Thursday, 23 March 2017

Tour and Review : Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for the new book by Matt Wesolowski, Six Stories.  With thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for involving me in the tour and for an early copy of the book.


Published by : Orenda Books
30 March 2017 (Print)
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher

The Blurb

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries' mysterious death. And who's to blame… As every interview unveils a new revelation, you'll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The first thing that caught my eye with this book was the artwork.  At first glance I thought I was looking at the scratchings of an audio recording, but on closer inspection it transpires to be a wide angle shot of very tall trees and their reflection, but this is all very deliberate and once you read this book you discover why.

Just from the blurb the setting, Scarclaw Fell, made my skin crawl.  The author instantly creates such a chilling atmosphere I actually felt physically cold while I was tucked up under my duvet reading.  The great outdoors of the Fell - it's brooding darkness and wildness, it temperamental and ever-changing mood is the perfect environmental setting.  For me, the place entirely matched the themes of this book.

The body of a teenage boy, Tom Jefferies, is discovered a year after he went missing on a trip to Scarclaw Fell.  What follows is a case of discovery, but in a fairly unique way.  The reader is not taken on the journey via the police investigation, which by the time we enter the story is already done and dusted.  It is not the story of Tom's family trying to find out what happened to their son.  It is not a journalist, the story and its potential sensation has already been put to bed.

Instead it is a pod-caster, Scott King, who just enjoys pulling together information of mysterious events of cases that have been closed.  What the reader is then presented with are the facts of the night - through the eyes of people involved and or close to the deceased.  Meaning - extremely unreliable narration - which is the for the reader, or listener should I say, to decide how much is accurate when almost everyone closely involved had an agenda and at the time was an angst ridden teenager.  But don't get me wrong this isn't one of those frustrating novels that you can't find an anchor point to cling on to because we have the neutral insight of Scott King himself.  The voice of King summarises the facts giving opinions from both sides of the coin, always leaving the reader / listener to draw their own conclusion.

The unusual penmanship of the novel with its original structure and style, I didn't know if I would get on with at first.  Could I read a book in the style of a script of a pod-cast?  Would it get annoying?  The answer no, I quickly realised it didn't matter.  What you have is a really good story, told really well.  With the multiple viewpoints the script is kept varied and pacey even though it is the same story told by six different voices and always moving the plot forward.  I enjoyed the summary sections at the beginning and the end of each pod-cast by King and being taken to the present day with Scarclaw Fells owner and body finder Harry. 

For me this novel reminded me of The Blair Witch project, where things not happening and dark issues being alluded to but not shown in graphic detail are actually more frightening than anything else.

I loved the ending of this novel and felt it stayed true to the author's intent.  Six stories is a distressing tale looking at extreme ends of teenage group dynamics and parenting issues to name but a few of the things it touches on, whilst telling the story of what happened to Tom Jefferies on that fateful night in 1996.

Six Stories get a highly recommend to read Very Pink Notebook Rating of :


Follow the Tour

Orenda - SIX STORIES Blog Tour

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Review : The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to present
The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse
Review on publication day. 
With thanks to the author for an ARC of the book.

The Idea of You

Published by : Lake Union
21 March 2017
Copy : Paperback - Received from Author

The Blurb

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…

Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all?

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The Idea of You is yet another poignant and moving novel from best seller Amanda Prowse.  The beauty of this author's writing is that is so very real.  Amanda has a knack of taking an issue and pin-pointing the beating heart of it, she then writes a true and heart-rending novel around it.

This book is another case in point.  Motherhood.  This is something many people are able to take for granted.  They try for a baby, have a good pregnancy, have the baby and off they are on the road of parenthood.  But Amanda stops, with The Idea of You, to look at those not so lucky, the one's who can't just go through the natural course and rhythm of conceiving, carrying and delivering a child.  She unravels the emotional upheaval this can create, the distress and misery grief can cause when one hope after another is dashed and how this can filter out and tarnish every inch of life. 

