#BlogTour :Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict : @Netgalley @Sourcebooks

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 “Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict. 

Published by Source Books Landmark.  This book is available in various formats and is available to purchase from Amazon US .  I received an eARC via NetGalley of this book.  My thoughts expressed are my own and are unbiased.

Synopsis:

From the author of The Other Einstein, the mesmerizing tale of what kind of woman could have inspired an American dynasty.

Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She’s not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets. But the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home.

If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady’s maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills he doesn’t have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does have is a resolve as strong as the steel Pittsburgh is becoming famous for, coupled with an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future — and her family’s.

With captivating insight and heart, Carnegie’s Maid tells the story of one brilliant woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world’s first true philanthropist..

My Thoughts:

Clara Kelly steps of the boat Envy, from Ireland and now emigrating to America.  A woman of the same name and from the same area of Ireland is also expected, our Clara takes the initiative and travels to Pittsburgh to become a Lady’s maid to Mrs. Carnegie, mother to Andrew a business man who will go on to become the wealthiest man in the world.

While the initial premise of this book sounds great, I did find that the idea of a Irish farmers daughter being able to pull off the skilled role of a lady’s maid somewhat unbelievable, but I actually put that aside and just enjoyed the story, this was quite interesting.  Clara spends a lot of time with her employer and builds up a friendship with her son.  I found a lot of details on the Carnegie family that I was unaware of in this book.  I didn’t know much about the family before I started this story, but by the end I found a huge amount of detail had been added as part of the story.  It did spark an interest and I found myself reading further on the internet, so I can also now add that the author has done her research well.

So, as well as the research and information given on the Carnegies, there were also some other nice details for social etiquette and status of the time especially when on a visit to New York.  The characters of Clara, Andrew and Mrs. Carnegie have been developed very well.  This book has a nice steady pace, and has some inclusion of famous historical events that help keep the feel of the era it is set in.

This is a good read that would appeal to readers of historical fiction, American History with social and economic elements from 1860’s America and Ireland included.  I did feel there were some discrepancies with the way Clara could have got this job, but I read this as more of a fiction book than a historically accurate fictionalised one.

About the Author:

B1rrvouIrFS._SY200_Once a New York City lawyer, Marie Benedict had long dreamed about a fantastical job unraveling the larger mysteries of the past as an archaeologist or historian — before she tried her hand at writing. While drafting her first book, she realized that she could excavate the possible truths lurking in history through fiction, and has done so in THE OTHER EINSTEIN, the story of Mileva Maric, Albert Einstein’s first wife and a physicist herself. Writing as Heather Terrell, Marie also authored The Chrysalis, The Map Thief, and Brigid of Kildare. She is a graduate of Boston College and the Boston University School of Law, and lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 16, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 149264661X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492646617

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give it a share.  Better still, go and buy this book xx

 

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#BlogTour : Love, Secrets & Absolution by K.L.Loveley @K_L_Loveley : @_globeflower_

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I am pleased to be part of the tour for “Love, Secrets & Absolution” by K.L.Loveley, available in paperback and eBook.  Published by GlobeFlower Books.  I would like to say a big “Thank You” to Anna-Lisa Hasedzic at Globeflower and Allie for a copy of this wonderful book.

Synopsis:

People in the village gossip about Grace’s son, Alfie.

He’s a lonely boy full of secrets, lies, and obsessive thoughts.

How far can a mother’s love go? Will she ultimately sacrifice her life for his?

Set in Nottinghamshire, this family drama follows the lives of Grace and Alfie as he transforms from a naïve, young boy into a teenager spiralling out of control.

Love, Secrets, and Absolution is a coming of age story with a difference.

Deceit, betrayal, love, and addiction, a family falling apart in the midst of teenage angst and torn loyalties; will anybody find absolution?

My Thoughts:

Grace and Paul had been trying for sometime to have a baby before she finally falls pregnant.  Alfie makes his appearance in the world and as he grows up and takes in his surrounding and other, he realises that he is not quite the same as other children.  Paul is aware that his son is a little different, Grace loves her son regardless.  Set during a time of miners strikes in Nottinghamshire, money is tight, nerves are frayed and emotions run riot, the reader is allowed into this little family group and gets a very unique perspective of how the family works, observing the stresses, strains as well as the happy times and milestones.

