Monday 30 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ Postscript by Cecelia Ahern


I'm so excited to be hosting today's final stop on this lovely blog tour


Harper Collins
19 September 2019

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

It's been seven years since Holly Kennedy's husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life. She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry's letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind. Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever.


What did I think about it..

I have to say that PS I love You was one of my favourite books of the new millennium which was, of course, followed by the film of the book with Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank in the lead roles. Time has passed and it's now time to see what's been happening to Holly Kennedy in the seven years since her husband Gerry died.

Holly is now 37 years old and is tentatively moving forward both in her life and personal relationships but when a group, inspired by Gerry's letters to Holly, and calling themselves the PS I Love You Club get in touch asking for Holly's help in writing letters of their own, it brings back all sorts of memories which Holly thought she had buried forever. What then follows is a compassionate and sensitive look at both the burdens and the blessings of experiencing deep love alongside traumatic loss, and of how the grieving process, never straightforward, comes back to haunt you when you least expect it.

The author writes so beautifully that it's hard not to become emotionally attached to all the new characters who flit into and out of the story. There are lots of memorable moments, some will make you laugh out loud, whilst others will make you cry those proper sobby tears which leave you feeling like an emotional wreck, and yet, throughout it all, is a story of tremendous hope and the abiding strength of love.

From the very start of Postscript it feels like you are returning to a group of old friends whose company you have missed, and from the minute you meet up there are no awkward silences, no blurred edges and no gaps in the conversation. However, inevitably Postscript will be judged alongside PS I Love You in terms of content and mass appeal, so I'm pleased to say that, in my opinion, the writing is everything we have come to expect from this talented author, and whilst there are similarities in the style of writing I do think that Postscript is an altogether more mature story but with the same powerful emotional punch.

PS..It would make a great movie...♡



Photo credit: Barry McCall

Cecelia Ahern is one of the biggest selling authors to emerge in the past fifteen years, having sold more than 25 million copies worldwide in over 50 countries. Two of her books have been adapted as major films and she has created several TV series in the US and Germany. Her novel PS I Love You was a New York Times bestseller and huge #1 bestseller in Ireland and the UK. In 2007, it was made into a major film starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. Since PS I Love You was published in 2004, Cecelia has written 13 bestselling novels, two YA novels and, most recently, a critically acclaimed collection of short stories, ROAR which is now in development by: Nicole Kidman and Per Saari’s Blossom Films, Bruna Papandrea’s Made Up Stories and Theresa Park’s Per Capita Productions, along with Ahern’s own Greenlight Go Productions label. Her novels have resonated with readers everywhere through their thoughtful, unique and inspiring storytelling and have won numerous awards. Cecelia lives in Dublin with her family.

Twitter @Cecelia_Ahern #Postscript

@fictionpubteam

@HarperCollins



Sunday 29 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ Eight Hours from England by Anthony Quayle


Thrilled to be hosting one of the final stops on this Blog Tour


Imperial War Museum Classics
26 September 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour

A candid account of SOE operations in occupied Europe described by Andrew Roberts as ‘As well as being one of our greatest actors, Anthony Quayle was an intrepid war hero and his autobiographical novel is one of the greatest adventure stories of the Second World War. Beautifully written and full of pathos and authenticity, it brings alive the terrible moral decisions that have to be taken by soldiers under unimaginable pressures in wartime.’ 


I'm honoured to be able to share an exclusive extract from Eight Hours from England


It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when I heard running feet outside my hut, then Chela’s voice, an octave higher than usual, crying: 

‘Major! Quick, quick! The Germans are coming!’ 

The alarm and urgency in his voice brought me squirming out through the doorway. He must have given a general alarm already, for the Italians had caught fright and were running helter-skelter out of the camp towards the track that led down to the beach. Chela was jigging about with nerves. 

‘Major,’ he pleaded. ‘Please… Please… We cannot stay… run quick.’ He wrung his hands. 

‘Shut up, Chela,’ I said. ‘Calm down and tell me what has happened?’ 

The whole of Chela’s face was contorted with fear. He started to gabble. 

‘They are coming. They are coming. From the south.’ 

‘How do you know this?’ 

‘A shepherd has come running. They have just shot his dog.’ 

The last sentence had a ring of truth: it decided me. 

‘Major.’ There were tears in his eyes. ‘I am responsible for you… Quickly.’ 

By now there was a knot of Americans and British round us, most of them ready carrying their packs and weapons. 

‘All right. Leave camp. Quick as you can. Operators – don’t forget – hang on tight to your crystals and signal plans.’ 

