Book Review: She Persisted Around the World by Chelsea Clinton ill. Alexandra Boiger

Women around the world have long dreamed big, even when they’ve been told their dreams didn’t matter. They’ve spoken out, risen up and fought for what’s right, even when they’ve been told to be quiet. Whether in science, the arts, sports or activism, women and girls throughout history have been determined to break barriers and change the status quo. They haven’t let anyone get in their way and have helped us better understand our world and what’s possible. In this book, Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to a group of thirteen incredible women who have shaped history all across the globe.

What I Thought:
It’s rare as hens’ teeth to find me reviewing a picture book, but I was really keen to get my hand on this one, written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. She Persisted Around the World is a follow up to 2017’s She Persisted – a look at 13 amazing American women who pioneered, explored, invented and much more. This book takes that worldwide, showing 13 incredible women from a range of countries who wrote, invented, discovered and refused to be silenced.

From J. K. Rowling to Malala Yousafzai in the present, to Viola Desmond and Marie Curie this delight of a book tells their empowering stories, showing how these women were determined in their different ways and giving a strong message to young children that it’s important to follow your star. It’s also beautifully illustrated with details that will make children come back time and again.

In the current climate, it’s so important for books like this to show girls that they can achieve all they can dream, but also to show young boys that reading a book with a female lead character is not something bad – a view that definitely should be encouraged.

As a book nerd, I was drawn to J. K. Rowling’s story, which I’ve included the illustration for here, but the stories included are so diverse that there will be at least one takeaway for everyone who reads this book. In many ways it’s even inspiring for me, even though I am clearly NOT the target market!

I was delighted to donate my review copy to my local Junior School library, as I hope it will be well-used, borrowed and read for years to come.

If you count yourself as a feminist, and you have young children in your life, buy this book. Share this book with them and encourage them to find their own heroic women to idolise – there are so many of them there, usually standing in the background…

She Persisted Around the World is published in the UK by Penguin Young Readers. You can find out more about Chelsea Clinton on her Twitter profile and you can check out Alexandra Boiger’s website, where she has posted some of the other brilliant illustrations from She Persisted Around the World.

Please note: I was sent this book for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Book Review: A Mother’s Grace by Rosie Goodwin

Tuesday’s child is full of grace…

Warwickshire, 1910.

Pious young Grace Kettle escapes the world of her unsavoury and bullying father to train to be a nun. But when she meets the dashing and devout Father Luke her world is turned upside down. Her faith is tested and she is driven to make a scandalous and life-changing choice – one she may well spend the rest of her days seeking forgiveness for…

What I Thought:
Thanks mainly to the dearth of what we would now call YA books, in my formative years, I tended to read a lot of sagas – borrowed from the library ‘for my mum’, I read a lot of Catherine Cookson, Barbara Taylor Bradford and their like. I’ve not really picked up what I would term as a ‘saga’ for quite a while now, so I thought I would give A Mother’s Grace a go.

Rosie Goodwin’s novel is the third in a series of standalone novels connected by the theme of the old rhyme ‘Monday’s Child is Fair of Face…’. I’ve not read any of the other books in the series but, although some secondary characters appear in all three novels, I’ve been told that you don’t have to read the others to enjoy this book, and they’re fine to be read out of order.

On the whole, this was an enjoyable read. Much like those sagas of old, the heroine, Grace, is likeable and puts up with her hardships with stoicism and a can-do attitude. When she finally decides to become a nun, she commits to it wholeheartedly and doesn’t shirk hard work and the deprivations that her choice entails – until loves comes into the picture!

There is a definite formula to these types of novels, but that certainly isn’t to say that the story that Rosie Goodwin has written is predictable and there were lots of elements in Grace’s story that came as a surprise. When I hear this book spoken about it is described as ‘heart-warming’ and it certainly succeeds in that as, you know however Grace suffers, it will work out ok in the end…

While I am happy to recommend the book, there were a couple of things that tested my patience as I was reading. You know those stock phrases that authors use to describe fainting, or someone turning pale with shock? There are lots of ways to describe those things but I found that Rosie Goodwin used the same stock phrases repeatedly – ‘the colour drained from his face’, ‘the ground rose up to meet her’. I know that this will not bother many, many people, but the repetition drew me out of the story and I wondered that an editor didn’t pick it up and recommend alternatives. This is a small, nit-picky point, but one I feel that needs to be considered as it affected my experience of reading the book.

Despite that very minor point, I would be happy to read Rosie Goodwin’s books in future and, considering that she has a quite extensive back catalogue, there is plenty to choose from.

