Posts by LibrarianLaura

MLS Librarian and Book Blogger. Wife, Mom of boys & dogs, lover of books, baking, running, and strong coffee. SLJ/LJ Reviewer. Cross Country Coach.

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

About The Keeping of Secrets

The Keeping of Secrets CoverThe keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

Purchase from Amazon UK – Amazon UK
Purchase from Barnes & Noble – Barnes & Noble

About Author Alice Graysharp

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Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain
Website: https://www.alicegraysharp.com/

Q&A with Author, Alice Graysharp

1. How did you get started as a writer?

When I was six my parents and grandparents were subjected to recitals of my childish scribbling and I wrote an adventure story when I was ten. About two and a half years ago, I realized that time was passing and if I ever wanted to get a book published I’d better get on with it! I spoke with a publisher about a trilogy I had in mind and they suggested I start with a one-off story as a first time novel, so I wrote The Keeping of Secrets – although ironically it’s turned out to be the first of a two parter. I’d love to be in a financial position to write full time, so I need lots of people to buy my book (unsubtle hint!).

3. What is your favourite under-appreciated novel?

The Fisherman’s Daughter by Molly Jackson.

4. What is your favourite childhood book?

That’s a difficult one as I had different favourites at different stages of childhood. As a very young child I loved my Dad reading Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott to me. Then when I could first read, it was Enid Blyton’s The Adventurous Four, a story of spies, danger and derring-do in wartime Britain. At ten it was The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. All about keeping a secret, a familiar theme! If I had to pick one of them I suppose it would be The Scarlet Pimpernel.

5. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

At home it’s the end of the dining room table as that’s the only space available, but quite a lot of The Keeping of Secrets was actually written in cheap hotel rooms. Over the course of about a year I took myself off once every few weeks on a bargain deal, booking a room from 2pm till 12 noon the next day, stocking up at the supermarket on my way, then researching and writing for the next 22 hours, less about 4 hours sleep!

6. Tell us about your typical process for starting a new book.

I already have the rough storyline playing out in my head. I write episodically, so I’ll initially write a few scenes from different parts of the book to get a feel for the characters and events.

7. How do you select the names of your characters?

Chosing names can be tricky – you have to check there isn’t someone else with the same unusual name who might sue you for defamation! On the other hand, a very common name is safe. For my main character I balanced her name with an old fashioned middle name, Adela, and also gave that to her mother as that is quite traditional in some families. My main character’s first name, Patricia, is part of James’ chat up line, and the reason she was so named is echoed later. Most names flow from the characters or the era in which they live. Some surnames are an invented variation of a recognized surname.

8. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Finding time to do the actual writing! There’s the research before and during the writing, and then, after a book is published, there’s a lot of publicity work involved. I enjoy all these aspects of being an author. I’m often composing scenes in my head when I’m out and about, or revisit scenes I’ve thought about before, which makes the physical creation of the words when I have the time to do the writing a bit easier and quicker than if I tried to invent scenes from cold.

9. Are you working on any new novels at this time? If so, can you share a little about them?

I’m writing what I call an interquel – a story that slots in between the last chapter and the epilogue of The Keeping of Secrets. We meet a number of the characters again at different stages of their lives and find how a secret stumbled upon by a new character has repercussions over the years.

I’ve also started the seventeenth century trilogy that’s been in my head since I was sixteen about a new strong, passionate and resilient character, Free, and her experience of the Civil War, Commonwealth and the Restoration periods.

10. What is your favourite/most valued work that you have written?

Other than The Keeping of Secrets, that would be a poem about going to a derby football match. I’ve experienced the extra buzz in anticipating a derby fixture, the agony of losing and the ecstasy of winning.

Special thanks to Clink Street Publishing and to Author, Alice Graysharp for being a special guest at librarianlaura.com today. I hope you enjoy Alice’s novel as much as I have!

 

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The Watcher by Monika Jephcott-Thomas

 

About The Watcher

The Watcher Cover.jpgIt’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cozy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2jpKeBs

About the Author

Monkika Jephcott Thomas.jpgMonika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. In 2016 her first book Fifteen Words was published. Website – http://monika-jephcott-thomas.com/

Q&A with Author, Monika Jephcott-Thomas

1. How did you get started as a writer?

After my parents death I looked through all their papers, letters , photos and documents they left behind and decided they would be a good foundation for a novel.