I dived back into the hut. I had few signals to burn; all was ready. I grabbed my pack and gun, and in a moment we were all running down the only track that led out of camp northwards – down the hill to the beach. 

‘How much of a start have we?’ I called to Chela. 

‘Perhaps ten minutes, perhaps half an hour,’ he called back. ‘I don’t know.’ 

The steep track was sodden with rain, and the running feet of seventy men had turned it into a slippery morass. Drake’s feet shot from under him and he landed on his back in the mud. 

‘F— this for a lark,’ he declared as he was pulled to his feet. 

As I ran I found that I was half frightened and half enjoying myself, as though I were taking part in a very exciting game of hare and hounds. 

Now we had reached the beach, and now the only way of escape was up three hundred feet of absolutely bare hill-side. Already my back was aching under the heavy pack, and my heart sank as I surveyed the precipitous slope. 

‘This is where we’ll get it,’ said Nigel. He was fetching his breath in gulps, but at the same time laughing. ‘They’ll pick us off like rabbits as we go up this.’ 

‘The only alternative is to be trapped here on the beach,’ I said. ‘Come on. Up we go.’ 

We began the climb, digging our fingers into the ground, the loose shale slipping away beneath our boots. All about men were swarming up the scree. Grunting and panting we toiled upwards till we were on a level with the abandoned camp. The American sergeant, coming behind me, stopped for a moment to look back. Suddenly he gave a great cry. 

‘There they are! I seen ‘em! I seen ‘em!’ 

‘Where are they, Butch?’ I called over my shoulder. 

‘Coming into camp,’ he panted. ‘I seen ‘em duck behind some rocks.’ 

As I climbed on I thought: ‘This is the end then. I have often wondered how it would come. Now I know. Any moment a bullet will smack into me, and a khaki bundle that was Overton will go tumbling down the hill on to the beach.’



About the Author




Anthony Quayle was a renowned Shakespearean actor, director and film star and during the Second World War was a Special Operations Executive behind enemy lines in Albania. 

Twitter @I_W_M #wartimeclassics

@angelamarymar

#RandomThingsTours






Saturday 28 September 2019

Book Review ~ Balance of the 12 by Ania


A war between the 12 is coming.

A war that could destroy the universe.


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Ania Books
23 July 2019

My thanks to Cameron PR for my copy of this book

The universe was created by 12 energies which turned into the 12 races on earth. Eleven of these races live in secret among mankind, coexisting in precarious harmony and dependent on the Balance between them to keep the universe alive. If one race falls, the universe falls.

With war at the door, a domino effect of events is about to begin that could bring about universal annihilation. Only Jane, a Reader, and Samuel, a human, have the power to save the threatened races and protect the Balance. Unsure of each other and what lies ahead, they have one chance to learn about the true nature of the 12 races. One chance to witness the last Great War of the 12 races. But what they uncover reveals more than they ever believed possible.

Brought together by the Balance, Jane and Samuel must choose to follow the legacy left to them, or to watch as the 12 races erupt in a war that will destroy them all.


What did I think about it..

I'm not a huge reader of fantasy novels but something about this book, with its distinctive cover, appealed to me, and the idea that the races of the Earth had been formed by using 12 energies, was an intriguing one. The races live in secret amongst mankind delicately keeping the balance between them intact because if one of the races fails in this endeavor then the universe is lost. Only Jane, a reader, and Samuel, a human, have the power to save the threatened races and protect the Balance.

The author is obviously passionate about her story and writes with enthusiasm, using skeins of intense imagination to bring this world into fruition. There's an interesting balance between the characters and the interaction between them works, sometimes better in some places than others, however, I admit that could just be because fantasy and imagined worlds are not really in my comfort zone, and  so I may well be missing something.

The book was splendidly marketed within a package which contains a book mark, a candle and an embroidered book bag, all so beautifully produced and aimed at generating a certain ambiance before I had even started to read.  Everything is beautifully produced, and the story imaginative and well considered, however, there is  just a small point which I should mention and that is that the font is in a very neat script which is rather difficult to read comfortably.

Overall, Balance of the 12 is a unique fantasy novel written by an author who shows great potential in her chosen genre.


About the Author

ANIA BO is a translator, researcher and author living in Turkey. Her passion is for Philosophy, in which she holds a masters degree and is about to complete her Phd. Watching her twin girls grow up has taught her more about human nature than all of her research combined.


Twitter @CameronPMtweets






Friday 27 September 2019

Book Review ~ From Bean to Bar : A Chocolate Lovers Guide to Britain by Andrew Baker


“There is a quiet revolution going on among food producers in Britain, and craft chocolate makers are leading the way…”


47319247
AA Publishing
22 August 2019

My thanks to Midas PR for my copy of this lovely book

Journalist and international chocolate judge Andrew Baker spent a year travelling the length and breadth of the UK, from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall, meeting with artisan chocolate makers, discovering their secrets and tasting their wares. The book features the best bean-to-bar ateliers in the UK and gives an insight into other chocolatiers across the country.

