Many thanks to Legend Press for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘The Tin Nose Shop’ by Don J Snyder, and for supplying me with an ARC of the book to review in a non-biased and honest manner.
INSPIRED BY ONE OF THE LAST GREAT UNTOLD STORIES OF WW1
1916. Young artist Sam Burke is spared death by firing squad on the battlefields of France and brought to a remote castle by the Irish Sea. At the ‘Tin Nose Shop’ he is tasked with creating intricate masks to hide the mutilated faces of his fellow soldiers from the Front. While he tries to come to terms with the death of his best friend and the promise he failed to keep, Sam and the disfigured soldiers struggle to return to their former lives and their loved ones.
A stirring and emotional tale based on the real-life story of the Tin Nose Shop.
‘The Tin Nose Shop’ intrigued me at the very beginning. Despite having read multiple historical fiction set during the war, I hadn’t ever heard of masks being made for disfigured soldiers – it was nice to learn something new and to find out a bit more information about such a momentous time.
For me personally, the concept of the storyline was what grabbed my attention. I enjoyed the uniqueness of the idea. It was refreshing I must say.
That said, I do wish that that had a little more focus in the book. I felt like there was a lot of coverage surrounding Katie, Sam and Ned’s relationship, as well as Sam’s meeting with Lily, yet I wanted more about the main concept.
I thought the chapter headings were brilliantly thought out and cleverly done, and the authors attention to detail when it came to describing certain situations, feelings, and scenery, was spot on – everything seemed to come to life which I loved.
I also thought that the way the story was told, switching between narratives and locations was a little difficult to follow at times, and I couldn’t help but feel as though I had unintentionally missed out vital pieces of information as the characters seemed to transport themselves! I am glad that Sam got to tell his story though!
Overall, ‘The Tin Nose Shop’ was a unique read which highlighted something very important, allowing me to gain some new knowledge about a topic I really do enjoy. A very insightful, interesting concept with a poignant undertone.
Many thanks to Jenny and the Hodder team for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Isabelle Broom and ‘The Summer Trip’, as well as providing me with an ARC. All views written are done so in an unbiased manner.
What if your life worked out perfectly . . . for someone else?
It’s been 18 years since Ava spent the summer on the Greek island of Corfu, but she has never forgotten what happened during those months – or who she left behind.
Now single, estranged from her family, and preparing to wave her daughter off to university, Ava’s life seems a million miles away from the one she dreamed about as a teenager – a life now being lived by her sister instead.
When Ava decides to return to Corfu for the summer, she knows she must finally face the place and the people that broke her heart. But with old resentments festering, long-buried secrets lurking, and familiar feelings resurfacing, it looks set to be a holiday that will change all their lives forever. . .
3.5 hours it took me to read this book. Three point five hours to read a 416 page novel. For exceedingly fast readers (aka the book version of Mr Kipling), that is nothing, however in general, that is considered to be uber fast. In all honesty, I just couldn’t put the book down, I didn’t want to stop reading, and I was so invested in the newly fangled Corfu version of Eastenders, I just HAD to let my eyes roam the pages.
Oh, and yes, I bloomin’ loved ‘The Summer Trip’ – sorry, I maybe should have started the review off with that instead!
Ava and Corfu go hand in hand like cheese and a tomato, salt and pepper, cheese and onion…..you catch my drift. In other words, they’re made for each other. Unfortunately for Ava though, her sister has the life she wanted, and she has the life that, er, she chose to have. Now I’m not being mean here but surely if you wanted that free spirited life in Corfu, then you would have done everything in your power to get it. Right? Wrong – even I know that (despite my previous facetious comment). It wasn’t that easy and life isn’t as straight forward as we sometimes wish it was. Ava had to stay in Blighty because of her daughter. She thought she was doing right by her, putting her on a good path for her daughters own future. That being said, as good as Ava’s intentions were, they seemed to come back and bite her on the behind. Parenting eh.
‘The Summer Trip’ was a light-hearted read at times, yet it also covered multiple deep topics along the way, mainly disruptive family dynamics, black sheep of the family, forgotten love, death, and even theft. Looking at the cover of the book you probably wouldn’t think that what lie underneath would cause controversy for its characters now, would you? I certainly didn’t expect it at all, but I received it well….very well in fact.
