Thursday, 20 February 2020

Blog Tour ~ Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

On its publication day I am delighted  to host today's stop on this blog tour

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20 February 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of the blog tour.

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 187 passengers aboard: among them a Wall Street millionaire; a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.

Dear Edward recounts the stories of the passengers aboard that flight as it hurtles toward its fateful end, and depicts Edward's life in the crash's aftermath as he tries to make sense of the loss of his family, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and the meaning of his survival. As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront one of life's most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given?

What did I think about it..

There’s a real sense of impending doom as you start to read Dear Edward as it’s known right from the start that the aeroplane journey isn’t going to end well, and yet there’s a feeing of intimacy as the passengers on board the flight from NewYork to Los Angeles become, over the course of the story, as familiar as friends.

The eponymous Edward of the story is only twelve years old when he has the dubious distinction of being the sole survivor of the air disaster. The story takes us, with meticulous precision, through the long, slow road of Edward's recovery and subsequent rehabilitation, which is harrowing and painful, and filled with grief, confusion and sorrow. Throughout the story the impact of Edward’s struggle to come to terms with what has happened never fails to connect on an emotional level.

I devoured Dear Edward in just a couple of sittings as I didn’t want to put the book down so I carried it from room to room just so I could squeeze in extra reading time when I really should have been doing something else. It’s poetic, powerful, beautifully observed, it made me laugh in places where I didn’t think I should laugh, and it also made me cry in places where the sadness was huge.

By the end of this special story I wanted everything in Edward’s world to be better and brighter to make up for a loss so great it threatened, at times, to engulf him.

Recommended: Absolutely ✅ it’s already a contender on my ‘books of the year’ list.

Ann Napolitano is the author of the novels A Good Hard Look and Within Arm's Reach. She is also the Assistant Editor of One Story literary magazine. She received an MFA from New York University; she has taught fiction writing for Brooklyn College's MFA program, New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies and for Gotham Writers' Workshop. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

Twitter @napolitanoann #DearEdward


Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Book Review - A Springtime Affair by Katie Fforde

Arrow Publishing 
20 February 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

It’s the season of new beginnings for Helena and Gilly.

Gilly runs her own B&B business from her much-loved family home, which she doesn’t want to part with – at any price.

But that's before she meets handsome estate agent Leo, and soon she begins to wonder whether selling up might not be such a bad idea after all.

Meanwhile Gilly's daughter Helena has a budding romance of her own. A talented weaver, she's becoming very close to her new landlord, Jago, who's offered to help her at an upcoming craft fair.

It’s what friends do, and they are just friends. Aren’t they?

With spring in full bloom, Helena and Gilly begin to ask themselves the same question:

Might their new loves lead to happily ever after..

What did I think about it..

This is a lovely story which looks at the lives of mother and daughter, Gilly and Helena. Gilly runs a successful B and B from Fairacres, her much loved family home. All seems to be going well and the business is going from strength to strength, that is until she comes into contact with Leo, a charismatic and handsome older man, who seems intent on sweeping Gilly off her feet. At the same time, Gilly's daughter, Helena, a talented artisan weaver, finds that she is looking upon her landlord, Jago, with more than a friendly eye, that is, until long buried secrets threaten to upset their burgeoning relationship.

What then follows is the ups and downs of life in general and of the interesting dynamics between families when some family members seem to want things to go in a different direction, but more especially, the story is filled with all the warmth and wit and the canny observations on life and love which we have come to expect from this author's lovely series of romantic novels.

Light and easy to read with an abundance of lovely characters who have such delightful appeal and who collectively make A Springtime Affair such a pleasure to read. It has a little bit of everything, family upsets, problems around doing the right thing when some people expect more than you can give, and a lovely smattering of romance as both mother and daughter start to trust in the idea of being in love.

Recommended : ✅Absolutely. Beautifully written, nicely observed A Springtime Affair is the perfect antidote for a cold, wet and windy afternoon.

A Springtime Affair is published in ebook and hardcover by Century on the 20th September 2020

Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a different profession or background and her research has helped to bring these to life.

Twitter @KatieFforde #ASpringtimeAffair


Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Book Review ~ Under the Stars by Matt Gaw

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Elliot & Thompson
20 February 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Moonlight, starlight, the ethereal glow of snow in winter ... When you flick off a switch, other forms of light begin to reveal themselves.

