Uncategorized

Book Post Update … Great reads for all ages

Okay so I have had the pleasure of reading some amazing books this summer. Books bring me so much pleasure and I always feel a rush of excitement when I receive a delivery of upcoming or recently published books to shout about.

So here are a few that I have received over the last few weeks. There is a great mix of genre and age groups here so do take a peek and see if anything grabs your interest. I will chat about them in more detail once I’ve read them but for now I just wanted to give a little shout out to each and every one.

See All the Stars by Kit Frick – published 22nd August 2019 by Simon & Schuster – YA Fiction
Making A Play by Abbi Gaines – published 22nd August 2019 by Simon & Schuster – YA Fiction
Unleashed by Amy McCulloch – published 22nd August 2019 by Simon & Schuster – YA Fiction
Trial by Battle by David Piper – publishes 4th September 2019 by The imperial War Museum – (Imperial War Museum Wartime Classics)
Eight Hours From England by Anthony Quayle – publishes 4th September 2019 by The imperial War Museum – (Imperial War Museum Wartime Classics)
Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt – publishes 4th September 2019 by The imperial War Museum – (Imperial War Museum Wartime Classics)
Living My Best Life by Claire Frost – publishes on the 5th September by Simon & Schuster – Adult Fiction
The Morgans and the Jewel of Bar-Ran by K T Dady was published independently on the 11th December 2018
Her Crown of Fire by Renee April is published by Write Plan on 1st November 2019
Kitty and the Tiger Treasure by Paula Harrison and Jenny Lovlie publishes on 5th September 2019 by Oxford University Press – Young Reader Books
Flambards by K M Payton is reissued on the 5th September 2019 by Oxford university press – Children’s Fiction
Isadora moon Puts on a Show by Harriet Muncaster is published by Oxford University Press on the 5th September 2019 – Young Readers Fiction
Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue by Paula Harrison & Jenny Lovlie is published by Oxford University Press on the 5th September 2019 – Young Readers Fiction
Life Ruins by Danita Kot was published by Simon & Schuster on the 7th February 2019 – Adult Fiction
Jazz Dog by Marie Vogt is published by Oxford University Press on the 5th September – Picture Book
Tibble and Grandpa by Wendy Meddour & Daniel Egneus is published by Oxford University Press on the 5th September 2019 – Picture Book
Winnie & Wilbur: The Bug Safari by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul is published by Oxford University Press on the 5th September 2019 – Picture Books

Thank you for reading and many thanks to the publishers, authors and the lovely Anne Cater for sending me these titles.

Happy reading!

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Debut

Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton

Today is a glorious day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton.

Synopsis

Depression can be hell.

Heartbroken and lonely, the narrator has made an attempt on his own life. Whether he meant to or not he can’t say. But now he’s stuck in his own head, and time is running out.

To save himself, he embarks on a journey across an imagined America, one haunted by his doomed relationship and the memory of a road trip that ended in tragedy.

Help arrives in the guise of Jon Bon Jovi, rock star and childhood hero. An unlikely spirit guide, perhaps, but he’s going to give it a shot…

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My thoughts…

Now to be honest there is a lot of strong language and sexual references in this book. The language is crude and raw at times but can I just say that it is oh so beautiful. Dan’s writing is eloquent and emotive. I was absorbed into the storytelling by the strange surreal, nightmarish quality. It is absolutely compelling, poetic and powerful. Dan shows such sensitivity that he moved me to tears on more than one occasion. Johnny Ruin is an absolutely stunning read that will grab you hard by the heart and soul.

One line that particularly stands out for me ‘I thought you’d be taller‘. Read the book and find it yourself. Perhaps you’ll see what I mean but to me this one sentence encapsulates depression perfectly. It looms over life filling it with shadow and sadness before attaching itself, heavy and suffocating. Dan has written depression in it’s very darkest moments, he gives it a form and in that is turning it into something that can be defeated. It can try to hide from the light but it will be found. Despair can feel overwhelming and Johnny Ruin shows this but it also shows that there is still life out there even in times when we feel there is no future. This is a story of broken hearts and broken dreams but most of all it’s a story about finding your way, even through the dark.

Johnny Ruin has been published by Unbound and is available in hardback, paperback, eBook and audiobook.

Many thanks to the wonderful Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. Many thanks also to Dan and the lovely people at Unbound for sending me a review copy.

About the author

Dan Dalton

1-3Dan Dalton is a writer and freelance journalist covering books and pop culture. He is a former Staff Writer at BuzzFeed.

A graduate of the University of Leeds, he was born in West Yorkshire, and lives in North London.

You can follow Dan on Twitter at @wordsbydan

 

 

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Debut, Love, Review, Summer Reads

Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls and even better than that it publishes TODAY!

