Books on TV

I’ve recently watched an adaptation of a book on television – Harry Price Ghost Hunter  –  and would love to know what other people thought of it. How did the book in your head appear on the screen and what about the casting? Was the story the same for example?

Harry Price – Ghost Hunter

I have to say first of all that this is a cracking story but it’s  not the one in the book. It’s about Harry Price and his attempts at debunking the myths peddled by those who claim to see ghosts and speak to spirits (Psychics for example) is a great real life character and I love the thrill of ‘living’ history in some way by reading and watching stories about someone who really existed.

The book

The haunting of the Borley Rectory in Essex is said to have started after a local nun and monk fell in love and attempted to run away and get married. However, they were caught and sentenced to death.  Years later there were rumours that the couple were still in the house as spirits and that they were angry as to what had happened to them.

I am a bit of a scaredy cat at times and this was a chilling read and then some! I really should not read these books in the dark. What I loved about it though was the interesting true story – the fact that the creator of Sherlock Holmes became so involved with spiritualism that he was buried standing up in accordance with his spiritualism beliefs. That Harry Price really did what is described in the novel. That Borley Rectory really was once the most haunted house in the UK before it was destroyed by fire.

The television version

I admit that I didn’t read the blurb of the TV version as I expected it to be the same as the book – the real life haunting of Borley Rectory in Essex and this is not it. The same characters are involved however and Harry Price was just as I imagined him so that was a nice surprise. In this case, he’s been called to a house of an upcoming politician as his wife is having delusions and will be placed in an asylum if  her problems can’t be solved. She’s found naked one day in the town square, wandering and hallucinating. She claims to hear things, see things and when she goes to play hide and seek at a party – blimey I remember that scene!

The cast and story were very good and it was nicely paced. I really wanted to know what the deal was. Was there a ghost and why was the politician’s wife being targeted in this way? The house is old and spooky, and has a rather interesting history in itself.

Harry was fascinating in the novel and so I really hoped to find out more about him which we did. His character and background were explored as was his relationship with his assistant. His ways of debunking the claims of those who claim to see ghosts (his attendance at a psychic show is classic Harry) is interestingly done and it was fascinating to see ‘behind the scenes’ of the man and what he stood for.

I wish they would make this into a series with Harry investigating more cases as this would be very interesting.


Booktrail “Most inventive” booksawards 2015

2015-awardsBooktrail Awards for 2015 

This was hard to decide on as there are many novels that deserve an award to be honest. We’ve read and enjoyed so much this year and there are so many more Booktrail statues we could have awarded but I narrowed it down to these little beauties…


Most tears shed over a novel

the-nightingale-978144728307201The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah

Set in Carriveau France

We can’t recommend this novel enough. It’s sad, utterly heartbreaking but so so good and evocative of what women went through during the war. The challenges and choices of two sisters keep us reading through the night and we shed more than a tear at what they went through. Carriveau seems so real we had to check it wasn’t a real place. It’s so evocative and the story of rural France during war time is just brilliantly written and we are giving this as a present to many people this year.

Best North v South banter

edinbThe Strings of Murder

Oscar de Muriel

Set in Edinburgh

Oscar de Muriel is one funny man. Not only does he get Scottish banter spot on, but he weaves so much Scottish culture and supernatural intrigue into his plot that this is a real treat to read. We know and love Edinburgh well and this was so much fun! Creepy too but the humour and banter between the two main characters had us in stitches. And the memory of the policeman from London trying haggis for the first time will never leave us hehe

Best dual culture crime

death in rainyDeath in the Rainy Season

Anna Jaquiery

Set in Cambodia

There’s something very intriguing and special about a French detective investigating in Cambodia. France meets Cambodia was a very new crime backdrop and revealed an evocative setting for murder, politics and a great Cambodian sidekick called Sarit. Morel is a great character – one of the best in a crime novel we’ve read in a long while. The entire plot was just so immersive and so different to anything we’d read before and the way Anna Jaquiery weaved so many strands together in a complex yet smooth and poetic plot – hats off to you.

