Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Historical Fiction, Literary

JSS BACH by Martin Goodman

Today I’m so thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for extraordinary JSS Bach by Martin Goodman

J SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do. Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog. The author’s writing is a wonderland, captivating and drawing the reader in to the presented world. Time becomes no object as a literary universe unfolds and carries the reader through eighty years, where emotions are real and raw and beautifully given.


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This is such an extraordinary novel and a beautiful piece of literary based on very real events.  A novel that is both beautiful and yet heartbreaking at the same time.  There is no shortage of books inspired by the holocaust and the horrors endured by the Jewish community living in Germany and beyond, but I feel that it is a story that needs to be told again and again and again.  Martin Goodman approaches the subject in a unique and beautiful direction.   This is not only an example of the evil that can be found in our world but also of the beauty.  Otto endured so much when taken to a concentration camp where he spent the early war years.  Through his story Martin explores the despicable treatment that the Jewish community faced in what the Nazi’s considered the need for ‘purity’.  How does one endure so much hate?  For Otto an escape into his love of music literally saves his life but in doing so also entwines his path with that of the wife of a German Nazi officer, the effects of which will be felt throughout the rest of his life.

This is an absolutely stunning novel that tackles this heavily covered subject with new vigour and fresh perspective.  The ripples of what happened during this time in history need to be remembered, now more than ever.  An absolutely stunning piece of writing that I thoroughly recommend.

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Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.  I am again stunned by the quality and beauty of the books you bring to me.

JSS Bach by Martin Goodman is published by Wrecking Ball Press 

About the author

Martin Goodman

1-5Martin Goodman was born in Leicester, and has lived and worked in China, Qatar, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and France. Travel forms a large part of his writing: both for strictly travel-related books and also for novels and biographies. His first novel ON BENDED KNEES was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize, and his most recent biography SUFFER AND SURVIVE won 1st Prize, Basis of Medicine in the BMA Book Awards 2008. He is the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull. He lives in Hull, London and the French Pyrenees. ‘Such narrow, narrow confines we live in. Every so often, one of us primates escapes these dimensions, as Martin Goodman did. All we can do is rattle the bars and look after him as he runs into the hills. We wait for his letters home.’; ~ The Los Angeles Times

Website : http://www.martingoodman.com/
Twitter : @MartinGoodman2

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Family Drama, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland

Today I’m delighted to take part in the blog tour for Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland.

 

Keep You Close is the heart-pounding, twisty follow up to Need to Know, one of 2018’s biggest thriller debuts.

‘A strange sensation runs through me, a feeling that I don’t know this person in front of me, even though he matters more to me than anyone ever has, than anyone ever will. ‘

You go into your son’s bedroom. It’s the usual mess. You tidy up some dirty plates,

pick up some clothes, open the wardrobe to put them away.
And that’s when you find it. Something so shocking it doesn’t seem real.

And you realise a horrifying truth…
Your own son might be dangerous…

Karen Cleveland brings her trademark themes of domesticity and deceit to bear in this gripping new stand-alone thriller that will make you question how much you really know about the child you raised.

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Goodness, this was super thriller with lots of twists and turns along the way.  Steph is an FBI agent woking Internal Affairs, picking up enemies along the way but driven by her pursuit to protect the innocent from the bad.  But what happens when the bad guy appears a little too close to home?  Suddenly she is filled with fear in the one place she should feel the safest, with the one person she knows the best… or she thinks she knows the best.  As her life begins to unravel Steph is forced to face the reality that her son might juts be a stranger to her and that the past always has a way of catching up with you.

This is a taught, highly charged thriller and one I thoroughly enjoyed.  As a mother I really felt for Steph.  We worry that our children will slip away from us but she faces a parents worst nightmare and some.  Karen carries the tension right the way through and has you wondering just what else Steph has to lose before this thing is finally over.  I have to say that after much consideration of ‘what would I do?’, I have to say I probably would have done exactly as Steph did in the end.  And I’m kind of hoping there might be more to come with this story…

A perfect summer read, it will keep you reading late into the night.

Thanks so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Keep You Close is published by Bantam Press (a division of Penguin Books) on June 27th 2019 and is available in both print and eBook, and also on Audible.

About the author

Karen Cleveland

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Karen Cleveland spent eight years as a CIA analyst, focusing on counterterrorism and working briefly on rotation to the FBI. She has master’s degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard University.  She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two young sons.

