Hookline Books

About Me

Yvonne Barlow I love books, love reading - who doesn't? I also love to hear what other people think of books - we may agree or disagree, however I love the exchange of ideas. Tell me your thoughts, read our books and tell me what you think.

Many of our authors are nice people

December 7, 2021

Many of our authors are lovely people. They care about their family and friends; they would help the elderly cross the street and many have a good sense of humour.

So why are their novels not on the best seller lists?

I ask because of the rise of celebrity authors. I’m not talking about memoirs, that’s a whole different genre and who better to write a life than the person who lived it. I’m talking fiction – and so many of them are at it – Dawn French, David Walliams, Graham Norton, Richard Osman. Now some of their novels are good, well-told tales. But best sellers? Really? I read Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club, a novel that was the fastest selling crime novel of all time. To be honest, it was ok. A bit long and the “who did it” revelation came so late that I no longer remembered the murderer or cared. Now before I’m lynched, Richard Osman is a very entertaining man, quick witted and a terrific television host – but even he says he is surprised at the novel’s success.

So the big question is why do we buy novels written by celebrities? The answer is simply that we feel we know them. If we like them on television, we believe we will like the story they give us. You can call it demographics or branding. A celebrity whose television appearances appeal to women under 40/men over 60/both genders under 25 find a home with readers in these groups. We believe they are writing for us, personally. Compare that to a new author, an unknown, even someone whose genre and back-cover blurb appeals to you. Few of us like taking a chance on an unfamiliar name, especially as books cost hard-earned cash.

So I am appealing to you on behalf of the unknown author, the writer you don’t know but who might take you on a journey you will enjoy. They don’t have a television presence, but they are teachers, book sellers, parents, good people who are entertaining and good with words. Try them.

You can read the early chapters of all our novels on our website.

And to help you enjoy our first-time authors, Amazon is selling some of their paperbacks at discount (no excuses).

Mission by Paul Forrester-O'Neill - paperback £2.89

The Takers and the Keepers by Ivan Pope - paperback £2.74

Just a Small Town by Paul Linggood - Paperback £1.82


Experience and imagination - do they need each other?

November 12, 2021

One of the most powerful novels I have read in the last ten years is The Road Home by Rose Tremain.  I’m not sure how many of you read this tale of an Eastern European immigrant newly arrived in London, but the novel won an Orange Booker Prize, and I have to say that I probably bored friends by pushing copies into their hands and telling them they would gain empathy with the immigrant experience.

So, it was a surprise today to hear Rose Tremain question her right to have written a novel th...

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Environmental novels

November 2, 2021

Cop26 brings the environment into tight focus, making me think of novels I’ve read that have highlighted the fragile links between humans and the natural world.

The first novelist to spring to my mind is Barbara Kingsolver. Her Flight Behavior is an engaging tale of migratory butterflies displaced from Mexico. That might not sound like the best plot but under Kingsolver’s ecologist hands the story blends mankind’s awe at the spectacle of millions of butterflies turning up in rural Tenn...

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Fiction can add paint to history

October 27, 2021

I’m reading Black and British by David Olusoga, a terrific read reaching back to Roman times when forces of Afro-Romans arrived in the third century and were stationed in Cumbria. Olusoga sweeps forward through the Blackamoors, during Elizabethan times, to Black Britains who fought at Trafalgar, through to the wars of the 20th century. He writes much about the Georgian fashion for having a young black pageboy, such children were often treated like pets among the wealthy, dressed up and fete...

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What are you afraid of?

October 21, 2021

Halloween is next week and the search for scary books is upon us.

I am not a fan of being scared. My imagination can go into overdrive with the gentlest of noise in the middle of the night – Once I spent a night wide-eyed, convinced there was a ghost dragging chains behind him in the hallway and it turned out to be a mouse trying to get out of a plastic-lined bin. When it comes to inciting fear, I need little help from a book.

However, at Hookline we do have a few scary novels.

What lies...

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A small pebble on a rocky landscape

October 18, 2021

Many manuscripts reach me but few grab my attention so completely as Mission by Paul Forrester-O’Neill. This story, set in the United States, begins with a small boy who overhears his mother tell his father a horrendous lie. The plot follows the boy to adulthood as he tries to make amends to his father.

A boy and his father are separated by an unforgivable lie. Twenty years later they meet, and the dying father tells John of the men who cheated him and the town of Mission that spurned him...

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Bringing news to life

October 13, 2021

County lines is a big crime issue. Gangs are using young teens as runners to transport drugs and money across the country. The teens are young enough to not arouse suspicion by police and, once drawn into the world of drug running, getting out is near impossible. Young people have been stabbed, murdered and even pushed to suicide.  

It’s a terrifying world that did not exist when many of us were young. However, we read about it in newspapers and imagine it far away from our own lives. This...

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To give up or to soldier on

October 12, 2021
Mark Billingham said he gives a new book 20 pages. If the story hasn't set up its plot, given him characters worth following and prose he cares about then he tosses it aside. 
Now Mark is a crime writer who knows his craft. The successful crime novelist's books regularly feature in best seller lists and his Thorne novels were turned into a television series. However, he said his wife disagrees with him. Speaking at this year's Cheltenham Literature Festival, he said that she soldiers on throug...
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