Blog Tour ~ Review ~ The Second Cup by Sarah Graye.

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Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye’s heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything – including why Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?

Review

I would like to thank Sarah Graye and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the ARC of The Second Cup in return for an honest review.
The Second Cup is not an easy read at times, dealing with difficult issues such as depression, suicide and grief. It focus on the lives of a group of friends who have all reached a turning point and face choices that will affect the path they take and the friendship they share. But it is a worthwhile read and an enjoyable one at that. Though enjoying a book which focuses on such issues seems the wrong thing to say, maybe it should be more that it is rewarding and enlightening for the reader.
Despite the difficult themes, it is a book written with a deep understanding of the problems faced by all the characters and gives us all hope that with support and a willingness to accept help, life doesn’t need to be hopeless or futile.
The characters are all well rounded and highly likeable. Their flaws are understandable and help us to see the world from their point of view. The writer makes you care about the characters within the story and avoids the clichéd way some novels dismiss subjects like depression, while remaining open and heartfelt.
The only thing that troubled me was the number of threads within the story. It’s not that it is difficult to follow; Sarah Grayle skilfully guides you through the interactions between the group of friends. I just felt personally that it would have been an even better story, if the narrative was tighter and there was more focus one or two characters, rather than four.
But this is a very personal reaction and not an indication of the quality of the story and the reward gained from reading it. It is an ensured debut and I would certainly look forward to following the writer’s career and future books.

To be in with a chance to win a copy of this book, then follow this Link.

The Second Cup can be purchased from Amazon

Author Bio

SarahMarieGraye

Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975, to English Catholic parents. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie’s childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing… until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression.
It’s a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision.
Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor’s scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel – about family, friendships and mental health.

Sarah can be followed on Twitter.

 

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ The Matter of the Crown by Linda Ferreri.

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The Crown of the Andes, one of the world’s most precious and beautiful sacred objects, has been stolen right off the stage at Satterling’s Auction House in New York City. Five pounds of magnificent baroque gold that ransomed the Inca Ruler Atahaulpa, and hundreds of perfect Colombian emeralds, all gone without a trace! Will this legendary treasure be destroyed for its gold and emeralds? One woman is dead and another one in hot pursuit.

Review

I would like to thank the author of The Matter of The Crown Linda Ferreri and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the ARC in return for an honest review.
If you like a easy to read thriller with lots of fascinating historical information, then The Matter of The Crown if a good one to pick.
It has a cast of likeable characters, especially the hero of the piece, Italian Policeman Baldo and the heroine Claire Bliss. Both of whom are engaging and very likeable.
It has twists and turns a plenty and takes the reader from the beauty and mystery of Italy to the dazzling skyscrapers of New York. There is plenty of adventure and mystery within its pages to keep you reading and is written by an author with an obvious passion for her story.
For me and this is simply a personal judgement, the segments of historical background affected the flow of the story and I would have preferred less of it within the novel. It is though all fascinating stuff and you should certainly not be put off by this, because others will love it! Reading is a personal experience and what works for one, may not for the next person.
If drama with an historical element to it, with a heroine who faces a personal journey is your reading taste, then give The Matter of the Crown a try.

The Matter of the Crown can be purchased from Amazon

Author Bio 

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Linda Ferreri is a well-known art lawyer and author.  Her books include novels about the Crown of the Anes, a novella entitled The King of UNINI, and whimsical hand-illustrated iBooks.  She is known, also, for her drawings.   She divides her time between Italy and the United States, and lectures widely around the world about art and history.  Her next novel is in progress.

Linda Ferreri can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Standstill by J A Marley #Thriller.

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Even the deadliest criminals leave a trail…
When a psychotic policeman drags the young, ambitious thief, Danny Felix out of bed, he could not imagine he was about to be plunged into the robbery of a lifetime.
Corruption and coercion follow the corrupt Detective Inspector Harkness everywhere he goes and now he has Danny just where he wants him.
But Harkness isn’t the only officer with Danny in his sights. Christine Chance is getting closer to him while doing her best to be a mother to her seriously ill daughter.
Can Danny escape Harkness with his life intact? Can he avoid detection by Chance?  And does he have what it takes to use the streets of modern-day London to pull off the theft of the 21st Century?
Danny thinks he can…but there will be bloodshed.