Synopsis

Owen Nicholls’ Love, Unscripted is an uplifting love story, following film projectionist
Nick as he tries to understand the difference between love on the silver screen and love
in real life. Perfect for fans of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby and Laura Barnett.

For Nick, love should look like it does on the big screen. And when he meets Ellie on the
eve of the 2008 presidential election, it finally does. For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job as a film projectionist in his local cinema. Life seemed picture-
perfect. But now it’s 2012, Ellie has moved out and Nick’s trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

With Ellie gone and his life falling part, Nick wonders if their romance could ever be as perfect as the night they met.

Can love really be as it is in the movies?

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My thoughts…

Oh but this novel is a complete joy to read. A delicious love story that has sufficient angst and ‘will they won’t they’ moments that swept me away. As a film lover I adored the references scattered throughout and I loved the sections featuring Nick’s job as a film projectionist, especially at a time that covered the inevitable move from 35mm to digital. This novel is not only about Nick’s love for Ellie and his journey of discovery as to where it all went wrong but also a nod to historical changes happening in the world at this time (beginning with Obama becoming President of the United States). Can such changes mean an inevitable death or simply a chance for new beginnings?

Ellie and Nick are quite obviously made for each other but as we join there story she has moved out. The beginning if the end. We have Nick’s viewpoint on things and so often events aren’t quite as they seem but gradually he comes to realise what actually went wrong and where the fault lies. Relationships are never straightforward and Nick does at times seem hellbent on self destruction and had me shouting at the book ‘You Idiot!’ on more than one occasion. I have to say that it was only because I am a total believer in true love and I so wanted these too characters work it out and fall back into each other’s lives. Owen’s writing is a joy to read. His plot was faultless, funny and moving. My favourite moment is a toss up between the visit to the Cannes Film Festival or the bathroom window incident – both made me laugh out loud. I can so see this being adapted into a screenplay or film. Love, Unscripted is deserving of a permanent place on my bookshelf for a reread on many occasions and I wholeheartedly recommend inviting this wonderfully uplifting read into your lives.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the lovely people at Headline Review for sending me a copy. It was an absolute joy.

 

About the author

Owen Nicholls

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Owen Nicholls is a screenwriter with a Masters in Scriptwriting from the UEA. His work has appeared in Empire and NME, and earlier this year Love, Unscripted was selected for the Escalator Scheme run by Writers’ Centre in Norwich.

You can follow One on Twitter at @OwenNicholls

 

 

Love, Unscripted is published in hardback on August the 22nd by Headline Review.

It is also available on eBook and Audiobook.  the paperback is scheduled for publication in February 2020 but believe me you don’t want to have to wait until then to read this.

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Adult Fiction, Family Drama, Fiction, Netgalley, Review

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die by Shirshenda Muckhopadhyay

Synopsis

At eighteen, Somlata married into the Mitras: a once noble Bengali household whose descendants have taken to pawning off the family gold to keep up appearances.

When Pishima, the embittered matriarch, dies, Somlata is the first to discover her aunt-in-law’s body – and her sharp-tongued ghost.

First demanding that Somlata hide her gold from the family’s prying hands, Pishima’s ghost continues to wreak havoc on the Mitras. Secrets spilt, cooking spoilt, Somlata finds herself at the centre of the chaos. And as the family teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, it looks like it’s up to her to fix it.

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is a frenetic, funny and fresh novel about three generations of Mitra women, a jewellery box, and the rickety family they hold together.

My thoughts…

This was an interesting and engaging read. I was greatly intrigued by the title and the synopsis. This novel brings this Bengali family to life with colour and wit. The aunt of the title is cantankerous and difficult and leaves as much of a shadow on the family in death as in life. Young Somlata who has recently married into the Mitra family and after discovering her aunt-in-law’s body (and her lingering spirit) has more to deal with than an average young Bengali family. Her aunt-in-law seems hellbent on making life difficult and full of hatred and spite for her surviving family. Yet in many ways her choosing to reveal herself to young Somlata seems the obvious choice as the young girl proves that she can more than hold her own in this chaotic family.

A short but fascinating story that was highly enjoyable and a wonderful snapshot into a culture very different my own.

Thank you to the Netgalley and the publisher, John Murray for my review copy.

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is available in hardback, eBook and on Audiobook, with a paperback edition coming in 2020.

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Relationship Stories, Romance, Summer Reads

The Last Concerto by Sara Alexander

Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Last Concerto by Sara Alexander.

Synopsis

Sardinia, 1968.

Eleven-year-old Alba Fresu’s brother, and her father, Bruno, are abducted by criminals who mistake Bruno for a rich man. After a gruelling journey through the countryside, the two are eventually released – but the experience leaves Alba shaken and unable to readjust to normal life.