Protagonist Lucy is in an emotional minefield throughout the course of the book.  Her longing for a child with husband Jonah threatens to overrule everything, as her heartache and sorrow of not being able to successfully carry a child becomes ever more the reality of her world.  On top of this she undertakes a stressful job, having been highly successful within her career and is trying to cope with her new role as a step-mother to a teenager girl who has issues of her own.  As a main character I did not overly warm to Lucy, but that is hardly surprising given how strung out the poor women is.  Sometimes she seems tightly wound, and that is because she is, for good reason.  Amanda has skilfully and very realistically managed to demonstrate how very good relationships can fall apart over, what may seem trivial things, but that are huge if not discussed, or if the people trying to deal with them are already so emotionally stretched they can't see the wood through the trees.  If communication breaks down, then nothing works.

This novel, sensitively written, looks at the issue of motherhood in full circle, which I really enjoyed.  Although told from the point of view of Lucy, the author has cleverly dealt with all aspects of motherhood throughout the other characters in the book with each mother in the book representing a different aspect or dilemma.  I always enjoy the pace and fluidity of this novelists work, it makes her books so easy to read and digest even though they are very often dealing with controversial and emotional subjects.

Never to be disappointed with a new novel by Amanda Prowse, The Idea of You receives a highly recommend Very Pink Notebook rating of :

Friday, 17 March 2017

Tour and Review : Parallel Lines by Steven Savile

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for new crime novel 'Parallel Lines' by Steven Savile.  With thanks to Philippa Ward at Titan Books for involving me in the tour and for an early copy of the book.


Published by : Titan Books
14 March 2017
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher

The Blurb

How far would you go to provide for your child?

Adam Shaw is dying, and knows he’ll leave his disabled son with nothing. His solution? Rob a bank. It’s no surprise that things go wrong. What is surprising is that when another customer is accidentally shot, no one in the bank is in a hurry to hand Adam over to the police. There’s the manager who’s desperate to avoid an audit, the security guard with a serious grudge against the dead man, and the woman who knows exactly how bad the victim really was...

Eight people, twelve hours, one chance to cover up a murder. But it’s not just the police they have to fool. When many lives intersect, the results can be explosive.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

As soon as I read the first paragraph from the blurb of this book, I knew I had to read it.  I have a disabled son myself and as any parent, not just those with children with special needs knows, thinking about their future should anything happen to you is one of the most important, but scary, things you have to do as a mother / father.  It is also one of the most common things that is avoided until something shakes you up to take a stand. 

But what if that shake up call comes sooner than you expected and gives you little time to get their future covered?  What if, like the majority of the population you do not have a lifetime of funds to leave, especially when your child has disabilities?  A child who will never be able to earn their own living and the cost of having them cared for never reduces.  Your options aren't vast.

This is the crux of the book.  A desperate dying man, driven to desperate measures.  Now, I was expecting this book to be a mixture of both the heist and of protagonist Adam's life, with son Jake.  I was wrong and somewhat surprised, but not disappointed.  Apart from a few scenes at the beginning, which are essential, the novel doesn't leave the boundaries of the bank robbery.  And it works brilliantly. 

The author keeps the reader in close so the intensity of the situation is never lost.  Every character involved in the robbery has their own agenda and Savile has cleverly written on so many levels it manages to capture beautifully the dark side of human nature; when an opportunity for revenge for a life long grudge materialises will you take it?  Can money really buy silence?  If one descents from the pack should they be sacrificed?  It sets your mind thinking about a whole host of moral dilemma's.

Although this is a highly intense novel it does have some bits of dark humour which I enjoyed.  This is managed because it is written from the viewpoint of all eight people in the bank.  Each has their own little mini-story which lays the foundation for how the plot weaves together.  Savile has injected just the right about of personality into each so that one is not stronger or weaker than the other, they are just all very different.  By using this style the pace is kept moving along quickly and the variety compels you to keep turning and turning those pages, meaning you can not put the darn book down!

This is one of those novels screaming out to be transferred to screen, the writing is excellent, the characters are dynamic, the plot strong and it just leaves you asking yourself what you would do if you found yourself in the same situation (and I don't just mean in the situation of the protagonist either...)

