The Hellion by Harriet Young – Updates, News and Reviews

The Hellion author Harriet Young

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).

News

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.

Reviews

“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:

Goodreads – free to set up an account

Amazon – you don’t need to have bought the book from Amazon to leave a review on there

The StoryGraph – an awesome website which will track your reading too

LoveReading – sign up to add books to your bookshelf

Updates

If you’re keen to read The Hellion right now, the audiobook is available to listen to. It’s narrated by Melanie Crawley, and you can find it on scribd, audible, Google play, and many more.

The paperback and ebook are available to preorder from a variety of places including:

Waterstones

W H Smith

Book Depository

Blackwell’s

Wordery

Bookshop.org

Amazon

Unbound

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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!)

You can find Mexican Gothic here.

Still Life by Sarah Winman

Still Life by Sarah Winman

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.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

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.

You can get a copy of Klara and the Sun here.

Birthday Book Haul

Birthday Book Haul

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:

Wuthering Heights, leatherbound and clothbound classic 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.

You can find it here.

2. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

I have multiple editions of this book – my favourite novel. When I spotted this one, I had to get it. It’s a Puffin Clothbound Classic and a jewel in my collection.

You can get a copy here.

The next books are all Penguin clothbound classics. I strive to finish this collection, though they keep publishing beautiful new ones!

3. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole (can be found here).

4. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott (get it here).

5. Animal Farm – George Orwell (available here).

I’m so pleased with this little stack. I’m already looking forward my next birthday!

Reasons Why Writing Is Good For The Soul

Reasons Why Writing Is Good For The Soul

Black and white cat sitting at a desk with piles of books

Writing as a hobby is often overlooked in favour of those (allegedly) sexier and more fashionable pastimes which come and go as frequently as lockdowns – there’s a simile for our modern times. Cross stitch, banana bread baking, jigsaws, the evergreen computer gaming – all of these are commendable hobbies and I’m not here to dictate how you to choose to spend your valuable free time. Do what brings you joy! But my point is that writing rarely finds its way onto these lists.

However, I am here with a delightful writing form of inception to share why writing IS a wonderful hobby, whilst also writing as a hobby.

Here we go…

It requires almost nothing to get started

Got a pen and paper? You’re ready to go. A fancy, brand new laptop? Great, open up the word processor. The notes app on your phone? Go, go, go! A dry pavement and a watering can? How artful.

Writing doesn’t need anything special (although very little can beat the feeling of a fresh, empty notebook) and you don’t need to do any training – unless you want to, of course. For me, although I’m well aware that it is different for everyone, writing as a hobby means not worrying if it’s good or bad and not striving for improvement, though that happily comes the more you do it.

If you want a course to direct your mind as you write, there are many available and they often crop up on websites such as Groupon. I did one a few years ago and found it quite fun, although I ended up pressuring myself to finish it.

It opens you up to yourself

Although this is definitely true when journaling, I find that any type of writing does this. Write for long enough, and you’ll find something of yourself. Writing a diary, where you slow down your thoughts and take the time to lay each of them gently on a sheet of paper, forces you to take the time to consider how you feel. It doesn’t matter if you store your diaries for the rest of your life or burn the paper as soon as it’s written. The process is what is important, not the finished product.

It resonates with other people

If you choose to share your writing (and you certainly don’t have to, it is just as valuable either way), there is the inevitability that someone out there in the world will stumble across your words and feel that you have managed to scribe their exact thoughts and feelings.

You know that thing where you read something and think ‘huh! I thought I was the only one…’, or that thing where you read a sentence and it just…sticks. It almost becomes a mantra, because it feels so you? Your writing can do that too. It’s not about likes or shares or anything like that – it’s about the magic of human connection.

Perfection is not only unnecessary, it’s impossible

There is absolutely no book, or poem, or letter, that everyone on this earth likes. Trying to write one that everyone does is completely futile. The key, in my opinion, to successful writing as a hobby (and by successful, I mean that it becomes a hobby that sticks) is dropping all expectation and just letting it take you where it takes you.

As soon as you stop striving for perfection, your output will be greater and your enjoyment will be higher. And – curiously – you’ll also probably find that your writing is better.

It can be anything you want it to be

If you want to write a novel, great. If you don’t, also great. If you want all of the spelling and grammar to be spot on, great. If you want to just let it flow and forget about full stops and stressing about spelling, also great.

If you struggle to get started, try checking out my blog post on Writing – How to Start and How Not to Stop

What do you love about writing? Let me know in the comments.

If you fancy checking out more of my writing, you can buy my debut novel, The Hellion, here or read more about it here.