Accompanying her mother to cleaning jobs, Alba visits the villa of an eccentric Signora and touches the keys of a piano for the first time. The instrument’s spell is immediate. During secret lessons, forbidden by her mother, Alba is at last able to express emotions too powerful for words alone. Ignoring her parents’ wishes, she accepts a scholarship to the Rome conservatoire. There she immerses herself in a vibrant world of art and a passionate affair.

But her path will lead her to a crossroads, and Alba will have to decide how to reconcile her talent with her longing for love and her family…

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My thoughts…

This is an incredibly beautifully written novel. The story is engrossing and Sara’s use of language, imagery and her characterisation create a deeply moving and engrossing story. Alba’s life on Sardinia is far from easy. Restricted by family traditions and expectations, along with the trauma and guilt that weighs her down after the abduction of her father and brother, her home life is far from happy. Those closest to her see her only as a difficult, silent child who brings grief and trouble to the family. Yet Signora Elias, a local woman who her mother cleans for, spots a talent burning bright within Alba. This kind, generous old woman takes her under her wing and teaches her the piano. Alba finally finds a way to express the torrent of emotions within and releases a unique talent from within. So many times I felt the injustice of the treatment towards Alba that watching her flourish through her music was a complete joy.

I met author, Sara Alexander at Destination HQ earlier this summer. Listening to her briefly talk about this book I was immediately intrigued to know more. She seemed such a charismatic and vibrant person and spoke of both the novel and her love of music and food (touching briefly on her produce grown on her own allotment). I could tell that she was incredibly proud of her Sardinian ancestry and I felt that such a colourful person would produce an interesting and animated story. During the evening we bonded briefly over our shared love of allotment life and I was excited to receive a copy of both this and her previous novel The Secret Legacy. I’m so glad that I did because she writes beautifully and all that charisma, colour, vibrancy and knowledge seeps into the story to create an absolutely stunning novel. She reminded me a little of Victoria Hislop, although I try to avoid author comparisons, Sara’s ability to bring Sardinia alive did bring Victoria to mind. I love the way she uses music so wonderfully and her articulation and sentence structure is superb. So many of my senses were engaged whilst reading. She conjures a piece of music to your mind with words alone, the atmosphere and emotion are all there. The same goes when she talks about food, such an important part of family life and skilfully used to bring moments with the story to life.

As for Alba’s journey well of course it isn’t easy but she is a wonderful character to follow and her story is one with joy as well as sadness. Be swept away to Italy with this gorgeous novel, it is an absolute delight from start to finish.

Thank you so much to the lovely people at HQ Stories for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for the review copy. It is wonderful and I now look forward to reading Sara’s previous novels, Under A Sardinian Sky and The Secret legacy.

As well as being a incredibly talented novelist, Sara is also and actress and I have to say my son was VERY IMPRESSED that I chatted with an actress who had appeared in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Every time we watch it (and we do quite a lot) I remind him ‘I met her!’ 🙂

About the author

Sara Alexander

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Sara Alexander attended Hamstead School, went on to graduate from the University of Bristol, with a BA hons in Theatre, Film & TV. She followed on to complete her postgraduate diploma in acting from Drama Studio London. She has worked extensively in the theatre, film and television industries, including roles in much-loved productions such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Doctor Who, and Franco Zeffirelli’s Sparrow. She is based in London.

Find out more about Sara by visiting her website at http://www.saraalexander.net

You can follow Sara on Twitter at @AuthorSaraAlex

You can find Sara on Instagram at @sarajalexander

Birthday, Time to talk

If you were me how would you spend your last day of being 45? At Sissinghurst Castle of course. P.s. It’s my birthday

It’s my birthday. I am 46. How we feel about age is a very personal thing. To some that will seem young, sprightly even and to others… well it’s getting on a bit. To me I’ve been back and forth. As any fellow Facebook users will know there are constant reminders of what you were doing, thinking and maybe even eating in years gone by and today a couple of memories flashed up for me on how old I was starting to feel. It made me realise how irrelevant these feelings actually are because within a moment they are lost as time continues to march on. Then before we know it another year has gone and we’re feeling older yet. 🙂 But the reality is that to get older is far better than the alternative.

So how did I spend my last day of being 45? I had a rather wonderful time at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. It was the home of Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West and boasts stunning gardens and the most beautiful tower that is home to Vita’s writing room, filled with personal objects and books that have been in place since her death in 1962. It provides a fascinating insight into this fascinating author and gardener. It was the most splendid of days spent with dear friends and ww were blessed with lovely weather. As we wondered and chatted we moved on to the subject of getting older and I remarked how strange it was that I felt the same inside as I was twenty years ago and it was only when glancing in the mirror that I saw the advance of age. Of course my life has changed greatly in those twenty years but I feel as though they have gone in a flash. ‘That is what I find difficult.’ I said. “How quickly it all seems to go.”

