Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Coming Soon, Debut, Historical Fiction

The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

Today I am so thrilled to be able to chat about The Photographer of the Lost  as part of the Random Things Tours blog tour ahead of publication in October. The blog tour continues tomorrow with Jaffareadstoo (twitter: @jaffareadstoo ) where she will also be revealing the stunning cover so do take a look.  In the meantime here’s the synopsis and my thoughts on this wonderful novel.

Until she knows her husband’s fate, she cannot decide her own…
An epic novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I

1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search.

Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

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This is an absolutely stunning novel.  Beautifully written and heartbreaking it takes a very different approach to the subject of war and the ones who have been left behind.

Edie never really knows what happened to her husband Francis after he was reported missing in action in 1917.  Four years later and she is still no closer to the truth, that is until a photograph arrives in the post from France.  It is a picture of Francis and Edie is sure that it has been taken recently.  She must find answers and so reaches out to Francis’ surviving brother, Harry, for help.  Harry was the last person to see Francis alive and he too wants more than ever to find out what happened to him.

This is one of those novels that I feel I can never write a review good enough to give it justice.  It’s not just the subject matter that Caroline has captured so brilliantly but also that sense of hopelessness that must be felt when there is a lack of closure.  Never really knowing if a loved one is dead or alive.  Through Harry and Edie’s journey to France we see the reality of the post-war period.  Of course we are all familiar with the visions of war torn countries still appearing in the news today but the level of death and destruction during WWI was unprecedented. I recently visited the Imperial War Museum in London and some of the most moving exhibits were those concerning soldiers who lost their lives and the families they left behind.  One particular piece that I found most upsetting was a telegram informing a family of a soldiers death on Christmas Day, 1914.  The actual telegram.  I immediately thought of it arriving and being held in hands that had once held those of that soldier and the heartbreak the news must have brought.  These things make their loss relatable to us, they make it more real.

Yet it must have been equally if not more unbearable to receive a ‘Missing in Action’ telegram.  There is always that sliver of hope that they are still alive and yet how on earth do you move on from that? How do you ever find closure.  And the numbers of missing men.  It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Through The Photographer of the Lost Caroline has explored this through Harry and Edie’s search of Francis.  She moves back and forth through time giving us a deeper insight into what happened to Francis and the unknown fate of many others who went to fight for their country and never came back.  In my own lifetime I have seen countless images of people placing photographs of those missing in terrorist attacks and natural disasters.  The people that never came home and are unaccounted for.  I never knew that this is what people did a hundred years ago.  Pictures of the missing and pictures of the family that are missing them – all placed insight so that they might reunite them together in real life.  It invokes a very powerful image indeed.

Caroline has created a beautiful novel of love and loss.  Her writing is incredibly moving and her vast historical knowledge of this time evident throughout.  She brilliantly brings to life worn-torn France and these characters that are completely unforgettable.  Early on we see the beginning of their love ignite as Edie and Francis come together in a chance meeting at their local library and from that moment I was completely invested in their journey.

He was just a white-toothed grin, disembodied like the Cheshire Cat, and words with a scent of boiled sweets.  But then he was eyes that watched her through the Romantics and the Classics; a flicker of long lashes and clear bright blue-green eyes that creased at the corners, so that she knew he was smiling on the other side. He existed only in fragments and glimpses and elements, and a voice that linked them all.  But then he was a flash of profile, and finally a face that had looked directly down into her own as she had stepped out at the end of the row, as if he had always been there waiting for her.

This except is taken from the proof copy but I wanted to share it as an example of both the quality and beauty of Caroline’s writing. The Photographer of the Lost  is a novel that will stay with me for a long time and one that I thoroughly recommend.  When is comes to love we are not so different to how we were then.  Suffering comes in many packages and I feel that stories such as this are important for reminding us what was lost by so many.

The Photographer of the Lost is published by Simon & Schuster in October but you can pre-order it now.  Check out their website for further details.

Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and the lovely people at Simon & Schuster for my beautiful proof copy.

About the author

Caroline Scott

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Author photo by Johnny Ring

Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history. The Photographer of the Lost is partially inspired by her family history.