I really enjoyed the varied storyline, multiple personalities, as well as the beautiful descriptions of the scenery. Because of the latter, I was able to envision Corfu in my minds eye, hear the waves, smell the sea. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that if the author wasn’t so good at describing each and everything around her characters.
‘The Summer Trip’ reminded me of getting a picture developed. It started off with an idea, a glimmer of what could potentially come. Then, in time, the story began to develop, focusing on the minor details, the major details, as well as the little nuggets of things in the background which may have been forgotten. By the end of the story, the ‘picture’ made sense, loose ends were tied up, and you were left with a memory that would last a lifetime, exactly like ‘The Summer Trip’. I would read it again in a heartbeat!
Make this your own summer trip of the year, you won’t regret it.
Many thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘The Lieutenant’s Girl’, and for supplying me with an ARC of the book. All thoughts written in this review are done so in an unbiased manner.
Pearl Harbor, 1941. War planes hurtle across the horizon, skimming the clouds. Gunpowder fills the air as the earth shatters. Everett’s hands cup my cheeks. “If I lose you, Elizabeth, please know that the time I’ve spent with you has been worth every second I’ve been alive.”
On the fateful day that sirens rend the air and warplanes fly over the harbor, Elizabeth and Everett had sneaked away to whisper sweet nothings to each other. As bombs rain down, they cling to each other, the ground shaking and smoke suffocating them. Miraculously, they survive—but their world is ripped apart. The beautiful island, where the turquoise ocean once lapped the golden sand, is destroyed.
Over a sweltering summer, the couple had fallen madly in love. Elizabeth was in awe of Everett’s sacrifices for the Air Force, and Everett adored strong-willed Elizabeth, a Jewish girl who defied her father’s wishes for a sheltered life by training to be a nurse.
But tragedy changes everything. Although they are hopelessly devoted to one another, they vow to serve their country. Elizabeth joins the Army Nurse Corps in Europe and Everett flies across the world chasing down the enemy. With a tearful goodbye, they promise to write.
When Everett’s letters stop arriving, heartbroken Elizabeth fears the worst. Will she ever see the love of her life again? And what chance does she have of surviving Europe, where Hitler’s tyrannical rule places her in grave danger?
It’s going to be really difficult to do this book justice at all (even though I am someone who talks quite a bit). I’ll give it my best shot though.
‘The Lieutenant’s Girl’ wasn’t just a story about a war – it was a tale of two hearts combining, two people trying to find their calling in life yet finding each other in the process, a story which made time stand still.
Set during the Second World War in 1941, the storyline switches between life back then, and life in the ‘present’ day of 2018, with Elizabeth (Lizzie) being the dominant character of the present day. A lot has changed in Elizabeth’s life over the years, not just because of what she saw as an army nurse, but because of personal gains and losses. We find out early on that Elizabeth lost her mum a few years prior, and her dad is so set on doing what was right by her, that he ended up stopping her being a ‘typical’ twenty year old. He was scared that he would lose his daughter due to the war, yet by not listening to her and guarding her life choices, he was beginning to lose Lizzie anyway by pushing her away. Part of me could see why he was so protective of his daughter – he had already lost someone he loved dearly and he wasn’t going to take the chance with the last female loved one in his life. I understood that completely. That said, I could also see why Lizzie was so irritated by it because she felt suffocated and felt as though she wasn’t good enough to be like her two brothers who were in the army as well as their father.
As we all know, life during the war was male dominated and women weren’t really put into the ‘firing line’, so to speak, purely because of their gender. It was noted that a woman’s role was to serve her husband, care for her family, and/or nurse. The latter two being exactly what Lizzie did and was trying to do. She was aware of the dangers that could potentially lie ahead, but one thing she wasn’t fully aware of were the dangers of being in the throws of a war AND being a jew. One word – Hitler.
