Thursday, 29 June 2017

#GuestPost #JuliaRoberts #AliceinTheatreland #BlogTour


It’s summer 1976; London is languishing in the sultry heat. Beautiful and talented nineteen-year-old, Alice Abbott, arrives in the city with high hopes of one day seeing her name up in lights but first she must impress Richard, the producer of a new West End show, Theatreland.

Alice is befriended at the audition by the more experienced Gina, who, although burdened by her own dark secrets, is determined to protect the newcomer from the sleaze behind the glamour. She also attracts attention from the male lead in the show, Peter, a former pop star struggling to escape his playboy reputation.

Alice’s star seems to be rising as fast as the temperature until she naively accepts an impromptu dinner invitation from Richard. What happened that night? And how far will Richard go to protect his guilty secret?

Alice in Theatreland is published on 27th June 2017. 

Today I am thrilled to welcome Julia Roberts to my blog with a guest post! Thanks ever so much for popping along Julia and for letting me part of your blog tour for your latest book! 

Thanks very much Katherine for inviting me on to your blog!

Alice in Theatreland is my fourth full-length novel and the first one that has a suspense/thriller edge to it. I really enjoyed developing new characters after my Liberty Sands trilogy. The book centres around the title character, nineteen-year-old provincial  dancer, Alice, and her introduction to the sometimes cut-throat world of West End theatre shows, but there are three other key players who I thought I would introduce you to.

Richard is the theatre impresario for whom Alice is auditioning. He is a really unpleasant human-being as we discover immediately when we first meet him in chapter two – however, that is merely the tip of the iceberg. The plot really centres around his behaviour towards Alice and how far he will ultimately go to protect his sordid secret. His only saving grace is his adoration of his spoilt daughter, Miriam.

Peter is the star of the Theatreland show. He is a former pop-star who Alice had a crush on when she was a younger teenager and she is besotted with him when he starts to show an interest in her. However, Peter is struggling to escape his playboy reputation and after being photographed leaving a London nightspot with another girl, Alice feels she can no longer trust him.

The fourth key player is Gina. I know we shouldn’t have favourites among our children or our pets but I must confess I grew fonder and fonder of her character as the story developed. Coming from a very rough upbringing with an absent father and a drug-addict mother, Gina has made some poor life choices, including going to work as a hostess at a London night-club when her dancing jobs were few and far between. She is afraid of her boss there, Franco, who openly threatens the girls at the Ostrich Club if they don’t toe the line.

Gina befriends Alice at the audition for Theatreland, sticking up for her when the other girls are being bitchy about her and taking her in when she has nowhere to live, but her actions later in the book place Alice in serious danger. 

All the way through the book, Gina’s fate was sealed but when it came to writing it I found myself struggling with what I had planned. 

Did I manage to write my original ending?... I couldn’t possibly say without spoiling the story.

Well now we are all seriously intrigued! Thanks Julia for giving us a taste of the characters we will meet in your novel! Good luck with its publication!

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the Blog Tour! 



Julia Roberts’ passion for writing began when, at the age of ten, after winning second prize in a short story-writing competition, she announced that she wanted to write a book. After a small gap of forty-seven years, and a career in the entertainment industry, Julia finally fulfilled her dream in 2013 when her first book, a memoir entitled One Hundred Lengths of the Pool, was published by Preface Publishing. Two weeks later she had the idea for her first novel, Life’s a Beach and Then…, book one in the Liberty Sands Trilogy, which was released in May 2015.

Julia still works full-time as a Presenter for the TV channel QVC, where she has recently celebrated her twenty-third anniversary. 

She now lives in Ascot with her partner of thirty-nine years and occasionally one or other of her adult children and their respective cats.

You can find out more about Julia and her upcoming books on her Facebook page and her website
You can also follow her on Twitter @JuliaRobertsTV

Other Books By Julia Roberts
Life’s a Beach and Then… (Liberty Sands trilogy, book one)
If He Really Loved Me… (Liberty Sands trilogy, book two)
It’s Never Too Late to Say… (Liberty Sands trilogy, book three)
Time for a Short Story
The Shadow of Her Smile (free short story on
One Hundred Lengths of the Pool 


short link

#LastSeen #LucyClarke #Review

Last Seen

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.
Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.
Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.
Hhhmm, maybe not the best book to read before I set off on holiday to the seaside with my young family  - but then hey, isn't that why secretly we love this type of story?! I have admired the cover of this book ever since it first made its appearance on social media - it's very eye-catching and full of impact.

This book also comes with some impressive endorsements from other writers such as Clare MacKintosh and Claire Douglas; I mean, they know their stuff, and so it's no surprise when I tell you - they are not wrong!

The novel alternates between the two voices of Sarah and Isla which is always a great way of creating tension and structuring a good story. The sub heading of 'day one' followed by a time for Sarah's sections also adds to the tension as we count up the hours that Jacob, her son, has been missing and the fear that something more untoward has happened mounts. It's like the reverse of a ticking bomb but works just as well. I took to Sarah straight away. Her honesty, her concerns and her sense of helplessness over her parenting skills and relationship with her now teenage son was very relatable and immediately makes the reader feel sympathetic towards her.

"On the odd occasion that Jacob does confide in me, I feel like a desert walker who has come across a freshwater lake, thirsting for closeness."

There is a lot about motherhood in this novel but this is also a novel about friendship and what happens to that friendship when life changing events come between you. In chapter one we see the tension within Sarah's family and then it ends by revealing a further tension between herself and an old friend, so the stage is set on both fronts.The next chapter shifts to Isla, Sarah's best friend, and goes back to 1991, generating  more suspense and creating a sense of something more threatening.

"It was a girl's wish, that's all. Beach huts next door, long summers spent on a sandbank. But neither of us could know that our lightly cast dream would come true - or what it would cost us both."

Isla's chapters begin and end with italics which often capture a thought, comment or observation which sounds like a whispered threat or throws in another hint or clue to the reader that we shouldn't rush to trust either of these characters. Isla's chapters sow more seeds of intrigue and reveal more twists about the past and about the relationship between the girls.

What I liked about this storyline is that although it starts with one harrowing event and there is one deep traumatic event from the women's past, it also starts with one little secret. I always enjoy a book that shows just how much things can spiral out of control or culminate from one little thing.

"We flit around the subject, never quite brushing the edges of it, like moths scared of getting too close to a flame." 

It starts with something that happens between the girls one summer when they are still young; it starts with a boy, it starts with something that they both pretend isn't something. What Clarke does then is explore how this something that seemingly isn't a issue, is actually an issue. The novel then becomes about secrets, resentment, jealousy and love.

This is a compelling read. Jacob is missing and as the hours tick by the sense of danger and fear about what might have happened to him gradually rise towards a nail biting conclusion. At the same time, the truth behind the girl's friendship - or the hidden emotions that are bubbling away - also copy this increasing rise in tension as things come to a head. The twists and turns about Sarah and Isla are as compelling as the search for Jacob and Clarke captures the dynamics between the girls really effectively. Just when we think we have something worked out, Clarke drops another detail, another revelation, another complication. The last section of the book is real edge of your seat stuff as the plot rattles along towards its dramatic finale.

I recommend this book and it would be a great summer holiday read.

Last Seen is published by Harper Collins on 29th June 2017.

For more recommendations, reviews and bookish chat, you can follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my website

#TheBindingSong #ElodieHarper #Review

The Binding Song

Way back in January, SJI Holliday highly recommended this book and I have been eagerly anticipating it ever since. I have been desperate to read it and then, when it eventually did fall into my lap, I was almost too scared to turn the page and start reading it.......although not as scared as I was once I actually had turned the page and started reading it!

Oh my goodness, what a book. I loved it. This is totally my favourite kind of novel and totally worth the wait. SJI Holliday was not wrong. It is going to be one of my highlights of 2017.

So why did I like it so much? It's set in Norfolk for a start. That's not only my favourite place in the world but also a perfect location for a novel that has a bleak, gothic atmosphere about it. And it's about a new female psychologist working in a prison. A prison in a very remote area full of incredibly unpleasant inmates and staff that are equally hostile. Oh, and there has been a string of suicides amongst the inmates recently as well......


Dr Janet Palmer wants to find out what secrets are hiding in the prison walls and what darkness is haunting the corridors to make the men take their own lives. But the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she becomes about what she is dealing with, what she is awakening and whether there is something much more sinister and evil at play.

Harper has created a compelling premise, location and cast of characters. Even from the blurb, it is clear this is a novel bursting with tension, suspense, threat and something very very dark.

By the end of the second paragraph of the first page, I was already fully transported to the woods in which the opening scene is set. I had completely fallen alongside the stride of the character as he stumbled through the trees in the wet weather and I could feel the tension prickling at my skin before I had even got to the bottom of the page. Immediately I was reminded of the opening of Great Expectations and filled with the same sense of trepidation that I felt watching the black and white film. I was already in love with Harper's writing.

I make notes when I'm reading - not just to help with my reviews but just because I love language, words and good writing. At the end of the prologue, I have simply annotated it with OMG.

Some of my favourite novels are The Woman in Black, Little Stranger and anything eerie, suggestive, and unnerving that will haunt me and make me too scared to get up in the night without flicking every single light in the house on. The Binding Song is like a perfect amalgamation of all of this. It's got echoes of some of the books I love and employs some great techniques with impressive effect. It's a blend of atmospheric description, allusions to the supernatural, ghostly hauntings and characters who are either master manipulators or preying on the vulnerable, using a mixture of confusion, mind games, reality and delusion to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I already know I will reread it and pause a little longer over some of the sentences that literally punch the breath out of you.

As well as incredibly gripping prose, this novel is also thought provoking. It raises lots of questions about mental health, psychosis and drugs. It also explores issues such as the possibility or belief in rehabilitation, the relationship between religion and evil, grief, reality, perception and delusion. The characters are very well crafted and the main protagonists, Janet is a really intriguing character. She appears strong, she appears driven in her professional life yet actually, she is fragile and deeply traumatised. Her reliability, objectivity and point of view is often flawed or ambiguous so the reader develops an interesting relationship with her as more and more about her character is revealed as the novel progresses.

The men in the prison are deeply unpleasant. They are manipulative, unnerving yet balanced and calm all at the same time. It's an ambitious novel but for me, one that captured my imagination, attention and still haunts me now.

I enjoyed the way the author used mirrors and reflections in a metaphorical way as well as a very straightforward way to create tension and add another layer to the plot. There is a satisfying play on the concept of twins, seeing true self and the question of perception and reality.

I don't know anything about working in prisons or with prisoners but I thought that placing Janet in this setting worked well because she puts herself in a situation that is only going to compound and complicate her fears, anxieties and search for closure and resolution. It also makes the novel quite intense and claustrophobic - despite the bleak, isolated countryside that surrounds the building.

I found this an exciting, dramatic, scary and compelling read. I loved the ending.

Thanks so much to Susi Holliday for recommending it and also to Janet Emson. And, Ms Holliday, not only will I now be looking out for any more of your recommendations, I will also be following your advice ....... I will not be looking in any mirrors any time soon.

The Binding Song is published by Mulholland Books on 29th June 2017.

I think this book would make a good book group read so here's a few questions to help get you started if you decide to pick it one month!

Bibliomaniac's Book Club: Questions on The Binding Song

How important is the setting in this novel?

"It's just remembering some men want to reform and need support but others are extremely dangerous and would like nothing more than the opportunity to mess with your head." (Janet) How did you respond or relate to the male prisoners in the book?

"It's not good for you," says Janet's boyfriend about her job in the prison service. Do you agree with him? Is Janet too damaged herself to be helping the prisoners or is she still effective in a professional capacity? 

What is Janet's attitude towards the prisoners she works with? How did you feel about her thoughts and comments about the prisoners? 

The author uses flashbacks written in italics throughout the novel. Did you think this was effective? How did these sections enhance your understanding of the characters?

How did you respond to Steven? Why do you think the author decided to make his a chaplin? 

"Revenge leaves a sense of emptiness." What does the book say about revenge and retribution? 

"What is it that you want Janet Palmer?" Michael asks Janet. What does she want? Does this change at any point in the novel? Does she get what she wants? 

Did you feel this was an authentic, realistic, believable representation of prisoners, prison workers and the prison service? 

What did you think about the ending? 

For more recommendations, reviews and bookish chat, you can follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my website