This is a wonderful read that had me hooked from the very first few paragraphs to the very last sentence.  Told from the perspectives of Alifie and Mum Grace, from his arrival in the world through his early years, schools and university, and also wonderful diary entries from Grace.  I loved the reasoning, experiences, observations and thoughts from both of these characters, but especially from Alfie.  He is a vulnerable, easily led and naive boy trying to find his place in the world, wanting to belong and find his “normal” place in society.

It also touches upon how schools, Doctors and health professionals didn’t diagnose Alfie, but also how Grace didn’t push for a diagnosis.  A very insightful and poignant read, that was emotional at times and very believable, having to remind myself several times that these were not real but characters.  The author has used her experiences from nursing and observing people in various situations to add that all important extra detail to this story.

This is a great read that I would definitely recommend to readers who like General Fiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction with some wonderful detailing on family dynamics, social attitudes and factors, as well as mental health issues.

My views expressed here are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

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K.L Loveley is an exciting new author from Nottinghamshire, in England. Her debut novel ‘Alice’ is at times, a gritty but true to life story of a woman who finds herself in desperate straits.

The author’s love of writing began with a gift of a five year lock up diary at the age of seven and she has never stopped writing since. In addition to writing novels, the author writes poetry and will be sharing some of these on her blog.

She lives with her husband in a quaint village in Nottinghamshire and enjoys walking and cycling in the famous Sherwood Forest. The author and her husband own a narrowboat, and spend time navigating the British waterways. She spends many cosy evenings on her boat writing additional novels which will be released in the future.

To date, the author has enjoyed 40+ years working as a Nurse for the NHS , the latter twenty years as a Practice nurse in Primary care. During this time she has gained valuable knowledge and skills, which she has been able to transfer and use in her writing when related to medical and social issues.

K.L Loveley is a prolific reader, and reads a wide variety of genres. Some of her favourite bestselling authors include, Joanne Harris, Jodi Picoult, Marian Keyes, John le Carré, Maeve Binchy , Jojo Moyes and Philippa Gregory. She actively reviews the books that she reads on her blog klloveley.com and on GoodReads.

The author uses a pen name, K.L Loveley, aka Katie Lily Loveley. She felt compelled to use these names of her female ancestors, as a unique way of keeping their memory alive. Katie Loveley was the birth name of her maternal great grandmother. Lily, the Christian name of her paternal Grandmother. Alice, the main protagonist of her debut novel, was the name of her maternal grandmother. However, all of the characters in her stories are purely fictional.

She is currently working on a new novel which she hopes to publish in the near future.

Follow Allie on Twitter ~ Website  ~ Facebook

Details for Globeflower Books: Hybrid Publisher Agency – We nurture our authors and enrich our readers

Website: www.globeflower.co.uk

Twitter: @_Globeflower_

Facebook: The Globeflower Agency & Globeflower Books

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Globeflower Books (31 Oct. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1999829409
  • ISBN-13: 978-1999829407
  • Purchase from Amazon UK  ~ Amazon US

Many thanks for reading my post.  if you liked it, please give it a share.  Better still go and buy the book xx

 

#BlogTour : Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell @Alliescribbler : @rararesources : #BookReview

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I am so delighted to be taking part in the tour for this stunning book, “Tall Chimneys” by Allies Cresswell.  It is available to purchase in paperback and eBook, published via Createspace.  My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and Allie for my copy of this book.


Book Details: 

Tall Chimneys - Cover image

Paperback: 416 pages

 Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (5 Dec. 2017)

 Language: English

 ISBN-10: 1978036914

 ISBN-13: 978-1978036918

Purchase from Amazon UK ~ Amazon.Com


Synopsis:

Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition. Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder. Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself. A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever. One woman, one house, one hundred years.

My Thoughts:

This is stunningly beautiful book.  Tall Chimneys is a Jacobean house set in a dip alongside the Yorkshire Moors. The story that unfolds is one that shows the relationship the Talbot family have with the house over a hundred years. It is told from the perspective of Evelyn, the youngest family member at the time. As she tells her story she also includes things going on in the world, providing reference dates through history. The house has a hold over Evelyn, it has always been there for her, it has been her home as she has watched it pass through the family.  It has been a place that at witnessed and seen many things along with Evelyn.  It has hosted parties and soiree’s, held secret wartime meetings, met famous people and also American servicemen, seen births and deaths and has remained just a little out of time, not really modernised properly at any point.  It holds a whisper of times gone past.

This is such a beautiful story to read.  It dips into family dynamics and social class structure of the times, looking at the differences and expectations of those “above stairs” and also those “below stairs”.  There is a wonderful array of characters, some you will love, other despise, odd one will probably infuriate and then there are the loathsome, they share different personalities, outlooks, opinions and expectations on life, love, death and loss.

As Evelyn led me through her story I could not help but feel for her, she has stayed true to Tall Chimneys, has been caught up in the time bubble that has surrounded it, in doing this she has used the house as a security blanket, it is her home, safe haven and refuge. The detailing that Allie has added to this book regarding the house, the interior, gardens and surrounding area built up a wonderful image for me.  All this was given as Evelyn made her way through the story.  Then at the end of the book we are brought up to present day as a distant relative shows an interest in discovering his roots, it is a very good way to bring an end to the story, this I found quite emotional as I knew I was also coming towards the end of this book.

For me the pacing is perfect for this book, from the first few lines of the prologue to the final line in the epilogue.  As I read of the pull that the house had over Evelyn, I found a similar pull keeping me held with in the story, so much so that I stayed up to finish this book until 2:45am, that was how much of a hold it had on me.

I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book, stunning, beautiful, wonderfully written and totally captivating.  Ideal for readers of Literary Historical Fiction, General Fiction and Women’s Fiction.

Thank you so much Allie and Rachel for a copy of this book. My thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

Tall Chimneys - Allie Cresswell.JPG

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, one granddaughter and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

Tall Chimneys is the sixth of her novels to be published.

Facebook – Website – Twitter

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#BookReview :#AnatomyofaScandal by Sarah Vaughan : @SVaughanAuthor : @simonschusterUK : @NetGalley

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“Anatomy Of A Scandal” by Sarah Vaughan and has a planned release date of 11th January 2018 you can pre-order now.  Published by Simon & Schuster UK and available as Hardback, eBook and Audio.

Book Detail:

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (11 Jan. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471164993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471164996
  • Purchase from 

Synopsis:

You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.

“A strong choice for book clubs. Former political correspondent Vaughan makes an impressive debut with this savvy, propulsive courtroom drama.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Vaughan offers gripping insight into a political scandal’s hidden machinations and the tension between justice and privilege…Absorbing, polished.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Skillfully interweaving the story of the unfolding scandal, Vaughan gradually reveals just how shockingly high the stakes are…Sinewy…engrossing, twist-filled.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

An astonishingly incisive and suspenseful novel about a scandal amongst Britain’s privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake.

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?

My Thoughts:

This is a story that is told from the perspective of several characters and across different timelines.  The trial of a Junior minister James, for the rape of a colleague, but it is a tricky case as they had an affair that had recently ended.  We are introduced to Kate the Prosecuting Barrister, Sophie who is James’s wife, and a few others, but these are the main ones.

This is at times a hard read as there are sexual references made.  Also at times I thought a little slow and repetitive at times as the story progresses.  But that being said,  I really enjoyed the different story  lines, they have been well developed and intertwined around the various characters.  They give an insightful read showing how they have changed over the years, why their opinions, demeanour and outlook on life is what it is.  But like most people they have skeletons in their closets, and these are now about to see the light of day, and they are going to have repercussions.

I really liked the character of Kate, by far my favourite one.  She has a strong persona but underneath is vulnerable and emotional.  Sophie felt like a real sap, over the years she seems to have lost her identity, then there is James, what a slime-ball of a man.  Kate has a different background to the other two so I think this is why I liked her, a black sheep of sorts in the social ranks of Oxford University.

I would recommend this book to readers of Courtroom Drama, Women’s Fiction with elements of suspense.  I will add that there are sexual references that may offend some readers.

I wish to express my thanks to Simon & Schuster, Atria Books and NetGalley for my eARC of this book.  My thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

811hOItAuOL._SY200_Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to be a journalist. After training at the Press Assocation, she spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter, health correspondent and political correspondent. It wasn’t until her second child was born, that she finally did what she’d always wanted to do and started writing fiction. The Art of Baking Blind is the result, and will also be published in the US (St Martin’s Press) and in nine translations. She lives near Cambridge and is working on her second novel.

Follow Sarah on : Facebook  Twitter  Website

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it, please give a share.  Better still go and buy the book xx

 

 

#BlogBlitz The Big Event by @AnneJohnLigali : pub by @BooksNAuthorsUK with @rararesources

 

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I am delighted to be on the blog tour for “The Big Event” by Anne John-Ligali. My thanks go to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot.  This book is available as an eBook.  Published by Books and Authors UK.

Synopsis:

You are cordially invited to the party of the season where you’ll meet Constance and her friends in action.

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a get-together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too. Or so she hopes.

A short story about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most.

A gorgeous venue, a room full of friends, what could possibly go wrong?

My Thoughts:

This was a really thought provoking book.  I found the situation that Constance found herself in, to be quite believable.  A lot of people have virtual friends that they virtually meet up with on an almost daily basis.  Using this as the basis for the story, Anne has set out to bring these virtual friends together at The Big Event, a face to face meet up.

A great idea that shows what could happen as social media is more and more dominant in our every day lives.  But there is such a lovely ending to this story.

A quick and very compelling read.  A dip into how social media can over take lives, if we allow it to.  I am definitely looking forward to reading more by this author.

Happy Publication Day Anne xxx

About the Author:

Meet Anne  Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews. She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

You can connect with Anne on the links below

AUTHOR BLOG: http://annejohnligali.com/

AUTHOR TWITTER: https://twitter.com/AnneJohnLigali

AUTHOR FB: https://www.facebook.com/annejohnligali/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/booksnauthorsuk/

BLOGSITE: www.booksandauthors.co.uk

BLOG TWITTER: https://twitter.com/BooksNAuthorsUK

BLOG FB: https://www.facebook.com/Books-and-Authors-UK-674729805905507/

Book Details:

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 857.0 KB
  • Print Length: 28 pages
  • Publisher: Books and Authors Publishing UK (30 Nov. 2017)
  • Purchase from Amazon UK

                                                                                    Giveaway Prize - Verigo-Tea

*****GIVEAWAY******

Win Sparkly Afternoon Tea for Two at Vertigo 42 in central London and one e-copy of The Big Event. >ENTER HERE<

 

 

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

#BookReview Dinner At The Happy Skeleton by Chris Chalmers @CCsw19 #HappyPublicationDay

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Happy Publication Day today to Chris Chalmers for “Dinner At The Happy Skeleton” available in as an eBook. (2nd Nov 2017), Published by J.Mendel Books

Synopsis:

Dan is the kind of gay man for whom the Noughties might have been named. Warm, witty and serially promiscuous, his heart melts at the sight of a chocolate brown Labrador – but with men, it’s a different matter. He’s thirty-nine and as single as ever, not counting the couple he just met online. An arrangement that looks oddly like it’s going somewhere until Dan gets fired from his job in advertising. With time out from his career and a payoff in his pocket, the summer presents a world of possibilities; just as the memories surface of the ex he blames for the thinly-veiled chaos of his life.

From London to Ljubljana, a yen for closure sets Dan on the trail of the man who fed his ego into a shredder. Through an eerie encounter at the home of the Olympiad and a sleepover at the Dutch Embassy, run-ins with a fading porn star and the celestial manifestation of Margaret Thatcher, he ultimately confronts his past. Until, with his Big Four-Oh rapidly approaching, destiny beckons from where he least expects it.

‘Full of wit, comedy and unflinching honesty, like reading a gay Nick Hornby. This is clever contemporary fiction at its finest.’ Bleach House Library

My Thoughts:

Meet Dan, a nearly 40 something about to be made redundant.  Since splitting up with his last boyfriend he has muddled along, between one night stands and surfing the net for his next fling.  He has some great friends that seem to keep him grounded, unless alcohol is involved! Sandra is a work colleague and along with Dan she is also made redundant.  They are both given a payout that gives them a chance to relax before having to get a job, she is married with children and Dan does show more concern for her than for himself. Set in London, this is really the story of Dan.  He comes across as a down to earth man who, like everyone else, just wants to find that special person, his Mr. Right.  He does not seem to have much luck in love.  His last boyfriend’s personality seemed to change as they started to get settled,  and he hovers ominously around the edges of the story.  This is set at a nice comfortable pace, it fits perfectly with the story, it is about love, relationships, opportunity, friendship with wit and humour.

I really liked Dan, he is a sensitive, wary, caring but lonely character.  He has support of great friends like Gina, Duncan, Sandra and his internet chat-room friend Maestroman.  These characters have been wonderfully written, they are memorable.  I imagine they would be an absolute howl to go out for a drink with.  The descriptions of the various settings were very good, and the author does mention that he has travelled a lot.  I am assuming the destinations mentioned in the book are places that he has actually been to, as some of the descriptions have a little bit of an extra to them.  Chris has used his own experiences in the world of advertising to build a more complete picture of Dan, it’s those extra touches that add more depth to the characters, makes them more believable.

I would recommend this book to readers of contemporary fiction.  A refreshing read from the perspective of a man looking for love , this made a nice change, from an almost 40 year old, and his journey through love, life, relationships, with honesty and a good sense of humour to it.

I would like to express my thanks to Chris to allowing me a copy of this great book. My thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About The Author:

6432527After many years creating advertising campaigns for everything from The Economist to ballet shoes, Chris Chalmers took the plunge into writing contemporary fiction.

His first adult novel, Five To One, about the day a helicopter crashes on Clapham Common, won a debut novel competition run by an indie publisher and was nominated for the Polari First Book Award. His next, Light From Other Windows, explores the effect on a family when the youngest son is caught in a tsunami. Literary critic Suzi Feay described it as a book that “can bring tears to your eyes on one page and make you laugh the next”. A third novel, Dinner at the Happy Skeleton, follows in autumn 2017. For children, he has written Gillian Vermillion — Dream Detective, which like all his work is published by J.Mendel Books.

Chris lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite-famous concert pianist. He has been the understudy on Mastermind, travelled to 40 different countries, and shared a pizza with Donnie Brasco. Publication aside, his most treasured literary achievement is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter.

Author Links: Website  Twitter

Book details:

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 671.0 KB
  • Publisher: J.Mendel Books (2 Nov. 2017)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B076X98C31

Book Links:Amazon UK     Goodreads

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

#BlogTour : The Winter’s Child by @cassandrajaneuk : published by @Legend_Press

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I am delighted to be part of the blog Tour for “The Winter’s Child” by Cassandra Parkin, published by Legend Press and available to purchase now in paperback or eBook.  I would like to say a big thank you to Imogen Harris for allowing me a spot in the tour.

Synopsis:

Five years ago, Susannah Harper’s son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.

But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.

As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family’s past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.

A ghostly winter read with a modern gothic flavour. A tale of twisted love, family secrets and hauntings.

 

My Thoughts:

This is a heartbreaking, emotional and haunting story of Susannah, John and Joel.  Susannah and John are husband and wife, Joel is their son and went missing several years ago.  The story begins with Susannah sceptically going to see a fortune teller at a local fair, there she is told she will be reunited with her son by Christmas, and her journey will be hard. Christmas is only a few months away.  Susannah is quite vocal in her views of clairvoyants, fortune tellers and the like, she believes they are charlatans, fake and just after money from the vulnerable .

From this point on we are taken on a roller-coaster of a journey that is haunting and emotional.  The story takes the reader backwards and forwards through time, to Joel story as he was growing up, the life of the family and then life after Joel’s disappearance.  The downward spiral of hopelessness, grief, desperation and loneliness.  The story does not contain a large cast, and it is right that it doesn’t, it adds to the personal side of the story.  The personal tragedy is played out and along with this there are the usual rubber-neckers and interfering people who pray on the vulnerable victims by sending false leads and hurtful vile comments.  What appeared at first seemed to be a simple story, soon starts to twist and turn in some unexpected angles that I did not see coming.

The pacing is perfect timed and fits so well. There were several aspects of this book that I really liked in addition to the plot and characters, the blog inclusion was one of them as well as the great narrative that built up and expanded the visual side, I had clear pictures in my head.

I would recommend this book to readers of contemporary fiction, who also like elements of a psychological nature, family dynamics, loss, desperation and hope.  It is well written and developed, a real page turner all the way through.

 

About the Author:

71d1vu10v-L._UX250_Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.
The Summer We All Ran Away (Legend Press, 2013) was Cassandra’s debut novel and nominated for the Amazon Rising Stars 2014.

The Beach Hut (Legend Press, 2015) is her second novel.

