Title: Furious Hours – Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

Author: Casey Cep

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK

The Blurb

The stunning story of an Alabama serial killer and the true-crime book that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted – thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.

As Alabama is consumed by these gripping events, it’s not long until news of the case reaches Alabama’s – and America’s – most famous writer. Intrigued by the story, Harper Lee makes a journey back to her home state to witness the Reverend’s killer face trial. Harper had the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research. Lee spent a year in town reporting on the Maxwell case and many more years trying to finish the book she called The Reverend.

Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.

This is the story Harper Lee wanted to write. This is the story of why she couldn’t.

The Review

I have never come across anyone who didn’t love To Kill A Mockingbird. Equally, I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t slightly disappointed with Go Set a Watchman. After all those years of wanting more from Harper Lee her audience weren’t exactly infused with joy with her second release. Having said that, we all would probably have wanted more from Harper Lee.

In Casey Cep’s Furious Hours – Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee we get to see an inside picture of why we had to wait so long for Harper Lee’s work and more importantly how she struggled for decades to write something as good, as important as To Kill a Mockingbird.

Furious Hours is a good read. Casey Cep is a good writer. However, I do feel that Furious Hours could have been much shorter. There was an awful lot of background information given that had very little impact in the overall story of Harper Lee planning to write her novel on a crime that took place. A lot of it was irrelevant.

That being said, Furious Hours is an interesting read, it is well researched and the insight into Harper Lee’s life is fascinating. We finally get an impression of who this reclusive writer was.

Furious Hours – Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep is available now.

For more information regarding Casey Cep (@cncep) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House UK (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

Title: For the Love of Books – Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Fueds, Extraordinary characters, and more

Author: Graham Tarrant

Pages: 244 Pages

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

The Blurb

A light-hearted book about books and the people who write them for all lovers of literature.

Do you know:

Which famous author died of caffeine poisoning? Why Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was banned in China? Who was the first British writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature? What superstitions Truman Capote kept whenever he wrote? Who the other Winston Churchill was?

A treasure trove of compelling facts, riveting anecdotes, and extraordinary characters, For the Love of Books is a book about books—and the inside stories about the people who write them. Learn how books evolved, what lies behind some of the greatest tales ever told, and who’s really who in the world of fiction.

From banned books to famous feuding authors, from literary felons to rejected masterpieces, from tips for aspiring writers to stand-out book lists for readers to catch up on, For the Love of Books is a celebration of the written word and an absolute page-turner for any book lover.

Read all about it!

The Review

I loved For the Love of Books.

It is a wonderful little compendium of facts and stories about some of our best loved authors. The layout is fun and you can dip in and out of it at your leisure…if you can be strong willed enough to pause in between reading. Personally, I found that I couldn’t. I wanted to know more information and read more about the books and the authors.

For the Love of Books is the perfect present for the book lover in your life!

For the Love of Books – Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary characters, and more by Graham Tarrant is available now.

For more information regarding Skyhorse Publishing (@skyhorsepub) please visit www.skyhorsepublishing.com.

Title: Toffee

Author: Sarah Crossan

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

The Blurb

I am not who I say I am,

and Marla isn’t who she thinks she is.

I am a girl trying to forget.

She is a woman trying to remember.

Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there – and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee.

Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be.

But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?

The Review

I absolutely adore Sarah Crossan’s novels. Whenever a new one comes out you can guarantee it is on my ‘want to read’ list. The same can be said about Toffee. It was one of those books that I didn’t want to know anything about I just wanted to dive in because I know that with a Sarah Crossan novel I will be presented with challenging topics in a moving way.

Toffee did not disappoint.

It is a book about relationships. Not the love kind, but more the familial or the platonic kind. The story follows Allison, a runaway who is desperate to seek solace in the one person who has ever shown her kindness, however, when she ends up alone and penniless in an unknown area Allison forms a friendship with Marla. The only problem is that Marla has dementia and doesn’t remember Allison from one day to the next.

Crossan deals with issues such as abuse, broken families, loneliness, and mental health in such a caring, non-judgemental way. She has a magical ability to make her characters likable even when we question what they are doing. She is meticulous in her characterisation and I absolutely adore her books, Toffee included.

Toffee by Sarah Crossan is available now.

For more information regarding Sarah Crossan (@SarahCrossan) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury Publishing (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

Title: My Absolute Darling

Author: Gabriel Tallent

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

‘You think you’re invincible. You think you won’t ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.’

At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall;
That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it;
That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world.
And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.

She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school;
Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see;
Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done
And what her daddy will do when he finds out …

Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

The Review

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is an intoxicating, overwhelming, and intense novel about a young girl on the cusp of young womanhood and the claustrophobic life she leads under the firm hand of her father.

Turtle Alveston has lived alone with her father since her mother’s death. She has been sheltered from the everyday ordinary by her father and instead taught survival skills such as shooting. She is isolated and her world revolves around her insidious relationship with her dad.

My Absolute Darling is a coming of age novel in the most twisted and uncomfortable of ways. For me, the novel had an issue with pacing. For the first half I felt like it was very slow going but that did reflect the smallness and slowness of Turtle’s world. Then the story snowballed and it was the end. For a reader, it can be quite off-putting.

My Absolute Darling is a very disturbing novel. If you are planning on reading it then please be aware that there are a few triggering elements to the story.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is available now.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Seventh Train

Author: Jackie Carreira

Pages: 153 Pages

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Limited

The Blurb

What if you can’t stand where you are because there’s nothing there? What if you don’t want to end up anywhere else in case that’s empty too? When life has lost its road map, sometimes the only way to get back on track is to get back on the rails.

The Seventh Train is a ride – a ‘road movie’ on the railways. It’s a journey that Elizabeth invented; the only original thought she has ever had in her previously uneventful life. Unbeknown to her, she is not travelling alone. If only she’d pretended that the spare seat was taken.

With a wonderfully eclectic cast of characters, The Seventh Train takes its passengers on a journey from the tragic to the strange, arriving finally at hope. By turns heart-breaking, thought-provoking and hilarious, this tale is a life-affirming exploration of the human spirit via the British railway timetable!

The Review

The Seventh Train is a clever circular book that mixes a colourful cast of characters with weird and wonderful stories. They all take place on trains or in train stations which, personally, I find fascinating and oddly romantic.

Our protagonist, Elizabeth, is a little bit closed off but she finds her wall of safety penetrated by others who without even knowing it have saved her from herself.

I really enjoyed The Seventh Train. It is a perfect one sitting read.

The Seventh Train by Jackie Carreira is available now.

For more information regarding Jackie Carreira (@JCarreiraWriter) please visit www.jackiecarreira.co.uk.