Monday, 29 February 2016

Look at Me by Sarah Duguid

Look at Me
By Sarah Duguid
Published by Tinder Press (25 February 2016)
ISBN: 978-1472229843

Publisher's description

Lizzy lives with her father, Julian, and her brother, Ig, in North London. Two years ago her mother died, leaving a family bereft by her absence and a house still filled with her things: for Margaret was lively, beautiful, fun, loving; she kept the family together. So Lizzy thinks. Then, one day, Lizzy finds a letter from a stranger to her father, and discovers he has another child. Lizzy invites her into their world in an act of outraged defiance. Almost immediately, she realises her mistake.

My verdict
Look at Me is an intriguing psychological tale of family upheaval and relationships. How grief can make you act irrationally. And how it's difficult to move on until you come to terms with the past.

Two years after the death of her mother Margaret, Lizzy, her father Julian and brother Ig are still struggling with cope with their loss. When Lizzy discovers her father Julian has an illegitimate child, she welcomes her half-sister Eunice into the family with open arms. But Eunice doesn't take long to worm her way into their home, and into their lives, and soon discovers that family life with Margaret wasn't quite as rosy as everyone has been led to believe.

Look at Me is a beautifully written haunting tale. But it's also a slow burner so don't expect a fast-paced read. The book isn't very long, but its 200 or so pages are filled with sadness, gentle humour and thought-provoking revelations. Eunice is particularly unnerving, as at first you're not quite sure whether she's genuine or not. None of the characters are particularly likeable but they're certainly quirky and this family won't be forgotten easily.

This is a book that may not appeal to everyone. But I loved it.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Reader, I Dumped Him by Lorelei Mathias - Blog Tour

I would like to welcome Lorelei Mathias to my blog today her Blog Tour. Lorelei talks book trailers – and Reader, I Dumped Him. Reader, I Dumped Him was published by Maze on 4 February 2016.

Q. What do Jordan Catalano, Barry from Eastenders and Lena Dunham all have in common?

A. They are all cameos in my new book trailer! Sort of.

Done in homage to one of my favourite films (with glimpses into many others), it is dedicated to anyone who's ever done a 'conscious uncoupling', or had their heart ripped out their bottom without any warning. So that’s everyone, right?

If you made it through the whole thing, then there’s a prize for whoever can tell me every single film/TV show that’s referenced (some are pretty vintage!). And there’s a bonus point for telling me how many people there are in it called Amelie. You’d need to be a bit of a geek, or to have read my first book Step on it, Cupid to get this though :)

Small bit of trivia: This film actually had it’s ‘premiere’ at the Romantic Novelists Association some years ago, when I gave a talk on ‘book marketing for little pockets’. In case you’re interested, here are the other two trailers I made for my first two, geek that I am!

Step on it Cupid – click here

Lost for Words – click here 

There’s something a bit ‘meta’ going on in the Lost For Words one, actually. It was a ‘Real Life BUC’ member’s idea to make it – so we all pulled together to make this one – much like in the book.

I could go on about book trailers all day, but I’ll leave it there for now! More here if you’re interested. And if you’d like any help making one, I’m always up for that, so please get in touch.

Thanks for watching, and reading xxx

About the Book

Reader, I Dumped Him
By Lorelei Mathias
Published by Maze (4 February 2016)

Publisher's description
Relationships come and go, but the Break-up Club membership never truly expires.
Holly Braithwaite and loveable loser Lawrence have been together for five years. But the obvious cracks in their relationship can no longer be ignored and Holly soon finds herself saying ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’
In the shock aftermath of their break up, Holly finds unlikely companions in Olivia, Harry and Bella. Together, they form the Break-up Club, as they support each other through their mutual melancholy and find ways to love, laugh and function as human beings again.
Break-up Club meets every Sunday. Each week, as the comedy and drama unfolds, they discover a new BUC ‘rule’. And, one by one, the rules become vital markers on their journey to recovery . . .

Find out more about Lorelei Mathias on her website and Twitter - @loreleimathias

Find out more about Reader, I Dumped Him and the Break Up Club by clicking here

Monday, 22 February 2016

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

13 Minutes
By Sarah Pinborough
Published by Gollancz (18 February 2016)
ISBN: 978-1473214033

Publisher's description
I was dead for 13 minutes.
I don't remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this - it wasn't an accident and I wasn't suicidal.
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you're a teenage girl, it's hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I'm sure of it. But that doesn't mean they didn't try to kill me. Does it?

My verdict
13 Minutes is a Young Adult psychological thriller, but certainly doesn't read like a Young Adult book at all. Sarah Pinborough has a talent for getting right into the heart of her characters' emotions.

This is the story of a group of 16-year-old girls - their fickle and fragile friendships, their pent-up feelings and their need to fit in (or not fit in).

Tasha is found in water and then revived. She was clinically dead for 13 minutes. But she has no idea why or how she ended up there - or who can provide some answers. But as she delves into the past few weeks, she discovers that something was bubbling under the surface and her friends may not be as trustworthy as they seem.

This is a beautifully written book. It's impossible not to get engrossed into the girls' lives - it all seems very real and very vivid. The plot is intriguing, chilling and tragic, and will keep you guessing right until the last page.

