Thursday, 28 September 2017

#SnowSisters #CarolLovekin #BlogTour #Review

I am delighted to be on the Blog Tour today for Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin. My huge thanks to both Carol and Honno Press for inviting me to join in with celebrating the publication of this beautiful novel and for the advance copy of the novel in return for my honest review! 

What's the novel about? 

Two sisters, their grandmother’s old house and Angharad… the girl who cannot leave.

Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her more pragmatic sister of the visitations until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an unseasonal April snowstorm.

Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her…

Two parallel coming of age stories – one tragic, the other holding out the hope of salvation.

Bibliomaniac's Review

I had not read anything by this author before so it was an absolute delight to start reading and immediately fall in love with the style of prose, the author's beautiful use of language and her compelling storytelling. This book is poetic, mesmerising and lyrical. It is haunting and evocative, full of gorgeous imagery making it quite unforgettable and a book that definitely needs to be savoured and reread. 

I knew I would enjoy this book; after all it's about sisters, a big house, a dysfunctional mother, ghosts and snow. All my favourite elements in one story and certainly a compelling hook! But what I really loved about this book was the writing and the way the story was told.

Lovekin's novel is definitely one that uses the conventions of both the gothic and supernatural genre - and uses them very well. The ghostly element is very effective in creating tension and suspense but also, more interestingly, it is used to develop the story of main characters and run parallel with their emotional journey, reflecting and mirroring the differences and similarities between them. The presence of the ghost helps the sisters, Meredith and Verity, to explore issues that are not only haunting the 'spirit' of a previous girl who lived in the house, but also themselves. The passages by the 'ghost' are written in italics and appear between the sisters' narratives which slip between the present day and the past. With three aspects to the narrative (past, present day and the italics) it might feel that Lovekin is juggling too much but the flow of the novel is seamless and fluent, each stage of the story coming at the right time and the right place. The spellbinding nature of the writing ensures the reader is engage and swept along, caught up with the characters, the tension, the suspense and the emotional events that they are experiencing. 

The characterisation of Meredith, Verity, their mother and their grandmother are exceptionally well crafted and portrayed. The relationships between them are well drawn with precise and poignant detail, and the bond between the sisters well explored. I was so impressed with Lovekin's ability to create engaging and interesting characters, a complex storyline crossing over decades as well as establishing a clear sense of location and place. She is clearly a very talented writer with a vivid imagination. 

The voice of the ghost is distinctive, capturing her class, the historical era from which she lived and her emotional trauma and struggles. Her passages are very poetic and full of imagery as well as carefully structured to enhance their power and resonance. I was intrigued by the voice and longed to find out more about the girl behind it and the events she alludes to. All is revealed with precise and controlled timing. I loved the truly haunting nature of these italicised sections as the harrowing and disturbing truth was revealed gradually, creating an impending sense of threat which lingers over each page. I also loved that Meredith "heard" the ghost and thought the way in which the spirit of the girl revealed herself to Meredith was clever, imaginative and powerful. Lovekin raises some interesting ideas about dreams, visions and a blurring - or confusion - between the real and the supernatural. I loved that the story is suspended between two worlds -or two time periods - and how the reader also feels equally suspended between worlds. The lyricism of the prose leads the reader between dreams, visions and reality. The blend of poetic prose and the very real sounding dialogue between the sisters keeps the reader moving between the past and present, and then back into the further history of the house, in a way that becomes totally absorbing. Before you know it, this house that has such a hold over them all, will also have its hold over you.

Snow Sisters is also about parenting. It is about motherhood and the effect mother can have on their daughters. Meredith and Verity's mother feels quite etherial in her presentation; often distanced and disjointed, disengaged and lost. Lovekin raises issues of trauma, grief and relationships between mothers and daughters. The novel becomes more multi layered as it explores secrets and what happens when they are confronted, past actions and the effect of behaviours on the main characters and the repercussions they have to endure. 

