#MondayMusing with Guest Author: Amanda Saint

A product of contemplation; a thought: "an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas).

I am delighted today to welcome Amanda Saint to the blog. Thank you Amanda for taking the time to answer my questions. Amanda is the author of As If I Were A River which is out now and published by Urbane Publications. It has such a striking cover, I can't wait to read it. It has also had fantastic reviews...

When we discover the truth about others, we find ourselves... Kate has a safe, happy, ordinary existence. Or so she thinks. When her husband Jimmy goes missing she is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life, and must confront the past to find a future. Kate hasn't seen her mother, Laura, for 25 years, and she cannot seek solace from her estranged father. Can Una, her paternal grandmother, provide answers about those who have seemingly abandoned her, and help her come to terms with the loss of those she loves? 'As If I Were a River' is the emotional story of three generations of women and the impact of their actions upon each other...and themselves. It is a story of buried secrets, and of finding the courage to question the life you lead. Are we forever shaped by our past, or can we find redemption in making our own future?

Interview with Amanda Saint

Thanks very much for inviting me on to your new blog series, Leah.

11)      Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Since I was in my late 20s I’ve been working with words in one way or another. The jobs I’ve had over the years, when I wasn’t travelling or doing short-term temping work, include magazine editor, communications consultant, web editor and for the past 6 years I have been a freelance journalist. But I always knew that really I wanted to be a fiction writer and after several years of trying to write short stories and novel openings that were not very good, I decided to start taking my fiction writing seriously. In February 2010, I moved to London, where I stayed for a few years, and the idea for what became my first novel came to me on the tube one day so I invested in a creative writing course and started writing it.

2)      Could you tell us a bit about your debut novel, As If I Were A River?

It tells the story of three generations of women in one family and how the decisions they make reverberate through the years and affect the others. The main narrative is the youngest of the women, Kate, and it starts on the night her husband goes missing. When he doesn’t come back, and she doesn’t know what’s happened to him, she starts to unravel and in trying to deal with his disappearance has to also face up to the past. This is where the stories of her mother, Laura, and grandmother, Una, come in. I’ve been overwhelmed by the wonderful response to it from readers and bloggers; and was quite beside myself when it was selected as a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker Prize.

3)      Which writers do you admire?

There are so many! I really enjoy Margaret Atwood’s work and especially that she writes in different genres a lot of the time. I’m very drawn to writing completely different stories. Other writers I always get excited about when I hear they have new novels out include Maggie O’Farrell, Damon Galgut, Alison Moore, David Mitchell, Maggie Gee – there seem to be a lot of Maggie’s on my list! But I also love Thomas Hardy’s work and think his insights into human nature are brilliant and still very relevant today. I really like a lot of Stephen King’s novels from the 70s and 80s.

4)      If you had to give one book only as a present, which would it be?

This is such a hard question! I think if I was giving it to someone who also wanted to be a novelist I’d give Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible as it is a brilliant example of characterisation, voice and narrative tension. Actually, I’d give it to readers as well as it’s a fantastic family drama story set against the real life history of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

5)      I believe you are working on your second novel, is there anything you can tell us about that?

I’m just finishing the first draft of it now. It’s very different to my first novel tells the story of Evie who lives in a future that looks more like the past. Medieval superstitions are resurfacing and she’s facing execution for witchcraft.

6)      How important is the cover of a book in your opinion?

Very. It’s what initially makes me pick up a book in a shop. When I had to choose the cover for As If I Were A River I noticed that it felt really important to me that it gave an idea of the story but to not seem too obvious. I think this is what I look for as well in covers when I’m searching for a new read. It has to make me think, ‘What’s that about?’

7)      What made you become a writer?

I’ve written stories since I was a child and just always had this desire to do it. There was a time from my late teens to mid-20s when I didn’t physically write anything down and I just had constant streams of lines, paragraphs and characters running through my head. So it seemed like it would be best if I started writing again! So I got a job working on a magazine and started writing bits of fiction in my spare time.

