The Hellion is officially released on 15th April, and I am planning a virtual launch party to celebrate. It’s not the launch party I had hoped for (though I will be arranging a physical one when restrictions allow!) but it would still be fantastic to come together with you to mark the occasion.
Nitty gritty: anyone and everyone is invited, so feel free to pass the link on to anyone who you think may enjoy it. You don’t need to have read the book (there won’t be any spoilers!), you don’t even need to own it (though if you do want a copy for launch day you can get one here).
The party will last for around 45 minutes (full schedule to be decided, but it won’t be any longer than this). Glasses of champagne are encouraged, snacks optional. Cameras can be on or off, whatever you’re most comfortable with.
The Hellion will be released on 15th April, and as the publication date gets ever closer, I thought it would be a good idea to share some updates and info.
The Hellion is the story of the Device family, who lived in the shadow of Pendle Hill and were haunted by the whisper of witchcraft. Read the full blurb here. It is being published by Unbound Publishers, and is currently available to preorder from most major bookshops (links below).
The launch party is in the planning stages right now! This will be an online party on the 15th April, with details to be announced shortly. It will be open to anyone, and details will be announced on my Instagram (@thesenovelthoughts) and through the blog soon. If you would like to sign up to receive an email invitation, please enter your email address below.
There will also be a short FAQ session as part of the party, so if you have any questions you would like answering (about me, the book, the publishing process, anything!), pop them in the box below and I will answer as many as I can on the day.
The physical launch party will be going ahead as soon as COVID restrictions allow, so stay tuned for updates.
“I absolutely loved this book, it had me gripped from the beginning and I could not put it down until I finished it.” Alison – Goodreads
Reviews for The Hellion are starting to trickle through online, and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who takes the time to rate or review The Hellion. Reviews are vital for authors, and every review you leave helps to spread visibility and bookish love. Thank you!
If you would like to leave a review, here are some popular places to do so:
Ah, now this is exactly the sort of book I love to pick up. A creepy, energetic thriller with just the right balance of horror, intrigue and fantasy.
The beginning of the novel was similar to many haunted house stories – a young woman must visit an old house in the middle of nowhere. When she arrives, she discovers that it is decrepit, mouldy and its occupants decidedly odd. There are silent servants, lecherous men and a cousin who is acting anything but normal.
The protagonist is Noemi, a character that you can’t help rooting for. She is bright and fun and the perfect antithesis to the bleak surroundings, high in the mountains where the mist is a constant companion.
About halfway through, the plot veers away from that of a traditional haunted house tale and becomes something very different. It surprised me, but I loved it. The plot is imaginative and brave, and I am now looking up Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s other books (Gods of Jade and Shadow next, I think!)
Ah, what a joy this book was to read. I absorbed it slowly, savouring every word and getting to know the sweet characters within.
Still Life is the story of Ulysses, a soldier turned globe maker, and Evelyn, a delightfully witty art historian and lecturer. They are generations apart in age, but their respect for one another is one of the key themes in this book.
Set mostly in Florence, I enjoyed every single one of the hours I spent on an Italian terrace as I made my way through the story. We stay mainly with Ulysses, but also grow to know and love his rag tag group of friends who make the move from London to Italy with him.
The book begins in the Second World War, and spans decades. I eventually adored every character, with all their nuances – there was not one I disliked, and I grieved for them when I closed the last page.
There is great depth to Still Life, with many layers of meaning, but the one that struck me most of all was the fleeting nature of life. Of the snapshots that you remember as time follows its unrelenting path, and the memories and people you treasure along the way. Of the fact that, at the same time, you are tiny and insignificant in this universe and enormous and vital in someone else’s world.
Pick up this book, and fall in love.
You can get a copy here – it’s out on June 10th. Thank you to 4th Estate for sending me an advance review copy.
When I heard that a new book by Kazuo Ishiguro was being released, I was extremely excited. I love Never Let Me Go (you can read my review of that book here), and had very high hopes for Klara and the Sun. My excitement was just tinged with a hint of concern that perhaps it could not live up to those expectations.
Well, I am delighted to announce that it did. As always, the depth of detail in Ishiguro’s world was incredible. Klara and the Sun focuses on an artificially intelligent being who is sold as a companion to a child. I won’t say much more about the contents, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone wanting to read it, but I was blown away by the insights into how an artificially intelligent robot might think. You are party to the learning process, as she becomes more socially aware following exposure to varying events. There are countless curiosities – what would a solar powered robot think of the sun? How would a robot’s programming affect what it thought about humans, their emotions and the hierarchy of problems they may have?