A Mother’s Grace is published by Bonnier Zaffre. To find out more about Rosie Goodwin, you can check out her website where you can also find out about Memory Lane, a community for those who read and write historical sagas.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Book Review: Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Welcome to real life 2.0. Are you ready to play?

There are no screens. There are no controls. You don’t just see and hear it – you taste, smell, and touch it too. In this new reality there are no rules to follow, no laws to break. You can live your best life.

It’s a game so addictive you’ll never want it to end. Until you realize that you’re the one being played.

Step into Otherworld. Leave your body behind.

What I Thought:
I was thrilled to get hold of an early copy of Otherworld at YALC 2017 and, considering how much I enjoyed it, it mystifies me why it’s taken me so long to review it!

Having said that I enjoyed it, I’ve read around quite a few reviews that hated it – and I can see why other reviewers might say that as the book was not without fault, but my overriding feeling was that I loved Simon, the abrasive main character, and I wanted to read more.

There is a bit of the set up of the novel that is a bit sketchy – Simon’s motivations in entering Otherworld to save Kat, the damsel in distress, does make you roll your eyes a bit, but once in the game itself, The White City and the attached game levels are beautifully written and described with a vast array of characters and the main characters find themselves in some dangerous and sickening situations.

I really liked the delineation between Simon and his group and some of the other players who think they are just in any other RPG and don’t realise that Otherworld really can mean life or death.

As I said, Simon can be quite abrasive and in the real world this has done him no favours, but in Otherworld it really helps him butt up against players and NPCs and come through. I’m interested to see whether he is like this in the next novel, or whether his experiences have changed him at all.

Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have written together before for a Middle Grade audience and it’s really important to note that this is most definitely a YA book as some of the scenes are NOT for younger children.

So for a book that has evoked such a wide range of opinions from reviewers, it’s actually one I really enjoyed and I’m hugely excited for book 2, Other Earth, which comes out in October 2018.

Otherworld is published by Rock the Boat. To find out more about Kirsten Miller, you can check out her website. You can also find out what Jason Segel is up to on Twitter.

Please note: I obtained a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Book Review: Lost Boy by Christina Henry

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth.

Once I loved a boy called Peter Pan. Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. He wants always to be that shining sun that we all revolve around. He’ll do anything to be that sun. Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever. Peter will say I’m a villain, that I wronged him, that I never was his friend. Peter Lies.

What I Thought:
I find retellings fascinating, and I think it’s a real talent to be able to take a previously published work and make it something completely new.

A while ago now, I was pleased to host a piece by Christina Henry, looking at how she took J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and moulded it into her novel, Lost Boy, a novel that gives entirely new meaning to Peter Pan. It takes Peter, the hero of the original novel, and shows that he is not all that he seems and reveals exactly why Captain Hook and Peter hate each other.

The narrator of the novel is Jamie – he was the first of the Lost Boys that Peter brought from ‘the other place’ to a much darker Neverland than you will have previously read and, as more boys are brought into the gang, Peter continues to do whatever he feels, while Jamie starts to become the parent figure of the group, taking care of the smaller boys and reining Peter in where necessary. This Neverland is very much more like Lord of the Flies, with Peter suggesting games that are played to the death and raiding the pirates resulting in death all round – that’s when Peter flies off to find new boys…

As I’ve said, the Neverland in Lost Boy is dark, and not the playground it is depicted as in the original novel. It’s a place where young children are drawn into very adult games, with adult consequences and led by Peter who seemingly can never die, and must always be right so nothing touches him emotionally – unlike Jamie who feels the death of the boys in his care and begins to realise that someday everyone has to grow up.

I loved this book as Jamie’s voice is so strong and yet so sad. His transformation from worshipping Peter, to realising that his way is not necessarily the right way is done so gradually and still, even when he fully embraces the fact that Peter only cares about himself, it’s done with such sadness and regret. When we eventually discover Jamie’s fate it’s a lightbulb moment and it turns the original novel completely on its head – it’s very, very clever…

Lost Boy is most definitely highly recommended and, having read more of Christina Henry’s books since, I love her writing style and the unique voice she gives to her characters. I’ve recently read her latest book, The Mermaid, and I’ll be reviewing that very soon…

Lost Boy is published by Titan Books. To find out more about Christina Henry and her other novels, do check out her website, or you can connect with her on Twitter.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Book Review: Dreaming of Florence by T. A. Williams

When Debbie Waterson’s bicycle crashes into handsome doctor Pierluigi, she wonders if her luck has changed. Determinedly single after ending a long relationship, at last, a man worth bumping into!