Review

Many thanks to the publisher Bloodhound Books, author J A Marley and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC copy of Standstill in return for an honest review.
Crime thrillers are a massively popular genre, which makes it difficult for any book to stand out among the thousands published each year. To succeed it needs to have an element that makes it different in some way from all the other highly enjoyable thrillers that the reader has to choose from. One such component is that the ‘hero’ is meant to overcome the ‘bad guy’ after a thrilling series of chases and deadly encounters and this is what makes Standstill stand out! The ‘good guy’ Danny, is in fact not so good himself, he is in reality just significantly less bad that his nemesis Detective Inspector Harkness.
Don’t get me wrong Standstill has all the traditional elements of a thriller, it’s fast paced, gritty and violent. It starts with a bang. The villain is evil and determined to cause trouble on a scale London has not seen in a while. The stakes for many of the characters are high enough. Potential for death is littered within its pages, while the ‘hero’ is determined not to allow the villain, to derail his plans to pull off an audacious robbery. It is full of twists and turns and is a first class thriller, with an anti hero, you will find yourself wanting to succeed, even though you know that he is flawed and a criminal.
This is why I enjoyed Standstill so much, it stood out and keep me reading well past the time I would normally be snuggled up under my duvet.
I could see this as a TV programme and a great one at that! It grips you and draws you into London’s criminal underworld and the world of an unhinged Police officer, who cares little for the role of protecting the public from people like Danny.
Importantly I forgot the world around me and was lost in the fantasy of the book, which dared to take the traditional elements we expect in a thriller and twist them to give the story an original and exhilarating feel.
I can heartily recommend Standstill to existing thriller fans and those looking to discover why thrillers have so many dedicated readers.

Author Bio

John Marley, 27April2016, photographer Bronac McNeill

John A. Marley’s writing career started with a poem about two brothers who both liked sausages, their names were Butch and Dutch and his Primary School teacher Mr. Murray liked it so much it made the main noticeboard at the entrance to Holy Child Primary School in West Belfast.  A little older but none the wiser, he ended up as a film journalist in his native Northern Ireland, contributing to local newspapers, BBC Radio Ulster and latterly writing as the main film critic for the glossy magazine, Northern Woman.

John’s love of good stories came from the Irish predilection for telling a good yarn and the fact that there was nothing quite like sneaking away his Dad’s battered paperbacks to read even though he knew they were meant for adults and not kids. And so pulp fiction such as The Edge Westerns by George G. Gilman, the adventure novels of Alistair MacLean and the thrillers of Jack Higgins all served to whet his appetite for a good story told at pace.

These days, his reading tastes still focus on thrills, spills and good plot and he can’t walk by a James Lee Burke or an Elmore Leonard without pausing to read a few pages…even if it is in a busy bookshop.

John A. Marley is also a TV producer with a proven track record in creating and producing distinctive, original entertainment and factual programming and formats for both a UK and international audience. His eclectic portfolio of high-profile shows include Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside the RAFBritain’s Flying PastStaraokeBest of FriendsSkatoonyNoel’s House PartyThrough the KeyholeSMTV:Live/CD:UKHow Euro Are You? and live coverage of “The Oscars” with Barry Norman.

John runs his own production company Archie Productions which he launched in 2008. Prior to setting up his own indie, John enjoyed a wide and varied career in television with creative roles at Talent Television, Planet 24, Carlton Television and Walt Disney UK. John’s broadcast media career started in his native Northern Ireland as a radio host.

J A Marley can bee followed on Twitter.

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Turning For Home by Barney Norris

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‘Isn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them. The whole world makes more sense if you remember that everyone has two lives, their real lives and their dreams, both stories only a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.’

Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins – it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all.

As lyrical and true to life as Norris’s critically acclaimed debut Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, which won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards, this is a compelling, emotional story of family, human frailty, and the marks that love leaves on us.

Review

I would like to thank the publisher Doubleday, author Barney Norris and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC copy of Turning For Home in return for an honest review.
I recently heard blogger Savidge Reads talk on his Youtube channel about how some books just ‘chime’ with you as a reader. It’s a perfect way to explain, how there are books that for one reason or another, make a connection with a book lover, which will never be broken.
Without any doubt this book will forever be one of my most cherished reads and started off 2018 with a resounding five star rating. It will take a supreme effort for another book to knock it from the dizzying heights I have placed it on, among my all time favourite reads. Much like Tin Man, which was my favourite book of 2017, Barney Norris’s second novel is hauntingly beautiful and will stay with me for some time.