You can follow Caroline on Twitter at @CScottBooks

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Fiction, Mystery, Summer Reads, Suspense, Thriller

The Last Stage by Louise Voss

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for the rather excellent The Last Stage by Louise Voss

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At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now she lives incognito in a cottage on the grounds of Minstead House, an old stately home, whilst working in the gift shop. Her past is behind her and she enjoys her new life.

But a series of inexplicable and unsettling incidents have started to happen around her – broken china, vandalised gardens… And when a body is found in the gardens of Minstead House, Meredith realises that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is and who wants to destroy her…

A dark, riveting and chilling psychological thriller, The Final Stage is a study of secrets and obsessions, where innocent acts can have the most terrifying consequences.

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There is such a wonderful amount of thrilling crime novels in out midst at the moment that you would be forgiven for feeling spoilt for choice, The Last Stage, however, is one you must not miss. There is an underlying sense of menace from the very start and Louise brilliantly builds the tension steadily as the novel moves on. At times she has the ability to create a kind of stillness that almost makes you feel as though you are holding your breath before the next devastating scene unfolds.

Meredith Vincent has a colourful past. After living in the public eye as the lead singer of a popular indie band back in the 80’s she is now enjoying a life of obscurity managing the gift shop in a historical house. No-one recognises her and that’s the way she is keen to keep things. Her past is not a place she wants to revisit and most certainly she doesn’t want to be found by the one person who nearly took her life one terror-stricken night over twenty years ago. Unfortunately Meredith soon discovers that the past has a way of catching up with you – especially when someone has vengeance on their mind.

The isolated setting of a stately honest time full to the brim with visitors and yet at others completely devoid of life provided an impressive and atmospheric backdrop for events to unfold. Strange happenings that couldn’t quite be explained and could initially be shrugged off but actually became much more sinister and unsettling as the story moved on.

The Last Stage is a brilliant murder-mystery come psychological thriller. The effect of events on Meredith kept me on edge throughout as her past came hurtling into her present. There was a sense of the inevitable upon finding the body but from there on the twists and turns kept me completely engrossed in this thrilling read. I whole-heartedly add this to my list of Summer Reads and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thank you so much to the lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Through My Letterbox, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the fabulous Orenda Books for sending me the review copy. As always the quality of their fiction is top notch!

The Last Stage was published on July 11th and is available in paperback, on eBook (currently 99p on Amazon) and on Audiobook (I would imagine this is fantastic to listen to!)

About the author

Louise Voss

img_0231Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had eleven novels published – five solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books. Her most recent book, The Old You, was a number one bestseller in eBook. Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crime- writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

 

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Adult Fiction, Crime, Suspense, Thriller

Summer Reads – The Inquiry

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

The Inquiry by Will Caine

Adult Fiction

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Here’s the synopsis:

Former MP Francis Morahan swore never to return to politics. But when he’s asked to chair a government inquiry into the intelligence agencies’ record against terror, it’s clear that it’s an order from the top – not a request.

Sara Shah once teetered on the edge of a dangerous circle. Now a lawyer in a prestigious London firm, she’s put her past behind her. Until a letter delivered by hand summons her to join the Morahan Inquiry.

Duty-bound, Sara accepts. Armed only with a list of names, dodging her one-time connection to the networks she infiltrates, she finds herself led by an anonymous source into the darkest corners of post-9/11 Britain.

What, or who, was the weapon at the heart of British terror?

IT IS A SECRET SOME WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO KEEP HIDDEN.

Westminster’s best-kept secrets are hunted down in this edge-of-your-seat political thriller – perfect for fans of Sam Bourne, Frank Gardner and Mick Herron.

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I love a good thriller and this is most definitely one.  Out in hardback now (paperback is due at the end of the year) and it’s also now available on eBook and Audiobook.  It’s published by HQ and imprint of HarperCollins so check out there website here for more information.

Hardback ISBN: 978008325619

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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11+, 9+, Adventure, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Summer Reads

Summer Reading – Rumblestar

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

Recommended for Middle Grade (9+) & above…

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Here’s the synopsis:

Adventures are unpredictable and often terribly badly behaved – a bit like pickled onions if you’ve ever tried to fork one on a plate – but they have a way of unlocking people and turning them upside down so that all the astonishing things fizzing around inside them start to tumble out…’
 
Eleven-year-old Casper Tock hates risks, is allergic to adventures and shudders at the thought of unpredictable events. So, it comes as a nasty shock to him when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts.
 