Historical fiction fascinates me greatly, especially when it comes to war time, Auschwitz etc, so this book was right up my street and I took to the book like a bee takes to pollen! I was also fascinated by Lizzie and Everett’s story, wow. From the get go those two had a special something. I didn’t think it was going to last because of the uncertainty of the war, being Missing In Action, and so forth, and I could feel the emotion behind Lizzie’s words every time she spoke about not receiving a letter she so badly longed for. Their relationship was such a powerful one to read, and I loved how the author made me feel as though I was being taken on the journey alongside them, witnessing first hand their raw emotions, feeling frightened for them both, thinking that every single day news was going to break that one of them had died. I can’t even begin to imagine the heartbreak that people suffered during the war and just how much of a selfless act it was to put themselves on the line for their countries. If you’re reading this and are someone who has lived through wars, been in the army or what not, I just want to say thank you to you and yours for your service.
Apologies, I’m rambling slightly! I was blown away by every word, every letter, every snippet of information that was given to me throughout ‘The Lieutenant’s Girl’. Everything had its place, everything spoke to me in such a way that broke my heart yet gave me strength at the same time. This book showed me even more so that life is such a gift and your memories are your treasures.
You know what else is also a treasure? Shari J.Ryan and this book. ‘The Lieutenant’s Girl’ will forever have a piece of my heart and I thank Shari J.Ryan for giving me the gift of Lizzie and Everett.
Shari J. Ryan is a USA Today Bestselling Author of Women’s Fiction, WWII Fiction, and 20th Century Historical Fiction with a focus on the Holocaust and Pearl Harbor.
Shortly after graduation from Johnson & Wales with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Shari began her career as a graphic artist and freelance writer. She then found her passion for writing books in 2012 after her second son was born. Shari has been slaying words ever since.
With two Rone Awards and over 125k books sold, Shari has hit the USA Today Bestseller List, the Amazon’s Top 100, Barnes & Noble’s Top Ten, and iBooks at number one. Some of Shari’s bestselling books include Last Words, The Other Blue Sky, Unspoken Words and A Heart of Time.
Shari, a lifelong Boston girl, is happily married to her personal hero and US Marine and have two wonderful little boys. For more details about her books, visit: www.sharijryan.com
Many thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘The Lost Ones’ by Marnie Riches, and for supplying me with an ARC. All thoughts written in this review are done so in an unbiased manner.
The girl is sitting upright, her dark brown hair arranged over her shoulders and her blue, blue eyes staring into the distance. She looks almost peaceful. But her gaze is vacant, and her skin is cold…
When Detective Jackie Cooke is called to the murder scene, she is shocked by what she sees. Missing teenager Chloe Smedley has finally been found – her body left in a cold back yard, carefully posed with her bright blue eyes still open. Jackie lays a protective hand on the baby in her belly, and vows to find the brutal monster who stole Chloe’s future.
When Jackie breaks the news to Chloe’s heartbroken mother, she understands the woman’s cries only too well. Her own brother went missing as a child, the case never solved. Determined to get justice for Chloe and her family, Jackie sets to work, finding footage of the girl waving at someone the day she disappeared. Did Chloe know her killer?
But then a second body is found on the side of a busy motorway, lit up by passing cars. The only link with Chloe is the disturbing way the victim has been posed, and Jackie is convinced she is searching for a dangerous predator. Someone has been hunting missing and vulnerable people for decades, and only Jackie seems to see that they were never lost. They were taken.
Jackie’s boss refuses to believe a serial killer is on the loose and threatens to take her off the case. But then Jackie returns home to find a brightly coloured bracelet on her kitchen counter and her blood turns cold. It’s the same one her brother was wearing when he vanished. Could his disappearance be connected to the murders? Jackie will stop at nothing to catch her killer… unless he finds her first…
YES, YES, YES, YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!
Okay, review done!!
Absolutely flipping brilliant. Sorry, being straight to the point on this one, no beating around the bush or anything! You simply MUST read ‘The Lost Ones’, you must!
Detective Jackie Cooke is one hard-nosed individual who, if she were to tell you to jump, you would simply reply with ‘how high?’. She demanded respect and she gave it back. Look I’m not saying she was perfect, but she was the police procedural version of Mary Poppins – PRACTICALLY perfect in every way. She had her flaws, she admitted those too. Granted that doesn’t make them any easier to swallow, but what the heck.
