Blog Tours · Upcoming Books

Autumn Reading

Ah September, the beginning of autumn. The leaves begin to turn, the nights start to darken and book lovers everywhere prepare to turn on the fire, find their cosiest PJs and hibernate with a pile of books and a supply of comforting hot drinks under their favourite blanket. As thoughts turn towards Christmas, the stars of the publishing world unveil their heavy hitters and there’s a veritable feast of literature to look forward to over the coming months so, in this post, I thought I’d talk about some of the books that I’m hoping to curl up with this autumn.

29758006First up, and the book I’ve just started reading, is Eowyn Ivey’s To the Bright Edge of the World, now out in paperback. I adored Ivey’s debut, The Snow Child, and her second book returns to the wild beauty of Alaska in the Winter of 1885 as Lieutenant Colonel Allan Forrester attempts to navigate the Wolverine River and map the inner portions of the Alaskan frontier. Alternating between Allan’s journals and the diaries of his young, heavily pregnant wife Sophie left behind in the fort, I’m hoping for more of Ivey’s vivid descriptions of the natural world and her meticulous portraits of human relationships.

35508160Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017, has been garnering praise from across the literary world. Loosely based on Sophocles’ Antigone and set in contemporary London, Home Fire is the story of two British Muslim families and examines familial love, political ideology and what happens when the two collide. Isma is finally free, studying in the US after years spent raising her twin siblings. But she can’t stop worrying about headstrong, beautiful Aneeka, left back in London, and Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of their father’s dark jihadist legacy. When handsome, privileged Eamonn enters their lives, two families fates becomes inextricably intertwined in what promises to be a compelling story of family and loyalty that feels completely relevant to the world we live in today. I’ve got my reservation in at the library for this one and I’m looking forward to its arrival.

Arriving in October, Phillip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage is the first part 9307699of his much anticipated The Book of Dust and sequel to the acclaimed Northern Lights trilogy. I’ve stayed deliberately ignorant of any plot details for this because I want it to be a complete surprise on reading but I do know that it’s a prequel to the events of Northern Lights set when Lyra is just a baby. In preparation for its release, I intend to finally read the last part of the Northern Lights trilogy, The Amber Spyglass. Quite why I’ve never got around to reading the final part is a mystery even to me – I think maybe I just didn’t ever want the book to end so deliberately deferred reading the final portion. Now that I know more Pullman set in the same universe is on the way, I can read without fear!

34913762Joanne M Harris’ forthcoming A Pocketful of Crows, also due in October, promises to be a modern fairytale with a nameless wild girl at its heart. Again, I know very little about the premise but you only need to say Joanne Harris and fairytale to colour me interested. Plus I’m booked to an event with the author at the wonderful Booka Bookshop at which I look forward to hearing Joanne speak and debating whether my starstruck self is brave enough to ask a question at the end.

33876124Last, but by no means least, I’m taking part in three blog tours this autumn for upcoming titles that I’m happy to sing the praises of. The first, for Sarah Ward’s A Patient Fury, is taking place on Saturday 09 September to tie in with the launch of the third book in her extremely enjoyable DC Connie Childs series of Derbyshire-based crime novels. Combining police procedural with domestic thriller and with a dash of nordic noir, there’s still time to check out Sarah’s first two books – In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw – before picking up the third.

35079533Next up will be the second collection of the late, great P D James’ short fiction, Sleep No More. Published in early October as a companion volume to last year’s The Mistletoe Murder, the collection offers six more tales of murder from a master of the crime short story, all with the dark motive of revenge at their heart.

The Shelf will also be visited by Christopher Fowler, author of the popular Bryant & May series of crime novels, when he releases his intriguing non-fiction foray into the back catalogues and backstories of authors that were once hugely popular but have now disappeared from the shelves of most readers. The Book of Forgotten Authors promises to be an entertaining guide to 34100964some forgotten gems from an enthusiastic and enlightening guide and a real treat for any book lover who enjoys books about books!

Those are just a few of the titles that I hope will be gracing my shelves this autumn. What are you looking forward to in the upcoming months? Do let me know in the comments or by dropping me a line over on Twitter or Goodreads.

Blog Tours · Uncategorized

BLOG TOUR!! A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

A Deadly ThawAs a long-time fan of the British crime novel, I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Ward’s debut novel ‘In Bitter Chill’, which I reviewed on the blog last year alongside a Q&A with Sarah herself. Sarah’s was an exciting new voice in British crime fiction, having used her experiences as a crime reader and blogger to shape a cleverly plotted, well-realised debut that bridged the gap between psychological thriller and police procedural and provided realism without too much gore – basically, the perfect formula for the sort of crime novel I enjoy!
When I did the Q&A I was excited to learn that Sarah planned to continue her series, set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bampton, and to bring back her trio of detectives; DCI Francis Sadler, DS Damian Palmer and DC Connie Childs for a further novel, with the possibility of extending the series beyond this. I was therefore thrilled to receive an advance copy of her second novel, ‘A Deadly Thaw’, which takes place in the early spring, following on from the events of ‘In Bitter Chill’ by a couple of months. I really like the idea of using the seasons as a way of advancing the series and, in ‘A Deadly Thaw,’ Sarah continues to ensure that the weather and the overall sense of the season adds to the overall tone and atmosphere of the novel.
‘A Deadly Thaw’ opens with the discovery of Andrew Fisher in the long abandoned Hale’s End Mortuary with a bullet through his chest. Unfortunately for DS Sadler and his team, Fisher was supposedly killed back in 2004, when his wife Lena was arrested, tried and convicted for suffocating him with a pillow. So who exactly did Lena kill and why would she lie about his identity? When Lena disappears, it’s up to the team, along with Lena’s sister Kat, to follow a trail of clues that leads back into the past but has dangerous implications for the present day.
As with ‘In Bitter Chill’, the novel is narrated in alternating chapters from the viewpoint of the police investigative team and the amateur investigation; in this case that of Kat, Lena’s sister. This works well as it allows the reader to get clues from both sides of the investigation, which heightens the tension as each strand discovers new information that isn’t always privy to the other side. It also results in a lot of cliff-hangers; which Sarah is an absolute master of – there were times I could have screamed at her for leaving off a chapter where she did!
The plot is also very cleverly weaved together, with multiple strands and plenty of red herrings thrown into the mix to distract the characters – and the reader – and keep you guessing right until the very end. It wasn’t until the closing stages that I began to get a sense of whodunit and why, which is how I like my crime books to be – there’s nothing worse than a thriller where you guess the twist halfway through! The plot is denser than in Sarah’s debut however and I have to admit to getting a little lost a couple of times – the pace is so fast that I occasionally missed key information and had to double back to check who someone was or what they’d revealed when last interviewed but, for the most part, Sarah handles the multiple story threads very well and keeps them from getting too tangled whilst maintaining the mystery and tension.
Sarah also does a great job of fleshing out her detectives, adding meat to the bones of the characters she created in ‘In Bitter Chill’, and throwing in some further complications to their personal lives – which has left me waiting with anticipation for the next book! The great thing with this series however is that you can read each novel as a standalone. ‘A Deadly Thaw’ works equally well in isolation, with the case wrapped up fully at the end of the novel and the characters fully introduced at the start for new readers. And, for those crime fans who don’t like detectives that come with more baggage than the average airport (like me!), Sarah keeps the focus on the crime and crime-solving, with the personal stories ticking away in the background and only occasionally coming to the fore.
Overall, I really enjoyed ‘A Deadly Thaw’ and it is a worthy successor to ‘In Bitter Chill’ and marks Sarah out as an author to watch on the British crime scene. The dual structure, clever central mystery and tightly woven plot gives the book real pace and dynamism making this a fast, thrilling read which ratchets up the tension without resorting to brutal violence or overt amounts of blood and gore. Definitely one for crime fans to put on their autumn TBR pile or their Christmas list – my only problem now is that I have to wait for Sarah to write book three!
A Deadly Thaw’, published by Faber & Faber, is available now in hardback and ebook from all good book retailers. My thanks go to the author and the publisher for providing an advance copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review.