From the UK’s biggest artisan chocolate maker and high street staple Hotel Chocolat in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire to Duffy’s which produce some of the UK’s most refined chocolate bars in a humble shed on the outskirts of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, Britain is home to centres of excellence that use the bean to bar process.

The book is packed full of facts about Britain’s chocolate history, practical advice on where to find these chocolatiers, how to become a bean-to-bar maker, and how to take part in one of the most exciting slow food trends.


What did I think about it..


Artisan chocolate is one of life's little luxuries and whilst mass produced chocolate still makes out supermarket shelves groan, working quietly in the background are a growing number of artisans and chocolatiers who are working with cocoa producing countries in order to bring high quality chocolate to more discerning palettes.

This lovely glossy book is divided geographically, starting with Cadbury's in Birmingham, the home of the iconic brand, in search of the sweet taste of childhood. The author's favourite childhood sweet treat was Cadbury's Bournville, mine was Cadbury's Dairy Milk, stuffed full of milky goodness, or so the adverts would have us believe, but which is now so freakishly high in fat and sugar content that I have had to ban it from my diet!

In From Bean to Bar the author, Andrew Baker, has undertaken a trip around Britain searching out the independent food producers and craft chocolate makers, people who are making chocolate in their kitchens, sheds and small factories, and who are making amazing chocolate, quite literally, from Bean to Bar.

As well as an interesting trip around Britain the author shares fascinating facts about chocolate, from how cocoa beans are grown and harvested, to those artisans who acquire cacao beans from small producers, roasting, winnowing, conching and then tempering the chocolate themselves so that each chocolate bar is uniquely made with traceable and sustainable ingredients. It's a fascinating process and is explained in such perfect detail that I will never look at a bar of chocolate in a nonchalant way again.

From Bean to Bar is beautifully photographed and sumptuously produced so that it can't fail to appeal to chocolate lovers everywhere. From Bournville in Birmingham, to the Bonnie Bars and Bon Bons of Scotland, the book is crammed full of interesting facts and snippets of information you never knew you needed to know about small Bean to Bar chocolate producers who are working so tirelessly to bring good quality chocolate to our attention.


About the Author



Andrew Baker is well known in chocolate circles for writing on the subject and is often called upon to judge international chocolate competitions. A long-established journalist, he is Features Editor of the Telegraph Weekend sections and author of Where Am I and Who’s Winning? (Random House). The son of the late, much-loved newsreader Richard Baker, Andrew is an experienced radio broadcaster for Radio Five Live and presents regular podcasts for the Telegraph. Andrew lives in London.

Twitter @ccAndrewBaker #FromBeantoBar

@AA_Lifestyle

@midaspr




Thursday 26 September 2019

Review ~ The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason



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Zaffre
5 September 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my ecopy of this book


1976 Loo and her sister Bee live in a run-down cottage in the middle of nowhere, with their artistic parents and wild siblings. Their mother, Cathy, had hoped to escape to a simpler life; instead the family find themselves isolated and shunned by their neighbours. At the height of the stifling summer, unexplained noises and occurrences in the house begin to disturb the family, until they intrude on every waking moment . . .


NOW Loo, now Lucy, is called back to her childhood home. A group of strangers are looking to discover the truth about the house and the people who lived there. But is Lucy ready to confront what really happened all those years ago?


What did I think about it..

I can well remember the long, hot summer of 1976 when everyone said they would go mad with heat, and for Loo and Bee and their siblings their lives in the isolated cottage at Iron Sike Farm on the Yorkshire Moors are far from idyllic as the villagers treat them with indifference and it is their very isolation which allows imagination to run rife.

With its Gothic setting, the isolation and the sheer weight of supernatural happenings, The Wayward Girls has all the hallmarks of a traditional ghost story. Told in alternating narratives that of Loo in 1976, and then as Lucy as she is known in the here and now, a story emerges which is as complex as it is frightening.

The author writes well and keeps the tension cranked up to high especially when as she describes the struggles the family had in 1976 when mum, Cathy was trying, amidst a certain amount of chaos, to keep the family together. Lucy's struggles in the present as she meets other demands placed upon her forms the basis for the second part of the novel.

