A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “October, 2013”

Interview with Anne Allen


I reviewed Anne Allen’s first novel ‘Dangerous Waters’ in August last year.   You can read what I thought of it here:-


Anne now has a second book called ‘Finding Mother’ coming out and I was very keen to interview her and find out more about it.

You’ve got a new book coming out.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?

It’s called Finding Mother and follows the search of a young woman, Nicole, for her natural mother. She’s always known she was adopted but hadn’t really thought about tracing her mother until her marriage lands on the rocks, forcing Nicole to look at herself. She’s not happy with what she sees so sets off from her home in England and travels to Spain, Jersey and finally Guernsey in pursuit of the woman who gave her away.

The book looks at the stories of the other women involved too, as secrets have been buried and Nicole’s arrival opens the proverbial Pandora’s box. As I’m fascinated by human relationships I’ve focused on how people relate to each other in the family as well as romantically. Like my first novel, Dangerous Waters, there’s a strong romantic theme running through the story, going as far back as WWII.


Front of Cover


Back of Cover

Where do you get your ideas from?

My work as a psychotherapist has provided much food for thought as it’s given me a unique chance to explore the human psyche. Some of my clients were adopted as were some family members. So, once adoption became the central premise, I then looked at the idea of family secrets to give a bit of a twist 🙂 Like any writer, once you have one idea, others seem to follow although the whole plan of the book can meander into unknown territory sometimes. I think the characters take over and make their own decisions! My love of Guernsey means that, for me, it provides the ideal setting for my books. It helps that it not only has a fascinating history but is also such a beautiful island. And islands have their own kind of magic, don’t they?

In your last book ‘Dangerous Water’ there were lots of references to food.  Do you like to cook?

Mmm, sort of. I like cooking for family get togethers, but they only happen a couple of times a year. Let’s say I like the idea of cooking more than the reality! I can get very uptight if things don’t go according to plan – and time 🙂

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to try their hand at writing a novel?

Just start writing. Anything, doesn’t have to be a full-length novel to begin with. You need to have some idea of what you want to write, first. Would it be romance, thriller, mystery or paranormal? I feel you need to choose a genre who love, one you’ve devoured as a reader over the years. At the very least that would give you a feel for how others write. If there’s a story burning a hole in your brain, let it out!

Can you describe a day in your life?

At the moment it’s pretty well taken up with getting Finding Mother published, with all the attendant promotion and marketing that is involved. Such as being invited to write something for your lovely blog, Sonya 🙂 I do seem to spend far too much time on my computer, but when I can get away from it then there’s always the housework. A no-brainer, really!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time? What’s that?! Well, I do like to walk by the sea when the weather’s decent. It helps me to unwind and sometimes ideas flow better after inhaling all that ozone. Indoors, I’ll watch drama on the TV or read. And I love going to the cinema or theatre with my friends.

Who are your favourite authors?

These days I’ve become very keen on historical fiction and loved Hilary Mantel’s books as well as CJ Sansome’s. I also love anything by Erica James and the late Maeve Binchy. My taste is quite eclectic and I’ll read a new author if I like the sound of the book.

Can we expect another book from you next year?

Well, I’ve made a start on my third novel, which will again be set mainly in Guernsey. It’s a romantic mystery which revolves around a newly opened Natural Health Centre in Guernsey and there’ll be a couple of bodies turning up. As with my other books, there’s a link to WWII and family secrets. At the moment the title’s either ‘Guernsey Retreat’ or ‘The Retreat’. I do hope to see it published in 2014 – sometime 🙂

‘Finding Mother’ is available as an ebook on Amazon.  Click on the link below to get yourself a copy.


It will be available in paperback in November and can be ordered directly from Anne through her website – www.findingmother.com

I would like to thank Anne for taking the time to answer my questions.


‘Butterflies in November’ by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir

Butterflies in November

I was one of the lucky people to receive a proof copy of ‘Butterflies in November’ to review for Lovereading.co.uk.  This book is being published by Pushkin Press on the 7th November 2013.  ‘Butterflies in November’ has been translated by Brian FitzGibbon from Icelandic into English.

This story is told by the narrator as we follow her on a trip around Iceland.  It starts off with the narrator being dumped twice in one day.  As if that isn’t bad enough, she then accidentally kills a goose which actually comes in handy as a meal for her soon to be ex-husband.  She starts dreaming of a nice tropical holiday far away from her chaotic life, only to find that her plans are spoilt when her best friend asks her to look after her deaf-mute son for a while.  However, things are about to turn around.  A shared lottery ticket wins them both a lot of money and so they head off on a very interesting journey.

‘Butterflies in November’ is totally different to any other book I’ve ever read.  I found it to be strangely addictive.  This beautifully written story is blackly comical but it also deals with serious matters as well.  The relationship between the narrator and the deaf-mute boy was really moving.  They went through a lot together and had some unexpected adventures.

I loved the description of the sign at the cucumber-farming hotel, really funny.  I also liked the idea of the recipes at the back of the book particular the one to knit baby socks.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

Competition – ‘A Tap on the Window’ by Linwood Barclay

A Tap on the Window

Last week I reviewed ‘A Tap on the Window’ which was published by Orion on the 10th October 2013.  You can read what I thought about it in my last post.

I am now giving away 10 copies of this book.  To enter, just leave a comment telling me which books are on your wish list.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 31st October 2013.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Orion who will send out the prizes.

