Book review: Casting Shadows: Extraordinary Tales From New Writers with Foreword by Emily Barr

20 Oct

9781781321485-Cover.inddPrepare to enter a world where nothing is quite as it seems. From family curses to shadow-puppets, spiteful Welsh grandmothers to mysteriously multiplying piles of seaweed, each story showcases the talent of an exciting new writer and is beautifully illustrated with atmospheric black and white images. But be warned, with their eerie and unexpected twists, these stories may linger in the mind long after you’ve turned the last page…

I’m a firm believer in serendipity and a few weeks ago I was at a book event and got chatting to a lovely lady called Liz. Liz is a budding author and part of a group of writers that have put together a collection of eerie short stories called Casting Shadows. The stories came out of an assignment for a writing MA course that all the authors were on and I was intrigued to find that Emily Barr had done the foreword for the book. Liz kindly offered me a copy to review on the spot and the rest as they say is history.

As regular readers will know, I love short stories and today I’m kicking off a fortnight of paranormal reviews and posts in the build up to Halloween! Casting Shadows is an impressive collection with beautiful illustrations and the eight short stories included in the book are perfectly chilling quick reads for this time of year.

Be warned – you’ll want to read this collection with the light on as everyday situations take sinister turns and sudden twists will have you darting back through the pages as you see the stories in a new light. These are tales that have stayed in my mind since I read them and wonderful examples of the as yet undiscovered writing talent that is out there.

My personal favourites include Vivienne by C H Anderson, where a gap year fling turns into a dangerous obsession; Lost Soul by Lulu Badger – (I’m never going to take a clifftop walk again after reading this one!) and The Bypass by Liz Crossland which is set around the already spooky Stocksbridge Bypass in Sheffield.

With stories that include strange happenings, haunted houses, legends and magic; locations ranging from Bali to the British seaside, there’s something to appeal to all readers in Casting Shadows and I look forward to reading more from this fab group of new authors.

4/5

Casting Shadows is available now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank Liz Crossland for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Casting Shadows at: http://wordmachinepress.wordpress.com/

 

Giveaway! Three copies of It Started With Paris to be won!

16 Oct

Earlier today, I interviewed Cathy Kelly about her new novel, It Started With Paris. To celebrate the release of this gorgeous new book Cathy’s lovely publisher Orion has given me three hardback copies of the book to give away to lucky readers!

started with paris

It all started with Paris. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, cheered on by delighted tourists. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Bridgeport, Ireland…

Leila’s been nursing a badly broken heart since her love-rat husband just upped and left her one morning, but she’s still determined to put on a brave face for the bride.

Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it.

And Grace, a divorced head teacher, finds the impending wedding of her son means that she’s spending more time with her ex-husband. After all those years apart, is it possible she’s made a mistake?

To enter this giveaway just leave a comment in the box below telling me what you would do or where you would go if you could visit Paris for a day and I’ll draw three winners using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Wednesday 22nd October.

Good luck!

Author interview: Cathy Kelly

16 Oct

I’m very excited to welcome Cathy Kelly to One More Page today to talk about her beautiful new novel, It Started With Paris. Cathy is published around the world, with millions of books in print. A No.1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia, her trademark is warm Irish storytelling about modern life, always with an uplifting message, sense of community and strong female characters at the heart. She lives with her family and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS. Find out more at www.cathykelly.com

Cathy-smaller-166x250Your new novel, It Started With Paris has just been released, please could you tell us a little about it and your inspiration for it?

I love writing about the contrast between real life and the imaginary life we all imagine other people live – you know, you imagine the girl next door with the high heels and the nice handbag has a fascinating life full of excitement and low on things like sweeping up in the kitchen. The reality might be different…. So It Started With Paris begins with a gloriously romantic marriage proposal on the Eiffel Tower and then moves into real life: people who split up, people who got divorced and people whose husbands left them for someone with legs up to her armpits. On the outside, they look as if they have one sort of life but we soon find out what their inner lives are really like.