Although it is written in third person, I felt very involved with the characters and very close to them. I thought this was a unique story and one which I was completely captivated and entranced by. I could not put it down. I highlighted numerous passages which I thought were just exquisite and the whole story completely captured my imagination as well as my love for language. As I said at the beginning, Lovekin is clearly a talented writer who combines great storytelling with beautiful prose. It was honestly very hard to finish this book as I had become so immersed in its world. 

Snow Sisters is published by Honno Press on 21st September 2017. 

Don't miss the rest of the Blog Tour for more reviews! 

I was so struck by how much I enjoyed Snow Sisters that as soon as I had finished it, I went back to my bookshelf and dug out Ghostbird, Carol Lovekin's first traditionally published novel, which had been patiently waiting - as I bought it for myself many many months ago -and threw myself back in to Lovekin's writing! 

GHOST BIRD by Carol Lovekin 

Someone needs to be forgiven. Someone needs to forgive.

Nothing hurts like not knowing who you are.

Nobody will tell Cadi anything about her father and her sister. Her mother Violet believes she can only cope with the past by never talking about it. Lili, Cadi’s aunt, is stuck in the middle, bound by a promise she shouldn’t have made. But this summer, Cadi is determined to find out the truth.

In a world of hauntings and magic, in a village where it rains throughout August, as Cadi starts on her search, the secrets and the ghosts begin to wake up. None of the Hopkins women will be able to escape them.

Again, this is a stunning read. I am in awe of Lovekin's use of imagery, metaphor, language and description. I love the pace, the structure, the characters and the way she explores issues and the secrets of the past in such a mesmerising and hypnotising way. Lovekin's writing is full of Welsh magic and I really enjoy the way she weaves in the Welsh cultural heritage through her writing and compelling characters. 

If you love something a little different, a story that is full of engaging characters then this is the book for you. If you want to be whisked away into a world of lyrical prose, poetic metaphors and impressive, well crafted writing, then this is the book for you. I recommend!

I am so thrilled to have discovered Carol Lovekin and I cannot wait to read anything that she ever writes in the future. It has been so brilliant to discover a new author - and to indulge in two books in one go! 

Ghostbird was published by Honno Press in March 2016.

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog or website

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Review: Is Monogamy Dead? by Rosie Wilby


*My thanks to the author from whom I received this book in return for an unbiased and honest review*

Rosie Wilby is an award winning comedian who regularly appears on radio programmes such as BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour. This professional experience is reflected in her ability to write so candidly, so confidently and with such a great balance between content, substance and humour. Is Monogamy Dead? is a very easy book to engage with, not just because Wilby's actually exploring a very topical and contemporary issue of what partnership looks like in our modern world - but also because of her informal tone of voice and short, bitesize chapters. 

The inspiration for this book came from the question "Who is the love of your life?" Most of us have relationships with people that range from the romantic, doomed, short-lived, longterm, heady and spontaneous, practical and secure. Is it possible to have this relationship with the same person and how do you negotiate relationships so that both needs are met?

"Love can be hard work, alongside all the amazing bits. So let's hold each other's hands and work out how to go about relationships in this scary, busy, digital twenty-first century."

As Wilby says, human behaviour is not often logical or reasonable -particularly when it comes to love, also there is no right or wrong answer or scientific explanation to show us how to love and who to love. But this book is an attempt - and a very clear, articulate, thoughtful and considered attempt - to consider what relationships look like in the 21st century and whether monogamy still has a place within modern couplings. Can one person still meet all our ever increasing needs in this ever increasingly fast moving world where we are constantly updating, upgrading and trading in our possessions?

Ultimately this is a personal piece of writing and very autobiographical. Wilby is honest, upfront, straight talking and reflects about her own relationships and her own heartbreaks. She talks a lot about her own sexuality and about the gay community. But she also wants to talk to anyone about monogamy and this book is written with a wide ranging audience in mind whatever their gender or sexuality. The underlying issues touched on this book are probably relevant to anyone who is involved in some kind of relationship or has aspirations, expectations, ambitions and dreams about the kind of relationship they want or feel they deserve. 