 

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Blog Tour, Debut, Memoir

Minor Monuments by Ian Maleney

Welcome to Tales Before Bedtime and I’m thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Minor Monuments by Ian Maleney.

Minor Monuments is a collection of essays about family, memory, and music. Mostly set in rural Irish midlands, on a small family farm not far from the river Shannon. The book tracks the final years of Maleney’s grandfather’s life, and looks at his experience with Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as the experiences of the people closest to him. 

Using his grandfather’s memory loss as a spur, the essays ask what it means to call a place home, how we establish ourselves in a place, and how we record our experiences of a place.

 The nature of familial and social bonds, the way a relationship is altered by observing and recording it, the influence of tradition and history, the question of belonging – these are the questions which come up again and again. 

Using episodes from his own life, and drawing on the works of artists like Pat Collins, Seamus Heaney, John Berger, and Brian Eno, Maleney examines how certain ways of listening and looking might bring us closer to each other, or keep us apart. 

What is it the binds us to others and to ourselves? If we can no longer remember, then how can remember who we are? Once we leave the house we call home, are we ever truly able to return to that place – that we have recreated in our imagination? 

Minor Monuments is a thought provoking and quietly devastating meditation on family, and how even the smallest story is no minor event.

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Sound intriguing doesn’t it?  There is so much in this brief synopsis that drew me to this book.  The enquiring look into ‘home’ and what it can mean to us.  The names Seamus Heaney and John Berger also struck a cord.  But it’s memory that intrigues me.  How our memory effects us and also diseases that effect it such as Alzheimer’s, something that is becoming far too common place,  and of course that one line that reads ‘If we can no longer remember, then how can we remember who we are?’

This is an absolutely stunning collection of writing.  Ian shares so much with us and writes in such a warm, intimate and honest way.  I felt in many ways that this book is about the nakedness of the end of life of someone close to us.  We begin to notice things never seen before, things that then become memories that we return to over and over again.  But memory is a tricky fella.

Yet as we witness John Joe’s demise there is also a sense of hope and great love.  The things that only come from memories of the life that was before the disease took hold.  I think the way that Ian moves from subject matter to subject matter, memory to memory avoids this feeling desperate and sad.  It isn’t after all just a book about Alzheimer’s but also about processing our own grief and keeping those we love alive within our memories.

He was in the process of forgetting everything he’d ever known. He was fading out of the world, and I began to grieve long before the death was final. I wanted to record whatever it was he might say before it was too late. Not because what he had to say was particularly significant or even memorable, but because no one would ever say anything like it again.

It is heartrendingly sad in parts, but Ian writes with such beauty that it lifts the soul even so.  It was like listening to someone talk who you simply can’t pull yourself away from.  A wonderful conversationalist that uses words and sentences so beautifully that you almost feel you are living it right there with him.

There is so much more that I could say about this collection but I don’t want to spoil the journey for you.  I urge you to read it though and I think there will be much to discuss once you do.  I’m sure there is something in this book that each and every one of us will be able to connect to.  My only regret is that my reviewing schedule of late has meant I had to read this much faster then I would have liked but it totally swept me away and I very much look forward to returning to the pages at a slower pace once again.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.  So many wonderful books you bring to my door. 🙂

Thank you also to Ian for sharing tyour experience and memories with us.

About the author

Ian Maleney

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Ian Maleney is a writer based in Dublin. Born and raised in Co Offaly, he works as a freelance arts journalist and as an online editor at Stinging Fly. He is the founder of Fallow Media, an interdisciplinary journal for music, photography, and long form writing on the internet. Minor Monuments is his debut.

 

 

This blog tour will run until July 1st. Please do check out the post by my fellow bloggers.  Full details below.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Suspense, Thriller

Wolves At The Door by Gunnar Staalesen

Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Wolves At The Door by Gunnar Staalesen, yet another cracker from fabulous Orenda Books.

One dark January night a car drives at high speed towards PI Varg Veum, and
comes very close to killing him. Veum is certain this is no accident, following so
soon after the deaths of two jailed men who were convicted for their
participation in a case of child pornography and sexual assault … crimes that
Veum himself once stood wrongly accused of committing.
While the guilty men were apparently killed accidentally, Varg suspects that
there is something more sinister at play … and that he’s on the death list of someone still at large.

