Monday, 18 September 2017

#HelenJones #AThousandRooms #QandA


You don't wake up expecting to die... 

Katie is thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She's also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to... wherever she's supposed to be. 

And whoever she's supposed to be with. 

Heaven, it seems, has a thousand rooms. What will it take to find hers?

You can read my review of A Thousand Rooms here.

I am thrilled to welcome Helen Jones to my blog today and delighted that she has agreed to answer some questions all about her novel A Thousand Rooms! 

Welcome Helen!

Could you start by telling me about the inspiration behind A Thousand Rooms?

A Thousand Rooms was inspired by a real event. I lived in Sydney for a couple of years and used to walk to work along Military Road, a main thoroughfare on the North Shore. One morning I came around a curve in the road to see a woman had been hit by a bus. She was lying on the sidewalk covered by a blanket – the bus was still there, as was the driver and a few passengers. There were a couple of police officers as well, but no ambulance, and the area wasn’t cordoned off at all. As I walked past I could see the woman’s arm sticking out from under the blanket and she was wearing a silver charm bracelet. I remember thinking she had woken up and chosen that bracelet to wear, not knowing she would be dead within a few hours. The idea stayed with me, and was the genesis for A Thousand Rooms.

If you could sum the book up in 3 words, what would they be?

Laugh, cry, love

You have chosen quite a tricky subject to write about. Did you find writing the novel an emotional process and were there any passages that you found particularly challenging to write? 

Writing this book was a very emotional experience, as I had to consider what it would be like to be dead, to leave your family behind, and also how they would respond to your death, especially if it was unexpected. I found the moments in the church at Katie’s funeral, where she’s sitting between her parents, particularly challenging to write, as well as the chapter where she goes to their house to say goodbye and realises they’re not coping. I suppose it made me consider loss I’d experienced in my own life, as I had to draw on that pain to convey the emotion.

On a different level, the book also drew on a lot of my experience in Australia, where I lived for many years. It was bittersweet to revisit a place I loved.

How much of you is reflected in your main character? Do you share any of the same character traits? 

Hmm. Katie is like me in some respects, though on a superficial level. For example, she lives in my old Sydney apartment, and her office is actually a place I used to work in when I lived in Melbourne. I do swear a bit sometimes, too! But as a person she’s quite different, for the most part.

What did you find most rewarding about the whole process of writing and publishing your novel? 

I actually wrote A Thousand Rooms the one and only time I did NaNoWriMo, so it was rewarding to complete the 50,000 words within a month (although also completely draining). After that I couldn’t look at it for about a year, so going back and completing the story, fine-tuning the nuance and working on the language, was very satisfying. And being published is a wonderful feeling! I love the idea that someone else will get to read about a story and characters I care so deeply for.

What one message would you like readers to take away from A Thousand Rooms?

Just to live life and celebrate the positives. And that you never know what’s around the corner.

What are you working on now?

I have several projects on the go at the moment. I’m at the editing stage of the fourth volume of my YA series, the Ambeth Chronicles, and I’ve also almost completed a novel about, of all things, vampires, something I never thought I’d write about. And I have a new story which is exciting me, about three women in three different stages of their lives. I’ve only just started writing it but the characters are really speaking to me. Watch this space…

I am definitely watching!! Can't wait to hear more! Thanks so much for popping along and taking the time to chat today!

A Thousand Rooms is published independently and available both as a ebook and a paperback. 

Helen  Jones

Helen Jones was born in the UK, then spent many years living in Canada and Australia before returning to England several years ago. She worked as a freelance writer for years, runs her own blog and has contributed guest posts to others, including the Bloomsbury Writers & Artists site. When she's not exploring fantasy worlds she likes to walk, paint and study martial arts. She lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and daughter.

A Thousand Rooms is her fourth novel; she has also written three well-received volumes of her YA fantasy series, The Ambeth Chronicles. She is self-published.


Twitter: @AuthorHelenJ

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog or website

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Bibliomaniac's Book Shelf: My Week in Books Sept 17th 2017

17th Sept 2017 

And before you know it another week has flown by!! How's your reading going? Anything good to recommend? Hope you've had a booktastic week and found something to fall in love with! 
Here's all my book news for this week!


