Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater | #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #recommended

Delighted beyond words to host a stop on the blog tour for Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for the fabulous review copy!

Author : Louise Beech
Title : Call Me Star Girl
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda
Publication date : April 18, 2019 (paperback)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Thoughts? Ha! Bloody hell, I don’t know. I can’t even begin to think of any words. I hurt. Way deep inside, like an awful physical pain that makes me want to curl up into a tiny ball under the duvet and just weep.

Louise Beech is one of maybe two authors who always manages to make me cry in the ugliest way possible. So when I heard she had gone down the dark path and written a psychological thriller, I felt relieved and my first thought was how I wouldn’t need to stock up on tissues and explain to my other half why my eyes were so red. There’s only so many times you can use the “I was chopping onions” excuse, you know.

How wrong I was. How massively wrong to think for just one second that Louise Beech would somehow stick to the “rules” of this genre. Because we all know by now this is an author who doesn’t fit neatly into a labeled box and neither does Call Me Star Girl. I was expecting something dark and boy, did I get that! But despite all the warnings, I was not prepared for how devastating this story would turn out to be.

Such incredible characterisation, such complex and multi-layered personalities, so many secrets and throughout it all a stunning Noir vibe, feeling like I was watching an old black and white movie and then the utterly exquisite writing, which just pulls you in, sweeps you up and away, becoming so immersed you forget everything and everyone around you, all the while stirring something deep inside. Call Me Star Girl is intensely compelling, emotional, memorable and thought-provoking. What would you do for love?

This is the kind of novel that causes book hangovers. I don’t know where to go from here. My heart is broken and nobody is able to elicit those kinds of emotions from me but the amazingly talented and incomparable Louise Beech. Wherever she goes, whatever she writes, I will follow her without a moment’s hesitation.

Call Me Star Girl is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019.

Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.

Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Weekly Wrap-Up (April 21)

Happy Easter!

It feels like Summer and I’m loving every single second of it! Gorgeous blue skies, glorious sunshine, weeds popping up all over the place and hay fever kicking my arse. Okay, wait, those last two aren’t fun but we’ll take the good with the bad and enjoy it while it lasts.

Of the bad, all that sunshine made me realise how dirty my windows were, mostly due to an inconsiderate other half. So of course I had to clean them. Again! I swear my house would be so much cleaner if I were single 😂

Reading-wise. Hoo boy! What a week it’s been! Let’s have a look at what I read.

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Best week EVER! There are four 5 star reads on that list! The books I’ll be reading next week have a lot to live up to!

I’m not even worried about “only” reading 6 books because the books in that C.J. Sansom series are just getting bigger and bigger. 650 pages, devoured in less than two days. If you love crime fiction and historical fiction and the Tudor era, this series NEEDS to be on your shelf! SO GOOD!

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Nada! Zip! My other half is pleased. Little does he know I fully intend to catch up at some point 😉

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

Just the one but what a corker it is. Enormously pleased.

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Took the day off

Tuesday : Joined the blog tour for The Passengers by John Marrs and shared a guest on the blog tour for White Leaves of Peace by Tracey Iceton

Wednesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and shared My Week in Books

Thursday : Joined the blog tour for The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

Friday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin

Saturday : Joined the blog tour for Perfect Crime by Helen Fields

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

And breathe! What a fun week that was! Thank you for all the shares on Twitter. I lost track of my notifications at some point and may have missed some people. Apologies! The glorious sunshine made me do it 🤣

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Blog tour | Review | Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Tuesday : Blog tour | Review | Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Blog tour | Extract | Envy by Amanda Robson

Friday : Blog tour | Review | Picture of Innocence by T.J. Stimson

Saturday : Blog tour | Review | Sleep by C.L. Taylor

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

So much for slowing down, huh? Have to say though, I do so love being this busy. And I’m even ahead of schedule. I have one review left to write for this upcoming week but as far as reading the books is concerned, I’m reading for May. I feel quite accomplished. 😊

Question of the week. Which I totally stole from the lovely Kate at Portable Magic. If you have blog tours scheduled, do you ever read out of order?

Take me for instance and the books I read this past week. First I read one for a blog tour on May 27th, then I read one due May 2nd, to be followed by one due May 13th. One isn’t even for a blog tour at all (hello, Sovereign!). All the while I seem to be skipping over the one that’s due May 1st. 😂

Is that something you do as well? Or do you stick to your schedule and just basically try not to panic?