I loved Sarah Pinborough's The Death House. 13 Minutes is sure to be another winner.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Historical Research - a guest post by Rebecca Mascull - Blog Tour

I would like to welcome Rebecca Mascull to my blog today, as part of her blog tour. Rebecca's book Song of the Sea Maid was published in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton on 11 February 2016. 

Historical Research - what do I need to know?

By Rebecca Mascull

By the time I started planning my second published novel, Song of the Sea Maid, I’d been writing novels for over a decade. Yep, I’d written a few novels before The Visitors was published. And in that time, I’d taught myself to research, write and edit historical novels. So it wasn’t time wasted…

So, what did I learn? The first thing I had to get my head round when writing about a different historical period to the one I’m living through, was research. The question is, what do I need to know? When I first started out, I was writing a novel set during the Second World War. I thought at first that I basically needed to know EVERYTHING, that if I knew EVERYTHING then I could pick and choose what I wanted to put in the novel from the EVERYTHING I knew. A fine ambition. And in those days, I had quite a bit of time to try to achieve that ambition. It was before I had my daughter, and I’d given up teaching for a year to see if I could write this historical novel. So, I set about finding out about WW2. And, of course, I realised pretty quickly that it would take me the rest of my life to find out about one little part of WW2 and I still wouldn’t finish it. So I set about narrowing down what I really needed to know and I started to dismiss all the stuff I’d love to know but just didn’t have time for.

I refined this process over the years and it’s saved me a lot of time and a lot of money in book buying, I tell you. When I started planning Song of the Sea Maid, one of the first things I did was to write a list of all the areas of knowledge I’d need to look into in order to write my character Dawnay’s story. She’s an orphan, born in the 1730s, who becomes a scientist, travels to Portugal and beyond, then makes a remarkable discovery. So, what did I need to know about? My list started something like this:
  • C18th
  • Science

Then I thought – wait a minute here – you can’t just learn everything about the C18th and everything about science. So, I narrowed it down. Dawnay was born in the 1730s and the story follows her through into the late 1750s. That narrows it down a bit. And what science is she going to practise? Well, she’s mostly concerned with the big question: where do we come from? So, there’s palaeoanthropology for starters. Don’t need any books on molecular chemistry then. But what did scientists know about palaeoanthropology in the C18th, if anything?? So, I added a new one to the list:
  • Scientists in the C18th

Then, I realised that Dawnay was not just any old scientist in the C18th, but that rare breed, a female scientist. Society was different then, of course it was, anyone knows that. Women had it tough, tougher than today. So, another one for the list:
  • Female scientists in the C18th

So, you can see how the process of research becomes about an act of refining. Funnily enough, once I continued this list with all the other things I needed to learn about – for example:
  • Orphanages
  • The age of sail
  • Portugal and Menorca
  • The Seven Years’ War

- well, that’ll do for now, as I don’t want to give the whole story away…Anyway, once I’d written my list, I realised that it was all very well knowing all this stuff, but what I really wanted to know about, where I really wanted to start, was not actually street life in C18th London or what C18th gentleman knew about fossils BUT actually, I really wanted to know about Dawnay. She was the whole reason I was writing this story, her story. I wanted to create a character that I cared about (in fact, she was already there in my head, arms crossed, feet tapping, waiting for me to get the hell on with it – and she’d be most annoyed at the suggestion I’d ‘created’ her – characters are like that. A bit uppity and full of themselves, once they get going.)

So, I didn’t start with all the details of C18th life, such as what knickers C18th women wore (though this is rather fascinating: the answer is none). Instead, I let Dawnay tell me about herself – a bit of channelling, as it were – and it soon became obvious that what ruled her personality was her obsession with science. She had a scientist’s mind, she saw the world through the lens of science. So, one of the first books I read was Richard Feynman’s autobiography, all about what he was like when he was a kid, the way he saw the world, how he fixed people’s radios and tried to improve the communication system in the hotel that was his first job. 

I’m no scientist and I don’t have a scientific brain, so I was learning what it’s like to be one. It was the most valuable research I did, as it allowed me to climb into Dawnay’s mind. I had my gal. Now I could place her, a bit like a chess piece, into her era – into C18th London – and watch her walk around in it. Now, what were C18th streets like? How did she get around? What did she wear and eat? How did she talk?

And I was off. That’s where the fun really starts…

Song of the Sea Maid
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 11 February 2016

In the 18th century, Dawnay Price is an anomaly. An educated foundling, a woman of science in a time when such things are unheard-of, she overcomes her origins to become a natural philosopher.

Against the conventions of the day, and to the alarm of her male contemporaries, she sets sail to Portugal to develop her theories. There she makes some startling discoveries - not only in an ancient cave whose secrets hint at a previously undiscovered civilisation, but also in her own heart. The siren call of science is powerful, but as war approaches she finds herself pulled in another direction by feelings she cannot control.

Read my review here.

About Rebecca Mascull

Rebecca is the author of The Visitors 2014 & Song of the Sea Maid 2015, both published by Hodder & Stoughton. She lives with Simon & Poppy.

Find Rebecca on her website, Facebook page and on Twitter - @rebeccamascull

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