Fearing for his life, Veum begins to investigate the old case, interviewing the
victims of abuse and delving deeper into the brutal crimes, with shocking
results. The wolves are no longer in the dark … they are at his door. And they want vengeance.

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It begins with our protagonist experiencing an unnerving event where he gets run off the road. Was it just a reckless driver or did they intend to cause him harm. He’s on edge as he knows of two others tied up in his past recently ‘died suddenly and unexpectedly’. So what is waiting in his past that could cause someone to want him dead? Veum takes us back to when he was falsely accused of child abuse. Two out of three men accused and convicted are now dead and so Veum begins to wonder if his near miss is related. Someone wants vengeance and the past is hurtling back to haunt him!

I love the way Gunnar has written Veum. His voice is incredibly clear and the style has the feel of an old gangster story but Gunner has brought it bang up to date. The subject matter has the perfect balance of being a strong part of the plot but not gratuitous or over done. The tension is there from the get go and continues well throughout the novel. Veum is concerned for his own safety but as he digs deeper and deeper he begins to uncover events that not only put his own safety at risk but also of those closest to him. Can he discover who is behind the threat before him in time or will he still be forced to pay for a crime he never committed.

A thrilling and gritty read that is another great addition to the name Nordic Noir.

Thanks so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and to the wonderful team at Orenda for the review copy.

About the author

Gunnar Staalesen

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One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty-three titles, which have been published in twenty-six countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is currently being filmed. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.

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Blog Tour, Poetry

The Sea Refuses No River by Bethany Rivers

Today I’m delighted to return to the poetic form and host today’s stop on the blog tour for The Sea Refuse No River by Bethany Rivers.

The journey of grief is a strange one
and one not often talked about in our everyday reality of this society,
but I know what it’s like to dive deep,
down to the bottom of the wreck,
feel the ribs of the wreck,
after losing a parent so young in life

In this collection, the sea refuses no river, there is an acceptance of the pain and an acceptance of the healing moments; the healing journeys.

To quote Adrienne Rich: I came to explore the wreck, and in this collection,
Bethany discovers how, ‘The words are purposes. The words are maps.’

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I love the way Bethany plays with words and structure throughout the entire book to capture moment and emotion.  Each poem perfectly unique.  Her poetry is beautiful, powerful and at times heart wrenching and a perfect example of the healing power of poetry.

That said, a daughter left

without a father, that portrait of grief

never framed, gravity

sucks inwards times, blackness, the end

of a line.  The silence

between stars is like the distance

between us.

  • an excerpt taken from You & I are always the same distance

Now I usually prefer to read poetry in print form – I am a little strange in that I like to feel the words on the paper too. So I did worry that I wouldn’t connect as well with the eBook version that I received to review.  However, this was not a problem at all with this collection.  Bethany’s words did all the work for me and I was pulled in to her journey and touched by her use of language.  Within this collection we explore the effects of loss not only to Bethany but to those around her and in the world we live in today.  Within and In all the children came out, in particular look at the world at large and asks questions of suffering elsewhere.  Yet despite the serious subject matter; through the despair, frustration and great sadness there is a spark of hope that shines through. Our pain and loss become part of us but poetry can help heal the wounds and reminds us that we are never alone in our suffering.

One of my favourite poems (there were many) is February, not only does it capture that bleak time between winter and spring but also the period of darkness between grief and, I don’t want to say healing but perhaps the beginning of the road to healing.  Another is Seven full stops, it’s absolutely fascinating and a wonderful poem to end the collection on.  Interestingly there is not one full stop used.

It really is an incredibly fascinating, well written and stunning collection and I can see myself revisiting it many times and also sharing it with my pupils in the Library at school.

Thank so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

About the author

Bethany Rivers

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Bethany Rivers (M.A. in Creative Writing from Cardiff University) is a poet and author based in Shrewsbury, who has taught creative writing for over eleven years and mentored and coached many writers from the start of their writing project through to publication.

Website : http://www.writingyourvoice.org.uk/
Twitter : @bethanyrivers77
Author page on Facebook

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Suspense, Thriller

The Body Lies by Jo Baker

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Body Lies by Jo Baker.

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote countryside, it’s meant to be a fresh start, away from the big city and the scene of a violent assault she’s desperate to forget.  But despite the distractions of a new life and single motherhood, her nerves continue to jangle.  To make matters worse, a vicious debate about violence against women inflames the tensions and mounting rivalries in her creative writing group.