I was interested with Wilby's discussion of social media and found her comments about Facebook and how it has made friendship a commodity, that has affected our perception of "friends" and what it means to "like" someone. Wilby considers the affects of social media on the way we perceive monogamy and love and it's impact on modern relationships. I also found her passages about female friendships - platonic friendships - really interesting. These platonic friendships are often intense, ones where women form very deep bonds and can be incredibly powerful. When they go wrong, they can leave us heartbroken. They are, in effect, love affairs. I liked that Wilby raised lots of things I hadn't put together before in my mind and actually many things resonated or struck me.  

This book is full of humour, comedy and astute remarks but all the ideas, issues and points Wilby makes have been researched, investigated and developed into thought provoking arguments. It is an amusing, honest and lively piece of writing; endearing in its self deprecation and self effusiveness. And it is never flippant. There is substance and ideas are developed in good detail. It's not usually the type of book I would pick up and I think it grew out of a TED lecture but I was interested, I did find lots of comments valuable, insightful and it left me with plenty to think about and consider. I think it's also a brave piece and admire Wilby's honesty and frankness in using her own love affairs, heartbreak and partners to help explore her ideas, feelings and conclusions. 

And of course her main conclusion is satisfying, sound and heartwarming.

'Relationships are all unique.....[we need to] come to our own decisions about what works best for us and our loved ones.'

So whether monogamy is dead, whether it is for you, whether you have given up on long term, single partnerships or still seek it, this book is an interesting discussion of what it monogamy might mean in today's society. It's a well written, well structured, intelligent, witty book that's well worth a look. 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Bibliomaniac's Book Shelf: My Week in Books 24th Sept 2017

24th September 2017

Somehow I've managed to do a lot of reading this week... I discovered two authors who were new to me and whose work I fell in love with, and then one of my favourite author's published their new book so my mantra this week has mainly been 'just one more chapter'!

 As well as many books, there have been many late nights, reading way beyond I should but hey, what's a bibliomaniac to do? 

If I only tell you about one thing this week...

This week I had the exciting privilege of hosting a panel event with Angela Clarke, Rowan Coleman, Tammy Cohen and Anna Mazola. It was amazing! I was a little (actually a lot) star struck as I genuinely love the books by these fabulous women but they were so friendly I  relaxed quickly! It was a really fun evening! 

Chairing the panel was very easy as all of the authors chatted away with lots of sparkle, laughter and charm - and the time passed too quickly! Some of the things we heard about were the books they had read over the summer, the various projects they were involved in alongside writing novels, their writing routines, researching their novels, Richard & Judy and their future projects! 

They were an amazing panel to listen to and I cannot recommend their books highly enough - or as panelists for any future events! 

Here are a few pictures from the night! 
And details of my next event are at the end of this post! 

Don't forget to catch Angela Clarke on CBS Reality on Sunday evening at 10pm for "Written In Blood" where she investigates the true crime of 'The Facebook Killer' that has inspired her writing!

by Rachel Malik 

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves

A story of the land, friendship and of secret lives.

When Rene Hargreaves is billeted to Starlight Farm as a Land Girl, far from the city where she grew up, she finds farmer Elsie Boston and her country ways strange at first. Yet over the days and months Rene and Elsie come to understand and depend on each other. Soon they can no longer imagine a life apart.

But a visitor from Rene's past threatens the life they have built together, a life that has always kept others at a careful distance. Soon they are involved in a war of their own that endangers everything and will finally expose them to the nation's press and the full force of the law.

