Alison Rattle

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Aw… bibliobeth turns 3!

Published January 5, 2016 by bibliobeth

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It’s my blogoversary today and I can’t believe I’ve been blogging now for three years – just where has the time gone? 2015 was one of my best years to date, I met some lovely fellow bloggers at events such as YALC and YA Shot and Crime In The Court, interviewed some top authors like Alexia Casale, Alison Rattle, Karen Maitland, Sarah Hilary, Jane Elson and Piers Torday (to name a few!), carried out my first face-to-face interview with Jason Starr (post to be published soon) and ran my very first blogging workshop with my lovely sister Chrissi Reads! That’s a whole lot of things to be excited about and if I can be half as successful in 2016 I will be one happy blogger indeed.

I just want to thank EVERYONE who reads my little old posts whether you’re a bibliobeth virgin or a returning reader, it really means the world to me and I couldn’t do it without your support.

So, to celebrate my blogoversary I will be running a giveaway where the prize is four books of your choice (excepting textbooks and ridiculously prized books) from Amazon or The Book Depository. I’ll leave the giveaway open until the end of January to give people a chance to enter where I’ll then pick a winner and update you all. Please make sure if you are under eighteen you have permission to email me your address so I can send your books. Enter below!:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway IS international so why not try your luck?

Once again, thank you so much to everyone in the blogosphere for making this such a great community to be part of. Here’s to hopefully many more years of blogging ahead. Good luck everyone!!

YA SHOT – 28th October 2015, Uxbridge, London

Published October 21, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

YA Shot is a one day event for young adult and middle grade fiction in London where seventy-one authors will participate in talks and book signings. It has all been organised by the lovely Alexia Casale, author of The Bone Dragon and House of Windows who decided on a YA Shot five-word “ethos,” that it should be generous, passionate, inclusive, challenging and fun and she has put together a fabulous programme that is sure to excite anyone who is enthusiastic about young adult fiction.

Tell us more?:

The event in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstones Uxbridge will host various “panel” and “in conversation” talks throughout the day at different sites all within easy walking distance of each other. There will also be an opportunity to attend workshop events hosted by bloggers and vloggers active in the UK at the moment.

What kind of talks?:

There are so many talks planned that look so interesting! I will be trying to attend as many as possible (that is, until I have to go host one of the workshops with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads in the afternoon!)

The ones I’d love to go to include:

11.30am – 12.30pm Playing with Time: Historical fiction and historical settings – Chaired by Natasha Farrant with Lucy Coats, Rhian Ivory and Alison Rattle

12.45pm – 1.45pm Crime and Punishment: Fictional wrongdoing and human rights – Chaired by Laura Jarratt with Cat Clarke, Keren David and Emma Haughton

2pm – 3pm Trigger Warning: Exploring sensitive issues in ethical ways – Chaired by Alexia Casale with Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne and Louisa Reid

12.45pm – 1.45pm Treasured Land: Nature as a character and concern in YA – Chaired by Piers Torday with Lisa Heathfield and Anna McKerrow

4.40pm – 5.40pm Tragedy! Tackling sadness in fiction for younger teens – Chaired by Candy Gorlay with Jane Elson and Aoife Walsh [MG event, suitable for children aged 7-11 as well as adults]

Aagh, I can already see I’ve got a clash and am going to have to think carefully about which talk I want to go to! This is only a small sample of what’s on offer and I can honestly say I think there’s something for everyone.

Don’t forget the workshops as well! Chrissi Reads and I are hosting one at 3:45 pm about How To Get Started With Blogging. If you’re new to the blogging world or already have your own blog but want to know a bit more about getting things going, please come along and we shall try our best to make it worth your while. We’ve also got Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies and a member of the Bookish Brits who will be talking about group projects and reading challenges, Benjamin of Tomes who will show you how to get started with vlogging, Debbie from Snuggling on the Sofa and Daphne of Winged Reviews who will show you how to develop your brand and increase your followers and Jim from Ya Ya Yeah and Wei Ming Kam of Rare, Medium, Well Done who will discuss diversity in literature. To name a few!

Which authors are going to be there?:

I’m just going to throw a few names out there:

Alexia Casale (obviously)

Piers Torday, author of The Last Wild series

Jane Elson, author of A Room Full of Chocolate and How To Fly With Broken Wings

C J Daughtery, author of The Night School series

Tanya Byrne, author of Heart-Shaped Bruise and Follow Me Down

Emma Carroll, author of Frost Hollow Hall and The Girl Who Walked On Air

Holly Bourne, author of Soulmates and Am I Normal Yet?