When a troubled student starts sending in chapters from his novel that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognises herself as the main character in his book – and he has written her a horrific fate.

Will she be able to stop life imitating art before it’s too late?

At once a breathless battle-of-wits and a disarming exploration of sexual politics, The Body Lies is an essential book for our times.

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I don’t think I’ve ever felt such fear for a character.  There is something deeply unsettling within this story.  From the very beginning there is a sense of menace deep rooted within and the tension gradually builds and builds until I could hardly bear it.  For the Friends fans amongst you, there was a point where I considered putting the book in the freezer!

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In all seriousness though this is a riveting read.  Afterwards I thought about how much it had got into my head, how much I actually felt as though I was living the story.  The story is written in a first person narrative.  We watch things unfold as our protagonist does.  We go through the first attack and then everything else that follows.  It was intense.  But it wasn’t just this that made it feel so intimate.  It was only afterwards that I realised that I never even knew what this characters name was.  I looked back through, perhaps I’ve missed it but even now she is nameless.  This is one of the things that made me feel so involved,  I couldn’t segmentize her in my mind as Paula or Emma or whoever.  This had an incredibly powerful effect at pulling me into the story and really living it with her.  Superb.  As I drew closer and closer towards the end it made me smile at the cleverness of this author and the way she writes.

The story itself is dark and delves into the effects of writing.  It is often wondered where writers come up with their stories and some consider that there must be an element of truth there and this story touches on the brilliantly.  Jo uses it as another form of harassment.  Yet of course writers are not actually always writing from experience but this novel just goes to show the power stories and words have.

As the synopsis says The Body Lies  is heavily influenced by sexual politics.  As I read I found myself watching the errors of judgement that our narrator took and wanting to say ‘no, no, no’, to stop the fallout I could see coming.  However, it’s easy to judge when looking in from the comfort of your safe, warm, home how we possibly should react in such circumstances.  Yet our narrator is kind, thoughtful and simply trying to do her best with whatever is thrown at her – she really is not deserving if what happens to her.   But I do think that Jo’s message here is important.  Quite often women are held at fault for things that are out of their control: a situation taken advantage of, the fear of reaction and how to deal with something that you want to just ignore and hope will fade away but feels like a ticking bomb.  This is what forces so many to remain silent. The reaction of how others perceive what is happening is key and can make circumstances even more difficult.   Of course what happens here is extreme but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t women suffering a similar fate.  I’d say that this novel is a lesson in speaking up and remembering that violence or abuse it is never okay.

All in all this is a thrilling, gripping read where there are moments that you may want to look away…but you won’t be able to, not until you turn the very final page.

The Body Lies has been published by Doubleday, an imprint of Penguin Books.

Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and for sharing with me this sleep-depriving read. :). I loved it.

About the author

Jo Baker

1-2JO BAKER is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling LONGBOURN and A COUNTRY ROAD, A TREE. Her new novel, THE BODY LIES, is a thrilling contemporary novel that explores violence against women in fiction but is also a disarming story of sexual politics.

Jo Baker lives with her family in Lancashire.

 

 

You can follow Jo on Twitter at @JoBakerWriter

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2+, 3+, Debut, Picture Books

When Sadness Comes To Call by Eva Eland

Sadness comes to visit unexpectedly. But when you let sadness in, you’ll discover this strange guest is not what it seems.

When Sadness arrives, try not to be afraid: give it a name, listen to it and spend some time together. Maybe all it wants is to know that it’s welcome. This beautiful debut by new author-illustrator talent Eva Eland takes a poignant but uplifting look at dealing with uncomfortable emotions.

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This is such a stunning, touching and emotive picture book.  It looks at embracing sadness and not being afraid when it arrives.  It gives subtle tips on how to deal with it and lets your little ones know that it doesn’t stay forever.  The illustrations are calming and beautiful with soft colours and with just enough on each page to tell the story.

When Sadness Comes to Call  is a beautiful calming story that will be perfect for helping young ones to understand their feelings and accept that they are all a part of life.

When Sadness Comes to Call by Eva Eland was published in Hardback by Andersen Press 

Many thanks to the lovely people at Andersen Press for this stunning review copy.

About the author

Eva Eland

To find out more about Eva please visit her website here.

You can follow Eva on Twitter at EvaEland