The Wayward Girls is an interesting and accomplished debut novel. It's truly creepy in places and made me jump at shadows even though I knew that there was nothing there. I think that setting the earlier part of the book in the stifling heat of the summer of '76 is inspired as it gives an altogether different sort of dynamic to what is, in effect, a spine-chilling ghost story which makes perfect reading for a dark wintery evening !


About the Author


Amanda Mason was born and brought up in Whitby, North Yorks. She studied Theatre at Dartington College of Arts, where she began writing by devising and directing plays. After a few years of earning a very irregular living in lots of odd jobs, including performing in a comedy street magic act, she became a teacher and has worked in the UK, Italy, Spain, and Germany. She now lives in York and has given up teaching for writing. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies. The Wayward Girls, her debut novel, was longlisted for the Deborah Rogers prize.


Twitter @amandajanemason #TheWaywardGirls #KnockOnce

@ZaffreBooks


Wednesday 25 September 2019

Book Review ~ Breakfast in Bogotá by Helen Young

47167349
Unbound
August 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book 

and also for the delicious Fortnum and Mason Chocolate

Bogota, 1947. British architect Luke Vosey has left his past behind to undertake a commission for Anglo-Colombian Oil in South America. For Luke, this new venture seems to offer the chance to start again. But grieving and ashamed of his role in the war, he cannot run from the past or from his nightmares.

Luke finds distraction with the whores of Las Cruces and in the friendship of a young newspaper journalist - and finally with Felisa, a young draughtswoman with a passion for politics. Through her, Luke comes to understand the true broken mood of the people of Colombia, with the country teetering on the brink of civil war. Then a bloody assassination on the streets of the capital sees everything he's worked for destroyed.

As the mob tears the city to shreds, and Luke's past is unveiled, can he survive to save others?


What did I think about it..

In 1947 Luke Vosey is a British architect who has started a new venture for Anglo-Colombian Oil in South America, based in Bogotá. It's an opportunity for Luke to start again after the events of the Second World War but his connection and memories of the past are about to threaten the stability of his future. 

Luke discovers that his time in Bogotá is made all the more complicated by the relationships he makes, particularity with the prostitutes of Las Cruces, and one in particular who reminds him of Catherine, a woman he once loved. His interaction with Felisa, a young draughts-woman, and also with Camilo who is a journalist involved in the political mainstream, adds another interesting dimension to what is, after all, quite a complicated look at this troubled time in Latin-American history.

The author writes well, with a genuine passion for story-telling, bringing to life the political and social turmoil of an unsettled time, after all Columbia was on the brink of Civil War, and so her descriptions of time, and place, have a nice authenticity to them. 

Overall, Breakfast in Bogotá is an interesting story about an unsettled time in the country's Latin-American history, which is delivered with skill and fine attention to detail.



Helen is an author and digital editor. Her debut, The May Queen, was published in 2016. Good Housekeeping termed it an 'unsettling, coming-of-age tale.' Stylist called her 'One to watch.' She is obsessed with questions of identity and geography – namely, the versions of ourselves we carry with us. Breakfast In Bogota is her second novel.


Twitter @helenireneyoung #BreakfastInBogota

@unbounders @Unbound_Digital

@Fortnums


" Bringing new meaning to ‘devouring a book’, discover a world of delicious flavour and explore our collectable chocolate bars – a library of classic and soon-to-be classic flavours. And like any great novel, these are ready to be plucked from the shelves and enjoyed time and time again. Which will you open first?




Tuesday 24 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Bear in the Fifth Floor Flat by John Foley


I'm so happy to be hosting today's Blog Tour top


Quizzical Works in association with Mencap

12
September 2019

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

All profits from sales of this book will go to Mencap
the UK’s leading charity for people with a learning disability.


The Bear in the Fifth Floor Flat is a charming and magical tale exploring love, loss and happiness through the lens of a little girl named Ruthie whose days spent with her dog Scruffy are full of fun and laughter – until certain events change everything. The sudden arrival of an extraordinary teddy bear begins to restore her happiness – and to save her life just in time for Christmas. John’s new book is a poignant and sensitive novel that teaches children the importance of change and how to recognise complex notions like grief, illustrated through his gentle, moving and colourful storytelling.

What did I think about it..

First off it must be said that the cover of this book just made me smile, and that smile continued throughout the whole of the story which is quite magical in places, although there were times when I was reading with a rather big lump in my throat.

The Bear in the Fifth Floor Flat is a collection of three short stories each one a perfect length to be read, either by a confident young reader, or as a story by a grown-up at bedtime. The strap line states that it is "A moving and magical tale of love and loss" and that sums up the story quite perfectly as we follow young Ruthie who initially lives with her mum and dad in a higgledy-piddledy house in North London, near to Hampstead Heath. When her comfortable circumstances change Ruthie needs to draw on every ounce of her strength in order to cope but she does so with the help of some very special companions.