She agreed and it reminded me that it is the same for each and every one of us.

The Gazebo offered stunning fews out across the beautiful Kent countryside.  A perfect place to escape for some peace and quiet.
The magnificent tower that held Vita’s writing room. She spent vast amounts of time here, generally after a day spent gardening.
Stunning views from the top of the tower.
Beautiful inside and out.
This was a beautiful spot looking down the moat.  It was incredibly peaceful.  The seating area was a also home to a new ‘Thyme Lawn’ whose planting was inspired by Vita herself.  

It was the perfect way to spend the day before my age goes up another notch.

Of course I do have to play the ‘female’ card when it comes to getting older. I never imagined just how challenging the changes we go through would be. There is of course so much more understanding of the way the female body changes. Not that long ago the peri menopause wasn’t really recognised but now I know that my hormones are to blame for a great deal. This understanding really is helpful in those times when I struggle. Of course anxiety is something that I have lived with for quite some time but hormones bring a whole new level to this rather debilitating condition. The nights when my heart races and I feel hot, stuffy and panicky for absolutely no reason at all, the times when my mood swings like a pendulum and I have no idea why I’m suddenly so bloody pissed off. Aaaah.. 🙂 I write this only for other women out there going through the same or similar symptoms. It’s normal. I could go on and on of course. The weight gain (especially in the stomach area), the sensitivity to certain foods that leave me blown up like a balloon (although having been a sufferer of IBS for some years now this can not be entirely blamed on PM). For the female body it’s a beautiful time – not. I have moments when I have no idea who I am anymore… it has been rather unnerving but I am coming to terms with the changes and I hope I can navigate my way through to the other side.  There is no reason why I shouldn’t after all it’s not a new thing, women have been going through it for ever.  It’s finding the antidotes that work for you that is important.  For me yoga, sleep, reading and gardening all seem to help.  I try not to pack too much into my life and skim down the things that I really don’t enjoy or bring me only stress.   I have come to the conclusion that to say NO is okay and is something I need to do. I know what is important now.

As I woke today on my 46th birthday I thought ‘actually I feel okay’. Yes I do look older then I did 5, 10 and 20 years ago but I am older and with each year comes a bucket full of wonderful memories and experiences that make me the person I am. I am very blessed in my life and to be honest there isn’t much that I would change. We all have challenges to face and things that make us unhappy but I think the key is to have gratitude for the good in life, the things that make our hearts smile rather than hurt.  The smiles are like a plaster, they can’t take a wound but they can help it heal.

Today I shall be mostly enjoying tea, cake, a glass or two of gin and perhaps a good book.  What else can a (slightly older) girl ask for. It is raining though which means that I just spent a good 10 seconds blowing a raspberry at the weather as I would have rather liked a nice ride on my next bicycle.

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Summer 2016
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Summer 2017
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Summer 2018
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Spring 2019
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Off to bed and ready to turn 46!
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And me… once upon a time.
Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Fiction, Thriller, Uncategorized

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

Synopsis

The victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Whose side would you take?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister’s wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

Jodie’s own best friend doesn’t even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her. Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?

Thrilling, brave and explosive, Take It Back is a masterclass in storytelling and will hold you in rapture until the final, breathtaking page.

My Review

This is a fantastically written taut drama that had me gripped right until the very end. Brilliantly plotted and structured throughout this is an absolute corker of a novel.

Zara Kaleel is a damaged character in herself. She fights against so many hurdles; her family honour, religion and ultimately her own guilt. She turned her back on a successful career as a barrister because she wanted to make a real difference and help people. Yet this latest victim may be the straw that broke the camel’s back. This is a very complex issue and is so much more than an accusation by a girl against four boys, this is an accusation of a white disabled girl against four muslim boys. In helping Jodie, Zara is seen as turning against her own but all she cares about it bringing justice for the victim.

Author Kia Abdullah highlights so many issues in the novel. Jodie is a disfigured young girl and so doubt is instantly placed on her claims – why would four, handsome young men attack her? Throughout the novel there is a shadow of doubt over both sides of the stories and it brilliantly highlights how difficult such cases are to take through the courts. This is a complex case that sends waves of conflict beyond the local community, including Zara’s own family. Kia manages to put in plenty of twists and turns, and I have to say the ending was rather superb.

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Many thanks to the lovely people at HQ Stories for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for sending me the review copy for an honest review. They have a fantastic selection of novels being published this year so do check out their website via the link above.

About the author

Kia Abdullah

Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer. She has contributed to The Guardian , BBC, and Channel 4 News, and most recently The New York Times commenting on a variety of issues affecting the Muslim community. Kia currently travels the world as one half of the travel blog Atlas & Boots, which receives over 200,000 views per month.

Visit Kia’s website at Kiaabdullah.com