8)      What are your writing habits and space like?

I’m always moving as I’m a nomad at heart and my husband and I both love to travel. So I don’t have a dedicated writing space, and haven’t had since we moved out of our rented house in Exmoor and got rid of all our possessions three years ago. So I just have to write anywhere – and this can range from on the bed of a hotel room, to someone’s kitchen table where I’m house sitting, to a café.

9)      What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your writing?

I spent a lot of time when writing As If I Were A River researching spiritualism, which in itself isn’t strange, but I did come across a lot of forums and websites where people were telling some very odd tales.

10)   Could you tell us something about you that people wouldn’t necessary know about you?

For a short while when I was in my mid-20s I worked in the kitchen of a pie shop and restaurant called Sweeney Todd’s to earn extra money to save to go away travelling. But then I’d spend it all by going straight to the pub opposite when my shift finished!

Amanda is a nomad who writes for magazines and businesses when she’s not writing stories. Many of her articles are about engineering and technology developments for helping with climate change and sustainability. At the moment she’s house sitting with her husband but in the past fifteen years or so she’s lived in a tiny village on Exmoor, in London, the Lake District, Brighton and Lancaster, and also spent three years in New Zealand. She roamed up and down England on a canal narrowboat for several months too and travelled around the South Pacific coconut islands,
Australia and Asia.
When Amanda is not writing, she runs writing retreats and competitions through her tiny business, RETREAT WEST , and walks about in wild places. She studied Creative Writing and Literature
with the Open University and her short stories have appeared on the Fish Flash Fiction prize longlist, in the best-selling STORIES FOR HOMES charity anthology, and in literary magazines.

Amanda is currently working on her second novel and a short story collection. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, will be published by Urbane in Spring 2016.

Please follow the links to find out more: 

·         Amazon:
·         My website:

** BLOG TOUR ** End of the Roadie by Elizabeth Flynn

This book was published by Lion Hudson on the 15th July 2016. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and inviting me on to the blog tour. 

If I can tempt you with my review, I have a giveaway at the end of this post....

Rock-star Brendan Phelan knows how to thrill a crowd – gunshots and cracking whips punctuate the thudding bass and crushing guitar chords. 

But after the show has ended, another shot is fired and Oliver Joplin, long-time roadie, is found lifeless, with a shocked Phelan towering over him. 

Detective Inspector Costello is called to the scene of the crime and quickly begins to discover that Joplin was widely disliked and distrusted. But who would profit from his death? 

Little by little, Costello unpicks a tangled web of lies. But secrets have left tongues tied and unless someone breaks the silence, the killer may never be found… 

This third installment of ‘A Mystery for D.I. Costello’ sees Angela Costello take on a shocked and uncommunicative rockstar, a crazed runner and a team of people with much to hide. When the music fades, who will be left standing? 

My Thoughts:

This book is the third in the series: A Mystery for D.I.Costello. It is however the first I have read and as such approached it with no preconceptions. I found that it reads very well as a standalone, a traditional whodunnit mystery that I was engrossed with from the outset. 

I particularly enjoyed the fact that this novel is set primarily at the Apollo Theatre in Hammersmith a venue I am familiar with. This allowed my imagination to work overtime and see the scenes unfold in my minds eye. 

I liked the originality of this story, the murder of a roadie, all the hired help and theatre workers closing rank and some being downright obstructive of the police investigation. DI Angela Costello is a delight she is firm but fair and seems to get on with her colleagues and has their respect. She also seemed kind but with a no nonsense attitude that got the job done efficiently. I also liked the character of DC Gary Houseman who coincidentally was on the scene of the murder as he had attended the concert. 

I loved the way that this story was weaved together, misdirection, red herrings and webs of secrets made this an entertaining and enjoyable read and I must admit to not guessing the culprit at all. It has to be said also that the author tackles some important issues in today's society with understanding and empathy. 

A thoroughly enjoyable mystery read that keep me entertained and engrossed and written by an accomplished writer. 