I want to know just how Cooke managed to keep up with her fast paced, risky job while she was heavily pregnant! Are we sure that there is a baby in her belly and not a huge amount of fire?!
‘The Lost Ones’ is a chilling and momentarily graphic read, both of which added to the storyline and gave it that dark factor, that hook. I loved the fast paced nature of the novel and the way that the story flowed, with each individual situation paving way for the next or setting the scene for any potential misgivings. It worked. It all bloomin’ well worked. I also thought the randomly placed humour was such a brilliant idea, with Cooke and her colleagues not afraid to have a laugh once in a while. They were such a mixed bunch, yet if you asked me to choose her a different partner or different colleagues to work closely with, I honestly don’t think that I could.
‘The Lost Ones’ is atmospheric, chilling, fast paced, gripping, and downright incredible novel. I cannot WAIT to get my hands on the next book in the series. Simply one of the easiest 5 stars I have given to a book, ever.
Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in north Manchester. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a Masters in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser.
Her best-selling, award-winning George McKenzie crime thrillers were inspired by her own time spent in The Netherlands. Dubbed the Martina Cole of the North, she has also authored a series about Manchester’s notorious gangland as well as two books in a mini-series featuring quirky northern PI Bev Saunders.
Detective Jackson Cooke is Marnie’s latest heroine to root for, as she hunts down one of the most brutal killers the north west has ever seen at devastating personal cost.
When she isn’t writing gritty, twisty crime thrillers, Marnie also regularly appears on BBC Radio Manchester, commenting on social media trends and discussing the world of crime fiction. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Salford University’s Doctoral School and a tutor for the Faber Novel Writing Course.
*Many thanks to Hodder for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for supplying me with an ARC of ‘Sun Damage’. All thoughts written in this post are done so unbiasedly.
The heat is intense. The secrets are stifling. She just needs to escape . . . Nine guests arrive at a remote villa in the south of France. They know each other well. Or think they do. But at least one of them has plenty to hide – and nowhere to run. Under the relentless sun, loyalties will be tested, secrets revealed, and tensions pushed to the point of no return.
‘Sun Damage’ is a very secretive novel that is based on lies, con artists, and characters not knowing the real person behind the facade. Despite being in close company in a villa, a group of people (some who are even related), don’t really know who they’re staying with. Of course they know the basics such as name, age and other things family members should know, however they don’t seem to know anything other than surface level. Heck, Rebecca (the mother) at times didn’t seem to even know her own family! She seemed to be an outsider, and the actual outsider, Lulu, acted like more of a family member than the real ones.
Before the storyline focused on the villa in France, it began by shedding light on Ali and Sean; two con artists who not only liked to con random strangers, they also liked to con each other. Just because they could….I think. It was interesting getting ‘inside knowledge’, yet I was very surprised that they got away with what they did. I might think differently if I was in their position, who knows.
‘Sun Damage’, for me, was an up and down read. There were moments where I was very invested in the shenanigans, and there were moments where I wasn’t quite feeling it because the oomph and intensity wasn’t hitting the mark as much as I had hoped.
I certainly did like the overall vibe of the story, and I liked how eclectic the characters were in terms of personalities – they were such a mixed bunch! Their misdirected loyalties were also weirdly enduring, with characters coming together that perhaps shouldn’t have, if you understand my meaning.
Overall I thought that ‘Sun Damage’ had promise and an interesting premise.
Many thanks to Fiona and Muswell Press for the review copy of ‘A Little Hope’, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
In the small city of Wharton, Connecticut, lives are beginning to unravel. A husband betrays his wife. A son struggles with addiction. A widow misses her late spouse. At the heart of these interlinking stories is one couple: Freddie and Greg Tyler.
Greg has just been diagnosed with a brutal form of cancer. He intends to handle this the way he has faced everything else: through grit and determination. But can he successfully overcome his illness? How will the Freddie and their daughter cope if he doesn’t? How do the other residents of Wharton learn to live with loss and find happiness again?
Celebrating the grace in everyday life, this powerful debut immerses the reader in a community of friends, family, and neighbours and identifies the ways that love and forgiveness can help us survive even the most difficult of life’s challenges.