Artificial light is everywhere. Not only is it damaging to humans and to wildlife, disrupting our natural rhythms, but it obliterates the subtler lights that have guided us for millennia. In this beautifully written exploration of the power of light, Matt Gaw ventures forth into darkness to find out exactly what we're missing: walking by the light of the moon in Suffolk and under the scattered buckshot of starlight in Scotland; braving the darkest depths of Dartmoor; investigating the glare of 24/7 London and the suburban sprawl of Bury St Edmunds; and, finally, rediscovering a sense of the sublime on the Isle of Coll.

Under the Stars is an inspirational and immersive call to reconnect with the natural world, showing how we only need to step outside to find that, in darkness, the world lights up.

What did I think about it..

I rarely go out after dark any more, and so I too fail to notice the impact of the night and how the elements look so very different in fading light. In Under the Stars, the author takes us a journey from the dark into the light with a special lyrical magic brought to life by his powerful description of the night sky and of how this exploration, not only made him appreciate the beauty of the night, but also how in using his senses in a different way it gave him a much greater awareness of everything he saw and experienced.

The author writes with warmth and delicate balance, explaining everything he saw and felt with a fine eye for detail and a joyous pleasure at the mystical pull of observation. Filled with a plethora of facts that you never knew you needed to know, Under The Stars is a real feast for all the senses. The author takes us on an enlightening journey, from the lure of moonlight in coastal Suffolk, the gaudy brightness of the city of London, the sheer brilliance pulled from the natural light over dark skies, and the ethereal splendour of starlight over The Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides, there is so much to enjoy in this beautifully written exploration of the night sky in all its majesty and unique glory.

There is so much we take for granted in our world, that we fail to recognise the beauty of nature as it surrounds us and it’s only when we take away the obvious can we appreciate what is there for us to see if only we would take the time to slow down and really look to see what’s happening when we allow the night sky, and nature, to speak directly to us.

Recommended : ✅ Absolutely if you enjoy nature, star gazing, moon gazing or just reading a beautifully written observational book about the natural world.

Under the Stars is published in ebook and hardcover by Elliot and Thompson on the 20th February 2020

About the Author

Matt Gaw is a writer, journalist and naturalist who lives in Bury St Edmunds. His work has been published in the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Times. He works with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, edits Suffolk Wildlife, currently writes a monthly country diary for the Suffolk Magazine and is a director of the Suffolk Festival of Ideas.

Twitter @MattGaw


Amazon UK

Monday, 17 February 2020

Blog Tour ~ The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan

Delighted to host today's stop on this blog tour

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Avon Books
23 January 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my invitation to this blog tour

Joe McKee – pillar of the Derry community – is dead. As arrangements are made for the traditional Irish wake, friends and family are left reeling at how cancer could have taken this much-loved man so soon.

But grief is the last thing that Joe’s daughter Ciara and step-daughter Heidi feel. For they knew the real Joe – the man who was supposed to protect them and did anything but.

As the mourners gather, the police do too, with doubt being cast over whether Joe’s death was due to natural causes. Because the lies that Joe told won’t be taken to the grave after all – and the truth gives his daughters the best possible motive for killing him…

What did I think about it..

There are many undercurrents in this story which is so cleverly done that you find that your emotional connection to each of the characters starts right at the beginning, and as step siblings Ciara and Heidi face the worst of their fears it soon becomes obvious that the relationship they each had with the recently deceased Joe McKee is loaded with secrets and lies.

I really can’t say too much about this psychological drama without giving the game away as even the hint of a spoiler would completely ruin the impact of this cleverly controlled family story. There’s so much unspoken angst between Ciara and Heidi that’s it’s difficult to say which of their stories affected me the most but by the end I was left feeling quite shaken by both of them.  However, despite the rather dark themes which run through the story I enjoyed how this talented author took us through a whole range of emotions from sadness to rage, and back to rage again.

I’ve read all of this author's work to date and have been impressed with the strength of her story telling and how she makes each story so completely relevant to our modern society. The Liar’s Daughter is a sad yet powerful story of a dysfunctional family relationship which is so powerful in its message that the story will stay with me for a long time.

Recommended : Absolutely ✅ if you like well written family dramas

A former journalist and columnist, Claire Allan has been writing fiction since 2006.

An Irish Times bestseller, she has tackled issues from post-natal depression, infertility, and dementia through to writing a based-on-a-true-story book about a couple reunited after 50 years apart. She has now decided to unleash her dark side!