Friendly reminder that voting is still open for the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards

Feel free to ignore the other 64 names on the list and vote for me (Novel Deelights, in case you wondered) 😂

That’s it for another week. I have a few reviews to tackle before my mother-in-law arrives for a fun afternoon of board games, sunshine and stuffing our faces full of chocolate. Or ice cream. Or hell, both! Diet? What diet?

Hope everyone has a fabulous week! Until next time! Happy reading! xx

Perfect Crime by Helen Fields | @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K | #blogtour #bookreview #PerfectCrime

Delighted to join the blog tour for Perfect Crime by Helen Fields today! My thanks to Sabah at Avon for the opportunity to join and for the review copy!

Author : Helen Fields
Title : Perfect Crime
Series : DI Luc Callanach #5
Pages : 400
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Stephen Berry is about to jump off a bridge until a suicide prevention counsellor stops him. A week later, Stephen is dead. Found at the bottom of a cliff, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are drafted in to investigate whether he jumped or whether he was pushed…

As they dig deeper, more would-be suicides roll in: a woman found dead in a bath; a man violently electrocuted. But these are carefully curated deaths – nothing like the impulsive suicide attempts they’ve been made out to be.

Little do Callanach and Turner know how close their perpetrator is as, across Edinburgh, a violent and psychopathic killer gains more confidence with every life he takes…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Let me just start my review by saying that if you’re not reading this series, I am judging you like a big, bad judging thing! This is one of the best crime fiction series out there and you are sorely missing out!

Perfect Crime is the fifth instalment in the DI Luc Callanach series and by now, these characters feel like family and I am always excited about spending more time with them. Before you ask, no, you really shouldn’t treat these as stand-alones. Start from the beginning. I promise you won’t regret it!

Things kick off when Stephen Berry is getting ready to jump off a bridge. Luckily, a suicide prevention counsellor manages to talk him down but a week later, Stephen is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are called in to investigate whether Stephen killed himself or was murdered. But the deaths do not stop there …

Meanwhile, Callanach is finding himself in hot water when he visits someone in a care home who is later found dead. I won’t say anything else about that so I don’t spoil things for those who haven’t read the previous books (shame on you! 😂) but I will say I really enjoyed this second thread of the story. Switching back and forth between the two investigations really held my attention.

I mentioned these characters feel like family by now so when they hurt, I hurt. And there is a lot of “hurt” going on in this one. Relationships shift, some characters managed to surprise me, others infuriated me and through it all are original, frightening and gruesome deaths as I’ve come to expect from this series.

I very early on figured out what was going on but that didn’t ruin things for me at all. I became so absorbed in the investigation that I almost forgot about my suspect. Helen Fields always delivers gripping, compelling, thrilling and tense stories full of intriguing (and sometimes totally crazy) characters. This is one of those series that just keeps getting better and better and I can’t wait to see what Helen Fields comes up with next but I know it will be awesome once again. Highly recommended!

Perfect Crime is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

While you’re there, why not grab yourself copies of the previous books in the series 😉

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar.

Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Helen and her husband now live in Los Angeles with their three children and two dogs.

Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin | @GarethRubin @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #blogtour #bookreview

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin! My thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and the wonderful review copy!

Author : Gareth Rubin
Title : Liberation Square
Pages : 340
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

After the disastrous failure of D-Day, Britain is occupied by Nazi Germany, and only rescued by Russian soldiers arriving from the east and Americans from the west. The two superpowers divide the nation between them, a wall running through London like a scar.

On the Soviet side of the wall, Jane Cawson calls into her husband’s medical practice, hoping to surprise him. But instead she detects the perfume worn by his former wife, Lorelei, star of propaganda films for the new Marxist regime.

Jane rushes to confront them, but soon finds herself caught up in the glamorous actress’s death.

Her husband Nick is arrested for murder. Desperate to clear his name, Jane must risk the attention of the brutal secret police as she follows a trail of corruption right to the highest levels of the state.

And she might find she never really knew her husband at all.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Well, here is a frightening scenario.

The year is 1952. The setting is London. But not the London we all know. D-Day was an enormous failure and the war was lost. The United Kingdom has been divided in two with a wall running through London. Jane and her husband Nick live in the Republic, under Russian control. Jane suspects her husband of having an affair with his first wife, Lorelei. When Jane decides to confront them, she finds Lorelei dead in the bathtub and soon, husband Nick is arrested by the National Secret Service. But all is not what it seems.