Best Dubious drama group


Ragnar Jonasson

Set in Siglufjörður

If you’re ever tempted to join a drama group, don’t join the one in  Siglufjörður will you? That’s if you ever get through that small snow tunnel that links or cuts off the town from the rest of the world. The goings on in this very small place with the writing as crisp and chilling as the dubious dealings are quite ingenious. The entire Siglufjörður setting and the silence which is broken, the screams, the 24 hour darkness….blimey this is one killer of a novel

Best use of a boat

sea maidSong of the Sea Maid

Rebecca Mascull

Set in Portugal

Now if we had a boat we would want to sail and have our own adventure.

Kudos then to Dawnay Price who is something of an anomaly. She was a woman who lived in the 18th century and is based on a real person. She defied men and others who said she couldn’t explore. A gutsy herione who fuels her passion and goes off on an adventure is the story we loved to read. With such evocative writing, we were right there with her and we felt as if we learned so much about the Berlengas Islands and history but never did it read like a history lesson. Rather like a song as in the title…

Most inventive use of an elephant

elepahantThe Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

Vaseem Khan

Set in India

Ah this has to be a favourite. An elephant as sidekick, a most beautiful colourful cover, a funny and witty author interview. Ah this is a labour of love and was so funny as well as being a gritty crime novel too. The setting and nature of the crimes were unique and the culture seeped into each and everyone. As soon as we put this novel down, we wanted to read the second.

What are your special reads and why? It’s fun to look back at your literary year!

Scottish wit and wisdom via fiction

Flag-3St Andrew’s Day

Where all things Scottish are celebrated and quite rightly so. Scotland has some of the most stunning scenery in the world and is a top tourist destination. There’s the well known and loved Loch Ness Monster, the Edinburgh tattoo, Haggis, bagpipes and of course Tartan.

But what we love is its humour  and its people. And the many gifted writers who love Scotland so much it becomes a feature in many books. Books that highlight and pay homage to much of Scotland’s magic. And the magic time of the Edinburgh book festival! A book pilgrimage for many.

A short tour if we may….


*Discussing the need to rid Scotland of its darker side in Robertson’s Glasgow:

Every one deid is one less bampot on the streets

edinb*Giving an honest appraisal of  a haggis dish:

“I would rather kiss a public latrine that each something of such foul appearance.”

There is some very fine Scottish food (haggis being one example!) such as bridies, stovies and fine venison!

*Debating the history and legacy of Body snatching …FALLS

At the time, most bodies worked on by anatomists were cold indeed. They were brought to Edinburgh from all over Britain — some came by way of the Union Canal. The resurrectionists — body-snatchers — pickled them in whisky for transportation. It was a lucrative trade.”

“But did the whisky get drunk afterwards?”

Devlin chuckled. “Economics would dictate that it did.”

*Experiencing a wedding on the most northernly Shetland island of Unst during Simmer dim?

TAirA single chord played on fiddle and accordion,a breathless moment of silence …This was the hamefarin’

The Simmer dim was the summer dusk. “So far north it never really got dark in in June.”

*Meeting some of Scotland’s folklore..

Whether it’s the Shetland trowes, or the Loch Ness monster and a modern tale of the search for  it, Scotland never fails to capture the imagination.

And there’s the little dog, Grey Friar’s Bobby, who sat by his master’s grave – immortalised in books, film, tv and a statue..

bertie*And who could forget –

Bertie from 44 Scotland street, Edinburgh. Always full of wisdom when either debating the need for a certain plaque :

“No plaque reminds the passer-by of these glories, although there should be one; for those who invent biscuits bring great pleasure to many.”

or just expressing the dreams of a young Scottish lad:

“Life would undoubtedly improve when he turned eighteen and could leave home to go and live somewhere far away and exotic – Glasgow, perhaps”

Best not venture into Robertson’s Glasgow though eh Bertie?

There’s so much Scotland has to offer Bertie – both in literature and for real.

Happy St Andrews Day and happy reading!

The London of Bryant and May by Christopher Fowler

One of the most perfect literary guides we know for London has to be Christopher Fowler.

londons gloryLondon – its quirks, idiosyncrancies, history and essence all feature in his books with the dashing duo of Bryant and May. His latest? A series of short stories filling in some of the gaps of previous cases and exploring angles you may not have considered before.

