A Life In Books with author Claire Buss


Today I welcome author Claire Buss to be the first person to feature in A Life In Books.  She had her first published The Gaia Effect in 2015.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I am a stay-at-home mum, avid reader, cake baker and sci-fi & fantasy writer. My husband, little boy and I currently live in Barking but we should be moving soon, it’s all very hush hush! I love the hecticness of trying to be super mum, super wife, star baker, famous author and prolific reader – not sure I manage to tick all the boxes but that’s all part of the fun. My debut novel, The Gaia Effect, was released December 2015 and I am currently editing a humorous fantasy novel called The Rose Thief.


1. What was your favourite book from childhood?

Favourite books from childhood include all the Famous Five & Secret Sevens as well as anything else I could find by Enid Blyton, the Swallows & Amazons series, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, Animals from Farthing Wood series & Watership Down by Richard Adams, the Chalet School series, Dr Doolittle, the Anne of Green Gables series, Narnia series, The Hobbit & LOTR, The Railway Children and those are just the ones of the top of my head!


2. What type of books did you read as a teenager?

I remember finding the Point Horror series and reading those whilst scaring myself silly! It was also at this time that I discovered the science fiction and fantasy section of the library so I began to read books by Piers Anthony, Greg Bear, I discovered Terry Pratchett, Katherine Kerr, Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, Sara Douglas among others and that genre love just grew and grew staying with me. I remember borrowing great big huge fantasy books that had six or so in a series and them being too big to fit into my school bag and having to juggle all these books on the bus on the way home – and of course starting to read one of them. Harry Potter came out while I was late teens, early twenties so of course I’ve read those, several times!


3. When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?

I loved Shakespeare, I found him easy to understand and to critique, I excelled at English Literature coming top of the year at both GCSE and A-Level. We read Macbeth, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. I also remember doing Tess of the d’Urbervilles and enjoying that as well. I have to admit that although I read all the set books at school, I had usually finished them before class discussion began and so used to read something else within the covers of the set book. I’m sure my teacher knew but he also knew I would be able to answer questions intelligently so he just let me get on with it.


4. What is your favourite classic book?

My favourite classic book would be Great Expectations by Charles Dickens although I also loved reading The Pickwick Papers. Little Women by Louisa M Alcott had a huge impact on me as well.



5. What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?

There are a few. When you read fantasy series you do get very emotionally involved especially with something like Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, there are 14 books in the series and the last three were writing posthumously with Brandon Sanderson (another fantasy writer) after Jordan died from cancer. Then there was the final Discworld book by Sir Terry Pratchett which they released unfinished, yet you could see how brilliant it would have been. I really enjoyed I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh and April Skies by Ian Ayris. Red Rising, Golden Son and Morning Star by Pierce Brown, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, The Girl With All The Gifts by MA Carey, The Rosie Project by Don Tillman, The Martian by Andy Weir, On Writing by Stephen King, The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy – I could probably go on and on!


6. What book to you think you should read but never get round to?

I always see these list of 100 books you should have read and I always think to myself, I must have read loads on there but I never have. I only recently read To Kill a Mockingbird and have to admit to not thinking much of it. Grapes of Wrath is one that pops up a lot. And I haven’t read many of the books that got turned into movies, they always say the book is better don’t they.


7. What do you consider to be your favourite book ?

51h6id98v2LMy favourite book is that one you read over and over and over right? Well it’s Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, book 1 in the Wheel of Time series. My favourite collection of books that I read over and over and over are Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.


8. Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?

Several! Despite my leaning towards the sci-fi, fantasy genre I will read anything and belong to a more mainstream book club. A lot of what they pick I don’t finish, there are so many books out there I think if it hasn’t grabbed you in the first 100 pages then don’t waste anymore time on it – you’re not going to like everything.


9. If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with you?

Ah! That’s horrible. Ok … well….I have 1800 books on my Kindle and the Kindle sort of looks like a book right? And let’s say this one is solar powered so I’ll take my Kindle and…Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, but not my copy as I don’t want it to get ruined.


10. Kindle or Book?
I prefer book BUT kindle has it’s place – great for trips when you can’t decide what book to take, great for the tube and also for reading whilst walking, which I do a lot.


Please see below for links to Claire’s social media and her book The Gaia Effect.





The Trophy Child by Paula Daly published 7 March 2017














Karen Bloom expects nothing less than perfection from her children.  Ewan, her son, has let her down and spends all day in his room above the garage smoking weed.  She has a troubled relationship with her step daughter Verity, her husband Noel’s daughter from his first marriage.  Karen’s attention is solely focused on ten year old Bronte, her daughter with Noel.  Karen fills Bronte’s schedule with Piano, Harp and dance practice as well as after school tutoring, and doesn’t let her have play dates or sleepovers. Just how far will she go to achieve the perfect child, and what about the consequences for Bronte and the rest of the family for whom she has no time.