It is rare for me to find myself emotionally connected to a book, but it was instant with Turning For Home.  Both main characters seemed to speak to me and I loved them both without question. I wanted throughout, to take a journey with them, to wherever Barney Norris had decided their fate lay. He made me care and captured my heart from the opening sentence.

We all want to read great books and Turning for Home is an outstanding piece of literature. One for which Barney Norris should be celebrated and showered with praise. The prose is lyrical and speaks straight to the heart of the reader of love and the complicated relationships we form, with the many strands of family and loved ones throughout our lives. Barney Norris has an intrinsic understanding of human frailty and how the dreams we have of the lives we will lead, are tied up with the reality of experience and the pain of giving of ourselves to others. His writing reminds me of the poetic style of the late writer Helen Dunmore, whose book The Lie was imbued with a tale of haunting simplicity and yet was at the same time astonishingly intimate.

If you want to step into the pages of a great book then this should be there on the top table.  It filled me with wonder and and joy. It’s an emotional read at times, but it gives you hope that even when life shatters the dreams you held dear, new ones can hold you closeted in their safe embrace. It said to me that we are more than the day to day routine of work and responsibility; we are indeed both dreamer and builder of castles in the sky.

Barney Norris is one of Britain’s finest young talents and Turning For Home is a crowning achievement confirming all the promise he displayed in his first novel Five Rivers Met On a Flooded Plain. Both are the work of a wonderfully talented writer and I am excited to see all the books he will write in the years to come.

Turning For Home can be purchased from AmazonWaterstones and all good bookseller’s.

Author Bio

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Barney Norris is a critically acclaimed playwright, poet and author. For his debut full-length play Visitors, which ran at that Arcola before transferring to the Bush in November 2014, he won the Critics Circle Award 2014 for Most Promising Playwright. He was also shortlisted for the prestigious Evening Standard Theatre Awards for Most Promising Playwright, the Writers Guild of Great Britain 2014 award for Best Play and the Best New Play Award at the Off West End Theatre Awards 2014. Visitors received rave star reviews in publications such as the Guardian, The Times, the Telegraph and the New York Times. His first non-fiction book Bodies Gone: The Theatre of Peter Gill was published by Seren in February 2014, and his first book of poetry, Falling, was published by Playdead Press. He is the co-artistic director of theatre company Up in Arms, and from the autumn of 2015 will be the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford. He has a BA (Hons) from the University of Oxford and an MA (Hons) from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Barney Norris can be followed on Twitter

 

Blog Tour ~ Review~ Divine Poison by AB Morgan.

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For a community psychiatric nurse, Monica Morris has an unhealthy interest in poison, and when, on impulse, she buys an antique Ship’s Doctor’s Cabinet with a set of leather bound journals she becomes fascinated by the content.
A few days later, she discovers the body of her patient, Jan Collins, and although police assume suicide by overdose, Monica is not convinced.
When more unexplained deaths involving poisoning occur, Monica realises they are linked and so does DS Adams who is investigating. But how are they connected? And why?
When it becomes obvious that she’s unwittingly stepped into a trap set for someone else, Monica’s career, her own sanity and her life are placed at risk. But where can she turn to for help?
Review
I would like to thank Bloodhound books, the author and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC of Divine Poison in return for an honest review.
If you’re looking for an easy to read but thoroughly engaging thriller, then Divine Poison is a book you should consider buying. Focused around a Monica a community mental health nurse who finds herself caught up in the unexplained deaths of some of her patients.
One of the things I really liked, was how the writer captured the sometimes perverse sense of humour shared by many working in healthcare and the emergency services, to deal with troubling situations and emotions. It’s a unique coping mechanism and AB Morgan weaves it into her story, giving the character of Monica a genuine edge to her.
As a character she works wonderfully, is funny, caring and flawed. She suffers from the stress of her job and the drama she comes across, but resilient as she is, carries on determined to see the mystery is solved. Perfect lead character material in fact. You want the characters to survive, especially Monica who I quickly came to care about.
The story itself is full of twists and turns. Monica is left wondering who she can trust and so are you as a reader. The way BK Duncan incorporates the sinister agenda of some of characters into the story, without revealing too much, means that right to the end, your left wondering who did what to whom and why! Motivation for murder and the length some will go to protect their agenda, is perfectly balanced with Monica’s overwhelming need to find answers to the mysterious deaths of her patients.
From page one to the last, Divine Poison is an enjoyable read.
Divine Poison can be purchased from Amazon.
Author Bio.
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Alison Morgan started writing a couple of years ago to address that niggling question: could she write a book? The answer was a simple yes. She’s had to retire from the NHS a little earlier than planned, but has discovered a new passion. Writing. Her debut novel, A Justifiable Madness, was published by Bloodhound Books in September 2017 attracting great reviews for its refreshing premise and dark humour. With two further novels being published at the beginning of 2018, it seems Alison has a promising future as an author. Divine Poison is the second novel to feature Monica Morris, a mental health nurse, as the main protagonist in this crime mystery, but there are no plans for a series. Alison’s third suspense novel, The Camera Lies, steps away from the field of nursing and into the world of real crime documentary films.

