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

The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh Narrated by Katherine Press #BookReview #audiobook (@TheRosieWalsh) @panmacmillan @KatherinePress @audibleuk @TheFictionCafe @nickymaunder #FictionCafeBookClub #FictionCafeReadingChallenge2020 #challenges #freereading #TheManWhoDidntCall

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Imagine you meet a man, spend six glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything. 

So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him. 

But he doesn’t call. 

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong: something must have happened; there mustbe a reason for his silence. 

What do you do when you finally discover you’re right? That there is a reason – and that reason is the one thing you didn’t share with each other? 

The truth. 

This is the first book I have chosen this year as part of the 2020 Reading Challenge for my online book club, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. (If you love books, you must check it out, it is the friendliest part of the internet for bibliophiles). The challenge is to read a new book every fortnight that fits the prescribed category for that two-week period.

The first category is ‘A book which was an admin’s top five novel of 2019.’ I have vowed to try and pick unread books from my TBR to fit the challenge categories, rather than buy new ones. So I chose this book, which was one of Nicky Maunder’s top five books of 2019, as I had it already as an audiobook.

OMG, what did I just read/listen to? I knew this book had had a lot of hype but, somehow, I had failed to really read any reviews of it, so I was kind of going in to it cold. It started off quite slowly, and I wasn’t one hundred percent sold on it for the first quarter, I’d started to wonder what all the fuss was about to be honest.

Then, BAM! I’m not quite sure exactly when, or how, or why it happened but suddenly something changed and I was totally hooked. The story had wormed its way under my skin and I was desperate to keep listening to it and find out what was going on, because it became clear that this was no ordinary ‘boy meets girl’ story. There were all kinds of mysteries and clues and levels of complexity introduced to draw me through the story. Just when I thought I had go a handle on what might be happening, there was a slight twist and it threw me off course and back into bafflement as to what was going to happen. In the middle, there was a huge shock that turned all my suppositions on their head and altered my perspective on EVERYTHING that had gone before and, it was done so subtly than I was genuinely shocked to the tips of my toes and started to question all that I had listened to before.

Then, towards the end of the book, I realised that quietly and insidiously these characters had crept into my psyche and taken up root in my heart and I cared about them as if they were real people. I was riding the rollercoaster of emotions with them. I listened to the last few chapters whilst I was mucking out my ponies on Thursday and I found myself standing in the stable yard, bawling my eyes out, unable to see what I was shovelling through the tears and actually begging the author OUT LOUD not to do something to the characters that I was really afraid was going to happen. Yes, folks, this book was so good it drove me temporarily insane. Thankfully I was alone except for a fat, grey, Welsh pony and a big, black, Welsh cob that don’t seem to mind me acting a bit crazy as long as they get their oats.

This book broke me into tiny little pieces and then put me back together again. It is a masterpiece of character development and romantic tension. I have not read a book in quite a while that affected me quite so deeply and it moved me to a place for which I don’t really have adequate words. The narrative construction is perfect, I was genuinely shocked by turns this story took, and the author balanced the two main characters so well that it was impossible to decide who you cared for most. I absolutely loved it and, if I were to choose any book that I’ve read in the past twelve months that made me feel the way I wish I could make others feel with my writing, this would be it. Marvellous. Thank you for the recommendation, Nicky Maunder, I owe you one.

The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh is available now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Rosie Walsh has lived and travelled all over the world, working as a documentary producer and writer.

The Man Who Didn’t Call (UK) / Ghosted (US) is her first book under her own name, and was published around the world in 2018, going on to become an instant bestseller in several territories. It was a New York Times top five bestseller and topped the charts in Germany for several weeks.

Rosie lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

Prior to writing under her own name she wrote four romantic comedies under the pseudonym Lucy Robinson.

Connect with Rosie:

Website: https://www.rosiewalsh.com

Facebook: Rosie Walsh Writer

Twitter: @TheRosieWalsh

Instagram: @therosiewalsh

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar #BookReview (@KileyDunbar) @HeraBooks #ChristmasAtFrozenFalls

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Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.