There were a lot of situations in ‘A Little Hope’ to sink your teeth into, such as family drama, friendship issues, declining health and unforgiveable betrayal. Personally, at times, I thought that it was a lot of things to keep track of, which lowered my enjoyment of the storyline a touch. I’m all for jam packed storyline, don’t get me wrong, but there is a fine line between just enough, and too much.
That said, I take my hat off to the author for being able to write about such delicate and heartbreaking situations without minimalising the validity of each individual circumstance. I thought that that was very impressive and very well done.
It’s safe to say that my feelings of ‘A Little Hope’ are a bit mixed, and I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. The novel was memorable in terms of the authors writing style, characterisation, and their ability to put soul and life into their characters heartbreak.
Overall, ‘A Little Hope’ was indeed, full of hope. A soul searching, heartwarming novel.
Hugest of thanks to Jenny Platt and Hodder for asking me to be involved in the blog tour today, and for the ARC.
Molly lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.
Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.
But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin’s last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.
Where do I even begin writing this review!
You would have thought identical twins would know each other inside out, wouldn’t you? You would also have thought that they would be able to trust and rely on each other more than anyone else in the world. Sadly, that wasn’t the case for Molly and Katie. Whilst one twin was an extrovert who lived life to the full, grabbing adventures by the who-ha’s, the other twin was an introvert, fiercely afraid of her own shadow and worrying about what could happen….about anything.
I wasn’t expecting the storyline to unfold the way that it did, not at all. When it got to the half way point of the book, loose ends were becoming tighter and I couldn’t understand why. Had I missed something? I hadn’t missed a thing because what came next completely caught me off guard. I think the thought of ‘what the actual f……’ went through my head like a conveyor belt for 10 minutes straight.
Now I know you’re probably wondering what on earth am I going on about, but I can’t give too much away!
I didn’t want to put ‘First Born’ down, although I had to once or twice feed my child…and the dogs. Let’s just say that it wasn’t my choice to stop reading the book! I was hooked on ‘First Born’ like a little kid in a sweet shop! I have no idea how Will Dean managed to keep the timeline so iron clad throughout the entire thing without giving anything away. I was bloody impressed!
Stories such as this, is exactly why Will Dean is one of my most favourite authors of all time. The suspense levels were flawless, the attention to detail was absolutely spot on, and the gritty nature was enough to rival a sandy beach! If Will Dean isn’t on your radar, he really needs to be. I cannot wait to find out what he’s got up his sleeve next!
Brilliantly written with such a clever and gripping storyline – a belter of a book and then some.
Apologies for the day late review, I hadn’t quite finished reading it yesterday! Huge thanks to Penguin Michael J Books for the tour invite, and for supplying me with a copy of the book to read and review.
In 1999, seventeen-year-old Tone Vaterland was killed on her way home from work.
Desperate for a conviction the police deemed the investigation an open-and-shut case and sent her spurned boyfriend, Danny Momrak, down for murder.
But twenty years later William Wisting receives a puzzling letter. It suggests the wrong man was convicted for Tone’s death.
And the real murderer is still out there.
Wisting is quickly thrown into a terrifying race against time where he must find the sender, decipher this mysterious letter and catch the real killer – before they strike again . . .
I’m just going to put this out there, straight to the point – WHAT A BLOODY BOOK! It’s very rare for me to not even finish reading a book before I purchase another book from the series, but that is exactly what happened here.
‘A Question of Guilt’ is the fourth book in Wistings ‘Cold Case’ quartet, so if you’re one for reading books in order, then you might want to stary with ‘The Katharina Code’, however, I thought this installment read perfectly well on its own. Saying that, like I said above, I had purchased another book from the series before I had even finished reading ‘A Question of Guilt’. Honestly, it really was THAT good.
The storyline tells the tale of William Wisting, a Norwegian police detective, who ends up delving into a cold case or two, after being put onto their radar from an anonymous tip off. Because the book is about cold cases, the timeline does switch between years such as 1999, when the investigation was started originally, the present time, and other subsequent years in order to keep the flow of the book. Personally I found it easy to follow and pretty seamless.