Married with two children, two cats and a mad puppy she is happiest lost in a good book. She has kissed Michael Buble.

Twitter @ClaireAllan #TheLiarsDaughter


Sunday, 16 February 2020

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Sandy Day

On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

I'd delighted to welcome author, Sandy Day

Photo credit : Tony Hicks

☼Good Morning, Sandy. Happy Sunday !

What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

For Sunday brunch I’m bring a delicious crustless quiche made with fresh farm eggs, swiss cheese, whipping cream, and bacon. It’s crustless because I’m keto! But that’s a story for another day. I hope you enjoy it.

Would you like a pot of English Breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

I know, I’m strange, but in addition to not eating sugar, flour, or grains, I don’t drink caffeine. Who ever heard of a writer who’s not wired on coffee? Well, you have now. I love decaffeinated Earl Grey tea and decaf Americano. What on earth is Bucks Fizz?

Which of your literary heroes are joining us today? And what’s the oldest book on your book shelf?

Joining me today is my literary hero, Alice Munro. Let’s hope she’s not too quiet. The oldest book on my book shelf is a copy of her collection of short stories, Dance of the Happy Shades. I’ve probably read it a dozen times. I feel like everything I’ve ever learned about writing I learned from Alice Munro. Go small, go deep, and say the unspeakable.

What’s the title of the book nearest to you?

The closest book to me is My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante. I haven’t started reading it yet because I just can’t seem to find the time. My boss gave me the whole set. She always recommends great books, so I am looking forward to getting into this series. As soon as this crazy reality show of American politics is over, I’m going back to reading books instead of Twitter. Does Twitter qualify as a guilty reading pleasure even if it’s a pleasure that’s not very pleasant?

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Do you have a reading/writing playlist on Spotify, or a favourite CD to listen to when reading? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy? 

I created a playlist of classical music for the 2019 NaNoWriMo because I needed to block out the noise of my mother’s non-stop radio tuned to CBC while I wrote. But I only used it for a week or so after which I discovered that I preferred writing at night in my bed. I close myself into my quiet bedroom with my laptop and let my fingers fly. 

Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs? 

Thesaurus. Writing implement, either pen & paper or computer of some sort. Wikipedia. Time. 

What can you tell us about your latest novel, or your current work in progress? 

My new novel is called Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand. It’s a tender story of love-obsession, chronicling a young woman’s coming of age in Canada during the height of the 1970’s women’s liberation movement. The book took me many years to write, in fact, parts of it were started back in the 1970s when I was a teenager. It’s fiction but it was inspired by a trip I took to visit my aunt on Cape Breton Island when I was seventeen.

A tender story of love-obsession, the second novel from Sandy Day, Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand chronicles a young woman’s coming of age during the height of the 1970’s women’s liberation movement.

Teetering on the edge of womanhood, clinging to the first love of her life as if her survival depends on it, 17 year-old Livvy is torn between subjugating herself for love and claiming her identity and independence. 

When Livvy, lovesick and artistic, spends the summer with the aunt she adores, she crosses paths with a cast of memorable characters in the coastal community of Margaree, Cape Breton Island. 

While Livvy’s cousins torment her, house renovations disturb her, an annoying young islander tries to befriend and teach Livvy to disco dance, Livvy prepares for the much anticipated arrival of her boyfriend, Kane. 

With poetic fluidity and breathtaking revelations Sandy Day draws you into Livvy’s obsession. Such a deep dive into the dire and agonizing crannies of a love-obsessed young woman establishes Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand as a memorable coming of age story.

For fans of The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Lives of Girls and Women, and The Bell Jar, Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand promises to immerse you in the world of a troubled but observant young woman coming slowly to terms with love, life, and all its messy relationships.

Sandy Day lives in Georgina, Ontario, Canada. She is the author of Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand; Fred's Funeral; Chatterbox Poems; and An Empty Nest. She holds a degree in English Literature from Glendon College in Toronto, where her professors included great Canadian writers, Michael Ondaatje and bp nichol. Sandy is a creative writing workshop facilitator, trained in the AWA method, by the Toronto Writers Collective. She sells dog halters on the side.

Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Elizabeth Ducie

On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast, and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

I'm delighted to welcome writer, Elizabeth Ducie

☼Good morning, Elizabeth! Happy Sunday!