Robert Webb

I have been listening to How Not To Be A Boy as an audio book this week and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. It's made me smile and laugh out loud - much to the discernment of anyone I've been passing as I walk about town listening to Robert Webb's anecdotes, memories and candid observations about childhood, parenting and being a boy. It's great to hear Webb narrating his own work and it goes without saying that his delivery is perfect, making listening even more enjoyable and entertaining. 

As well as the humour, there are a lot of serious issues raised and a lot of quite heartbreaking recollections about his father, mother and home life. I've also found it thought provoking and it's been a conversation starter both at home and with my friends about gender and the assumptions and expectations we unintentionally, and without fully appreciating, apply when raising boys. Webb's writing is sharp, witty, insightful and intelligent. It's full of shrewd, honest and important observations about the 'rules for boys' as well as being very funny and full of fantastic comedy. 

How Not To Be A Boy is also full of cultural references which I enjoyed having also grown up with the same television shows, music and trends in my own childhood. Although some of the scenes and experiences are obviously personal and unique to Webb, much of what he chats about will resonate with all readers and there is plenty that will strike a cord or bring back memories from school. It's an interesting memoir because Webb is looking back over his life and telling us about his crushes, school days, relationship with his mother, father and brothers but he is also reflecting on what it means to be a boy now he is a man and a father. And as Webb says, it's not a book that is full of citations from formal research documents and evidence, but he does cite some scientific and sociological research which gives the book more depth, leaving the reader pondering and considering the issues he raises. 

I haven't quite finished listening yet as the audio book is about 8 hours long (probably at least twice the time it takes me to read a book!) so I can't claim that this is a full review, but I am hugely enjoying it and always looking for the chance to go for a walk so I can listen to more! It is also one of the first audio books I have ever listened to and I am enjoying this part of the experience as well. However, I'm still going to buy the book because it's full of such great storytelling and humour, I'd love to highlight and reread some of the passages. I will also be giving it to many friends at Christmas because it would make the perfect gift! 

How Not To Be A Boy was published by Canongate Books in August 2017. 

Phoebe Morgan 

I've already raved about this book quite a lot and my spot on the blog tour is coming up when I will have an exciting guest post to share with you from Phoebe Morgan herself, but as the book was published this week, here is my review! 

This is a very tightly plotted, flawlessly delivered, gripping psychological thriller.

Part of the novel's strength is that we are very quickly drawn into the plot through our connection with the main character, Corinne. Morgan wastes no time forming a bond between the reader and Corinne which means we are quick to invest in the story.  Her character is really well crafted. Perhaps due to the sensitive and emotive situation regarding her fertility attempts, her desperate need to become a parent and her constant battle to present a more balanced image to the world when inside she feels so vulnerable, means that the relationship with the reader feels very intimate. And authentic. Once we have shared the pain, trauma and distress of her failed IVF attempts, it is inevitable that by the time Corinne is beginning to feel threatened and watched, we are completely caught up in her situation and emotionally entangled in her predicament. We are hooked. 

 Morgan shows Corinne's raw vulnerability and really conveys the fragility in her relationship with her partner. Although everything seems perfect from the outside, we see how this is not actually the case at all and how easily things could collapse around them. This nervous energy continues throughout the novel and although I never doubted Corinne, it was easy to understand why many do and her need to know that she is not going mad or inventing things compounds the action of the story. 

I also thought Corinne's sister, Ashley, was incredibly well created. Her storyline was as compelling and exciting, with as many twists, turns and revelations and I actually found it very captivating. I might have liked Ashley a little more than Corinne as she could be a little stronger and more independent although Corinne confronts this side of her personality as the story races towards its end. I liked that the Ashley's story complimented and contrasted with Corinne's story and how the two threads began to converge towards the finale. The sisters' perception of each others lives are so wrong and again the author explores the significance of not saying or not asking the right thing and not seeing what is going on in front of your very eyes. Through the sisters, Morgan can explore different responses to trust, intuition and how observant people are or what they choose to see.

This is a complex story which just kept developing as more and more suggestions, wrong conclusions and revelations kept adding layer upon layer of intrigue. It became more and more suspenseful as the novel continued building towards an incredibly dramatic denouement that challenged everything the reader thinks they knew. The short chapters exaggerate this sense of urgency and tension and keep the pages turning. 

