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, 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, Debut, Giveaway, Literary, Review, Summer Reads

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

Today I’m delighted to chat about the wonderful debut novel from Alyson Rudd, the First Time Lauren Pailing Died. AND there is a giveaway at the end so do keep reading. 🙂

I remember a time when if fate had allowed I could have died.  It was many years ago now but the details are still as clear as if it happened only yesterday. It was Mother’s Day and I was cycling over to my parents house. I fell off my bike. I can still see myself falling and feel how I seemed to tumble in slow motion as I lost control of my bike and it toppled over. It was pretty busy that day and I fell to my right, straight into the path of the cars travelling alongside me. I still realise how lucky I was that the driver of the car was not distracted at that very moment or driving too fast. If he had been then Mothers Day could have ended very differently indeed and many things that now exist in this world, including my rather wonderful son, would not be here.

The possibility leaves me with a chill every now and then when I think of it. We all have those moments when life stands at a very obvious crossroads and can veer off into different directions. Of course we may not always notice them but they are often there. I found this a very interesting aspect of The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd. It’s something that has always fascinated me. Sliding Doors, a 1998 film staring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah that looked at different choices or situations taking us on different paths leading to a very different or possibly ultimately the same outcome – questioning if our fate is set to be the same no matter what route we take. It is a question that has been explored many times on stage, screen and in the written form and always inspires pause for thought.

In The First Time Lauren Pailing Died Lauren Pailing is a girl with an ordinary childhood but there is also something quite unusual about her which we discover as we gradually get to know her.  I loved the historical details weaved into the story as we watch her grow up as a much adored only child.  It brought back memories from my own childhood.

Alyson explores the different realities of Lauren’s life and what happens after she dies as a thirteen year old girl. I found her technique fascinating and loved the way the story was built around the parallel timelines.  She portrayed reactions to grief and loss in an incredibly touching and, at times, heartbreaking way.  The only constant between each life was the disappearance of Peter Stanning and gradually as the story unfolds we begin to understand what happened to him.  There are so many comparisons I could equate this story to but Alyson has created something wonderful and unique.  Because although at times the story can be sad, dark and thought provoking,  there is always a sense of hope and that resounding feeling that we leave our mark on this earth, no matter how short or long our stay here.

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is published now by HQ and is available in Hardback, eBook and Audiobook, and would make a fantastic read this summer.

GIVEAWAY…

Now,  I have a hardback copy of this beautiful book to giveaway.  To be in with the chance to win please like AND comment on this post before Friday evening at 8pm UK time.  Your comment could just be to say hi but you need to do both to have your name put in the hat. 🙂  I’m afraid this giveaway is just for residents in the UK.

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The First Time Lauren failing Died by Alyson Rudd

Synopsis

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties,

And a child of the seventies.

She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to being found…

Perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson and Maggie O’Farrell, The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is a book about loss, grief – and how, despite it not always feeling that way, every ending marks the start of something new.

About the author

Alyson Rudd

Alyson Rudd was born in Liverpool, raised in West Lancashire and educated at the London School of Economics. She is a sports journalist at The Times and lives in South West London.

She has written two works of non-fiction. The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is her first novel.

Find out more by visiting the HQ Stories website here.

Thanks so much to the lovely HQ Stories team for my review copy and for inviting me to discover more about their amazing titles at Destination HQ.

Thanks so much for reading.

 

 

 

Adult Fiction, Bookish Post, Debut, Fiction, Giveaway, Literary, Publisher Showcase

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd ~ Giveaway!

Last month I was lucky enough to visit #DestinationHQ for their summer showcase. The event has now been running for two years and I’ve been lucky enough to attend on both occasions. It’s a great evening where we get to hear about some fantastic new books and meet some equally fantastic authors (plus the lovely people at HQ). Oh and I get to enjoy this view…

There are some great titles coming this year, many of which I look forward to talking about on my blog over the coming weeks and months. One that immediately stuck out for me was The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd. Not only does it have the funkiest cover I have seen in quite some time but it also sounds incredibly intriguing. I’ll share the synopsis with you in a moment but suffice to say my ears pricked up when I heard that Lauren dies… lives again, dies… lives again, and so on. My interest was definitely piqued.

This is Alison’s debut novel and when I listened to her speak (having the nerve-wracking job of kicking off the author pitches) I was struck by how unassuming she was. Her story stood out and I immediately wanted to know more. At these events there are quite often proofs or advance reading copies of the books being chatted about. Unfortunately I missed out on the one of those on that evening but team HQStories responded to my desperate plea for a copy and, well to cut a long story short, I have ended up with two of these beautiful books. Now, even I, book hoarder extraordinaire, cannot justify keeping two copies and so I am going to give the extra away to one of you lucky lot. Generous gal aren’t I?

So if you fancy being the lucky recipient of this rather fabulous novel then read on dear reader and all will be revealed.

But first here is the synopsis…

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties,

And a child of the seventies.

She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to being found…

Perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson and Maggie O’Farrell, The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is a book about loss, grief – and how, despite it not always feeling that way, every ending marks the start of something new.

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd has been sitting in my tbr pile since then. My reviewing pile has been pretty full of late but she has been whispering to me, urging me to pick her up and discover how Lauren died, how she came to live again and who the mysterious Peter Stanning is?

I am right in the middle of reading it now and it’s every bit as wonderful as I imagined it. Quirky, unusual with a very distinctive voice, at the moment I can’t see what where this story will go but Lauren has certainly got a hold of me and I am absolutely loving it!

So, a few weeks ago, as I stood at @DestinationHQ listening to the authors speak, my reading list gradually growing and growing, I realised what a fortunate young(ish) lady I am. This may no longer be my day job but I absolutely love it and I love writing about these wonderful books! And I also love that I’m now able to share this wonderful novel with you guys with a giveaway.

How do I win a copy!? I hear you cry. It’s simple… just like this post and pop a comment down below. If you’d like to give me a follow and share this post too then that would also be fabulous. That’s it except…

* This giveaway is open to residents of the UK only. One winner will be drawn at random on Monday 15th July 2019. Good luck!

About the author

Alyson Rudd

Alyson Rudd was born in Liverpool, raised in West Lancashire and educated at the London School of Economics. She is a sports journalist at The Times and lives in South West London.

She has written two works of non-fiction. The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is her first novel.

Find out more by visiting the HQ Stories website here.

Thanks so much to the lovely HQ Stories team for my review copy and for inviting me to discover more about their amazing titles at Destination HQ.

Thanks so much for reading.

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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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