10 Of The Most Beautiful Classic Book Collections

Barnes and Noble leatherbound classics collection

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.

War and peace Barnes and Noble leatherbound

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.

Arabian Nights Penguin clothbound classics

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.

Northanger Abbey Canterbury Classics Word Cloud Classics

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.

Rebecca Virago Modern Classics

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.

Anna Karenina Vintage Russian Classics

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 Dracula

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.

Animal Farm Penguin English Library

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!

Wuthering Heights Knickerbocker Classics

Knickerbocker Classics

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.

Chiltern Classics Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Chiltern Classics

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 Frankenstein

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.

Things We Lost In The Fire – Mariana Enriquez

Things We Lost In The Fire – Mariana Enriquez

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“Her body refused to turn around; something was holding her there in the bedroom doorway. But she wasn’t dreaming. You don’t feel pain in dreams.

It is no secret that I am a fan of weird and wonderful short stories (and occasionally enjoy getting my quill out to write some of my own), and the joy of stumbling across a collection which is as good as this one is almost indescribable.

Things We Lost In The Fire is…there’s no other word for it, it’s terrifying. These are modern day, gothic horror stories set in the slums of Buenos Aires. Each is fast-paced, twisting and turning with terror building with each line.

I tend to judge the success of horror stories by the weirdness of my dreams after reading – and based on the disturbed sleep I had, this collection is a winner.

One of my favourites was The Neighbor’s Courtyard, a terrifically creepy yarn which reminded me, with its obsession, of The Yellow Wallpaper. But all of the stories are very good, and all very different.

You know that excitement when you read a book you love, will remember forever, and that you know you won’t stop recommending to people, probably ever? Yep. This is one of them. I’m sad that I can’t experience the joy of reading it for the first time again.

You can find Things We Lost In The Fire here and the book tracker bookmarks here.

Orfeia – Joanne M. Harris

Orfeia – Joanne M. Harris

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My plaid away, my plaid away,

And o’er the hill and far away,

And far away to Norroway,

My plaid shall not be blown away.

Oh, how I love a fairy tale retelling. They are so deeply immersive and, when well-written, pick you up and spirit you away to another world.

Orfeia is a retelling of the Orpheus myth (a quick recap – Orpheus’ wife Eurydice died and Orpheus went to the underworld to beg for her life. The gods allowed her release as long as Orpheus did not look back at her as they travelled back to the land of the living. Unable to do so, Orpheus looked back and Eurydice was gone forever). Orfeia draws on the themes of death and grief, but focuses instead on a mother and her daughter.

As with all of Harris’ work, the story is beautifully told. Magic weaves through it and you question dreams and reality. I rushed through the book in a few sittings, swept away by the enchanting tale, and it would be perfect for a chilly autumn evening- by the fire with a glass of wine.

The book is illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins (who also illustrated A Pocketful of Crows and The Blue Salt Road) and the beautiful drawings bring Harris’ words to life.

Highly recommended!

You can find Orfeia here and the book tracker bookmarks here.

Thomas Nelson Seasons Editions

Thomas Nelson Seasons Editions Winter Summer

Last winter, the publishers Thomas Nelson released the Winter Seasons Editions, a set of four books with glorious laser cut cover designs. They are limited edition, with just 10,000 copies of each book available to buy. You can see in the picture above that I managed to get my hands on three of the collection – Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and A Tale of Two Cities. I missed out on the fourth! Little Women sold out very quickly and, although I have alerts everywhere for a copy, I haven’t been able to find a second hand one for under £200. That’s how special they are.

So when I received the news that the Summer Seasons Editions were on their way, I was determined not to make the same mistake again. Thomas Nelson were kind enough to send me this copy of Jane Eyre to feature on my Instagram, and let me tell you that the Summer Editions are even better than the winter ones, so I think they will sell out quickly. They have listened to feedback from their first set and these ones have a thicker protective wrap. They also each come with a laser cut bookmark. As with the winter books, they’re all individually numbered too.

The Summer Seasons Editions are being released on 30th June, so you can preorder the set now and make sure you don’t miss out. Although I’ve preordered the rest of the set from Amazon, and they won’t be delivering to here in the UK until 23rd July. Still, the wait will make the anticipation even greater!

Here’s where you can get the collections from:

Winter Seasons Editions:

Pride & Prejudice

Wuthering Heights

A Tale Of Two Cities

Little Women – this link is to a currently (at the time of posting) available secondhand copy for £207.45. I am not sure how long this will last!

Summer Seasons Editions:

Jane Eyre

Persuasion

Wonderland Collection

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Thomas Nelson Seasons Editions Winter Summer