Cat Clarke, author of Undone and The Lost And The Found

James Dawson, author of This Book Is Gay and All Of The Above

And that’s just a few of them.

Where can I buy tickets?:

Tickets are still available from the YA Shot website. Online orders will close at 6pm on Tuesday 27th October but there may be some available on the door on Wednesday 28th October.

Any more information?:

Please see the official YA Shot website which will tell you everything else you need to know. Maybe I’ll see you there!



Author Interview – Alison Rattle on her new YA novel The Beloved

Published August 28, 2015 by bibliobeth



Alison grew up in Liverpool, and now lives in a medieval house in Somerset with her three very nearly grown-up children, her husband – a carpenter – an extremely naughty Jack Russell and a ghost cat. She has co-authored a number of non-fiction titles on subjects as diverse as growing old, mad monarchs, how to boil a flamingo, the history of America and the biography of a nineteenth-century baby killer. She has worked as a fashion designer, a production controller, a painter and decorator, a barmaid, and now owns and runs a vintage tea room in the city of Wells. Alison has also published three YA books about young Victorian women with Hot Key Books – THE QUIETNESS, THE MADNESS and THE BELOVED. Her fourth novel is due out May 2016. Follow Alison at or on Twitter: @alisonrattle

Please click on the book covers to get the link to GoodReads!


See my review for The Quietness HERE!


See my review for The Madness HERE!

Interview with Alison Rattle

I’d like to welcome Alison to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview!

1.) Your latest novel, The Beloved is based on an actual religious sect, The Agapemonites founded in 1846. Can you tell us about the research you had to carry out on this sect for the novel?

I stumbled across the story of The Agapemonites a few years ago when I was doing research for another book. I love quirky pieces of social history, so I stored this one away and had pretty much forgotten about it, until I was thinking of ideas for my next book and found it again in my note file. I actually live not too far away from the village of Spaxton, so the first thing I did was to visit the village. It’s a tiny little place, tucked away in the middle of nowhere with a real feeling of isolation. The buildings of the Abode of Love are still there as is The Lamb pub next door. I could really imagine how much more isolated it must have been in the 1800’s and this gave me a real sense of how such a sect could have survived and flourished away from the public eye. The walls of the pub next door were covered in old newspaper cuttings from the day, so I was able to read about the real scandals and to incorporate them into my story. Newspaper accounts from the period you are writing in are always invaluable, and the tone of the journalism was always so much more colourful than it is today.

2.) The main character, Alice Angel is a naive yet independent young woman which I love and your main female characters in The Quietness and The Madness also seem to have that fiesty streak. Have you ever thought about writing a novel from a male perspective?

I suppose I am naturally drawn to writing female characters because of course I am female myself and can draw upon my own memories of what it was like to be a teenager. Every book I write is a new learning curve and a challenge, so yes, I would like to one day have a go at writing from a male perspective – just to see if I could, if nothing else!

3.) Henry Prince aka The Beloved, is a charming yet despicable young man. Do you think he believed his own hype or always had an ulterior motive?

In real life, Henry Prince was actually a very ugly old man, which makes it even more surprising that he managed to entice so many followers into his cult. He must have had such charisma though, like many people of that type do. He absolutely believed in his own hype. He really did think he was God made flesh. Which I guess was what made him so persuasive.

4.) You touch on some difficult subjects in your novels which make them tense but so exciting to read. Is there any subject you have found difficult to write about/or wouldn’t write about?

I am very much drawn to writing about difficult subjects. I don’t know why. It’s just how I’m made I guess. The darker the better as far as I’m concerned! I don’t think there’s any subject that would be off my radar. I did get very affected when I researched the horrendous practice of baby-farming for my first book, The Quietness. When you’re writing historical fiction, there a distance between you and your subject, which can lessen the impact of a distressing subject, because it seems so far from your own life. But when I delved into the world of baby-farming, I began by researching the life of a baby farmer called Amelia Dyer (I co-wrote her biography – Amelia Dyer – Angel Maker)and followed the lives of some of the children she took into her care and later murdered. I ordered the death certificate of one of these children and reading about how he died, and seeing it in print right in front of me, really hit home and made me cry buckets.

(bibliobeth: “Must order Amelia Dyer biography now!”)

5.) Are you working on anything now and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’ve just finished my fourth book (well, still lots of rewrites and editing to do!) It’s quite different from my first three books. It’s not set in Victorian England for one thing, but in 1961. The main character is called Violet and she was born above her Dad’s fish and chip shop at the exact moment Winston Churchill announced the end of World War 2 on the wireless. It’s a coming of age story and follows Violet as she deals with broken friendships, first love, a missing brother and a series of mysterious murders.

(bibliobeth: “Sounds brilliant – can’t wait!”)

Now for some quick fire questions!

E book or real book?

Got to be real books, I’m afraid. Just love the smell, the feel, and seeing them all, fat with words, lined up in rows on my shelves. Although I did buy my husband a Kindle for Christmas. And he loves it.

Series or stand alone?

Stand alone. I’m too impatient to wait for the next in a series!

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction mostly, although I do love the occasional juicy non-fiction social history, such as The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Definitely bookshops. Especially ones with a coffee shop. Heaven!

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Oh blimey. Dog-earing, I have to admit. My books are always well-thumbed.

Once again, a big thank you to Alison for her efforts in making this interview possible and I’m incredibly excited now for the next book.

The Beloved was published on 5th March 2015 by Hot Key Books and is available from all good retailers NOW. Why not check out her back catalogue too? I highly recommend both The Quietness and The Madness which are both stand-alone novels and can be read in any order you like!

The Beloved – Alison Rattle

Published August 27, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Escape from a bullying mother takes one young woman to an even more dangerous place.

Alice Angel has known only a life of rules, restriction and punishments as she strays from the rigid path of Victorian proprietary that her mother has set out for her. A constant disappointment to all but her doting father, she longs for the day that she might break free from the stifling atmosphere of her mother’s rule.

After a chance encounter with a charming stranger, and a final incident with her family that sees her condemned to the madhouse, Alice sees her opportunity to run and grasps it with both hands. She escapes to join the Agapemonites in their Abode of Love, where ex-Reverend Henry Prince rules his isolated colony of women as their Beloved. Prince ignites a passion in Alice that she never knew existed, and she dares to think she might be free at last.

But as Alice becomes more deeply drawn into the life of Prince’s strange religious sect, secrets are revealed that seem to hint at a darker nature lurking behind the man’s charm. Instead of freedom, is Alice in fact more trapped, alone and in danger than ever before?

What did I think?:

This is Alison Rattle’s third historical novel following the wonderful The Quietness and The Madness, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed and cemented her as one of my “auto buy” authors i.e. without even reading a synopsis I have faith that her books are going to move me in some way and she hasn’t proved me wrong so far. As with her previous two novels, Alison features a strong young female heroine, in this case Alice, who lives with her emotionally abusive mother and her father and brother who she is closer to. Her mother is incredibly manipulative and seems to delight in punishing her daughter when she strays too far from what she thinks a young Victorian lady should be.

The final straw comes for Alice when her mother manages to convince the family that she is insane and should be committed to an asylum. After listening to a stranger preach and being passionately affected by it, Alice decides to run away and join his group, The Agapemonites which is a woman’s only colony of a new religious order ruled over by Henry Prince known to the women who stay with him as their Beloved. At first, Alice is overwhelmed by a satisfied feeling of relief that she has finally figured out where she belongs and idolises Henry, looking for any opportunity to be closer to him and drink in his magical words.

Then things start to feel a bit wrong and certain practices which involve some of Alice’s new friends seem slightly abhorrent. When Alice is chosen for a privileged position at Henry’s right hand her worst fears may be about to be confirmed. Has she escaped one prison environment for another? More importantly, does she have the strength to disappear again and where would she go, estranged from her family as she is?

One of my favourite things about Alison Rattle’s books is how she draws on factual events from history and interprets it in a new and exciting way. As the author mentions in her Historical Notes yes, there actually was an “Abode of Love,” established by one Henry Prince in 1846 that he built in order to brain-wash a certain type of woman that he was the new Messiah. I hadn’t heard of this before and was absolutely fascinated, inspired to carry out my own research on the subject.

The characterisation is magnificent, I loved the strong yet vulnerable and naive Alice, shook my head a few times in disbelief at Alice’s mother Temperance, became exasperated by the weakness of Alice’s brother Eli and read mostly with my mouth (most unattractively) agog at the dealings of Henry Prince. The author has a real gift for pulling the reader right inside the novel and always manages to surprise me with the slickness and excitement of her plot. There is one particularly shocking scene which I won’t spoil but I guarantee everyone who reads it will be moved in some manner. With this third novel, Alison Rattle has without a doubt made it onto my favourite authors list and I even feel slightly jealous that those of you who haven’t read her yet have three fantastic novels to discover while I wait impatiently for the fourth!

Please come back to visit tomorrow where Alison Rattle will be visiting bibliobeth for an interview where she will answer what we all want to know – does she dog ear her books?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


June 2015 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #3

Published June 1, 2015 by bibliobeth


It’s June. And that means…. (drumroll please) it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

My lovely sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads gives me books on a regular basis, and as she reads at the speed of light I have had to acquire a cupboard in my bedroom purely for her books. Unfortunately, with all my other books and huge TBR pile, I’m not getting through them as fast as I’d like so I would like to dedicate the month of June to reading books purely from the Chrissi Cupboard. I will obviously be reading my short story every week and our Kid-Lit and Banned books for the month of June, but I’m hoping the majority of books will be from this cupboard. Here are the first ten I am planning to read and review:

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill

Under My Skin – James Dawson

The Beloved – Alison Rattle

The Assassin’s Blade – Sarah J. Maas

Something Strange And Deadly – Susan Dennard

Cress – Marissa Meyer

The Giver – Lois Lowry

The Last Leaves Falling – Sarah Benwell

Checkmate – Malorie Blackman

Monsters Of Men – Patrick Ness

I’ve picked each of these books because they are ones that I’ve been wanting to get to for a while now. I am honestly looking forward to each and every one of them! Have you read any? What are your favourites? Let me know!

The Madness – Alison Rattle

Published July 26, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Sixteen-year-old Marnie lives in the idyllic coastal village of Clevedon. Despite being crippled by a childhood exposure to polio, she seems set to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and become a ‘dipper’, escorting fragile female bathers into the sea. Her life is simple and safe. But then she meets Noah. Charming, handsome, son-of-the-local-Lord, Noah. She quickly develops a passion for him – a passion which consumes her.

As Marnie’s infatuation turns to fixation she starts to lose her grip on reality, and a harrowing and dangerous obsession develops that seems certain to end in tragedy. Set in the early Victorian era when propriety, modesty and repression were the rule, this is a taut psychological drama in which the breakdown of a young woman’s emotional state will have a devastating impact on all those around her.

What did I think?:

Alison Rattle’s debut novel was The Quietness which I absolutely loved so I was excited to read this, her second novel which I chose as my seventh book from June 2014 – Chrissi Cupboard Month. As well as the stunning cover art which took my breath away, the story inside is both beautiful and poignant. Set in early Victorian times, it follows the life of our main character, a sixteen year old girl called Marnie who was crippled from an early age by infection with the polio virus. Marnie is determined for her disability not to ruin her life, and works long and hard hours both in and outside of her house to make herself as strong as possible. Her mother is renowned in their small village by the sea as being a “dipper,” in other words, helping other women (mostly the rich and frail) to bathe in the sea in order to absorb the healing properties that it was believed to offer. Marnie herself was “dipped” in the water by her mother on a regular basis in the hope that it would cure her affliction and as a result she develops an intense bond with the sea which appears at times to be her only comfort.

One day the wealthy Lady de Clevedon arrives in the town specifically to attempt sea bathing as she is constantly unwell and very weak. In tow is her son Noah, whom when he meets Marnie is fascinated by her free and daring personality and the two soon become good friends. Noah’s father meanwhile, lays out his plans for the building of a pier in Clevedon which he assures the town will bring entertainment and prosperity. It’s not such good news for Marnie’s mother though, as the dippers are unable to work while the pier is being built. She channels her energies instead into providing a laundrette service, with poor Marnie doing most of the laundering, Marnie is not discouraged however, as she begins to meet Noah late at night by the sea, encouraging him to bathe and learn to swim, step by step. Unfortunately for Marnie, she is beginning to develop stronger feelings for Noah that go beyond the realms of friendship, and is often puzzled by the mixed messages Noah gives her in return. A few times, Noah would sneak her up to the Manor, where they would have hot drinks and play like children, but Noah is afraid of them making too much noise, and is very reluctant to introduce her to his family.