As with Never Let Me Go, you do not get any more information than Klara herself has. This naturally leaves many questions unanswered at the end of the book – which is frustrating but, equally, perfect.
I found the novel intensely moving, thought provoking and a genuinely delightful way to spend a weekend. Highly recommended.
I wasn’t able to head to any exciting book shops or restaurants or bars for my birthday this year (and I usually like to spend my birthday PROPERLY enjoying myself), so a little retail therapy was certainly on the cards.
I do love collecting books. The ones I bought will add to some of my favourites sets. I did want to purchase one other book that I’ve had my eye on for a while – Mexican Gothic. However, my process is that I purchase newer releases (read: anything that’s not a classic) second hand, and I then pass them on to friends and family when I’ve read them. Mexican Gothic seems to be too new at the moment for me to pick up a second hand copy online, so I’ll just have to wait.
So, here we go, my birthday books:
1. This Side of Paradise – F. Scott Fitzgerald
A beautiful Barnes and Noble leatherbound edition by one of my favourite authors. I love collecting these big, chunky books and I adore the quality- it’s exceptional.
One good thing does come from lockdown; reading more books. I thought I’d share with you the books I read in January and what I thought of them. A slight caveat to begin – I have been researching cults for some writing, and this dictated most of my choices! However, if you’re interested in cults then this could well be the reading month for you.
I finished 4 books which I was happy with; I generally try to get through one a week.
Book 1 – In Order to Live – Yeonmi Park
What a great way to start a new year’s reading journey. This book was simply astonishing. It documents the true story of Yeonmi Park’s escape from North Korea, and what happened to her afterwards. This book will stay with me for a very, very long time. The chapters sharing her life as a child in North Korea were awful, but unsurprising- full of hunger, illness and an impossible political system. It was what occurred after she escaped over the border with her mother that truly shocked me. I think, like many, I had heard of North Korean defectors and assumed that, once they were free, they were safe. I was wrong on both counts. Yeonmi Park and her mother were neither free nor safe as undocumented refugees in China. I won’t share what happened to them here, but I urge you to pick up this book and read her harrowing, inspirational journey yourself.
My second book of the month was Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk. Keeping in with the cult theme, this is a fast-paced and wild yarn about the last survivor of a suicide cult. As you would expect from Palahniuk, this story investigates the darkest corners of the human condition whilst remaining completely character-focused and utterly readable. I enjoyed it, it had some seriously quotable phrases, but I already find it slipping from my memory. It’s not a book that hit me, you know?
Sometimes you need some pure escapism. I’ve watched the series multiple times and enjoy it. My husband gave me the full box set of the books for Christmas and I thought I’d get stuck in. The series follows this first book very faithfully, so it was an easy read. It was lovely (if that is the correct word to describe a book like this…) to revisit these characters and I spent several happy hours in Westeros. I won’t explain what it’s about because, well, I’m sure you already know.
Ok, I was very divided by this one. The book is a series of interviews conducted by Murakami with survivors of the Tokyo underground terrorist attacks in 1995. The interviews themselves were fascinating. The layout, with different people who experienced the same attack and their contradictory memories, was great. Murakami’s input, however, was jarring. In the introduction, he laid out his efforts to contact survivors. He noted that many women declined, and said that this was probably because the men in their families wouldn’t want them to be interviewed. Of course, I found that angering. Then, prior to an interview with a woman, he described (in great detail) her attractiveness, how men would like her and how she was young enough to be his daughter. The men he clearly admired were described in terms of being controlling, in charge of their families. I understand that a lot of time has passed since this book was written, but I found his attitude towards women to be awful, and it completely distracted from the content of the book.
If you still somehow want a copy, you can get one here!
There you are – my January reads! Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them?
Looking ahead to February, I have a few exciting books on my radar, but I may well read less (due to the very exciting fact that my debut novel The Hellion is being released in a few short weeks…!)
On my Instagram today, I shared the above image of some of my collection of Wuthering Heights editions. This is my favourite novel and, although I have multiple copies of lots of classics, I actively collect different editions of Wuthering Heights.
As I was happily looking at my beautiful editions and reminding myself of scenes in the book (do you have that reaction too? When you pick up a book you’ve enjoyed and the scenes run through your memory like a movie reel?), I realised just how much Emily Brontë has inspired my own writing.
If you’ve followed my blog or Instagram for a little while, you will know that I am a huge fan of the classics and, in particular, classics written by women. Reading these books have, without doubt, made me a better writer and so today I wanted to share with you the female authors of classics whose books I love, and whose writing inspires me.
My debut novel, The Hellion, will be released on 18th March 2021.