What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

Home-made muesli with lots of fresh berries and nuts (which is how I start most days) followed by bacon sarnies using crusty white bread, crispy bacon and brown sauce (which is NOT how I star my days usually)

Would you like a pot of English Breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

Bucks Fizz every time.

Which of your literary heroes are joining us today?

Louisa May Alcott, as I’d love to hear what she thinks of the new film of Little Women, plus Jostein Gaarder, for reasons that will become obvious.

Little Women - The Penguin English Library (Paperback)

What’s the title of the book nearest to you?

The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. I was introduced to this book some years ago and I use it as my literary advent calendar, reading each chapter on the appropriate day in December. It is a story within a story and interweaves history, philosophy and religion beautifully. Every time I read it, I find something different.

What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?

In terms of the one I have owned for the longest, it is a copy of Alice in Wonderland, given to me as a birthday present in 1959. It’s a bit battered and some of the pages are falling out, but it’s still one of my favourites from childhood.

Which book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

Not one book, but a whole series. I have loved watching Game of Thrones on TV, but would love to have time to read the original books. I love fantasy and spent years reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and (latterly) Brandon Sanderson. But GoT seems like such a huge undertaking and there are just so many other books on my TBR list.

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure, and if so will you tell us about it?

Not sure I feel much guilt about it, but I love reading the thrillers of Lee Child, James Patterson and Dan Brown. Not necessarily literature and frequently unbelievable story lines, but damn good stories and real page turners.

If the house was on fire which book would you rescue?

My hardback copies of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I bought them when I was a teenager; lovingly covered them in sticky-backed plastic to protect the dust sheets, and they have had pride of place on my shelves ever since.

Do you have a reading/writing playlist on Spotify, or a favourite CD to listen to when reading? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?

I don’t listen to music when I am reading. But when I am writing I sometimes listen to classical music; no words, just stirring music. I love the Tarantella from The Nutcracker.

Do you have a favourite place to settle down to read?

No; I can read anywhere. I always have a book or an ereader with me and will grab a few moments whenever I can: on the bus, in a queue, in the loo, wherever.

Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?

Like most writers, I suffer from SNS; that’s Shiny Notebook Syndrome. I always have a general one on the go, which I use for everything from taking notes in writing group meetings, through mind mapping story ideas, to preparing shopping lists. But I also use a separate one for each book or series of books I am writing. And I keep all of them. One day when I am a famous dead author, they may be worth something.

Lots of coloured pens and pencils for mind mapping; plus post-its and other bits of stationery.

Friends who understand our obsession with stationery and pander to it at every birthday and Christmas.

And on a more serious note: I would not be without Scrivener. It’s a wonderful piece of software that allows me to plan, draft, edit, and store research all in one place.

What can you tell us about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?

I have just taken a year off writing fiction, partly to get my series of non-fiction books, The Business of Writing finished and published; but also because I had just finished writing a series of thrillers set in the international drugs world, and needed to get the characters out of my head in order to make room for new ones. In November, I used NaNoWriMo to begin work on a new series, set right here in South Devon. They are going to be about a fictional village called Coombesford and although the first one is a cosy murder mystery, I have discovered some interesting folk live in that village and I am not quite sure yet whether they will all be crime-based or not. It’s early days yet, but I am having fun working my way through it. Oh, and those characters from the thrillers? They refused to leave, and I have therefore brought a couple of them with me into the new series.

Elizabeth Ducie trained as a scientist and worked in the international pharmaceutical industry for nearly thirty years before deciding she wanted to make a complete change of direction. She gave up the day job, began studying the craft of creative writing, and has now writes fiction and creative non-fiction more or less full-time. She is a fierce proponent of independent publishing and has produced four novels, three collections of short stories and a series on The Business of Writing, business skills for writers. She lives in Devon, is the editor of her town’s monthly community magazine, and in her spare time loves reading, watching live theatre or finding great new places to eat out with her husband, Michael.

Twitter @ElizabethDucie

@jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Blog Tour ~ Real Life by Adeline Dieudonné (Roland Glasser Translator)

Delighted to host today's Blog Tour stop

World Editions Ltd
20 February 2020

My thanks to the author and random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour.

At home there are four rooms: one for her, one for her brother, one for her parents … and one for the carcasses. The father is a big game hunter, a powerful predator; the mother is submissive to her violent husband’s demands. The young narrator spends the days with her brother, Sam, playing in the shells of cars dumped for scrap and listening out for the chimes of the ice-cream truck, until a brutal accident shatters their world.