There are lots of themes explored in this novel. There are the obvious themes like motherhood, parenting, mothers and daughters, marriage and childhood but also there is an exploration of duplicity, lies, secret and history repeating itself. I liked the incorporation of universal themes like grief and lies, but I also liked the more specific observations about marriage and parenting and the contrast between the experience not only of the two sisters but also their parents. 

Morgan has a sound understanding of the psychological thriller genre and this is an impressive debut which displays an expert handling of tension and suspense. Morgan takes an eerie premise and develops it into a sophisticated domestic noir that explores a range of universal issues. It is very well structured with well managed multiple narratives; the interaction between the characters and subsequent repercussions is executed with dramatic precision. It's a phenomenally good read. It is confident, assured, emotionally charged and chilling. I can not wait to see what Morgan writes next! 

The Doll House was published on 14th September 2017 with HQ Digital. 

Allison Pearson 

Yay! Kate Reddy is back! Having enjoyed I Don't Know How She Does It so much I was eager to read How Hard Can It Be and within seconds of starting the opening page I knew I was in for a real treat. 

With Bridget Jones, the recent success of so many Anti-Yummy Mummy books and online blogs and the return of series like Cold Feet, we're seeing lots of writers using sharp observational humour to reassure those of us trying to navigate the pressures of modern parenting. They help us to laugh (or cringe) at all the things which make parenting such a rollercoaster and offer some solidarity. I like reading all of these but for me, How Hard Can It Be felt like it really struck a cord and I couldn't put it down. Pearson's writing is both humorous and intelligent, successfully exploring current issues affecting families and women and effectively capturing Kate Reddy at a significant time in her life. 

Whether we are at the same stage as Pearson's protagonist Kate or not doesn't matter too much. Although there were some passages that spoke to me quite directly or perhaps were a little close to the bone, this novel is full of so many concerns, issues, fears, anxieties that plague all women  - as well as plenty of 'totes humil' moments -  making it actually very universal in its appeal and relevance. It's not just about motherhood but ageing, careers, relationships, confronting where you are in life and what you want next. It's about juggling children, husbands, parents, work, the house and your self esteem. And almost every single line had me giggling, smiling, laughing or nodding in agreement. There is also some meaty content and complex decisions lurking between the lines for the characters, but this book is written with flair, personality and colour. It's just a great read. 

So back to Kate! Counting down the days until she is 50 she's trying to figure out what has happened to make her so invisible. Why is it that when you lock eyes with a guy on the tube it's so he can offer you his seat, not his number? Why is it that your daughter is constantly helping herself to "the expensive [bath products] I specifically told her not to use." Not only invisible to the world, Kate finds herself dealing with a whole array of new problems as her children hit their teenage years. Her evenings are spent buying things for her children at a "catastrophic expense" so that they are not socially excluded and "you prevent that internal bleed of self confidence that only girls can do to girls." And how to do you learn to handle your daughters misadventures on the internet in a world where technology is evolving so quickly that "immunologists would have a field day researching the viral spread of compromising photographs on social media"? 

There was so much I loved about this book. Kate's interview for a new job was hugely entertaining; without the humour and Kate's candid remarks it would have made the scene very frustrating or infuriating reading but Pearson strikes a great balance. She's not ridiculing Kate, not belittling her or looking for pity. Kate does not need that. Nor is she angry or out to make a point. She's honest, straight talking and frank. As the title suggests, this is about how you can have it all, make it work, try to keep the jigsaw glued in one piece without losing yourself along the way. 

Everyone can relate to Kate and she's a very likeable character. As she tries to balance all the different roles and demands she faces, the book is about Kate's emotional journey but it is also about her daughter's experiences and the challenges of parenting in a modern world. There's plenty of food for thought. Though to be honest, when you are reading this well paced story that is broken up with emails and plenty of dialogue, you are as much caught up in the action, events and happenings to each of the characters as reflection on the themes Pearson is exploring. 

