Where I buy my books

I buy my books from lost of places and each have their own qualities so I thought I would share them.

  • Waterstones – I have to say this is where I buy most of my books. Perfect for getting a brand new book and there’s lots of choice! There is fiction, non fiction, educational books and more!
  • Book Depository – book depository is an international online bookstore with more books that you could ever dream of. There is also a bargain shop to find a book at a great price!
  • ABE books – abebooks is the perfect place to buy used books or books that are no longer in print for a reasonable price. Easy to use and a variety of options from well used to basically new.
  • Charity shop – I think that charity shops are a great place to get a new book. There isn’t often a huge amount of choice but sometimes that’s a good thing. Easier to make a decision! And is well priced majority of the time.
  • Amazon Kindle – I also have a Kindle eReader and buy my books from Amazon’s Kindle store. There are also a whole lot of free books, although they may not be your first choice it’s a great way to explore new genres and styles.

I hope this gives you a new place to buy your books!

Many thanks, Caitlin X

(PS please comment where you purchase your reading material)

Author Q&A: Claire Askew

Author Photo : Lewis Khan

Claire Askew has kindly answered some of my question about being an author and her novel ‘All the Hidden Truths’ 
I hope you all enjoy and I greatly appreciate the time Claire took to answer these questions.

Claire Askew is the author of the poetry collection This changes things(Bloodaxe, 2016), which was shortlisted for an Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and the Saltire First Book Award, among others.  She is also a novelist, and her debut novel All The Hidden Truths won the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress.  The novel was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2018, and was a Times Crime Book of the Month.  Claire’s second novel, What You Pay For, will be published in August 2019.  Claire currently works as Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh.

