My Favourite British Classical Novels ~ Part 2 #FavouriteBritishClassicalNovels

I don’t claim to be a massive reader of the classics, but I have over the years read many that I have loved. I love Jane Austen, I adore George Elliott. But I also consider books such as The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy as classics!

I wonder what books from the current cohort of writers will go on to be considered as classics, or if this title has been replaced by the modern phrase ‘must read”?

Here is part two of my favourite reads.

1 Lark Rise To Candleford by Flora Thompson 

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2 Hard Times by Charles Dickens 

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3 Middlemarch by George Elliott 

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4 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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5 The Lord of The Flies by William Golding 

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6 Animal Farm by George Orwell 

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7 1994 by George Orwell 

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8 Robinson and Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

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9 Great Expectation by Charles Dickens

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10 The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe by C S Lewis 

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All of these books can of course by bought from Amazon and Waterstones, but why not consider ordering books you want to read from your local Indie bookshop.

 

The Paper Bracelet by Rachel English #Review #BlofTour #ThePaperBracelet #RachelEnglish #HatchetteBooksIreland #ContemporayFiction

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For almost fifty years, Katie has kept a box of secrets.
It dates from her time working as a nurse in a west of Ireland mother and baby home, and contains a notebook with details of the babies and young women she met there. It also holds many of the babies’ identity bracelets.
Following the death of her husband, Katie makes a decision she has long kept at bay. She posts a message on an internet forum, knowing that the information she possesses could help reunite adopted people with their birth mothers.
Soon, the replies are rolling in, and Katie encounters success, failure, heartache and joy as she finds herself in the role of part-detective, part-counsellor – chasing down leads, piecing together stories, and returning many of the bracelets to their original owners.
But there is one bracelet in the box that holds the key to a story that may never be told …
The Paper Bracelet is a gripping and moving story of secrets, lies and a love that never dies.

Review

The Paper Bracelet by Rachel English is something special, a moving story told in a gentle way about a dark period in Irish history and is based on true historical events. The story weaves back and forth from a home for unwed mothers in Ireland and the present day: where Katie, a one time nurse in the home, is seeking to reunite the identity bracelets of babies taken from their mothers, with the children and the mothers themselves.

I loved the way the story was told in two parts, weaving the past and present together. We see events in the home for unwed mothers in flashback and then Katie’s present life and how she’s trying to reunite children and their mothers, forced apart by the brutal regime within the homes. There is heartache and pain a plenty, but the writer balances that with hope and happiness and it makes the story ultimately uplifting.  Rachel English takes us through Katie’s story as she seeks to redress the past and also into the individual lives of the children looking for their parents.

Such a simple delicate item, the identity bracelet, is used to lead us and them on a very emotional and moving journey. I was thrown from the heart breaking lows of events in the home, where young mothers were treated almost like slaves, some never recovering from the loss of their children, to the joy and hope characters like Ailish are given from just the chance of finding their missing mother.

It’s a deeply vivid tale made all the more affecting for me, by characters that are easy to love, believe in and whom I desperately wanted to find happiness.  I know well-being can never be found for all, but Rachel English made me love Katie, Ailish, Brandon and Gary so much, I wanted each to find resolution and my heart actually ached for them. It is important in a book like this, that the heart break is not too intense or it becomes unbearable to read, or too light because it then fails to do justice the story and characters. In The Paper Bracelet Rachel English delivers the balance perfectly, She gives them all moments of hope to balance out the pain and it endears each of the stories in a way constant grief never could. I walked a path with all of them and at the end, I felt a lightness of being from knowing that even though not everyone is destined to find the answers to the mystery of their birth, the journey they take, is one I was lucky to take with them.

The Paper Bracelet is a wonderful read. Emotional, but also very pleasurable to be a part of.

Many thanks to the author, publisher and blog tour organiser, for the ARC in return for an honest review. 

You can purchase The Paper Bracelet from Amazon and Waterstones .

About the author 

Rachael English Author PIc

Rachael English is a bestselling novelist and presenter on Ireland’s most popular radio show, Morning Ireland. During more than twenty years as a journalist, she has worked on most of RTÉ Radio’s leading current affairs programmes, covering a huge range of national and international stories.

