Blog Tour~ Review~ Kimmy the Koala helps the honey bees in Summerdown Wood by Graham Swan.

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Book synopsis 

This is the story of how kind Kimmy the Koala helps out the buzzing honey bees in Summertown Wood.

Review

Many thanks to the author Graham Swan and Clink Street publishing for the ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

This is a charming tale of Kimmy the Koala, who loves honey so much, he decides to help the bees make more of his favourite treat.

I loved that young readers and their parents learn as they read the story, how honey is made. We also learn how we can help the bees ourselves by planting seeds and seedlings in our garden’s.  It makes the book that extra bit special.  Children love learning about nature and making a story about many people’s favourite treat, will open their eyes to the world around them and how they to can help the honey bees. I can imagine walks in the wood taking on a special sense of adventure and learning after reading Graham Swan’s book.

As readers, we are taken on a delightful journey into Summerdown Wood where we meet Kimmy and his friends, who include Guy the gorilla and Warewood the wise old tree amongst many others. All the characters become involved in the task and adventure with Kimmy, teaching readers when we work together, we can achieves so much.

The illustrations are fun and fit in well with the story being told.  My favourite being Kimmy himself who eagerness to help the bees is infectious and inspiring.  I’m off to visit one of the youngest members of my family in a few weeks and I plan on visiting Summerdown Wood with her and making plans to help the bees make honey next year in her Grandma’s garden.

It’s a lovely and charming read.

The book can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Author Bio. 

Graham Swan has worked as a graphic designer in the UK and is currently a college lecturer in Fife, Scotland. He currently lives in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. This is his first published book.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Last Stop Tokyo by James Buckler.

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Book summary

The funny thing with suffering is just when you think you’ve suffered enough, you realize it’s only the beginning.

Alex thought running away would make everything better. Six thousand miles from the mistakes he’s made and the people he’s hurt, Tokyo seems like the perfect escape. A new life, a new Alex.

The bright lights and dark corners of this alien and fascinating city intoxicate him, and he finds himself transfixed by this country, which feels like a puzzle that no one can quite explain. And when Alex meets the enigmatic and alluring Naoko, the peace he sought slips ever further from his grasp.

After all, trust is just betrayal waiting to happen and Alex is about to find out that there’s no such thing as rock bottom. There’s always the chance it’ll get worse . . .

Review

Firstly I would like to thank the publishers, James Buckler and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC of Last Stop Tokyo in return for an honest review.

I knew this book was going to be a first class read, when from page one you could feel the tension seeping from the page and shimmering in the air around you.

You wont necessarily find yourself liking either Alex or Naoko, but you will find them fascinating and highly addictive! Sympathy for each character ebbed and flowed as you learned more about them and as their secrets were revealed. They are complex people with pasts that are dark and tragic.  But the great joy of this book is that the writer avoids rendering them as one dimensional characters for the sake of plot, he gives them a conscience that comes into play to ensure you care enough, that you want them to survive. Because you never quite know what they are capable of, you keep reading, wondering if they will take that one step, you as a reader can not forgive them for.

It’s a story with a strong element of selfishness at its heart, yet at the same time, personal sacrifice and love, even if that love is flawed. It’s a book that brings the darkest aspects of human nature to the surface. It also submerges us in a society so different to our own.  Alex like us has little understanding of it’s social complexities, you and he are adrift in a culture you have little understanding of and you feel his isolation and sense the danger he is in.

The past has a nasty habit of catching up on those that refuse to acknowledge their actions. Because sometimes you can’t run fast enough, to escape it’s cloying influence on the decisions you make in the present.  Both Alex and Naoko are running from pasts into dangerous waters, but who will survive?

Last Stop Tokyo can be bought from Amazon

Author Bio

James Buckler grew up in the South West of England and currently lives in London though he has lived in America and Japan, where he worked as an English teacher. He studied Film at the University of Westminster and worked in film & TV for many years, most notably as a post-production specialist for MTV and BBC Films. Last Stop Tokyo is his debut novel.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ The Snake That Baked A Cake by S Afrough and S Hough. Illustrated by S Goodway.

 

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Review

I would like to thank the authors and Clink Street Publishers for the ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The key to success in children’s books, especially for very young children, is that the story needs to captivate the imagination and that the illustrations capture the essence of the story.  The two combined need to create a stimulating and enjoyable experience that will capture the imignation of young minds.

The Snake That Baked A Cake is a charming story that combines words and illustrations to tell a tale, that will without doubt bring a smile to early years readers.

The illustrations are bright and compliment the story, while the story itself reads smoothly and is lovingly told by the authors.  It will surely also lead young children and their parents, to then go onto bake a cake together, just as the snake does in this funny and endearing read.

The colourful illustrations and the way the words wind over and under them brings the two together and makes reading The Snake That Baked A Cake a very enjoyable experience.  For young children, reading is often visual experience as they match the words with the pictures, so bringing them together in such an intergrated way, will ensure they enjoy this tale.

I would recommend this book to all those that have young children, it is really is a lovely read.