Grace is a classy and kind school principal who has the sort of civilised divorce with her ex-husband which means they talk happily, never used their children as ammunition and are both thrilled when their son becomes engaged. But fifteen years after her divorce, she looks at her ex husband and his partner, and feels lonely… Then there’s feisty Leila with the fabulous job in the movie industry and she’s desperately hiding her misery after her music-industry husband came home one night, got calmly into bed with her and packed his bags the next day. Finally, there’s Vonnie, who was tragically widowed and left with a young son. Somehow, she’s managed to build a new life for them both and then she falls in love – except one person will do anything to ruin this chance of happiness.  I wanted to look at how glorious early romance (the Eiffel Tower) is and how much harder real life is.

The novel begins in Paris and I love the beautiful cover of the Eiffel Tower; what would your ideal day in the City be like?

Thank you for saying lovely things about the cover!! Ooooh, my ideal day in Paris would start with having breakfast on the terrace of the small apart/hotel we stayed in last time, where you can see over the rooftops to all of Paris from Montmartre on one side, to Notre Dame. Then, with enough Parisian coffee inside me, myself, my husband and my sons would hit the Louvre for a couple of hours, perhaps meander through the Jardin de Tuileries and admire the exquisite flowers, and head for lunch somewhere nearby – with  a trip on the famous ferris wheel. I am terribly scared of heights and the wheel works on a desensitization system for people like me because you are ready to get off after the first go and then it goes around twice more! You are not so scared by the third time and you see so much of Paris.

If we’re  not too tired, we might whizz around on the Metro, buy some macaroons in Ladurée on the Champs Elysee and hit the Musee d’Orsay  or just walk along the Seine, admire the paintings and buy mad keyrings of the Eiffel Tower, which light up like my book, with its glorious sparkles, seems to light up. I love looking at the people too. People-watching is one of my favourite things in the world.

Perhaps I might escape off to a department store like Printemps  (Boulevard Haussman) for some retail therapy – two stores, at least seven floors and glorious stuff. Then home, relax and off to dinner. There’s a fabulous restaurant on every street corner.

We meet Leila, Vonnie and Grace in this story, three fab strong ladies! Please could you sum each of them up in three words?

Leila is funny, wry and hiding her hurt. Vonnie is grace under pressure. And Grace is kind, wise and witty.

Did you have a favourite character to write? IT STARTED WITH PARIS

I loved them all, to be honest. When I write in a particular voice, I almost become that person and sometimes speak their dialogue out loud. Mad, I know!

It Started With Paris is your 15th novel (congratuations!); what are your top tips for new writers who are just  starting their careers?

Have faith in yourself. When I started, I so wanted to write but had no confidence and I think that stops many wonderful writers. Just have faith and try to write a little every day. Writing fiction is a particular muscle and you need to flex it.

Don’t delete everything on the grounds that you think it’s hopeless because a week later, you might like it after all. Read blogs from published writers and I do recommend On Writing by Stephen King, which is a wonderful guide to how Stephen does it.

What do you like to read you’re not writing?

I read commercial women’s fiction, thrillers, biographies, you name it. I’ve literally just finished Ian McEwan’s The Children Act ( marvellous), read an unputdownable Daniel Silva thriller (had never read him before) and reread EM Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady, which is marvellous and never gets old, even though it was written in the 1930s.

And finally … what can we expect next from Cathy Kelly?

I am working on a new book and plan to TIDY MY DESK. Well, one day, perhaps!

Thank you Cathy!

It Started With Paris is out now in hardback, audio and ebook formats.

Please do check out the other stops on Cathy’s It Started With Paris blog tour and pop back again later today when there will be a chance to win a copy of this fab novel!

Guest Post: Research Techniques of 1937 Paris by Rachel Hore

13 Oct

Today I’m delighted to welcome Rachel Hore to One More Page on the latest stop of her A Week In Paris blog tour to celebrate the release of her new novel. Rachel worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she teaches publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She is married to the writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons. A Week In Paris is Rachel’s seventh novel and her previous books have been shortlisted for the RONA awards and A Place of Secrets was picked by Richard and Judy for their book club! Welcome Rachel.