The story really starts to pick up pace when Noah has to return to London with his mother. Even though he shared an intimate moment with Marnie just before he left, he is excited to return to society and see one girl in particular – of his own class of course. I found myself squirming with unhappiness for Marnie as her feelings for Noah increase in intensity becoming a sort of obsession. While he is gone she concocts elaborate fantasies in her head where they are together living at the Manor, never having to launder anything again. Of course, you might be able to see where it’s going, but I really don’t want to spoil anything as I feel the beauty of the story and the writing comes across when you read it for yourself. At times, I almost felt like an eavesdropper on a private moment, as the emotions Marnie goes through are played out across the pages with no holds barred. I also found Marnie’s relationship with her mother very interesting as it didn’t seem to be anywhere near a conventional mother/daughter bond – in fact, it was more employer/servant in my opinion! By the end of the novel, Marnie takes some quite drastic actions which make the novel utterly un-putdownable but because the reader has gone through so much with Marnie, we can almost understand her choices while not condoning them. This story is truly beautiful and haunting, with a bit of darkness added that makes for an utterly compelling read. Beware – don’t read this book if you have any other tasks to complete, because you won’t get them done!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


WWW Wednesday #45

Published June 18, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday, and thanks as ever to MizB for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?:


I’ve seen this book around for a while and when I read the synopsis I wasn’t really compelled to read it but when Richard and Judy put it on their Summer Reads 2014 list I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m really glad I did as it’s a terrific story, hope to finish it today and look out for my review either this weekend or early next week!

What did you recently finish reading?:


Because I Am Pilgrim is quite a beast of a book (just over 700 pages), Hollow Pike, which was on my list last week appears again. It is the debut novel from UK YA author James Dawson and a great read. Look out for my review coming (fairly) soon!

What do you think you’ll read next?:


Up next, I’m going back to Chrissi’s Cupboard for The Madness by Alison Rattle. I loved her previous novel, The Quietness, and am really looking forward to this one!

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit! Happy Reading Everyone!



June 2014 – Chrissi Cupboard Month

Published June 1, 2014 by bibliobeth


It’s June. And that means…. (drumroll please) it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

My lovely sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads gives me books on a regular basis, and as she reads at the speed of light I have had to acquire a cupboard in my bedroom purely for her books. Unfortunately, with all my other books and huge TBR pile, I’m not getting through them as fast as I’d like so I would like to dedicate the month of June to reading books purely from the Chrissi Cupboard. I will obviously be reading my short story every week and our Kid-Lit book for the month of June, but I’m hoping the majority of books will be from this cupboard. Here are the first ten I am planning to read and review:

Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Undone by Cat Clarke

The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Echo Boy by Matt Haig

Hollow Pike by James Dawson

The Madness by Alison Rattle

Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Shadows On The Moon by Zoe Marriott

Siege And Storm – Leigh Bardugo

I’m really excited to get started on this little bunch, looks like many hours of happy reading ahead! For Chrissi Reads fabulous blog please click HERE.

The Quietness – Alison Rattle

Published April 29, 2013 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

When fifteen-year-old Queenie escapes from the squalid slums of nineteenth-century London, she has no idea about the dangers of the dark world she is about to become embroiled in. Initially thrilled at being taken on as a maid for the seemingly respectable Waters sisters, Queenie comes to realise that something is very wrong with the dozens of strangely silent babies being ‘adopted’ into the household.

Meanwhile, lonely and unloved sixteen-year-old Ellen is delighted when her handsome and charming young cousin Jacob is sent to live with her family. She thinks she has finally found a man to fall in love with and rely on, but when Jacob cruelly betrays her she finds herself once again at the mercy of her cold-hearted father. Soon the girls’ lives become irrevocably entwined in this tension-filled drama. THE QUIETNESS is a novel of friendship and trust in the darkest of settings.

What did I think?:

I was recommended this book by my sister who absolutely loved it so I was intrigued to discover what it was like. Well, I definitely was not disappointed. The Quietness is a beautifully realised and original piece of work that has a bite of real history behind it. The author introduces us to two sisters that actually existed in Victorian England and were known collectively as the “Brixton Baby Farmers,” who were responsible for the deaths of nineteen infants by starvation.  Our main characters, Ellen and Queenie become embroiled in this nasty business when Queenie is employed as a maid for the sisters under false pretences, unaware of what is really going on. Ellen, on the other hand becomes a “fallen woman” when she becomes pregnant and is sent to the sisters’ house in disgrace by her father, a prominent anatomist to have her bastard child in secret. During this time period, an unmarried pregnant woman was an abomination, and abortions were not only illegal but highly dangerous due to unsanitary “back-street” methods.

Of course, there is much more going on in this book then meets the eye involving both girls families, Ellen’s pregnancy and a hidden secret but I don’t want to give anything away. The author does a terrific job of alternating the narration between both main characters and keeping the story alive and fresh. “The Quietness,” can be interpreted many ways – it is something Queenie longs for in her family yet in Ellen’s family it is something that she seems to have an abundance of. It refers to the babies in the house, and also has a physical connection with an object used in the novel. As a historical novel for young adults, I think it has passion and depth and will definitely succeed in making people more interested about our past, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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