The uncompromising pen of Adeline Dieudonné wields flashes of brilliance as she brings her characters to life in a world that is both dark and sensual. This breathtaking debut is a sharp and funny coming-of-age tale in which reality and illusion collide.

What did I think about it..

An unnamed narrator, a traumatised small boy, a submissive wife, a violent hunter, and a house with four rooms, all add up to a story which is as sinister as the four people who occupy its spaces.

Right from the start of Real Life I was completely drawn into this very dark, contemporary story, which is unlike any coming-of-age story I have ever read before. Raw, visceral and quite challenging there is never a moment when the narrative doesn't entice you into its secret places, drawing you further and further into the narrator's frightening world.

Real Life is not going to be to everyone's taste, as its thought provoking themes are really very dark, however, that's where the appeal of the novel lies, in that the story, so cleverly manipulated by the author makes you sit up and take notice of everything the young narrator is experiencing in her troubled home life. Thankfully, Real Life has some really special moments, with flashes of brilliance which linger and allow the lyricism of the language to flow seamlessly.

Written by a Belgian author, and beautifully translated, this story has rightfully won several French literary awards, and after finishing this powerful story, in one sitting, I can well understand why such high praise has been heaped upon it. 

About the Author

ADELINE DIEUDONNÉ was born in 1982 and lives in Brussels. A playwright and short-story writer, her first novella, Amarula, was awarded the Grand Prix of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. Two further booklets were published by Editions Lamiroy in 2017: Seule dans le noir and Bonobo Moussaka. Real Life was recently awarded the prestigious Prix du Roman FNAC, the Prix Rossel, the Prix Renaudot des Lycéens, and the Prix Filigrane, a French prize for a work of high literary quality with wide appeal. Dieudonné also performs as a stand-up comedian.

ROLAND GLASSER is an award-winning translator of French literature, based in London.

Twitter #RealLife




Friday, 14 February 2020

Book Review ~ Winning at Life by Kathryn Wallace

Winning at Life
6 February 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

A funny and uplifting novel about parenting by the author of Absolutely Smashing It and internet sensation behind the fantastically funny I Know, I Need to Stop Talking. 

It’s back to a new school term for the kids. Their mums – Gemma and Becky – are breathing a huge sigh of relief and reaching for the gin bottle. Except for the fact that Becky appears to be accidentally a little bit pregnant… 

But that’s not the first shock for the parents in the playground. Over the summer, part of their beloved Redcoats Primary has burned down. The school needs to raise thousands of pounds to stay open – and Gemma and Becky have been forced on to the fundraising committee (just to add to the millions of messages from their online parent groups). 

In a year that will see new babies (for Becky), new schools (for Same), and a whole new business for Gemma, will they all keep their heads above water – and find out that they’re #winningatlife?

What did I think about it..

I haven't read, Absolutely Smashing It, the book that precedes this one, which first introduces Gemma and her children, Sam and Ava, but that really didn't matter as I was soon caught up in Gemma's world as she struggles with being a single parent, whilst at the same time trying to keep her home and burgeoning love life on track.

There's so much to enjoy in this novel which looks at all the vagaries of modern life, from getting your children up and ready for school, juggling a full time and demanding job, to all those other complicated bits and pieces which make up the minutiae of the daily workings of a modern family. When her children's primary school burns down, Gemma, along with her best friend, Becky, somehow gets drawn into the fund raising committee with some really funny results.

I've really enjoyed this light hearted look at families and of the very real problems which can seem absolutely huge at the time and can threaten to get out of all proportion. The author brings her characters alive with a real dollop of realism whilst at the same time keeping everything witty and laugh out loud funny. In particular, Gemma's children Sam and Ava are great little characters and I found myself laughing so much at Ava, she's brilliant and a real breath of fresh air. It's quite sweary in places but never offensive and that adds to its charm as you're never quite sure what the children, particularly Ava is going to say, or do, next.

The author writes well with a light and easy style so that it feels like you're having a chat with your best friend over a coffee or a glass, or two, of wine.

Recommended ✅if you like feisty, fun reads about family, friendship and love.

