Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Family Drama, Fiction, Literary, Relationship Stories, Review, Summer Reads

Do Not Feed The Bear by Rachel Elliott

Today I am so thrilled to help kick off the Random Things Tours Blog Tour for Do Not Feed The Bear by Rachel Elliott. My first thoughts upon finishing (as I hugged it close) – What a wonderful book!

On her forty-seventh birthday, Sydney Smith stands on a rooftop and prepares to
jump…

Sydney is a cartoonist and freerunner. Feet constantly twitching, always teetering on the edge of life, she’s never come to terms with the event that ripped her family apart when she was ten years old. And so, on a birthday that she doesn’t want to celebrate, she returns alone to St Ives to face up to her guilt and grief. It’s a trip that turns out to be life-changing – and not only for herself.

DO NOT FEED THE BEAR is a book about lives not yet lived, about the kindness of others and about how, when our worlds stop, we find a way to keep on moving.

A life-affirming novel of love, loss and letting go

– for readers of ELEANOR OLIPHANT,
THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP and WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT.

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Freerunning – there is something that feels quite liberating about it. Parkour UK describe the sport as something that ‘…aims to build confidence, determination, self-discipline and self-reliance, and responsibility for one’s actions. It encourages humility, respect for others and for one’s environment, self-expression, community spirit, and the importance of play, discovery and safety at all times.’ I have of course never personally done it (I don’t have the personal strength of both mind and body) but I found it interesting that throughout the novel Sydney has used it as a way to channel both her guilt and grief. She uses it as an escape, a way to disappear and yet it brings her into the spot light. It’s also something I have never encountered before in a novel and I love it.

As she is reaching her 47th birthday, Sydney returns to St Ives, the scene of a terrible tragedy in her childhood. Her grief is buried deep, as it has been for her family, never enabling them to quite move on. Life has a way of coming full circle though and soon events and people from the past creep back in bringing with it a sense of hope and, if not closure, then the ability to move on.

Do Not Feed The Bear is an exploration of grief and the effect it has on us. It’s funny but only a few days ago I listened to a Happy Place Podcast presented by the wonderful Fearne Cotton featuring the superbly inspiring, Elizabeth Gilbert. She spoke to Fearne about how damaging it can be to suppress our grief, to not allow it the voice it deserves, and as I listened I thought yes, that is so true. Over hundreds of years western society has shown us that it is weak to show our emotions, that they should be held in check and explored privately. Quite often we are afraid to allow ourselves that exploration, as if we may never be able to pull ourselves out again. It can be grief for the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one or the regret of an unfulfilled dream. There are different levels of grief and each and every one deserves our acknowledgment and the freedom to express them. This is touched on brilliantly in this wonderful novel.

This is a book that swept me up into it’s pages; a book that I wanted to hug and cherish all the time I was reading. The characters are unique and multifaceted and Rachel explores their present and their past so exquisitely that I felt bound to them and their journey. She steps perfectly into their minds bringing them alive on the page and oh, how I came to love them. In my minds eye they are still there, hopefully a little lighter in spirit since my time with them ended.

The shadow of events from that fateful summer in Sydney’s childhood has nurtured the pain of loss and this is keenly felt throughout. Yet this isn’t a dark book. Yes there is trauma and sadness and yet I never felt despair, I never felt that I couldn’t carry on reading. I felt their loss and yet Rachel writes with such tenderness and she encapsulates the sense that the dead and lost never really leave us. I found this extremely comforting.

When I’m reading a novel I often fold over corners of pages where a sentence or paragraph has particularly moved me (please don’t judge, I just never have my notebook to hand). There are many turned corners throughout my copy of Do Not Feed The Bear, the writing is stunning, so much care has been taken and every line, for me, was a joy to read. The beauty of the word structure and placement made me often pause and reflect. There is so, so much to connect to within this novel but at the very least there is a wonderful story told about life and the people we are and who we can be if we really want to.

I think one of my favourite characters is Stuart, an unusual but brilliantly written narrator but this story gives a voices to all of these wonderful characters and I urge you to grab yourself a copy and welcome them into your life.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and read the wonderful novel. Thanks also to Tinder Press for sending me the copy. You can follow Tinder Press on twitter at @TinderPress

Do Not Feed The Bear is published on the 8th August 2019 and will be available in Hardback (with a beautiful cover by the way), eBook and on Audiobook . The paperback edition will be coming in April 2020.
#DoNotFeedTheBear by Rachel Elliott Blog Tour with #RandomThingsTours and

About the author

Rachel Elliott

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Rachel Elliott is the author of WHISPERS THROUGH A MEGAPHONE, long-listed for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize in 2016. She is also a practising psychotherapist, and lives in Bath with her miniature schnauzer Henry.

Quickfire Questions with Rachel

Give us three adjectives to best describe your new novel.
Sad, tender, hopeful.

What are the three most important character traits of your protagonist?
Creativity, stubbornness, physical agility.

Where is the novel set?
St Ives, Cornwall, a reimagined version.

What were the last three things you Googled in the name of “research”?
• Did Lego spacemen have removable helmets in 1984?
• How many people could you fit inside a Vauxhall Cavalier?
• David Hockney’s pool paintings

Who is your biggest influence as a writer?
Everyday life is the biggest influence.

What word or phrase do you most overuse in your writing?
The words ridiculous and beautiful. Because I find so many things ridiculous and beautiful.

Who would you cast as your lead character if made into a film/TV?
Claire Danes would make an excellent Sydney Smith.

Do you have any hidden talents?
Unexpectedly, I’m quite handy with a pair of dog clippers, although my dog would disagree.

Which of your characters would you most like to have dinner with?
Belle Schaefer, a 29-year-old bookseller with an old soul. She’s a true outsider, yet a vital part of the community; she has an allotment, volunteers at an otter sanctuary, runs author events, drinks with all the old guys in a pub called the Black Hole. And every now and then, she steals things.

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Adult Fiction, Crime, Fiction, Summer Reads, Suspense, Thriller

Summer Reads – The Closer I Get

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. (Don’t forget to check back through my July post for further summer reading recommendations)

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

Adult Fiction

Here’s the synopsis:
Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.
Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.
When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.
But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.
A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one `like’ away…

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Now, I know I have only posted my review for this quite recently (do have a read of it here) but it really is a super novel and I so wanted to include it in my summer recommendations.
The Closer I Get was published in July 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: 9781912374779

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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, 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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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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Adult Fiction, Crime, Mystery, Summer Reads, Thriller

Summer Reads – About That Night

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.

About That Night by Elaine Bedell

Adult Fiction

 

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Here’s the synopsis:

ELIZABETH PLACE IS THIRTY-FIVE AND SINGLE.

IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE LIKE THIS. 

Elizabeth Place might have been jilted on her wedding day one year ago, but at least she’s still got her brilliant job producing one of the biggest shows on TV!

But when larger-than-life TV host, Ricky Clough, dies live on air, her life is sent spinning out of control. And with foul play suspected, the spotlight is turned firmly on his colleagues – especially Hutch, the man desperate for Ricky’s job and whom Elizabeth is secretly dating.

As her world comes crashing down around her, Elizabeth realises that perhaps the only person she can really trust, is herself…

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I’m really looking forward to reading this one.  This is Elaine’s first novel but she has worked as a BAFTA award-winning TV producer, Controller at the BBC and Director of Entertainment at the BBC and Director of Entertainment & Comedy at ITV.  So she certainly has the insight behind the scenes of the TV industry.  :). I think this one is going to be a cracker.  Review to follow.

About That Night by Elaine Bedell is available now in paperback, eBook and Audiobook.  Visit the publishers (HQ, an imprint of HarperCollins) website here for more information on where you can buy this title (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.) 

Paperback ISBN: 9780008297688

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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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