Monday, 18 September 2017

See what I have done

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Published by Tinder Press
May 2017


When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden - thirty two years old and still living at home - immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent and no one is ever convicted of the crime.
Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie's unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid and a boy hired by Lizzie's uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.

I'm not so sure of the youth of today, but I certainly remember the rhyme about Lizzie Borden that goes:
"Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one"
However I'm not sure that I remember realising it was based on a real person and a true-life murder mystery.  On August 4th 1892 the bodies of Lizzie Borden's father Andrew and her step-mother Abby are discovered at the family home, hacked to death by a hatchet.  Lizzie becomes the prime suspect due to her behaviour before and after the murders but she is eventually found innocent of the crime and no-one is charged with the Borden killings.  Looking back at the available evidence about the crime and from the trial itself, Sarah Schmidt takes a fictional look at this crime and opens up so interesting dialogue as to whom the killer may actually have been.

I enjoyed this take on a factual account being turned into fiction and it made for interesting reading.  Did Lizzie kill her parents though, this is the key question surely?  But of course I cannot answer that here, you are going to have to get the book and read it to find out for yourself.  All I'll say is that I wouldn't have wanted to get on the wrong side of Miss Lizzie Borden!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x



Monday, 11 September 2017

In conversation with Stephanie Butland


Today on the blog I'm in conversation with Stephanie Butland, author of Lost for Words.
Stephanie Butland
Any advice to anyone dreaming of becoming an author?
Read. Read anything and everything, within your genre and way outside it. Find something to admire in every writer. 

And write. Regularly. Make writing part of your routine and your life. Get into the habit of setting targets and finishing things. It’s relatively easy to dash off 1000 words when you’re feeling happy, well-rested and in the mood. If you want to make a career of writing you need to also be able to write 1000 words when you’re tired, have a towering to-do list and feel utterly convinced that every word you’ve ever written is terrible. So practice showing up. It will stand you in good stead. 

Where do you get your writing inspiration from?
Anywhere and everywhere! I collect things I see, hear, find in a sort of mental kitchen drawer and when a few of them stick together, that’s a novel. For example: LOST FOR WORDS is a conjunction of: 

a postcard I found in a second hand book 

a poetry book I found on a pavement by a bin in Camden in 1990 

a story someone told me about an adoption that went wrong 

watching a contestant called Ted Loveday on University Challenge and thinking ‘Loveday, what an interesting name, especially if you were a bad-tempered night-owl’. 

What are you working on next?
I’m busy with the line edits of my novel that’s out next April. It’s about Ailsa, who has waited all of her life for a heart transplant, and when she gets it finds out what being ordinary is really like. It has tango dancing, Strictly, the Edinburgh Fringe and a lot of flirting. Though there’s a dark side too, it’s been huge fun to write. 


What five people, living or dead, would you choose to invite to a dinner party?
This is a deeply unfair question! But also a fun one, so I’ll play. I’m going to go with all dead people, because it seems mad to waste the opportunity. And all brilliant writers, for the same reason. 

Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, John Updike, Agatha Christie, Samuel Pepys. And D H Lawrence can act as waiter and learn a thing or two about women. 

Thank you Stephanie for taking the time to come and chat on my blog.
Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club Blog Tour


Cocktail inspired by The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club



My Instagram feed is testimony to the fact that I’m a bit of a cocktail fiend. Here is a suggestion to sip whist you read!

Elderflower cordial

Come high summer, West Beach is in full bloom, and this year I picked some of the lacy elderflowers from around the beach huts and made my own cordial. It was simple to make and delicious topped up with fizzy water or added to prosecco. I also shake this in equal parts with my lemon vodka to make a sherbety martini.

Make sure you don’t leave your elderflowers steeping to for too long: I accidentally fermented my cordial, a mistake I only realised when the lids popped off of my first batch! 
10 – 15 elderflower heads, depending on size

2 unwaxed lemons

500g sugar

Wash the elderflowers carefully, and place them in a large saucepan with the flowers facing downwards.

Add the peel of your lemons to them, followed by the juice and the sugar.

Pour over 1 litre boiling water, and bring the pan to the boil stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Turn off the heat, cover with a lid, and leave steeping for 24 hours.

Strain through muslin into clean bottles. It’s wise to release the lids every 3 days, just to make sure it’s not fermenting. If it doesn’t fizz after a fortnight, you’re probably safe.

You can download The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club for the bargain price of just 99p onto your kindle right now! What are you waiting for?
Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x



Friday, 1 September 2017

Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Published by Century
July 2017



She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl.
She had her whole life ahead of her.

And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet.

But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year-old daughter.

Because his daughter is the image of Ellie.

Now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?

Then She Was Gone is a much darker novel by Lisa Jewell than I think she has written before.  In parts it is quite harrowing at times which is certainly a move away from the 'chick lit' title that she was once branded with - no one could call this book 'chick lit'.

Our central character is Ellie, a teenage girl with her whole life ahead of her.  One day Ellie disappears and no one knows where or why she has gone.  Her family live in hope of finding her, but as the years go by, this hope begins to fade.  When they find her bag buried in woodland they know that they must accept the truth that Ellie won't be coming back.  Ellie's mum is Laurel, a woman who built her whole life around Ellie, her perfect child.  Her relationship with her other children is strained and her marriage has ended.  One day she meets Floyd in a cafĂ© and they start talking.  They immediately decide to meet again and soon a relationship begins.  Floyd has a nine year old daughter, Poppy, a precocious little thing, but who reminds Laurel so much of Ellie.

I don't want to give too much away here but there is another story that runs alongside this one of Laurel and Floyd and as you read on, it soon becomes clear how these two paths are intertwined with each other.  There are lots of questions to be answered as you read on, and you wonder if Laurel will ever find out what happened to Ellie.  Lisa Jewell will keep you turning the pages long into the night as you attempt to join all the threads together.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Little Boy Found




Little Boy Found by L K Fox
Published by Quercus
July 2017

Image result for little boy found book by l k fox

WHEN HE FOUND HIS LITTLE BOY, NICK THOUGHT THE NIGHTMARE WAS OVER . . . IT WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING.


One rainy morning, just after Nick drops off his young son Gabriel outside the crowded school gates, he has a minor collision with another car. The driver won't surrender his insurance details, so Nick photographs the licence plate. When he gets home, he enlarges the shot on his phone and spots something odd about the picture - Gabriel in the back seat, being driven away by a stranger. Nick needs to know what happened to his boy, but losing Gabriel turns out to be far less terrible than the shock of finding him. Now, to discover the truth, he must relive the nightmare all over again...Be warned, this is not another missing child story: what happened to Nick and his son is far more shocking.

L K Fox is the pen name of author Christopher Fowler who writes the Bryant & May novels (I reviewed one here). This book focuses on Nick, who on the day of his son's birthday drops him off a school only to notice that his child has somehow ended up on the back seat of a stranger's car!  What on earth has happened to Gabriel and how can he get him back?

There are many strands to this book and it's not until the end of the book that they are all tied up together.  Nick is not Gabriel's 'real' father, this is his ex-husband Ben although it is Nick and Gabriel who have the closer relationship.  They are now estranged and it turns out that Nick's nightmare at the start of the book is in fact a memory of what happened to Gabriel twelve months earlier.  Did Nick see more on that fateful day than he first imagined.  Can he discover what really happened to his child?

We also have a second narrator, and this is Ella, a teenage girl who has a massive crush on a popstar called Ryder.  When she wins a competition to meet him, her life is changed forever.  This is also her story.

How do the stories of Nick, Ella and Ryder link though?  Keep reading Little Boy Found to find out the truth.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Caller

The Caller by Chris Carter
Published by Simon & Schuster
July 2017



Be careful before answering your next call. It could be the beginning of your worst nightmare.

After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring.  The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward.  Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins.
 
Detectives Robert Hunter
and Carlos Garcia are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear. 

Where on earth have I been hiding away?  This is the eighth of the Robert Hunter novels by Chris Carter and only the first one I've picked up.  In fact, it's the first one I've even heard of, and I love a great crime thriller so I'm somewhat bemused as to how the previous 7 books have escaped my radar, especially being a book blogger and all!  Anyway, that aside, this is the newest in the series and it's completely worth a read; I loved it!

The story starts with our first character, Tanya Kaitlin, stepping fresh out of the shower and she receives a video call from her best friend Karen which is set to blow her world apart.  On the phone is Karen but also a masked man who tells her if she can get two questions right about her best friend then she will live, but if she gets them wrong, Karen will die!  Initially she thinks this is a prank but she soon realises that this is no game.  It's up to detectives Hunter and Garcia to investigate but this isn't just one isolated incident, it soon becomes apparent that LA has a serial-killer on the loose!

I was gripped by this book, though the killings themselves are quite graphically described so it's not for the faint-hearted.  Also, you won't guess the killer which isn't a good or bad thing but if you think you know who it is, trust me, you don't! 

I'm now off to get the previous 7 books in the series, I hope that they are as good!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Lying Game

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Published by Havill Secker
June 2017




The text message arrives in the small hours of the night. It’s just three words: I need you.
Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her.

At school Isa and her three best friends used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. Now, after seventeen years of secrets, something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three women she hasn't seen for years, but has never forgotten.

Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn't a safe place for them, not after what they did. It’s time for the women to get their story straight…

I've reviewed Ruth Ware's debut novel here and when the fabulous Reese Witherspoon recommended this for her book group I decided to check it out, after all, who is to argue with Reeese?!  The book started off grippingly enough - Isa receives a text from an old school friend reading simply 'I need you'.  This is enough for her to immediately drop everything, literally she just packs up her baby and goes and travels to Salten to stay with Kate, whilst awaiting the arrival of the other girls that made up their group at school.  The girls all met when they were 16 and sent to boarding school - Kate, Isa, Fatima and Thea were all very different and nobody would have predicted the bond that they would form with each other.   They begin a game, the lying game where they  make up a lie and get points for how well it is believed by others.  What they don't realise is the effects that this game will have on those around them.  But the girls are well practised in their lies and it is apparent from the very start that all four of them are continuing to lie to their nearest and dearest to this very day - the only people they don't lie to is each other.  Isn't it?

I did enjoy this book and it is a real page-turner but I guess I did question how quickly and easily all four were able to drop everything and meet up, despite having had no real contact with each other in about 17 years.  I also found the ending a touch disappointing.  I can't really explain it but it didn't end the way in which maybe I thought it deserved.  It is hard to explain.  If you do pick up a copy, and I'd recommend you do, please let me know what you thought when you finished it.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x