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Space Academy by Hannah Hopkins. Question & Answer with author. #YA #Sci-fi #SpaceAcademy #Interview

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It’s the year 2100. Earth is dying. A young woman, Elsie, has risked everything to get her newborn son, Will, aboard ‘The Mayflower’ – a spaceship that will transport a select number of people to a new planet they can call home. Elsie’s luck takes a turn when she discovers the captain of ‘The Mayflower’ is an old friend. He allows her to board with her son, giving them a place on the luxurious Floor One, where they live amongst the most honoured of ‘The Mayflower’s’ passengers.
Thirteen years later, and Will is ready to start school at Space Academy, an institute specialising in subjects such as Alien Studies, Technology, and Rocket Control. While a pupil there, Will starts to uncover secrets about his father’s death, becoming wrapped in a mystery that he and his friends must solve if they are to have any hope of saving humanity from the threat that lies in wait.
Lose yourself in this brilliantly addictive novel as it takes you on a journey through the stars. But be warned – you might be surprised by what you find.

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Hannah Hopkins to Booksaremycwtches as part of the blog tour for her novel Space Academy.

What does literary success look like to you?
To me, literary success would be solely writing for a living. I also think a healthy following of readers who look forward to your next book is a great mark of success! You know you’ve done your job well when someone asks you when the sequel is coming.

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How many hours a day do you write?
On average, probably 2-3 hours a day. When I get the opportunity, I write on and off all day. My brain definitely needs breaks in between, but as long as I have the right music on and some good snacks, I can lose myself in a fictional world for hours.

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Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Obviously, a lot of writing comes from emotion, and I believe a very high proportion of creativity comes specifically from pain. However, I believe in the ‘write what you know’ idiom, and so if someone doesn’t feel strongly, they could possibly write a very interesting novel about a character who also doesn’t ‘feel’ as much as other people.

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What does your family think of your writing?
My family have always been supportive of my writing. I think they thought it was going to be a hobby, and were quite surprised when I revealed I’d written a book and was trying to get it published. My grandma, however, has always told me I would be a writer one day. She was there when I wrote my first story about a beetle in her garden, and she still helps me now with my work.

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Which character in your novel do you feel the strongest connection to?
This is a tricky question! I feel a strong connection to Elsie as the single mother who was willing to do anything for her son. However, I am also attached to Finley for the way he overcomes adversity and betters his circumstances. The oppression he experiences as a lower-class citizen on The Mayflower is reminiscent of the socio-economic inequality that currently exists in the world, and I find myself rooting for Finley to succeed.

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What makes your novel unique/stand out in its genre?
What makes ‘Space Academy’ unique is that, although it is set in the future and in space, I wouldn’t describe it as being a hard sci-fi. The book is very character focussed, and the issues the characters experience, including bullying, parental abandonment, and dysfunctional families, are relatable and relevant, despite the novel being set in the year 2113. I would describe the book as a being a strong YA novel, with a futuristic and exciting setting!

You can purchase Space Academy from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

About the author

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In 2017, Hannah Hopkins released a self-published novel entitled ‘The Split’; the story of four teenagers navigating life after Earth as they journey through space to a new planet. Two years later, the book was picked up by ‘The Conrad Press’ and re-vamped as ‘Space Academy,’ with a new cover, new title and new additions to the story. ‘Space Academy’ was released in 2020, kickstarting Hannah’s career as a writer.
Hannah is currently busy writing a historical fiction novel with a feminist twist. She spends the rest of her time working at a University and caring for her two young children in the UK.

You can follow the author on Facebook and Instagram

Space Academy Full Tour Banner

 

 

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds #Review #BloodRedCity #RodReynolds #OrendaBooks

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When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.
Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.
When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.
A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

Review

It’s always exciting to find a new author, it sets my nerves a tingling with anticipation.  So opening Blood Red City felt like it was set to energize my reading and I’m delighted to say it did.

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds delivers on many reading fronts, the plotline is taunt, while the characters feel gritty and fascinating.