If you enjoy mystery books of a whodunnit nature this is one that you would enjoy. 

About the Author:

Elizabeth Flynn is a Londoner of Anglo-Irish parentage. She has a background in the theatre both as an actress and in stage management, and has experience in broadcasting. She has more recently worked as a hospital bereavement officer and managed a mortuary so she ‘knows the drill’ and has used some of this experience in her writing. This is her third novel in the series: A Mystery for D.I. Costello.

You can purchase the books via the following links:

The Kindle edition of this book is now available on

As well as the pb edition:

There is  currently a special offer promotion on ‘Dead Gorgeous’Elizabeth’s previous novel – the Kindle edition is currently only £1.19 on Amazon:

Thanks for joining me on the blog tour, please do have a look at the other stops:

Competition open to UK Residents only (due to postage costs). One paperback to be won. Winner will be selected at random and the book will be sent out directly by me. By giving your contact details you are agreeing to being contacted by me in the event that you win. Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant

This book was published by Mulholland Books in July 2016. My thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.

It starts with a lie. The kind we've all told - to an acquaintance we can't quite place but don't want to admit to forgetting. The life story, embellished to impress that smug, happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And then, somehow, you're having dinner at their house, accepting an invitation to join them on holiday. It's what you secretly always dreamed of: the perfect relationship, the better life.
And by the time you're trapped in their world - sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you - by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it's lies that cause the real damage...
... well, by then, it could just be too late.

My Thoughts:

This is the first book that I have read by this author but now I will most definitely be picking up her two previous thrillers.

Gripping and taut I was sucked in from the very first paragraph. The author has carefully and believably created a plot that is based on lies. It was tense and full of suspense. I loved it and the dark twists and turns that seemed to be around every corner.

Paul Morris is the main character and also the narrator of his story. He is also a liar, he tell little lies about who he is, about his past and present. He is shady and unreliable at best and at the worst he is downright creepy. It is clear that he is a bit of a womaniser. A chance meeting with an old friend called Andrew makes it seem that things are on the up. Especially when he gets a new love interest called Alice who seems unaware of the lies that Paul tells.

Invited onto a greek holiday, this is where the real story starts. I can't say much more about the plot as it is one of those books that to do so would mean I give the best bits away. Suffice to say this book is full of a host of characters whose foundations are as rocky as the long time holiday home of Alice's that is about to be demolished.

I found this to be a unique take on this genre of story and I just adore unreliable characters and narrators. An excellent look at characters and the psychology of lies and the damage they can do. The book gets darker the more turns that are taken and the suspense builds to what is an evident twist in the plot.

I had it all sewn up in terms of the outcome by about half way through but this didn't affect my reading in any way as it felt like I was a fly on the wall watching it all unfold. Very cleverly written with intricate parts of the plot that are layered carefully upon each other. A book that left me aching to find out more and left me pondering for ages about various bits of it.

Sabine Durrant is a skilful writer that brings something new, fresh and much needed to a genre that is full and popular.

Highly recommended.

About the Author:

Sabine Durrant is the author of two previous thrillers, Remember Me This Way and Under Your Skin. She has also written novels including Having It and Eating It and The Great Indoors. She has also written books for teenage girls called Cross Your Heart, Connie Pickles and Ooh La La! Connie Pickles. She has been an editor at both The Guardian and The Sunday Times. Her writing has been in numerous newspapers and magazines.

She lives in London with her partner and children.


#MondayMusing with Guest Blogger: Anne Cater

A product of contemplation; a thought: "an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas).

 I am thrilled to welcome Anne Cater to the blog today, she blogs over at Random Things. I really do advise having a look her blog, it's wonderful. Anne is one of the biggest book peddlers, encouragers, enthusiasts, shouters, and advocate of reading I know. She encouraged me to start my blog, helped and continues to when I falter. I am also proud that she is my friend. Thank goodness for her and her middle of the night ideas...