Inspired to visit Florence, she soon runs headlong into that old foe: reality. But is Pierluigi the man of her dreams? Then there’s her booze obsessed boss, his forbidding secretary and her noisy inconsiderate neighbours. But could her luck be about to change? Will she find love after all?

What I Thought:
I always have time for a new T. A. Williams novel as all the titles I’ve read are an absolute delight. Womens’ fiction gets a bad rep, but who on earth would not appreciate escapism and wish fulfilment – especially in the current climate??

Dreaming of Florence is part of of Trevor’s ‘Dreaming of…’ series, which takes us on a multi-stop trip around Italy and France and introduces us to a group of women who need a little more direction and excitement in their lives. And dare I say it? Love too…

Aside from Debbie’s story, Dreaming of Florence also gives us a fairly detailed depiction of Florence, which is evocative and – from what I remember of my one visit to Florence – fairly accurate. It’s clear that Trevor’s done his research (whether from experience or t’internet) and he writes the setting beautifully into his plot. I can almost see an Italian country villa, desperate to be renovated…

The ultimate driving force of the novel is, of course, to get Debbie all she dreams of and a love affair to boot, but knowing this doesn’t make the journey any more predictable as her path does not run smooth and she is such a likeable character that we feel her ups and downs keenly.

If I was to make a list of summer reads, just right for poolside reading, then this book would definitely be on it. It was, and is, a pleasure to read Trevor’s work and I can’t wait to move on to his next in the series, Dreaming of St Tropez.

Dreaming of Florence is published by Canelo. you can find out more about T. A. Williams on his website, or you can connect with him on Twitter.

Please note: I received a review copy of this book via Netgalley. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: In The Dark by Cara Hunter

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive.

No one knows who they are – the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. The elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.

The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

And that no one is as innocent as they seem…

What I Thought:
Having read and enjoyed Cara Hunter’s Close to Home earlier this year, I was delighted to pick up In The Dark, the second DI Adam Fawley thriller. Despite being second in a series, In The Dark works just as well as a standalone thriller, but I would definitely advise you to grab Close to Home if you can.

It’s really difficult to give an in depth review of this book without revealing some of the details of the riveting and twist-filled plot, but I shall definitely try as it really is a masterclass in keeping the reader guessing.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the police procedural format had nowhere else to go, as it has be used so many times but Cara Hunter is able to inject a freshness into it with engaging characters led by a flawed DI whose personal issues occasionally bubble to the surface. There is a diverse cross-section of officers and detectives, which is in keeping with a modern police force, and it’s great to see glimpses of their personal lives too as they work together – sometimes with a lot of friction – to find out what happened to the girl and the child.

The plot itself is really clever, leading you to assume many things about what is going on before peeling each of your assumptions away to get to the truth of the case and I guarantee you, your jaw will drop come the end of the book.

The style of the book is definitely to my taste, using news reports, transcripts of police interviews and Twitter comments to provide background on the case – the Twitter comments I feel act like a Greek chorus in a way, attempting to sway the reader into a certain way of thinking. It’s a clever device to use and is in keeping with our social media age.

As I said before, I enjoyed Close to Home, and am looking forward to picking up book 3 in the series soon – Cara Hunter is definitely an author to watch and I’m excited to see more twisty plots from her!

In The Dark is published by Penguin. To find out more about Cara Hunter, you can connect with her on Twitter.

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the release of In The Dark – why not check out some of the other reviews and exclusive content on the blogs listed below?

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Blitz: The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye + giveaway

Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.

Faye knows her heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She also knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.

Faye is left wondering how to move forward – and whether or not Jack’s best friend Ethan will let her down again. And the news of Jack’s death ripples through the lives of her friends too.

Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and wondering if she was right to leave her first love behind. Poor Olivia is juggling her job and her boyfriend and trying to deal with a death of her own. And Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest, even though she never knew him.

Is Beth about to take her own life too?

What I Thought:
I do like a book with an interesting premise and the strapline on The Second Cup – ‘Can Someone Else Steal Your Suicide’ – definitely got me interested.

What struck me first about the book is that it focuses on a group of women – obviously men play a large part in their stories, but the voices are theirs and the relationships among the group are those which any woman with a small circle of friends will recognise. Each member of the group fulfills a unique role – be it caregiver, or the one who needs extra handling, but the dynamics are interesting throughout and it’s revelatory to see just how each responds in a time of crisis.

For a book with that strapline, it’s clear that there is a spotlight on the mental health of the characters but, most likely due to the author’s own diagnosis of depression, it is handled with sensitivity and a great level of understanding. Never mawkish or sensationalised, depression is addressed as a part of life and never put into the terms we very often hear of it being a battle to be won or lost.