This is a novel about finding your way but it is a novel worth getting lost in for a while. I highlighted so many phrases, passages and throw away comments that I liked, laughed at and wanted to share. I think I'll just end by saying How Hard Can It Be is a great read, will match all your expectations as a sequel to I Don't Know How She Does It and shows just how talented Pearson is in creating loveable characters, an engaging plot and fluent prose. 

How Hard Can It Be is published by Harper Collins on 17th Sept 2017. 

 Crime Time On-Line Magazine
Dodgers        Ashes Of Berlin, The (Gregor Reinhardt 3)          Deadly Alibi (DI Geraldine Steel #9)       The Unquiet Dead (Detective Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty Mysteries)
Over the summer I was lucky enough to interview Bill Beverly (Dodgers), Luke McCallin (Ashes of Berlin), Leigh Russell (Deadly Alibi) and Ausma Zehanat Khan (The Unquiet Dead) about their favourite pieces of music and favourite books for Crime Time, an online magazine bringing you all the news about the latest Crime releases. I was absolutely delighted to get the chance to interview these great authors and found it really interesting to hear about the songs they chose. Thanks so much Crime Time for this awesome opportunity!

You can read my interviews by clicking on the links below! 



Last night I went to see Maggie O'Farrell talking about her latest book, her memoir "I Am. I Am. I Am." at Chorleywood Bookshop

It was brilliant to hear her talking about this book and I can't wait to get started on reading it - especially as it is a signed copy! 

 Maggie O'Farrell was interviewed by Hannah Beckerman ( @hannahbeckerman) who was also very impressive with excellent questions. The author chatted about her reasons for writing this book, the effect it has had on both herself and her family and some further details about some of the incidents described in the book. We were also treated to an extract read by Maggie. It was a really interesting interview, O'Farrell was candid, honest, fascinating and extremely engaging to listen to. 

Chorleywood run a huge number of author events with some very impressive names so if you are able to get to the Rickmansworth I would highly recommend you check out their programme of events here.


There is still enough time to book to come to my event on Wednesday. Please see details below and click on the link to buy tickets - there are a few spaces left! 

That's all for this week! Hope you all have a great week and keep on finding time to grab a chance to read a few more pages or an extra chapter of your next read!

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog or website

Monday, 11 September 2017

#Extract #CoverReveal #ThePerfectGirlfriend #KarenHamilton

Look out look out, 
this is going to be one of the must read thrillers of 2018!!

Not out until March 2018, here's a sneak peak of the brand new cover for


Karen Hamilton's THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND is a frightening depiction of unbridled obsession, where love and pure hatred grapple on a knife edge. The perfect new psychological thriller for fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.

Juliette loves Nate.

She will follow him anywhere. She's even become a flight

attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.

Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.

And she'll make sure no one stops her from

getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it's worth all the pain...


I was thrilled to receive a super advance copy of this from the publishers - here's a little extract from my review which will be coming in full nearer publication time! 

This is a deliciously dark, slow burner of a novel which gradually unveils the lengths the narrator  is prepared to go to in order to win back boyfriend Nate who broke up with her six months ago.  She has a plan. She has time. She has considered all eventualities. She will win him back and have the perfect boyfriend and the perfect life which is all that she, the perfect girlfriend, deserves. 

This novel is a bold piece of fiction relying on a protagonist who is unlikeable, relentless in her pursuit of her goal, fuelled by revenge and bitterness and yet with a voice that grabs you, holds you and doesn’t set you down again until you have survived the journey to the last page. Juliette is a captivating character whose observations, comments, unfailing self belief and sharp one liners make her a narrator that the reader develops a strong relationship with despite her screwed up motives and terrible behaviour. 

I was hooked from the first moment the story took flight and despite a nauseating travel sickness that hung over every page as the true direction of the passengers was revealed, it was an exhilarating ride! Despite the fear, danger and moments of horror, I wouldn’t hesitate to jump on the next flight as long as Hamilton was in the pilot’s seat.

Grab this book, fasten your seat belt and prepare for take off. You don’t need to know your destination or route. Trust Hamilton and trust me, this is a book that you are going to want to read and a ride that will take you days to recover from.

And if you can not wait until March to read this excellent, chilling and compelling thriller, then here's an extract to tempt you even more! Click on the link below!


For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog or website