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** My thanks to Charlie Laidlaw for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

On the way home from a dinner party she didn’t want to attend, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions.

It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the ageing hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident. Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that she needs to find a way home…

 

My Thoughts & Review:

When I originally looked at this book I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, certainly it sounded very intriguing but so very far from my usual crime thriller reads but what’s life without a little spontaneity?  When my copy of the book arrived, I picked it up and idly flicked through the pages to get a feel for the book and before long I was curled up on the sofa with a cuppa and utterly entranced by Lorna Love and her strange new world.

I’m not a big reader of sci-fi or anything that challenges my logically wired brain.  My brain isn’t a fan of accepting that things exist outside of this dimension, and if I do read books erring towards the side of fantasy my brain always shouts “but how would that work?” or “but why?”.  But somehow with The Things We Learn When We’re Dead, this voice was quiet, it accepted quickly the setting of the book, it was happy with the plot and more importantly, was unquestioningly connected with Lorna Love and her tale for the duration.

This is a wonderfully quirky book with so much character, from the moment we meet Lorna we are given a wonderful insight into her mind.  Seeing things through her eyes we learn of events from her childhood and growing up in North Berwick in Scotland, but we also discover her new life aboard HVN with God and the crew of the dysfunctional spaceship.  She is a character that I think many readers will be able to connect with, there’s a very likeable quality to her and I certainly felt that I could share her emotions as I read on.
The way that this book is written shows a great skill by the author, the plot is clever and so magnificently woven together.  When Lorna recounts a tale from her younger years it links perfectly with what is happening in current time and the anecdotal comments that pop in her head add to the delightfully humorous narrative.
With such a light-hearted and humorous approach to serious ideas, this book gives readers pause for thought and leaves them pondering life and choices.  The overarching theme of acceptance is a huge part of this book, as is the idea that the decisions we make play a part in more that just our lives, impacting on others around us.

I must admit that I fell a little in love with this book, it was so enjoyable to read and it’s one that I may well go back and reread at a later date (you know it’s a good book when I want to do that!).  I would wholeheartedly recommend this book, I absolutely loved it!

You can buy a copy of The Things We Learn When We’re Dead via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 


Giveaway

Charlie Laidlaw has kindly offered to sign a proof copy of The Things We Learn When We’re Dead as a giveaway for you lucky readers!  How brilliant is  that?!  To be in with a chance of winning a copy, just leave me a wee comment below telling me which celebrity you might want to look like if you were aboard HVN.

Competition is open to UK entries only (sorry guys, due to postage costs going to have to keep this as UK) and competition will close on 11th October.  Winning entry will be drawn in the usual fashion – first name out hat 🙂

Good luck!!

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Hello and welcome along to another Friday, it’s time to celebrate another great book from another brilliant indie publisher!  This time I am shining the light on The Dome Press and sharing a review of J.D. Fennell’s debut novel “Sleeper”.


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Book Feature:

Description:

Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will’s notebook and will do anything to get it.

As Will’s memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin. But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing?

Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I first heard about “Sleeper” I was intrigued, tales set during the Blitz always hold a fascination for me, throw in the fact that this is a fast paced, adventure thriller and you’re on to a winner in my eyes.

From the moment I picked up this book to flick through it I was hooked, there was something about the style of writing that captured my attention and drove me to read on.  Short chapters make this a quick and thrilling read, and there is action a plenty to entertain readers.
Will Starling is an interesting character, in the first three chapters he is portrayed as someone who is trying to do the best that he can in a difficult situation, yes he is somewhat of a suspicious young man what with his connections in the beginning, but his conscience seems to hold him in check, he has a sense of morality when it comes to the greater good and protecting others.  As the plot moves on, Will becomes victim to an amnesia and struggles with the mental block in place.  Who is he?  How did he get here?  Why is there a bullet in the notebook in his blazer pocket?  As the adrenaline surges through Will when he realises he’s in danger the pace of the book turns this into a frantic page turner.  Trying to work out who is after him and why, Will faces the impossible task of finding safety and working out who he can trust.

The action crackles throughout this book, and even in the “quieter” moments of the story the still moves on at an exciting pace.  Mystery and intrigue lurk in the shadows, the setting of Blitz London makes this wonderfully intense as events taking place provide great cover for some of the goings on in this story.  The way in which the settings are described is skilfully done, the reader can conjure vivid images of the the locations mentioned in the book, and I particularly liked the descriptions of the school that Will ends up at, my imagination was happily wandering down corridors.

The characters in this are so well fleshed out, Will granted is a little enigma, his amnesia making him a potentially unreliable narrator, but nonetheless he is still very interesting, and a character that readers will feel drawn to.  Whether readers are a fan of his action packed assassin skills or feel sympathetic to his remorse towards the casualties that occur along the way, this is a well created persona that draws the audience in.

Although this book is aimed towards a Young Adult audience, I think it would be a hit with many fans of action thrillers, there is certainly enough in the plot to entertain most fans and the ending sets things up perfectly for another instalment.

My thanks to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for a copy of this book to read and review.

You can buy a copy of “Sleeper” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


Author Feature:

JD Fennell Headshot

J.D. was born in Belfast at the start of the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help understand the madness unfolding around him. A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books – his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës.

He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry.

These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

I love being “in the zone” of writing a book, where, on a daily basis, I can slip from reality and into the head of someone else in another world or time. That is the gift of writing.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

My least favourite thing about being a writer is that I don’t have a magical time stopping device that would allow me the luxury of banging out all the ideas that are whirling around in my head  on or ahead of schedule.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why? 

There are so many, however, my choice is The North Water, by Ian McGuire. This book is a disturbing, fast-paced tale of an ill-fated Yorkshire whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. It is the story of Patrick Summer, an Irish ex-army doctor with a broken reputation, and the brutal and bloodthirsty, Henry Drax. The story builds to a gripping confrontation between the two men against the backdrop of a bleak Arctic landscape. Full of surprises, and wonderfully written, I absolutely wished I had written this book.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I am not one of those authors that makes a living from writing, so I have a day job, which takes up a lot of my time and headspace. Out of work, I read as much fiction as I can and always have a book to hand. I also love to cook and travel.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I only write long hand for notes and post-its. I can pretty much write anywhere, however, I normally do so in the morning, sometimes starting as early as 6 am. I work in my kitchen, sitting at the kitchen table overlooking the garden. I have no rituals as such. However if I walk in to find unwashed dishes, then I won’t be able to write until everything has been cleaned and tidied. It’s like I am shifting the clutter from my head and clearing a path for the next block of words.  Come evening time, if my brain is not fried, then I will squeeze out more words.

 

A huge thank you to J.D. Fennell for joining me today and sharing a little more about himself and his writing process, there’s always dishes to be done in this house so feel free to bring your marigolds!

For more information about this author and his fantastic book check out his website https://www.sleeperbook.com/ or follow him on Twitter @jd_fennell

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

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