9+, Children's Fiction, Eva Reads Books!, Fiction, Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

The Closest Thing To Flying by Gill Lewis – reviewed by Eva

I adore children’s books, it makes so happy to be able to share my thoughts with you but sometimes I think it’s good to hear just how wonderful they are straight from the horses mouth so… wonderful Eva is back with another cracking review. This time she’s chatting about The Closet Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis. Over to Eva…

Synopsis

Present day: Semira doesn’t know where to call home. She and her mother came to England when she was four years old, brought across the desert and the sea by a man who has complete control. Always moving on, always afraid of being caught, she longs for freedom.

1891: Hen knows exactly where to call home. Her stifling mother makes sure of that. But her Aunt Kitty is opening her eyes to a whole new world. A world of animal rights, and votes for women, and riding bicycles! Trapped in a life of behaving like a lady, she longs for freedom.

When Semira discovers Hen’s diary, she finds the inspiration to be brave, to fight for her place in the world, and maybe even to uncover the secrets of her own past.
Gill Lewis is the multi-award-winning and best-selling author of novels including Sky Hawk, White Dolphin, and A Story Like the Wind. This is her unforgettable tale of friendship, hope, and finding the courage to fight for what you believe in.

Eva’s thoughts

This review is on a book called The Closest Thing To Flying by Gill Lewis.

Semira has two worlds – her own and Hens. Hen’s world is one hundred years ago when women weren’t allowed to vote, have a job or ride a bike! It was Hen’s aunt who tried to change that and that’s when everything went wrong. Back to Semira’s world where Robel is. Robel is a powerful man who beats her mama and stops her from doing anything she likes. Then one day she met Patrick. Everyone called him a freak, but Semira finds that he went through a similar thing to her. They become friends and that’s when Semira becomes suspicious about her own past and notices her love of cycling.

This book shows how women were treated in the past and today. Women still are being treated terribly but this book has inspired me to write my own stories and hopefully you too.

I loved this book because it shows that you need courage to stick up for yourself, and friends to support and believe you. It is a heartwarming story and it brings a tear to the eye. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I loved how it was a fiction story based on real events. The only bad thing I can say about it was that it ended. I can’t wait to see what the author writes about next.

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Thank you so much Eva for your amazing review!

You can find out more about author Gill Lewis by visiting her website here

You can follow Gill Lewis on Twitter at @gill_lewis

The Closest Thing To Flying is published by OUP children’s books and is available from all good book shops.

Thank you so much to the lovely people at OUP for inviting us to review this book. Both Eva and I think it is wonderful.

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Adult Fiction, Uncategorized

The Museum of Cathy by Anna Stothard

The Museum of Cathy by Anna Stothard

Today I would like to throw back to a title published in 2016 by Salt Publishing. It was fantastic and even now, more than two years later I’m still thinking of it.

Museum of Cathy

This latest novel from the acclaimed author of the Orange-longlisted The Pink Hotel is an exploration of memories, consequence and the difficulties of living with the past. Cathy is a curator of natural history in Berlin. She is engaged, about to receive an award for her work and beginning to feel that she has finally escaped her past, a past that she keeps locked away within her own museum of curiosities. Yet on the day she is due to receive her award she receives a gift that tells her that a shadow that haunts her memories has resurfaced to claim back what he feels belongs to him.

I was completely swept away with this story. Stothard’s technique allows us to watch events unfold with regular insights into Cathy’s past that slowly reveal the reality of what she has been hiding from with a steadily rising sense of foreboding. I found the exploration of characters sensitively handled and yet provided enough suspense and contained a level of sinister tension that had me guessing just what each one may be capable of. This is exquisite, beautifully written prose and the use of the museum as a theme throughout with setting, a means of storytelling and metaphor, is quite brilliantly executed. It is personal, it is universal and it is something that lives within each of us and the memories we hold. Cathy’s story moved me and I so wanted her to find the escape she desperately needed. Highly recommended.

And here’s the synopsis

From the author of the Orange Prize long-listed, The Pink Hotel Cathy is a young woman who escapes her feral childhood in a rundown chalet on the East coast of England to become a curator of natural history in Berlin. Although seemingly liberated from her destructive past, she commemorates her most significant memories and love affairs – one savage, one innocent, one full of potential – in a collection of objects that form a bizarre museum of her life. When an old lover turns up at a masked party at Berlin’s natural history museum and events take a terrifying turn, Cathy must confront their shared secrets in order to protect her future. This is an exquisitely crafted, rare and original work.’

The Museum of Cathy was published by Salt Publishing in November 2016.

Find out more about author Anna Stothard by visiting her website here.

Find out more about Salt Publishing by visiting their website here.

Publisher Showcase

HQ Fiction Summer Showcase = A whole lotta fantastic books coming our way.

First of all…

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This was my view for the evening on Thursday June 14th 2018.  The photograph, taken on my phone, certainly doesn’t do it justice but it gives you an idea.  Add to this a constant flow of delicious canapés, Prosecco and a room full of authors all keen to talk about their soon to be published novels and you have a pretty wonderful Thursday evening.

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This was of course the Fiction Summer Showcase for HarperCollins imprint, HQ.  It is a relatively new imprint within the powerhouse that is HarperCollins and this was their first Showcase.  It was wonderful.  Not only did everyone have a name badge (saving many an awkward moment) but the room was full of warm, friendly people who were all there because of one common interest – a love of books.

The whole team was lovely and made you feel instantly welcome and at home.  It really was a wonderful evening and I returned home not only with a lovely big bag FULL of books but with an unbreakable, Cheshire Cat grin on my face.

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HQ – One Place, Many Stories

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HQ really do have a wealth of stories coming over the coming months.  Something for everyone.

As I walked out of London Bridge Railway Station I was momentarily blown away by my surroundings.  This is the first time I had been to this part of London and The Shard looked absolutely stunning reaching up towards the blue, June skies.  It actually made me feel dizzy to look up.

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After entering The News Building I was whisked up in the lift and emerged onto a floor dedicated to the celebration I was attending this evening.  Coats were hung and drinks given.  A super start to the evening.

The authors were scattered around the room, along with their books and a themed table that in some way reflected the tale they were telling.  A majority had finished copies or proofs whilst others gave just a tantalising glimpse into what is coming later this/early next year.

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Author Jenny Oliver with her latest novel ‘The House We Called Home’.

The House We Called Home by Jenny Oliver

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The House where Stella and her sister Amy grew up never changes – the red front door, the breath-taking view over the Cornish coast, her parents in their usual spots on the sofa.  Except this summer, things feel a little different…

Stella’s father is nowhere to be seen, yet her mother – in suspiciously new Per Una jeans –  is curiously unfazed by his absence, and eager to talk about her mysterious dog-wlaking buddy Mitch.

Amy has returned home with a new boyfriend she can’t stand and a secret to hide, and Stella’s husband Jack has something he wants to get off his chest too.  Even Frank Sinatra, the dog, has a guilty air about him.  This summer, change is in the air for the Whitethorns….

Warm, funny and gloriously feel-good, this is the perfect summer read for fans of Lucy Diamond and Milly Johnson.

The House We Called Home is due to be published on the 12th of July 2018.  It looks a perfect summer read.

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The Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney

The Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney

I have to say I was a little star truck upon meeting Wray (the pen name of Sally Gardener – award winning children’s novelist). She has created some wonderful novels/stories for children and so I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive a (signed:) proof of her latest novel The Beauty and the Wolf – A timely retelling of Beauty and the Beast, reversing the gender roles of the original fairytale.  The proof itself has a stunning purple and gold foil cover and is certainly eye-catching.
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In the age of the Faerie Queene, Elizabeth I, a period of ruffles and lace, of wrought velvet and blanched satins, two newborn babies are cursed, one with unimaginable beauty and the other, in its mirror image, a beast.  But how could beauty ever be a curse?

Not only will all be blind to Beau’s true self, for all will lust after him but none will have the power to see past such an enchanted face – but the curse shall cause his own father’s death.

Meanwhile the beast, Randa, is locked away in her father’s cellar – lonely and hidden away.  She longs for love, but how could anyone ever see past her wings and beak and fierce talons?

Is it possible that these two cursed creatures could be one another’s salvation when all hope is lost?

The Beauty of the Wolf is due to be published on the 21st of February 2019.

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After the Snow by Susannah Constantine

After the Snow by Susannah Constantine

Susannah Constantine is a well know TV personality and fashion journalist so it was a treat to meet her in the flesh and hear her chatting about her debut novel, After the Snow.  The paperback is due to be published in November but it is available in Hardback if you can’t wait that long.  I’m really looking forward to this one AND I know there is another on it’s way from Susannah so I’m doubly excited.  She was incredibly warm and friendly and it was an absolute pleasure to meet her, Oh and I discovered she doesn’t live too far away from me. 🙂

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All eleven-year-old Esme Munroe wants for Christmas is for her mother to be on one of her ‘good’ days – and, secretly, for a velvet riding hat.  So when she finds an assortment of wet towels and dirty plates in her stocking, she’s just relieved Father Christmas remembered to stop at The Lodge this year.

But later that day Esme’s mother disappears in the heavy snow.  Even more mysteriously, only the Earl of Culcairn seems to know where she might have gone.  Torn between protecting her mother and uncovering the secrets tumbling out of Culcairn Castle’s ornate closets, Esme realises that life will never be the same again after the snow…

Susannah Constantine provides a rare glimpse into the secret lives of the scandalous upper classes.  Perfect for fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘The Crown’.

Now, before I move on I just have to share this from the back cover of the book.

And there was Princess Margaret,

soaking in the bath.

A cigarette dangled in one hand and she clutched her

whisky in the other, her face fully made-up, the rest of

her body hidden beneath the surface.

 

The soft humming of a popular tune could just be

heard floating up out of a side-window.

 

‘Lexi and Esme,’ called a velvety voice from below,

‘I know you’re up there.  I can see the reflection of your

grubby faces in the mirror.’

 

The Princess took a sip from her crystal tumbler 

and stubbed her cigarette out in the soup dish…

After the Snow will be published in paperback on 15th November 2018 but is out now in  hardback

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Mr Doubler Begins Again by Seni Glaister

Mr Doubler Begins Again by Seni Glaister

Now thesis one title that I was keen to see/hear more of and the table display made me even more intrigued.  I absolutely love the sound of this novel.  The synopsis made me think of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and the Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick.  I don’t mean to compare but it gave me the same warm, lovely feeling.  Seni was so lovely to chat to and I really can’t wait to get reading.

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Seni Glaister, author of ‘Mr Doubler Begins Again’

Mr Doubler lives alone at Mirth Farm, on top of a hill.

Back when she was around, Doubler’s wife was always surrounded by friends.  But Doubler is different.  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 suits everything – and 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?

 

 

Mr Doubler Begins Again will be published on the 24th January 2019 (but I have a feeling this will definitely be worth the wait.)

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I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

We are going to have to wait until the 20th of September for I Invited Her In but the good news is that Adele has a wonderful backlist of titles to read first if you haven’t discovered her yet.  I’m really excited about this one.  It sounds like a super thriller and one that will have me on the edge of my seat.  Adele was an absolute pleasure to meet.

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When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay.  Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different.  Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben.  Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence.  Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her.  Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it.  So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal.  And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is a thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge.

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks will be published on the 20th of September 2018.

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Liz Fenwick, author of The Path To The Sea

The Path To The Sea by Liz Fenwick

Oh my, it was such a pleasure to meet and chat with Liz.  We talked about Cornwall and the joys of research and glorious houses full of stories waiting to be told.  And she had the most delicious fudge too. We still have to wait a while for this one as it’s not published until April 2019 but it is definitely one for my reading pile.

The Trewin women all had their secrets but Joan, the matriarch, is keeping hers until her deathbed.

On a summer’s night in 1965, at a party in her glorious cliff-top home in Cornwall, she made a choice…her country or love.  The morning after, a body was found at the foot of the cliff path.

But a little girl saw what happened that night.  Not only did she witness the awful events played out on the cliff path, she lied and made it worse.  And now, decades later, the past is catching up with the Trewin women, as a deathbed confession puts Nicola on the trail of a mystery which has remained undisturbed for fifty year, offering a chance to unpick the past…

No cover for this one as of yet I’m afraid as it’s THAT new.

The Path To The Sea by Liz Fenwick

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The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

IMG_20180614_182711__01.jpgThis looks great fun, light and pure escapism.  Perfect for a summer read.  I can imagine myself relaxing on a warm, summers day and escaping into this one.

Sophie was incredibly warm and friendly.  I think she had fun with this and is looking to make her readers smile.  When she signed my copy she said ‘I so hope this makes you laugh!’ and oh my goodness do we need books that do that these days. :). Can’t wait!

The Plus One [n] informal ‘a person who accompanies an invited person to a social function or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none.’

Polly Spencer is fine.  She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred).  but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at ‘Posh!’ magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that.  Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together.  Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’.  She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts will be published  on the 9th of August 2018.

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How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

This one was just published on the 14th of June.  The table was wonderfully decorated with a miniature beach scene – a perfect holiday read and with more to come from Sarah later this year with The Christmas Sisters in November and One Summer in Paris in April 2019.  Lots to look forward to from Sarah.

Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 21.09.46Matriarch Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother but how can she ever tell her daughters the reason why? Lauren and Jenna are as close as two sisters can be and they made a pact years ago to keep a devastating secret from their mother – but is it time to come clean?

Lauren’s teenage daughter Mackenzie masks her own pain by keeping her mother at a distance.  Her mother, aunt and grandmother keep trying to reach her but will it take a stranger to show her the true meaning of family?

When life changes in an instant, the Stewart women are thrown together for a simmer and suddenly they must relearn how to be a family.  And while unravelling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, it could also be their finest moment.

A story about family, being brave and opening up to new love, ‘How to Keep a Secret’ is a feel-good  and emotional novel that will keep you hooked until the final page.

How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan was published on the 14th of June 2018.

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This was the first Showcase from the HQ team and it was a wonderful evening.  The setting and location was perfect and the team warm and welcoming.  It can be quite daunting walking into a room full of people but I never felt out of place and always felt welcome.  I had met some wonderful people on this sunny evening in London and I came home with a bag full of books.  It has created one problem though – I really don’t know what to read first.  What I can say is that I’m looking forward  to reading each and every one.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts on them with you too.

That you HQ for inviting me to your Summer Showcase.  I had a fabulous time.