These are the books, the Bryant and May ‘guides to London’ where history and setting is as much a character as the police characters themselves. Think you know the city? Well you’ve not met Christopher and discovered how he portrays the city in his tales of crime and intrigue…

Welcome to the London of Christopher Fowler…..

I was born in the centre of London and let loose in Piccadilly Circus at about age four, so it always fascinated me. As kids we used to sneak into the scenery docks of theatres and watch rehearsals, and generally treated London as our playground; it never felt weird or unsafe. Although I’ve since lived in other countries, it was obvious that I should settle on London as my main location for books. One of my favourite locations for a story was the Clerkenwell House of Detention, one of the most disturbing underground buildings I’ve ever entered, and it’s impossible to live nearby and not be aware of what lies below the streets. You can see the Fleet tributaries through drain covers, and follow the chain of wells from King’s Cross down through Farringdon to the river. It’s a perfect setting for a murder mystery.

Christopher Fowler
Christopher Fowler

But for me there were other connections. My parents met in The Griffin pub on Clerkenwell Road, having worked at the nearby engineering firm of Griffin & Tatlock together. My father bought his wedding ring from a friend in Hatton Garden, and my mother always took me to the circus in the basement of Gamages department store in Holborn at Christmas. My first fountain pen came from one of the local suppliers, as did my first typewriter. Today I still live just a short walk away in King’s Cross.

At the London Metropolitan Archive, I read the story of the party-loving Lady Hatton whose dance with the Devil became a London myth. This became the basis of ‘Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart’. The more I dig into any part of London, the more I end up including it in the finished book.

bleeding heart Dickens pointed out that in London even the snowflakes were covered in soot, ‘gone into mourning for the death of the sun’, and there’s something about the low level of light that mutes the shades of brick and concrete,  and depresses those of us who suffer through the purgatorial month of February. The geography of London near the river matches its weather, being perverse, willful, confusing and unsettling. The roads are always atmospheric, so they make fertile ground for the creation of dark tales. Add to that mix the stories of murders and hangings associated with Smithfield, the animal bones washed down from the butcheries on the riverbanks, and half the job is done for me.

All this makes writing (and reading) my crime novels sound depressing, but I have a lot of fun mixing fact and fiction, sending my elderly detectives around the backstreets in search of murderers. Fans write from around the world asking about the different London areas I use. I can’t see myself ever running out of ideas, because London provides them. One day I’ll have to start my own guided tour!

Well, what a lovely idea to end on, a Bryant and May guided tour seen through the eyes of Mr Christopher Fowler. Now that would be a tour to remember!

Stepping into a fictional world….

There are books where you just have to look at the cover and you want to step inside it, be part of the story and meet the characters for real. See their world through their eyes and become a part of it all. Recently three books have stuck in my mind and my mind’s eye as worlds that I like to think about and remember with a fondness:


A travelling bus – USA

Oh the joys of a gap year travelling across a continent in a bus. What ever the reason for the journey it’s a fun and exciting way to travel and as soon as I saw this book cover with the bus, the map and the possibilities, I wanted to be a part of it.

There’s no other feeling like it – crossing lands and continents in a rusty old bus, a camper van if you’re lucky. The sense of utter freedom and escape, not to mention the excitement of the stops along the way. Stops on this trip include Hershey of Chocolate fame and Coffeeville? Is there such a place? Yes there is (two in fact) and so with the promise of a journey, chocolate and coffee, I was hooked….

A house on the cliff edge – Corsica

This is not the UK cover (that is just as enticing with a clear blue sea and a woman in a bathing suit just about to dive into the cool waters – well it made me want to swim!) but it’s this cover that got me. The lights on that house perched precariously on the edge of a cliff makes me wonder who lives there and why? What is this place and why is it on the cover? There is something very exciting indeed about a building in the dark with lights on and I just wanted to find out more. I was not disappointed when I finally entered the house!

A winter country retreat – Ireland

After the heat of America and hhe bus journey and the glaring sun of Corsica, a little cold wintery mystery is right up my street. The old house, the glittering cover and those people walking up to that grey house with the read door. I want to go there too and find out why Huntersbrook House is so important to the Craig family of the story. Hedgerows laced with frost? Countryside venue and Christmas just around the corner? The heart of winter sounds warm and cosy – the cover drew me in.