It is aimed at readers between the ages of 2-5 and grade level K-3.

It can be purchased from  in Kindle format and paperback.

Author Bio 

Based in London Sara Afrough is an academic with a PHD from Oxford University in Biological Sciences. Her sister Sim Hough lives in Liverpool with her husband and children and is currently qualifying to become a commercial property lawyer.

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Blog Tour ~Review~ No Accident by Robert Crouch

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Book Summary

Nothing happens by accident, according to Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel. When he ignores a restraining order to investigate the death of Syd Collins in a work accident at Tombstone Adventure Park, he clashes with the owner, playboy millionaire, Miles Birchill, who has his own reasons to block the investigation.
Determined to uncover the truth, Kent casts aside procedure and defies suspension when he becomes convinced that Collins’ death is no accident.
But as Kent rushes to identify the killer and prevent more deaths, he faces even more unpleasant surprises when his professional and private worlds collide with devastating consequences.
Set in and around the beautiful South Downs of East Sussex, No Accident is the first novel in a new series that brings a fresh and irreverent twist to the traditional whodunit.

Book Review

Firstly I would like to thank Robert Crouch and blog tour organiser Caroline Vincent, for the ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.

No Accident is a clever, original and highly enjoyable thriller. I loved that the lead character is neither a police officer or a private investigator!  He is an environmental health officer, who carries around with him a troubled past and an even more uncertain future.

Kent Fisher is a wonderful creation by Robert Crouch, a man who loves conspiracy theories and solves crimes while undertaking his day job and running his beloved animal sanctuary.  It’s like a breath of fresh air to discover a lead character who is neither a disulusioned police officer or a downbeat private eye. Kent is a modern creation for a new breed of thrillers!

The story is so well crafted I felt certain the writer had a back catalogue of books I could immerse myself in, yet, it’s his first book and he writes with confidence and great skill.  It’s peppered with twists and turns that will wrong foot you throughout, so much so, that it’s like getting lost in a maze, only to be shown the way out at the last minute, guided by the author.  The story is allowed to develop as you get to know the characters and I was delighted to discover that Robert Crouch paid as much attention to plot as he does to the personalities of his characters.

If you are looking for a thriller with a difference then No Accident is the book for you!

I enjoyed it immensely and I’m looking forward to spending more time with the highly likeable Kent Fisher in the next in the series.

No Accident can be purchased from Amazon.

Author Bio 

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Inspired by Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and Columbo, Robert Crouch wanted to write entertaining crime fiction the whole family could enjoy.

At their heart is Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel. Passionate about the environment, justice and fair play, he’s soon embroiled in murder.
Drawing on his experiences as an environmental health officer, Robert has created a new kind of detective who brings a unique and fresh twist to the traditional murder mystery. With complex plots, topical issues and a liberal dash of irreverent humour, the Kent Fisher mysteries offer an alternative to the standard police procedural.
Robert now writes full time and lives on the South Coast of England with his wife and their West Highland White Terrier, Harvey, who appears in the novels as Kent’s sidekick, Columbo.

Robert Crouch can be followed on the following social media sites.

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My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

This was an exquisite story of the relationship between a mother and daughter.

Having read the award winning Olive Kitteridge, I was excited and a little nervous about reading this tale of a troubled relationship between a mother and daughter. Why was I nervous? Because although I loved the endearing Olive Kitteridge, the book left me wanting more from the individual stories. It was full of so many characters and story threads, that each felt unfinished. Olive herself was a joy. I loved her and wished Strout could have given me more of her, making her tale feel more focused. She is without doubt a talented writer and I love how she focuses on characterisation. Her books being quiet tales full of emotion and people, rather than events or big drama.

So I read My Name is Lucy Barton, hoping, that as it had only two main characters, it would feel more complete! Strout plays to her strengths in this book, characterisation and the quiet trauma faced my her main character Lucy and her distant and awkward mother is placed at the centre of her tale. You get the feeling that motherhood came as a trial rather than a natural role for Lucy’s mum, leaving Lucy an insecure figure, worried about her own relationship with her children. Most of the action focuses on Lucy’s recovery in a New York hospital and the sudden appearance of her estranged mother at her bedside. From here, Strout, explores Lucy’s deprived childhood and her eventual escape from an early life damaged by poverty and the emotional distance of her parents. Lucy’s relationship with her mother has always been turbulent and we are shown that no matter how far we run, we are shaped by our childhood and the grounding instilled in us by our parents in our formative years. Because Lucy’s relationship with her mum was dysfunctional and distant, she finds herself an adult who yearns to repair it, to make a emotional connection with the past that continues to haunt and trouble her. When Lucy begins to question the decisions she has made as an adult following her mother’s arrival, the flaws in her own perfect life are exposed and she is forced to address how far she has come, from the life she thought she had left behind.

I enjoyed Strout’s tale of a daughter yearning to connect with her mother. Of a mother who seeks to care for her daughter. Both of whom are damaged, but about both of whom there is much to love. Strout’s books leave you feeling oddly disquieted, because that is the nature of life, we are all of us questioning if we are good enough, mothers, sons, daughters and fathers. Strout is a writer who understands our natures better than we do ourselves.

Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Till The Dust Settles by Pat Young.

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Book summary

The lives of two women who never meet are about to collide.

Lucie married young. Her husband has become abusive, controlling and violent. Having lost everything as a result of the marriage, Lucie decides it is time to walk away.

As she leaves the house on the morning of September 11th, heading to a job interview at the World Trade Centre and the promise of a new life, the unthinkable happens.

On a street in New York, choking on the dust, Lucie stumbles upon an opportunity for a new life.

She thought the grass would be greener. But starting again is never that simple…

Sometimes, what lies ahead is even more deadly.

Review

Many thanks to Pat Young, Bloodhound books and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC copy of the book in return for an honest review.

From chaos can come rebirth, a chance to begin again, to start life afresh and put past mistakes behind you. This is the essence of Pat Young’s book Till The Dust Settles.  Two young women who never meet, come to together in a tale of violence, betrayal,  deception and love; but more importantly their chance meeting in the dust clouds that result from the attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre, begins a tale of the search for justice and the possibility of a life renewed.

Pat Young has delivered a first debut class thriller. She skilfully uses the horror of the collaspse of the Twin Towers and the madness that followed to weave a story that rises from the dust and horror of that day.  She gives us in Lucie, a character whom you desperately want to escape a violent marriage, and a protagonist so believeable you can almost feel wealth and power radiating from him.

From page one of Till The Dust Settles the tension leaps from the pages and what I loved about this book was the relentless pace of the story.  You can’t help turning the pages to discover Lucie’s fate.  If a book compels you to read on and on into the early hours of the morning, then its good and I was still awake past one in the morning even though my desk beckoned me the following morning. While the sense of atmosphere is skilfully written, because you can almost feel the choking cloud of dust clogging your throat, as it does the characters who live through the horrors of 9/11.

The sign of a good thriller is that it has a nugget of truth at it’s core, from which the writer weaves an intricate story, taking that as their starting point, but creating from it a tale that thrills and excites the reader. In Till The Dust Settles, Pat Young has done this very thing! A world shattering event, into which she submerges the reader, then draws them forward to a thrilling conclusion. It’s tense, exciting and just when you think its safe to relax, delivers a punch to the gut. Which forces you to sit up and readjust what you thought would be the fate of characters you had found yourself invested in.

This is yet again a first class thriller from a publisher that recognises great writing and delivers it to it’s eager readers.

Till The Dust Settles can be purchased from Amazon

Author Bio

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Pat Young grew up in the south west of Scotland where she still lives, sometimes. She often goes to the other extreme, the south west of France, in search of sunlight.

Pat never expected to be a writer. Then she found a discarded book with a wad of cash tucked in the flyleaf. ‘What if something awful happened to the person who lost this book?’ she thought, and she was off.

Pat knew nothing of writing, but she knew a thing or two about books, having studied English, French and German at Glasgow University. A passion for languages led to a career she loved and then a successful part-time business that allowed her some free-time, at last.

Pat had plans, none of which included sitting at her desk from daybreak till dusk. But some days she has to. Because there’s a story to be told. And when it’s done, she can go out to play. On zip-wires and abseil ropes, or just the tennis court.

Pat writes psychological thrillers. Till the Dust Settles is her debut, from Bloodhound Books.

Pat Young can be followed on Twitter

The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Translated by Charlotte Collins.

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Review

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler was one of my favourite reads of last year.  A joy to read and proof that short novella’s can be as affecting to read as their full length cousins.  Seethaler gifted us an exquisite tale of whole life of a simple, gentle and brave man.

In The Tobacconist he again tells the tale of ordinary lives that are profoundly affected by events on the world stage.  We have 17 year old Franz, apprenticed to the tobacconist Otto Trsnyek and friend to Professor Freud.  Its a simple tale of bravery, friendship, darkness and the evil nature of those who succumbed to the influence of the Third Reich.

It’s deeply moving and painful to read on times.  Not just because of the events that rage in the background of the story, but because the simplicity of the writing seeps deep into your soul.  You’d think that reading graphic descriptions of the evil’s of the Natzi party would affect you more, but Seethaler by taking us into the heart of the people affected, makes them all too real, and when they grieve or suffer, your in the moment with them.   He shows us that there are always those who will fight to protect those they love, that hero’s don’t always wear uniforms.  The Third Reich may have been monumental and hateful, but against the compassion and courage of young men like Franz, they are ultimately impodent.

The writer has gifted us a tale that although set in a time of great evil, is radiant with the power of the human spirit at its best.  It manages to be devastatingly complex, but simple in its delivery.  Seethaler has an intimate understanding that wars and politics are grand events, but it is the simple lives that become tangled in them, when told with his wise observation, that make a far more powerful story.

The Tobacconist can be purchased from Amazon  and Waterstones.

Author Bio

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Robert Seethaler was born in Vienna in 1966 and is the author of several novels including A Whole Life and The TobacconistA Whole Life was a top ten-bestseller in Germany, and has garnered huge acclaim.