Rachel Hore Author PhotoIn my new novel A Week in Paris it’s 1937 and a young Englishwoman, Kitty Travers, arrives in Paris to study with a distinguished pianist at the city’s famed Conservatoire. Eugene Knox, the American doctor she meets and falls in love with, shows her the sights and sounds of the city. She finds it beautiful, fascinating, but senses that beneath its pearl-grey elegance there is restlessness and trouble.

It’s nigh impossible for us to consider the period now without seeing warnings of the catalysm to come. The background to the Second World War is something I had already immersed myself in when researching my fifth novel, A Gathering Storm, but this time I read more specifically about it from the angle of the French.  Paris, City of Light by Vincent Cronin was an engaging introduction here. Like the rest of Europe in the late 1930s, France watched the expansionist activities of the Third Reich with anxiety, aware of her obligations under the La_Tour_Eiffel_en_1937_contrastVersailles Treaty to defend vulnerable states such as Czechoslovakia and Poland, yet desperate to avoid fulfilling them by military means.  Instead of building their army, the government put all their resources into creating the Maginot Line, massive defensive fortifications that stretched the width of the border with Germany and which the authorities fondly believed to be impregnable.  What Paris could not keep out was the steady flow of refugees from the troubled spots of Europe:  war-torn Spain, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, unstable Central Europe and Mussolini’s Italy, a flow which would gradually become a flood.

Place de St Michel which has war memorial plaques (1)The Catholic convent where Kitty lodges is a sanctuary for the lonely girl, but through another boarder, fellow countrywoman Miss Dunne, who works with a refugee charity, she learns something of this darker side of the City of Light.  The real-life figure of Elsie Tilney, a devout Norwich spinster  who quietly and assumingly worked in Paris and later in the internment camp at Vittel, helping refugees, especially Jews, was my inspiration for Adele Dunne.   Rosie’s War, a memoir of an English au pair who gets stuck in Occupied Paris, was helpful in imagining Kitty’s experiences of Paris.  Rosie Say, too, was sent to Vittel.

Eugene, however, introduces Kitty to a brighter side of Paris.  During the interwar period the city was the capital ofAmerican Cathedral where Kitty and Eugene married (1) the arts, tolerant both of new ideas and of the eccentric lifestyles of some of the driving figures, many of them refugees from censorship or repression.  This was the age of Dada, of Surrealism, of Jean Cocteau, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Igor Stravinsky.   In Paris, works banned elsewhere in the Western world were published or performed.  Here, the black jazz trumpeter Arthur Briggs and the music hall star Josephine Baker could thrive.  Eugene takes Kitty to jazz clubs and bars, introduces her to his American journalist and writer friends.  None would believe that this freedom and creativity would shortly be threatened by the Nazi invader.

Paris roseAs a writer I wanted to view this world through my characters’ eyes, exploring their feelings and reactions to what is going on immediately around them.  Whilst it was vital to refer to the wider events of this time, I kept historic description to a minimum.  What was more important was how they were affected as individuals.  Kitty’s initial impressions of Paris were undoubtedly mixed up with her loneliness, then she saw the city with the eyes of being in love.  Only later does she dig below the surface.  However, a background knowledge of the world she moved in was essential for me to provide the framework for the fiction.

Text © Rachel Hore 2014

A Week In Paris is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more bout Rachel and her writing at: http://rachelhore.co.uk/

Book review: With A Friend Like You by Fanny Blake

12 Oct

friend like you largeBeth is a woman in supreme control of all aspects of her life and family, with a stellar career and her house an oasis of calm. Her closest friend, Megan, is very different; somehow she swims through the chaos of her family with ease, the clutter on the stairs, the cat footprints on the kitchen work space. And while they could not be more different, Beth and Megan have a genuine friendship built on years of laugher, tears and true understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Because that’s what friends do, isn’t it?

