Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Fiction

Come Back To Me by Daniela Sacerdoti

Today I’m thrilled to be hosting the Blog Tour for Come back To Me by Daniela Sacerdoti.

This third enchanting novel set on the windswept Seal Island is about finding love for a second time when hope seems lost.

Three separate lives. Three broken hearts.

Haunted by his wife’s death, Matt arrives on Seal Island determined to be alone and unable to escape his grief.

In the island’s hospital, a young woman named Rose lies in a coma, trapped by the memories of events leading up to her accident.

Grace, the island’s doctor, is at the heart of the community. Only she knows how much she regrets turning down the chance of love and a family years ago.

For these three people hope seems gone.
But life is about to offer an unexpected new beginning…

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This is a wonderfully atmospheric tale about three very different people, each facing events that have left them broken and filled with grief.

Consumed with guilt over the death of his wife, Matthew Shearer moves to Seal Island to heal and rebuild something that resembles living.  He soon begins to find a place for himself within the small group of welcoming locals and escape from his life in London.  Yet as much as he craves the isolation the Island offers he feels alone and desperately misses his wife Mia who was killed there years earlier in a car accident.  When a young woman appears at his door in the middle of the night, disorientated and soaking wet, saying she has a message from Mia, Matthew begins to question his sanity and the depths to which he has sunk into despair.

This is my first visit to Seal Island and indeed my first encounter with Daniela Sacerdoti but I have to say I felt like I was returning to an old friend.  She writes beautifully and has built up an incredibly memorable set of characters and I will definitely look back at her two previous novels set in this harsh but beautifully landscape.  In this, her latest, he weaves the stories of these three characters, each dealing with their own heartbreak and challenges, and brings them together in a haunting tale that is expertly crafted.  I love the imagery and the hint of magic that simmers beneath the surface for you to find.  The Island and it’s small community are a major part of the story and add so much intrigue and atmosphere to events.   I couldn’t help but be enchanted by them.

I enjoyed reading this moving tale ever so much and now that I have fallen in love with Daniela’s writing I very much look forward to reading more of her novels.  Oh, how I love discovering a new author!

Come Back To Me is published by Headline Review and is available now in eBook and a paperback edition will be published in July.

Thank you to the wonderful Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.  I love how diverse the books she offers me are and this is one that I will be thinking of for some time yet.

About the author

Daniela Sacerdoti

1-7Daniela Sacerdoti is a phenomenon. Over one million copies of her novels have been sold in eBook, her debut novel WATCH OVER ME was the 8th bestselling Kindle book of all time in 2015 and she was also ranked as the 11th top-selling Kindle author. Daniela writes beautiful, haunting and bestselling fiction for adults (the Glen Avich series), young adults (the Sarah Midnight trilogy) and children. Her novels have been translated in twelve languages.

Daniela was born and raised in Italy. She studied Classics, then lived in Scotland for fourteen years, where she married and taught in a primary school. Daniela’s children’s book Really Weird Removals.Com was shortlisted for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards. She has also written for the BBC. Daniela, her husband and their two sons make their home in a tiny village in the Alps.

To discover more about Daniela and her world, visit www.danielasacerdoti.com.

You can follow Daniela on Facebook at OfficialDanielaSacerdoti

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Blog Tour, Books that adults should read, Fiction, YA, Young Adult Fiction

All We Could Have Been by T.E.Carter

Today I’m thrilled to be talking All We Could Have Been by T.E.Carter as part of the #BlogTour.  T.E.Carter will also be sharing her Top Five Books too… so read on dear reader, read on.

“I have one goal: Survive a full school year – 180 days – hiding behind a new name, new home and new persona.”

Every year, Lexi starts somewhere new and every year she has to leave. All she wants is to disappear, to go somewhere where no one knows about her brother.

But this time things are different. She is making friends and she might even be falling in love. But none of it is real. When they find out who she really is, she will lose everything. She can never run away from the truth and what her brother did.

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Lexi is running from her past.  She craves anonymity, unable to deal with sharing the real her and where she comes from.  With memories of an horrific event that left her both physically and mentally scared, Lexie finds it hard to cope and suffers extreme anxiety.  Starting yet another new school, she knows she is never safe and that once they find out about her they’ll all turn on her and she’ll end up running again.  Yet for the first time in five years she actually feels like she belongs and she begins to trust again.