Visit Cassandra at Website or on Twitter

 

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (15 Sept. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1785079034
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785079030

Purchase from Amazon UK

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#Book Review The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by @claidlawauthor #Giveaway

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“The things We Learn When We’re Dead” by Charlie Laidlaw is available in paperback and also on eBook.  Published by Accent Press.

Synopsis:

On the way home from a dinner party she didn’t want to attend, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident. Or does God have a higher purpose after all? At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that she needs to find a way home…

My Thoughts:

Lorna Love is almost a lawyer, working for a prestigious and old firm, her Dad is agnostic, her mum a Catholic, Suzie is her best friend and wants to be an actress.  Now throw in the odd boyfriend, going to heaven, meeting God and meeting his second in command, who is a chain smoker.  Did I forget to mention that heaven is actually a spaceship, and God is a hippy wearing a track suit, or that the spaceship is over-run with hamsters who keep chewing the wiring?

So the main protagonist is Lorna, she has just died.  After waking from the accident to find herself in a spaceship, it is not an everyday occurrence, obviously! Her memories are hit and miss, and as they return we learn of her life up to the point of her accident.  She has what I would call a fairly normal life, education, growing up, university, social life and such, but I found it really interesting to read, captivating and at times sad.  When Lorna meets God she finds he is nothing like she expected, at times he is quite an odd character, but during the course of the story he explains his role and he seems to fit in a quirky sort of way.  Lorna has been taken to heaven for a reason, she will not be told that reason until her memories have sorted themselves, up to this point she wanders round the ship and meets some of the crew.

This is an interesting book to read, I found myself captivated by the characters and the main plot of the story, it is a gentle paced book that takes you through the journey of Lorna’s life, she has had her ups and downs but seems to be moving forward.  It is told in two timelines as such, the main emphasis is on her own life story, as well as her experiences on the ship, a little bit abstract but for me it worked.

When the author approached me to see if I was interested in reading a copy of this book, I was intrigued by the phrase of it being a “retelling of the Wizard of Oz”.  I admit to being baffled by this as I was reading the book, but it didn’t matter as I was enjoying it.  Then suddenly I hit that “I Got It” point of the story, then the phrase made perfect sense and is  very clever.

I would definitely recommend this book to readers of contemporary and general fiction, yes I am aware there is a sci-fi element to it, but it is not overly sci-fi at all.  It is a poignant, funny, sad, philosophical and it will make you think.

I would like to thank Charlie for sending me a copy of his book.  My thoughts expressed here are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

  I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault.  That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father.  That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland (quite near Paisley, but thankfully not too close) and graduated from the University of Edinburgh.  I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist.  I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics.  I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries.  Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa.  What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember.

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then.  However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in East Lothian.   And that’s about it.

 

Author Links: Website     Facebook   Twitter

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 397 pages
  • Publisher: Accent Press; UK ed. edition (21 Sept. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1786150352
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786150356
  • Amazon UK   Amazon US

Giveaway:

Charlie has very generously agreed to provide a signed copy of his book to one lucky winner.  This is open to UK only, the winner will be contacted and their details passed onto the author who will then send out the book.

 Rafflecopter Giveaway Click Here

 

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#BookReview : Behind the Lie by Amanda James @akjames61 : @HQDigitalUK

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This book was published 21st April 2017 by HQ Digital and is available as an eBook.

Synopsis:

Who can you trust, when you can’t trust yourself?

Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman who has taken back control of her future.

Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go.

Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else. No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth…her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.

My Thoughts:

Well what a book, I do admit to falling for the synopsis, and it did it’s job and did not disappoint.  We meet Holly and Simon West, husband and wife and expecting twins.  But they only take their daughter Iona home, their son, who was to be called Ruan, didn’t survive. Holly has had a troubled past, and when she starts to think and then believe Ruan is actually alive her husband and her best friend Demi start to believe her past is not quite her past and believe she is suffering from depression, well some people try to be supportive.

There are a quite a few characters in the story that have known Holly and Simon before they were married, and they have different opinions that are expressed throughout, this gives a really good background to the characters and the dynamics between them.  The plot was good, but I do admit to being correct on a few thoughts as I was reading, but to be perfectly honest that really didn’t matter as I was more interested in how Holly dealt with the situations as they arose.  It was Holly on her journey that was intriguing me as well as my being a witness as she transformed from a self doubting, beholden to her husband type of woman, to a strong, resilient woman who is willing to put her family first regardless of the risk.  There were also a few things I didn’t expect and and a couple of great twists.  It was all told at a good pace that kept me frantically reading until the last page.