Given my introduction, I will have to start with Emily Brontë. Wuthering Heights invokes one thing for me – atmosphere. It is full of gloom, wild and windy moors, ice and darkness. The mood of the book perfectly matches the bleak setting, and I love the hints of ghosts and madness.
The themes of people struggling (and, mostly, failing) to live lives as they choose is highly emotive.
Wuthering Heights is a book that I have read many times, and each time something new shows itself to me.
Daphne du Maurier
The queen of the thriller! Daphne du Maurier’s gothic mystery Rebecca truly took my breath away (I finished it, opened it at the first page and began reading again). It may be unsurprising that I adore both this and Wuthering Heights – they are both books which are, ridiculously, often labelled as love stories or romances, when they are nothing of the sort.
I have read many of Daphne du Maurier’s works, particularly enjoying My Cousin Rachel and the creepy short story Don’t Look Now, but Rebecca is my favourite of hers. The horror that she manages to evoke simply with a choice of dress is astounding.
Shirley Jackson managed to make the every day frightening. Her book of short stories, The Lottery, opened my eyes to just how twisted the mundane can be. One of the stories is about a man who lives in a little flat that he has tried very hard to make perfect. His neighbour invites herself in for dinner, brings along a friend and pretends that the flat is hers – to the extent that the owner has to leave his perfect flat with his perfect things. The storyline sounds simplistic, but Shirley Jackson’s writing made it riveting and frightening.
Then there is We Have Always Lived In The Castle, with the terrifying Merricat. You are never sure whether to pity, despise, love or run from the unique narrator. Shirley Jackson knew how to keep a reader on their toes with pace and unease – something I try to work into my own writing.
I am sure it is difficult to find a writer who has not been inspired by Margaret Atwood – she is simply a genius. The breadth of her writing is inimitable, she is a master at both short stories and novels.
My favourite works by Margaret Atwood are The Handmaid’s Tale, for its darkness, its depth and its glint of hope, and her short story collection Stone Mattress; a weird, interlinked set of yarns. She inspires me with her craft, her wit and her incredible volume of output!
Mary Shelley is best known for her novel Frankenstein, well known for its view into the human psyche with man as the monster. I love her gory take on this. But my favourite Mary Shelley novel is The Last Man. Published in 1826, and set in 2073 onwards, it’s the story of a dystopian world where most people have been wiped out by a deadly disease (sound familiar?).
Mary Shelley was writing dystopian and science fiction before anyone knew what it was, and I am constantly inspired by her dedication to her craft despite her desperately tragic life – if you have a chance to read up on it, I would definitely suggest you do.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman is here simply because of her short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. I haven’t actually read any of her other works, though writing this has reminded me that I should and if you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments.
Written in 1890, her story of mental illness resonates as strongly today as it did then. It is one of those stories, despite being short, that places you directly in the head of the character where you become entirely trapped. Charlotte Perkins Gilman made this list because that story stays with me constantly. It is scary, it is obsessive and it is a feminist masterpiece. She showed me that you can create something incredible without it needing to be 900 pages long.
Do you write? Which authors inspire you? Let me know in the comments.
You can find out more about my debut novel on my blog post here.
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, right? Well, sue me, because I definitely do. I love the classics, and in particular I love beautiful, collectible editions of the classics. Following on from the birth of #bookstagram, there’s been a boom in the number of gorgeous collections. I like to think that those of us sharing the love on Instagram (I’m @thesenovelthoughts over there) have had a big part in bringing all of this excess beauty into the world!
If you want to start book collecting, here are my favourite editions. These books can be more expensive than their mass market paperback alternatives, but keep them well and they will retain their value (and even increase it).
I see book collecting as one of life’s great pleasures, and I’m delighted to share some of my favourite collections with you. I’ll share my favourite book from each collection, and I hope you enjoy these aesthetically pleasing beauties.
Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Of course, I have to start with these. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I have gradually built up my collection of these over the years. I love the excellent craftsmanship (they are hefty, heavy and great big blocks of books), the delightful, unique designs and the value. By value, I mean the way that they are limited, and keep them long enough and they will gain value – an investment, if you like. This edition of War and Peace is the most perfect one I have ever seen.
Penguin Clothbound Classics
One of the most instantly recognisable collections out there, the Penguin clothbound classics (designed by the inimitable Coralie Bickford-Smith) are so simple and yet so beautiful. These tend to be very affordable (around the £15 mark) and look utterly delightful together on a shelf. I adore the repeating designs, and particularly this one for Arabian Nights. Issues with earlier prints where the foil would wear easily have been rectified with the later editions, so they are much more hard-wearing now too.
Canterbury Classics Word Cloud
The key to these designs is the accessibility. They each have key quotes from the text embedded on the cover, and each one has an individual, block colour – making them extremely pleasing all together on a shelf. In fact, the word cloud classics are so beautiful that I have seen them used as a house decoration piece on their own right in many instances. Just look at the incredible tone of this Northanger Abbey edition.
Virago Modern Classics
Virago publish works by women, and the hardcover modern classics collection has a really wonderful mix of books. If you’re looking for exceptional books written by women, then I would recommend picking up anything from this collection. They are extremely readable, too – in fact, these editions are some of the ones I most frequently pick up. Rebecca is one of my favourite books, and this is the edition that I always, always read.
Vintage Russian Classics
Vintage have released a few collections in this thick, paperback design (including European Classics and Japanese Classics), but I think the Russian Classics are my favourite. The patterns are utterly delightful, and work so well with these long tomes. They are portable and hardwearing, and very affordable. I highly recommend these if you want to start reading some great Russian literature. This Anna Karenina edition is the one I read when I tackled the book for the first time.
Thomas Nelson Seasons Editions
I gush about these lovelies very often (as a browse through my blog will tell you), and with good reason. These editions are special and they are to be treated with care. The paper cut design is fragile, and that just emphasises the beauty. The images themselves are intricate and the colours well chosen. There are only 10,000 of each available – making them extremely covetable. This edition of Dracula is my favourite, even though it hasn’t even been published! It’ll be released in September, and is available for preorder now.
Penguin English Library
These books are paperback as you would traditionally imagine them, but with the most thoughtful and perfect patterns (again, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith). I love these editions because they are so accessible, but also have that touch of class. I don’t mind throwing them in a bag or dog earring pages because – interestingly enough – they look almost better a bit scruffed up. Look at this incredible Animal Farm cover!
Another flexibound offering – like the word cloud classics – that is eye-catching, affordable and so, so collectible. The Knickerbocker Classics are a joy to read – and a joy to see on your shelf too. I love the nod towards nature, with a plant/flower/water theme to many of the designs, including this beautiful Wuthering Heights.
The images never do these books justice. They are pearlescent, they glow. The hardback is solid and these little books are heavy. They just exude quality. I own just four of these, and I am always on the lookout for more. This edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is top of my list.
Macmillan Collector’s Library
These adorable, small hardback books are one of the sweetest to spot on your bookshelf. Each one has sprayed gold edges and a beautiful dust jacket. The joy comes underneath the dust jacket, though. They are all clothbound in baby blue – and they are absolutely beautiful. I love collecting these, and it helps that the people at Macmillan are just lovely. Check out this gorgeous Frankenstein edition.
Do you collect books? Which are your favourite ones to collect? Let me know in the comments.
Classics can seem a bit daunting. If you’ve picked up War and Peace and put it straight back down again, you’re certainly not alone. Classics aren’t for everyone, and that is totally fine. Absolutely no judgement about what you read here! But if you’re planning on dipping your toe into the water and reading some classics for the first time (or since love for them was bashed out of you at school), here are my recommendations.
I’ll give some tips for reading each one. When you start to read classics, the writing may well seem clunky; it might be tricky for you to get into the flow. But stick with it and you will reap the rewards!
Classics are great, but they do need special care and attention. Keep the TV off, pour a nice cup of tea and let yourself be immersed completely in these picks…
Dracula was published in 1897, but it certainly doesn’t read like a book that is over 120 years old. It is creepy and full of character.
You will probably know some of, if not all of, the story (please be aware that the recent adaption does not follow the story particularly) – which is a bonus. You are already part of the way there!
The writing feels fairly modern, and it will keep you entirely hooked.
If you like your novels with a healthy dose of smut (that’s probably most of us), you have Lady Chatterley’s Lover to thank. It was first published privately in 1928, but it wasn’t released fully in the U.K. until 1960. It had been subject to an obscenity trial which the publisher (Penguin) eventually won and the book sold 3 million copies.
This led the way for books to include more sex, and laid the pathway to the more open conversations we have today.
Aside from the historical importance, it’s also a great read when you’re new to classics. There’s a love story that will leave you wanting more, and you will continue reading to find the parts that caused it to be banned in the first place!
If you want to dip your toe into the classics, why not start with a novel that feels as though it was written today?
George Orwell’s dystopian novel, published in 1949, will feel eerily similar to present day as you read it. You’ll notice all of the resemblances and leave desperate to read more of his work (I’d suggest Animal Farm next).