Book Connectors on Facebook

Just over a year ago I had a middle-of-the-night idea that has turned out to be one of my better ideas …. I’ve had lots of not-so-good ideas during my life, but those are for a different post!

I believe that you can never be bored if you have a book in your possession. An author can fill your life with vibrant characters and whisk you off to other lands. You can be witness to a murder, to a love affair, or become part of history. I don’t think I’ve uttered the words ‘I’m bored’ since I was a ten-year-old being dragged around yet another garden centre by my mum.

Being a reader can be lonely though. Sometimes I don’t actually want to read my book, I want to talk about it to someone else. I want to discuss the plot, or how the author knits their words together. I want to compare the book to the author’s other works, or discuss books that are similar. I like to talk about anything that’s book-related.

The internet is a wonderful place to find like-minded people. Ten years ago I was part of an on-line forum, we talked about books, it was great. I met some amazing people who have become some of my dearest friends. 

Along came Facebook, and the rise of groups. I joined a few groups, I’m still a member of a couple that I enjoy, but I was getting so frustrated by the constant ‘Books v Kindle’ debates, which are pretty pointless really, and I was quite offended when I was called a ‘book snob’ because I said that I don’t want a Kindle!  Then there’s the comments about price; the ‘oh, I’m not paying more than £1.99 for a book’ …. what?  Are you serious? You can’t get a decent cup of coffee for that!  Oh, and the ‘I’m going to start a book blog, then I’ll get free books’ …… I can’t even respond to that one.   There were so many RULES too!  And WARNINGS!  And things that you JUST CAN’T DO OR SAY!  I’m a bit of a gob-shite, and when I was slapped with a WARNING when I asked a question, I was (a la Dragon’s Den) out.

I just wanted to talk about books, and about blogging. I wanted to talk to authors, to find out what they were writing, to find out about their latest releases. I wanted to share my blog reviews, and read other blog reviews …. all in one place. 

So, the middle-of-the-night idea struck me and I created Book Connectors; a Facebook group just for bloggers and authors.  It would be place with no rules, but I wanted everyone to be nice to each other. It would be a place where authors could promote their work, and bloggers could share their posts. It would be a place where authors could ask bloggers if they’d like to read their book, where blog tours could be arranged, where bloggers could ask authors if they’d like to take part in something they’d planned for their blog.  It would be a place where established authors could advise new authors, and old-hand bloggers could encourage new ones.

Book Connectors is not a reading group, or a book club. It’s a place where authors and bloggers can connect. We do discuss books, of course we do, but it is so much more than that. Everyone is equal, it doesn’t matter if members post in the group every day, or every month, or just a couple of times a year. Book Connectors has four admin members who keep an eye on things, that’s it, nothing more. The admin members are just the same as other members, there is no hierarchy, no labels, no top-dog.

There are over a thousand members, but believe me, it could be five times that amount as we get requests to join all the time, but if someone is not a blogger, or an author they’re not eligible to join the group. There are loads of book groups on Facebook for readers, Book Connectors is not the right place for everyone.

I think members enjoy Book Connectors, we get great feedback and I know that there have been some wonderful blog tours, blog posts, events and friendships made over the last year or so.

So, if there are any bloggers or authors out there who would like to join Book Connectors, please find us on Facebook and click the ‘Join Group’ button … you will be made very welcome.


Anne Cater blogs at Random Things Through My Letterbox
Follow her on Twitter @annecater


#MondayMusing with Guest Author Tracey Sinclair...

A product of contemplation; a thought: "an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas).

I would like to welcome you all to a brand new feature on the blog. Monday Musing is hopefully going to be a series of posts on a variety of subjects. Authors and Bloggers are welcome. I hope to have guest posts, interviews, and lots more. 

My very first guest on this shiny new series is Tracey Sinclair. Welcome to the blog Tracey and thanks so much for taking part with a fabulous post about book purchasing habits, which very much mirror my own!

Can books be a disposable pleasure?