Jane is just your average woman who suddenly finds herself in the middle of extraordinary circumstances. Not only is goodness knows what happening to her husband while he’s being held but she also suddenly finds herself responsible for his daughter from his previous marriage. Desperate to find evidence that will help free her husband, she soon ends up in situations she is wholly unprepared for.

Life is not a bed of roses on this side of the wall. Corruption is rife and the things that have been promised do not come to fruition. Danger lurks around every corner. People are arrested and disappear. You can’t even trust your neighbours, who seem to be watching your every move, ready to inform the authorities. Some try to escape, making desperate attempts to reach the other side of the wall. Most fail.

The cover of this book is black and white with some red highlights standing out and that’s exactly how I saw things in my head while reading. At its heart, Liberation Square is a murder mystery and I felt it had a bit of a noir vibe to it. As Jane digs deeper, trying to figure out who was responsible for Lorelei’s death, she uncovers a multitude of secrets and is left to wonder if she knows her husband at all. With so much deceit going on everywhere, I ended up being suspicious of just about everyone and had a hard time imagining living my life like that. Scary.

With a fascinating and original premise, Liberation Square turned into quite the surprising read for me. I say that because dystopian stories don’t always hit the right spot with me but this one most definitely did. Having the added bonus of a murder mystery and a bit of a spy thriller touch to it, made this an enjoyable, atmospheric and gripping story. One that had me guessing until the end and in awe of the utterly believable alternative scenario.

Liberation Square is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Gareth Rubin is a British journalist and author. His journalism covers social affairs, travel, architecture, arts and health. His novel Liberation Square is a mystery thriller set in Soviet-occupied London.

In 2013 he directed a documentary, Images of Bedlam, about the connection between art and mental illness and how art can help people express that which they cannot put into words. It was filmed at the Bethlem Royal Hospital (‘Bedlam’) and interviews artists with a history of psychiatric illness.

He previously worked as an actor on stage and television.

The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans | @HarrietEvans @headlinepg @annecater | #blogtour #bookreview #publicationday

Delighted to host a stop on publication day for The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy.

Author : Harriet Evans
Title : The Garden of Lost and Found
Pages : 480
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

| MY THOUGHTS |

It’s been a while since I read a family saga but I was quickly reminded of why they make such engrossing stories. Especially when they are as brilliantly written as this one. It took just a few pages for me to be swept along and become absolutely captivated.

The Garden of Lost and Found is centred around the Horner family and a painting. Ned Horner used to be quite the well-known artist and “The Garden of Lost and Found” was his masterpiece. It captured his children on a beautiful day, playing in the garden of their beloved home, Nightingale House. But in 1919, a few days before his death, Ned destroys the painting.

Now, Ned’s great-granddaughter Juliet returns to Nightingale House for the first time since her grandmother died. True to form, there are a lot of family secrets to discover but most importantly, there is a mystery to be solved. Because what could possibly have driven Ned to destroy his most famous painting?

The Garden of Lost and Found is full of complex characters, some a bit more flawed and unlikeable than others, yet all incredibly realistic and believable. For most of the novel, I was mostly drawn to the chapters set in the past. I suspect that’s the crime fiction lover in me, who was desperately trying to figure out the answers before Juliet did in the modern day setting. And to be quite fair, her children drove me up the wall. Yet it also brought home how different things were generations back when the kind of behaviour they display wouldn’t have been tolerated for a second.

Despite having had The Wildflowers on my shelf for the longest time, this was my first introduction to Harriet Evans. I really enjoyed her writing style as it’s beautifully descriptive. At times it felt as if I was right there at Nightingale House, hearing the rain patter on the windows, smelling the glorious scents from the garden, maybe even hear a mouse skitter across the floorboards.

At almost 500 pages, this isn’t exactly a quick read but at no point did it drag or become boring. It never felt like a long book as I became completely immersed and invested in these characters’ lives, losing myself within the pages. The Garden of Lost and Found is an engrossing, enchanting and sometimes emotional story about family, love and secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these characters and I will definitely be reading more by Harriet Evans.

The Garden of Lost and Found is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Harriet Evans is the author, Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. Before becoming a full time writer Harriet was a successful editor for a London publishing house. She lives in London with her family.

This Week in Books (April 17)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

You love your family. You’d never let anything happen to them… would you?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

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.

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions.

Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible…

And suspicion is a dangerous thing.

Anything here you think you might like? What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe | @EburyPublishing @Tr4cyF3nt0n | #blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe. My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy.

Author : Antonio Iturbe (translated by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites)
Title : The Librarian of Auschwitz
Pages : 432
Publisher : Ebury Publishing
Publication date : April 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Decades after the second World War has ended, so many stories remain untold and this is one of them. The Librarian of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Dita Kraus. At the age of fourteen, she and her parents find themselves in Auschwitz and Dita will become the secret librarian. Block 31 is where the children gather and one way or another, eight precious books have been accumulated. But books are dangerous because they make people think and if the Nazi’s were to find out about them, it would put everyone in danger. It’s up to Dita to make sure the books are kept safe at all cost.

No matter how many books you read about this incredibly disturbing era, it remains highly unsettling and heartbreaking. Life in the camp is harsh and almost impossible to fathom. Yet in the midst of all this despair, many held their heads up high, fought for survival, held on to hope and even tried to give children some kind of education. Obviously this was not allowed but the children kept this secret to themselves, singing silly songs when German soldiers were near and they even put on a show for the vile and despicable Josef Mengele.

This wasn’t the easiest of books to read. Apart from the topic, it jumps around quite a bit between different characters and time frames so it requires your full attention. The line between fiction and non-fiction is quite blurry but I enjoyed that the author added dates and facts throughout the story. Dita is an amazing young girl. She’s determined, brave and perceptive and sometimes makes you forget she was barely fourteen years old. But the character that stood out for me to most was Fredy Hirsh but you’ll have to read the novel to learn more about him.

I love a novel that makes me think and makes me google. Because despite having read quite a few WWII stories over the years, I had never heard of Block 31. Although it’s not quite clear what the reasoning from the Nazi’s was to have a family camp and this particular Block 31, it did “good things”. Many children were somewhat more protected from the even more severe realities of the rest of the camp and they were given slightly more food which meant not one child died from malnutrition.

Sadly, it’s not surprising to know many of them will not live to see the end of the war. As Dita’s story about life in Auschwitz reaches its conclusion, it becomes increasingly more devastating. Do make sure you also read the author’s afterword and learn more about what became of some of the other characters/people. The Librarian of Auschwitz is a powerful, unforgettable and touching novel and Dita’s story will stay with me forever.

The Librarian of Auschwitz is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Antonio Iturbe lives in Spain, where he is both a novelist and a journalist. In researching The Librarian of Auschwitz, he interviewed Dita Kraus, the real-life librarian of Auschwitz.

Lilit Zekulin Thwaites is an award-winning literary translator. After thirty years as an academic at La Trobe University in Australia, she retired from teaching and now focuses primarily on her ongoing translation and research projects.

White Leaves of Peace by Tracey Iceton | @BultiauwBooks | #blogtour #guestpost

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for White Leaves of Peace by Tracey Iceton. My thanks to Karen Bultiauw for the invitation to join. White Leaves of Peace is the final instalment in the Celtic Colour Trilogy and today, Tracey visits my blog to talk about the research that went into this series.

Author : Tracey Iceton
Title : White Leaves of Peace
Series : Celtic Colours Trilogy #3
Pages : 200
Publisher : Cinnamon Press
Publication date : March 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

The final part of the explosive Celtic Colours Trilogy. When the big men get around the table on Good Friday of 1998 and sign up to peace in Northern Ireland nine year old Cian Duffy’s story should have ended. Instead it is the beginning of a decade of Troubles for him. Haunted by his mother’s IRA past and chased by present day violence sectarianism, Cian ends up being forced to flee peace-torn Belfast. Facing a life in exile, he reconciles himself the past and makes a new life for himself, somewhere he feels he belongs. 

Then Britain votes for Brexit; the old adage of England’s difficulty being Ireland’s opportunity is tabled yet again and Cian has to confront the past and the future. 

White Leaves of Peace is a stark reminder that ending a war takes more than the signing of a treaty. Peace is hard won. You have to fight for it.

Available to buy from Amazon UK

| GUEST POST |

Researching the Celtic Colours Trilogy

The Celtic Colours trilogy has been my most heavily researched fiction project, weaving real historical events into the plots and using real people as characters alongside invented characters and imagined storylines.  Doing so I discovered the advantages of research-based fiction writing.

Parts one and two, Green Dawn at St Enda’s and Herself Alone in Orange Rain required extensive research.  Green Dawn, set 1911-1916, tells the story of fictional schoolboy Finn Devoy who ends up fighting in the Dublin Easter Rising.  I knew little about the topic so read widely and visited relevant places, including the Pearse Museum in Dublin which is as it was when it was St Enda’s.  This all helped recreate period and place in the book and ensure accuracy.  Orange Rain is set during the 1980s, when I was a child.  The book centres on Caoilainn Devoy, Finn’s granddaughter, and her experiences as an IRA volunteer.  Again it needed much research, reading accounts by/about IRA women and uncovering pertinent facts.  I also talked to people who lived through this period and drew on that during the writing.  Though somewhat problematic, this firsthand research added an extra dynamic, bringing the story to life for me; I hope this comes over in the novel.

Set in my own lifetime, I thought White Leaves of Peace would require the least research.  I was wrong.  When did ipods come out?  What was the craze in kids’ toys in 1998?  Who was in the charts in the early 2000s?  I made work for myself by having the main character, Cian Duffy (Caoilainn’s son) be a computer nerd and I’m expecting letters from IT experts pointing out my ‘tech’ errors.  More significantly, reading around events in Northern Ireland during the period I realised how much I didn’t know, news that didn’t cross the Irish sea.  It was a lesson to never assume I know what I need to in order to write about something.  I also did more firsthand research, talking to people who knew what Cian’s life would have been like which was invaluable.  And I was able to draw on my own experiences, particularly for the Australia section of the novel – I lived there for a year.  If you can use what you know you should, although I wouldn’t let lack of knowledge restrict me.  If a topic interests me enough to write about it, it interests me enough to research it also.

So to anyone considering research-heavy novel projects I say don’t be deterred.  Researching can take fiction to exciting places, uncovering unexpected angles to stories and introducing writers to people who will make for engaging characters.  Researching, although time-consuming, can make writing easier, giving you a framework for the story.  And truth really can be wilder than fiction so why not use it to your advantage?

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Tracey Iceton is an author and creative writing tutor from Teesside who completed a PhD in creative writing at Northumbria University. An English teacher experienced in delivering creating writing courses and workshops, Tracey won the 2013 HISSAC short story prize for ‘Butterfly Wings’, was runner up in the 2013 and 2014 Cinnamon Press short story competitions with ‘Slag’ and ‘As the world (re)turns’, which appear in the anthologies Journey Planner and Patria. She also won the 2011 Writers Block NE Home Tomorrow Short Story Competition and has been shortlisted for the 2012 Bristol Short Story Competition with ‘Apple Shot’ and the 2015 Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition for ‘Ask Not’. 

Green Dawn at St Enda’s, her debut novel and part one of her Celtic Colours Trilogy, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2016 followed by Herself Alone in Orange Rain in 2017. White Leaves of Peace is the final part of the companion trilogy. 

Tracey regularly reads at literary events. Her stories have appeared in; Prole, Litro, Neon, Tears in the Fence, The Momaya Annual Review, The Yellow Room and Writer’s Muse. 

You can find her online on her website www.trywriting.co.uk.

The Passengers by John Marrs | @johnmarrs1 @EburyPublishing @Tr4cyF3nt0n | #blogtour #bookreview #ThePassengers

Author : John Marrs
Title : The Passengers
Pages : 400
Publisher : Ebury Publishing
Publication date : April 1, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Bloody hell, what the frickety-frack was that?! 😱

Welcome to the world of autonomous cars. Get in, tell your car where you want to go and sit back, relax, have breakfast, read a newspaper or have a nap. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Until, someone somewhere takes control of your car and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no steering wheel, no pedals and no manual override and suddenly this relaxing journey turns into a wet-your-knickers one.

This is what happens to eight passengers when their car systems are hacked. The cars are set on a fatal collision course. But hey, there’s good news too! Because the wonderful (ahem) people on social media get to play and decide which one of these passengers should survive this harrowing journey. As a reader, I myself found myself so utterly engrossed that I couldn’t help but think about what I would do, who I would choose. But boy, did that make me feel bad about myself.

This entire premise scared the crap out of me! Not only the idea of autonomous cars, which in my mind is just preposterous. But also the power of social media, the way they’re so quick to judge and the hacker plays into that brilliantly. It’s clear he’s holding back information, manipulating viewers by not giving them the full story. But there’s a reason for that and all shall be revealed.