Kathryn Wallace is an experienced blogger, whose writing career started with a post that she wrote about her front bottom’s run in with some mint and tea tree Original Source shower gel went viral and ended up being ready by more than 30 million people globally. #lifegoals. A full-time working parent, Kathryn somehow finds the time in between regularly losing her shit and screaming “TEETH! HAIR! SHOES” on repeat to update her blog. I know, I Need To Stop Talking, which has around 175,000 followers on Facebook and is growing rapidly. In her spare time, Kathryn likes to lie face down on the sofa screaming silently into a cushion or attempt to convince her children that urination doesn’t require an audience.

Twitter @IKINTST #WinningatLife


Thursday, 13 February 2020

Book Review ~ Beethoven : The Man Revealed by John Suchet

Elliot & Thompson
13 February 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

✰ Updated 250th Anniversary Edition 

You know the music… but do you know the man?

Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the world’s best loved and most influential composers. His life – its dramas, conflicts, loves and losses – is played out in his music.

In this special edition to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth – with a new section featuring his most celebrated pieces – John Suchet shows us the man behind the music. He reveals a difficult and complex character, struggling to continue his profession as musician despite increasing deafness, alienating friends with unprovoked outbursts of anger one moment, overwhelming them with excessive kindness and generosity the next, living in a city in almost constant disarray because of war with France.

This is the real Beethoven, and Suchet brings him faithfully and vividly to life.

What did I think..

Born in Bonn in 1770, Ludwig Van Beethoven would, from a fairly inauspicious start, go to become one of the world's most well loved composers. His musical ability was recognised from an early age and he went on to produce some of our most recognisable pieces of classical music. Beautifully written, John Suchet has, once again, revealed the intricacies of the life behind a fascinating man of music, and includes a comprehensive account of Beethoven's lifestyle and musical legacy in a biography which flows in a very readable way.

For those who have an interest in classical music, this updated anniversary edition about one of the world's finest composers is a real treat and if, like me, you don't know very much about the life and times of classical composers, I am sure that you will this find biography a very readable and fascinating insight into Beethoven's seventeenth century world.

John Suchet is a recognised authority on the composer and shares his in-depth knowledge so generously that, in this 250th anniversary of the great composers's birth, this biography has been a real pleasure to read and enjoy.

John Suchet presents Classic FM’s flagship morning programme. His informative style of presentation, coupled with a deep knowledge of classical music, has won a wide spectrum of new listeners to the station. Before turning to classical music, John was one of the UK’s best known television newscasters, regularly presenting ITN’s flagship News at Ten, as well as all other bulletins, over a period of nearly 20 years. John has been honoured for both roles. He is the author of several bestselling composer biographies, including Beethoven: The Man Revealed.

This updated edition of Suchet’s acclaimed biography contains new material, including a detailed guide to Beethoven’s most important compositions, family tree and timeline.

Twitter @JohnSuchet1


Publication Day Book Review ~ Bad Island by Stanley Donwood

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Hamish Hamiliton
13 February

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
A wild seascape, a distant island, a full moon. Gradually the island grows nearer until we land on a primeval wilderness, rich in vegetation and huge, strange beasts. Time passes and things do not go well for the island. Civilization rises as towers of stone and metal and smoke, choking the undergrowth and the creatures who once moved through it. This is not a happy story and it will not have a happy ending.

Working in his distinctive, monochromatic linocut style, Stanley Donwood carves out a mesmerising, stark parable on environmentalism and the history of humankind.

What did I think about it..

Years ago, at school, I dabbled in learning how to produce images from lino cut. There was something about the starkness of monochromatic images which appealed to my sense of order, so I've been especially thrilled to see a copy of Bad Island which is a beautifully styled graphic depiction of our world through its many evolutionary changes.

There are eighty stark and graphic monochromatic drawings which take the viewer on an emotional journey from the first glimpse of a distant island, with the effects of natural progression, from dinosaurs, through to the industrial age, and beyond, with the ever present and very relevant threat of our imminent environmental destruction.

On opening the book I looked through it quite quickly to get a feel for where the author was taking me, and then, once I'd finished the first look through,  I immediately started again at the beginning and looked, very carefully, at each image, taking in the important message the author was conveying in each thought provoking image.

I've been quite mesmerised by this book which, without any needs for words, puts into stark perspective the changes which have occurred over time, and the warning is, of course, that we face the loss of everything if we continue to ignore the effects of environmental damage.

Bad Island is disturbing, emotional, stark, and quite, quite scary and the effect of its message will stay with me for a long time.