There’s nothing I love more than a packed bookshelf. It remains a fantasy of mine to have a library, a reading nook, walls lined with shelves after shelves of beautiful books, and I can often be found swooning enviously over friends’ generous shelvage.

Yet, when it comes to my own collection, I rarely keep a book after I’ve read it: a few old favourites aside, once something is read, it’s out the door – passed to a friend or given to charity, but out of my house for good. You’d think this would mean I would economise: wait until things are in paperback or, better yet, since it’s partially a space issue (I live in a one-bedroom rental with no shelves and no storage space) simply download what I want. But no: I continue to spend a ridiculous amount of money on glossy, pretty hardbacks, despite the transient pleasure I know they’ll bring.

The roots of this are tangled but obvious. I grew up in a working class household that was big on learning but tight on funds: there weren’t a lot of books at home, but I was an avid reader who spent an inordinate amount of time in my local library (one of the reasons I’m so angry about Government attacks on the library service is I remember what a lifeline it was for kids like me). As I went onto university (all those library visits having paid off), I started to connect book collections with affluence, and having one became an aspiration for me – despite being undermined as I regularly had to sell my used text books to boost my funds.

But my twenties were peripatetic – at one stage I moved a staggering 13 times in under 3 years – and the fantasy of owning a huge amount of books clashed with the reality of having to move them around so much. You love hardbacks a lot less when you’ve had to lug 5 boxes of them up four flights of Glasgow tenement stairs, let me tell you.

Although I am (hopefully!) more settled now, that sense of transience stuck – I rarely buy anything with the idea that it will be forever, books included. And yet I can’t face taking the sensible option, and just switching to digital, like many of my friends – I know people who haven’t bought a single physical book since they purchased their Kindles.

Not that I’m against digital. I don’t at all buy into the argument that being a ‘real’ book depends on something being a physical entity. I’m a huge fan of digital – as an author, it’s been invaluable, and as a reader it’s been nothing but a blessing. The convenience of being able to download a book the minute I want to has many a time catered to a binge read of an addictive series, and I’ve discovered a lot of authors I would never have read, since digital books tend to be cheaper, making me more willing to take a punt on an unknown entity. It’s also encouraged me to read more short works, since I resent paying the best part of a tenner (or more!) for a book that takes half an hour to read (disclaimer: I still sometimes buy these, but I feel annoyed at myself for doing so). Through digital I have discovered treasures like We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, or one-off short stories that I would never have paid ‘hard copy’ prices for. (I’d like to say digital is more convenient for travel, but since I usually take my iPad and a ridiculous amount of physical books on any trip, I’d be lying.)

There is, however, an undeniable tactile pleasure to a physical book, and one I am happy to pay for, even if the enjoyment is short-lived. I’ve been swayed by striking covers or nice paper or even a different format (I have a weakness for American paperbacks – every time I go to the States, I return with half a dozen books straining my baggage allowance). I’m content to have them sitting there looking pretty, if occasionally making me feel guilty – the downside of only keeping books I haven’t read is my tottering stacks are one giant TBR pile. And, when they are done, I get a thrill from knowing they’ll be going to another home, and someone else will enjoy them.

Tracey Sinclair is an author and freelance editor and writer. Her books include the romcom The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick series, the latest of which, Angel Falls, is out now.

It isn't easy to surprise Cassandra Bick. When you run a human-vampire dating agency, your colleague is a witch who is engaged to a shifter and your business partner is one of London's most powerful (and sexiest) vampires, there's no such thing as a normal day at the office. But when a mysterious Dark Dates client brings a dire warning of a new threat to the city's supernatural community, Cass and her friends realise they are up against their deadliest foe yet – and that this time, the danger is far closer to home than they could ever have imagined. Sexy, snarky and with more bite than a crypt full of vampires, Angel Falls is the latest in the Dark Dates: Cassandra Bick series.

** BLOG TOUR ** Blood Sister by Dreda Say Mitchell

Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 11 August 2016. My thanks to the publisher for my review copy and inviting me on the blog tour.

