Goldsboro Books’ Book of the Month Club – January 2020: Long Bright River by Liz Moore @GoldsboroBooks @LizMooreBooks #BookReview #bookclub #firsteditions

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KENSINGTON AVE, PHILADELPHIA:

THE FIRST PLACE YOU GO FOR DRUGS OR SEX.
THE LAST PLACE YOU WANT TO LOOK FOR YOUR SISTER.

Mickey Fitzpatrick has been patrolling the 24th District for years. She knows most of the working women by name. She knows what desperation looks like and what people will do when they need a fix. She’s become used to finding overdose victims: their numbers are growing every year. But every time she sees someone sprawled out, slumped over, cold to the touch, she has to pray it’s not her sister, Kacey.

When the bodies of murdered sex workers start turning up on the Ave, the Chief of Police is keen to bury the news. They’re not the kind of victims that generate a whole lot of press anyway. But Mickey is obsessed, dangerously so, with finding the perpetrator – before Kacey becomes the next victim.

Goldsboro Books’ Book Club Book for January is Long Bright River by Liz Moore.

This book has so many fascinating strands to entice the reader, and the central mystery was actually the least of those that kept me welded to this book until I had finished it. I read it in a single day, staying up until the early hours to get to the end, because I just had to know how all of the facets of the plot played out. An amazing story of family relationships, personal decisions and the life of a city.

The story is written from the perspective of Kacey, a young woman from a deprived area of Philadelphia who grew up in a broken, dysfunctional family, which has had a profound effect on her and her younger sister. Against all the odds, she finds herself in the Philadelphia police force, patrolling the streets of the roughest precinct, where drug use and the criminal industries that support it are rife, and she lives in daily fear of finding her sister as one of its victims. Then a killer begins targeting the most vulnerable in her beat and her fear grows…

At the same time, she is dealing with the personal fallout from a failed relationship and its ramifications on the life of her young son. She finds herself struggling to balance all the aspects of her existence, and its threads soon start to unravel as the different strands that she has tried to keep separate begin to entwine. She finds she has some difficult decisions to make and some unpleasant truths from the past come back to haunt her.

The characters in this book are so complex and so well-developed they had me hooked from the start. Mickey’s relationship with her sister, the reality of their upbringing and the resultant close bond they develop, the circumstances that stretch that bond to breaking are so truthful, so poignant, that the reader cannot fail to be drawn in to the drama. The secrets that then unfold are quite shocking, and raise real questions about what the reader would do in the same circumstances. The author very cleverly sets the characters up to make us see them in a certain light, and then reveals more and more details throughout the book that subtly and slowly change those perceptions, so our initial assessments are utterly changed by the end of the book. It is elegantly done.

There are so many questions about modern society raised in this book which will make the reader ponder, and there are no easy answers to any of them. It is rare that a thriller will make the reader think so deeply about such difficult but very real problems, and the author approaches them with a delicacy and sense of understanding and passion. There is no judgement or condemnation here, just a light shining on corners we might prefer not to address, sitting as we are in our comfortable homes, indulging in a pleasant pastime. This book really brought a side of this city to gritty, vivid life, a side most people would prefer to ignore. I’ve been to Philadelphia and this was not something I was aware of. I am now and it shames me to a degree that we can so easily ignore the struggles that so many people face on a daily basis. I don’t have any answers, and the book doesn’t purport to offer any, but an awareness of this reality is possibly a start.

There is a mystery to be solved but, as I said at the beginning, this is almost incidental and the least relevant part of the story. To a degree, the solving of the puzzle seemed like a bit of a damp squib compared to the stories of the people. This is a book about human fallibilities, relationships, choices and human misery. I found it fascinating, gripping and profoundly moving and would encourage everyone to read it. A fantastic piece of work, and the Goldsboro special edition is something to be treasured if you fancy treating yourself.

Long Bright River is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Liz Moore is a writer of fiction and creative non-fiction.

Her first novel, The Words of Every Song (Broadway Books, 2007), centers on a fictional record company in New York City just after the turn of the millennium. It draws partly on Liz’s own experiences as a musician. It was selected for Borders’ Original Voices program and was given a starred review by Kirkus. Roddy Doyle wrote of it, “This is a remarkable novel, elegant, wise, and beautifully constructed. I loved the book.”

After the publication of her debut novel, Liz obtained her MFA in Fiction from Hunter College. In 2009, she was awarded the University of Pennsylvania’s ArtsEdge residency and moved to Philadelphia.