Although a tragic events weave through the story, I look on this book very much more as a character-led piece – it is the characters’ reactions to situations that provide the drama, rather than the events themselves and as the book progresses and we see positive change among the group, it’s really heartening.

I always say that ‘enjoy’ is the wrong word when reading books that address important subjects but, while there are some sections that are hard to read, there is much to enjoy in the book. Beth’s character for instance was a great character to read and proof in a way that we can never really know what is going on inside a person’s head.

I would definitely recommend The Second Cup as, as I have said, you will struggle to find a book with such a strong group of women that so sensitively addresses mental health issues.

The Second Cup is published by Pict Publishing. You can find out more about the book and Sarah Marie Graye by connecting with her on Twitter.

Read on to find some more blogs featuring content about The Second Cup this week, and keep on scrolling for a chance to win a copy of the book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Ts&Cs
Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Please Note: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Book Review: Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life.

What I Thought:
As someone who, at various stages, has thought ‘I might like to write a novel’, reading a book like Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain is very likely to make me never think that thought again, as how could anything I could ever write possibly compare to the beauty in this book? I don’t say that in a self-pitying way, but rather to completely praise Barney Norris for writing what, at times, is a breathtakingly beautiful book. It’s a measure of his talent as a writer that, considering he is better known for writing plays, his prose is spare and powerful and paints such vivid mental pictures.

Not so surprisingly, considering the drama background, the five characters that form the interlocking frame of the novel are fully imagined and each has such a unique and personal voice that it would be easy to believe that more than one writer had contributed to the book.

I think the story that spoke to me most was the first – that of Rita the flower seller. Her’s is a story of lack of opportunity, missed chances and dreams shattered and is particularly poignant given the arc of her story through the novel.

My big takeaway from this book was that, as we pass through life, we never truly know how we connect with people, how our paths cross and how our actions affect others, even in the smallest of ways. Barney Norris manages to interweave his five characters in a natural and seemingly coincidental way until the moment that their paths collide in a tragic way one summer evening.

As I’ve said, this book is worth picking up for the wonderful prose alone, but it is also something of a confessional from each character, as they look back at things they regret, and attempt to move forward with meaning – in essence, being hugely relatable as are we not all just trying to do that?? A somewhat melancholy read, perfect for a summer’s day.

Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain is published by Black Swan. To find out more about Barney Norris, you can connect with him on Twitter. As an aside, he is also appearing at Salisbury Literary Festival this year, so do check out their events pages…

Please note: I received a review copy of this book courtesy of Gullivers Bookshop. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Book Review: Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente

As the story opens, nine comedians of various acclaim are summoned to the island retreat of legendary Hollywood funnyman Dustin Walker. The group includes a former late-night TV host, a washed-up improv instructor, a ridiculously wealthy “blue collar” comic, and a past-her-prime Vegas icon. All nine arrive via boat to find that every building on the island is completely deserted. Marooned without cell phone service or wifi signals, they soon find themselves being murdered one by one. But who is doing the killing, and why?

A darkly clever take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and other classics of the genre, Ten Dead Comedians is a marvel of literary ventriloquism, with hilarious comic monologues in the voice of every suspect. It’s also an ingeniously plotted puzzler with a twist you’ll never see coming!

What I Thought:
The publisher Quirk Books is exactly that – quirky, and in a very good way. I’ve read a number of their books now and been impressed by their willingness to publish sometimes niche and often not particularly safe titles but I think it’s great that there is a home for these books, or else we all miss out.

Ten Dead Comedians owes much to the crime thriller tradition and, in fact, it’s very upfront in being a retelling of Christie’s And Then There Were None, but in Fred Van Lente’s story, the principal characters are comedians, drawn together to a private Caribbean island when legendary comedian Dustin Walker makes them an offer they can’t refuse…

Each of the comics is different in style and background, and each has something shady in their past but will they realise quickly enough that they are slowly being killed off and will they be able to find the killer in time?

This book is cleverly written, using the Christie story as a basis, and yet including plenty of original elements and some pretty canny and grisly deaths! The action on the island is interspersed with excerpts of each comedian’s famous routines which give clues as to why they have been marked for death. The only thing we know for sure is that someone on Dustin Walker’s exclusive private island (with no wifi and no phone signal by the way) wants the others dead; twists and turns and misdirection make it impossible to tell who that may be.

