I gave in to the hype …

The Casual Vacancyby J K Rowling

So I’ve given in to the hype and got me a cheap copy of JK’s new adult book, and it will be my weekend reading…

I see the knives are already out on Amazon with 50% of the 50+ reader reviews so far being negative.

I’m really hoping that it’ll be better than that.  It’s 500 pages though.  Fingers crossed. Report back next week.


Crime always soars in a heatwave …

The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill

translated from the Spanish by Laura McGloughlin

Inspector Héctor Salgado is a hot-blooded Argentine working in Barcelona. As the book opens, he has recently returned from enforced leave after he beat up a suspect in a Voodoo/paedophile trafficking ring.

Investigation 1231-R
Resolution Pending

Three short lines noted in black felt-tip pen on a yellow post-it note attached to a file of the same colour. So as not to see them, Superintendent Savall opened the file and looked over its contents. As if he didn’t already know them by heart. Statements. Affidavit. Medical reports. Police brutality. Photographs of that scumbag’s injuries. Photographs of that unfortunate Nigerian girls. Photographs of the flat in the Raval where they had the girls corralled. Even various newspaper cuttings, some – very few, thank God – deliberately narrating their own version of the facts, emphasizing concepts like injustice, racism and abuse of power. He slammed the file shut and looked at the clock on his desk. Ten past nine. Fifty minutes. He was moving his chair back to stretch out his legs when someone knocked on the door and opened it almost simultaneously.
‘Is he here,’ he asked.

Still suspended from active police work, Salgado’s boss asks him to unofficially look into the death of a teenager from one of Barcelona’s richest families. He quickly finds that there are many skeletons to be pulled from their closets, whilst the fallout from the Voodoo case continues.

I liked Salgado – he’s rarely called Héctor. Being an Argentine, he’s an outsider, divorced with a teenaged son and living on his own. He’s obviously a bit of a maverick, and he has vices – all good things for a fictional policeman!

I wasn’t so taken with the two policewomen working with him on the two cases though – I tended to get confused between them – they blended into each other. Salgado’s boss is unusally not a caricature either which, funnily, still makes him a little one-dimensional – but he’s only a bit player.

The book was terribly slow to get going – stifling itself in Barcelona’s heat, and then once on the move, there were twists and turns galore. A bit more pace in the early stages would have made it a more gripping read. Considering that the novel is set over just five days, the first couple seemed more than twenty-four hours long. One day I long to visit Barcelona, but its attractions barely featured in this novel which could have been set in any Mediterranean city.

I enjoyed the book enough to finish it, and would probably read another Salgado mystery, hoping for more development of character and setting in subsequent outings. (6.5/10)

* * * * *
I received this book to review via the Amazon Vine programme. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill, pub May 2012 by Doubleday, Hardback 320 pages.

A body’s life, a life’s memories

Winter Journal by Paul Auster

I’ve been an Auster-fan ever since I first read The New York Trilogy in the late 1980s, which I re-read and reviewed here a couple of years ago. Between writing his novels, Auster also writes essays and volumes of memoir.

Winter Journal is a memoir largely told through the things that have happened to his body.  In his early sixties, Auster has become preoccupied with the first signs of old age – something his 74 year old actor friend Jean-Louis Trintignant put into perspective for him when Auster was 57…

“Paul, there’s just one thing I want to to tell you.  At fifty-seven, I felt old. Now, at seventy-four, I feel much younger than I did then.” You have no idea what he is trying to tell you, but you sense it is important to him, that he is attempting to share something of vital importance with you, and for that reason you do not ask him to explain what he means. For close to seven years now, you have continued to ponder his words, and although you still don’t know quite what to make of them, there have been glimmers, tiny moments when you feel you have almost penetrated the truth of what he was saying to you. Perhaps it is something as simple as this: that a man fears death more at fifty-seven than he does at seventy-four.

Auster starts by tellling his story through the things that have happened to his  body, an inventory of its scars – the one on his cheek which he got aged three and a half caused by having such fun sliding along a shiny floor that he never saw a protruding nail in a table leg; numerous other sporting ones – but only one broken bone.

He tells us everything, not sparing the details however painful –  the panic attacks that started after his mother’s death in 2002, and the car crash later that year that could have killed him, his wife and his family – he hasn’t driven since.