But when Beth’s daughter reveals a surprising secret, a wedge is driven between Beth and Megan. What begins as mild recrimination and misunderstanding develops into a full-blown row and then a simmering feud. As the two women square up to do battle in the London suburbs, there’s everything to play for. All’s fair in love and war…

With A Friend Like You is a story of two families and in particular, two women who are best friends. Megan and Beth have a wondeful long term friendship cemented by the closeness of their families. I loved the sense of history in the friendship between Megan and Beth. Fanny conveyed easily how these two very different women had forged a friendship that had taken them from carefree couple days to juggling careers and children and day-to-day life.

Their younger daughters are best friends and I think readers will feel a sense of familiarity with them. I’m from a (slightly) younger generation than Megan and Beth but I can see my own key friendships developing along similar lines to theirs and I enjoyed the ‘flash forward’ that this book gave me as they face their children growing up, making their own decisions and leaving home. I also enjoyed the humour in the story as Fanny captured the subtle jibes and little digs as Beth and Megan’s friendship faces it’s toughest challenge yet!

Megan and Beth are very different; teacher Megan comes across as a little scatty and disorganised but with her heart firmly in the right place and manages to survive the chaos through a charming mixture of luck and practical thinking. Beth is a Lawyer and as efficient and driven in her home life as she is at work. I must admit that I took more to Megan than Beth initially but through the course of the book, Fanny skillfully brings out the strong and weak points in each women’s character and I found myself sympathising with both of them at different times.

As Beth’s oldest daughter drops a bombshell on her family, Megan takes on a new role and the roots of the friendship are truly tested! I’ve said this before about Fanny’s writing but she really does get to the heart of female friendships and the complexity of motions surrounding them. With A Friend Like You is wonderfully observed and completely believable as well as very funny at times.

The story has plenty of drama to go with the emotion and some scintillating twists that I didn’t see coming. It was refreshing to find two women with strong relationships with their husbands and I enjoyed reading how the dynamic between the two families played out against a backdrop of new revelations and some long hidden secrets.

One of my favourite aspects of the story was the book group meetings that Megan and Beth attend. In these Fanny takes an amusing look at book-group politics and those ‘not so close’ friendships that offer a good contrast to Megan and Beth’s relationship but also provide a lot of light relief and humour in the story.  I thought Fanny’s writing was subtle, witty and warm and although I’ve enjoyed all of her books, this is my firm favourite to date!

5/5

With A Friend Like You is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Fanny and her writing and read the first chapter of With A Friend Like You at: http://fannyblake.co.uk/

 

Giveaway winner! Eren by Simon P. Clark

12 Oct

eren cover

 

The winner is …

Maxine

Congratulations! I have sent you an email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Look out for more giveaways very soon!

Book review: Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha Young

8 Oct

scotland streetShannon MacLeod has always gone for the wrong type of man. After she drifted from one toxic relationship to the next, her last boyfriend gave her a wake-up call in the worst possible way. With her world shattered, she’s sworn off men – especially those of the bad-boy variety.

Cole Walker is exactly the sort that Shannon wants to avoid – gorgeous, tattooed, charming, and cocky. But his rough exterior hides a good man – one who’s determined to pull Shannon from her self-imposed solitude and win her heart.

As Shannon begins to open up, the passion between them ignites to blazing levels. But when her past comes back to haunt her, her fears may destroy the trust Cole has built between them – and tear them apart for good . . .

Echoes on Scotland Street is the fifth in Samantha Young’s On Dublin Street Series and another brilliant New Adult romance read from this author. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the other books in the series; each story stands alone perfectly well but if you are a fan then you’ll be delighted to know that this book focuses on the grown up Cole Walker!

Having really enjoyed the previous book in the series, Fall From India Place, I was eager to find out what happened next to Hannah and Marco and I wasn’t disappointed. I love how Samantha Young has woven her characters into a great big connected family and cleverly puts in updates about them whilst bringing new readers along with what’s happened so far in the story.