Which literary worlds and covers are enticing to you and why?

Capturing the moment…in books

Reading a book is like delving into a fancy dress box of sorts. There’s the fashion of the day, the food and drink, the objects from an historical setting, the music of the past all to savour and enjoy.

That’s what we like to do when we take pictures of our favourites reads  – showcase them in a setting which we create to highlight the essence of the book and story in question

The Tea Planter’s Wife

(c) the booktrail
(c) the booktrail

A story of a woman who moves to be with her husband on a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, a fragrant and mystical setting, only to find that some unexpected events will create a somewhat bitter taste…

The flowers, tea and tea cup represent the flavour of the novel.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra


There’s a baby elephant who is the star of the show and he comes to life right off the page! We wanted to reflect this in the photo and luckily our book was so evocative that Baby Ganesh just popped out of his own accord.

It took  a while to get him back in mind!

Letters to the Lost


A story of a war time love affair. A mystery solved many years later when letters are discovered from war time lovers. The bunting, tinned peaches and china cups were all lovingly evoked in the novel and frames the entire story in a very specific time period.

The Blue

Ship 2

A journey on a yacht which turns paradise into hell. Blue idyllic waters turn to cloudy, stormy seas and all the while at least one person on board feels trapped, like they;re inside a ship in a bottle and can’t escape. Travelling is only fun when you know and trust your sailing companions…certainly out in the middle of the ocean.


The booktrail

Fictional friends from around the world

FRIENDSFictional characters are good people to know. They’re like our friends, share many of our milestones in life – those we meet at school, those in classic novels, the first person we admire and want to be, the person who teaches us about life and those that give us a sense of adventure…

Here we’ve chosen four characters as represented on book covers. Fictional friends and people we admire and want to spend time with for various reasons..

the-enchanted-wood-2A Childhood friend – Moon Face from Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood series

The stories take place in an enchanted forest in which there is the most magical of trees called the ‘Faraway Tree’.  It’s very tall and the top of it disappears into the clouds. Many characters live in the cave like dwellings that are carved into its trunk. When Jo, Bessie and Fanny move into a house nearby and meet Moonface, one of the characters in the novel, I wanted to be his friend and have adventures in the Faraway Tree. He has rounded furniture and a magic slide that goes all the way to the bottom of the tree. How I wanted to go on that slide!

the-miniaturistA friend to introduce you to a new world of intrigue -Nella from The Miniaturist – Set in Amsterdam

The Miniaturist was the hit book of 2014 and deservedly so as this novel, set in Amsterdam 1686 had such an amazing premise of a miniaturist who predicted events in the small objects she created, was an immediate draw. Nella is portrayed on the front cover which I just really wanted to climb inside and explore along with the others in the story. But it was Nella and her journey I wanted to go on – despite the difficulties and heartbreak she suffers as it was her spirit and personality I liked and I wanted to befriend her pet Peebo as well if I’m honest. Put Marin in her place as well perhaps. And furnish that exquisite dollshouse! A world to disappear inside – rather like that in the novel itself.

ann cleevesTough friend you need when in trouble – Vera from Ann Cleeves crime fiction novels set in Northumberland

Vera doesn’t take any prisoners – well she does in her job since she’s a very effective police Detective, but in her coarse comments and witty but gritty asides, you know where you stand.

This is the kind of person I would love to meet for she would be loyal yet honest, brutally so perhaps but you know you can always depend on her and she always gets the job done. She might rub you up the wrong way, like the creases in her raincoat, but you know what you are getting from Vera. No nonsense results and a loyalty that you will never forget.

BOOK 1A friend to go travelling with – Passepartout from Around the World in 80 Days

Passepartout was my inspiration for everything – from booktrailing to learning languages, this guy has been my lifelong travelling companion. As I followed him and his ideas around the world and even studied French to be more like him. What started as a childhood adventure has taken me to so many places and languages via books and for real and for that I can consider him a friend in a million who I would love to meet for real and shake his hand. He represents travel, adventure, the sense of never giving up and solving problems for his friend Phileas Fogg and I would love to go travelling with him.