When they meet, Stellan’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable Husky puppies). But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

I know the time has passed for many people for reading Christmas books, but some people read them all year round (including the author of this one!) and, if you don’t, you need to add this one to your list for next year before you forget.

This might be the most perfect Christmas romance book I’ve ever read. It has every ingredient that you need in the recipe for a wonderful Christmas story. Girl miserable/jilted/disappointed at Christmas? Check. Trip to idyllic wintery setting? Check. Hot but brooding man to provide love interest for under the mistletoe? Check. Numerous, seemingly insurmountable hurdles to romance? Check. Fun but wise best friend to provide sounding board/sage advice? Check.

So what makes this one different? Makes it stand out from the crowd? Well, if I knew the answer to what makes one Christmas book rise above the others, I’d be writing best-selling festive romance books myself, instead of reviewing other people’s, wouldn’t I? No, but seriously, it has a certain magical ingredient that has just made everything come together perfectly to produce a book that will give you the warm fuzzies and imbue you with that delicious, happy Christmas glow that we are all looking for when we pick up a book like this.

Kiley’s characters are warm and likeable, but not too perfect, and she puts them in situations which are extreme but not beyond the realms of our empathy. The setting is rich in every detail of a perfect winter getaway. Log cabins, roaring fires, snow, reindeer, wintry forests, northern lights, hot chocolate – but the attention to detail is marvellous and she remembers all the little touches that are the glittery icing on the Christmas cake. The book is also rippled through with a frisson of sexual tension that will warm even the frostiest of hearts under those thermal undergarments.

Chuck in a precipice of despair for tension, and you have yourself a winning formula. Any lover of Christmas romance should be asking Santa to slip this into their Christmas stocking next December – if you can bear to wait that long.

Christmas at Frozen Falls is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Kiley Dunbar is the author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. Shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Debut Romantic Novelists 2019 for One Summer’s Night.

Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.

Connect with Kiley:

Facebook: Kiley Dunbar Author

Twitter: @KileyDunbar

 

New Beginnings at Rose Cottage by Erin Green #BookReview (@ErinGreenAuthor) @Headlinepg @RNATweets #NewBeginningsAtRoseCottage

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One glorious summer brings the chance to begin again.

When solo travellers Benni, Emma and Ruth find themselves holidaying together at charming Rose Cottage in Brixham, Devon, they are initially disappointed to be sharing with strangers of a different age group.

But ‘friendship and home comforts’ are guaranteed at Rose Cottage and soon a bond blossoms between the women, who each have valuable life lessons to share.

As the summer unfolds, Benni, Emma and Ruth begin to realise that age is just a number. Before their time at Rose Cottage ends, will they take the chance to grasp the dreams that are now within their reach?

So, I was a little slack on the blog towards the end of last year, due to NaNo and Christmas (and many other excuses which I could give you but really amount to laziness) and there were quite a few books that I didn’t review. I’m letting some slide, but there are a few that I want to catch up on, so you’ll have to forgive me for bombarding you with reviews until I am up speed again. The first of those that I want to share with you is New Beginnings at Rose Cottage by Erin Green.

I was initially drawn to this book by the setting of Brixham in Devon. (Am I the only person who gets a craving for crabmeat where I hear the name of this town mentioned?) I am a sucker for a coastal setting in a novel, but I’ve never read one set here before and it is a place I have always wanted to visit, so what could be better than travelling there vicariously by book? The author brings the setting vividly to life through her writing, I could picture the town and the harbour and the lives of the locals quite clearly in my mind’s eye as I read. Unfortunately, this book did not satiate my desire to visit Brixham, it simply exacerbated it!

When I picked this book up, I thought it was going to be a straight-forward romance and, whilst romance is a big part of the book, the driving relationships in this book are the ones between the three women who are the heart of the story. This is a book about female friendship, the transformative power it can have on our lives and how it is never too late to make changes to improve your life. I really loved the fact that the three women in this book who come together as strangers in the beginning are all from different generations and backgrounds and with different life experiences, but these differences are no barriers to their friendship, or to being able to understand and support one another through the challenges that have brought them all to this cottage at the same time. It is really refreshing to see a book in which not all of the protagonists are young, as those of us in middle age know that life does not stop being interesting in your twenties and some of the most exciting changes in life can happen later on.

Not all of the characters are equally likeable, I found Emma in particular a little abrasive and edgy, but this is the genius of the author’s writing. Her characters are real people, not fluffy caricatures that I think some people can expect to find in this genre of novel. This is one of the ridiculous preconceptions about women’s fiction, that the characters are unrealistic and the storylines improbably upbeat. It takes skilled writers such as this to produce believable stories where people clash and get on each other’s nerves, make bad decisions and don’t resolve everything into a happy ever after, to change that belief and produce stories that mirror real life while still leaving us with the ‘feel good’ afterglow that is the reason we love these books. Women are complex creatures, both in and out of books! Erin Green treads this line with skill and panache, and anyone who enjoys women’s fiction that rises above the fluffy will love this book.

This is a warm and satisfying read with a great portrayal of realistic relationships and female friendship set against a picturesque back drop. What more could any romance lover ask for? I highly recommend it, especially in these dull days of January to put a little pep in your step.

New Beginnings at Rose Cottage is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Erin was born and raised in Warwickshire. An avid reader since childhood, her imagination was instinctively drawn to creative writing as she grew older. Erin has two Hons degrees: BA English literature and another BSc Psychology – her previous careers have ranged from part-time waitress, the retail industry, fitness industry and education.

She has an obsession about time, owns several tortoises and an infectious laugh!
Erin writes contemporary novels focusing on love, life and laughter. Erin is an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and was delighted to be awarded The Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017. An ideal day for Erin involves writing, people watching and drinking copious amounts of tea.

Connect with Erin:

Website: http://www.eringreenauthor.co.uk

Facebook: Erin Green Author

Twitter: @ErinGreenAuthor

Instagram: @erin_green_author

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary Narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher & Kwaku Fortune #BookReview #audiobook (@OLearyBeth) @QuercusBooks @CarrieHFletcher @KwakuFortune @audibleuk #TheFlatshare #freereading

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Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met….

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. 

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rule book out the window….

I’m probably one of the last people to get round to reading (or listening) to this marvellous book, so I will be preaching to the choir here but, OMG, why did I wait so long to get to it? Now I understand what all the hype has been about and why the book has won awards, I absolutely blooming’ loved every second of it.

If you are one of the very few people who have not yet got to this book (and I advise you to correct that immediately), let me try and explain just what is so special about it. Firstly, of course, there is the genius premise behind the story. What would happen if a man and a woman were sharing a flat and a bed, but never meet? How much can you find out about someone just by sharing their living space? How intimate can you become with another person without actually ever seeing them face to face? On the audio version of this book which I listened to, Beth O’Leary explains how she came up with the idea behind the novel, and it was fascinating to hear what sparks a story idea and the process behind the story development, and I really thought it was a gorgeous story to hear and leant a new dimension to the book. The plot is so clever and unique, this is the first great thing about it, this is a love story that you’ve never heard before.

Secondly, the characters. Oh, how I love them. Tiffy is the kind of person you completely want as your best friend. Warm and open and caring. Scatter-brained and clever and creative and funny. She will worm her way into your heart immediately, and you will want to take care of her, hug her and make everything alright for her from the off. Then there is Leon. Also caring, but cautious and guarded and quiet and reserved. Careful not to give his heart away. Reticent, but warm and loving underneath. You know he and Tiffy are perfect for each other from the beginning, but how can they fall in love if they never meet, and will circumstances and other people get in their way. You will be desperate to know, desperate to help but THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO except hope and listen as the story unfolds. The author gives them such distinct and individual voices, it is always clear who is telling the story at any time throughout the dual perspective narrative and she perfectly conveys their personalities through their speech. There is also a supporting cast of friends and foes to round out the story, each one perfect for their role. I absolutely adored or loathed all of them as required.

The book is beautifully paced, funny, moving, engrossing and appealing all the way through. Not a scene, not a word is wasted. Things happen at exactly the right moment to propel the story on and keep the reader interested but the tension up. It is perfectly balanced and executed and, if I had read this book a month earlier, it would have made it into my Top 10 books of 2019 list. It is already a strong contender for 2020.

A final word about the audio version of this book. As this is a dual perspective narrative, from the alternating voices of Tiffy and Leon, it is read by two different narrators and it works beautifully. Both of them completely embody the characters they are portraying and they really bring the book to life. One of the things that really works for me about this novel is getting to see both sides of the events that happen in the book from the perspective of each protagonist and I think, having two different voices narrating these events in the audiobook, really brings this contrast to life and probably enhanced my enjoyment of the story. Audiobooks have become a big thing for me over the past 8 months (after being unable to read physical or ebooks for a period last year) and I am consuming more and more of them. This one is a particularly wonderful example and if you are a fan of audiobooks, this is one that is worth the investment.

The Flatshare is out now in hardback, ebook and audiobook, and will be published in paperback on 20 February. You can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being in reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.

She is now writing novels full time, and if she’s not at her desk, you’ll usually find her curled up somewhere with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

Connect with Beth:

Website: https://betholearyauthor.com

Twitter: @OLearyBeth

Instagram: @betholearyauthor

Goldsboro Books’ Book of the Month Club @GoldsboroBooks @adamhamdy @AmyLloydWrites @LizMooreBooks #bookclub #firsteditions

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So, if you have been following my New Year posts, you will know that I have vowed not to buy any new books this year in an attempt to make some kind of dent in my out-of-control TBR, which is threatening to consume my house like one of those nightmare dwellings they visit on the TV hoarder shows, except hopefully a bit cleaner.

That being said, a bit like a smoker that needs nicotine patches to take the edge off giving up cold turkey, I knew I needed something to satiate my constant craving for new books while trying to cut back, and the solution I came up with was to join Goldsboro Books’ Book of the Month Club..

My rationale was that getting one beautiful, signed limited first edition title per month would be enough to keep me happy, as well as being a good investment in a possible future collectible title. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

I signed up in December, rather than wait for January, because I really wanted the lush special edition of Black 13 by Adam Hamdy, which was the December Book of the Month. I also got a signed copy of The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd as a free gift. Both books are numbered copies of first editions and came packaged beautifully and carefully, like the precious items they are. Watch out for reviews coming soon.

I am currently waiting for delivery of the January Book of the Month, which is Long Bright River by Liz Moore. Watch out on the blog for reviews of this and the future monthly titles.

The Fiction Cafe Book Club Reading Challenge 2020 @TheRosieWalsh #TheFictionCafe #readinggoals

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I know I said I wasn’t going to do any external reading challenges this year but somehow I have been persuaded/cajoled/strong-armed/bribed into taking part in my online book club, The Fiction Cafe Book Club’s, Reading Challenge 2020, which involves reading 26 books which fall into a specific categories – one every two weeks. I think FOMO has played a big part in me succumbing to the temptation to participate, tbh. However, I will only be using outstanding NetGalley reads and books or audiobooks from my TBR for the challenges so that it doesn’t interfere with my plan to reduce these!

The details of the challenge are on the poster above, if you are interested. Watch out for the reviews of these books popping up fortnightly under the #FictionCafeReadingChallenge2020 hashtag.

(If you are interested in joining The Fiction Cafe Book Club, please follow this link and send a request. I highly recommend it, it is the friendliest corner of the internet for book lovers.)

First up is the audio version of The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh, which was one of the top five reads of 2019 for Nicky Maunder, one of The Fiction Cafe Book Club admins.