2. How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t write daily, as writing is my hobby and not my main job, which is training adults who work with children in play therapy to alleviate their emotional, behavioural and mental health problems and enable their potential. See www playtherapy.org.uk

3. What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Goethe’s Werther

4. What is your favorite childhood book?

Gulliver’s Travels

5. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

Yes, in our house in France looking out into nature.

6. How do you select the names of your characters?

In my novels they came from German characters that I thought would fit.

7. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Having the inspiration at the time when I need it.

8. What is your favorite/most valued work that you have written?

My autobiography, Under the Pear Tree.

 

Special thanks to Clink Street Publishing and to Author, Monika Jephcott-Thomas for being a special guest at librarianlaura.com today. I hope you enjoy Monika’s novels as much as I have!

 

Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott-Thomas

 

Fifteen Words Cover

Librarian Laura’s Review

Fifteen Words is set in 1930’s Nazi Germany. Recently married to his fellow physician and sweetheart, Erika, German soldier and doctor, Max Portner, is ripped from his happy days as a newlywed and sent off to the front lines to serve as a doctor for the German army during WWII.  About the only bright point of being involved in such an ugly war is the fact that two of his best friends and fellow physicians are by his side, Horst and Edgar. Then Max and his comrades are rounded up by the Russian enemy and made prisoners of war in a frozen work camp in Siberia called Gegesha, with little to no comfort, decency, or sustenance. Max is allowed to leave the camp for short periods of time, walking a long trek to a nearby village to serve as doctor to other Russian commanders and their wives. After returning from a rather eventful trip where he had to deliver a baby to a Russian officer’s wife, Max is accused wrongly by Volkov, the camp commanding officer. He is thrown into solitary confinement in a cage for six weeks for no apparent reason other than the brutality and hatred of Volkov for the German army.

Meanwhile, while Max is spending long, painful days as a POW, his young wife Erika travels with her father-in-law Karl to safety in another village after being thrown out of their household. Little known to Max, Erika is pregnant. Once her daughter, Netta, is born, Erika decides to start practicing medicine, as she has no clue when or if she will ever see her husband again. With the help of her father-in-law, Karl, and the handsome handyman Rodrick, Erika sets up a surgery unit in their home and begins seeing patients. Erika struggles to raise their daughter without Max present and while her home is destroyed by war.

The only communication between Max and Erika during the four years he is a POW in Gegesha is through brief, mundane messages, as the Russians only allow prisoners to send fifteen word messages to loved ones. As Max and Erika are kept apart, they each grow closer to and are tempted by others, threatening their own marriage.

Told in alternating points-of-view, Max and Erika’s daily lives unfold for readers. Though the couple is kept apart for over four years, while they each flashback to times they shared together. This is a love story, but also a story of survival during times of great trial and turmoil. Fans of both romance and historical fiction will enjoy this novel. The ending begs for a sequel, which Jephcott Thomas has written, called The Watcher.

About Author Monika Jephcott ThomasMonkika Jephcott Thomas

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. In 2016 her first book Fifteen Words was published.

Website – http://monika-jephcott-thomas.com/

Q&A With Monika Jephcott-Thomas

1. How did you get started as a writer?

After my parents death I looked through all their papers, letters , photos and documents they left behind and decided they would be a good foundation for a novel.

2. How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t write daily, as writing is my hobby and not my main job, which is training adults who work with children in play therapy to alleviate their emotional, behavioural and mental health problems and enable their potential. See www playtherapy.org.uk

3. What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Goethe’s Werther

4. What is your favorite childhood book?

Gulliver’s Travels

5. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

Yes, in our house in France looking out into nature.

6. How do you select the names of your characters?

In my novels they came from German characters that I thought would fit.

7. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Having the inspiration at the time when I need it.

8. What is your favorite/most valued work that you have written?

My autobiography, Under the Pear Tree.

Special thanks to Clink Street Publishing and to Author, Monika Jephcott-Thomas for being a special guest at librarianlaura.com today. I hope you enjoy Monika’s novels as much as I have!

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

15797848Stephanie Perkins’ YA horror/thriller novel, There’s Someone Inside Your House, will have adults and teens alike reeling until the very last page. Think Scream, but much more original and clever! Try to go right to sleep after finishing this book and let me know how that works out for you. It certainly didn’t work for me!