It starts from the premise of the murder of an unknown man on a London tube and a reporter who is caught up in the mystery behind his killing. From this the writer weaves a tale of deception, betrayal, international money laundering and political manipulation giving the reader a thumping great read. It is imbued with a sense of intelligence and a clinical eye for a storyline both taunt enough to be thrilling, but also full of enough twists within the narrative, to leave the reader flicking through the pages at a rate of knots.

I loved the way the writer managed to leave me feeling I couldn’t trust whoever journalist Lydia Wright came into contact with, including the enigmatic Michael Stringer. As the story weaves its way through her increasingly dangerous investigation, we are drip fed moments of clarity, where we think we have solved the mystery, but it’s like making your way through a maze, where your fooled into thinking you have solved the puzzle, but actually your just being led up a blind alley. The writer at one point had me blaming practically everyone for the murder and yet at the end, I was wrong on every single count.  He also manages to weave the topical theme of Russian interference into Britain’s affairs, by giving it a all to scary link to current theories behind the actions of this communist state, that will have you wondering if any of aspects of our lives are clear cut as we once thought.

I loved Lydia, intelligent, determined and yet fallible.  But it was the superb Stringer that captured both my imagination and instinct told me he was more than the sum of his criminal activities ! He has a pervading sense of mystery about him. Hard to read, because you are never sure of his motivations around the death of the man, was he involved or is he fighting to save his own life? He seems polished and yet he is far from it, Michael Stringer is an enigma and finding out all his secrets was compelling and exciting. I do hope this is not the last we hear of him, either with the sassy Lyndia or on his own, because he was addictive and his flaws made me want to delve deeper into his past and spend time in his future.

I will be recommending Blood Red City to anyone who will listen.

You can purchase this novel from WaterstonesAmazon and directly from the publisher’s ebookstore.

Why not also consider buying it from your local indie bookshop!

About the author 

Rod Reynolds Author Pic

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books will publish his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters.

You can follow the author on Twitter @Rod_WR

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My Favourite Female Authors ~ Jessie Burton #MyFavouriteFemaleAuthors #JessieBurton

There are so many wonderfully talented female authors out there and I wanted to feature some of my favourites on booksaremycwtches.

From the moment I read the The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton I knew I had found a new favourite author. This novel was dark, full of mystery and incredibly imaginative and I fell head over heels in love with it and the writing.  A tale about love, obsession and loss, it was an incredible debut.

I opened up her second book The Muse with some trepidation wondering if I would love it as much as The Miniaturist and I did. Jessie Burton simply writes incredible novels full of perfectly formed characters and stories of rich intricate detail and stories that stay with me years after I have read them.

I need to find time to read the The Confession next!

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There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .
On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .
Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

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On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.
The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

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One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.
Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession . . .

There are many places that you can purchase these wonderful books from, such as Amazon and Waterstones.
But why not consider ordering from your local indie bookshop, many of whom have kept us all supplied with books during this difficult time. So why not get in contact with yours and order one of Jessie Burton’s fabulous books.

About the author

Jessie Burton is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling novels The Miniaturist, The Muse, and The Confession, and of the children’s book The Restless Girls. Her novels have been translated into 38 languages, and she is a regular essay writer for newspapers and magazines.

The Miniaturist was a Sunday Times number 1 bestseller in both hardback and paperback, and a New York Times bestseller. It sold over a million copies in its first year of publication, and was awarded the Waterstones Book of the Year, and Book of the Year at the National Book Awards. In 2017 it was adapted into a major TV series for BBC One.

The Muse was a Sunday Times number 1 bestseller in both hardback and paperback, and has sold more than 500,000 copies.

The Confession is Jessie’s third novel, and became an immediate Sunday Times bestseller.

 

 

 

 

My Wonderful Reading Year 2020 ~ My Favourites So Far. #MyFavouriteReads

It’s hard to believe we are already half way through the year already! My reading has so far survived the stresses that have overtaken us all, though there have been ups and downs. To celebrate my reading from January to June, I decided to look back at some of my favourite reads so far. 