Alison lives with her husband Andy and their dog Sadie, in a small village north of Bedford. She’s not the type to let life get in the way of adventure and so, always up for the next challenge, she decided to have a proper midlife crisis and learn to ride a motorbike. In August she passed, first time. Her husband was impressed until she swung her leg over his prized Triumph and roared off with a big grin on her face. ‘Research for the next book,’ she cried. The fourth book is under construction and does indeed feature motorbikes.

AB Morgan can be followed on social media sites FacebookTwitter

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Review ~ Dinner At The Happy Skeleton by Chris Chalmers #LGBT #Funny #Honest

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Dan is the kind of gay man for whom the Noughties might have been named. Warm, witty and serially promiscuous, his heart melts at the sight of a chocolate brown Labrador – but with men, it’s a different matter. He’s thirty-nine and as single as ever, not counting the couple he just met online. An arrangement that looks oddly like it’s going somewhere until Dan gets fired from his job in advertising. With time out from his career and a payoff in his pocket, the summer presents a world of possibilities; just as the memories surface of the ex he blames for the thinly-veiled chaos of his life.

From London to Ljubljana, a yen for closure sets Dan on the trail of the man who fed his ego into a shredder. Through an eerie encounter at the home of the Olympiad and a sleepover at the Dutch Embassy, run-ins with a fading porn star and the celestial manifestation of Margaret Thatcher, he ultimately confronts his past. Until, with his Big Four-Oh rapidly approaching, destiny beckons from where he least expects it.

Review

My thanks to Chris Chalmers for the ARC copy of Dinner at the Happy Skeleton in return for an honest review.
Firstly I have to say that one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book is because I love the main character to the moon and back. Dan is flawed, damaged by a failed love affair, but still warm and so easy to love. Sure he’s promiscuous; he is also insecure and chaotic. He could be you or me and that’s what makes him so easy to like. Not your textbook perfect hero, but just a person trying to navigate a world full of drama’s which threaten to overwhelm him.
The second reason I loved this book, is the warmth of the story and honesty of Chris Chalmers writing! He has an innate understanding of people and the situations they find themselves in. He makes you smile, makes you feel sad, sometimes within the same page, but he is always open and unfailingly honest about Dan’s choices and why he lives the way he does. He makes you care about what might happen to Dan and you become invested in his story.
Dinner at the Happy Skeleton draws you in and makes you wish you could curl up with Dan and share in his life all the time. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to spend more time with Dan and see where life took him! It’s a book that made me smile, feel sad, but all way through made me wish I knew Dan. I’d want him as a friend! I liked him and I cared about him.
It’s a book about life and the drama’s that Dan as a Gay man encounters, but the beauty of this book is that it could be about any man or women and that is why you should read it. Not pigeon hole it into a genre that might attract a limited readership, but because it’s about a human being seeking to navigate the choppy waters of life and find solid land on which he can build the life he so richly deserves.
Did I mention I love Dan to the moon and back?

Dinner At The Happy Skeleton can be purchased from Amazon

Author Bio

After many years creating advertising campaigns for everything from The Economist to ballet shoes, Chris Chalmers took the plunge into writing adult contemporary fiction.

His first novel, Five To One, about the day a helicopter crashes on Clapham Common, won a debut novel competition and was nominated for the Polari First Book Award. The next, Light From Other Windows, explores the effect on a family when the youngest son is caught in a tsunami. Literary critic Suzi Feay described it as a book that “can bring tears to your eyes on one page and make you laugh the next”. His latest, Dinner at the Happy Skeleton, draws on his advertising career and fondness for the less familiar corners of Europe. He is also the author of the children’s adventure Gillian Vermillion — Dream Detective, which like all his work is published by J.Mendel Books.