In this book we meet Shannon, who has moved to Edinburgh to escape a particularly nasty ex-boyfriend; the latest in a series of bad relationship choices. I liked Shannon from the start and although she’s been hurt she comes across as strong and able to handle herself. With her red curls I imagined her as a modern day version of Merida from Brave! As I found out more about Shannon’s past I was willing her to succeed in her new life. Samantha Young is brilliant at creating characters that you care about and I think Cole and Shannon are my favourite pairing yet!

Cole is without a doubt going to be heading to the top of many readers ‘hot book boyfriends’ lists. Without giving the story away, I loved the way that Samantha Young set up the relationship between him and Shannon and she certainly knows how to build the tension.

The book tackles a number of themes surrounding abusive relationships and does this well, giving a clear message that the emotional outfall is as bad as the physical. Trust is a key theme throughout the book and I thought it was built well into the story.

Echoes of Scotland Street has plenty lighter moments and humour too. One of my favourite characters was Shannon’s colleague and flat mate Rae – a no nonsense, tell it like it is, feisty tattoo artist who is not afraid to speak her mind. I loved her quips and the banter between all of the staff at the tattoo studio.

As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am already looking forward to the next book in the series which will be out in summer 2015!

5/5

Echoes of Scotland Street is released today in ebook formats and will be published in paperback in January 2015.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Samantha Young and her writing at: http://authorsamanthayoung.com/

 

Guest post: Why I Love New Zealand by Zana Bell

7 Oct

Today I’m delighted to welcome Zana Bell to One More Page with a guest post that celebrates her love of her adopted home country, New Zealand. Zana grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe and studied English Literature at the University of Cape Town. After traveling for several years doing a wide range of jobs, she immigrated to New Zealand where she now lives with her family and cats in a small harbourside community.

Zana’s latest novel, Fool’s Gold is set in New Zealand and is published in paperback today. Read on for an excerpt!

Author photoWhen I was 20, I fell in love with Aotearoa/New Zealand. I came over on holiday, hitch-hiked around the country and vowed I would one day return. I did four years later and fell in love all over again – this time with a Kiwi and I have never left.  I’d like to share with you the joys of my adopted country.

The Scenery

I have never visited another country which can fit so much exquisite scenery into a relatively small country. There are: long golden beaches (clichéd, I know, but so true!), snow-capped alps, vast plains, rolling hills, volcanoes, boiling mud and hot pools, clear rivers, the bluest of blue lakes, forests and cities. But of course, you’ve seen Lord of the Rings so you already know how lovely it is. Did you realise that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian were also filmed here as were The Lovely Bones, The Last Samurai and Avatar?

People

Kiwis are truly friendly and laidback with a strong sense of fair play. The Maori culture is rich in art and music. There are two sayings here which I feel sum up the Kiwi attitude to life.

  1. Give it a go

Kiwis are always ready to try something new. If it’s never been done before, so much the better. Being a small country at the end of the world with a tiny population (4 million) is no excuse not to try. So New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote, and one of the first to implement social welfare. In 1984, it went nuclear-free despite even though this move lost the friendship and backing of the US. Famous Kiwis who’ve led in their chosen fields include: Katherine Mansfield (writer), Edmund Hillary (first man up Mt. Everest with Tenzing Norgay), Peter Jackson (film director), Ernest Rutherford (scientist), Kiri Te Kanawa (opera singer), Anna Paquin (actress), A.J. Hackett (bungy-jumping business) and Russell Crowe (well, sort of: he’s mostly Australian!). Kiwis have won the Man Booker twice, and the America’s Cup twice.

  1. She’ll be right

Kiwis are great inventors and problem-solvers. They can cobble incredible inventions out of a bit of wire and a few bits of wood. I have eyed some contraptions or listened to some crazy ideas with grave misgivings but always get the cheerful ‘Don’t worry – she’ll be right.’ It is of course a pioneering attitude which has been handed down the generations of independent, freethinking folk.

Which brings me to my book: Fools Gold. I wrote it as a tribute to the spirit with which this country was forged. The early settlers coming to New Zealand had great visions of new lives, new opportunities. They had to be independent, self-sufficient, imaginative and adventurous to survive this untamed wilderness. It was tough – very tough indeed – but the diaries and letters of the time reveal also the excitement and the fun they had. It was a country of young people – mostly in their late teens and twenties – away from home and all the security and restrictions of established societies. Much of the time, they were just making it up as they went: giving it a go and trusting to fate that she’d be right.

It was enormous fun to write and I hope you’ll have as much fun reading it.

ExerptFool's Gold cover (2)

This excerpt shows an early example of giving it a go and hoping she’ll be sweet!

Lady Guinevere Stanhope, alone and destitute in a wild mining town, takes a job as a dancing girl. She is preparing for her first evening’s work with Bet, the hotel owner, giving her some rough assistance.

In the late afternoon there was a knock on the door and Bet came in with a black dress over her arm.

‘Been asking round the girls and Floss says you can use ’er dress seeing as she’s about to have a kid.’

She shook it out and Guinevere saw that it was of shiny satin, cut low in the front and with very flounced skirts.

‘That’s very kind,’ she faltered.

Bet gave a short bark of laughter. ‘To be ’onest, I don’t know whether it was kindness or curiosity that made ’er give it. None of them believes you’re going to go through with it.’

‘And what did you say?’

‘I said that you’d be there, no doubt at all. Never seen such stubbornness in the face of reason in all my days!’

Guinevere accepted the compliment with a rueful smile. ‘Am I being so very rash?’

‘Yup. But I’ll say this for you – you’ve got guts.’ She paused. ‘You ain’t taken no advice before so’s I don’t really think you’re going to start now but I’ll tell you anyway. Don’t take no nonsense, right. You’ve got that fancy way with you – use it if they gets too friendly. Don’t wear slippers, wear boots ’cos they’s all ’orrid dancers most of them.’

‘Thank you. That does seem sound advice.’

‘Right you are then.’ With a nod of her head, Bet disappeared.

Guinevere struggled into the dress, which smelt strongly of its previous owner and did it up. It hung on her and the neckline was far too low. She might be a dancing girl, but she was determined that no one would mistake her for anything else and she filled the gaping bodice with lace that reached to her throat.

She did not spend much time on her hair, just winding it into a bun from which errant curls sprang to frame her face. She couldn’t stop her hands shaking however, and thought she’d never prepared with such reluctance for an evening of dancing.

When Guinevere was almost ready, Bet returned with a glass of spirit and surveyed her, head to one side.

‘That dress looks all right. A bit loose but it’ll do well. The men won’t like the lace but it’s a sensible move. Now, I know you ain’t much of a drinker but reckon you might need this tonight.’

Seeing no reason not to grasp at straws at this stage, Guinevere accepted the glass and took a sip. The raw alcohol burned, causing her to choke and her eyes to water.

‘Just chuck it down, milady. It ain’t no French wine.’

Screwing up her face, Guinevere drained the glass.

‘Good. That’ll ’elp you. Off you go then.’

——————————————————————————–

Fool’s Gold is out now in paperback and  ebook formats from ChocLit.

Find out more about Zana and her writing at: http://www.zanabell.com/

Fool's Gold cover packshotLove – is it worth its weight in gold?

It’s 1866 and the gold rush is on. Left to fend for herself in the wilds of New Zealand’s west coast, Lady Guinevere Stanhope is determined to do whatever it takes to rescue her ancestral home and restore her father’s good name.

Forced out of his native Ireland, Quinn O’Donnell dreams of striking gold. His fiercely held prejudices make him loath to help any English person, let alone a lady as haughty and obstinate as Guinevere. But when a flash flood hits, Quinn is compelled to rescue her, and their paths become entwined in this uncharted new world.

Though a most inconvenient attraction forms between them, both remain determined to pursue their dreams, whatever the cost.

Will they realise in time that all that glitters is not gold?

Giveaway! Win a copy of EREN by Simon P. Clark

5 Oct

Earlier today I reviewed EREN by Simon P. Clark and as part of the blog tour for this intriguing debut, I have one beautiful hardback copy to give away to a lucky reader.

eren cover

 

People are keeping secrets from Oli. His mum has brought him to stay with his aunt and uncle in the countryside, but nobody will tell him why his dad isn’t with them. Where is he? Has something happened? Oli has a hundred questions, but for now he is content to have a secret of his own.Oli has discovered the creature that lives up in the attic: Eren.

He knows Eren is not human.

He knows he has been waiting for him.

He knows he is hungry for stories.

And, scared though he is, Oli knows he wants to feed him.

Sharing his stories with Eren may help him make sense of what’s happening downstairs with his family. It may make him feel less lonely – at least Eren listens to him. But what if it’s a trap? Soon, Oli must decide whether he is prepared to hear the truth – or abandon himself to Eren’s world of forever.

Find out more at: http://www.erentales.com/

To enter this giveaway just leave a ‘pick me’ comment in the box below and I’ll draw a winner using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Friday 10th October.

Good luck!

Please do check out the other stops on the EREN blog tour for more reviews, giveaways and features.

eren banner

 

Book review: EREN by Simon P. Clark

5 Oct

eren coverPeople are keeping secrets from Oli. His mum has brought him to stay with his aunt and uncle in the countryside, but nobody will tell him why his dad isn’t with them. Where is he? Has something happened? Oli has a hundred questions, but for now he is content to have a secret of his own.Oli has discovered the creature that lives up in the attic: Eren.

He knows Eren is not human.

He knows he has been waiting for him.

He knows he is hungry for stories.

And, scared though he is, Oli knows he wants to feed him.

Sharing his stories with Eren may help him make sense of what’s happening downstairs with his family. It may make him feel less lonely – at least Eren listens to him. But what if it’s a trap? Soon, Oli must decide whether he is prepared to hear the truth – or abandon himself to Eren’s world of forever.

EREN is a dark and mysterious debut from Simon P. Clark and I enjoyed it very much. Written from the point of view of Oli, a 12 year old boy who is uprooted from his London home to live with his Aunt and Uncle in the country and discovers the enigmatic EREN living in the loft of his uncle’s house. I was immediately drawn to this book by it’s intriguing cover and strapline, “Tell the story to its end …”

The narrative is split between Oli telling his story and an ongoing conversation with EREN which is the start to most chapters and again, this heightens the tension as we wonder along with Oli what will come at the end of the story. This is a book about story telling and stories and an absolute must read for fans of dark fairy tales. There are stories within stories within stories throughout the book and the inclusion of folklore and legend added to the sense of magic in the book.

EREN is cleverly written and despite being a short novel at under 200 pages, it holds a multitude of mysteries. The tension builds slowly with strange sightings, dreams and ‘did that really happen?’ moments as Oli and his Mum settle in, running in parallel to the mystery surrounding Oli’s Dad and his absence. With dark and unsettling imagery, EREN certainly held my attention and kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen and whether the truth about Oli’s Dad would be told.

I’m not usually a fan of books that are ambiguous but EREN proved me wrong; I felt that the unanswered questions and ambiguities added to the overall impact of the novel and have kept me thinking about it since I read it. For me, this makes EREN stand out as a very original debut for 2014 and a book that I won’t forget. I look forward to reading more from Simon in future and have begun to read the supporting EREN Tales which are a collaboration between Simon and photographer Brandon Rechten and will result in twelve short stories, and twelve works of art, inspired by Eren. Six of the stories have been published to date and there will be six more coming out once a month until Eren’s paperback publication.

4/5

EREN is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

Find out more and read the supporting tales at: http://www.erentales.com/

Find out more about author Simon P. Clark at: http://www.simonpclark.com/