This is a brilliantly thought out thriller that looks at the idea of ‘Tiger Mothers’ in society today.  As a character Karen is horrible, she only cares about her one child at the expense of her son, step daughter and husband.  She has tunnel vision where her daughter is involved and god help any one who gets in the way of her goals.  I do wonder about how manipulative she is as she got pregnant with her her son and then daughter whilst the relationship was fairly new; its like she has a need to live her life through her children.  Her husband Noel is a local GP and no match for Karen’s strong character.  I had an empathy for him, some may find him a weak character but I found he was just to resigned to the fact that this was his life and he didn’t want to upset the apple cart and put his children through another marriage break up.

The plot is very thought provoking and makes us ask the question of whether this just a parent wanting the best future for their child or whether it is a form of child abuse; pushing the child to their limits and not asking them what they want.  It also looks at the dilemmas faced in todays ‘blended family’ and the problems that can arise with jealousies and allegiances formed.

The Trophy Child is a well written novel, with characters that are very real in their circumstances and situations faced.  The plot changes direction several times so you are never quite sure where it is going.  I found this book thought provoking and erudite read.

Mount by Jilly Cooper, paperback published 23 February 2016



Rupert Campbell Black is back and now he wants to dominate the world of Flat Racing, in particular he wants Love Rat to be crowned Leading Sire.  Long time rival Cosmo Rannaldini also wants the title for his sire Roberto’s Revenge so the gloves are off and the fight is about to begin.  Rupert’s determination to win takes him round the world from Dubai to Australia and LA, leaving wife Taggie at home and his stables in the hands of Gav Latton, a recovering alcoholic.  Whilst away Gala is employed to care for Rupert’s father but has more care for the horses so moves to the stables, and into Rupert’s affections.  Jan is now Gala’s replacement, he claims to be gay but seems to want to take care of Taggie rather then Rupert’s father, Old Eddie.  As strange occurrences begin to happen in the stables and at the race courses, and Rupert is tempted by Gala and Taggie by Jan, the stage is set for for a year of drama, both on the race course and off.

Mount! had a lot to live up to for me.  I was fifteen when I first read Riders and became enamoured by Rupert Campbell Black, and I have followed him over the following nine books.  I was relieved to say this book did not disappoint, it is Jilly Cooper at her best.  The writing is flawless which makes it a real pleasure to read.  Her descriptions and observations of people and life are brilliant and her characterisation is second to none.  All the regular characters are back; Rupert is turning sixty but still has his roguish charm; Taggie is still devoted to him, but for the first time we see her being tempted by another man; the villains are still there in the form of nemesis Cosmo Rannaldini and Isa Lovell, the son of his rival from Riders Jake Lovell.  It is like coming home to friends and family after a long vacation.  As well as brilliant human characters Jilly Cooper also characterises the animals: Mrs Wilkinson, the Grand National winning horse who loves the limelight and attention to Titus Andronicus, who like his namesake is a tyrant who bullies horses and staff.

This book will take you laugh, cry and everything in between.  It is a great big book of joy, mischief, sex, and horses that will engage you from start to finish.  It is pure escapism, a fabulous read.  I can’t wait for the next book.

Rapid Fire Book Tag

I have been nominated by Mairead O Driscoll Hearne to take part in this fun post, so are it goes.

eBooks or physical books?

I much prefer a real book, I love the feel and smell of a book.

Paperback or hardback?

Paperback for me as I always have a book in my bag when I go anywhere and find hardbacks too heavy with my spondylosis.

Online or in-store shopping?

I much prefer going to a bookshop and finding books I may not have heard of but due to health issues I do buy the majority of my books online.

Trilogies or series?

I do love a good series and the excitement and anticipation of a new book coming out.

Heroes or Villians?

Definitely a villain, especially a good looking one.

A Book you want everyone to read?

Possession by A S Byatt, it is a beautiful book; part thriller, part love story and part historical.

Recommend an underrated book?

I found this difficult so looked up books tat were classed s underrated and was surprised to see The History of Love by Nicole Kraus.  This is such a beautifully written book about the power of the written word and the importance of love.

The last book you finished?

Mount by Jilly Cooper – absolutely brilliant.

Wierdest think you have used as a bookmark?

I can’t think, I always have a bookmark in a book, I have a collection of them.

Used books, Yes or no?

A big yes, I love having a book that someone has read before me, it makes it more special.

Top three favourite genres?

Historical, Contemporary fiction and thrillers.

Borrow or buy?

I always buy my books, I used to borrow from my mum when she was alive but thats the only time.

Characters or plot?

I find both very important, you need both to make a good book.

Short or Long book?

Long book for me, I like value for money and love a big tome of a book.

Long or short chapters?

Depends on the book and plot.

Book to movie or book to tv adaptation?

I hate any book I have really loved being adapted for film or tv as they tend to change too much and loose the essence.  If I had to choose I would choose book to movie as I have a lot of DVD adaptations of the classics which I love watching.


I am passing on the Rapid Fire Book Tag gauntlet to:

Jessica at Jessica Reading Room

Alison at Alisons book reviews

Noelle at crimebookjunkie.