Because of it's elegant prose, this novel possibly leans towards literary fiction but there is no doubting Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is very readable, charming and engaging. It has echoes of a Kate Summerscale book, although the author is very clear that this is a fictionalised account of what might have happened to these women who did exist in real life, rather than an historical truth. The author strikes a great balance between retelling the lives of the two main characters (one of which was Malik's grandmother) and the historical events in which they become involved as well as weaving an entrancing tale of companionship and friendship. There is no denying that the reader cannot help but be intrigued by the relationship that develops and grows across the pages, or by affected by the fact that this relationship has such an impact on both the lives of the two women. 

I enjoyed Malik's ability to capture the relationship between the two women with such understated language. It must be a challenge to write about your family history but Malik successfully weaves what she has learned about her grandmother into a piece of fascinating fiction. Her ability to evoke the era in which the novel is set is effortless and perfectly done. She firmly roots the reader within the time and place of the story with language, dialogue, description and detail that creates an atmosphere capturing the period. This secure placing within the historical setting then ensures the full significance of the events which unfold are felt by the reader. 

Malik's prose is considered, thoughtful, atmospheric and graceful. The characters are well crafted, easy to picture, easy to invest in and to care about. The interjection of phrases unique to the wartime is well done, as is the way Malik is able to convey class and social standing with one or two key details. There is also a lingering sense of tragedy and being haunted by the past which adds a sense of melancholy but never becomes too much or too distracting. 

The last third of the book focuses on a court case and there is a definite change of pace and style for this section of the book. I had been meandering along the pages and suddenly I was racing through, my attention awakened fully by the increase in dialogue, pace, revelations and drama. I was engrossed by the shock, scandal and cruelty that befell these endearing, harmless, well meaning and private people. The final section of the book is more powerful because of the time Malik has spent from the beginning of the novel developing these nuances, subtle moments and tender depiction of the relationship between the characters. 

This is a very well crafted, well executed and polished novel. It is beautifully controlled and accomplished for a debut novel and the author's background in academic writing does show through. It is a historical fiction and it is more literary than commercial in style but it is engaging, entrancing, tender and well worth a read. I thought the evocation of characters, time and place was exceptionally well presented and I found myself caring about the characters much more than I realised once the story had finished! 

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is currently available in Hardback and will be published in Paperback in February 2018. My thanks to the publisher for my advance copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review. 

by Cass Green 

In a Cottage In a Wood

It is not often that the minute I receive a preordered book on the day of publication I drop everything and read it, but this week I made an exception! Having read Cass Green's first adult novel The Woman Next Door I could not wait to read In A Cottage In A Wood. The cover was already sending shivers up my spine! 

This is a captivating story. The main character, Neve, finds the whole of her life turned upside down after a chance encounter with a troubled woman called Isabelle, late one night on Waterloo Bridge.

After a brief, confusing and disturbing conversation on the bridge in the middle of a freezing night, Isabelle presses a parcel into Neve's hands then throws herself to her death by jumping into the Thames. Not surprisingly this harrowing encounter causes havoc with Neve's emotional state of mind, especially as she is already troubled and her life is already crashing around her. So when she finds out that Isabelle has left her a cottage in Cornwall, Neve decides she has nothing else to lose. She walks away from her sister's home where she has been camping out and sets off to find this cottage and start a new life. 

She sets off to find the cottage in a wood. A cottage that she doesn't find until late at night. In the dark. That the taxi won't take her too because it is not easily accessible. A cottage that is not the charming picturesque home that she had in envisioned but one with bars across the window and full of unpleasant surprises... 