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy 

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The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman 

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Diary Of A Bookseller by Shaun Bythell 

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Firewatching by Russ Thomas 

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Little by Edward Carey 

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Cow Girl by Kirsty Eyre 

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The Salt Path by Raynor Winn 

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Over The Top My Story by Jonathon Van Ness

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I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell 

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The Soul Killer by Ross Greenwood 

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Containment by Vanda Symon 

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You Will Be Safe here by Damian Barr 

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The Binding by Bridget Collins

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I Am Dust by Louise Beech 

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When We Fall by Carolyn Kirby 

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To Catch A Mole by marc Hamer 

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The Creak On The Stairs by Eva Bjorg Aegistottir 

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Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald 

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Beast by Matt Wesolowski 

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The second half of the reading year has already started off well, I am currently reading The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and it is exquisite. 

Odd And The Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman and Illustrated by Chris Riddell. Book Covers As Art. #BookCoversAsWorksOfArt

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A thrilling, wintry Nordic epic from the magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell, weaving a tale of legend, magic and adventure which will grip and enchant readers from beginning to end.

When a fatherless young Viking boy meets a fox, an eagle and a bear in the woods, his destiny begins to change. These are no ordinary creatures but the mighty Gods Loki, Odin and Thor – who have been trapped in animal form by evil Frost Giants and driven out of Asgard, the City of the Gods. Now our hero must reclaim Thor’s hammer, outwit the Frost Giants and release the Gods .
From two multi-award-winning creators at the height of their powers comes this rich and layered tale of courage, humour and breathtaking adventure. Lavishly produced and packed with Chris Riddell’s spellbinding illustrations, this is a spectacular and magical gift.

I picked this version of this book for July, not just for the cover, but the art work throughout it. Chris Riddell is a illustrator of immense talent and this story was made for me, by the art work that brought it to life.

I spent hours pouring over each page, probably more time than I actually spent reading the story itself. Don’t get me wrong, the tale within it’s pages, is magical and beautifully written. I felt drawn into the Nordic legends by Gaiman’s reimaging of the story, but add Riddell’s extraordinary illustrations and you have a book which is a true thing of beauty and I could stare at each one over and over.

This book will be one that will always remain on my bookshelf and I actively look out for any  with Riddell’s name on the cover. Put his illustrations together with Neil Gaiman’s story telling and you have for me the perfect partnership.

You can order the author’s books from Amazon and Waterstones or why not speak to your local indie, many of whom are still posting out books. They are the stalwarts of the book industry and they need our support more than ever!erfect partnership. I bought my copy of this book from Mr B’s Emporium in Bath.

Illustrator

Chris Riddell is an accomplished graphic artist who has illustrated many acclaimed books for children and has won the Unesco Award, has twice won the Kate Greenaway medal and has been shortlisted for the Kurt Maschler Award. He is also the acclaimed political cartoonist for the Guardian and the Observer. Together with Paul Stewart, he is the creator of the hugely successful Edge Chronicles, Barnaby Grimes, and the award-winning Far-Flung Adventures.

Author

Neil Gaiman is a tour de force of creative talent. He is the bestselling author of Coraline and Stardust, both of which are major motion films. Neil also co-wrote the script for Beowulf starring Anthony Hopkins and Angeline Jolie. He is the creator/writer of the award-winning Sandman comic series and has written several books for children. His latest title, The Graveyard Book, won the Teenage Booktrust Prize 2009. Neil has been immortalised in song by Tori Amos, and is a songwriter himself. His official website now has more than one million unique visitors each month, and his online journal is syndicated to thousands of blog readers every day.

 

 

 

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith #Review #TheWaitingRooms #EveSmith #OrendaBooks #AntibioticResistance

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Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

Review

I am the first to admit I am not normally a reader of dystopian fiction, especially at the current time, when my inclination is to avoid it! But I remain committed to challenging myself to read genres in all forms and opened The Waiting Rooms with an open mind! By the time I had finished it, I felt I had read a truly terrifying novel, one so challenging, that the events within it will swirl around in my mind for a very long time. It was and is a amazing read and one everyone should purchase.

