Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Literary

Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty

Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Turbulent Wake by Paul Hardistry.

A bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love, loss and grief. This extraordinary departure from the critically acclaimed thriller writer Paul E Hardisty explores the indelible damage we can do to those closest to us, the tragedy of history repeating itself and ultimately, the power of redemption in a time of change. Paul drew on his own experiences of travelling around the world as an engineer, from the dangerous deserts of Yemen, the oil rigs of Texas, the wild rivers of Africa, to the stunning coral cays of the Caribbean.

Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father, with whom he had a difficult relationship. Whilst clearing out the old man’s house, he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of vignettes and stories that cover the whole of his father’s turbulent and restless life.

As his own life unravels before him, Ethan works his way through the manuscript, searching for answers to the mysteries that have plagued him since he was a child. What happened to his little brother? Why was his mother taken from him? And why, in the end, when there was no one left for him, did his own father push him away?

There is something rather beautiful about this story. The writing is exquisite. The storytelling unique. Ethan himself a complex and damaged character on the way to making his own set of mistakes, regret already a heavy companion in his young life. Yet where does the seed to these issues lie? Are they in the past or simply part of who we become as life overtakes us? Could his fathers death provide the catalyst to change to move him away from self destruction?

The death of someone closely related to our childhood, such as a parent, can have a profound affect on our lives. Sorting through the debris, the personal effects can be cathartic and painful. Life changing events are rarely without pain and Ethan’s father is something of an enigma to him. After his death he is left with unanswered questions, pain and a sense of abandonment. So he almost doesn’t bother with the manuscript he discovers, unaware that his father was even a writer. Yet something compels him to read what seems to be a series of short stories but on closer inspection a sort of memoir, the most recent written only days before his death. How did they find their way back to the house once he died? Was he trying to leave Ethan a message? And so he reads and through these texts he begins to understand a little more about his father and ultimately himself.

This is a coming of age story for an older generation. A generation who have already begun to make their mistakes but still have time to live and learn. How often are we left with a sense of incompleteness after a loved one dies? Unanswered questions. Missed opportunities. In Turbulent Wake Paul explores the impact we have on the world, both as a whole and on our immediate world. I remember once someone telling me that as an individual, as a single person, it is difficult, almost impossible, to change the world. Me being a natural worrier who was constantly over-thinking the bigger picture not knowing how I could make any difference at all. He reassured me that I couldn’t take on the worlds problems alone. We begin with our own, immediate world and this will filter out into the world as a whole. I think his message being take care of the little things and the big will follow. And yet this also means the opposite will follow too.

Following Ethan as he deals with his father’s death and revelations about his life we gain a sense of the impact his father had on him and the world around him. Yet it’s through the carefully interspersed short stories written by his father that we, and Ethan, begin to understand more about cause and effect. We see how easy it is to not only destroy the ones we love, but in the bigger picture, the world we live in too. Ethan begins to see his fathers worth with compassion and understanding but also his damage too. His was not a blameless life by no means and there was much he came to regret. Seemingly small mistakes that begun a tsunami of unrepairable events that would have a far-reaching effect on those around him.

This book is a stunning, richly woven piece of literature. It is uniquely written, beautiful, heartbreaking and utterly unforgettable. It was one I wanted to saviour and take my time with. There is so much we can learn. We need to take better care of ourselves and our planet. This senseless drive for financial success and status is removing us from what’s really important in life. Our own self-absorption can be our downfall. We need to stop and look around at the world and our lives around us. Learn from the past and saviour what life really has to offer us beneath all the noise. I absolutely love a novel that makes me think and ask questions. Turbulent Wake does this and more. I love that it can be dissected for meaning and metaphor and yet enjoyed simply for the thrill of the storytelling and the skill of the writing.

Read this novel. Devour and yet saviour it. Stand still for a moment and smell the roses. Then think about your world and how you’d like to leave it for the ones you leave behind.

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Many thanks to the fabulous Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and sending me a digital copy.

Turbulent Wake is yet another astounding novel published by the team at Orenda Books.

About the author

Paul E. Hardisty

Canadian Paul E Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners of out Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science AIMS). The first four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for the Dead and Absolution all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and was a Daily Telegraph Thriller of the Year. Paul is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.

You can follows Paul on Twitter at @Hardisty_Paul.

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Blog Tour, Children's Fiction, Christmas 2018

Christmas is coming…#FatherChristmasBeliever

When I was small, one of my friends said something really silly. He said that Father Christmas didn’t exist.’

December is here and it’s time to get Christmassy. The tree has gone up, mulled wine has been consumed and I’m now sitting in a delicious Christmas haze reading The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller. I first read it back in the summer and I loved it then. The second time around is even more delicious, especially now that Christmas is creeping ever closer.

So this is the first in three days of posts about this festive story which will culminate with a special giveaway when I kick off the blog tour on Monday.

Tomorrow I shall be posting a short Q&A with Ben and illustrator Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini plus a little more info on this very special Christmas story.

Adult Fiction

The Last Days of Leda Grey by Essie Fox

I originally reviewed this title last year for Lovereading. I’ve been a fan of Essie’s since first reading the wonderful Elijah’s Mermaid in 2013. Her writing is haunting and incredibly atmospheric and I’ve loved each one of her memorable novels. Essie also writes an absolutely fascinating blog as The Virtual Victorian. I thoroughly recommend checking her out if you haven’t already discoverer her. Read on for my Lovereading review or click on the link above to go direct to their website.

Ed Peters, a young Fleet Street journalist, lives a hedonistic 1970’s lifestyle of which he’s grown weary. Whilst the country is in the grip of a stifling heatwave, Ed returns to his mother’s hometown of Brightland in an effort to make his peace with both her and his past. However, an encounter in a junk shop leaves him bewitched by the story of the young silent movie actress, Leda Grey. As he sets out to meet the reclusive actress both life and sanity are at risk as he enters Leda’s world and the secrets hidden away for over 60 years in her decaying cliff-top house.

The oppressiveness of the heatwave together with the trickery and magic of the silent films is incredibly atmospheric throughout the book; causing us to question what is real and what is a mirage, blurring fact and fiction. Essie’s writing is beautiful and sensuous, capturing the very essence of time, place and character perfectly. Even days after finishing this story I can still see Leda Grey sweeping through the house, both in her young innocence and later as the weary, tormented ghost of the girl she used to be. Yet there is more to this faded movie star than meets the eye. What secrets surround her and what horrors haunt both woman and house? Ed is soon drawn into her story and the curse that surrounds her. Haunting, sad and beautifully written, this is yet another stunning novel from the wonderful Essie Fox.

Published by Orion.
Published in paperback: 14th November 2017

Reviewed originally for Lovereading.

 

Middle Grade Fiction

The Boy With One Name by J.R. Wallis

It’s Saturday and it’s Autumn – a great time to buy books.

I absolutely love Middle Grade fiction. It’s exciting and there is such an amazing choice for kids (and those of us still kids at heart). Unfortunately although there are many amazingly well stocked and managed school libraries out there not all of them have the funds or space to keep a stock of fresh, new titles. If you are lucky enough to have a local library then I urge you to use it if you don’t already and of course a bookshop of any shape or size is always a great place to visit. So, if you are looking for a weekend reading treat here’s my recommendation for this week.

The Boy With One Name by J.R.Wallis

I absolutely adore a little magic and mystery. Throw in some mortal danger, monsters and things that go bump in the night and I’m in heaven. 😄

This summer the rather lovely people over at Simon & Schuster kids sent me a copy of The Boy With One Name. The cover alone grabbed my interest as soon as it slipped out from it’s Jiffy bag.

WELCOME TO THE BADLANDS … a hidden part of our world populated by creatures which most people think exist only in fairytales and nightmares.

The story features two young protagonists – Jones desperately wants to be a normal boy but since he was a baby fate has had other plans, because Jones is an apprentice Badlander. Badlanders hunt witches, ogres, shapeshifters and other monsters that ordinary people only see in their nightmares.

Ruby is also desperate for a different life. Running away from her latest foster carer and a difficult home life, Ruby  is searching for a world she can fit into. A world where she has some purpose and meaning.

Things go terribly wrong on the night that Jones is making his first kill as part of his commencement to become a Badlander and suddenly he is left without his master Maitland, the one man who taught him everything he knows and who’s been there for him since he was a baby. Now he is alone with only a talking gun (which he can’t touch) for guidance.

Looking for a safe place to hide, runaway Ruby finds herself caught up in Jones life and the monsters that she thought only belonged in fairytales and nightmares. Before long circumstances force them to work together as each tries to not only stay alive but to find the lives they’ve both dreamed of.

What follows is an adventure story that grips from the very first page as you tumble into the Badlands. Adrenaline filled and full of danger, Wallis will have you cheering for more.

This is a great book about friendship, self discovery, learning who you are and finding courage in even the most desparate of situations. I absolutely loved Jones and fiesty Ruby. They each had their own problems but discovered that working together they could achieve anything.

An exciting start to what I hope will become a series. This will make a fantastic, fun and exciting read.

Published by Simon and Schuster
Published in paperback in August 2017
Review copy supplied by the lovely people at Simon and Schuster (thanks so much:)

Find out more about author J.R.Wallis by visiting his website: here.

Here’s a small taster that I’ve taken from the opening page.

     Jones stopped. He’d felt safe enough creeping down the path in front of the cottage, in the dark.  But now the moon had reappeared from behind the clouds, the world was relit with a softer silver light meaning he was much more likely to be seen.

He kept trying to focus on what Maitland had promised, that he wouldn’t come to any harm. But that was less easy to believe now they were actually here. Scared to go on, Jones looked behind him, to where his Master was hiding, hoping to be beckoned back.

Maitland stepped out from the granite porch concealing the front door of the cottage and stood on the path, big as a bolder in his greatcoat. He said nothing. His craggy face remained hidden below the peak of his baseball cap. And Jones knew right away Maitland wanted him to go on, however bright the moon, because this was his big night. This was his big test.

 

Adult Fiction, Musings and Wonderment

A blast from the past… because sometimes a novel becomes so much more.

Two years ago I published an article on Kate Kerrigan’s novel The Dress. It’s one of those novels that I enjoyed so much I know I’ll revisit whenever I fancy curling up with an old friend. This novel in particular came to mind when I recently spent some time at the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion Exhibition at the V&A, it was absolutely fascinating and as I wondered around the stunning creations and enjoyed an insight into how they were created my thoughts returned to Kate’s novel. As I learned a little more about Balenciaga’s story it reminded me that behind each garment there is a story of a person, not just of the person who would own it but those who worked in it’s creation. Everything has a story. So as it holds such lovely memories I thought I’d share my article again now. It is after all a rather fabulous novel.

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

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One of the many highlights for me in a day at Lovereading.co.uk is when a proof lands on my desk for a novel which we feel will meet the high expectations of our fabulous reader review panel. Quite often the cover gives very little away and it can be particularly thrilling when you are presented with few clues as to what lies on the pages within. However, publisher’s will at times make the proofs (almost) as beautiful as the finished copies and as soon as I saw the cover of Kate Kerrigan’s The Dress, I just wanted to pick it up and start reading. And read it I did, along with a selection of members from the Lovereading Reader Review Panel.

How delighted I was to then discover that Kate Kerrigan herself was coming to our local indie bookshop (yes, we’re lucky enough to still have one) in East Grinstead. So on a bright and beautiful Saturday afternoon I found myself amongst some rather lovely, beautifully dressed ladies listening to Kate as she chatted about her inspiration for the book and her life as a writer.

An extremely warm and friendly woman, she made us all feel welcome, as though meeting an old friend for coffee. Instantly everyone was at ease in the comfortable surroundings of the small cafe within the bookshop. As I had read the novel it was a delight to hear her read a familiar chapter and those discovering the story for the first time were inspired enough to purchase one of the beautiful hard backed copies available to buy on the day.

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Ladies in dresses with Kate (2nd from the right) – (Image provided courtesy of Kate Kerrigan)

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Lovely Kate & I – (Image provided courtesy of Kate Kerrigan)

As Kate spoke about her inspiration for the novel she questioned the power a dress has. This question has since been floating around my head. Personally, I’m a big fan of dresses. They are feminine, smart, sexy, beautiful and they come in so many shapes, sizes and styles. Whatever the season, whatever the occasion there is a dress to suit and I just love that. A favoured garment can make us feel confident, attractive, dare I say beautiful? It can pull us out of the dumps and even reignite precious memories. But can a dress really make someone fall in love? Could it even save a marriage?

These questions are all touched on within the story but there is also so much more within the pages of this delightful novel. I loved the dressmaking details throughout, the dual time setting, glamourous locations and the engaging characters brought to life by Kate. Her characterisation is excellent, as is her attention to detail. During her time with us at The Bookshop, Kate also shared some of her experiences as a writer and divulged the often unrecognised hard work that writing a novel requires. As an (aspiring) writer myself it’s good to know that a book is not just written but nurtured. It takes time, attention and love (and a tough but great editor:) For me The Dress was an engrossing, easy read and a delight from start to finish.

Just a few days after meeting Kate I found myself visiting Killerton House, a National Trust property in Devon. Killerton is home to a fashion collection of over 10,000 items of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing dating from 1690 to the 1970’s (Source – National Trust). Each year the house displays a selection from the collection in an exhibition. This years exhibition, The F-Word: the changing language of fashion, celebrates innovations within the fashion industry and the advances they have brought throughout history. The exhibition features pieces from the past, along with new work created by students from Exeter College.

A selection of dresses from the historic collection at Killerton.

A selection of dresses from the historic collection at Killerton.

Shoes, glorious shoes!

Shoes, glorious shoes!

A knitted wedding dress from the 1970's.

A knitted wedding dress from the 1970’s.

One of the impressive new creations whose story is just beginning.

One of the impressive new creations (a story is just beginning).

As I wandered around the exhibition my thoughts returned to The Dress, Joy, Lily, Honor and Frank. It made me wonder about the stories within each of these historic pieces and if a little of the people who had worn them over the years had been left behind. Maybe some of their energy remained within the folds of fabric, the swish of a skirt or the sparkle of a sequin. Quite often memories are locked into the garments we wear; a wedding dress is treasured, just as a favorite jumper can be. The sorting of clothes after the loss of a loved one can be traumatic and painful. Clothes become part of who we are. This is one thing that most can relate to and why the choice of subject in Kate’s book is so interesting. The Dress feels like a character in itself and I read on intrigued to know it’s fate. It was, after all, the image on the front cover that first drew me to the novel before I had even read the synopsis.

The cover image design was based on descriptions of the dress within the story. It is stunning and inspired me to indulge myself by drawing a version with slight alterations made to fit just me. What decoration would your dress be adorned with? As you may see from the picture below my dress includes images of flowers rather than fairy-tales. Of course the absolute perfect dress for me might well be covered in the titles of my favourite novels.

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Do you have a dress that is special to you? Please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

You can find further information about The Dress by Kate Kerrigan at Lovereading.co.uk or at www.katekerrigan.ie.

Finally thank you so much to Olivia D’Silva for organising the event and to The Bookshop in East Grinstead for hosting and finally to Kate for coming to visit. I wish her every success with her novel and very much look forward to the next.

Adult Fiction

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Courages, strength and erotica is at the heart of this humorous, heart-warming tale about a clash of cultures and the women in our lives we should never take for granted. Nikki is a modern girl living in London who is determined to live life on her own terms. She’s also Punjabi. Her mother hasn’t quite forgiven her for dropping out of law school, or selfishly moving from the family home to work in a pub outside of their community. Sister Mindi, to her horror, wants an arranged marriage and Nikki has never felt more alienated from her family and the traditional values they embrace. When she begins teaching a creative writing class for Punjabi widows, Nikki is surprised by the strength and passion that lies within the women and the secrets they hold. Before long stories begin to emerge. They are good, full of erotic description and give the women a platform to be heard for the first time in their lives. Before long the stories are being shared outside the classroom. However, something darker lies beneath the revered community and its traditions, something that brings danger to this group of women who wish for nothing more than to express themselves and move away from the shadows. A deeper truth is soon exposed, a truth that will send shockwaves throughout the community, bringing danger to both Nikki and the group. A great read filled with memorable characters and their stories.

Published in Hardback: 7th March 2017

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Published in Paperback: 7th September 2017

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Published by HarperCollins

Find out more about the author Balli Kaur Jaswal by visiting her website here.

I reviewed this title on behalf of Lovereading.co.uk