Chris lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite-famous concert pianist. He has been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 different countries and shared pizza with Donnie Brasco. Publication aside, his most treasured literary achievement is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter.

Author Chris Chalmers can be followed via his WebpageTwitter or Facebook.

 

 

My favourite reads of 2017 #AYearOfReading #ThankYouAuthors

This is always a difficult task, but also one I enjoy, because it reminds me of all the wonderful books I’ve read in a year full of new discoveries. I have been incredibly lucky to be introduced to some great reads, one by reading the monthly recommended reads by bookseller Waterstones, taking part in blog tours and also by reading the reviews of fellow readers and bloggers.

I have broken it down into favourite fiction and non fiction reads and the lists are not in any particular order, except for Tin Man and The Gustav Sonata which were book that spoke to me and made my heart sing.

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Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Some books are special, they remind me why I read books, Tin Man is one of those books. A beautifully written story about friendship and love, it will forever be one of my all time favourite reads. It’s both heartbreaking and uplifting.

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The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
This is another book about friendship and love and the fine line that divides the two. I adored it and the writing is simply stunning.

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The Man Who Died by Antti Toomaineh
I have read a lot of Scandinivian and Nordic Noir this year and they have all been excellent. The Man Who Died was my favourite of an exceptional genre overflowing with talent, because of the darkly comedic element to it.

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Holding by Graham Norton
I bought this because I liked his autiobiograpthical books and wanted to know if he could translate his warm and inclusive writing style over to a novel. I am happy to say that he can. It’s a gentle tale about the cost of secrets and lives frustrated by unfilled needs and ambitions.

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The Muse by Jessie Burton
I loved not only the superb characterisation in this book, but also how Jessie Burton teases the threads that connect the past to 1968 and weaves them into story about love and betrayal.

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The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor. 

I love a good solid historical drama and this book is certainly that.

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My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
I feel in love with the flawed but easy to love Lucy Barton and the friends that are part of her life. It left me wanted to know more about them all.

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Fifty Years of Fear by Ross Greenwood.
I really enjoyed all the books in this series, but not having room to fit them all in this list, I picked this one because of the way it dealt with some very dark issues, without the novel being swamped in clichéd drama.

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Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech.

Louise Beech delivers a haunting and moving book, about the power of the human heart to survive through trauma and adversity.

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The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. 

Robert Seethaler delivers a deeply moving and lyrical story about the power of the individual when faced with horrifying events, that threaten their world and those they care about.

 

********** My Top 5 Non Fiction Read for 2017 **********

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H Is For Hawk by Helen McDonald
I had been meaning to read this for some time and when I saw this in a small independent bookshop in Monmouth with a stunning vintage cover, I had to buy it. The story within is a deeply moving story of grief and recovery.

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So Me by Graham Norton
I like Graham Norton and found his autobiograpthy to be a funny and warm read.

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The Life and Loves of A He Devil by Graham Norton
Yet again another honest and funny book from the king of chat show programmes.

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The Durrell’s of Corfu by Michael Haag
Having loved reading Gerald Durrell’s books set in Corfu and watching the TV programme based on them, I found this look at the real Durrell’s behind the stories a fascinating read.

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Poem for the Day One With A Forward by Wendy Cope.

I received this as a Christmas Present last year. It has been a joy to dip into it everyday. I have discovered a love of W Auden’s incredible poetry and will be reading book two in 2018.

 

My most anticipated reads of 2018.

There are some amazing books to look forward to in 2018

Three Things About Elise by Joanna Cannon – 11 January 2018
Having adored The Trouble With Goats and Sheep I’m excited about Joanna Cannon’s second book, Three Things About Elsie. Just reading the book description has me feeling this will be in my top reads of 2018. I rarely pre-order books, the last being the stunning Tin Man, but I will with this novel, her writing is worth any amount of money!

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There are three things you should know about Elsie. The first thing is that she’s my best friend. The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better. And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.
84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?
From the author of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them: 1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever. 2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done. 3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.
Circe by Madeline Miller – 19th April 2018
I can’t begin to explain how excited I am about this new Madeline Miller release and how long the wait has seemed and continues to seem before we can read it. I fell deeply in love with The Song For Achilles, which reduced me to a sobbing mess. I feel oddly nervous though about reading Circe, because of how much her first book continues to mean to me. Will her new novel also become a much loved read? Only time will tell! Is it April yet?