Her second novel, Heft, was published by W.W. Norton in January 2012 to popular and critical acclaim. Of Heft, The New Yorker wrote, “Moore’s characters are lovingly drawn…a truly original voice”; The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Few novelists of recent memory have put our bleak isolation into words as clearly as Liz Moore does in her new novel”; and editor Sara Nelson wrote in O, The Oprah Magazine, “Beautiful…Stunningly sad and heroically hopeful.” The novel was published in five countries, was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was included on several “Best of 2012” lists, including those of NPR and the Apple iBookstore.

Moore’s short fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in venues such as Tin House, The New York Times, and Narrative Magazine. She is the winner of the Medici Book Club Prize and Philadelphia’s Athenaeum Literary Award. After winning a 2014 Rome Prize in Literature, she spent 2014-15 at the American Academy in Rome, completing her third novel.

That novel, The Unseen World, was published by W.W. Norton in July of 2016. Louisa Hall called it “fiercely intelligent” in her review in The New York Times; Susan Coll called it “enthralling . . . ethereal and elegant . . . a rich and convincing period piece” in her review in the Washington Post. The Unseen World was included in “Best of 2016” lists by The New Yorker, the BBC, Publishers Weekly, Vox, Google Play, and Audible.com, among others.

Moore’s fourth novel, Long Bright River, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books in January 2020.

She lives with her family in Philadelphia and is a faculty member of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Temple University.

Connect with Liz:

Website: http://www.lizmoore.net

Facebook: Liz Moore Writer

Twitter: @LizMooreBooks

Instagram: @lizmoorebooks

Friday Night Drinks with…. Berni Maycock @BRMaycock @BAParisAuthor @KatCroft #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

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Tonight I am so happy to welcome to the blog, fellow blogger and author….Berni Maycock.

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Berni, it is an absolute delight to have you on the blog for Friday Night Drinks tonight. First things first, what are you drinking? 

Funnily enough I was going to say I’m drinking tea. Everyone around me will be shocked because I was always wondering what the big deal was about tea, and in Ireland it’s practically a crime not to be a tea drinker, but I’ve recently become a fan! Since we’re out though … I’d say a Smirnoff Ice or a Prosecco, teamed with a toasted ham and cheese sambo and a packet of crisps (I have four kids so I take proper advantage when I get out!!!)

Prosecco with a cheese & ham toastie! Not a combo I’ve tried before but I’m game. Are you a Tayto or a King girl? If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out? 

Do you know something I think I’d be taking you to a cosy pub for  some nice pub grub, and given the weather, it’d have to be somewhere with a fire and possibly a good cover band playing too!

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I’ve always wanted to meet Simon Cowell to talk music with him and see what his music spectrum is and to ask him honestly what his favourite version of Halleluliah is (apparently he owns the rights to them all), so then I think I’d have to have Louis Walsh too, because that’d be a good chat! Oooh, ooh, ooh, also Paul McCartney to ask him face to face about the rumours re: him being the real Paul McCartney (I think it’d be kind of cool if these were true!) and Agnetha from Abba to just have a chat on her decisions with the band. (I am totally aware I sound like a nutcase saying this!!) 

I’m fairly sure that’s more than two, but I’ll let you off because it looks like a good party! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

So I’m a blogger and a writer, and at the moment blogging wise I’m trying to cut down my Netgalley (an online sweet shop of books for bloggers and reviewers!) list, so basically I have  list of just over thirty books to ingest, all books I chose and can’t wait to read, but I haven’t had the chance to get to them and it’s something I said I’d do for 2020.

Writing wise I’m writing the second in the Abbeyglen series, which came to me when I read about a lottery winner helping people around her. It’s warm chick lit and the second book involves the arrival of a blast from the past to shake things up. I’m loving it as I get to write an epically sarcastic dark character! 

I have to say, I have the same goal re: NetGalley this year but my unread number makes you look like an amateur, I’m afraid! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge? 

My proudest moment was getting word back from bloggers and authors that didn’t involve diplomatic skirting around reviews. It is insane to think that people would enjoy my words!!

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all! 

Do you know something I’d love that when people talk about warm, funny reads they’d look to me in the way people think Sophie Kinsella or Marian Keyes! I’d also love to be on Netgalley because I love hanging out there so much!

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about? 

I’ve the second book of two series going at the same time and I’ve laughed out loud writing both, and am excited about both which is always good!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list? 

I’ve four kids so the dream was always to get them to Eurodisney, which we did last year. I’d love us all to see Sydney together, I went there after college and adored it!

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you. 

I tell everyone about how I’ve done a paraglide and climbed the Sydney Harbour bridge so an everday one that nobody knows is … you know when you read a chick lit character and they giggle or speak to themselves or dance around the place, and you don’t believe they’re real? I do that!! 