I really can not recommend this book highly enough - but be warned, read it on a day you can just sit and read because you will not want to put it down.

Parallel Lines by Steven Savile gets a Very Pink Notebook rating of :


Monday, 13 March 2017

Author Guest Post : Past or Present Tense? By Thomas Enger

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be hosting a guest post from Cursed author, Thomas Enger, discussing why the fourth instalment in the Henning Juul collection is a little different from the rest...


Past or present tense?

If you have made it to Cursed, having read the first three novels in my Henning Juul series (Burned, Pierced, Scarred) you may have noticed a change in the fourth instalment in the series.

Know what it is?


Well, let me tell you.

I'm always looking for ways to improve as an author, and that means experimenting a whole lot. The very first draft of Burned, the first book, was written in first person perspective, but my editor wanted me to change that, so I did. They made me change a bunch of other things as well, but that's another story.

Burned is written in the present tense, and the reason for that is that I just liked it when I first started writing the story. So it stuck with me until I was finished. And because I had written the first novel that way, it wrote the second and third one that way, too. I liked how close you get to the story when you're reading something that sort of takes place right then and there. That's certainly how it feels, right, when you read it? You are part of the journey somehow, you're sitting on the shoulder of the narrator, experiencing things that very second, with the characters in the story.

A little side note here: After I wrote the first three Henning Juul novels, I had a bit of time before the deadline for the fourth one was due, so I decided to finish another project I had been working on for quite some time, a dark fantasy young adult thriller called The Evil Legacy. That one I wrote in the first person present tense, and I had so much fun going back to that kind of narrative, so when the time came to go back to Cursed, I felt like having some more fun, to experiment some more. Besides, I had four novels under my belt. I knew a bit more about storytelling at that point.

So I decided to change again.  To the third person past tense perspective this time. Again, I was trying to improve, to push myself, and that meant getting out of my comfort zone.

It took me a while to get used to that way of telling a story, but I found the exercise helpful and rewarding in the sense that I felt more like a storyteller doing it that way, with the bird's eye view on everything. I'm in complete control, and you, as a reader, just have to go along for the ride and let me guide you through the story. I disclose to you just the details I want you to know at that particular point in the story.

Writers usually stick to the way they're most comfortable with, which is perfectly fine, of course. But isn't it funny how some readers just can't read a story that's told in the present tense, while others absolutely adore it? I actually had one editor assigned to me who was so opposed to stories told in the first tense that he couldn't bring himself to work with me in the end.


What a wonderful invention.

What it comes down to, I guess, is just taste. There are no "best ways" to write, or "best ways" to read, we just pick and choose what we like the most.


I like all kinds. I'm in love with stories, whether they are told in the first or the third person, whether they are told in the past or the present tense, whether they feature a male or a female protagonist, whether it's set in Oslo or Orlando, or if it's raining or scorching hot, as long as the narrative makes me feel something, and think. That's most the important thing. To me.

What are your preferences, and why? Would love to hear your thoughts. 
T : @EngerThomas

About the Author

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist.  He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication.  Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo's underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news.  Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date.  In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult).  Enger also composes music and he lives in Oslo.

T : @EngerThomas

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Tour and Review : Cursed by Thomas Enger

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Thomas Enger's, CURSED, blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book.

Cursed (Henning Juul)

Published by : Orenda Books
1 March 2017
Translated by Kari Dickson
Copy : Paperback received from publisher

The Blurb

What secret would you kill to protect? When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

This is the first 'Henning Juul' novel I have read and now I understand why everyone wanted to get their hands on a copy of this book.  It is utterly brilliant.  The plot is so intricate it is almost mind boggling, but the author sets it out within such a superb structure I did not get lost once or have to re-read a single thing.