Susan Booktrailer

Who are your fictional friends and why?

A is for AFRICA and ASIA….


Travelling the world with books is interesting and fun and there’s so much to see in even just one continent! Today we look at two..Africa and Asia…since there are so many favourites from this part of the world. Having said that, we are dying to go back via fiction so will be hunting out more and more!

TWO favourites from AFRICA


Morocco – Pamela Windo

Need a good travel guide to Morocco? Then look no further that Zohra’s Ladder and other Moroccan Tales by Pamela Windo as she guides us around some of the more lesser known and hidden parts of the country. From the Souk to the Hammam, this is a real insider’s tour…..


The Saffron Trail by Rosanna Ley


From Cornwall to exotic Morocco, this is a journey on so many levels as two young women become friends and find that Morocco will change their lives in many very unexpected ways.

Nell has just lost her mum, a mum who has been hiding things from her and which she now wants to find out. She grew up on a  saffron farm in Cornwall and is recently married but her mother’s death haunts her so her husband offers her a trip to Morocco and a cookery course which she uses to explore her past

Amy on the other hand is a photographer who goes to Morocco to capture the sights sounds and smells of an exotic land. Amy is also searching for the truth – this time about a postcard she found on her Aunt Lillian’s mantlepiece from her missing son Glen.

Morocco reveals many secrets thought buried in the sands…

TWO favourites from ASIA

Sri Lanka

Tea planterThe Tea Planter’s Wife – Dinah Jefferies

19 year old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married and soon follows her husband to his tea plantation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)

However life there in this hot and humid country is not at all what she expected and her husband seems like a completely different man. Their neighbours are hardly the kind of people she would hope to know and the plantation workers are resentful of their rich bosses and their working conditions. There is tension in the air as well as the sound of birds and the whistling of the wind.

Gwen finds herself alone and so soon starts to explore. What she finds are clues to the past – her husbands past and just what is that overgrown gravestone in the grounds?

Some secrets she is about to find out, don’t stay buried for long.



The Blue by Lucy Clarke

Ever wanted to go sailing with with a group around the Philippines? But how well do you know the others in the crew?

Paradise can suddenly turn very dark indeed.

Now – Lana is in New Zealand when she hears some shocking news – The Blue, the fantastic yacht which she and her friend Kitty joined for the adventure of their lives, has sunk. All crew, Lana’s friends are still missing. What on earth happened and why did Lana leave the yacht a few months ago?

Then – Lana and Kitty join a group of travellers in the Philippines and become part of the elusive crew living and sailing on The Blue. The ocean and islands are their playground, where they stop, fish, live and swim  – a perfect existence and escape from the world.

Nights are spent drinking on deck, navigating the island and having fun. But things soon turn dark and paradise turns sour. The Blue becomes one floating nightmare. Lana becomes desperate to leave.

Why we love #BAMB and #SuperThursday

When you go inside a bookstore to buy a book on Super Thursday, in fact on any day, there is so much choice. This is the most fun type of adventure you will ever have however as buying a book is buying into an adventure. Who will you meet and where will you go?

Waterstones  for example has several signs to help you navigate the many literary roads to reading. This sign gets you in the door if you weren’t in there already….


That’s me struggling with the brolly waiting to get in the bus – then late sitting upstairs looking all cosy with a good book.

I turn left into the haven of book gifts, mugs, puzzles, calendars and all other book things you can imagine. I got stopped here though –


Bbrr I thought what would warm me up? Ooh there’s quite a few here. Well it will be getting very very cold soon so I should stock up shouldn’t I? Not that I need any excuse but it’s nice that Waterstones helps out like this

Oh but I still want to travel when I’m sitting by the fire. Literary travel is the only way to go and quite honestly when the weather is rotten, it’s the best –


These are the only kind of signs I like. the hottest genre in town you say? Well I do need warming up so best get the latest Stieg Larsson….

Then I bought this – I have read it and still own a rather battered copy but this was 3D! 3D glasses on the inside to see the cover in all its glory! Well, I just had to have this!



Off to read them all now…..

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 11.29.46

Well that turned out to be a rather #Superthursday if ever there was one. And it’s not over yet? Now where’s the next bookshop……..