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’? 

I just closed my eyes and thought of a book in the same way people stick a pin in a map. From the last few years (ie since blogging) I’d say B A Paris’s The Breakdown or Kathryn Croft’s The Girl With No Past. I’m sorry I said two, but they’re always the first books to come out of my mouth, I think they really got me going on thrillers!

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

It used to be horrendous stuff, crisp sandwiches and coke the morning after, or a massive fry-up or McDonalds, but honestly I think if you ignore your gut feeling and go instead for fruit and water, you’ll be in a better state quicker!!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend? 

Either a loungy day in or a madly active and hectic (but always fun and lovely!) day at the park followed by a movie in, maybe something like Cheaper By The Dozen or Pitch Perfect. If I’m lucky that’ll inspire me back to hit the keyboard with some new comedy later that night! 

Berni, it has been a joy to spend the evening with you, thank you so much for joining me, and best of luck with the new books.

Berni Maycock is the author of It Started With A Snub, Snowday and her latest, Pushing Her Luckwhich is out now and can be found here.

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Holly Caulfield has won the Irish National Lottery and sets in motion a plan to save the village of Abbeyglen. But who would have thought that giving money away could be so difficult?

With a resident’s association that’s clamouring for more and more money, an old lady who’s decided that a dream cruise is in her grasp and a couple who may not want that dream wedding after all, Holly’s finding it hard to keep it together!

With a new love interest and an ex-husband hot on her heels, it’s up to Holly to figure out what can truly make her happy.

When B R Maycock (Berni to all you lovely people!) isn’t dreaming up vibrant leads for romantic comedies, she’s ingesting books for her blog, in particular chick lit (her first love!) books, romantic comedies and thrillers. She can also be found playing footie or watching Marvel, DC or Star Wars movies and cartoons in Co. Westmeath, Ireland with her brilliantly out there husband, Keith, and their four epic little men. 

She has one goal and that’s simply to make readers smile and/ or laugh (a splutter rates highest;)). 

Make sure you check out Berni’s wonderful blog at https://brmaycock.wordpress.com and find out more about her and her writing by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

Next week, please join me again for Friday Night Drinks with author, Nell Dixon.

 

The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue by Samantha Henthorn #Spotlight #BlogTour (@SamanthaHfinds) @annecater #RandomThingsTours #CurmudgeonAvenue

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The house on Curmudgeon Avenue should be happy now, the nincompoop residents have all met their sorry ends. But they haven’t quite left… now that a new family move in can the house find peace? Or are the ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue going to interfere with the goings-on, romance and dramas that new residents bring?

Gordon and Zandra Bennett – along with their lovelorn daughter Krystina move all the way from London to Curmudgeon Avenue. Zandra has her heart set on renovating the four-storey Victorian terrace and hires Harry to rip out the old and bring in the new. Wonder how that will go down with the grumpy, yet proud house? Not to mention Harold, Edna and Edith who are trapped in their previous home with no choice but to haunt Krystina, moan about the new layout and get up to mischief.

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue by Samantha Henthorn. Many thanks to Anne Cater for my place on the tour.

I’m shining the spotlight today on a fun and witty book which is the fourth in a series set in the same house, this time with added ghosts!

The Curmudgeon Avenue books are a series in which the house in which they are set is the narrator of the books, a unique twist on the narrative style which allows us to see all the goings on from an omniscient viewpoint. And what goings on they are! In this book, the former residents of the house have all been killed off in a series of freak accidents, but have returned to haunt the house and cause havoc for the new residents.

Reviewers have described this series, and the new book in particular, as amusing and highly entertaining, and the writer’s style as quirky, frenetic and endearing. If this sounds like something that is up your street (please excuse the pun!), then why not grab a copy of this book or, better yet start at the beginning of the series.

The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue is out now and you can buy a copy here, along with the preceding books in the Curmudgeon Avenue series.

Make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for reviews and other content:

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About the Author

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Samantha Henthorn was born in 1970-something in Bury, England. She has had short stories and poetry published in magazines. Her books include the Curmudgeon Avenue series (The Terraced House Diaries and The Harold and Edith adventures). ‘1962’, ‘Quirky Tales to Make Your Day’ and ‘Piccalilly’

She has two cats, one dog, one gorgeous grown up daughter and one husband. When not reading or writing, she is listening to heavy metal and would be thrilled to bits if someone read her books.

Connect with Samantha:

Website: https://samanthahenthornfindstherightwords.blog

Facebook: Samantha Henthorn Author

Twitter: @SamanthaHfinds

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Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews #GuestPost (@PaulaAAuthor) @matadorbooks #OrangesAndLemons

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Gregarious teenager, Jessifer Jordan, has always been loyal and open, and her love of acting has made her an expert in pretence. So, when six-year old Victorian ghost, Adeline, appears in her life and Jess’s best friend won’t believe her, deceit becomes Jess’s natural ally. Previously fun-loving and sociable, she becomes serious and isolated in her quest to discover what Adeline really wants. Always curious, she finds herself whisked back in time to 1863 and into the clutches of a volatile doctor with an obsession for morphine.

As she journeys back and forth into the past, she realises that Adeline reminds her of her dead sister and her submerged grief resurfaces. Will her great aunt Ruby’s counsel help her? Can she outwit the deranged medic? And whose is that smoky cat which keeps turning up out of the blue?

I am delighted to be featuring Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews on the blog today with a fabulous guest post from the author. My thanks to Sophie Morgan at Troubador for inviting me to do the feature.

Author interview with Paula F. Andrews

What is your book about?

Oranges and Lemons is a light ghost story, set in York, and involving time-slip episodes between the modern day and 1863. The main character is a fourteen-year-old contemporary teenage girl called Jessifer. She answers the call of a six-year-old ghost called Adeline. Her quest leads to conflict with her best friends and wonderful, beloved Aunt Ruby but underlines her deep empathy, love and loyalty. 

When did you know you wanted to write a book, and why this one? What was your inspiration?

I had an idea for a children’s picture book about ten years ago which led me to begin a course in writing for children. I then created a teenage girl character and felt I could write a story that would bring her together with a little ghostly character from local legend. I’d been interested in the little ghost since my teenage years and felt her fun, vibrant personality would be perfect for a book for young teenagers. The picture book is still at the idea stage!

How did you research the story? What was the most fascinating thing you learned?

I spent a long time looking into the development of morphine analgesia and the development of the hypodermic syringe. I did most of my research online but I also spent time in the Library and Archives in York, examining texts about the city, its streets and buildings, disease and medical care in the 1860s. I discovered that The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley was published in the year my story is set and also that the American Civil War was happening at the same time as the little ghost’s father was doing his own research into using the hypodermic syringe.

How long do you write each day?

I try to spend part of each day writing, whether it’s a blog, letters, social media posts, novel, short story or poetry writing. Now that my book has been published and I am working on the marketing and sales side of things as well, I’ve set aside three days for mainly writing and editing with the remainder of the working week allocated to  planning and doing events, signings and launches. Inevitably, I spend part of my weekend doing admin and also some writing.

Where do you like to write?

Until recently, I wrote in my lounge, which meant tidying all my papers, storyboards, etc, away, at the end of the day. So, now, I have converted our spare room into a writing-cum-guest-cum-sitting room where I can have all my things spread out! (Until someone comes to stay!)

I also love to write in cafes! And people watch at the same time!

What was the most valuable piece of advice you’ve had about being a writer that you’d like to share with others?

To write every day, even if it’s only a short letter or a social media post. Using the ‘writing muscles’ is important for maintaining skill but to achieve real growth, daily writing is vital.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? What was the best? 

The hardest: agonising over cutting out characters and chunks I really liked.

The best: seeing each of my unique characters take shape and giving them different voices.

What has been your favourite part of the publishing process?

Getting the final cover design!

Do you have plans for another book?

I have a completed fantasy novel for middle grade readers which requires editing. I also have ideas about another story involving some of the characters from Oranges and Lemons but with a different setting. And I have begun planning a second novel for middle grade readers.

Paula, thank you for answering my questions, it has been fascinating to hear about your writing process.

Oranges and Lemons is out now and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Paula F. Andrews has been a nurse, midwife and craftsperson. She grew up in North Yorkshire and now lives in Glasgow with her husband and grown-up children. Writing seriously since 2012, she has won numerous prizes including Strathkelvin Writers’ Group overall prize for 2019 and the Scottish Association of Writers prize for YA fiction in 2017. She has also been published in Aquila and Scottish Memories magazine.
Connect with Paula:

Website: http://paulaandrews.co.uk

Twitter: @PaulaAAuthor

Facebook: Paula Andrews

Instagram: @paulaandrewsauthor

Rocks and Flowers in a Box by Cynthia Hilston #Spotlight #BlogBlitz (@cynthiahilston) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #RocksAndFlowersInABox

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I’m joining in the one day blog blitz today for Rocks and Flowers in a Box by Cynthia Hilton with this spotlight post. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to take part in the blitz.

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The wedding bells for Lorna and Tristan Blake toll doom right as the honeymoon begins with an unexpected turn in Tristan’s health. While World War II winds down, Lorna receives a letter from the War Department informing her that the brother she thought killed in action is still alive. She is overjoyed, but his return will dredge up a devastating secret about their parents’ tragic death –a secret that could destroy her new marriage and threaten her husband’s physical and mental well-being. What unfolds is balancing act of keeping the faith and shattering the pieces of the life she’s worked so hard to put back together.

Sounds like a good one for fans of World War II set romances.

Rocks and Flowers in a Box is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you check out the other blogs taking part in today’s blitz for more great content.

About the Author

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Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Connect with Cynthia:

Website: https://cynthiahilston.com

Facebook: Cynthia Hilton Author

Twitter: @cynthiahilston

Instagram: @authorcynthiahilston

Legacy of Light by C. D. Tavenor #Spotlight #BlogTour (@tavenorcd) @TwoDoctorsMedia @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #LegacyOfLight

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Happy to be taking part today in the blog tour for Legacy of Light by C. D. Tavenor by shining a spotlight on the book. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour.

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If only they knew us as more than accursed.

The Holy Empire hates the People of Light. Maripes, arriving in its capital, seeks to save his people from certain destruction. The Inquisition seeks theocratic justice, and it will stop at nothing to rid the world of those it considers evil.

Still, Maripes must try. For if he fails, doom will certainly befall his people. Standing in his way? The High Inquisitor, the Empress, and a million subjects all indoctrinated to believe he is evil incarnate.

Should be an easy task.

Otherwise, his son Mono, a soldier in the legions of their people, will face the fight of his life . . .

I’m afraid I haven’t had chance to read this book due to my packed review schedule for this month, but it sounds like something interesting and different and I am definitely adding it to my wish list.

Legacy of Light is out now and you can get a copy here.

Please make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour as detailed on the poster below, for reviews and other content:

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About the Author

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C. D. Tavenor is a science fiction and fantasy author based in Columbus, Ohio and the Director of Editorial Services for Two Doctors Media Collaborative!

He’s excited to tell stories that engage readers beyond a desire for entertainment, whether through philosophical inspiration or social inquiry. And he’s a firm believer in connecting every piece of fiction to reality, whether through their themes or their settings.

When not writing, Tavenor enjoys the more than occasional board game, his favorite being Eclipse.

Connect with C. D. Tavenor:

Website: https://www.twodoctorsmedia.com/for-readers/our-books

Facebook: C. D. Tavenor

Twitter: @tavenorcd

Big Birthday Giveaway! @stacey_halls @laurajm8 @MargaretAtwood @AlexMichaelides @hannahbeckerman @ConcreteKraken #Giveaway #BookBloggers #BookBlog #Birthday

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It’s my birthday! Well, it’s my blog’s birthday actually. Yes, three years ago today I posted my first ever blog post on A Little Book Problem. Where did that time go? And look how far I’ve come. I never would have guessed when I started this blog just to keep track of a reading challenge where it would end up or how much it would give me along the way.

In order to celebrate this milestone, I am going to be giving away a little prize (although, aren’t people supposed to give me presents on my birthday?) It seems to be one of the inevitable side effects of book blogging that I end up with duplicate copies of some fabulous books, and this year has been no different so, in the prize bundle are brand new, unread copies of the following books:

The Familiars by Stacey Halls (Hardback)

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In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all . . .

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.

As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?

Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

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Maria Weston wants to be friends with me.

Maybe that had been the problem all along: Maria Weston had wanted to be friends with me, but I let her down.

She’s been hovering at the edge of my consciousness for all of my adult life, although I’ve been good at keeping her out, just a blurred shadow in the corner of my eye, almost but not quite out of sight.

Maria Weston wants to be friends.

But Maria Weston has been dead for more than twenty-five years.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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‘I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.’

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford – her assigned name, Offred, means ‘of Fred’. She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.

(The edition being offered as a prize has a different cover to the one shown here.)

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.

It’s time to find out why.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

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Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected.

As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

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One body. Six stories. Which one is true?

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017.

Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

As well as the books above, the prize bundle includes a voucher for an Italian meal for two at the Prezzo restaurant of your choice and an enamel book pin.

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All you have to do to win, is make sure you are following the blog, either by email, on WordPress or on Twitter and tell me what book you would send me as a surprise birthday gift.

Competition will be open until 31 January. UK entries only please. Winner will be chosen at random and announced here and on Twitter.  Prize will be posted out as soon as I receive the winner’s address. If the prize is not claimed within seven days, prize will be forfeited and I will chose a second recipient. No cash alternative is available.

Good luck, and thank you for supporting the blog, I do greatly appreciate it.