All Casper wants is to find a way home, but Rumblestar is in trouble. An evil harpy calledMorg is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to wreak havoc and pave the way for her to steal the Unmapped magic for herself. But Casper cannot turn a blind eye because the future of his own world, he discovers, is bound up with that of the Unmapped Kingdoms. 
 
And so, together with Utterly Thankless, a girl who hates rules and is allergic to behaving, and her miniature dragon, Arlo, Casper embarks upon an adventure full of cloud giants, storm ogres and drizzle hags. Can he, Utterly and Arlo, the unlikeliest of heroes, save the Unmapped Kingdoms and our world from the clutches of Morg and her Midnights?

Live a life filled with adventure with Abi Elphinstone in this brand NEW series where a whole new world is waiting to be discovered…

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Abi Elphinstone’s stories are always filled with wonderful characters, courageous adventures and wonderful worlds.  Discover her today with her latest novel, Rumblestar, the first in The Unmapped Chronicles.  Want to discover more? Check out her earlier novels too. Visit the Simon & Schuster website here for further information.

Rumblestar Paperback ISBN: 9781471173660

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

 

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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7+, 9+, Adventure, Children's Fiction, Magic, Summer Reads, Witches

Summer Reads – Even More Pongwiffy Stories

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

Even More Pongwiffy Stories

illustrated by Katy Riddell

Recommended for YoungReader/Middle Grade (7+) & above…

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Here’s the synopsis:

A brand new bind-up edition of three classic Pongwiffy stories including Pongwiffy and the Pantomime and The Spellovision Song Contest and Back on Track!

Pongwiffy and the rest of the witches need to earn some money, and fast! But every idea they come up with to raise funds seems so BORING … until Pongwiffy suggests they put on a pantomime and sell tickets. Get ready for some theatrical chaos with the witches of Witchway Wood…

In the second story, all the witches are transfixed by spellovision and no one wants to do anything fun anymore. Until Pongwiffy decides to launch a song contest to liven things up!

Finally, Pongwiffy decides that being a witch of dirty habits is holding her back. It’s time to get healthy, but can a witch who prefers sludge to sprouts really get back on track? 

THREE laugh-out-loud stories of humour and warmth, enticingly mixed with much sludge, slime and very bad habits. Now with brand new illustrations from Katy Riddell! 

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Even More Pongwiffy Stories is published by Simon & Schuster and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.). It’s also available on Kindle.

ISBN: 9781471167423

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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2+, 3+, Picture Books, Summer Reads, Superheroes

Summer Reads – SuperKitty

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

SuperKitty by Hannah Whitty & Paula Bowles

Recommended for Young Book Lovers aged 2 & above…

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Here’s the synopsis:

Kitty is fed up of answering phones at the Sensational Superhero Agency and dreams of catching criminals with the superhero gang. But they ALWAYS leave her behind!

Then a call comes in about a stolen dinosaur bone . . . and Kitty takes matters into her own paws, following the superheroes in their pursuit of devious criminal Nefarious Norman!

Will she save the day and prove that small is MIGHTY?

Join Kitty and the gang in this energetic picture book about believing in your own abilities, not judging a book by its cover . . . and girl power!

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Oh my, I LOVE Superkitty.  This is a super cute book with brilliant illustrations.  Definitely one to share with your little book lovers.

SuperKitty was published by Simon&Schuster and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.). 

Paperback ISBN: 9781471175091

It’s also available on Kindle, Hardback and Digital Download.

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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Adult Fiction, Fiction, Summer Reads, Suspense, Thriller

Summer Reads – Call Me Star Girl

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Adult Fiction

 

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Here’s the synopsis:

Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

From the critically acclaimed author of Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost…

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This has got to be one of my favourite reads so far this year (and I’ve read some blooming outstanding books!) I read and reviewed this on Tales at the beginning of the year so please do check out my review here.  This is a brilliantly constructed and taut thriller, and I absolutely loved it.

Call Me Star Girl  was published in April and is available in paperback, eBook and on Audiobook.   Visit the Orenda website here for more information but it should be available in any good bookshop. 

Paperback ISBN: 978-1912374632

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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