detracted from the story at all and fit with Ridley trying to prepare Cat for the confrontation we know is coming.

The bad guy in all this is a nasty piece of work although very much on the periphery for most of the book.  However, when the showdown comes it is brutal for all concerned and my heart was in my mouth at times.

This book can be read as a standalone, but we do get to see characters from other books and reading the earlier ones in the series will give you more insight into the world of the Leopard people. However, having said that you could happily read this one and then you will like it so much you will want to go back to the beginning. Nothing in this book would spoil earlier books.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Christine Feehan
  • Series: Leopard People (7)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Paranormal Romance
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