There are two ways out of Essex Lane Estate, better known as The Devil. You make good, or you turn bad.
Jen Miller is determined not to make the same mistakes her mother did. She's waiting to find herself a good job and a decent man.
Her younger sister Tiff is running errands for a gangster and looking for any opportunity for fun and profit. But she might just be in over her head...
The choices you make and the plans you have don't always turn out like you expect. Especially if you live on The Devil's Estate. When their paths cross with the unstoppable Dee - a woman with her own agenda - Jen and Tiff will learn that lesson the hard way.
At least they can rely on each other.
Can't they?

My Thoughts:

I have read and reviewed one of Dreda's previous novels, Vendetta in 2014. If you follow the link you can see my review for that one. 

Blood Sister is the first in a new and exciting trilogy called 'Flesh and Blood'. The trilogy will follow one family over forty years. I was excited to read this book as I enjoyed Vendetta so much. This book did not disappoint. A gripping and gritty thriller set on a housing estate in East London, it left me on the edge of my seat. 

It is about the lengths people will go to, to escape the lives that they have and it is about having a dream of something better. The London Underworld comes to life as people make the wrong choices and mix with the wrong people. 

This author has an ability to write tight plot lines that are exhilarating, whilst having a cast of characters that are all individual and that feel as if they are people you might know. I love the way that most of the central characters are strong, feisty, independent women that are not without their flaws. This makes the story shine with a certain harshness and realism. 

The three main characters are Jen, Tiff and Dee. Jen is trying to improve herself by the normal routes, college and the like. Tiff is a bit of a live wire and does things before she engages her brain, usually with disastrous consequences. Dee is well, Dee, she knows what she wants and she knows how to get it and god forbid anybody that tries to stand in her way!

I loved the fact that when I picked up this book up I was immediately transported to 1970's London. Pure escapism from the outset written with real grit and occasional violence but also with a giant beating heart. Full of suspense and twists, that left me surprised at the end. I can't ask for any more from this style of book. 

I know that I totally loved a book when as soon as I close the cover I look to see when the next one is out. A tense wait until February 2017. Dreda is a tremendous writer and her love and knowledge of London shines through, she is a writer that I will turn to time and time again. 

I can't recommend this enough and Dreda Say Mitchell is quickly becoming my Queen of Crime. 


I am absolutely thrilled that Dreda was able to answer some of my questions, it was a real treat for me to be able to ask them. My thanks to her for taking the time. 

1) What made you decide to become a writer and more specifically, a writer of crime fiction?
As a child I loved listening to my dad and his friends tells stories and I was introduced to a world of books when my mum made sure I went off to Whitechapel Library. But it wasn’t until much later on in my life that I decided to write and the reason was I had a story to tell. My first book – Running Hot – I thought was a social commentary piece about redemption, (which it was), but it wasn’t until a well-known crime writer said it was a chase thriller; my lead character has got seven days to get out of the London underworld that I started thinking. After it received the CWA’s John Creasey Dagger for best first British crime novel I thought I’m in the crime world to stay.
2) I notice that you are from London yourself, how important is it as a setting and why did you choose it?
London! Just hearing the word makes me sigh with pleasure. I’m a London girl and so putting the city in my books was important. It’s a thrilling place, but at the same time dangerous, filled with people getting along but also rubbing each other up the wrong way. It’s those clashes and the many different faces of London that make it such a great place to set a crime book. 
3) Who do you look up to in the literary world and what books would you recommend to others?
Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple is a standout book for me. It made me laugh, cry, get angry, feel joy. Love Lee Child and Martina Cole because they introduced me to two very different types of crime/thriller genres. Lee’s Killing Floor, his first Jack Reacher book, is just brilliant.
Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects blew me away with its beautiful writing and intense story.
4) I have noticed that throughout your books you have created strong, feisty, female and independent characters, is this intentional?
Yes. A big thing for me is writing about strong, feisty working class women. I think that in real life they can be talked down to or not talked about at all. My women demand to have their voice heard. They’re women who have dreams like anyone else, but often it’s their flaws and other people who hold them back.
5) What can we look forward to in the future from you and your writing?
Blood Sister is the first in the Flesh and Blood Trilogy. The second book is Blood Mother, which takes the story right back to 1972. Oh, did I have a ball writing it. It’s out in February 2017 followed by the final book, Blood Daughter, which is released later that year.
About the Author:
Dreda Say Mitchell grew up on a housing estate in East London. She is an award winning novelist, broadcaster, journalist and freelance education consultant. She was named one Britain's 50 Remarkable Women by Lady Geek. She is the author of five novels, with her first book having been awarded The CWA's John Creasey Dagger for the best debut crime novel. 
She has appeared on Newsnight, Daybreak and Canadian television's Sun New Live. She has presented BBC Radio 4's Open Book, and is a frequent guest of Radio 4's The Review Show, Front Row and Saturday Review. She is the founder of the creative writing programme 'Write-On', which she has run in both YOIs and prison.
She has worked in education for over twenty years, including positions as a primary school deputy head teacher and local authority consultant. Dreda has an African history degree and an MA in Education Studies. She is also a patron of The National Youth Arts Trust.