1. What made you want to become a poet/author?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was a little girl.  My dad was a big part of that: he’s worked in Communications for most of his career, and as a child I didn’t really know what that was, but I knew that he wrote as part of his job.  “I think knowing that meant I never internalised the message “writing isn’t a real job,” and thus managed to side-step a lot of the self doubt that new writers experience.”   I was always writing: limericks, little stories, journal entries, whatever. I took a small break around the age of about seven, when I got into reading animal stories and decided I wanted to be a vet.  Then I learned that vets have to put animals to sleep, and felt rather tricked!
2. Why did you decide to move from poetry to a novel?
Simply because the idea for All The Hidden Truths wouldn’t leave me alone.  I’ve always been strangely fascinated by mass shootings, ever since the Dunblane Massacre, which happened when I was ten and had a profound effect on schools and communities across Scotland, including mine.  More recently, as school shootings have become depressingly common in our news cycle, I’ve heard people say “this is an American problem,” or “thank goodness it doesn’t happen here.”  But to the people of Scotland, it’s important to remember that it has happened here.  I kept thinking: someone needs to write a book about this topic from a Scottish perspective.  What I wanted was for someone to write that book so that I could read it.  I didn’t think I had the attention span for anything longer than a poem.  But then no one did write it, and the idea kept bothering at me every time there was another news item about a school shooting.  In the end I started writing just to try and shut my brain up.
3. Why did you choose to write your novel in the crime/thriller genre?
I didn’t realise I was writing a crime novel until quite late on in the process.  To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to keep going (that attention span thing), or get finished, or redraft, or any of that.  I wrote in secret for quite a long time.  Then All The Hidden Truths won the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress, and a lot of people heard about it, all of a sudden.  It was a relief: I was able to say to them, so, I’m writing this thing and I’ve only ever been a poet, and I don’t know what I’m doing.  I began to get a handle on what it was I was working on — a literary/crime crossover novel — only when those early readers started to come on board.  I’m eternally grateful to those people for helping me untangle the knot that my manuscript was back in 2016!
4. Were you particularly influenced by any other authors or novels?
Louise Welsh really inspires me: she’s written in so many genres, and every single one subverts the tropes and expectations of that genre beautifully.  The Cutting Room is a masterful book.  Then there’s Jennifer Egan, whose books — especially A Visit from the Goon Squad — make my jaw drop.  Egan’s prose is absolutely phenomenal and she inspires me to write the best sentences I possibly can.  Lastly, Margaret Atwood has been a teacher of mine for a long time.  Her book Negotiating With The Dead: A Writer On Writing is the best book on writing that exists, in my opinion.  I must have read it dozens of times.
5. What sort of process and research did you have to complete when writing ‘All the Hidden Truths’?
I did a lot of reading, and am deeply indebted to the following books and their authors.  A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold — the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine gunmen — gave me insight into the most unimaginable and horrendous experiences, and allowed me to write Moira.  Another Day In The Death of America, by Gary Younge, is one of the few non-fiction books in existence that has attemped to get to the bottom of the whys of youth gun culture, and although it’s USA-focussed, it contains messages for all of us, I think.  And for the police procedural research, I’m endlessly grateful that Michael O’Byrne has written The Crime Writer’s Guide to Police Practice and Procedure.  I was also very, very lucky to be able to work with a former policewoman to ensure I didn’t mess anything up when it came to writing DI Birch.
6. Why did you choose to tell this story through three different viewpoints?
Initially, I had intended to tell it through lots more, and indeed the book’s first draft had about nine POV characters.  I wanted the book’s structure to reflect the mess and cacophony of the immediate aftermath of an event like a mass shooting, but I discovered quite quickly that the content couldn’t be a slave to the form.  It was too emotive, and I had to pursue that emotional core rather than trying to write something experimental and weird.  That meant I had to write about the two mothers, Ishbel and Moira: arguably the two people most deeply and painfully affected by the tragedy the book describes.  But one of the central questions of the book is’what the hell can we do about something like this?’, and I couldn’t answer that question without showing the ways in which our institutions respond to tragedy, or at least try to.  DI Birch, who’s tasked with ‘solving’ this unsolvable case, represents the ways in which the institutions of law and justice so often feel useless.  Birch herself feels useless, restricted by procedure and red tape.  For me, these three women provided the most interesting lenses through which to view the themes of this novel.
7. The topic for this book is very relevant and topical at the moment, why did you choose to write about this difficult event and did it make it more difficult that it is something that people experience?
It was difficult to research, difficult to write, and it has been difficult to talk about at times, too.  However, I think it’s important that we have hard conversations around the topic of mass shootings involving young people.  I think the ‘problem’ of youth violence is too often spoken about lazily: the conversations lean towards generalisation and sometimes-deliberate misunderstanding.  Young people the world over turn to violence for reasons that are complex, structural and which intersect with many other pressing issues: poverty, inequality of opportunity, gender, race, education, and many more.  I strongly believe that we don’t talk enough about the influence of toxic masculinity on young men, for example.  My hope has always been that this book will challenge people to think about the reasons behind youth violence — especially where it has a gendered element — with increased nuance.
8. Do you plan on writing any more novels?
I’ve already written the follow-up to All The Hidden Truths, in which DI Birch takes on a brand new case.  The book is called What You Pay For, and it’ll be published in August 2019 by Hodder and Stoughton.  Without spoilering either book, readers of All The Hidden Truths will know that thirteen years ago, DI Birch’s little brother Charlie went missing without a trace.  In What You Pay For he reappears, but he’s in big, big trouble.
9. Do you have a favourite book, poem or author?
Ah, the impossible question!  I’ve named a few of my favourite novelists already, but I must add Agatha Christie to that list, too!  Poetry was my first love, and if I sat and listed all my favourite poets I’d be here forever.  However, I was knocked sideways by the news that Mary Oliver recently passed away.  She’s been another of my life’s teachers and she’s a poet I believe everyone ought to seek out and read.  
10. Do you have any advice for an aspiring poet or writer?
Lots!  But the main thing is: believe in what you’re writing, believe that you’re the best person to write it, and believe that it deserves to be read.  Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is hard to do.  But I meet so many writers who end up totally stuck in the muck of self doubt, and it ends up killing their writing projects.  Until you get yourself some readers, or an agent, or an editor, you’re going to be the only person who’ll champion your work.  You’ll be the only person there to say ‘hey, I made this thing and you ought to read it.’  Like I say, it’s hard.  But the good thing about this sort of belief is it self-replicates, so if you can create just a little spark of it, or even fake it to begin with, it will grow if you nurture it.  I’m not telling you to believe that your work is perfect and you’re a genius: rather than you believe it deserves to find readers, and you’re willing to do whatever work is needed to get it out into the world.  You can do it, but you won’t be able to if you don’t believe that.

Many Thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment!)

BOOK HAUL

For my Christmas I was lucky enough to be gifted a book gift card and I went and spent it on a few new books!

Both The Power by Naomi Alderman and The Melody by Jim Crace were on my most recent to read list and due to this I had to purchase them!

The Power is a science fiction novel that was written by Naomi Alderman and released in 2016. It won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017. It is a book that centres around gender and how when woman start to have powers such as producing electricity from their fingers they become the dominant gender. This is Naomi Aldermans fourth novel

The Melody by Jim Crace is psychological fiction that was released in 2018. It is centred around Alfred Busi who is famed in his town for his music. He is mourning the loss of his wife and one night he is attacked by a creature he disturbs. He believes it was an ‘innocent and wild’ child and these thoughts spark flames of an old rumour – of an ancient race of people living in the bosk surrounding the town.

Song of the Dead was written by Douglas Lindsay and was published in 2016. It is the first in the DI Westphall novel and it follows him as he investigates the case of John Baden. A dead man who walks into a police station who tells a story of kidnapping and organ harvesting. I am excited to read this as I love a police series!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS Please comment if you have ever read these books !)

Book Wishlist

A list of books that I would love to read! Hope this could inspire you!

1. The Actors Life: A Survivors Guide – Jenna Fischer

2. Becoming – Michelle Obama

3. The Sandcastle Empire – Kayla Olson

4. The Melody – Jim Crace

5. The Power – Naomi Alderman

6. The Flower Girls – Alice Clark-Platts

Many thanks, Caitlin X

(PS please comment your reading wishlist!)