I really didn’t know what to make of ‘A Question of Guilt’ to begin with, but it wasn’t long before I was sucked into the gritty storyline, the unanswered ‘whodunnit’, and the excitement of wondering what was waiting for me when I turned the page. I honestly thought this was a brilliant, brilliant novel, full of suspense, high energy moments, and a storyline that just kept on giving.
Without sounding too macabre, seeing as this book was in fact, a Nordic crime novel, I was gutted when ‘A Question of Guilt’ came to an end. I just wanted more! I recommend you put Jørn Lier Horst on your reading list PRONTO. I’m going to go and spend more money by buying the rest of the books!
Many thanks to the Hodder team for inviting me to take part in today’s social blast, and for providing me with a copy to review on my own free will.
THE BONES COME FIRST… When single mother Alex arrives at her new home with her two children, she can finally breathe easy. Pine Ridge, a rural community near the Australian coast, is beautiful, peaceful and most importantly, far away from the trauma she left behind.
NEXT, A DOLL… Then unexplained boxes start arriving at the house, and Alex’s teenage son begins to retreat into himself more than ever. As rumours and legends swirl through the community, Alex realises that Pine Ridge is guarding long-held secrets of its own.
AND THEN THE BLOOD. Something is lurking in the shadows, and Alex and her family are in grave danger. She must protect her children from the darkness at all costs – before it engulfs them whole…
The Shadow House intrigued me. From the get go there were questions being raised, such as why did they move, why did Pine Ridge have a ‘cult’ like feel to it, why were the other residents acting as though they were under some sort of spell.
Maybe that was just me who thought that, but it certainly gave me food for thought.
I have read many suspense/thrillers that have been slow burners, and I would have to say that The Shadow House falls under that category for sure. It took me a good while to get into the throws of the storyline as, even though the questions at the beginning gave me that all important hook, I found it a bit tricky to really grab the book by its horns. I’m not sure whether that was because I was a bit impatient, or whether the storylines full potential was a bit delayed.
With all that in mind, I enjoyed the concept of the novel, the drip feeding of eery moments, and the authors way of creating her characters. A thumbs up from me!
The Shadow House by Anna Downes, is published today in e-book/audio and can be purchased now fromAmazon
As a huge fan of Jack Jordan and his books, I just had to say yes when I received the email asking me to be involved in the blog tour for National Storytelling Week. For those who don’t already know, Jack Jordan is a tutor at The Novelry. Here is a little bit more about them and what they do:
‘Offering support for beginner and established authors at any stage of their writing career, The Novelry will take writers from the very kernel of an idea through to a polished manuscript ready for literary agent submission. With mentoring from bestselling authors and editorial advice from leading industry professionals, The Novelry is the writing school recommended by leading literary agents.‘
Enough of my talking, time to welcome Jack Jordan to TWG!
When did you first realise that you were a storyteller? I’ve had a vivid imagination ever since I can remember, expressing myself through storytelling via various outlets, whether it be writing, acting, or childhood play. Still, it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I first sat down and wrote a full-length novel. I struggled with agoraphobia at the time, and it helped to escape through my old love of writing. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the story and realised that I had written 100k words of a novel that I had the eureka moment: I was a writer.
Do you remember when you came up with the first story idea that would ultimately go on to be published as a novel? How did you know this was the idea that was worth telling? I believe that story ideas, however creative or outlandish, resonate from something deep within the teller. My debut novel, Anything for Her, is about a mother covering up a tragic accident made by her child, and how far parents will go to protect their children. I’m drawn to these kinds of stories due to the strong bond I have with my mum, who raised me as a single parent. So when people ask me how they might begin to come up with a story idea themselves, I often recommend that they look closer to home and the personal dynamics at play because they so often tell us who we are.
Do you have a story of yours that you are most proud of? I have to admit, I have two! I love my novel, Do No Harm, which is out 26th May this year, due to the high stakes the hook brings, and how subliminally asks the reader what they would do in Dr Anna Jones’ shoes: a crime ring abducts the child of a leading heart surgeon and gives her an ultimatum: kill a patient on the operating table or never see her son again. I have a deep personal connection to my novel Night by Night, which is about institutionalised homophobia within the police force, inspired by victims of serial killer Stephen Port. I’m proud to have a novel that centres around LGBTQ+ issues and have it resonate with readers.
