The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan @evgaughan @urbanebooks #Bookreview

I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan. My huge thanks to Urbane Publications for gifting me a copy of this book. You can buy a copy of The Story Collector from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

A beautiful and mysterious historical romance from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris.

Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English.

But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life…..

Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve.

The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan’s latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell. Perfect for fans of Jess Kidd and Eowyn Ivey.

My Thoughts:

This is a fabulous and fantastic story that encompasses mythological and legendary tales from the Good People or Fairy Folk of Ireland. The Story Collector is Harold, who is researching and writing a thesis on the folklore and of the belief people have of the Fairies. He enlists the help of local girl Anna and they travel around her homeland collecting tales and stories, she keeps her own diary of these stories. A hundred years later and the diary is found by Sarah when she makes a spontaneous trip to Ireland, was it spontaneous or was it fate, or maybe it was something more.

This story is such a good mix of things; folklore, myth, legend, love, life and death. The author has created a wonderful story that combines all of theses within a beautifully described area of the world. I love the way I was transported into the community that Anna lived in and walked or cycled along the lanes visiting people and listening to their tales.

I should add that there is a dual timeline to this story. The story of Sarah is one that also struck a chord as she comes to terms with things in her life. As much as I also loved Sarah’s story I have to say Harold and Anna were the characters that really did it for me.

This book is fabulously written and I was able to imagine the various scenes and images from the words. A story of love and loss that has a span of a hundred years so I was transported back and forth across the years as they alternated in their telling.

Yes I loved this book and read it in one sitting as I was captivated and enchanted. A book I would highly recommend to those who love a little romance, a little history and a little folk-lore. Go buy yourself a copy right this moment xx

About the Author:

91hSfiej5XL._SY200_.jpgEvie Gaughan is the bestselling author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris.

Living on the West Coast of Ireland, which is not renowned for its sunny climate, Evie escapes from the inclement weather into a converted attic to write stories and dream about underfloor heating. Growing up in a walled medieval city, she developed her love of storytelling and all things historical. Her books tread the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly – but always with an Irish woman’s wit. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, her stories are full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell.

When not writing, she also works as an artist, creating stories on canvas. Evie is currently working on her third novel, The Story Collector, which will be published by Urbane in 2018.

Follow Evie on Twitter  – Amazon Author Page

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing 🙂 xx

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#BlogTour | #GlimmerOfHope by Steve McHugh @StevejMcHugh |#GuestPost #BookReview @annecater

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I am delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for “Glimmer of Hope” by Steve McHugh, the first in The Avalon Chronicles.  Available in various formats and you can get a copy HERE. I am over the moon to have a Guest Post by Steve, he discusses his “Getting published” experiences, I wasn’t sure if I would have time to read the book in time for the tour, I should have a little more faith in myself as I can also share my thoughts on the book I did have time to read 🙂 xx Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the tour x

Synopsis:

From Steve McHugh, the bestselling author of The Hellequin Chronicles, comes a new urban fantasy series packed with mystery, action, and, above all, magic.
Layla Cassidy has always wanted a normal life, and the chance to put her father’s brutal legacy behind her. And in her final year of university she’s finally found it. Or so she thinks.
But when Layla accidentally activates an ancient scroll, she is bestowed with an incredible, inhuman power. She plunges into a dangerous new world, full of mythical creatures and menace—all while a group of fanatics will stop at nothing to turn her abilities to their cause.
To protect those she loves most, Layla must take control of her new powers…before they destroy her. All is not yet lost—there is a light shining, but Layla must survive long enough to see it.

Guest Post by Steve:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Getting Published. 

Every author you ever speak to about how they became published has a different story. This is mine. 

I was 25 back in 2004 when my first child was about to be born, and I figured I should actually try this whole writing thing seriously. Turns out writing a book is hard. Who knew? 

It took me several years to get to a place where I had written something I actually thought worthy of publication, it was my second completed book, and was called Crimes Against Magic (spoilers, it did get published). 

I wanted to go the traditional publishing route. I just wanted to see my book in shops. I had no illusions about being a best-seller, or the next [Insert name of famous author here] I just wanted to write the best story I could, and get it out there. 

I sent query letters and synopsis to agents, making sure that I actually gave them what they asked for, and received quite a bit of useful feedback about why the book isn’t for them, but good luck. 

By 2011, I was beginning to feel a little downhearted. I’d spent the better part of a year trying to get the book published, I’d been writing other things in the meantime, and wondered whether or not Crimes was actually worthy of publishing. 

