Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Chuck Caruso's Imaginary Bookshop

Today Chuck Caruso has popped over to Writer's Little Helper to take part in the Imaginary Bookshop series.

Chuck Caruso's debut thriller, The Lawn Job, is a dark-comedy thriller about a femme fatal, Sheila Pasarelli, who is plotting to take revenge on her adulterous husband with the help of their gardener and ex-con man Craig Collins.


What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
My imaginary bookshop would be called Café Noir and it would specialize in crime, horror, and other dark writing. Decorated with Persian rugs and heavy draperies, my shop would also include a coffee bar and a salon area with padded chairs and push sofas.

Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
My bookshop would be located in downtown Seattle, Washington. Set in the gritty urban core and overshadowed by the heavy clouds and constant rain, my bookshop would be a dark little haven for readers who love dark writing.

Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc.
Yes, in addition to a full coffee bar with espresso machines and delicious pastries, my bookshop would feature a small stage for author events, dramatic readings, and acoustic music events.

What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?

The thing that would make my bookshop different from others is that it would become a focus of the local community of mystery readers and crime writers by hosting writers’ groups, book clubs, and weekly salons to discuss important topics and issues.

What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
Because the bookshop would be entirely oriented around dark fiction, it could feature many of the usual sections like mystery, science fiction, biography, philosophy, etc., but patrons would know every section is stocked with dark materials.

Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
Our display table would feature staff favourites, books by members of our writing groups, and things currently being read by our book clubs and discussion groups.

If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?
If we could run only one author event, we would have a reading by Edgar Allan Poe who would read one of his macabre tales and answer questions about our enduring fascination with mystery and horror.

A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your novel and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
Customers will want to read my novel, The Lawn Job firstly for the amazing thrill ride. It’s a fast-paced crime story with engaging characters and lots of plot twists. A friend told me my book should come with a beach towel and a six-pack. That said, one of my early readers described the novel as having layers like an onion. I like that it’s an exciting read but also a novel that lingers in the mind and provokes readers to reflect more deeply on my characters and their motivations. Those are aspects that I appreciate in the novels I read, so I’m pleased to offer that to my own readers.

What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
I would offer the richest and darkest espresso chocolate cake I could find. Slices would be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to balance out the darkness with a lighter flavor. You always have to a little light to make the shadows deeper.


The Lawn Job by Chuck Caruso is out now (£9.99, Cloud Lodge Books)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Book Review: The Other Us

The Other Us
By Fiona Harper
Published by HQ
Available in paperback

If you could turn back time would you choose a different life?

This question nags away at Maggie, the protagonist in Fiona Harper's latest novel, The Other Us. She comes to resent her absent husband and her empty home after her daughter has gone travelling. Her mind starts to wander to the guy who could have been the love of her life - Jude. If only...

Maggie wakes up to find herself back at university - a crossroads between two men - Dan and Jude. She has a chance for a different life. At first she falls head over heels with Jude but then she slowly realises that the deeper she falls into this life the further away she is from her original life.

I know what you're thinking - been here before, read this type of novel before - but you would be wrong. This isn't just any type of rom-com. This is a rom com with a time travel twist. This is a book about second chances and maybe realising that second chances might not offer the same level happiness as you originally had.

The Other Us shows the reader that we must appreciate what life offers, that we are the only ones who can make ourselves happy before another person can make us happy. Harper has written an uplifting book - something we all need in this unpredictable world.

This is an absorbing story and I found myself unable to put down the book. This is a great comfort read especially for a lazy day when you want to lounge around reading either on a beach, on the sofa or in the bath.

If you loved the film About Time and Sliding Doors or enjoyed reading David Nicholls's One Day then you will love this book. The Other Us is available from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy via the publisher.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017


Here are a few of my favourite things on the internet at the moment...

Dr Seuss offers advice on relaxing with a book over here.

And here's David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas offering advice on submitting work and then getting started on the next story. Read the quote here.

Nintendo offering the best life advice over here.

Great advice from the late Nora Ephron including the only way to keep learning is to keep doing something new which can also be applied to writing. You can read more here.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

June's Reading Shenanigans

Boom... five books read in June.

Not that reading is a competition because honestly, five books isn't anything compared to the people who I follow on Goodreads who read ten, twenty each month. Where do they find the time? Have they ditched the sacred religion of telly watching in the evenings to sit in the bath constantly reading while being fed chunks of chocolate aka reached reading heaven?!

This month was a fantastic reading month as most of the books held my attention and I found I couldn't put them down and not because they were glued to my hands.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
Eleanor lives a simple life - learning to survive rather than live. She has a set routine and nothing can step in her way. Yet one simple act of kindness by Eleanor sets off a chain of events which lead her away from the confines of her simple life into finding new friends, confronting her past and realising there's more to life than her job and then coming home to a bottle of vodka. This is an absorbing read and I really found myself rooting for Eleanor. This is one of those addictive books - you have been warned!

Conversations with Friends - Sally Rooney
Fans of Fleabag and Girls will love this book. Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa ask each other endless questions as their relationships develop as they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and the mundane world around them. Frances starts an affair with Melissa's husband, Nick and all the the dynamics of their friendships start to shift. This is a marmite book - either people will love the characters and they will enjoy the way the book can be read as a feminist romance or people will be annoyed because the characters are overindulged. I really enjoyed the dialogue, the exploration into the female consciousness and the way friendships evolve between women.

The Other Us - Fiona Harper
If you loved the film About Time and Sliding Doors or enjoyed reading David Nicholls's One Day then you will love this book. Maggie finds herself at forty, suffering from an empty nest after her daughter has left to go travelling and her husband is being distant. She starts thinking about a different life she could have possibly taken while at university... and her wish comes true as she is taken back in time and to different life. This book captures one of the questions which pulls on many minds - 'what if...' This is an absorbing story and I found myself unable to put down the book.

An Account Of The Decline Of The Great Auk, According To One Who Saw It - Jessie Greengrass
The short story collection with the longest title goes to this book! Jessie Greengrass's short story collection contain 12 stories ranging from historical, with a sailor describing the tragic extinction of the Auk to the future where a guard watches over a strange presence but all explore loneliness and solitude. The stories are elegant and insightful. I'm looking forward to reading more from Jessie Greengrass.

Bad Choices - Ali Almossawi
Sometimes it's refreshing to read a bit of non-fiction. This book looks at how algorithms can be applied to everyday situations and also how algorithms are not just for the techies. Some of the theories behind this book and the way it looks at being more logic can be complicated but there are handy pictures and graphs along with a chatty style of writing which makes this book really interesting because on the surface this is a dry subject and could bore you if it was written in an academic style.

What did you read in June?