Green is an assured, confident and skilled writer who understands how to construct a superbly chilling tale. She effortlessly maintains tension, suspense and intrigue throughout every chapter; this novel is well paced and a definite page turner even though Green allows herself plenty of time to develop the characters and weave her tale. In Neve, Green has created a flawed, emotionally complex and vulnerable individual who the reader gradually becomes more and more attached to as we watch her try to solve the mystery behind Isabelle's death and deal with the fallout of what she discovers. Neve's life at the beginning of the book is full of chaos, mistakes and reckless decisions which don't necessarily make her likeable, but the effect this chance encounter with Isabelle has on the direction of her life is a fantastic hook and ensures the reader wants to follow her on her journey. Neve's character is well developed and we learn to care about her as she deals with several emotional and psychological issues which result in a significant change in her personality and a re-evaluation of her priorities.  Not only does Neve need to uncover the mystery behind the haunted cottage and the truth behind what made Isabelle jump from the bridge, she also has to confront some difficult and traumatic truths about her own life. I liked that she wasn't quite what I was expecting in a protagonist, her flaws obvious and her weakness on show, yet I was still invested. I liked her emotional journey and how the reader became very much part of this alongside her. I liked that we were as shocked by the secrets she uncovered as she was herself and shared her grief, surprise and heartache at these harrowing revelations.

Green's greatest talent is for creating compelling characters who perhaps aren't quite so conventional or straightforward. It is also for storytelling and for adding layer upon layer to the story so that Neve's situation not only becomes more threatening but more complicated and more devastating. I was impressed with the way that Isabelle and Neve, two characters united only through a coincidental circumstance, could have such an impact on each other's lives. I was impressed with how the story developed and the many strands that were woven together into such a multi layered, tightly plotted, well executed, exciting narrative. 

This novel deals with grief, torment, violence and families. It's about secrets, unexplained actions, the past and the devastating consequences of discovering the truth. I liked that the plot developed so much beyond just a spooky house in a dark wood - although this dark and gothic element was incredibly appealing and very effectively used to structure the story and increase the ominous sense of danger from something Neve could not see or understand. 

The setting, location and characters are perfect for this story and Green delivers all the shocks, twists, upset, revelations and drama that you would expect from the cover and title of this novel. I found it a great read, a polished and flawless psychological thriller which had me completely hooked me from the outset. I read it in one sitting. And now I want another book from Cass Green. She's too good. 

In A Cottage In A Wood was published by Harper Collins on 21st September 2017. 

by Peter Ackroyd

The Limehouse Golem

Dan Leno, the great music hall comedian, was known in his lifetime as 'the funniest man on earth'. So how could he have been involved in one of the most curious episodes in London's history when, in a short period during the autumn of 1880, a series of murders was attributed to the mysterious 'Limehouse Golem'?

In Peter Ackroyd's novel the world of late-Victorian music hall and pantomime becomes implicated in a number of sinister scenes and episodes, and the connection between the light and dark sides of nineteenth-century London begins to attract contemporary figures as George Gissing and Karl Marx. But there are also less well-known characters who play a significant role in the narrative. What, for example, is the secret of Elizabeth Cree, about to hang for the murder of her husband?

Ackroyd's style is very distinctive and the minute I started reading this book I recognised his quirky, fast paced, intelligent and engaging prose. This book is not for the faint hearted - it is dark with a capital D. The reader is thrown headlong into the unpleasant world of Victorian London in all its gratuitous and shocking detail. From the very opening there is plenty of graphic description, gore, violence and murder. Ackroyd's ability to capture London and to place the reader so convincingly in the depths of its dark, brutal, harsh and unforgiving streets is admirable and impossible to turn away from, even when it is depicted with such bleak and base language. 

This is a macabre tale. It is also compelling. The characters are fascinating and I enjoyed the inclusion of various historical figures who contribute to such a wide ranging cast of characters. It's imaginative, creative and treads the line between fact and fiction perfectly, presenting a murder investigation that is intriguing, shocking and impossible to put down. The book is relatively short at around 270 pages and because of the various characters who take over the narration, it's easy to read and to keep turning the pages. There are lots of different types of narration including court transcripts, diaries as well as third person accounts which also gives the book a unique and original feel. The use of dialogue is exceptionally well done and each character is well crafted. Ackroyd's characterisation is very impressive and it goes without saying that this book reflects his skill and experience as such an accomplished writer. The characters create a real sense of vitality and energy despite the overruling murky atmosphere of threat and definitely add to the appeal of the novel.

Anyone who enjoys Jack the Ripper, Whitechapel and Sweeny Todd will love this book. It is dark and it is grim reading in places so it will not be for everyone. There is a lot of gore and description of brutally murdered bodies and as I said before, I think Ackroyd's style is distinctive and not for everyone but The Limehouse Golem is an intriguing story. I liked the blunt truth of the character's statements and the way events were presented. I must admit my main motivation for reading is because of the forthcoming film starring Bill Nighy as I do like to read the book before I watch the film! I can't wait to see this transfer to the big screen!

The Limehouse Golem was first published in 1994 and then republished by Vintage on 24th August 2017. My thanks to the publishers who provided an advance copy of the book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.



As you know, I really enjoyed this book and have been raving about it so it was an honour to be on the blog tour this week. I was lucky enough to host a guest post from Phoebe Morgan as well so do check out my post here!


I was also on the blog tour for No Way Back with a review of the book. You can read my review here:


I also hosted an interview with Helen Jones about her latest book A Thousand Rooms which you can read here:


I am delighted to announce my next event which will be November 29th. Details below and click on the link to buy your ticket!

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog or website

Saturday, 23 September 2017

#NoWayBack #KellyFlorentia #BlogTour


*My thanks to the author from whom I received this book as part of the Blog Tour and in return for an unbiased and honest review*

When two eligible and attractive men are vying for your heart, it should be the perfect dilemma...

Audrey Fox has been dumped by her unreliable fiancé Nick Byrne just days before the wedding. Heartbroken and confused, the last thing she expects when she jumps on a plane to convalesce in Cyprus is romance. But a chance meeting with handsome entrepreneur and father-of-one Daniel Taylor weaves her into a dating game she's not sure she's ready for. Audrey's life is thrown into further turmoil when she discovers on her return to London that Nick has been involved in a serious motorcycle accident that's left him in intensive care. Distraught yet determined to look to the future, Audrey must make a decision - follow her heart or listen to well-meaning advice from family and friends? Because sometimes, no matter what, it's the people that we love who can hurt us the most...

Today I am delighted to be on the Blog Tour for No Way Back by Kelly Florentia. I really didn't know what to expect when I received a copy of this book but sometimes it's exciting to read a book without any preconceptions or much awareness of the blurb. No Way Back certainly has a great cover  - who doesn't love a pair of bright red shoes! It certainly suggests a good, upbeat, punchy story is coming!

No Way Back is a good read. It starts of in Cyprus where we find Audrey on holiday with her parents, heartbroken and trying to mend herself after her fiancé left her. Immediately the reader connects with Audrey, develops sympathy for her and begins to form a relationship with her; we quickly decide she's someone we're going to root for and someone who we want to see "fixed" and happy again. The story then shifts back to London and Audrey goes back to her life in Muswell Hill - something I particularly enjoyed having lived there myself for a long time, so the specific references and connection with the location really appealed to me and made it even easier to visualise in my mind! 

However when Audrey returns to London, still heartbroken and secretly still wishing Nick - her fiancé - will reappear, proclaiming it was all a mistake and they will get back together, she finds out he has been in a terrible road traffic accident. Florentia throws the reader headlong into the next part of the story; we are transported from one environment and emotional situation into another  - one which then leads Audrey to discover all sorts of things she didn't know about Nick, her friends, or herself and forces her to confront some tricky situations. 

Some of the scenarios, situations and dilemmas Audrey and her friends then have to navigate their way through are all familiar to us but I liked that. I think we all enjoy watching characters work through situations we can relate to or empathise with and Florentia makes this even more interesting by taking things in a direction we are not always expecting!  Her writing is fresh, alive and full of energy which gives the novel a good pace and atmosphere. It's entertaining in places, it's sad and serious in places and it's got drama, making it a rewarding read and as enjoyable as settling down to a good film or TV series on a Sunday night.

There are great contrasts between Nick and Daniel and the dynamics between them and Audrey make for good drama and tension. I liked the love triangle, the constant pull between an old love and a new one, the difficulties and hurt when discovering friends that have lied to you and then the affection and love when friends that need you to navigate tough times. It's a novel about friendship, finding your way in the world, being surprised by what is around the corner and learning to ride out the journey and navigate your way through the ups and downs life throws at you. 

Florentine's writing is fluent and very easy to read. The dialogue is authentic and engaging and depicts the characters effectively. To me, this novel works because we like Audrey. Florentia has developed a strong character with a strong voice and the reader is invested in her from the beginning. There is also a good range of characters which keeps the story moving and provides plenty of action, drama, tension and pace. Florentia effortlessly establishes the wide cast of characters and at no point did I feel there were too many, too few or that I didn't know each of them well enough. She captures the friendships between Audrey and Tina realistically, particularly the strong bond between them and this relationship feels very authentic and well captured. 

Thank you to Urbane and Kelly Florentia for an advance review copy of No Way Back which was a real pleasure to read and I enjoyed meeting Audrey and sharing her journey through these stage in her life! I'm intrigued to see what Florentia has in store for her next in the sequel! 

No Way Back publishes on 21st September 2017 with Urbane Publishers. Click on the link below to buy a copy. 


Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. No Way Back, released 21st September, is her second novel. 

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before penning her debut The Magic Touch (2016), she wrote short stories for women’s magazines. To Tell a Tale or Two… is a collection of her short tales.

Kelly has a keen interest in health and fitness and has written many articles on this subject. Smooth Operator (published in January 2017) is a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes.
As well as writing, Kelly enjoys reading, running, yoga, drinking coffee, and scoffing cakes. She is currently working on the sequel to NO WAY BACK.

Twitter: @kellyflorentia

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog or website

Friday, 22 September 2017

#TheDollHouse #PhoebeMorgan #BlogTour #GuestPost

The Doll House


*My thanks to the publisher from whom I received this book in return for being part of the Blog Tour and for an unbiased and honest review*

Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.

But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…

Quite frankly it was impossible to not want to read The Doll House- the title, the cover and the blurb made it sound totally irresistible to me and I was desperate to read it! This was a complete treat; compulsive, bewitching and I thoroughly enjoyed being wrapped up in this twisty, suspenseful, chilling novel. 

Today I am thrilled to be able to share a guest post from the author Phoebe Morgan about her inspirations. Then below you can read my review! I hope you enjoy both the guest post and review and highly recommend that you grab a copy of The Doll House when it publishes on 14th September 2017 with HQ Digital. 

Who/what inspires you to write? 
A guest post by Phoebe Morgan

The great thing about writing is that you really can get inspiration from anywhere. I try to go to a lot of literary events to hear other authors talk about their work and their publication process, as I always find it inspiring to hear stories of persistence and of dreams coming true. When I lived in South London I used to go to an event called Book Slam in Clapham Junction, which was half comedy night, half new writing night, and occasionally there’d be a new author reading from their first book which was always inspiring. I met Eliza Robertson there, author of Who Will Water the Wallflowers, and I always find like-minded people at these kind of events are happy to chat. There are lots in London but further afield too – in libraries, bookshops or at festivals and they aren’t usually expensive.

I have a group of writer friends too who inspire me every day with their ideas, commitment and creativity – some of them write in totally different genres to me, including young adult and children’s, but our goals are the same and to hear their word counts go up is exhilarating! Many of them are now published authors too, which is wonderful and just shows how hard work can pay off.

When I’m just going about my everyday life, I often find myself writing or starting sentences in my head, describing the situation around me and thinking about how the words would look on a page (but if you’re talking to me, I’m listening, promise!) I can see something and immediately want to write about it, or see a personality trait and want to attribute it to a new character, and I always get a little rush of excitement every time I have what I think might be a good idea – or at least not a completely terrible one. I think as a writer it’s important to live fully and have new experiences, so that even if you have a bad time, you can write about it later. When I was working as a journalist I was quite unhappy in the job, but now I find it’s often where my mind goes when I’m thinking of book material, and a lot of Dominic’s scenes in The Doll House are based around my time in a news room. You always have to stay open to things and if they want to come out in your next novel, let them!

The Doll House

Bibliomaniac's Review of The Doll House

This is a very tightly plotted, flawlessly delivered, gripping psychological thriller.

Part of the novel's strength is that we are very quickly drawn into the plot through our connection with the main character, Corinne. Morgan wastes no time forming a bond between the reader and Corinne which means we are quick to invest in the story.  Her character is really well crafted. Perhaps due to the sensitive and emotive situation regarding her fertility attempts, her desperate need to become a parent and her constant battle to present a more balanced image to the world when inside she feels so vulnerable, means that the relationship with the reader feels very intimate. And authentic. Once we have shared the pain, trauma and distress of her failed IVF attempts, it is inevitable that by the time Corinne is beginning to feel threatened and watched, we are completely caught up in her situation and emotionally entangled in her predicament. We are hooked. 

 Morgan shows Corinne's raw vulnerability and really conveys the fragility in her relationship with her partner. Although everything seems perfect from the outside, we see how this is not actually the case at all and how easily things could collapse around them. This nervous energy continues throughout the novel and although I never doubted Corinne, it was easy to understand why many do and her need to know that she is not going mad or inventing things compounds the action of the story. 

I also thought Corinne's sister, Ashley, was incredibly well created. Her storyline was as compelling and exciting, with as many twists, turns and revelations and I actually found it very captivating. I might have liked Ashley a little more than Corinne as she could be a little stronger and more independent although Corinne confronts this side of her personality as the story races towards its end. I liked that the Ashley's story complimented and contrasted with Corinne's story and how the two threads began to converge towards the finale. The sisters' perception of each others lives are so wrong and again the author explores the significance of not saying or not asking the right thing and not seeing what is going on in front of your very eyes. Through the sisters, Morgan can explore different responses to trust, intuition and how observant people are or what they choose to see.

This is a complex story which just kept developing as more and more suggestions, wrong conclusions and revelations kept adding layer upon layer of intrigue. It became more and more suspenseful as the novel continued building towards an incredibly dramatic denouement that challenged everything the reader thinks they knew. The short chapters exaggerate this sense of urgency and tension and keep the pages turning. 

There are lots of themes explored in this novel. There are the obvious themes like motherhood, parenting, mothers and daughters, marriage and childhood but also there is an exploration of duplicity, lies, secret and history repeating itself. I liked the incorporation of universal themes like grief and lies, but I also liked the more specific observations about marriage and parenting and the contrast between the experience not only of the two sisters but also their parents. 

Morgan has a sound understanding of the psychological thriller genre and this is an impressive debut which displays an expert handling of tension and suspense. Morgan takes an eerie premise and develops it into a sophisticated domestic noir that explores a range of universal issues. It is very well structured with well managed multiple narratives; the interaction between the characters and subsequent repercussions is executed with dramatic precision. It's a phenomenally good read. It is confident, assured, emotionally charged and chilling. I can not wait to see what Morgan writes next! 

The Doll House is published on 14th September 2017 with HQ Digital. 

Phoebe Morgan is an author and editor. She studied English at Leeds University after growing up in the Suffolk countryside. She has previously worked as a journalist and now edits crime and women’s fiction for a publishing house during the day, and writes her own books in the evenings. She lives in London and you can follow her on Twitter @Phoebe_A_Morgan. The Doll House is her debut novel.

Don't forget to follow the rest of the Blog Tour!

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog or website