We have what seems on the surface a standard thriller, where Kate starts a search for her birth mother after the death of her adopted mother, inadvertently opening a can of worms that puts her life in danger.  But this novel is so much more than that. It has layers of story and themes that create a nuanced and frankly shocking dystopian tale; whose premise is a world where spiralling drug resistance means over 70s can’t get new antibiotics and where euthanasia is part of end of life care in The Waiting Rooms of the title.

You can tell the author has done her research, because the story is based on real life fears that over use of antibiotics is leading to the real possibility of diseases that become resistant to this wonder drug. I work for a health board and this is no myth, the impending crisis is real and work is being done to reduce prescriptions for conditions it has no affect against, to say no to pressure from patients who still think it is a cure all. I know all of this, but the amazing thing about The waiting Rooms is that as a fictional story it has so much more impact than a news programme. It shows us where we are heading and that is why it is so utterly disturbing and yet so intensely brilliant.  The story by having such a relatable theme gave it huge impact on me as a reader, meaning that even when I was forced to take a break from reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I read on into the early hours, because I needed badly to reach the conculsion.  Once I started I knew that even though the theme especially at the current time would be troubling, reading it was an experience I would never forget and to say that about any book is a huge compliment. By applying it to The Waiting Rooms I am saying that 5 stars on any review site is simply not enough.

It is not just a superb thriller, it is a story of our times, relevant, tense and utterly compelling.

Many thanks to the author, the publisher and the blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

You can purchase this book from Amazon Waterstones and also the publisher directly.

Why not consider ordering from your local indie bookshop, they need us more than ever!

About the author 

Eve Smith Author pic

Eve Smith writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues.
Set twenty years after an antibiotic crisis, her debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Her flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize.
When she’s not writing she’s romping across fields after her dog, trying to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.

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My Wonderful Reading Year – June 2020 #MyWonderfulReadingYear #Reading #Books

Welcome to a series of posts that chart my wonderful reading year, 2020. I don’t have the time to review all the books I read and wanted I way to celebrate each one. So I’m going to do a monthly post of all the wonderful books I’ve reading that month. Short snappy reviews, simple comments about why I enjoyed them so much.
It is a scary world out there at the moment and my reading is suffering, but I keeping it up and hoping my reading mojo doesn’t disappear totally.
Sending Cwtches to all those that need one.
So welcome to my celebration of my reading in June 2020.

I started off this month with the children’s book Felix The Fox and His Awesome Odd Socks by Katie Dodd.  A gentle and yet powerful story about accepting what makes us different and celebrating diversity.

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After this came The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. A magical and thrilling read, full of tales of adversity and triumph. Very much as the book above does, it shows difference is a thing of beauty and that allowing it to be mocked and exploited demeans us.

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My first non-fiction read in June was Slatehead – The Ascent of Britain’s Slate-Climbing by Peter Goulding. It is a fascinating look of how the slate mines in Wales have become the centre of a community of climbers.

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Following on Slatehead was Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel! Powerful story, very moving in places, but did I enjoy it? I can’t say I did, not because it is a bad book, far from it, it’s brilliantly written, but it was just too close to current events for me and I struggled with it, simply for personal reasons.

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Then came the thriller Safe by S K Barnett, clever, thrilling and a cracking read.

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I Know The Truth by M A Comely was a fast and enjoyable read. Just what I needed currently.

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Next came the brilliant and yet terrifying The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith. A story that given our current situation particularly resonates now.

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It was another Orenda Books title I read next, Blood Red City by Ron Reynolds. I love discovering new authors to me and after reading this superb thriller, I am a confirmed fan of this author!

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The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English was a very enjoyable and moving story around the homes for single mothers in Ireland and the forced adoption of their children.

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Well that was my reading month for June 2020. Where the world still seems a scary place, but chinks of light give us cause for hope and where books are still my safe place to be.

Welcome July, I wonder what reading wonders you will bring my way?

 

Cow Girl by Kirsty Eyre #Review #Comedy #WomensFiction

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Winner of the Comedy Women in Print Prize
‘Inspired and stylish’ Jenny Eclair
‘Original and witty’ Helen Lederer
Billie fled her Yorkshire upbringing to pursue her dreams of finding a cure for the illness which killed her mother, yet when her father gets sick, she must return home to save the farm.