The other parallel track running through this memoir is a catalogue of all the homes in which Auster has lived his life, twenty-one of them, and thinking about the memories they invoke, about his parents, his friends, his girlfriends, his first wife, his second (author Siri Hustvedt), his children, but most of all his mother, whom he obviously adored, and simultaneously wished he’d known better.

The book is written in the second person – addressing himself; it gives a real sense of intimacy to his story. We frequently pop backwards in time as he remembers new things, but the general impetus is forward towards Auster as he is now at sixty-four looking forwards to the rest of his life.

Auster is an unconventional, analytical and eloquent writer, and this unconventional memoir was a delight to read, he can look with humour at himself as well as being serious.  He is one of those writers whom I always enjoy whether in novels or other forms, regardless of the critic’s views, but I have to say this memoir was one of the very best I’ve read. (9.5/10)

* * * * *
I was sent a US copy of this book by its publisher Henry Holt & Co. Thank you.
To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:

Winter Journal Pub 6 Sept by Faber, Hardback 240 pages.
The New York Trilogy: “City of Glass”, “Ghosts” and “Locked Room” by Paul Auster

Weekend musings & Giveaway results

This week has been rather busy physically and mentally; although I’ve been reading I haven’t had been in the right mind for blogging – so a big thank you again to my friend Julia for her midweek review for me.

Yesterday I did have a bit of a break, and filled it with a spontaneous garage sale – which meant my daughter and I carrying 400+ surplus books downstairs and setting up our stall augmented with some DVDs, CDs and other bits and pieces. Then we waited anxiously (in my daughter’s case), and reading a book in the sunshine in my case, for passers by. We made 10p short of £30 which is wonderful, and I will donate £5 of that to Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice in Oxford.

I’m still sorting out more books to go, and the next sunny, dry Saturday when we’re free we’ll do it again, then the remaining books will go to the charity shop. I also still have some more interesting/collectible/out of print books for sale – see the tab above.

* * * * *

Lots of interesting books have arrived at Gaskell Towers recently – it’s always a dilemma of what to read next – as I still want to reduce the TBR piles, and not just read the latest new arrivals. Here are a few of the new ones though…

  • All Quiet on the Western Front – I’m an addict to the lovely tomes from The Folio Society, and am delighted to have been offered a free book by a publicist working for them. I chose this one as I’ve wanted to read it for years.
  • The Sacrifice (The Enemy) the fourth in Charlie Higson’s wonderful zombie series for older children, which I reviewed the first two of here.
  • The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers. A supernatural story set in 1816, the year that Byron and Shelley and co had a momentous house party on the shores of Lake Geneva. The Romantic poets get caught up in an adventure with a man whose wife was murdered on their wedding night as she slept beside him. I couldn’t resist this – just the thing for autumnal nights!
  • In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner arrived yesterday from Simon & Schuster. Set in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge’s rule of terror, it tell of seven year old Raami’s fight for survival. I know this is going to be gripping and tragic to read, but I do hope Raami survives.

* * * * *

And finally, I have giveaway results – Thank you to everyone who commented and entered.

Firstly, the Sophie McKenzie giveaway of Missing Me.

The winners, picked at random were:

Rosie & Rosie Herridge

A total coincidence – two Rosies!
The books will come direct from the publisher.

Now for my 4th Blog-birthday giveaway – the winners, drawn randomly again, are:

Well done to you all. As none of you expressed a preference over which of the four books on offer, I’ll send a random pick, unless you change your mind when you send me your addresses. To remind you, the books on offer were:

  • Waiting for Robert Capa by Susanna Fortes (Review)
  • On the Cold Coasts by Vilborg Davidsdottir (Review)
  • The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark (Review)
  • I Have Waited, and You Have Come by Martine McDonagh (Review)

Guest review of Ash by James Herbert

A few weeks ago I accepted a copy of British horror-meister James Herbert’s new novel ‘Ash‘ to review. I loved reading Herbert when I was younger, and thought it would be really fun to revisit him.

But I haven’t had time to fit reading it in yet, so I lent it to my good friend Julia, and today I’m turning over my blog to her for a guest post. Julia is a bookseller at my fab local indie bookshop Mostly Books and she specialises in SF&F, paranormal and YA books, and is a big fan of historical novels too…

Ash by James Herbert

James Herbert was one of my favourite authors in my teenage years and I spent many sleepless nights first reading his books and then hiding under the covers from the ghosts, rats and monsters he described so well. I was very excited to hear he had written a new book and clutching my copy of Ash I rushed home to read it and was not disappointed, the long wait was worth it.

In this book we revisit David Ash, the parapsychologist from Haunted and The Ghosts of Sleath, for a third installment of hauntings and mystery. Set in the Scottish castle of Comraich, run by the mysterious Inner Circle, sinister paranormal events, which culminate in the discovery of one of it’s residents hanging from a wall severely wounded and attached only by his own congealing blood, prompt the I.C. to contact Ash and ask for his help in investigating the strange occurrences.

To read a very gory quotation, highlight the text below! It’s not nice – you have been warned…

In sheer desperation Ash pushed his free left hand into his assailants snarling, brutish face. He thrust two stiffened fingers directly into the madman’s right eye, wincing as they passed through the half-closed lids and pushed against the repugnant softness of the eyeball itself. Then beyond, his fingers slithered over the white globe until they reached the hard matter behind.
Lukovic screeched as blood gushed from the ruined eye socket, a sound amplified by the limited confines of the lift, and instinctively yanked his head backwards. But the tips of Ash’s gore-sodden fingers had curled behind the eyeball, and when Lukovic pulled his head back the eyeball popped as through sucked out and dropped against his upper cheek, held there only by thin bloody tendrils.

The castle is home to a mixed bag of people all of whom have paid a great deal of money to permanently disappear and their individual stories interwoven with the history of the old castle make for a truly spine tingling read. Royal mysteries, war criminals and insane inmates not to mention political intrigue and conspiracy theories are all included in this fantastic novel from one of the masters of horror.

* * * * *

Thank you Julia. It sounds intriguing, and … um, suitably gory! Looking forward to reading it though.

This book was kindly supplied by the publisher. Thank you. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
Ash by James Herbert – pub Aug 30th by Macmillan, Hardback 600 pages.
Ash – Kindle version
Haunted, The Ghosts of Sleath both by James Herbert, paperbacks.

Illustrated books and crossover editions

I bought a signed first edition of the hardback of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, which I wrote about here. After looking at some of the illustrations, I sat it in my bookcase as being almost too nice/collectible to read. The initial paperback edition is just like a slightly smaller version of the hardback but with soft covers, so I didn’t buy a copy. It was beginning to look like I wouldn’t read the book until I was willing to overcome my aversion to keeping the hardback absolutely pristine!

However,  a publicist for Walker Books recently came to my rescue, by offering me a copy of the new un-illustrated edition aimed at crossover/adult audiences, (right).

The clean look of the new edition doesn’t look like a children’s book at all, does it?   I really like its cover, and would surely be tempted, had I not got the book already. Mind you, Jim Kay’s illustration for the cover of the original edition is not particularly child-like either in this case.  I actually read the story from the new paperback, but enjoyed (carefully) looking at the illustrations afterwards.

… And it got me thinking about crossover editions; grown-up covers vs. ones for children, illustrated versions of novels vs. no pictures…

Back in 1998 this book (left) appeared on the shelves of my local bookshop at the time – an experiment by the publishers after realising that adults were reading the first Harry Potter book too.  It was displayed in the adult new books section and I never realised it was a children’s book at all. I bought it, and read it later, just as the Harry Potter phenomenon was beginning to take off. I went on to acquire the rest of the series with adult covers too. This first one was such a success, the rest were published simultaneously with adult and children’s covers as standard.

Despite loving reading fiction for children, I would not have bought the original edition (right) for myself. Before my daughter was born, I didn’t browse the children’s shelves at all, so I wouldn’t have spotted it. However I didn’t feel duped by buying a children’s book in an adult cover, accepting it as a great fun read – but after the series took off, I then wouldn’t have minded if I couldn’t get the adult cover.

Popping back to A Monster Calls for a moment … one bookshop I went into recently had the new edition in their teen section – maybe reading a book with illustrations is more infra dig for them than adults!?

Day of the triffids – Patrick Leger for the Folio Society

In general, I like illustrations in books. I collect Folio Society editions which always have beautiful plates from specially commissioned artists (e.g. left), and these pictures do enhance the reading experience, if you can bear to handle the lovely books, that is.

Many of my favourite children’s books were/are illustrated – like Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr, but few adult books have illustrations normally bar an occasional chapter heading as in the charming Don Camillo books by Giovanni Guareschi (right).

As adults, we are more often supposed to visualise the plot, setting and characters in a book for ourselves, not letting illustrations colour our imagination. Those novels that do have them tend to be lighter fare or the special editions above.  I can think of few serious novels bar Dickens that have pictures.

I realise I’ve been rambling without much real point in this post – so let me finish by asking you a couple of questions.

What do you think of crossover editions?  Do you feel duped into reading a children’s book, or pleased to find a (hopefully good) read that you wouldn’t otherwise have discovered?

Do you like a good illustration in a novel, or do they get in the way of your own picture of what’s happening?

An exceptional story for all ages…

A Monster Callsby Patrick Ness
The British writer Siobhan Dowd won the Carnegie Medal posthumously in 2009 for her last book, Bog Child.  She’d started working on another, but died of breast cancer before she had started writing. Her outline was handed to Patrick Ness, author of the acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy and he wrote the book she didn’t have time to.  A Monster Calls went on to win the 2012 CILIP Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Award for its illustrator Jim Kay – the first time a book has achieved both.

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.
Conor was awake when it came.
He’d had a nightmare. Well not a nightmare. The nightmare. The one he’d been having a lot lately. The one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. The one with the hands slipping from his grasp, no matter how hard he tried to hold on. The one that always ended with-
“Go away,” Conor whispered into the darkness of his bedroom, trying to push the nightmare back, not let it follow him into the world of waking. “Go away now.”
He glanced over at the clock his mum had put on his bedside table.12.7. Seven minutes past midnight. Which was late for a school night, late for a Sunday, certainly.
He’d told no one about the nightmare. Not his mum, obviously, but no one else either, not his dad in their fortnightly (or so) phone call, definitely not his grandma, and no one at school. Absolutely not.
Whatever happened in the nightmare was something no one else ever needed to know.
Conor blinked groggily at his room, then he frowned. There was something he was missing. He sat up in his bed, waking a bit more. The nightmare was slipping from him, but there was something he couldn’t put his finger on, something different, something-
He listened, straining against the silence, but all he could hear was the occasional tick from the empty downstairs or a rustle of bedding from his mum’s room next door.
And then something. Something he realized was the thing that had woken him.
Someone was calling his name.

Conor is thirteen.  He’s alone and doesn’t know what to do. His mum has cancer, and the treatments don’t seem to be working any more. His dad has a new family across the pond; his grandma is too un-grandma-ish; and he’s being bullied at school. It’s no surprise he is confused and angry with life and has nightmares.

When the monster comes for him, he is unfazed by it’s appearance, but scared at its purpose. This personification of earth magic wants to tell him stories, to show him that life isn’t black and white, that good things can come from bad. It wants him to acknowledge the truth.

This is a beautiful book. The original illustrated edition has the brooding monochrome drawings by Jim Kay which are so evocative of the elemental tree man monster and Conor’s dilemma.

It is a simple story, gut-wrenching, yet in its way, heart-warming in its bravery, with a young protagonist that is entirely believable and in desperate need of help. Ness has taken Dowd’s idea and run with it to create an exceptional novel that can resonate with all ages, and especially with anyone who’s ever lost someone close to them.

By its inevitable end I was blubbering like a baby, remembering my own mum who died from breast cancer a couple of years ago. It felt good to cry. This book helped. (10/10)

* * * * *
I bought my original illustrated copy, and the publisher, Walker Books, kindly sent me the new edition – thank you.
To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:

A Monster Calls: Illustrated Paperbackby Patrick Ness
A Monster Calls (non illustrated)by Patrick Ness
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

The remote effects of war …

The Coveby Ron Rash.

The fighting of WWI may be happening on the battlefields of Europe, but that doesn’t mean that remote communities in America don’t feel a ripple of its effects too…

Young men who volunteered are returning home maimed – Hank Shelton lost a hand, and he’s doing his best to renovate the family farm with his sister Laurel. The farm is in a gloomy cove, a hard area in which to prosper, and believed to be cursed. The Sheltons live there quietly which suits Laurel – trips to town are often a trial for her, the superstitious locals taking her birthmark for the sign of a witch.