Please do have a look at the other stops on the tour.


I'm Still Here by Clélie Avit

Translated from French by Lucy Foster. Published 14th July 2016 in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton. My thanks to them for my review copy.

Elsa has been in a coma for five months. With all hope of reviving her gone, her family and doctors are having to face the devastating fact that it might be time to turn off her life support... They don't realise that in the past few weeks Elsa has regained partial consciousness; she knows where she is and can hear everyone talking around her bed, but she has no way of telling them she's there.
Thibault is in the same hospital visiting his brother, a drunk driver responsible for the deaths of two teenage girls. Thibault's emotions are in turmoil and, needing a retreat, he finds his way into Elsa's room. Seeing her lying there so peacefully, he finds it hard to believe she is not just sleeping.
Thibault begins to visit Elsa regularly. As he learns more about her through her family and friends, he begins to realise that he is developing feelings for her. And when he talks to her, he can't help feeling that she can hear his every word...
For Elsa, his visits are like a breath of fresh air. Here is finally someone who speaks to her as if she is a real life person. Who makes her laugh. And who gives her something to fight for...
And so begins a love story that might just save both their lives...

My Thoughts:

This book could be described as a modern day Sleeping Beauty that centres around our two main characters Elsa and Thibault. Elsa is in a coma and the Dr's are considering turning off her life support apart from she can hear what is going on around her and she is thinking clearly. Thibault is deeply upset when he stumbles upon Elsa's room, he is avoiding seeing his brother who is also a patient at the hospital. His brother has killed two young girls after drunk driving. What ensues is something of a love story like no other. 

I am sure that there is real heart to this original love story, that proved to be very thought provoking. It is about two people who for different reasons are trapped by the circumstances that surrounds both of their lives. Thibault is depressed and troubled and he begins to seek solace within the walls of Elsa's room. Elsa begins to enjoy the company of Thibault and looks forward to his visits. He treats her and speaks to her like a human being even though she is in a coma. 

The way that Thibault behaved when he was with Elsa raised some questions for me. I found this book quite disturbing in places and the ending a little predictable but all in all an interesting debut. I am afraid that I personally couldn't suspend quite enough belief to make this one work for me fully. That being said the author has managed very well to make the voices of her characters individual and able to portray the desperation of their emotions. 

Drawing on the visceral this book is very unique. The author writes with a sparseness that stops the story from being absolutely bleak. 

About the Author:

Clélie Avit was born in Saint Etienne in 1986 and grew up in Auvergne. She studied at the University of Lyon and her passions include mountains and dance. She trained to become a physics and chemistry teacher and a dance teacher. This is her first novel and she now writes full time and continues to teach contemporary dance.