I think this is a really lovely story collection which looks at love and loss in a very special kind of way and deals with the emotional wrench of losing something in a way that young children will relate to in a meaningful way. Ruthie is a lovely little character, her red hair and beaming smile is captured to perfection by the illustrator who, with well her placed line drawings captures the happy moments in delightful black and white drawings. As I said the cover just made me smile, and Ruthie's red hair is amazing, I mean who wouldn't want hair like that !!

The Bear in the Fifth Floor Flat is a perfect blend of happy and sad, love and loss and of madcap dogs, quirky teddy bears and snooty cats. 🐶 🐻 🐱 (shhh.....perfect for Christmas)







About the Author



John Foley is a children’s book author whose previous works include Seven Simple and Slightly Silly Stories and Another Seven Simple and Slightly Silly Stories inspired by summers spent in Hans Christian Andersen’s house in Copenhagen. 

All profits from this book will go to Mencap; as the son of a neurologist who specialised in cerebral palsy, John often heard his father speak about Mencap and their invaluable work for people with a learning disability.


About the Illustrator



Alice Hawthorn is a London-based illustrator who specialises in portraying cats and dogs. She uses a combination of pencil, colour pencils, watercolour, her beloved Rotring pens (which she came across while studying architecture many years ago) and Photoshop.

Her Parson Russell Terrier, Cas, is a constant source of information; with his strong opinions about things, he has a lot of input into her work.


Mencap is the UK’s leading learning disability charity. There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life. People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

People with a learning disability face inequalities in every area of life with almost 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spending less than one hour outside their home on a typical Saturday. They face barriers finding a job, accessing activities in their local community and receiving good quality healthcare. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to health, education, employment and leisure facilities. By supporting Mencap you will be helping to support people with a learning disability to live the life they choose, and to do the things they love.

The book will be available from all Mencap bookshops as well as other key book retailers.


For more information, visit Mencap


Twitter #JohnFoley #TheBearInTheFifthFloorFlat


@quizzicalworks


@midaspr




Monday 23 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ Nothing Else Remains by Robert Scragg



Delighted to host today's stop on this exciting Blog Tour


Allison & Busby
19 September 2019

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

When his old friend Max Brennan turns to him for help, DI Jake Porter gladly throws himself into the case as a distraction from his own troubles, aided by his partner, DS Nick Styles. Brennan’s father and then his girlfriend have gone missing in quick succession and it isn’t long before Brennan himself becomes a victim when he’s attacked in his own home. With events spiralling, and a faceless presence prowling in the background, can Porter and Styles catch a killer before another victim is claimed? 

What did I think about it...


DI Jake Porter of the Homicide and Serious Crime Department makes a welcome return in another exciting story which picks up some six months after the first book in the Porter and Styles series finished. Still reeling from the attack on members of his investigative team, Jake is beginning to feel the pressure of the job and then, he gets word that the girlfriend of his mate, Max Brennan, has gone missing, and Jake is once again pulled into a complicated game of trying to track down a deadly perpetrator before it’s too late for Max and his girlfriend.

What then follows is a complex and convoluted police procedural which follows a criminal mastermind behind a series of unexplained disappearances, which on the surface don’t appear to be linked but with some sharp investigation, Porter and Styles, soon start to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The partnership between these two charismatic detectives is particularly well done as they each bring something quite unique to the relationship, and yet in this continuation they both have something that they’re hiding from each other. 

I remember being impressed with this author’s previous novel in which Porter and Styles made their debut and I’m pleased to report that the duo have gone from strength to strength in this second outing where we get to know more about them as individuals. Porter in particular is quite complex, taciturn and hard working but hiding a hurt so deep it threatens to engulf him. Nick Styles, on the other hand, is the perfect partner, able to keep Porter on the straight and narrow whilst at the same time keeping his own personal life in order.

There is no doubt that this crime series has great potential to run and run and Nothing Else Remains definitely continues the series in great style with a compelling plot which grabs the attention from the beginning, and so exciting is the plot that I started to read the book on a rainy afternoon and didn’t look up for several hours until I had finished the story in one sitting.


About the Author

Photo credit:Tony Whaling

Robert Scragg had a random mix of jobs before taking the dive into crime writing; he’s been a bookseller, pizza deliverer, Karate instructor and Football coach. He lives in Tyne & Wear, is a founding member of the North East Noir crime writers group. 


Twitter @robert_scragg #NothingElseRemains

@AllisonandBusby




Sunday 22 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ An Echo of Scandal by Laura Madeleine



Delighted to be taking part in this exciting Blog Tour


The sumptuous and seductive world of Tangier in the early 20th century is a world where men make decisions and women follow. But Alejandra is determined to secure her independence, at any cost.