Both dark and funny, this book is hugely entertaining and definitely worth your time…

Ten Dead Comedians is published by Quirk Books. To find out more about this book and Fred Van Lente, check out his website, or you can connect with him on Twitter.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman & Giveaway

Hi folks, today I’m really pleased to bring you a Q&A with Jo Jakeman, author of the fantastic debut thriller, Sticks and Stones. I was really pleased to get the opportunity to read this book, as it’s one of a growing number of thrillers written by women, about women who are the heroes in their own stories. I won’t spoil it too much, but will hand over to Jo to whet your appetite, and don’t forget to check out the giveaway!

Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.

In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

Phillip is a fantastically nasty character – from what roots did you bring him to life?

I was reading a lot of classics when I started writing this book. I’d just finished re-reading Jane Eyre and I was talking to my course tutor about the abundance of narcissistic men in classic novels that women seem to swoon for. It’s no accident that Phillip’s surname is Rochester – the name of the man who Jane fell in love with who locked his ‘mad’ wife in the attic. I decided to turn that classic on its head and have the wife lock her husband in the cellar. I channelled the worst traits of tortured Heathcliffe and arrogant Darcy, who I grew up reading about. Books about zombies don’t scare me because they don’t affect me emotionally – but books about someone trying to take a mother’s child away, or leaving a woman without a voice and scared for her life – that terrifies me!
On the surface, Imogen, Naomi and Ruby are very different characters – how important was this is forming their responses to Phillip and his actions?

This was really important to me. Three different women with different strengths and weakness and yet they all found themselves falling in love with this charming man and then being mistreated by him. It shows that it can happen to anyone, not just because a woman is ‘naïve’ or ‘weak’. Victims come in all shapes and sizes. But it also gave me the ability to explore different ways of reacting to Phillip. Ruby’s initial response is to believe the best in him and give him another chance. Imogen wants him to agree to something in writing and for them to come to a compromise over their son. Naomi is possibly the most angry of them all and has the least invested in him so is quicker to wash her hands of him.
It’s a very bold decision to let the reader know that your villain is dead at the beginning of the book – what made you choose this approach?

I knew that the story I wanted to tell was about the women and their friendship not about Phillip. I didn’t want the reader to be wondering how it was going to work out for Phillip, or worry whether the women or Imogen’s son, Alistair, would get hurt. From the first chapter you know that it’s going to be alright in the end, you just don’t know how. In a sense I’m saying to the reader, it’s okay, trust me; the bad guy gets the ending he deserves and the women live to fight another day, now sit back and enjoy finding out what happened. I am quite an emotional reader. I’ve flung books across rooms when authors kill off beloved characters or write a sad ending that leaves me sobbing. I want to give the reader permission to love the characters and know I won’t break their hearts.
In your piece that came with my review copy, you ask what we would do if we were in Imogen’s position. So I ask what would you do?

Oh, that’s such a good question! I am generally quite laid back and will give people chance after chance. I want to believe that everyone is capable of change (even in the face of evidence to the contrary!) and I HATE confrontation. But if you threatened my family..? No, no, no. That’s not happening!

I am fiercely protective of my brood and go full-on tiger mode. Out of the three women I’d say I was somewhere between Imogen and Ruby on the Sticks and Stones scale. I’d have tried to reason with Phillip, and if that didn’t work I’d make sure he never saw his son again! I have a lot more faith in the police than Imogen does and I’d have been down the station making complaints and giving statements from day one until I found someone who’d listen.

Though, it’s easy for me to say that sitting here behind my keyboard, isn’t it? There are thousands of women, and men, in abusive relationships right now who don’t feel they have anywhere to turn. So, who’s to say I’d be able to react in that way if I was stripped of all my power?
You have said that Sticks and Stones came out of your attending the Curtis Brown Creative Writing Course – how much help was this course in allowing to produce a full novel? Would you recommend writing courses in general?

Yes, I would absolutely recommend a writing course. The market is competitive and overcrowded, and if you want to either get published or just improve your writing for your own enjoyment you have to take every opportunity. Why wouldn’t you want expert opinion on your work? Why wouldn’t you want to be the best you can be? I had no idea how to write a synopsis, or even simple things like how long a novel should be.

Without the structure that the course gave me, I’d still be pootling along and writing when inspiration struck – in other words, it still wouldn’t be finished! Having said that, some courses are incredibly expensive and it’s a huge outlay when there’s still slim chance of a publishing deal at the end of it. Before the Curtis Brown course I did one at the local museum and one at the library. I did a free Open University course on creative writing too. There are plenty of resources out there, but there’s no substitute for passion and hard work.

Huge thanks to Jo for answering my questions – Sticks and Stones is really worth your time, as you’ll see from my review!

This post is part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Sticks and Stones on 12th July, so why not check out some more exclusive content, reviews and giveaways below and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sticks and Stones is Published by Harvill Secker.

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