Recommended : Absolutely ✅ 

About the Author

Stanley Donwood is a graphic designer, artist and writer. He has worked with the British band Radiohead since 1994, producing the artwork for all their albums and promotional materials. He is also the author of numerous books including Catacombs of Terror!, Slowly Downward and Small Thoughts. His collaboration with Robert Macfarlane, Ness, will be published in November 2019.




Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Blog Tour ~ Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

Delighted to host a stop on this lovely blog tour

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30 January 2020

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this tour today

Two Lives. Two Loves. One Impossible Choice.

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They've been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible.

But she's wrong. Because on her 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a car accident.

So now it's just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob 'til her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live - perhaps even to love - again.

But then something inexplicable happens, which gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened. But what if there's someone in in her new life who wants her to stay?

What did I think about it..

Throughout the whole of Lydia Bird's story we move seamlessly through a myriad of emotional connections, it will make you laugh out loud one minute, and cry big sobby tears the next, and you won't want to stop turning the pages until Lydia and Freddie's story is complete in all its beautiful detail. I loved Lydia from the start, she's feisty and funny and yet is so consumed by an all encompassing grief that it dominates her every waking thought, she stumbles through her days, only to seek oblivion in comforting thoughts of Freddie.

Those who have experienced great loss will know that gut wrenching emptiness which fills you up and the thought of having just one more glimpse of a loved one is so very tempting that you would do anything to bring them back. With sensitive and compassionate detail the author has captured the very essence of that longing and even though we know, right from the start, that Freddie Hunter is dead, that doesn't stop him from being one of the central characters in The Two Lives of Lydia Bird. What follows is a heartwarming and touching story which will steal your heart and break it into a million small pieces.

I'm deliberately not giving anything of the story away as that would be unforgivable as this beautifully written story should be allowed to evolve without any spoilers, however, it is safe to say that I absolutely loved every minute of reading The Two Lives of Lydia Bird and right from the very start I became totally engrossed in both of her lives, neither one outshining the other and both are equally compelling.

Back in 2018 I was privileged to read an early copy of this author's debut novel. At the time of reviewing One Day in December I wrote " it gave me a joyful feeling that comes from reading written magic ". After reading The Two Lives of Lydia Bird I am still of the opinion that this talented author is a magical weaver of tales, and with each successive story I am sure that she will continue to give us more of her special blend of written magic.

Recommended: Absolutely ✅ It's a perfect read for for lovers of romantic fiction.

Josie Silver is an unashamed romantic who met her husband when she stepped on his foot on his twenty-first birthday. She lives with him, her two young sons, and their cats in a little midlands town in England.

Twitter @JosieSilver_#TheTwoLivesofLydiaBird


Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Blog Tour ~ The Cottage in a Cornish Cove by Cass Grafton

Delighted to be hosting one of today's Blog Tour stops

on Publication Day

Tabby Cow Press
11 February 2020

My thanks to the author and Rachel's Random Resources for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour today

A heart warming tale of discovering all you never wanted is exactly what you needed. 

Orphaned as a baby and raised by indifferent relatives, much of Anna Redding’s happiness as a child came from the long summer holidays spent with an elderly family friend, Aunt Meg, in the quaint village of Polkerran. With Aunt Meg’s passing, Anna is drawn back to the West Country, relocating to the Cornish cove where she was once so happy. Filled with memories, she hopes to perhaps open a B&B and perhaps cross paths with Alex Tremayne again, a local boy she used to have a major crush on and who only had to walk past Anna to make her heart flutter. 

Settling into her new life, and enjoying her work for the older, reclusive and to be honest often exasperating Oliver Seymour, Anna is delighted when Alex reappears in Polkerran and sweeps her off her feet. 

The stars are finally aligned, but just as Anna thinks all she’s ever wished for is within reach, a shock discovery brings everything under threat, and she finds herself living a dream that isn’t hers. Can Anna rescue the new life she has made for herself and, when the testing moment comes, who will be there to hold her hand? 

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove is the first in an uplifting series of romances from Cass Grafton. Get to know the locals, wallow in the quaintness of Polkerran, and fall in love with romance all over again.

What did I think about it..

Anna Redding is at something of a crossroads in her life, but then, fate has a funny old way of interfering, and before she knows it, after an unexpected legacy, Anna is soon heading to the pretty seaside resort of Polkerran, in Cornwall, to take up residence in a gorgeous seaside property that once belonged to a much loved family friend. Anna soon finds herself embraced by the Polkerran people, and being in the heart of this quirky community is what makes this book so special. There's such an abundance of lovely characters who help Anna settle into her new life and it is their warmth and wit which really give the story its heart and soul.

