A sneak preview

I’ve broken away from writing this week to prepare for the UK paperback publication of ‘Messy, Wonderful Us’. You might think that Mother’s Day 2020 is ages away, but not in the publishing world! There are still lots of behind-the-scenes jobs to be done before the book hits the shelves and one of them is coming up with the blurb that appears on the back. The hope is that those words are so compelling that you simply can’t leave a bookshop without buying it (even if you already have way too many books on your TBR pile already). Sometimes these are written by an editor, sometimes the author; in this case it was a joint effort. Click on the video to hear what mine will say!

Books I’ve loved this month

I have a few brilliant recommendations this month, starting with the novel everyone’s been talking about…

  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Oh, wow. This is every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be. I first read The Handmaid’s Tale about 25 years ago and have loved all three series of the Hulu show. I’m a massive audiobook fan so listed to the latest instalment of Atwood’s modern classic on Audible. Part of it is narrated by Ann Dowd who plays Aunt Lydia in the TV version and she is superb - by which I mean terrifying. The book answers all the questions that were left hanging in the last pages of the original novel and - although I’ve heard it said that the ending is too neat - I disagree with that entirely. To me it was absolute perfection. What a novel.

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Depending on where in the world you’re reading this, you’ve probably either never heard of this book or have heard of nothing but. It’s been on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks and weeks but in the UK it hasn’t really made the same impact… yet. Set in around a fictional town on the North Carolina coast, its main protagonist is Kya Clark, the so called “Marsh Girl” who survives alone for years after being abandoned as a child and finds ‘friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand’. In late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, it’s Kya whom locals immediately suspect. It’s part murder-mystery, part coming of age, part a exquisite tale of secrets and humanity. I loved it.

  • Finally, I received an advance copy of a book that is well worth looking out for when it comes out next month. A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins features two very different heroines, Beth and Izzy, to whom something happened eight years ago that now throws them together. I’ll avoid spoilers, but suffice to say the ‘something’ represents a spectacular premise for a novel that unfolds into drama, romance and raises some thought-provoking questions for anyone who has ever wanted to be a mother.

Last night’s Maray Book Club with Anstey Harris

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Last night at the MARAY BOOK CLUB here in Liverpool we welcomed Anstey Harris, the author of The “Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton” (“Goodbye, Paris”, for readers in the US). It was one of my favourite books of 2018 when I read a preview last year. We had such a good night with Anstey talking about her novel, which has received widespread critical acclaim and is a Richard and Judy pick. The next event is on November 14th at the usual venue, Maray and our guest author is Iona Grey with her stunning book, The Glittering Hour. These events sell out super-fast, but by subscribing to this newsletter you get first dibs on tickets. HERE THEY ARE!

This month’s giveaway

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This beautiful book has just been chosen for the Radio 2 Book Club and it’s my giveaway this month. The lucky winner was picked at random from my newsletter subscribers and is . . . Kim Chivers. Congratulations! x

Books, food and top authors, all in one room. Introducing the Maray Book Club...

I’m extremely excited to announce that, from next month, I’ll be teaming up with my favourite Liverpool restaurant for the inaugural Maray Book Club. Launching on Thursday June 13, I’ll be the regular host of a new event that combines great food and drink with an appearance by a top author. Our first guest is Catherine Steadman, Downton Abbey actress turned novelist, who I’ll be interviewing at the Allerton Road restaurant about the paperback release of her #1 New York Times bestseller SOMETHING IN THE WATER (which Reece Witherspoon is currently developing into a movie). Next, on July 11, is Louise Candlish, whose superb thriller Our House was one of the big hits of 2018. She will be joining us in Liverpool to mark the launch of her follow up hardback novel, THOSE PEOPLE. Tickets for each event cost £30. The price includes a selection of dishes from the Maray kitchen, a glass of wine AND a book which the author will personally sign for you on the night. I’m so looking forward to what I hope will be a wonderful celebration of new books in my home city. So, what are you waiting for etc etc… Click here to get your tickets now!