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