Black Swan
19 September 2019

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

In the dead of night, with blood on her hands, she made her escape. Accused of murder, Alejandra flees her home, escaping to the southern edge of Spain, where she faces a life of poverty and destitution. Seduced by the power of the rich and the anonymity that waits across the water in Tangier, Ale makes a bid for a new start. But it will come at a cost: a life of deception. Because Ale’s new friends want to know what she is running from, they want to know who she is and whether they can trust her. Fifty years later, a young American writer wanders the streets of Tangier, searching for inspiration. When he stumbles across a trace of Ale’s life, he finds himself tangled in a story of scandal, love and danger that has not yet reached its end.

What did I think about it..


Alejandra hasn’t had the best of starts to her young life, and when in 1928, she is accused of a heinous crime, she has little choice but to try and escape, however, leaving behind everything she has ever known in Córdoba only makes her life all the more complicated.

Fifty years later in Tangier, Sam Hackett is a young writer who is down on his luck and struggling to make ends meet . When he comes across traces of a forgotten life he is suitably intrigued and sets out to discover as much as he can about the mysterious person he knows only by the initials A.L.

What I have loved about this novel is the way the author seamlessly moves from past to present and brings the heat and glorious colour of Tangier alive in a really exotic way. The sights, sounds and sensations of the market place, the spice, taste and texture of fabulous food, and the tantalising recipes for alcohol infused cocktails all blend together in a clever mixture of intrigue, mystery and danger.

Dual time stories are notoriously difficult to carry off but what works so well in An Echo of Scandal is the way that both time frames are equally compelling. I found that I was just at home in the 1920s as I was in 1978 and I looked forward to spending time with both sets of characters as they each live out the adventure which the author has created for them with so much flair and imagination.

An Echo of Scandal is a beautifully written historical novel by an author who knows how to hold the reader in the palm of her hand. The story is filled with both drama and passion and is gloriously authentic in every detail. I loved it 😊


About the Author



After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, Laura Madeleine changed her mind, and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge. She now writes fiction, as well as recipes, and was formerly the resident cake baker for Domestic Sluttery. She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon, eating cheese and getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom.


Twitter @LauraMadeleine #AnEchoofScandal

@TransworldBooks @hannahbright29

#RandomThingsTours






Saturday 21 September 2019

Hist fic Saturday ~ Blog Tour ~ Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt


On Hist Fic Saturday 

I'm thrilled to be hosting today's stop on this Blog Tour


In September 2019, to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, IWM will launch a wonderful new series with four novels from their archives all set during the Second World War – Imperial War Museums Wartime Classics. 

Originally published to considerable acclaim, these titles were written either during or just after the Second World War and are currently out of print. Each novel is written directly from the author’s own experience and takes the reader right into the heart of the conflict. They all capture the awful absurdity of war and the trauma and chaos of battle as well as some of the fierce loyalties and black humour that can emerge in extraordinary circumstances. 

Living through a time of great upheaval, as we are today, each wartime story brings the reality of war alive in a vivid and profoundly moving way and is a timely reminder of what the previous generations experienced. 

The remarkable IWM Library has an outstanding literary collection and was an integral part of Imperial War Museums from its very beginnings. Alan Jeffreys, (Senior Curator, Second World War, Imperial War Museums) searched the library collection to come up with these four launch titles, all of which deserve a new and wider audience. He has written an introduction to each novel that sets them in context and gives the wider historical background and says, ‘Researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’


IWM
Wartime Classics
26 September 2019

My thanks to the IWM, Angela Martin, and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the opportunity to be part of this Blog Tour


Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt – a murder mystery about opportunism and the black market set against the backdrop of London during the Blitz. ‘With a dead body on the first page and a debonair RAF pilot as the sleuth, this stylish whodunit takes you straight back to Blitzed London and murder most foul. Several plausible suspects, a femme fatale, witty dialogue, memorable scenes and unexpected twists – it boasts everything a great whodunit should have, and more. Andrew Roberts.


My thoughts about it..

WW2 Flight-Lieutenant David Heron is recuperating after a war time injury and has chosen to spend his convalescence in his favourite boarding house in London. When he is rudely awakened with the strange news that the body of a man has been found in the garden everyone in Mrs Meake’s boarding house is immediately under suspicion. David, however, is determined to track down the perpetrator of this heinous crime even though it takes him into some very dangerous situations.