This is a book that would appeal to readers of contemporary fiction as well as general fiction, who like an element of mystery and thriller with a little dash of romance.  I will definitely be reading more by this author.

I would like to thank Mandy James for accepting my request via NetGalley to read and share my thoughts on her book.  My thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

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Amanda James (aka Mandy) was born in Sheffield and now lives in Bristol with her husband and two cats. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, singing, and spending lots of time with her grandson. She also admits to spending far too much time chatting on Twitter and Facebook! Amanda recently left her teaching role to follow her ambition to live her life doing what she most enjoys—writing.

Follow Mandy on Facebook | Blogspot | Twitter

Book Details:

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 775 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: HQ Digital (21 April 2017)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English

Purchase from Amazon UK

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#BookReview : Fools and Mortals by @BernardCornwell : published by @HarperCollins

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“Fools and Mortals” by Bernard Cornwell. Published by Harper Collins. Publication date 19th October 2017.

Synopsis:

A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.

Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.

Showcasing his renowned storyteller’s skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are on stage in the playhouses, as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.

My thoughts:

Set in Elizabethan England, at a time when static playhouses are still in their infancy, as the days of players touring the country will gradually decline.  The story focuses on one playhouse and it’s players known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.  It is here where the reader in introduced to Richard, a small time actor who has followed his estranged brother to London.  His brother is the script writer William Shakespeare and scripts are becoming a valuable commodity.  Because the audiences are now going to the playhouse then there is a need for more plays.  It is at this time that William is creating A Midsummer Nights’ Dream and also Romeo and Juliet.

Richard is where the focus of this story lies, we are told why and how he decided to follow his older brother to London as well as his experiences of acting, living and social conditions  This is at a time when the playhouses are being targeted by the Pursuivants, who have the belief that what they the players do is all a lie, cheat and are generally considered to be rogues and criminals, luckily for us Queen Elizabeth and other notable aristocracy of the time were big supporters and so we have access to theatres today.

This is a really good read with a lot of historical research.  Cornwell is well-known for his historical fiction books, they tend to be more battle based.  This is a shift away from that style, this is has a real different feel to his previous works.  It is lighter and entertaining, but still shows the huge amount of research as his other books.  There are many characters to get to know, but once that is done the story becomes very addictive and a page turner.

Cromwell has included a very interesting “Historical Notes” addition at the end of the book, here he discusses the origins of the playhouse as well as the historical figure he has used in the story.

If like me you like historical fiction genres, then this is a book I would recommend.  It has a great cast of characters, that will lead the reader through jealous rivalries, romance, betrayal as well as having some great historical content.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Harper Collins for my eARC copy of this book.  My views expressed are my own and are unbiased.

Book Details:

  • ISBN: 9780007504114
  • Imprint: HarperCollins
  • On Sale: 19/10/2017
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 384

Links:

Author Website

Harper Collins UK

Purchase from :  Harper CollinsAmazon UK   | Amazon US

About the Author:

1227 Born in Essex in 1944 Bernard Cornwell was adopted at the age of six weeks by two members of a strict fundamentalist sect called the Peculiar People. He grew up in a household that forbade alcohol, cigarettes, dances, television, conventional medicine and toy guns. Not surprisingly, he developed a fascination for military adventure. As a teenager he devoured CS Forester’s Hornblower novels and tried to enlist three times. Poor eyesight put paid to his dream, instead he went to university to read theology. On graduating, he became a teacher, then joined BBC’s Nationwide, working his way up the ladder to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland, then editor of Thames News. In 1979, his life changed when he fell in love with an American.

Judy couldn’t live here, so I gave up my job and moved to the US. I couldn’t get a green card, and for 18 months the only thing I could do was write novels. The result was his first book about 19th century hero, Richard Sharpe, Sharpe’s Eagle.

Today he has 20 Sharpe adventures behind him, plus a series about the American Civil War, the Starbuck novels; an enormously successful trilogy about King Arthur, The Warlord Chronicles; the Hundred Years War set Grail Quest series; and his current series about King Alfred.

Bernard Cornwell owns houses in Cape Cod and Florida and two boats. Every year he takes two months off from his writing and spends most of his time on his 24 foot Cornish crabber, Royalist.

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