Good Luck everyone! 🙂

‘A Tap on the Window’ by Linwood Barclay

A Tap on the Window

‘A Tap on the Window’ is Linwood Barclay’s brand new novel, published today by Orion Books.  I was sent a proof copy of this book to review for which I am very grateful.

It’s a rainy night in Griffon, New York.  Cal Weaver, a private investigator, is on his way home.  Whilst sitting at a red light he notices a bedraggled looking teenage girl trying to hitch a ride.  He ignores her even when she taps on his window as he knows it wouldn’t be wise to pick her up.  However, the girl recognises Cal.  It turns out his son went to the same school as her.  For this reason alone he feels he can’t just leave her there and ends up giving her a lift.  Surely it can’t do any harm!

On the way home the girl, Claire, complains she is feeling sick and asks Cal if he can stop at a restaurant so that she can use the restroom.  He obliges and waits in his car for her, but she takes too long and Cal out of concern goes in search for her.  When he returns to his car he finds Claire sitting in the passenger seat.  Only she is different.  She seems nervous for a start off.  Then he notices something else and when he realises that the girl in the car isn’t Claire, he confronts her.  She demands to be let out of the car and then tries to get out whilst he is still driving.

The next day the police pay Cal a visit at his house wanting to know if he gave a teenage girl a lift the previous night.  Things aren’t looking good for him, especially when a girl is found brutally murdered.  He has unwittingly ended up getting involved in something dodgy and is about to make some shocking discoveries over the next few days.

Until now I hadn’t read any of Linwood Barclay’s books so I didn’t know what to expect.  As it turns out, I totally loved ‘A Tap on the Window’ and I got through it quickly.  From the start I found it so exciting.  A real page turner full of twists, it kept me guessing and the end result wasn’t what I expected.  Linwood has a way of making you hungry for more with his writing.  Absolutely fantastic!

I’m going to have to read some of Linwood Barclay’s previous novels at some stage and I already can’t wait for his next one to come out.  For all you crime fans out there I recommend you grab yourself a copy of this book as fast as you can.

It has to be 5 out of 5.

Interview with Martin Pond


Back in April 2012 I reviewed ‘Dark Steps’, Martin Pond’s debut book of short stories.  My review can be found here:-


Martin very kindly offered to take part in an interview.

How long have you been writing for?

Writing has always been something I’ve loved. I wrote a lot in my teens and early twenties, but that somehow fell by the wayside as the world of work got in the way. I started again in 2007, at the suggestion of my partner. I gained further impetus from taking a diploma in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, and haven’t stopped since then (though, sad, to say, the world of work is an ever-present obstruction).

Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

My career for the past 20 years has been in IT, in a number of different fields. And that is not without creativity – writing a program, designing software, building a user interface, these are all creative activities. But they don’t scratch the itch like writing always has. Also, I’ve always felt that I’m half decent when it comes to stringing words together – I won a big silver cup for a story I wrote as a child, and it sat on my parents’ mantelpiece for a year. That sort of thing makes you feel pretty good, I can tell you, and gives you confidence in your own abilities from an early age.

Have any authors influenced you in your writing?

Inevitably, I’m influenced by the authors I like to read. Fortunately, I like different authors for different situations and moods. I love Stephen King – one of my most treasured reviews described my writing as “like a British Stephen King”. I also very much enjoy Nick Hornby, with “High Fidelity” being one of my favourite books of any genre. And Margaret Atwood is simply incredible, as are Cormac McCarthy and Chuck Palahniuk. I particularly admire McCarthy’s concision, and try to bear that in mind with my own writing.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

I am trying very hard to finish my first novel-length work, Drawn To The Deep End. It charts a thirty-something’s decline in the wake of his fiancée’s death. No, it’s not a comedy. I have 65,000 words down, and I know how the story ends, I just need to get there… I also have three short stories that are crying out to be written but I’ve promised myself I won’t start them (beyond rough notes) until the novel is finished.

Can you describe a day in your life?

After a relaxing morning writing on my golden typewriter (sorry, younger readers may need to Google ‘typewriter’), I recline on top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies (sorry again, that line is for fans of Rainier Wolfcastle), to count my Booker and Pulitzer prizes. Then I wake up, stop dreaming and stumble off to work…

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to try their hand at writing a novel?

The hardest thing is to just make a start. So, to paraphrase King, just take a character, put them in a situation, and start writing. You’ll find the story as you go. Also… you’ll be forever thinking that what you’ve just written is rubbish. DON’T let that stop you. Just keep going, get something down. You can revise and improve it later. Also, and this is very important, the best way to catch errors and things that just don’t work is to read what you’ve written aloud. Those bits that catch in your mouth? They need changing.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I work full-time, three quarters of our house is in mid-decoration, we have a pre-school son and I try to write too… what spare time?

What sort of books do you like to read?

So many different types. Perhaps some examples would help: I very much enjoyed “Let’s Kill Love” by Mark Kilner, a collection of dark short fiction published earlier this year. I devoured “Joyland” by Stephen King whilst on a recent holiday, further proof, if proof were needed, that he’s not just a horror writer. And I’m currently reading “The Psychopath Test” by Jon Ronson – disturbing, thought-provoking and yet also funny in equal measure.

I would like to thank Martin for taking the time to answer my questions.  Below are some links:-

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