Makani left Hawaii and is now in her senior year at a small school in rural Nebraska, in the farming town of Osborne. She lives with her aging, and somewhat senile grandmother, sent to help her by her soon-to-be-divorced and non-present parents, who stayed behind in Hawaii. Her two best friends are Alex and Darby, and though she sometimes feels like the third-wheel of the group, she is going through the motions of surviving high school, all the while trying to keep a low profile so that no one finds out the true reason she left Hawaii and changed her last name to Young. Makani starts to take a renewed interest in Ollie Larssen, one of her classmates who is sexy and mysterious, but doesn’t care what others think about him, or his recent hot pink hair color. Ollie lives with his slightly older brother, Chris, a town police officer, because their parents were killed by a drunk driver a few years ago.

As Makani and Ollie get to know each other better (nothing like a good steamy romance!), random high school students are being brutally murdered one-by-one.  Makani fearfully begins to wonder who will be next. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how the students are being chosen at random, but Makani can’t help but wonder if her past and the incident in Hawaii is finally catching up with her in Nebraska. The murders start to increase at an alarming rate, but the killer manages to escape capture, leaving a gruesome setup at each murder scene.

The book is packed with both fear and romance, a killer combination that will keep readers fascinated. I couldn’t put the book down! It was a very fast read, but the scenes and grisly details stayed with me well after I had read the last page. The murder scenes were bizarre and original, causing Perkins’ first horror novel to be a stand-out from other books of this genre.

Perhaps my favorite thing about the book is that the killer is revealed about three-quarters of the way through the book, and readers don’t have to wait until the final page to know who it is. However, even after the killer is revealed (in a most unsettling & painful way for Makani and Ollie, by the way), he/she keeps on killing, right under everyone’s noses. It’s crazy! The plot is original, wildly entertaining, and filled with creepy moments. When you start a young adult novel and one of the characters is murdered savagely in the first chapter, you know it’s going to be a game-changer for young adult horror. Fans of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer will absolutely love this book!

To quote of my high school student readers, “It was a real slasher!” (She gave it a 10 of 10.)

Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian

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Originally published in School Library Journal, May 2017.

Grade 9 & up: Van, 17, was forced to grow up quickly in the slipstream of her mentally ill, brilliant mother. Her father died of a drug overdose when she was an infant. Van, her mother Sophie, and Ida, a surrogate grandmother, have lived as vagrants, following Sophie’s work. Leaving their home in Uzbekistan, the women land in Vegas, the city that never sleeps, for Sophie’s job at the Silver Saddle Casino. Van is tutored and left to spend her free time inside the lavish place with, Alex, a handsome college student, as her guide. Alex becomes her first true friend and love interest. Playing the guitar has always been Van’s true joy and form of escape, and she is now given the opportunity to join a band. Then, tragedy strikes and her family unit is falling apart before her very eyes. With Ida ill and Sophie caught in a scam, taken to the Sedona desert for “healing” by a cult, Van follows, determined to save her mother. The pacing is quick, parallel to the constant movement of Van and her mother Sophie. Van has an out of body experience and ends up fighting to survive in the desert. The end is filled with heavy-hearted goodbyes, but also hope and promise for Van’s future. It’s more of a beginning as Van makes a tough decision to set out on her own. The mood throughout is laced with worry and uncertainty, and readers will empathize with Van. Burian’s debut realistic fiction novel is based upon real-life events she witnessed. VERDICT: Recommended for general purchase, teen readers will enjoy the story line and well developed characters, while rooting for the strong female lead to survive what life has dealt her.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

After waiting 5medium years for John Green to publish another young adult book, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the long wait was totally worth it!

Turtles All the Way Down is the story of Aza Holmes, a 16 year old high school student, and her daily struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder. The author also struggles daily with obsessive compulsive disorder, and in a sense Aza’s story has been and continues to be his story. Though the story is fictional, he also writes from a very personal perspective, as he has struggled with the same mental illness since his childhood. At first, I wondered and pondered where in the world the title and the fabulous stack of orange turtle shapes on the cover came from. But then I read a great interview/article about Green and the meaning of the book and it all made sense. About three-quarters of the way through the novel, Green reveals (through Aza) why turtles are used as a symbol for Aza’s OCD thought spirals. You can read the article here.