Seasonal Reading

When it comes to reading different genres often suit different seasons and some people will only read at certain times of the year.

For me, I read all year round however in summer I can often find myself reading that tiny but more. Something about sitting outside in the sun with your book is so very appealing. I read more when I go on a relaxing holiday for example, sitting by the pool all day reading. I know people who only read in summer or on holiday as well and I think this is very common. Reading is relaxing and you can read without worrying about it overheating or having glare unlike devices such as phone’s or tablet. I also think audiobooks are more popular in the hotter months. If you are sitting sunbathing you can listen to a story and go into your own little world.

In summer more romantic books are read or comedic books as they tend to be more light hearted and perfect for relaxing. Call me by your name is an ideal summer read! This is not always the case as I don’t tend to read romantic books but it is a generalisation.

In winter I find reading quite cosy. Sitting in a warm room whilst it’s cold or rainy outside reading a new book is satisfying. I would think that this is when more crime novels and horrors are read as you are sitting inside whilst it is dark outside. Often people receive books for Christmas as well and I’d you are anything like me you can wait to read them. More time in spent indoors during the colder months so people can use this opportunity to catch up with their reading and finally read that book they have been meaning to for months.

Overall, it doesn’t matter when you read or what you read at certain time of the year but there is often a pattern with reading and the seasons.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment your opinion on reading throughout the seasons or if you have any different habits)

All The Hidden Truths – Mini Review

All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew is a psychological suspense story that was released in August 2018.

It follows the viewpoint of 3 people in the aftermath of a school shooting. You get to hear from the shooters mother, a victims mother and the detective inspector in charge of the investigation. I really enjoyed the structure of this book as it allowed you to look at three key people and how an event like that effects them.

It is a very intense story that is emotional to read but due to the fact it was a school shooting and events like that happen almost daily in places such as the USA it is necessary. It had to look at the events in a realistic way to help show the true nature of the event and the aftermath.

The book gripped you from the very beginning and it was written in such a clear way that it helped to portray the story excellently.

The media is also looked at and how the media can affect the people involved. All the victims killed can be looked at negatively as well as the shooters family but this shouldn’t be the case. No one deserves to be involved in such an event, we should grieve for the victims not turn them into monsters and I think the book shows this.

I really enjoyed this book and it had a huge impact on me as a reader. The events are something that effects thousands of people who have faced such a tragic time in the past and those who continue to face them. As a debut novel it is remarkable and powerful and a book I would 100% recommend.

I have a Q&A coming out at the end of the month with the author of this book , Claire Askew so look out for that,

Many thanks, Caitlin x

The Book Blogger Tag

How Long Have You Been A Blogger?

I started blogging just under a year ago when I decided to finally start a blog dedicated to something I am passionate about.

When do you think you will stop?

I don’t plan on stopping ever to be honest as I love to write my thoughts and share them but that is unrealistic. At some point I imagine that I will stop or even blog less but I have no idea when. This summer I will be working abroad for the summer so my blogs may become more irregular however I hope to continue to blog throughout. (and after I finish I will definitely blog more again).

What is the best part?

For me the best part about blogging is being able to share my love and passion for reading. I am not bothered about how many people read and if its only one, I hope that they can take something from at least one of my posts. Whether that’s a recommendation or some tips i’m not too bothered as long as I can type my thoughts and press publish. I also love hearing feedback from those who do take the time to read my posts. (I do appreciate you). I have previously been able to publish Q&A with some of my favourite authors (and have more to be publishes) and I love being able to interact with authors and share their thoughts and tips with you.

What is the worst part?

In my opinion, the worst part about blogging is often thinking about blog posts. I love writing reviews and tbr posts however those in between posts I can sometimes struggle to find an idea that I like enough to post. On these occasions I allow myself time to research and take inspiration from other bloggers and authors.

How long does it take you to find/create pictures to use?

To be honest not that long, I tend to use book covers or posters that I create on Canva. I am not a very good photographer and I don’t think any of my photos are good enough to share! I am not too bothered though as the reason I blog is to share my thoughts not my photography skills. Although I do hope to put my own photos in my blogs as I keep blogging.

What author would you like to have on your blog?

I have had the opportunity to have some of my favourite authors on my blog already and I am extremely grateful for this. I would love to have Kayla Olsen, Jessi Kirby and Linwood Barclay. I am lucky to also have a Q&A with Claire Askew (author of ‘All the hidden truths) coming out at the end of the month!

How long does it take you to prepare a post?

I think this is completely dependent on the type of post. For reviews it ca take anywhere between 30 mins and 2 hours. For this post it has taken me about hald an hour to write. (I also pride myself on being able to type fast which speeds up the process!) I couldn’t give you one answer for this question.

I Hope you enjoyed this post and if you are a book blogger yourself answer the same questions.

Many thanks, Caitlin x