What then follows is an interesting whodunit which is very much in the style of the golden age of sleuthing. The characters take charge from the very start and whilst Flight-Lieutenant Heron is a suave and sophisticated sleuth, he is also very much an old fashioned gentleman, and his considered approach to crime investigation is a real breath of fresh air. However, his air of affability and general bonhomie is about to be tested to the limit as he delves further and further into the clandestine world of the black market.

Plenty Under the Counter is filled with twists, turns and numerous red herrings and is a fascinating snap shot of what it was like to live in wartime London. Written in 1948, there is a definite air of authenticity about it, particularly as the author is using her own experience of living in London during the war years, bringing a real sense of originality to what is, after all, quite a complex murder/mystery.

Plenty Under the Counter is a fascinating addition to the IWM Wartime Classic Collection and will, I’m sure, appeal to those readers who enjoy a good old fashioned crime novel. 


About the Author




Kathleen Hewitt was a British author and playwright who wrote more than 20 novels in her lifetime. She was part of an artistic set in 1930’s London which included Olga Lehman and the poet Roy Campbell.


Twitter @I_W_M #wartimeclassics


@angelamarymar


#randomthingstours



Friday 20 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis, Translated by Gwen Davies



Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of this Blog Tour 


Honno Press
19 September 2019

My thanks to the publisher for my proof copy of this book
and the opportunity to be part of this blog tour

That was the horror of love: your sweetheart could stick a knife into your eyeball and sharpen it a notch every chance they got.

Mari supplements her modest stock as a market-stallholder with the trinkets she acquires clearing the houses of the dead. Living in a tiny cottage by the shore – alone apart from a pet cat and the monkey, Nanw – she surrounds herself with the lives of others, combing through letters she has gleaned and putting up photographs of strangers on her small mantelpiece for company. Mari is looking for something beyond saleable goods and borrowed memories. As she works on cutting a perfect emerald, she inches closer to a discovery that will transform her life and throw her relationships with old friends into relief. To move forward she must shed her life of things past and start again. How she does so is both surprising and shocking…



What did I think about it..

Mari lives in her cottage by the shore with her cat and a monkey called Nanw. Mari supplements her income by running a market stall where she sells the vintage clothing and other trinkets she accumulates from helping her friend Mo who clears the houses of people who have died. Mari comes across as a rather sad character, she is prone to illness and introspection and there's an aura of grief and desolation surrounding her which adds to the overall ambiance of the novel.

The Jeweller is a quirky story which is made all the more interesting for having been translated from its original Welsh, a language which is as fascinating as it is lyrical, and the author's imaginative flair for story telling is complimented by the creativeness of just how strongly the story comes across in translation. It's an intelligently written character driven novel which explores the stifling power of family and of the meaning of friendship. As the story gets deeper it becomes obvious that Mari has a troubled relationship with those around her, often finding more comfort in the pieces of jewelry she collects and then polishes into something beautiful.

The Jeweller is about recognising the emotional pull of the past whilst having the strength to move forward into a more controlled sort of future.

Originally published as Y GEMYDD The Jeweller is published in English by Honno Welsh Women's Press.




About the Author





Caryl Lewis has published eleven Welsh-language books for adults, three novels for young adults and thirteen children’s books. Her novel Martha, Jac a Sianco (Y Lolfa, 2004) won Wales Book of the Year in 2005. Caryl wrote the script for a film based on Martha, Jac a Sianco, which won the Atlantis Prize at the 2009 Moondance Festival. Her television credits include adapting Welsh-language scripts for the acclaimed crime series Y Gwyll/Hinterland.


About the Translator


Photo Credit : Keith Morris

Gwen Davies grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire. She has translated into English the Welsh-language novels of Caryl Lewis, published as Martha, Jack and Shanco (Parthian, 2007) and The Jewellerand is co-translator, with the author, of Robin Llywelyn’s novel, published as White Star by Parthian in 2003. She is the editor of Sing, Sorrow, Sorrow: Dark and Chilling Tales (Seren, 2010). Gwen has edited the literary journal, New Welsh Review, since 2011. She lives in Aberystwyth with her family.

Honno is the UK’s longest standing independent women’s press and is based in Wales. 'Honno' is a Welsh word meaning 'that one (feminine) who is elsewhere'. For more information on this award-winning acclaimed small publisher, visit their website

Honno would like to thank the Welsh Books Council for all their support in publishing this title.


Twitter @honno #TheJeweller

@WriterForster





Thursday 19 September 2019

Publication Day Review ~ The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole




✨✨ Happy Publication Day ✨✨


Elliot & Thompson
19 September 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Alison Menzies for my copy of this lovely book

We love books. We take them to bed with us. They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday. We display them on our bookshelves or store them in our attics. We give them as gifts. We write our names in them. We take them for granted. And all the time, our books are leading a double life.