But the transition from city girl to country lass isn’t easy, not least because leaving London means leaving her relationship with Joely Chevalier, French pharmaceutical femme fatale, just as it was heating up. And when she gets to Yorkshire, Billie’s shocked to discover the family dairy farm is in dire straits.
Battling misogyny, homophobia and the economic turmoil of a dairy crisis, can Billie find a way to save the farm, save the cows and save herself?

Review

I have been very lucky this year to be involved in a small way in the Comedy Women in Fiction Prize and from it I discovered this funny, warm and glorious read. Cow Girl by Kirsty Eyre is simply put, an absolute joy to read. From the first page to the very last it made me laugh, cry and left me feeling utter joy from having been able to spend time with the triumph that is Billie!

This is comedy at it’s very best, because even though it tackles difficult subjects such a homophobia and illness, it does so in such as way that it engaged me not just in general as a reader, but one that struggles with comedy in books. To me it’s use often seems crass or unrefined, but in Cow Girl the humour is warm and uplifting, genuine and never forced and that felt so refreshing. Yes I shed a few tears, but within minutes Kirsty Eyre had once again reduced me to laughter and giggles and it felt good, it felt marvellous and positive. I guess your wondering where the comedy in a young, inteliigient girl looking for love on a dairy farm comes from, it comes from mishaps, missunderstandings and yes, from being the backend of a cow costume during a farming for justice protest march. Trust me, cows on the streets of sheffield equal laughter!

The characterisation is some of the best I have read this year. From Billie herself to her dad, her grandmother and friends, each feels like they could be a member of your family, your friends. They all felt alive, some crazy and zany, but I love crazy and zany and I adored each single one of them. Especially Billie who is looking for love and career progression, but ends up back home running her dads dairy farm and far away from her life in London. She comes across as venerable and lost, but with the help and love of her friends and family, has the chance to find her perfect life. Past girlfriends have not worked out, partly because Billie is fragile in many ways and the joy in this book, comes from the journey she takes to find love and friendship. I just found myself overjoyed in taking the journey with her, she is not only likeable, she is easy to love and I couldn’t help willing her to find herself worthy of devotion and affection. Most of all I wanted her with a passion to finally realise, she could live in the present and not always be trying to fit into other peoples lives, but make one for herself. Her spiited defence of her sexuality in one part of the story had me metaphorically fist pumping the air. I laughed with her and I could have spent so many more hours in her company, her dads, her gran, the vet oh and lets not forget the cows, they are characters in their own right and are rather fabulous. Frankly they rather deserve their own book, because the writer gives each one their own personality and it was joyful, sometimes sad, but always funny and uplifting.

I am sad the book is finished now, that I have read the last page. I want to start again. This book will without doubt be up there on my list of favourite reads of 2020. Because if it can make me smile and laugh right now, for me that makes it special. Those judges of the Comedy Women in Fiction Prize know their stuff, they picked a book worthy of winning any prize.  Please buy Cow Girl, you won’t regret it. Warm, funny and witty from start to end.

Bravo Kirsty Eyre you have written a absoulute joy of a novel.

You can purchase Cow Girl from Amazon and Waterstones.

Why not support your local indie bookshop if you have one, they really need our support and offer the personal touch. Give them a ring or email them, they are treasures we don’t want to lose!

About The Author 

Kirsty Eyre is the winner of the inaugural Comedy Women in Print award (2019). Her debut novel, Cow Girl is out Summer 2020. She loves tea and hates her big toes.

She is threatening to wear a cow onesie in a bid to online launch Cow Girl, her debut novel during lockdown. She sends love and solidarity to everyone around the world. If you’re having a bad day, drink tea and give yourself a break…

Her writing credits include several comedy stage plays receiving great acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Originally from Yorkshire, she now lives in South East London with her partner and two children.

COW GIRL is her debut novel and is out (audio/ eBook/ paperback) on June 25th 2020.

She is currently writing a comic novel about three sisters with Goddesses of Barnsley as the working title

You can follow her on @KirstyJaneEyre on Twitter

COW GIRL BLOG TOUR 2020