The author really knows how to bring the atmosphere of Cornwall alive and I could soon picture the ruggedness of the Cornish coast and felt the sting of salt water and the cry of the seabirds but most of all I fell in love with Anna, she's such a lovely character, the type of person you would want as a best friend, and I could quite easily see myself sitting in her kitchen, sipping coffee, and eating one of her delicious cream scones.

Sometimes a book comes along at just the right time to fulfill a need, and The  Cottage in a Cornish Cove is definitely one of those comfortable reads which filled me with a lovely warm feeling of contentment. The story flows beautifully and such is Anna's personality that you really start to feel at ease in her company and only want the best for her but hey, this is fiction after all, and the author does a wonderful job of creating tension in some places and heartwarming scenes in others so that neither one outshines the other.

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove is every bit as wonderful as I expected from this talented author and I'm already looking forward to seeing where this series goes in future stories.

An avid bookworm since childhood, Cass Grafton writes the sort of stories she loves to read heart warming, character driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters. 

She leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’. 

Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine but never in the same glass. She has two grown up children and currently splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband and imaginary cats, and England, where she lives with her characters.

Twitter @CassGrafton 

Instagram @cassgraftonauthor


Giveaway to Win 3 x Paperback Copies of The Cottage in a Cornish Cove (Open INT) 

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Worldwide entries welcome. 

Please enter using the Rafflecopter entry below. 

The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. 

Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Susan Grossey

On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast, and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

 I'm delighted to welcome author, Susan Grossey

☼ Good Morning, Susan. Happy Sunday!

What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

My very favourite brunch dish is a stack of Eggo waffles (available in the frozen aisle of any cheap American supermarket, and a Proustian memory from staying with American friends when I was little) with maple syrup carefully drizzled into each little square.

Would you like a pot of English Breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

None of those: please may I have a large glass of iced tea with plenty of ice? I’m teetotal and I can’t bear hot drinks.

Which of your literary heroes are joining us today?

I’d like to bring Jo March from “Little Women”, for her determination to succeed as a writer and her ability to put her foot in it, and Paddington Bear, for his sunny nature, his politeness, and his ability to put his foot in it. I would bring Ross Poldark too, but I’d be too distracted and would drool unbecomingly.

What’s the title of the book nearest to you?

“Girl in a Green Gown” by Carola Hicks – it’s a close look at the portrait of the Arnolfini marriage, currently in the National Gallery in London, and it was recommended so highly by a friend that she gave it to me (and she was right – it’s terrific)


What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?

A complete set of the Poldark novels, which were owned by my mother when she was a young woman

Which book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

“Middlemarch” by George Eliot – everyone tells me it’s wonderful


Do you have a guilty reading pleasure, and if so will you tell us about it?

I download free romances onto my Kindle – usually American, and often involving a damaged man (fireman, farmer, rancher, fisherman – strong but with a soft centre) and a woman who shows him how to love again. They’re uniformly ghastly and predictable, but I just can’t resist.

If the house was on fire which book would you rescue?

“The Little White Horse” by Elizabeth Goudge – I was given my worm-eaten paperback (already about third-hand by then) when I was eight and I re-read it every year

Do you have a reading/writing playlist on Spotify, or a favourite CD to listen to when reading/writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?

I cannot write with any noise at all in the background – I was an only child and am used to quiet surroundings. As for songs to make me happy, anything by Abba or the Bee Gees is bound to do it.

Do you have a favourite place to settle down to read/write?

I sit on the sofa with my legs up on a footstool (a leather elephant that we brought back from holiday in Canada – not the most practical souvenir to transport…), the cat on my ankles and my laptop on my lap. It’s comfortable for about an hour until blood-flow to the feet is halted.

Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?

This writer absolutely needs silence, chocolate biscuits, a laptop (my handwriting is shockingly messy these days) and the encouragement of good friends

What can you tell us about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?

I am about to embark on a new series of books – five historical crime novels set in Cambridge in the 1820s – so I am at the very beginning of my research, which is both daunting and exciting. I’m looking forward to creating/meeting a whole new cast of characters.

Where can we follow you on social media?

• Twitter handle: @ConstablePlank

• Blog/web url: