Monday, 24 July 2017

Not Thomas
Sara Gethin

Today I am delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for Not Thomas by Sara Gethin. I have an extract for you and also a Q&A with the author.

Genre: Fiction
Release Date: 15th June 2017
Publisher: Honno Press

Tomos lives with his mother. He longs to return to another place, the place he thinks of as home, and the people who lived there, but he’s not allowed to see them again. He is five years old and at school, which he loves. Miss teaches him about all sorts of things, and she listens to him. Sometimes he’s hungry and Miss gives him her extra sandwiches. She gives him a warm coat from Lost Property, too. There are things Tomos cannot talk about – except to Cwtchy – and then, just before Easter, the things come to a head. There are bad men outside who want to come in, and Mammy has said not to answer the door. From behind the big chair, Tomos waits, trying to make himself small and quiet. He doesn’t think it’s Santa Claus this time.
When the men break in, Tomos’s world is turned on its head and nothing will be the same again.


The lady’s here. The lady with the big bag. She’s knocking on the front door. She’s knocking and knocking. And knocking and knocking. I’m not opening the door. I’m not letting her in. I’m behind the black chair. I’m very quiet. I’m very very quiet. I’m waiting for her to go away.
I’ve been waiting a long time.
‘Thomas, Thomas.’ She’s saying it through the letter box.
‘Thomas, Thomas.’
I’m not listening to her. I’m not listening at all. She’s been knocking on the door for a long long time. I’m peeping round the black chair. I’m peeping with one of my eyes. She’s
not by the front door now. She’s by the long window. I can see her shoes. They’re very dirty. If Dat saw those shoes he’d say, ‘There’s a job for my polishing brush’.
She’s stopped knocking. She’s stopped saying ‘Thomas’. She’s very quiet. The lady can’t see me. I’m behind the big black chair. And I’ve pulled my feet in tight.
‘Thomas?’ she says. ‘Thomas?’ I’m not answering. ‘I know you’re in there. Just come to the window, sweetheart. So I can see you properly.’
I’m staying still. I’m not going to the window. I’m waiting for her to go back to her car. It’s a green car. With a big dent in it. If I hide for a long time she’ll go. She’ll get back in her car and drive away. She’s knocking. And knocking again.
She’s saying ‘Thomas.’ And knocking and knocking again.
That is not my name.


Hi. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing.

It’s a pleasure.

Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?
Well, just to be confusing, I have two identities. I write for adults as Sara Gethin but in real life my name is Wendy White. I grew up in Llanelli in west Wales, and for some reason I can’t now remember, I studied philosophy and theology at uni, even though I loved English. After trying out Berkshire and Brussels for a little while, my husband, Simon, and I settled back in Wales. We have two grown up children.
I began writing for children under my real name four years ago, and was fortunate enough to win an award for my first book. My children’s writing is light-hearted but ‘Not Thomas’, my novel for adults, is dark. My editor and I decided that using a pen name would keep my two styles of writing separate – and I’d always fancied having a pseudonym!

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I day-dreamed about being an author as a child and had lots of half-finished stories in my collection of notebooks. I loved the local library and spent every Saturday afternoon choosing books as slowly as I could just so I could spend as much time as possible there. I couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful than making up stories for a living.

What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?
I actually worked in the children’s library I loved so much as a child for a little while, which was just fantastic. Then I trained as a primary school teacher and I absolutely adored teaching. Unfortunately, though, I had to give it up in my early forties due to a heart problem, and that gave me the opportunity to turn to writing, so my cloud really did have a silver lining.

How do you carry out the research for your novels?
I’m not the kind of writer who enjoys doing lots of detailed research before I start a project. I write first then research as the need arises.
My new novel, ‘Not Thomas’, is about child neglect and I based some of the situations Tomos, the main character, finds himself in on the experiences of children I taught and heard about when I was a teacher. My first teaching post was in a very disadvantaged area, and the problems I witnessed and heard about left a lasting impression on me. In a way, my life as a teacher became my research for ‘Not Thomas’.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I love creating the story in my head, maybe for a year or sometimes much longer, before I start typing it up. That’s one of the easiest parts, along with revising or editing. Actually sitting down and tapping the keyboard – that’s the most difficult part for me. That’s the part where the beautiful story in my head might turn out to be terrible on paper!
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I can’t be creative in the morning – my brain just won’t work creatively until after lunch. So mornings are for emails and admin, and then I’ll write from the afternoon into the evening.
I like to sit at my laptop at the kitchen table, but I do have a lovely writing shed that I should make more use of - and a tiny, windowless home office I use when I have a really urgent deadline.

When you're not writing, what do you like to read?
I tend to choose contemporary fiction, and I occasionally read historical and crime novels too. I try to keep up with what’s new, and I average about a book and a half a week. I’m enjoying the novels of my fellow Honno authors too.

How important do you think social media is to authors in today's society?
If you’d asked me before I had my first book published in 2013, I’d have said not very. Now I know better!
Social media is extremely important and because ‘Not Thomas’ has just come out, I’m spending quite a lot of time on twitter and Facebook. It’s a wonderful way to connect with readers, and I’ve also had a few exciting opportunities for magazine and newspaper reviews that began as messages on social media.

Could you tell the readers a bit about your latest book?
‘Not Thomas’ is about a five-year-old boy called Tomos who’s been removed from his lovely foster parents, Nanno and Dat, and sent to live with his mum. She’s hiding a drug addiction and doesn’t look after for him properly. Her drug-dealing boyfriend, Brick, often stays over and the men he owes money to call round causing trouble. Tomos misses Nanno and Dat terribly and longs to be back in the place he calls home.
The novel follows him from Christmas to Easter and while reviewers have said it’s a sad book, it’s also been called ‘ultimately uplifting’. I wanted to show what neglect feels like to a child, so it’s written from the viewpoint of Tomos himself, in his five-year-old voice, a little like Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’.

Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
It would be wonderful to be Lowri, Tomos’s teacher, as I’d love to have a class of my own again.

Is there anything else you would have liked to be asked?
Maybe: “How long did it take you to write ‘Not Thomas’?”
I used to be embarrassed to answer that question, but now I think it proves you should never give up on your dreams.
I started ‘Not Thomas’ in 2001, and wrote it slowly over a fourteen year period, just a scene every few months. I didn’t believe it would ever be published as it’s written from the viewpoint of a very young child. Then Emma Donoghue published ‘Room’ in 2010, and like so many other readers, I loved its child’s viewpoint. It made me believe there might also be hope for my novel – so I speeded up, finished ‘Not Thomas’ and approached a publisher. I’m delighted it’s finally been published, and I hope readers will care about little Tomos as much as I do.

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.


Sara Gethin is the pen name of Wendy White. She grew up in Llanelli and studied theology and philosophy at Lampeter, the most bijoux of universities. Her working life has revolved around children – she’s been a childminder, an assistant in a children’s library and a primary school teacher. She also writes children’s books as Wendy White, and her first, ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’, won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014. Her own children are grown up now, and while home is still west Wales, she and her husband spend much of their free time across the water in Ireland. ‘Not Thomas’ is her first novel for adults. 

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3 e-copies (International) & 3 paperbacks (UK only)

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Art of Hiding
Amanda Prowse

Guest Review 
Julie Williams

Guest Review by Julie Williams

I always look forward to Amanda Prowse latest novel as I have grown to know that I am in for a treat and The Art of Hiding certainly lived up to that.

The main character Nina shows strength, guts and courage when her life is turned upside down at the sudden death of her beloved husband Finn. 

Nina had been leading a charmed life since marrying Finn, a big house in a sought after area, numerous holidays, beautiful clothes, private school for their sons Connor and Declan, she didn’t want for anything. All their lives changes so rapidly after Finn’s death that Nina and her sons are not only left grieving for a man they adore but also they are left shell shocked when their lives are forced into the complete opposite of what they are used to. 

My heart went out to the boys especially and I thought the way Nina coped with the bereavement was truly admirable. 

This story is not just about grief and life changes but also family relationships past and present.

Thank you Amanda for another fabulous read your talent is endless. 

My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

You can order a copy of The Art of Hiding here

Published on Kindle 18th July 2017 and paperback on 22nd August 2017.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Her Last Breath
Tracy Buchanan
Blog Tour

Guest Review 
Julie Williams

I love this authors previous books and cannot wait to get my teeth stuck into this one, but in the meantime I have the author's Q&As for you and also a guest review by Julie Williams, who beat me to reading it!!

Author Q&A

Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?

Thank you for inviting me on! I’m the author of four ‘beach noir’ novels with HarperCollins, something I now do full-time. I live just outside Milton Keynes with my husband, our sassy four year old daughter and our cheeky puppy, Bronte.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
From a very early age! I would come up with little stories, even create character scrapbooks from my mum’s catalogues. My daughter is now the same so maybe we have another novelist in the making!

What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?
I worked on social media at The Open University where I was involved in managing the university’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. I loved it, was such a varied role and gave me an insight into what works and what doesn’t on social media. I really love the OU and its core values, great place to work! But being an author is what I always wanted to do full-time so here I am!

How do you carry out the research for your novels?
I love to watch documentaries and am on the internet a lot doing research, social media is really useful too. I also visit places to get a sense of location. I used to edit a travel magazine so went on lots of media trips, here in the UK and abroad, and I took notes which have come in really handy. For HER LAST BREATH, I watched documentaries and YouTube videos about landslides, and also followed lots of clean eating gurus to get an insight into that world as the main character Estelle is a clean eating blogger. I even went on a ‘clean eating’ diet. It was a bit too restrictive for me, but I have carried over some tips, like healthy made-from-scratch ‘pot noodles’ and overnight oats!
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I really enjoy working on a new idea, it’s like when you fall in love for the first time, that exciting initial burst of excitement! I find the mid-point of a draft the most difficult, when you start to lose a bit of momentum and can get into plot tangles.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I’m blessed enough to be able to write full-time. So each day, I head to my gorgeous office (one wall is dedicated to a forest scene so feels like I’m writing in a forest!) and
tend to get admin and publicity, like this article, done in the morning. After lunch, I focus on writing and don’t look up until my little girl returns from pre-school.

When you're not writing, what do you like to read?
I enjoy novels set in interesting locations with thriller undertones, so love authors such as Lucy Clarke, Charity Norman and the US writer, Anita Shreve. I’m currently reading Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant and really enjoyed The Girl Before by JP Delaney.

How important do you think social media is to authors in today's society?
It’s fantastic for connecting with readers and other authors. The walls between authors and readers have been broken down by social media and that’s just wonderful. I have some great conversations with readers via social media.

Could you tell the readers a bit about your latest book?
Her Last Breath is about Estelle, a food blogger whose perfect life begins to unravel after receiving a photo of a missing teenager along with a chilling note: I’m watching you. I know everything about you. It leads her back to the seaside town she once lived in which is on the brink of collapse after landslides, uncovering a web of secrets and lies.

Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
I like Aiden in Her Last Breath. He’s a rock climber and works outdoors, no ties. There’s a sense of freedom with that.

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.

Guest review by Julie Williams

Talk about opening a can of worms – that is exactly what Estelle does when she returns to her foster parents in the coastal town of Lillysands, a place she thought she would never set foot in again. 

After receiving a rather worryingly postcard and discovering that the child she put up for adoption many years ago is now missing, Estelle decides she owes it to the father to let him know about Poppy’s existence before the police do. 

Soon after leaving her home in London we discover the awful childhood she endured and what her life was like with her foster parents Max and Autumn, son Aidan and Alice.

All is not as it seems with most of the characters which had me guessing throughout the book. A great gripping read that gives you plenty to think about along the way. Well done Tray on another fabulous thrilling read.

Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC , these are my thoughts on Her Last Breath.

To order a copy of Her Last Breath from Amazon click here

Friday, 14 July 2017

Holiday in the Hamptons
Sarah Morgan

Guest Review
Julie Williams

Guest review by Julie Williams

Firstly what a gorgeous summery cover this novel has, it is screaming holiday read! 

Holiday in the Hamptons is the 5th book from the fabulous Manhattan With Love series, but like all the others in this series can be read as a standalone. 

Personally I just love getting re-acquainted with the characters from the previous books as it gives me an incite as to how their lives have moved on.

This story focus’s on Fliss and Seth, who were married for a short time when Fliss was just 18 years old, but picks up their lives some 10 years later. 

Fliss is still damaged emotionally from her relationship with her father as a child and is extremely protective of her twin sister Harriet. 

As the book progresses Seth and Fliss meet up again and although it is clear that there is still a spark between them, Seth is determined to take it slower this time and show Fliss that she is a good worthy person.

I must admit that this story did take me a bit longer than usual to get into but it was well worth the perseverance as I found this novel a lovely romantic read.

Many thanks to Net galley for the ARC.

To order a copy of Holiday in The Hamptons click here

Thursday, 13 July 2017

I Know my Name
C J Cooke

Guest Review 
Julie Williams

Guest Review by Julie Williams

I thoroughly enjoyed this rather intense book which is the story of a Mum Eloise whose disappearance is surrounded by mystery. 

At first I asked myself how can a Mum of two young children, Cressida still a baby, just walk out on them, but as the tale unfolds I began to understand that it stems from the horrendous abuse Eloise was subjected to as a child and thus the complexity & trauma of it has impacted on her mental health. Therefore she honestly believes that it is in the children’s best interest for her to leave, what a decision to make!

This book is set in two locations Twickenham, London, the family home and Kommeno Island Greece. 

A whole can of worms is released when Eloise vanishes and her husband, Mother and Father have to face the horrific events of her past and some secrets that are closer to home while trying to find her and look after the children. 

I read most of this book holding my breath willing Eloise to remember just who she is and where she belongs. 

This novel is a must for fans of psychological thrillers and I wouldn’t hesitate in reading more from this author in the future.

To order a copy of I Know my Name click here

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Killing Grounds
Jack Ford

Guest Review
Julie Williams

Guest Review by Julie Williams

The Killing Grounds is the start of a new crime series and introduces ex US Navy turned high asset recovery investigator Thomas J Cooper. 

Thomas suffers from PTSD and is addicted to prescription drugs, not that he will admit it, but after his true love Ellie disappears following an encounter with Somali pirates his life changes forever. 

Thomas feels responsible and his passion in searching for her is relentless as well as damaging to his wife and colleague Maddison and their daughter Corrie. This story sees Thomas, Maddison and new recruit Rosedale on a mission to The Democratic Republic of Congo to recover a plane as the owner has defaulted on payments. This leads them all into extremely dangerous territory as the country is totally corrupt and lawless. 

They soon get caught up in uncovering and helping its citizens who are suffering due to poverty, conflict, corruption and death.

This book has a strong US political thread that is interwoven with Coppers assignment which I enjoyed. 

Thanks to HQ Stories and NetGalley for the ARC copy. 

This is my honest opinion.

You can order a copy of The Killing Grounds here

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

White Lies
Ellie Holmes

Guest Review
Julie Williams

My very good friend and reading pal Julie Williams is very kindly reviewing more books than I can at the moment as I am currently undergoing an Apprenticeship for Business & Administration for my job. Hopefully by September I should be able to get back to normal and read more than I am doing at the moment!! Until then, I have another review from Julie for you......Enjoy xx

Review of White Lies by Julie Williams

This is my second book that I have read by this author and it is just as enjoyable. 

Sam and Neil Davenport are married with two children but their marriage is already strained and not helped when one night while driving home from Neil’s birthday celebrations a crash between their car and a motorbike just adds to their marital problems. The accident of course has consequences which both Sam and Neil must accept.

I can’t say that I warmed to any of the main characters but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading about them, I just found myself getting irritated especially with Sam whom I found particularly weak when it came to men. She has been let down all her life by all male role models including her Father, previous boyfriends and her husband, but I still found her a bit of a ‘door mat’. She continually let herself be manipulated and controlled by both her husband Neil and the motorcyclist David. Their deceit and obsession with Sam seemed relentless at times. The only nice adult male is Connor who fortunately offered wisdom when needed.

There are certainly plenty of lies in this book which makes the title apt. Thanks to Ellie for the ARC in return for my honest review.

I give this book 4 stars ****

You can order a copy of White Lies here