As with most John Green novels, there is a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance to keep the story unique and oh so fun to read. Additionally, the novel takes place in Green’s hometown of Indianapolis, which I love. Born and raised a Hoosier, and having lived in Indianapolis for a number of years, I find it so cool to read about places I’ve been and roads that I’ve traveled on in a fictional story. Total fan girl moment!

Aza spends her days in class and many evenings hanging out at Applebees with her best friend Daisy. Daisy is a fun-loving character who writes Star Wars fan fiction, and certainly a friend I would like to have. Aza’s mom is a high school teacher, and her father passed away suddenly when Aza was younger. Aza dreads her required visits with her therapist, Dr. Singh, and doesn’t always take the prescribed medication, as she feels that a tiny white pill shouldn’t be in control of her decisions or her self. The story takes an interesting twist when Aza crosses paths with an old friend from “sad camp,” Davis Pickett.  Davis lost his mother at a young age, so he and Aza share a common loss – that of a parent. Davis’s father, Russell,  has mysteriously disappeared, and there is a $100,000 reward at stake for anyone who helps authorities locate him. Russell Pickett is extremely rich, but also a fugitive, who is wanted for a fraud and bribery. He disappears in order to avoid being arrested, a move which leaves Davis and his younger brother Noah to fend for themselves. Aza decides to investigate and drags Daisy into her plans. What else has she got to do? And it will give her a chance to get to know Davis a little better, now that he’s all grown up and stirs in Aza new feelings that she hasn’t felt before.

As Aza digs into Russell’s disappearance and tries to sort out what little clues there are, she also grows closer and closer to Davis. However, she is having more difficulty maintaining control of her thought spirals and OCD-induced behaviors. The story peaks and then ends on a bittersweet note, but not in an expected or predictable way, which is much appreciated.

Turtles All the Way Down is now my favorite John Green novel. Green’s personal experience with mental illness shines through in Aza’s character, causing the story to take a life of its own in such a beautiful direction. I would highly recommend this novel to teens and adults. The language is more of the adult nature, but there aren’t any explicit scenes as in some young adult books. As with all John Green novels, there are some memorable passages and quotes that will always stick with me.

Here are a few of my favorites:

When Aza sees Davis in the restaurant on date night, she notices his sleeves are exposing his forearms and notes, “I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been pretty keen on the male forearm.” I think this is perfectly quirky and lovable, just like Aza.

And my ultimate favorite is on the final page during a good-bye moment, “no one ever says good-bye unless they want to see you again.” Ending the book in that way leaves a hopeful outlook for Aza.

Read this book. You will love every page. Trust me. I read and I know things! (That’s on a t-shirt I saw, and I think I must have it.)

Operation Clean Up Day by Jason Tucker

OperationCleanUpDay_BannerOperation Clean Up Day Cover

Operation Clean Up Day, a picture book by Jason Tucker and illustrated by Nick Roberts will be released on September 28, 2017 by Clink Street Publishing.

Operation Clean Up Day offers a simple story line with a clear message for little ones. It is split into different sections, called “Missions,” for different areas of the house that the two young boys need to clean up for their Mummy (ex: The Kitchen, The Bathroom, The Bedroom). With rhyming text and whimsical illustrations, readers see many different types of imaginative worlds dreamed up by the two young boys who would rather be playing make-believe than doing housework. From knights and ogres in the Kitchen to aliens and spaceships in the Bedroom, this little story have some amazing illustrations. The illustrations brilliantly portray the very active imaginations of two little boys. Dinosaurs, dragons, aliens, spaceships, castles, ogres…what more could a kid want in a picture book?

The ending is playful with the boy winking at readers. This story would be great for children age 5-10, who will relate to both the characters and the situation. A lesson to be learned for readers is that if you want to play, or go to the pool (as the two little boys are hoping to do), you must clean and tidy up first. Adults will have fun reading the book to youngsters as well.

Thank you to Authoright Marketing for allowing me to review a copy of this book.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Operation-Clean-Day-Jason-Tucker/dp/1912262320/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1503072973&sr=8-2

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/operation-clean-up-day-jason-tucker/1126986275?ean=9781912262328

About the author:

Born and raised in London, Jason Tucker is married and is a father of three young boys. He is enjoying an international working life basing himself between London and Dubai. This is his first published work with a number of other titles in the pipeline as well as working on a number of other ventures including TV, Film & graphic novels.