Several self-published friends of mine at the time spoke to me about how they’d been able to do well through self-publishing and that maybe I should look into it. 

Well, first I decided to send the book into the Amazon Breakthrough Novelist Award, and it ended up in the semi-finals (last 200 out of several thousand, I think). I found the whole process rejuvenated my thoughts that the book was worthwhile. I set about the self-publishing route. 

It took me a year or so to get the book properly edited, a good cover, and reading up on how to get your book noticed before I clicked upload and it was on Amazon. 

Then things got a bit unexpected. People started buying it. Quite a lot of people. 

By the end of the year, I’d published book 2, Born of Hatred, and by the January of the following year had 2 books that together had sold in the tens of thousands of copies. I was over the moon. 

Then things got even more unexpected. 

A publisher by the name of 47North (part of Amazon publishing’s own imprint) contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in working with them on relaunching the 2 Hellequin books, and also writing several more for them. I said yes. 

After the third book came out a year later, I also got an agent in the form of Paul Lucas at Janklow and Nesbit. 

So, in the end I did get my books in stores, and I did get an agent, and publisher, but I sort of took a detour to get there. And none of it might have happened if I’d never taken the chance on self-publishing the book. 

After 6 years of being published, by the end of 2018 I’ll have had 10 published books and 1 novella. It’s a staggering thing to consider that I’ve come all this way in such a short period of time, and that my journey from aspiring author to best-selling author was one with so many twists and turns, with so many lows and highs. But sometimes you have to take that chance, and sometimes it doesn’t pay off, but when it does, it can change everything in ways you can’t even imagine.

Follow Steve on Twitter ~ Blog ~ Facebook Author Page

My Thoughts:

This is my first experience with this author and what an absolutely brilliant introduction I had via Glimmer of Hope.  Layla is the main character in this book, a woman who has problems trusting and accepting people in her life.  She has a history and a story that is best kept secret, but she does have two good friends and she will need them as she discovers what this world and life holds in store for her.

Oh this book was a great read that hit all the right spots for me.  An Urban Fantasy with a whole range of legendary, mythological and folk-lore characters and above all magic, spirits and demons.  As Layla learns that there is more to her life than what she first imagined, she has hidden her past from others, but then others have also hidden parts of Layla’s past from her to protect her. She will discover that she does have a place and a role in life and believe when I say you don’t want to mess with her. The author has created a great mix of characters and has given enough details for the reader to see his “other” characters.

This is a fast paced, kick ass, saving the world, urban fantasy novel.  I did think it had a bit of a feel of being aimed at a YA audience. I am looking forward to continuing this journey  and read future books from The Avalon Chronicles, and also to start to read the Hellequin books. A great read that I would definitely recommend to those who like Urban Fantasy, Action and Fantasy genres, or a great start for those who want a bit of escapism.

If you want to see what others thought of this book, check out the dates and below

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Many thanks for reading my post, a share would be great if you liked it.  Get your own copy of this book HERE 🙂 xx

#AudioBook : Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken #Review

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I have a first for me today on my blog, an audio book! “Six Stories” by Matt Wesolowski published by Audible Studios, this is also available in paperback and eBook format by Orenda Books. Take your pick of format and BUY HERE

Synopsis:

It’s 1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

It’s 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult Internet figure.

Featuring a full cast narration using 17 different voices!

My Thoughts:

I have never really properly sat down to listen to an audio book before, they have been background noise like a radio would be, so when I spotted Amazon running a free trial I decided it was about time I gave them a go.  Where to start and what to pick was a problem, you have 1 free purchase of any book and there are millions, literally millions to chose from.  So my choice was based on just browsing until something cropped up.  This is when I saw “Six Stories” I have this one on my wish list, it is there because of the  book reviews I had seen from fellow Bloggers and also on the Blog Tour for Orenda Books organised by Anne Cater.  It seemed like a good choice as I had not read it, wanted read it but finding the time to fit it in was a problem.  I agree not the most scientific choice, but it worked for me.  What I had not realised, or more like had forgotten about was that this book was set out as a podcast and it soon became apparent, either by pure luck or fate this book was already a good choice given its written style.  I listened to this as I was digging my garden, you may think this odd, but NO DISTRACTIONS! so it worked for me 🙂

So enough waffling, onto my thoughts.  This is story is set out as a series of podcasts by  6 different people as they recount their version of events from 1995/6 when a Tom Jeffries body is found. The podcast is produced 10 years later and is the work of Scott King and he has interviewed those who knew Tom.

OH WOW!!!! What a story, twists, darkness, atmospheric details, suspense, drama it has the lot and a hell of a lot more.  As I listened to this story there were times when I forgot I was listening to a book or a work of fiction.  You get a real sense of the characters and also the environment of Scarclaw Fell. The characters conveyed many emotions as they told their tale, some with hesitation and nerves, a sign of embarrassment or guilt maybe.  The interviewees have a reluctance about them that adds to the air of mystery, also adds to the feeling of them having more involvement than they want to admit.  I really liked the way Matt used Scott’s character by adding little asides about the little nuances he picks up from the characters as they tell their tales.  He relates a reluctance a hesitation or little visual quirks he notices in the characters, whether they are coincidental to the story they tell or just something he notices.  Again another great way to build up suspicion and suspense.

The description of the Fell were very well described, an area containing geological, historical and industrial descriptions.  A place of danger from abandoned mine shafts and marshes, with the inevitable folklore tales of a mysterious, legendary character that will trap the unwary.  There is a presence of bullying in this story, it is not nice listening to someone tell of how it had affected them it is an essential element that has been very well portrayed and Matt has not held back on this issue but has also not over dramatised it.

So as a bit of a summary, this is a real gritty, atmospheric and superb listen.  I think this is one I will definitely read as a book even though I have listened to the audio.  I did get a real sense of suspense, drama and there is a little bit of a horror element to it.  It has a feel of something very different, new and exciting about it.  On the audio side of it, the voices of the characters were good, I did find a couple of voices that I was not that keen on but it didn’t take away any of the enjoyment.  It helped that with remembering the characters, but not as much as I would remember them in a book.  I think this is a skill that can be developed over time.

This is a story I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND who want a something that is full of mystery, tales, folklore, that is atmospheric, gritty and dark.  It will keep you on the edge of your seat as the tale is told, and what a tale it was.  I absolutely loved this one.

 

About the Author:

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North.

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous magazines and US anthologies.

Wesolowski was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015, his subsequent debut crime novel ‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2017

Follow Matt on Twitter 

About the Audio Book:

  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 15 Mar. 2017
  • Language: English

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give it a share. 

#BookReview : The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert @mimi_albert @penguinrandom @NetGalley #PublicationDay

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I am so delighted to be bringing you my thoughts on “The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert, it is due for publication today and available in various formats.  Published by Penguin it can be purchased from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

My Thoughts:

When you think of fairy tales it is often woods, wolves, castles, princes and princesses with a happy ever after.  The Hazel Wood is nothing like that, it contains fairy tales but they are darker with an underlying feeling of dread to them.  The reclusive and mysterious author Althea Prosperine published her only novel Tales of the Hinterland.  Her granddaughter Ella has never met Althea, never read the book, but is aware of it.  In fact not many have met Althea or even have a copy of the book.  Ella and her mum Alice have to move around a lot, they keep their heads down, always try to keep ahead of the bad luck that seems to shadow them.  This story is how Ella and the reader learns about The Hazel Wood, the book and the bad luck.

This is a brilliantly woven story using the basic premise of a fairy tales.  Twisting them into a dark and brooding journey for the reader.  As we follow Ella and Alice there are things that are seen out of the corner of an eye that gives feeling of the supernatural that have mysterious darker undertones, shadows that linger, people that don’t quite fit in, this all adds to a feeling of tense suspense.  As the story unfolds there are several twists that I didn’t expect, they are clever and make this an extremely addictive read. There are several characters in this story and they are easily remembered and play their parts well, they have good backstories, and while I didn’t like all the characters I found them intriguing.

Once I started this story I could not put it down, the descriptions give a vivid and imaginative picture.  I loved the style of the writing, at times it had the fairy tale feel you would expect, but also a darker much more intense feel that was far removed from fairy tales.  I would like to see follow on from this book as there were several characters that I would like to know more about, and some that left me with questions. But overall it has been beautifully put together and is one I would absolutely recommend.

So if you like a dark and twisty fantasy read that has some roots in magical fairy tales then this is a book for you.  It is a young adult read, that an older adult loved.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for my eARC of this wonderful book, my thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

You can visit the author in Twitter and also find all the links to purchase the books HERE

 

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give it a share.  Or go and grab yourself a copy of this brilliant book 🙂 xx

November Book Round up. Blog tours, blitz’s & reviews on Me and My Books.

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This month has been a very busy reading month for me.  With a whole range of different genres, authors and publishers. With 25 books read and a guest post as I was unable to read a further book in time, I can say it has been my most busiest month as far as reading goes ever.

So to start with the Blog Tours, I was involved in.

Absolution by P.A.Davies | Scream Blue Murder by Tony. J, Forder | Dark Chapter by Winnie. M Li  |  The Mercury Travel Club by Helen Bridgett  | Illusion by Stephanie Elmas  |  Into The Valley by Chris Clement-Green  |

There were a number of different Blog Blitz tours as well. 

Wormwood by Larry Enmon  | The Dead Whisper by Emma Clapperton  | Secrets & Fries at The Starlight Dinner by Helen Cox |  Christmas at The Little Knitting Box by Helen. J. Rolfe  | The Big Event by Anne John-Ligali

Books sent to me for my thoughts on them, or that I offered to read.

Dinner At The Happy Skeleton by Chris Chalmers  | The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw   | Living in Italy, The Real Deal by Stef Smulders  | Hit The Road, Jac! by Jacqui Furneaux    |  Sweet Maple by Michelle Visser

NetGalley gave me a chance to start to read books aimed at children, as well as for my usual genres.

Mr Campions Abdication by Mike Ripley  | The Price of Silence by Delores Gordon-Smith  | Three Days a Life by Pierre Lemaitre  | Hortense and the Shadow by O’Hara Sisters  | The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

Finally a few books from my TBR Pile.

Bone by Yrsa Daley Ward   |The LimeHouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd | Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek by Anthony O’Neill
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Finally I received the most amazing Guest Post from Peter Bartram.  Author of “Crampton of The Chronicle” mystery series.  I have rad some of his books in the past, but I just could not squeeze another book into my reading schedule. His post about Ruth Ellis, who was the last woman to be hung in England, has a link into his new book. GuestPost by Peter Bartram.

 

 

 

 

A big ” Thank You” to everyone who has shared, tweeted and commented over the month.  As well as a huge “Thank You” to the authors, tour organiser and publishers.

If you liked this post, or any of the other links to my posts, please give them a like or a share.  Or better still, go and buy the book 🙂

#BookReview :Hortense and the Shadow by @oharasisters : @PuffinBooks @PenguinUKBooks

 

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“Hortense and the Shadow” by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara is available now in hardback or eBook.

As Christmas is fast approaching I decided that it was time to have a look at some children’s books, though at first a little unsure of where to start.  Then I had an email via NetGalley for this book, you may call it fate.  I call it magic!

Synopsis:

“Through the dark and wolfish woods, through the white and silent snow, lived a small girl called Hortense. Though kind and brave, she was sad as an owl because of one thing . . . Hortense hated her shadow.” A beautifully illustrated dark fairy tale that will remind you of the fables you read as a child. A treasure not to be missed.

Hortense hated her shadow. Everywhere she went, it went. Everything she did, it did. And every time night fell it grew, tall and dark and crooked.

So Hortense decided: the shadow must go! Only later, alone in the wolfish woods, she learned that a girl without a shadow is far smaller… a fairy tale about light and shadows. 

My Thoughts:

This is a beautiful book with a beautiful story.  It has an old story feel to it, when you read the bio of the authors it is obvious that old stories have been a big part of their lives. I was drawn to the artwork originally, the whimsical, delicate pastel illustrations are superb.  They manage to capture the atmosphere of the setting and the story.  The story itself is based on Hortense and her dislike of her shadow, it follows her everywhere, at night turning into a dark, creepy shadow that was scary. She manages to cut the shadow off, but can feel it’s presence, but one night it comes to her rescue.  Hortense realises her shadow is something that is an extension of herself, can make her appear taller, longer and reach further.

This is a book I would love to have read as a child, and would love to have read to my now grown up children.  It is a story with a message, is beautifully written and I loved the illustrations.

I would like to express my thanks to NetGalley and the Publishers for allowing me a copy of this eARC.  My opinions are my own and are unbiased.

About the Authors:

Natalia and Lauren are two sisters from the North of England. In the daytime they edit scripts and design sets, and at night they draw and write together. As children they loved fairy tales, animal fables and the stories their Polish grandmother told on snowy nights. Hortense and the Shadow is their first picture book.

Visit their Website or on Twitter

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Age Range: 5 – 7 years
  • Publisher: Puffin (5 Oct. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141374020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141374024
  • Purchase from Amazon UK

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked this, give it a share.  Or better still, go and buy the book.