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From the Orange Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author of The Song of Achilles comes the powerful story of the mythological witch Circe, inspired by Homer’s Odyssey
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.
When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.
There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
Breathing life into the ancient world, Madeline Miller weaves an intoxicating tale of gods and heroes, magic and monsters, survival and transformation.

The Burning Chamber by Kate Mosse – 3 May 2018I

I am a massive fans of this author’s books and so I am excited to discover she has a new book out next year. Given that she is one of my go to authors I will be reading this book as soon as I download it.

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Bringing sixteenth-century Languedoc vividly to life, Kate Mosse’s The Burning Chambers is a gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets; of war and adventure, conspiracies and divided loyalties.
Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: She Knows you live.
But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.
Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.
Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

Transcription by Kate Atkinson – 6 September 2018

After falling in love with Kate Atkinson’s writing after reading Life after Life, I’m looking forward to reading her new book Transcription. If it’s half as good, it will be a fabulous and addictive read.

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Transcription is a bravura novel of extraordinary power and substance. Juliet Armstrong is recruited as a young woman by an obscure wartime department of the Secret Service. In the aftermath of war she joins the BBC, where her life begins to unravel, and she finally has to come to terms with the consequences of idealism.

These are just some of the books I’m looking forward to reading. Looks like it’s going to be another exciting reading year in 2018.

Review ~ The Christmas Tale of Elaine Gale by Daniel Thompson and illustrated by Connor Edwards.

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The story starts with 3 siblings Claire, Ben and Daniel, building a snow queen in the garden, as all children do. Claire begins to create a story around  the evil snow queen and before long she explains how Elaine Gale – the evil snow queen has placed a spell on all children to be naughty so that when Santa checks his naughty and nice list no-one has been good and thus no presents are needed.

Happy with their days work they head back in for tea, but soon realise that their story is unfolding in front of their eyes. Realising they are the only ones who can stop Elaine Gale they start about a journey to overcome her evil plan and restore Christmas before it’s too late.

Review

Firstly I wish to thank author Daniel Thompson for the ARC copy of The Christmas Tale of Elaine Gale in return for an honest review.
Now I am the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of Christmas, I am in fact a bit of a bar humbug, so a book set during this festive season needs to be really good to get a 5* rating from me! Well I really enjoyed it. In fact it might have managed to make me rethink my attitude towards books centred around this period!
Why did I love it so much? It has a modern, determined girl as a heroine, who leads her younger brothers on a festive adventure. There is an evil snow queen, who brilliantly breaks with tradition by not being male and reminds me of the White Queen from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The rhyming verse has a catchy contemporary feel to it, flows along without interruption from misplaced words and creates a story that charmed me with the way its paints a such modern Christmas tale. The main elements are there, Santa and his reindeer and the theme that to get presents on Christmas morning you need to think of others and be good, yet it doesn’t become overly sentimental, which my niece and god-children will adore. It reads well for adults reading to younger children and will serve as a great introduction for older children of rhyming verse.
Special mention must also go to illustrator Connor Edwards who has produced illustrations that compliement the story perfectly. They are fun and attractive to look at. They remind me of illustrations seen in graphic novels, with a boldness and quirkiness children will love.
The Christmas Tale of Elaine Page is one of the best children’s books I have read this year and I think it will become a firm family favourite in years to come.

The Christmas Tale of Elaine Gale can be purchased from Amazon

It can also be purchased from The Christmas Tale of Elaine Gale Website , where you can also learn more about the book and how it can onto being.

A little bit about writer and poet Danny 

I’m Danny, a Poet/film maker/musician and all round creative human from Birmingham.

I wrote this book because I love Christmas and I wanted to create something to add to the already rich tapestry of the Christmas festivities. I felt it was really important to tell an original Christmas story that a new generation of readers can claim as their own. I am really proud of what Connor and I have created with this book and I hope you enjoy our work.

Not forgetting the illustrator Connor

I’m Connor, a graphic design student and illustrator from Birmingham.

For me the book was an exciting project to work on because its quirky story and writing style really inspired my imagination. As a Christmas story it was unlike anything already available, this refreshing look at the Christmas story gave me a lot to work with. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I loved making it.

For more news about the book you can visit Facebook / Twitter/Webpage.

Blog Tour~Guest Post ~ Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell.