The Passengers is by far one of the most original thrillers I’ve ever read! It is insanely on-the-edge-of-your-seat tense, brilliantly paced, immensely thought-provoking and massively addictive! It had me glued to the pages from the very beginning and I just couldn’t put it down. This would quite frankly make a fantastic film!

John Marrs is an author whose name I’ve seen pop up quite a lot and yet, this is the first time I’ve picked up one of his books. It definitely won’t be the last time though because I’ve quite obviously been missing out here. If you’re a fan, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. If like me you’re only just getting introduced to his work, this is a fabulous one to start with!

Strap in for the ride of your life! Bring clean underwear. 😉

The Passengers is available to buy in ebook format with the paperback coming soon!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

John Marrs is the author of The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Her Last Move and Welcome to Wherever You Are. 

A former freelance journalist based in London, England, he spent twenty-five years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines until becoming a full-time author in 2018.

He has written for publications including the Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online, Total Film, Huffington Post, Empire, Q, GT, the Independent, S Magazine and Company.

His books have been translated into twenty different languages and The One is soon to be a major new Netflix series.

Weekly Wrap-Up (April 14)

First things first! Many, many thanks for all the positive vibes you guys sent my way here and over Twitter regarding my doggie. The news was altogether pretty positive and she’s out of the woods for now. Unfortunately, it looks like it might turn into a recurring problem. She’s old after all. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, she’s being spoilt rotten … erm, even more so than before.

Yohi would very much like to point out she looks amazing for her age

What the hell happened to Spring?! It’s been so cold this past week, with a few nights even going below freezing point again and I do NOT approve! Still, that does mean I can ignore my garden for a little longer and stay nice and warm on my sofa, surrounded by books.

So, what have I been reading this week, I hear you ask.

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Another six off the shelf! I’m happy with that amount because that C.J. Sansom series is one doorstop after the other. This one was a mere 576 pages, although it didn’t feel like it.

I also finished an audiobook but since I started it weeks ago, I didn’t feel it should count 🤣

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

I’m continuing with my collection of Harlan Coben books, of which I apparently read more than I thought 🙄. I also went ahead and bought the three books in the James Marwood series by Andrew Taylor because of Kate. If you love historical fiction, you should definitely follow her!

These are the April 4th preorders that finally arrived. Why yes, I have already read two of them.

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

Lucky, lucky blogger. With thanks to Orenda Books and Penguin!

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Reviewed The Bridal Party by J.G. Murray

Tuesday : Shared my review for My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Shared an extract from Suddenly Single by Carol Wyer on the blog tour

Friday : Nothing

Saturday : Took the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

I didn’t get any reminder emails so it’s safe to say I didn’t forget to write anything down in my schedule and at least I managed to fill in some of the gaps. Let’s just call it the quiet before the storm. 😂

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Nothing planned

Tuesday : Blog tour | Review | The Passengers by John Marrs
Tuesday : Blog tour | Guest Post | White Leaves of Peace by Tracey Iceton

Wednesday : Blog tour | Review | The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe
Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Blog tour | Review | The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

Friday : Blog tour | Review | Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin

Saturday : Taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Told you things would get back to normal soon 😂. Still ahead of schedule though. I’ve read all of them, I just need to write one more review.

In other news, voting is now open in the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. I’ve been nominated for Best Book Blog, alongside 64 other amazing book bloggers. I don’t stand a chance of winning but if you feel so inclined to cast a vote my way, please do. I don’t know if they rank everyone but if they do, I’d quite like to avoid coming last 😂 . You can vote here

Question of the week : Short versus long books. Yes, of course this was prompted by the Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom. Does a high amount of pages put you off starting a book? What is your cut-off point, if you have one?

I personally don’t care. I mean, I read the Game of Thrones series. Some of those went over a thousand pages and it didn’t bother me at all. Obviously I’d need more time in my schedule to tackle something like that than I do now. And preferably someone to hold the book up and flip the pages for me. 😂

Speaking of Game of Thrones, the final series starts tonight/tomorrow, depending on where you are. I will be disappearing off social media every Monday until I’ve had the chance to watch the episode myself so don’t worry if I’m late with sharing your posts or just not interacting. Should probably say, interacting even less. I just know the second I go online, there will be spoilers and I will do anything to avoid that. I so can’t wait!

Right, enough babble for this week. Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend. Have a great week and I’ll see you next time. Happy reading! xx