Through two main protagonists, ex husband and wife, Henning and Nora we are taken on a complex journey to discover two different mysteries; What happened to Hedda Hellberg and who set fire to Henning Juul's apartment causing the death of Nora and Henning's son Jonas.  With the plot criss-crossing and twisting and turning all the time it really is a rollercoaster ride for the reader and believe me, you will not be able to put this book down.

Enger has written in third person narrative, but has an amazing ability to really keep the psychic distance close and powerful, making for a compelling and nail-biting read.  By swapping between Henning and Nora as narrators the pace is non-stop and not one chapter is superfluous to the plot.  As well as being gripping it is gritty without being horrifying, as it could so easily have been when dark underworlds are explored by novelists. 

The novel is not one of those who only teases with snippets of information throughout only to have a weak and disappointing ending.  You are constantly discovering meaty pieces of the plot which the author spends the last quarter of the book seamlessly weaving together to produce a clever and well thought out ending, which I did not see coming, I also suspect that Henning Juul is far from done investigating either...

All of the characters in this book seemed very real, there were no pantomime good or bad ones.  They are complex and I felt the author has a very deep understanding of them, which is obviously why the novel made for such good reading - the passion of plot and exemplary writing was never going to provide anything less.

I can not recommend this book highly enough.  Cursed receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :

About the Author

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist.  He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication.  Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo's underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news.  Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date.  In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult).  Enger also composes music and he lives in Oslo.

T : @EngerThomas

Follow The Tour

Cursed Blog tour.jpg

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Review : This Mum Runs by Jo Pavey

Published by : Yellow Jersey Press
14 July 2016
Copy : Hardback - Borrowed from Library

The Blurb

The inspirational story of athlete Jo Pavey, the runner and mum who ran at a record-breaking fifth Olympic Games at Rio 2016.

'Come-back races? I've had more than a few, the night of 10 May 2014 was the ultimate long shot. I was a forty-year-old mother of two who had given birth eight months before. I trained on a treadmill in a cupboard by the back door and I was wearing a running vest older than most of the girls I was competing against. Was I crazy?'

Jo Pavey was forty years old when she won the 10,000m at the European Championships. It was the first gold medal of her career and, astonishingly, it came within months of having her second child.
The media dubbed her ‘Supermum’, but Jo’s story is in many ways the same as every mother juggling the demands of working life with a family – the sleepless nights, the endless nappy changing, the fun, the laughter and the school-run chaos. The only difference is that Jo is a full-time athlete pushing a buggy on her training runs, clocking up miles on the treadmill in a cupboard while her daughter has her lunchtime nap, and hitting the track while her children picnic on the grass.

Heartwarming and uplifting, This Mum Runs follows Jo’s roundabout journey to the top and all the lessons she's learnt along the way. It is the inspiring yet everyday story of a mum that runs and a runner that mums.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

I love to read an autobiography. I love how a book neatly summarises the chaos that is somebodies life, the highs, the lows, the achievements.  When it comes to reading autobiographies of athletes, I think there have been mixed success, too many times I have read what could literally be a statistics book strung out over 200 pages.  Jo Pavey's 'This Mum Runs' is not one of those books however.

From the very first page it is written with the same gentle humility that Jo Pavey has become renowned for and this continues consistently right to the last chapter.  It is well structured and although, yes, it has a few snapshots of statistics about races and athletics, it is more over about Jo Pavey as an all round person - being a elite athlete is merely her day job.

The important thing here is that this particular athlete actually has a very interesting story to tell.  We all love to hear the inspiration behind anyone who is the top of their game in any field, be it athletics or not, but to be honest sometimes even though they are the best at what they do, it just hasn't been a very interesting journey to get there, thus it shows in the autobiography.

In this book however, we are given a great insight into what makes this person, Jo Pavey, who she is; a mother, wife, an elite athlete - and what makes her world tick.  The life events of Jo are worth reading about and make for a great story to tell.  This autobiography does not shy away from real life, blinding the reader with just the bare bones about athletics which becomes slightly dull, it is honest, it is humorous and it is enjoyable.

This Mum Runs by Jo Pavey receives a Very Pink Notebook - Highly Recommend - rating of :