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Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.
Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder.
Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself.
A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever. One woman, one house, one hundred years

Guest post 

I am lucky to be able to feature a guest post by the writer of Tall Chimneys today. Allie Cresswell  tells us why she writes and what it means to be a writer.

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Years ago I sat on a bus in front of two women who were discussing the colour of the Mother-of-the-Bride outfit one of them had bought the week before.
‘What colour is it?’
‘Hard to say, orangey.’
‘Like a tangerine?’
‘Oh no! Not so vivid.’
‘More of an apricot?’
‘Mmm. But pinker.’
‘Shrimp? Coral?’
‘No!’
I was hooked; crucially invested in establishing the colour of the frock. ‘Peach?’ I muttered into the damp air of the bus.
‘Peach?’ they took my suggestion up.
The Mother of the Bride considered. ‘On the peach side of apricot,’ she agreed, at last.
I relate this incident because it illustrates a lot about why I am a writer and the writing process. Situations like the one on the bus are meat and drink to a writer. All of life is material to her ever-eager eye and attentive ear. I am a terrible eaves-dropper, as demonstrated above, and I am very nosey. I ferret story out of the least snippet of overheard chat, from encounters briefly glimpsed in the supermarket aisle. For me, they are laced around with narrative potential. Before I know it I am inventing dialogue, defining character, conjuring a world of history from the peculiar slouch of a hat over an eye, or a stretched-out silence over a neighbouring restaurant table.
Writing is my way of coping with the fragmentary nature of life; we never see everything, we never know the whole story. I’ll never know where on the colour spectrum that lady’s outfit belonged, or how it looked when it was on, or whether (as I rather suspect she did) her neighbour turned up to the evening-do in something very similar (‘if you’d said yours was cantaloupe, I’d never have worn this old thing.’). Life’s narrative is always being interrupted by time or diverted by distance. But as a writer I can draw the threads together again and reconnect the severed ends. I like the wholeness of it, the unity.
I use my writing to test out and explore universal themes, to question big ideas like family (in Relative Strangers) and consequences (Lost Boys). I use it to tread the roads I have not taken in real life as well as to anatomise in surgical detail every false step and foolhardy choice I ever made. They say that writing is good therapy, and it really is; you can probe the most delicate and profound of issues and often make more sense of them on the page than you can in real life. Of course you can control the outcome, too, unravelling fashion faux pas to knit back into a successful garment.
The effort involved in arriving at this truthfulness is considerable. It is a process of second-guessing: would he really say that, given what has gone before? What does a thing really look like, smell like, sound like? It has to be right to be real. The efforts of the women on the bus to establish the colour of the frock – the nudging and tweaking, the counter-suggesting, honing and refining – is exactly the process I go through when trying to describe something, to make it vivid and tangible.
Writing is all about connection. I felt connected to the women on the bus, a small cog in the machine of their relationship. It is an essential aspect of our humanity, this desire and ability to communicate and connect with one another, to be part of something that is bigger and more important than just ‘me’. I mean the shared understanding of one person with another, and of the individual with the wider world. Don’t we, when we hear a piece of music, or stare out at night into the star-peppered sky, feel some inner part of us reaching out and becoming part of it? Aren’t there moments, with a dear friend or, sometimes, even with a stranger, when we know a better peace than we can ever have alone? We experience, just for those moments, a kind of synchronicity; what Mr Spock calls ‘mind-meld’.
For me, writing is spiritual. When things are going well, I lose myself in it (in reading, also). I have no corporeal awareness while I am writing. Hours pass without my having any consciousness of them. I only know what I am reaching out towards something, trying, in the creative process, to touch some truth. Choosing words, dismissing them, choosing better words, sharpening and clarifying, adding texture and hue which will give it – whatever it is – real substance. And then painting in the shadows, the echoes and smells, the antipathies and sudden moods, those resonances which emanate only from that which is true. I take in what life offers me and garner it into the crucible which is my imagination. What happens there, I don’t know – some spark, some mystery I can’t explain. The elements rearrange themselves; they coalesce with snippets and fragments I have forgotten about, some metamorphosis happens which is all of me and yet at the same time nothing to do with me. Something entirely new and independent emerges and I set it free in the hope that it will enrich others as it has enriched me.

Thank you Allie for taking the time to write such a fascinating post and Rachel Gilbey for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for Tall Chimney’s.

Tall Chimneys can be bought from Amazon.

Author Bio

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Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, one granddaughter and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.
Tall Chimneys is the sixth of her novels to be published.

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