She watched Hank walk up the boardwalk. He paused to shake hands with Marvin Alexander and was greeted with a nod and smile by a passing couple. In those two years they’d been in school together, it had been hard for both of them but worse for Laurel because of the birthmark. Yet she and Hank had never allowed any difference. At school, he’d fight boys older and bigger because of remarks just aimed at Laurel. Once something started, she’d done the same for him, clawing and biting anyone who took on Hank. Then Ellie Anthony, who sat near them, came down with polio. Her parents claimed Laurel and Hank the cause. Other parents vowed to keep their children out of school until Laurel and Hank were gone.
On trips to town after that, they’d been treated even worse. Besides the snubs and glares they’d grown used to, some people spat as she and Hank went by. A man threatened to horsewhip Slidell if he kept bringing them to town and one Saturday she and Hank had been hit by rotten eggs. Bad as it was, they’d at least endured it together, but since Hank’s return from Europe, most of the meanness had been directed only at Laurel. More than a hand had been left behind in Europe, people seemed to believe.

One day a stranger arrives from the woods, Laurel finds him in a clearing, having heard flute music wafting through the air. Walter doesn’t talk, he has few posessions, but agrees to help Hank on the farm for a while, and Laurel is attracted to this strong, mute musician. You just know it will end in tragedy when Walter’s story is revealed…

Interspersed between the chapters of the Shelton’s lives, are episodes featuring Sgt Chauncey Feith who runs the Army Recruitment Office in the town and is always perfectly attired in his uniform. He is also somewhat looked down upon by many townsfolk, because he has never gone to war he trains cadets hoping they’ll enlist when they’re old enough. He is obsessed with rooting out un-American activities and anything German, and is busy organising a home-coming for another injured GI, and he will have his part to play in the ensuing events.

Ron Rash has written a novel that is quietly devastating. Although Laurel’s life begins to look up, life in the cove always teeters on a knife-edge. It may be gloomy, but there are places the sun can reach. Rash uses these to create passages of lyrical fresh air, before the text has to get down to hard work again. He captures the strong bond and sibling tensions perfectly between Hank and Laurel who are young for farmers. It is left to their kindly neighbour Slidell to give some fatherly guidance, shame that the townsfolk don’t feel the same way.

The Cove is one of those novels in which not a lot appears to happen, but you’re drawn in by the wonderfully descriptive writing of the characters and their hard lives – and then you realise that lots has happened. (9/10)

I chose this book based on the cover quote from Daniel Woodrell, author of the fine backwoods novel Winter’s Bone. His recommendation was spot-on and Ron Rash is an author I will definitely explore further.

* * * * *
I chose my book to review from a selection from Amazon Vine. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Coveby Ron Rash. Pub March 2012 by Canongate. Hardback 272 pages.
Winter’s Boneby Daniel Woodrell

A short, sharp German legal thriller…

The Collini Caseby Ferdinand Von Schirach, translated from the German by Anthea Bell

The author of The Collini Case, a prominent German defence lawyer himself, honed his writing on short stories – case histories of gruesome and shocking crimes, of people who get away with murder and the like. His first novel, a courtroom drama, isn’t long either, but he does pack a whole lot of story into its 160 pages.

It starts with a murder. A prominent German businessman is killed by Fabrizio Collini, a quiet Italian who has worked for Mercedes Benz for decades. Caspar Leinen, a young defence lawyer takes on the case – a good result will make his name. However, after accepting it, he finds out that the victim was known to him and he is unable to get out of the case. Collini admits guilt, but refuses to give a motive – it doesn’t look good for Leinen’s reputation. We read about how Caspar got to where he is, and his relationship with the deceased. We see how the German justice system works; Leinen’s case is surely doomed – and before we know it, we’re at page 100. Then he makes a discovery. Everything changes and the rest of the novel is turbocharged by its results towards a dramatic courtroom conclusion.

It’s a taut novel, which has been a best-seller already in Germany. It doesn’t get bogged down with court procedure, keeping to the essentials only, and not over-dramatising the lawyers’ performances. There’s no melodrama here, yet the book works brilliantly as a gripping legal thriller that can be read in one sitting. I enjoyed it so much I almost wished it had been longer, but its brevity is a large part of why it was so good!  (8.5/10)

Von Schirach has an interesting history which obviously influences and informs his own writing, for his grandfather was tried for Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg. There was an interesting article in the Guardian which you can link to here, which tells more (slight spoiler alert though). You can also read Simon S’s reviews of his short stories here – I’m keen to read the first collection, Crime, in particular now.

* * * * *
I received an ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.
To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:

The Collini Caseby Ferdinand Von Schirach. Pub Sept 13 by Michael Joseph, Hdbk.
Crime by Ferdinand Von Schirach – short stories, 2011.

Q&A with Sophie McKenzie and a giveaway of her latest teen book…

This week the final part of author Sophie McKenzie’s hard hitting ‘Missing‘ trilogy for teens is published. Missing Me completes the story started in Girl, Missing, and continued in Sister, Missing.

The books follow the story of Lauren, who is adopted and has always known that. In Girl, Missing, Lauren is fourteen. One day she finds a picture on the internet of a missing American child that was believed to have been kidnapped years ago, and looks like her! When her adoptive family goes on holiday in the US, she takes the opportunity to run off in search of her birth parents with her boyfriend Jam, and there is the question of how her adoptive parents got Lauren to consider too…

I won’t say more about the plots of the novels here, except to say that the thrills and revelations about Lauren and her families continue. I’ve read all three, and it’s probably best for new readers to start at the beginning. The books have a great combination of being thrillers, but also novels about growing up and finding one’s identity; they have a lot to say about modern families.

Personally, reading them as an adult and Mum, at times I found Lauren rather irritating and self-centred, which while understandable given her situation, does get her into trouble! Her boyfriend Jam meanwhile is too good to be true; however Madison who takes the leading role in the third book is great fun – I probably enjoyed Missing Me most out of the three.

The language and romantic content are broadly suitable for 11+, but some of the topics like IVF (bk1), sperm donation (bk 3), and actually having a baby, although with very little gory detail (bk 3) may need some adult discussion. Additionally being thrillers, there is some violence and kidnappings, although people die off the page, so to speak.

The plots are full of twists and enough coincidences to keep younger readers guessing all the way through, and are neatly tied up. I can see why they are so successful – all three books are terrific page-turning adventures that move at a cracking pace.

Girl, Missing was Sophie’s debut novel published in 2006, and it went on to win many prizes. She has since had another fifteen or so novels published, falling into several series – from the futuristic thrillers of the Medusa Project to teen romances.

My daughter and her friends are all fans of Sophie’s books, and as part of her blog tour to promote the new one, we got to ask Sophie a few questions, (which got me huge kudos with the girls by the way!)…

* * * * *

Katie:  I’ve always wondered about Lauren in the Missing books – is she based on a real-life person?

Sophie: No, she isn’t. However her situation – wondering if she was stolen away from her birth family as a toddler – was inspired by an actual missing children’s website. I was looking at one boy on the site who disappeared aged two and who, if he were still alive, would now be fourteen and I wondered what he would do if he came across the same website and wondered if this particular missing child was him.

Juliet: What books are you planning next, especially for younger teens?

Sophie: Missing Me will be the last book in the Missing series. At the moment I’m working on a romance series which began with Falling Fast and continues with Burning Bright, published Jan 13. There will also be a new thriller coming out in the autumn of 2013.

Me: Can you give some tips for young writers on where to get inspiration from and how to get started writing.

Sophie: Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. It’s always handy to carry a notebook so you can record any ideas that occur to you. If you want to write, my best advice is to read as much and as widely as possible. When you find a book you really like, containing the sort of story you’d like to write yourself, then read it again, trying to work out what the author did that made it so compelling.

Thank you very much Sophie for answering our questions. The girls are loving the Missing books, and are looking forward to getting stuck into the romance ones later.

* * * * *

AND FINALLY … Simon & Schuster are kindly offering two copies of Missing Me as a giveaway to readers in the UK. If you’d like to be in with a chance to win, just leave a comment below by Friday teatime, (my daughter’s friends can email, but for everyone else entries are by comment only).  We will make the draw at the weekend. Good luck!

* * * * *

I bought the first two (for my daughter), and the publisher kindly sent the third – Thank you.
To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
Girl, MissingSister, Missing – pbks
Missing Me – pub Sept 13. Simon & Schuster childrens books. Hardback, 304 pages.