The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power to change our lives.

In this illuminating account, Tom Mole looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind.

It will change how you think about books.


What did I think about it...

Any bibliophile will be excited about a book about books, and there's something very special about The Secret Life of Books, from the sumptuous red and gold beauty of its cover, to the very readable contents which explains everything you never knew you needed to know about books.

We know that books come in all shapes and sizes, from the pocket size Penguins of old, to the glossy majesty of coffee table books, they entice us with their words and pictures which promise a world full of magic and mystery. I'm not a great traveller, but from the comfort of my arm chair I can go forwards or backwards in time or I can take off and head to exotic locations, and I am able to do this thanks to the imagination of authors who share their stories with me. 

The Secret Life of Books is a wonderfully presented meander through the world of books, looking at what books actually do for us and how they transform us as individuals. And it's not just about stories or the facts contained within, it's about how books become books, how they are part of the treasure of our age - just think about the wealth of history and information which are contained within our libraries, and of the prestigious books and ancient texts which make up our shared history.

The author writes really well and brings his thoughts and feeling about books to life, capturing the very essence of the emotional meaning of books. There is no doubt that our world would be all the poorer without the absolute treasure of books and all the magic that they contain.

If there's a bibliophile in your life, The Secret Life of Books would be a great gift. It's published by Elliot & Thompson and is out today 😊 📖


About the Author

Tom Mole is a professor of English Literature and book History at the University of Edinburgh where he runs the Centre for the History of the Book. He has taught at Universities in the UK and Canada, and has lectured widely in Europe,Australia and North America. he has written or edited several volumes about books and literature, including What the Victorians Made of Romanticism, which won the 2018 Saltire prize for Research Book of the Year. he lives in Edinburgh with his wife and young daughter.


Twitter @ProfTomMole #TheSecretsLifeOfBooks


@eandtbooks



Wednesday 18 September 2019

Review ~ The Colour of Things Unseen by Annee Lawrence


Aurora Metro

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

When Adi leaves his village in Indonesia to take up an art scholarship in Australia, he arrives in the bewildering Sydney art world, determined to succeed. Following his first solo exhibition at a smart art gallery, Adi dares to reveal his true feelings for his outgoing friend, Lisa, and a passionate relationship unfolds. But will their differing expectations of one another drive them apart?

This is a deeply felt love story between people — of different nations, cultures and religions – and the unseen impact of local and global events on individual lives.

My thoughts about it..

Adi lives in a small village in Idonesia and his life is not without tragedy but fortune favours the brave and Adi finds that his life is about to change when he is given the opportunity to study art, a subject he has an affinity with and undoubted skill.  Adi's love of art takes him far away from his home village and when he reaches Australia he finds a very different sort of world with a morality which takes some getting used too, especially, when it comes to painting nude life models in art classes.

The story of Things Unseen is the story of Adi's time in Australia and of the adjustments he must make in order to fit in with a culture with is completely alien to him, but then, he discovers the power of friendship, and no friendship comes greater than that of Marj, his landlady, who becomes a second mother to him. Throughout his considerable time in Australia, it seems that Adi is always trying to fit in,  and his relationship with his girlfriend Lisa is fraught with troubles.

I've found much to enjoy, in the way the author allows the story to evolve slowly so that it becomes so much more than Adi's life story, and whilst its focus is about about love, relationships and family, it's also about trying to belong in a place where you feel out of step with those around you.

The story of Things Unseen is an interesting first novel and I am sure that the author has more stories to tell, and will continue to go from strength to strength.



Annee lives in Australia and has an interest in exploring cross-cultural connection and the way identity shape-shifts in an unfamiliar place and culture. She has close friendship and family ties in Indonesia and was the recipient of an Asialink Arts’ inaugural Tulis Australian-Indonesian Writing Exchange in 2018. As a result, she had a six-week residency at Kommunitas Salihara in Jakarta and was invited to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Prior to becoming a tutor in literary and cultural studies at Western Sydney University in 2014, Annee worked as a writer, editor and community development worker in the areas of women’s health, human rights and social justice. Two of her publications include: I Always Wanted To Be A Tap Dancer: Women With Disabilities and (with Nola Colefax on her memoir) Signs of Change: My Autobiography and History of Australian Theatre of the Deaf 1973–1983. In 1981 she was founding editor of Healthright: A Journal of Women’s Health, Family Planning and Sexuality.
Annee has published articles in New Writing, Griffith Review, Hecate and Cultural Studies Review.

The Colour of Things Unseen is the author's debut novel.

Twitter @AuroraMetro