It’s impossible to run away from a past that won’t stay buried but perhaps this time Lexie is tired of running.  Perhaps this time she has something worth fighting for. What comes next is a story of courage and a fight for survival and acceptance.  Beautiful, compelling and utterly heartbreaking, this is another amazing novel from T.E.Carter.  All We Could Have Been shows that we can’t always control what happens to us but we can learn to accept and cope with it and that I think is an important message.  This is a wonderfully thought-provoking YA novel that covers themes of trauma, self harm, anxiety and OCD.  But more importantly it speaks of survival and learning to live again.

‘But then I think about the good stuff…And it’s all reason to fight for myself, but then…then my brain does what it does, and the world becomes chaos and confusion, and I can’t do it anymore.  I just wish I was doing it right.’

Thank you so much to wonderful Eve at S&S for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for sharing this amazing book with me.

About the author

T.E. Carter

Top Five Books –

A caveat here: This list could change on any given day, but here are five books I
enjoyed that are on my mind right now!
1. A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin: With Game of Thrones wrapping
up, this series is clearly on my mind. The reason I really love this book is
because it captures everything that the show lacks, and that’s the quiet in-
between moments. I love the show (although I’m saying this with no idea how
Season 8 will play out and I’m a bit wary of how I’ll feel when it’s done), but as
with any adaptation, there are those little character moments that get left off
the screen. There’s an intimacy to the narrative that would be impossible to
translate to screen lest the show be 30 episodes per season, and this book
seems to be the place where the road really split for the characters.

2. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger: I know. It’s about as generic and
cliché as you can get, and Holden’s a pretty divisive character. But when I
was growing up, there wasn’t much out there in terms of YA. You could keep
reading children’s books; you could move to adult writers like Stephen King;
or you could read teen horror like RL Stine and Christopher Pike. While I
actually loved those books, there was nothing in them that reflected back my
own experiences, but when I first read The Catcher in the Rye, I felt like the
world made a bit more sense. My small town felt just a bit bigger; my
experiences and perspectives felt just a bit more “normal;” and my fears felt
just a bit less scary.

3. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton: I’m not sure why this book is on my mind, but
maybe it’s just the changes of the seasons in New England. What I love about
this story, though, is the absolute commitment Wharton has to truth. It’s a
short read, but it’s one of the most devastating stories I’ve ever read. I’m a
really big fan of novels that don’t try to stick a pretty bow on life, and this novel
does the opposite. It’s brutal.

4. Man-Eaters by Chelsea Cain: This comic series isn’t that far along right now,
but it’s amazing. It’s fearless, in-your-face, feminist satire, and I highly
recommend it if that’s your thing!

5. Life is Strange and Before the Storm: Not a book, but I’m cheating. Not only is
the narrative incredible across both games, but Chloe Price is one of my
favorite characters of all time from any medium. I also think it was genius to
put out Life is Strange first; all your actions come to a close only for you to get
Chloe’s story after the fact, and if you saved Arcadia Bay, playing through
Before the Storm is haunting.

T.E. Carter was born and raised in New England. Throughout her career, she has done a lot of things, she has always loved to read and still loves stories in any medium (books, movies, video games, etc.). When she’s not writing, she can generally be found reading classic literature, obsessing over Game of Thrones (100% Team Lannister), playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge-watching baking competitions. She continues to live in New England with her husband and two cats. All We Could Have Been is her second novel for young adults.

@hashtagereads #AllWeCouldHaveBeen

All We Could Have Been by T.E. Carter is out 2nd May (£7.99 Paperback, Simon & Schuster UK)

Author Letter:

Dear Reader,

Thank you for sharing in Lexi’s journey. ALL WE COULD HAVE BEEN stems from several personal experiences and outside influences, but I mostly wanted to think about how much control we have (or should have) over our own narratives. I also thought about how this is even more significant when processing trauma or grief, and Lexi was created from that.

Our world moves so quickly, and while that has a lot of benefits, it also means we have been conditioned to think and react almost immediately. As a result, our personal narratives are often shaped outside of ourselves, crafted from one piece here and there, until a series of stories are united into a cohesive whole. Rarely, though, does that whole reflect the truth of the people we are, instead illustrating the perceptions of the circle of people around us.

Through this novel, I tried to talk about taking back your own narrative. While our pasts do define and shape us to some degree, we are also so much more than external factors that we can’t control. Traumatic experiences can change how we think, and they often limit our ability to believe in our own agency. We all deserve to find and reclaim our own truth, though.

Thank you for reading and for giving Lexi (and readers like Lexi) the power to regain her story.

Regards,

TE Carter

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

55 by James Delargy

Two Suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints. 

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers – he was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim. Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55. Gabriel is the serial killer. 

Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins needs to find out who is telling the truth – and quick. He is forced to call in Mitch, his former partner and now insufferable superior, a partnership which dissolved in acrimony years earlier. Can Mitch and Chandler uncover the truth, before the 55th victim is taken?

James Delargy has written one of the most exciting debuts of 2019. He masterfully paints the picture of a remote Western Australian town and its people, swallowed whole by the hunt for a serial killer.

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Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for 55 by James Delargy.  I can’t believe that this is actually a debut!  It’s very well plotted and shows incredible promise from this new author.  I can’t wait to see what he brings us next.

For a brief time we enter the small, remote town of Wilbrook.  A community where the local police sergeant knows all his residents.  His small team are like a second family to him and life is quiet.  That is until one day Gabriel walks in to his station claiming to have escaped from a serial killer, a man called Heath.  Of course things become complicated when a man called Heath arrives at the station claiming that Gabriel kidnapped and tried to kill him.  This is what we do know as we go into the story and James skilfully carries us through, leading us to conclusions and then shattering them along the way.  The twists and turns kept me on my feet and although I thought I knew what was going on, he made me constantly doubt myself right the way through.  It made for exciting reading.

I was immediately on Chandlers side and I can’t tell you how many times I would have quite happily punched Mitch in the face.  His arrogance, lack of empathy and the underhand way in which he treated Chandler, left me wondering just what had gone on between these two men who had once been ‘friends’.  As the story unfolds we also flash back to a time when both men were newly instated as officers and worked together on a case searching the harsh Australian outback for a lost teenager.  That case had a lasting impression on both men and it’s not surprising that it now comes back to haunt them.  However, no one could have foreseen the devastating consequences that it would have brought so many years later as Chandler and Mitch attempt to put their issues aside and work on this new case.  Old ghosts are hard to bury though and soon the investigation becomes personal and very deadly.

The two suspects also made a lasting impression and my mind changed on many occasions as to which one was the guilty party.  Now it’s not often that I get spooked by a book whilst reading during the day but this one certainly had me on edge.  Snuggled up on my sofa, alone in the house and suddenly every creak and groan of my surroundings became an ominous sign.  My pulse raced and yes I was very nervous when nature called and I had to venture upstairs. I had to check EVERY ROOM for goodness sake.  This is an absolutely riveting read and one that had me on the edge of my seat right from the very start. The ending left me with my heart in my mouth as James tormented my imagination right to the very last word. I’m thrilled to discover that there may be a film adaptation and hope that comes to fruition.  I urge you to read 55 and thoroughly recommend it!

About the author

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives.  He incorporates his diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing.  55 is his first novel, which has been sold in 19 countries so far and optioned for film by Zucker Productions in partnership with Prodigy Pictures.

You can follow James on Twitter at @JDelargyAuthor

For more information visit his website at Jamesdelargy.com

55 is published by Simon & Schuster  on the 4th of April. Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour which runs until the 10th of April.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Fiction, Thriller

The Bridal Party by J G Murray

Today I am delighted to kick off the blog tour for The Bridal Party by J G Murray.  This is one chilling read!

WINNER OF THE DEVIANT MINDS CRIME THRILLER PRIZE 2018

Sometimes friendship can be murder…

It’s the weekend of Clarisse’s bridal party, a trip the girls have all been looking forward to.

Then, on the day of their flight, Tamsyn, the maid of honour, suddenly backs out. Upset and confused, they try to make the most of the stunning, isolated seaside house they find
themselves in.  But, there is a surprise in store – Tamsyn has organised a murder mystery, a sinister game in which they must discover a killer in their midst. As tensions quickly boil over, it becomes clear to them all that there are some secrets that won’t stay buried…

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From the very first page this novel grabs your attention with bloodstains and the creepy events.   Immediately the atmosphere is filled with tension but as you continue you are drip fed information leaving you on edge and unable to stop reading. We going a group of friends embarking on a hen weekend in Jersey.  A weekend of fun, drink and surprises all organised by maid of honour, Tamsyn.   However things begin to unravel when, at the last minute, Tamsyn in unable to make it.  Now it’s down to the rest of the hens to make sure the bride still has a weekend she’ll remember.

Things are looking up when they arrive at a luxurious, yet remote house with the promise of cosy, drink fuelled fun.  It’s not long before a series of events occur that leave the friends feeling uneasy and on edge, and what should be a fun filled girlie weekend becomes a fight for survival from an unknown predator. Desperate to keep their fearss from the bride, the hens try to keep the atmosphere light but there’s a growing sense of unease as small things start to chip away. It seems that events from the past are coming back to haunt them and being miles from nowhere, with no phone lines or internet connection, things begin to spiral out of control. This is quite a intense read and the end was brilliantly done, leaving me reeling with the after effects.

Allow yourself some me-time, this is a novel to curl up with and read in one sitting. Absolutely chilling. Sink into the atmosphere and be carried along on the ride.

About the author

J G Murray Author Picture

J G Murray grew up in Cornwall and, after a spell selling chocolates in Brussels, qualified as an
English teacher. Murray now lives, teaches and writes in London.

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for my review copy.

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Adult Fiction, Fiction

Mr Doubler Begins Again by Seni Glaister

Potatoes, gin and friendship…

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Do you ever come across a book that you just know you’re going to love? Well last summer I was invited along to the HQ Stories Summer Showcase and I met some wonderful authors that night and discovered some fantastic new books. One of the things I remember most about the evening was how friendly everyone was; the authors, the members of the HQ team, and the other guests. The evening was a great success and each author and novel was beautifully presented. I was introduced to Mr Doubler for the first time and I knew, straight away, that he and I were going to get along.

So it was here on a beautiful summers evening that I had the pleasure of meeting Seni and discovering the rather wonderful Mr Doubler. I was delighted to bring home an early proof copy well ahead of it’s publication date in January. I am a keen gardener and I have even grown my own potatoes down on my allotment, so possibly that may have been what drew me to this particular table but I think it was also a combination of Seni’s warm smile and the beautiful display of proof copies bearing the quote ‘Not every journey takes you far from home…

So what’s the story about…

Synopsis

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Baked, mashed, boiled or fried, Mr Doubler knows his potatoes. But the same can’t be said for people. Since he lost his wife, he’s been on his own at Mirth Farm – and that suits Doubler just fine. Crowds are for other people; the only company he needs are his potato plants and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, who visits every day.

So when Mrs Millwood is taken ill, it ruins everything – and Mr Doubler begins to worry that he might have lost his way. But could the kindness of strangers be enough to bring him down from the hill?

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This is a wonderful novel and such a pleasure to read. Oh how I loved Mr Doubler and what a joy it would be to sit with him in his warm, inviting kitchen, enjoying one of his expertly produced G&T’s and a slice of homemade cake.

For quite some time Doubler has plodded along quietly on Mirth Farm, with only his potatoes and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, for company. He has been perfectly content with his well-ordered, predictable life. His only concern is his potatoes, his ‘secret’ project and the occasional visit from his ‘well-meaning’ children. Until that is, Mrs Millwood is taken ill and his life is turned upside down.

Although I had been looking forward to reading this novel for quite sometime I actually picked it up after suffering from a dose of flu. I’d felt so ill I couldn’t even read and then as I began to feel better Mr Doubler called to me. He was the perfect tonic and a brilliant escape for those moments when life is just feeling a little too gray and drizzly. He made me feel like spring was on the way.

Now novels about old men finding their way have been done and enjoyed before (A Man Called Ove and of course The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry are examples that come to mind and that I very much enjoyed) but Mr Doubler is very different, wonderful and completely memorable in his own right.

So what is it that I loved about this novel? Well the writing itself is beautifully done. It carries you along, sweeping you away with the story. Seni has the ability, somewhat Harry Potter like, to pull you into the book so you can almost smell the food on Doubler’s table and hear the sounds of the birds as he takes an early morning stroll around his land.

As he stood at these edge-lands, he allowed his brain to settle into nothingness. It was still dark. He stopped and listened. A bird sang from a hazel branch not far from him. The pure sound cut through the dark and distracted Doubler from his quandary.

‘Hello robin!’ Doubler said, under his breath for fear of disturbing the gutsy singer. ‘It’s a bit early for that racket, isn’t it?’

The lone, tentative voice was almost immediately joined by another flute-like refrain from just behind him. The birds sensed the dawn before any trace of the new day had become obvious to Doubler. These birds, the robin and perhaps a black-bird, were soon joined by several others and now, after just a few moments of listening, the chorus was beginning in earnest and it was impossible to separate one song from another. Together, this competing cacophony should have jarred, but instead it united to form a harmonious ensemble that appeared to be led by one unseen conductor.

Full to the brim with endearing (and a few rather unlikeable) characters, Mr Doubler Begins Again is a joy to read; a celebration of an ordinary man who has done the best he can through some rather difficult circumstances. Doubler shows us the importance of the ‘ordinary folk’, the impact they have, and that each and every one will leave an important legacy in the friends and memories they leave behind. At times I found it incredibly poignant and sad, but at others I was whooping in delight for Mr Doubler and the friends who came to his aid. I cheered him on right until the very last page, and I’m still cheering him on now. There is much more than potatoes beneath the surface of this quiet, old recluse who lives on the hill. I was saddened that those who should have known him the best, were the ones who seemed to not understand him at all. This kind, old soul. What an incredible friend he would be.

Yet even an old recluse like Doubler needs a little help from time to time and this small community found its way into my heart and I feel as though I have learnt so much from them. There are times when we feel like we know what is best for others but in reality only they can know what will bring them contentment and happiness. This novel has taught me that things are rarely black and white. There is always more to the situation than you can see. It taught me that the easy option is not always the best. That each of us, no matter how old we are, are valued and that there is no age limit on hopes and dreams.

One of the characteristics I loved most about Doubler was his absolute unwavering opinions and his lack of fear in expressing them. From his idea of a perfect lunch (potatoes), to the precise ingredients and method of making a gin and tonic. His appreciation of perfectly blended tea and the effort and time he gives to laying on tea and cake for his guests. As, with the assistance and encouragement of Mrs Millwood, he slowly returns to the community, he begins to understand how much he can actually contribute to the lives of those around him and just what that gives him in return. Doubler is a man with a big heart and oh, how I would love to try a sip of his gin.

Gin

The making of gin, as I have recently discovered, is quite an art and the mix of botanicals makes each recipe unique. It has of course recently had a resurgence of popularity. In my childhood I recall it as being the choice of drink by the evil Miss Hannigan (played by the rather wonderful Carol Burnett ) in the 1982 movie Annie, as she literally bathed in the stuff. The drink of drunks and down and outs. Then as an adult myself I enjoyed it cold, mixed with tonic and a slice of lemon. About six months ago I treated myself to a gin subscription (absolute decadence I know but I’m worth it) with The Craft Gin company.

My first delivery from Craft Gin included the most delicious Burleigh’s gin, mixers and oh so scrummy chocolate.
My second box had a rather festive ( but good enough to drink any time) bottle of Tarquin’s Cornish Christmas gin.
I love roses… especially in a glass of Naud’s gin!

Every two months I receive a unique craft gin, mixers and edible treats and also a magazine talking about… yes you guessed it, gin. So it was a total delight when I came to read Mr Doubler chatting about gin. It actual makes my mouth water just thinking about the scene in his kitchen when he first shares his homemade produce. It put me in mind of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat and the way she was able to bring the taste and smell of chocolate so expertly alive within the pages of her book. Seni does the very same here with Mr Doubler and gin.

‘I am, however, not going to overwhelm you. I expect you’re all familiar with the G and T, the ice and a slice. And that is what I shall prepare for you because I want you to notice the gin, not the accompaniments. Some gins lend themselves to this classic treatment. But it is very possible to tease out the flavour of a gin by the addition of other flavours. I am not a gin pedant – in fact, I would go as far as to consider myself more liberal than most.’

While Doubler spoke, he cut the lemon into thin slices, allowing the scent of citrus to fill the room.

‘All gin makers use a mix of botanicals to flavour their spirit. We all know and love juniper berries, and this is, of course, the flavour that we associate with the spirit. Indeed, it is essential to qualify as a London dry gin, as I’m sure you all know. But, depending on the distillery, you might find notes of any number of spices, herbs, plants or other flavourings – for example, coriander, angelica, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom,orris,cinnamon, nutmeg, cassia bark, almond, liquorice or cubeb. When you’re mixing a drink yourself, it is advisable to accentuate the flavour of the botanicals that have been used to craft it, so a gin that has used rose and cucumber to enhance its flavour might well benefit from the addiction of a slice of cucumber or a couple of freshly picked rose petals. If there are no citrus notes at all, you should steer clear of lemon or lime.’

Now Doubler has certainly given me food for thought when it comes to mixing a gin based beverage and I very much look forward to a little experimentation (with a little bit of help fromThe Craft Gin Club.) Now it’s not everyday you come across a recipe for a cocktail within a novel but there is actually a ‘Mirth Farm’ recipe created by The Mixology Group and I’m delighted to be able to share it with you here. It sounds like the perfect summer cocktail to me.

Mirth Farm Garden Cocktail

SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

50ml good quality gin

5cm piece of cucumber

20ml lemon juice

20ml cucumber syrup

8-10 mint leaves

Soda

Garnish with large mint sprig

and borage flowers

METHOD

Add all but soda to a tall glass

and lightly muddle.

Fill glass with crushed ice and

the add a dash of soda.

There are plenty of recipes for cucumber syrup on the internet so why not make a small batch and give it a try. It sounds perfectly refreshing.

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Whatever your tipple be it gin, wine or a nice cup of tea, I definitely recommend reading this rather wonderful novel and welcoming Mr Doubler into your life…it will be all the better for it.

Mr Doubler Begins Again was published in January 2019 by HQStories.

You can follow Seni on Twitter: @SeniGlaister

You can follow HQStories on Twitter: @HQstories

The Craft Gin club have exclusive offers for new members so do check out there website here.

Thanks again to HQStories for inviting me to the showcase last summer and to Seni for my copy of Mr Doubler (and for signing it too).

Blog Tour, Books that adults should read, Debut, Fiction, Teen, Time to talk, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction

The Burning by Laura Bates

NEW SCHOOL.

TICK.

NEW TOWN.

TICK.

NEW SURNAME.

TICK.

SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES?

ERASED.

There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life.

Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.

At least that’s what she thinks.

Until the whispers start up again….

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So today I am thrilled to be hosting the Blog Tour for The Burning, the first YA novel by Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project.  Laura is the author of three non-fiction titles exploring gender inequality and the difficulties still facing girls and women in the world today.

Last week I was invited along to the launch of The Burning and to listen to Laura in conversation with Anna James at Foyles Bookshop.  She was incredibly inspiring to listen to, especially after reading The Burning just a few days before.

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This book is incredible and as a piece of YA fiction very, very important. The Burning is not only a great piece of fiction, but will also help others who suffer from any similar form of abuse and bullying.  Anna is a character that sadly many girls and women will be able to identify with.  In the author’s note at the back of the book Laura yells us that ‘almost everything that happens to Anna is based on the real-life experiences of students I have worked with in schools, or young people who have contacted me online.’  I find it absolutely shocking and this book, I hope, will give those who face such experiences the courage to speak out and, at the very least, to know that they are not to blame. There are SO many discussions that this novel can inspire. I urge you to read it, no matter what age or gender.

Anna’s world  falls apart when she shares an intimate photograph with someone she trusts.   To use something so intimate that has been shared with trust is an even greater betrayal and yet she is the one who is vilified.  This isn’t a simple girl against boy story.  It shows the power that rumour has and the effect it can have over people.  ‘A rumour is like a fire.  You might think you’ve extinguished it, but all it takes is one spark…’ Girls, boys and adults are seen as behaving in a terrible, unacceptable manner but we also see great courage and support within the pages of this story too.

‘The Burning tells the story of fifteen-year-old Anna who has moved to a small Scottish village with her mother.  There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life. Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.  At least that’s what she thinks… until the whispers start up again.

Desperate for a distraction to escape the brutal bullying at school, Anna finds herself in a history project about a young girl, Maggie, who was accused of witchcraft hundreds of years before.  Anna finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of Maggie, a girl whose story has terrifying similarities to Anna’s own…

The Parallels between the persecution of medieval witches and the social burning of modern day Anna become unnervingly apparent.  the reader will be left in no doubt: it’s time to extinguish society’s sexist attitudes.’

I found this book deeply unsettling and I believe that parents, teachers and adults in general should read this story. It gives us an insight into what our young people face. It stirred certain memories hidden in my subconscious. Those moments growing up that we ignore and try to bury. Yet in comparison, back in my teenage years, we had so much less to contend with.  Social media has moved the goal posts dramatically and opens up the possibility of being mercilessly hounded and bullied at any time of day or night to an ever growing audience.  We need to sit up and take notice now.  With an ever growing online-presence,  our past and experiences really never leave us. They are there for all to see and the level of abuse possible through these mediums is scary. The dual time frame brilliantly shows us that the problems girls face aren’t a contemporary problem and that even after years of feminist campaigning things haven’t changed, there are simply new ways for women to be persecuted and mistreated. The term witch-hunt for so many girls and women is still very real.  This snowballing form of abuse at times can feel like a form of torture. The constant ping of social media notifications gradually pushing them to the limits and offering no escape or peace of mind.

As a parent I will look to inform my son. As a Librarian I will make these stories accessible to my students and teachers. As a book blogger I will share the word as much as I can. This book has made me stop and think. I was shocked at how those who should have been protecting Anna were simply not equipped to do so with either experience or understanding.  It has made me so much more aware. Feminism isn’t just about equality. It’s about a woman’s right to feel safe. To not be used and abused simply because she is a woman.

About the Author

Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 100,000 testimonies of gender inequality, with branches in 25 countries worldwide. She is author of Everyday Sexism, Misogynation and the Sunday Times bestseller Girl Up. Laura writes regularly for the Guardian, New York Times and others and win a British Press Award In 2015. She is a prolific commentator, appearing regularly on Newsnight, The Today Programme, Woman’s Hour, Channel 4 News, BBC News, BBC Breakfast and others. She works closely with politicians, businesses, schools, police forces and organisations from the Council of Europe to the United Nations to tackle gender inequality. She was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2015 and has been named a woman of the year by Cosmopolitan, Red Magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Sunday Times Magazine. Laura is a contributor at Women Under Siege, a New York-based project tackling rape in conflict worldwide and is patron of SARSAS, Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support.

You can follow her on Twitter: @EverydaySexism and Instagram @laura_bates_

To find out more about the Everyday Sexism Project or to add your voice visit the website here.

Burning Blog Tour.jpg

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult Fiction

Inborn by Thomas Enger

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for another gripping offering from Orenda Books. Inborn by Thomas Enger is a thrilling court room drama that had me hooked and reading into the night.

When a teenager is accused of a high-school murder, he finds himself subject to trial by social media … and in the dock.

A taut, moving and chilling thriller by one of Nordic Noir’s finest writers.

When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?

Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community. As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?

It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.

But can we trust him?

A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: How well do we really know our families? How well do we know ourselves?

Oh my, this is one good read. A chilling prologue leads us into the story where we follow young Johannes, a bright young soul, as he walks into something he really wishes he hadn’t. What follows is a series of events that we begin to witness through the trial when 17 year old Even takes to the dock.

Twists and turns aplenty my suspicions changed on many occasions. Wonderfully told mostly through the voice of a 17 year old the story keeps the fear, frustration and despair right on the surface. It brilliantly showed the dangers of social media. How it can be easy to condemn and spread hate and mistrust. Chinese whispers for the 21st century and a super way to throw in those clues (or red herrings).

You can’t help but feel sorry for Even; he has a difficult life with a reclusive younger brother and a mother who still continues to drown her sorrows some years after the death of their father in a car crash. The only sense of parental support comes from their uncle Imo. And now Even’s recently ex-girlfriend has been murdered and he is under suspicion.

I love the way Enger has built the story around the trial, hearing what Even has to say but also returning to past events with flashbacks through Yngve Monk, the Chief Inspector who has recently lost his wife and is floundering somewhat. He is also a great character though and I felt his loss keenly. Enger expertly portraying the sense of bewilderment and sadness that follows the death of a loved one. Monk really cares about the case too, determined to get to the bottom of what happened on that awful night he puts his grief to one side and gets the job done – with a little bit of help of course. The picture gradually becoming clearer and clearer until the shocking conclusion is revealed.

Absolutely gripping, this is one that I would definitely recommend for young adults and older readers alike. It is also crying out for a tv adaptation. There are plenty of skeletons in the closet of the people in Fredheim and they’re about to come out in a most spectacular but deadly way.

Thoroughly recommended.

Thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and to her and Orenda Books for my eBook. As much as I prefer print copies I do LOVE the way I can read in the dark with an eBook. 🙂

About the author

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication, and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is based, and another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jorn Lier Horst. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.