Why did you decide to write novels, as opposed to telling stories in another format? That’s an excellent question. When writing a novel, I find I have so much freedom to explore a character’s inner world, exploring who they are and how they grow when placed in a hostile or precarious environment. I like the long game of this: meeting the character on the first page and then slowly peeling back the layers of their humanity throughout the story, until we meet them at the end, often dramatically changed from who they were when the story started. I find that I get to explore this vividly with novel writing.
Why do you think stories are important? I think stories are important because they reflect who we are as a society and all the beautiful differences from culture to culture. Stories can educate on a profound level and open people’s eyes to experiences they might never have encountered or people they might never have met. They also serve as an escape from life’s woes and inspire us to grow and change – and dream. I often write novels with moral dilemmas at the heart of them, and I love this because it gives the reader the gift of testing their own moral compass: what would they do in the character’s shoes? It’s like a workout for the soul.
National Storytelling Week is all about the oral tradition of storytelling. Do you think it’s important to keep this tradition alive when we have so many other ways of consuming and telling stories these days? I believe that storytelling and expression, in whatever form, is the glue that holds us all together. Imagination and empathy bring people closer, especially during times of difficulty, whether it be global pandemics or politically challenging times. Whether it’s diving into a book to get lost in the pages or sitting around a campfire with friends exchanging ghost stories, storytelling brings out the humanity in us. It gives us ways to connect with each other in an often isolating world. I also believe storytelling allows us to explore who we are.
What do you think is different about writing a story down on paper as opposed to telling it out loud? I think there is a real beauty to telling stories aloud because it blends with the art of acting, giving a sense of performance to a story that can really bring it to life. Spoken storytelling also derails any literacy hurdles a story-lover might have and allow a person to enjoy the art in a way that works best for them. What I like about writing novels is the opportunity to delve into oneself. As the reader reads the story in their mind, they paint an abundance of pictures and ask themselves so many deeply personal questions, and the characters I create can often become deeply personal to them too.
How do you like to consume your stories? (Reading, listening, watching, etc.) My two favourite methods of consuming stories are reading and watching. I love devouring novels and getting lost in a television series, and I love seeing shows too, whether it be West End shows or stand-up comedy.
What is your favourite story of all time? The story that changed me as both a reader and a storyteller is Malorie Blackman’s novel Noughts and Crosses. I still remember that profound sense of shock I felt when I reached the last page as the last scene came to an end, and it completely transformed the stories I read and the ideas I had for my own thereafter. Whenever I pick up a book, I hope to have that same feeling, and when I write, I try my hardest to give the reader that same emotional reaction.
What do you hope readers will take away from your novels? As a reader, there is nothing more enjoyable for me than when I pick up a story I love and never want it to end. It’s that warm feeling in one’s chest, the buzz of excitement in one’s gut as we pick up the book again and think about the story when life draws us away. If I can give at least half of my readers this feeling, I know I’ve done my job well.
If you had one piece of advice for someone wanting to tell a story of their own, what would it be? Growing up, I had a poor education – I didn’t go to college or university, and I had to teach myself a lot of the basics of the English language. For many years, I subconsciously didn’t allow myself to fathom the career I have now because I didn’t think it was meant for people like me, nor a possibility open to me. Realising that storytelling is for everyone, regardless of education, background, ethnicity, sexuality or gender expression, freed me to tell the stories that would go on to be read by over one hundred thousand readers. So often, we hold ourselves back from what we want to achieve due to being led astray by other people’s ideas of the world and how it’s supposed to work. So I always suggest storytellers analyse the barriers they see before them and ask themselves if they too are partly the reason they are in the way. Storytelling is for everyone, and I think the first hurdle we have to jump is giving ourselves the permission to express ourselves and explore.
Thank you so much to Midas Pr, Jack Jordan and The Novelry for such an honest interview. I think Jack made a wonderful point regarding storytelling being for everyone, regardless of status, and I am so pleased that he found the confidence in himself to put pen to paper – I cannot recommend his books enough! Speaking of which, if you fancy getting your hands on any of Jack Jordan’s novels, check out the following links: