The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay | @Tatianaderosnay @WorldEdBooks | #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Rainwatcher by Tatiana de Rosnay. My thanks to Julia Forster at World Editions for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, let’s find out a bit more about the novel.

Author : Tatiana de Rosnay
Title : The Rain Watcher
Pages : 288
Publisher : World Editions
Publication date : March 5, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

It is raining non-stop over Paris. The Malegarde family – split between France, London, and the US – is reunited for the first time in years.

When Paul, a famous yet withdrawn arborist, suffers a stroke in the middle of his 70th birthday celebrations, his son Linden is stuck in a city that is undergoing a stunning natural disaster.

As the Seine bursts its banks and floods the streets, the family will have to fight to keep their unity as hidden fears and secrets also begin to rise.

In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates her wealth of skills both as an incredible storyteller and also as a connoisseur of the human soul.

| EXTRACT |

Opening to The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

“It’s been like this for the past two weeks,” says the listless taxi driver. The rain pours down, a silver curtain, hissing, obstructing all daylight. It is only ten o’clock in the morning, but to Linden, it feels like dusk glimmering with wetness. The taxi driver says he wants to move away for good, flee Paris, find the sun, go back to balmy Martinique, where he is from. As the car leaves Charles de Gaulle Airport and edges along the jammed highway and ring road that circles the city, Linden cannot help agreeing with him. The sodden suburbs are dismal, clustered contours of cubic volumes bedecked with garish neon billboards flickering in the drizzle. He asks the driver to turn on the radio, and the man comments upon his perfect French, “for an American.” Linden grins. This happens every time he returns to Paris. He replies he’s Franco-American, born in France, French father, American mother, he speaks both languages fluently, with no accent at all. How about that, eh? The driver chortles, fumbles with the radio, well, monsieur certainly looks like an American, doesn’t he, tall, athletic, jeans, sneakers, not like those Parisians with their fancy ties and suits.

The news is all about the Seine. Linden listens while squeaky windshield wipers thrust away rivulets in a never-ending battle. The river has been rising for five days now, since January 15, lapping around the Zouave’s ankles. The huge stone statue of a colonial soldier situated just below the pont de l’Alma is, Linden knows, the popular indicator of the river’s level. In 1910, during the major overflows that inundated the city, the water had crept all the way up to the Zouave’s shoulders. The driver exhales, there’s nothing to be done to prevent a river from flooding, no use fighting nature. Men need to stop tampering with nature; all this is her way of lashing back. As the car inches along sluggish circulation, unrelenting rain pounding on the car roof, Linden is reminded of the email the hotel sent him on Tuesday.

Dear Mr. Malegarde,

We are looking forward to your arrival and stay with us as from Friday, January 19th, at noon, until Sunday, January 21, in the evening (with a late checkout, as requested). However, the traffic situation in Paris might be problematic due to the level of the river Seine. Fortunately, the Chatterton Hotel, situated in the fourteenth arrondissement, is not located in an area liable to inundations, and therefore will not be concerned by the inconvenience. For the moment, the prefecture informs us there is nothing to worry about, but our policy is to update our guests. Please let us know if you need any assistance. Kind regards.

Linden read it at the airport on his way from LA to New York, where he was booked to photograph a British actress for Vanity Fair. He forwarded the message to his sister, Tilia, in London, and to his mother, Lauren, in the Drôme valley, who were to join him in Paris that Friday. Linden had not included Paul in the email because his father only appreciated letters and postcards, not emails. His sister’s answer, which he received when he landed hours later at JFK, made him chuckle.

Floodings?! What?! Again? Don’t you remember there was already a scary flood in Paris last November? And what about the one in June 2016? It took us years to organize this bloody weekend, and now this?! She signed off with a series of scowling emoticons.

Later, his mother replied to both of them: Will come by boat if we have to, dragging your father away from his trees! To at last be together! No way will we cancel this family gathering! See you on Friday, my loves!

The Malegarde family was meeting in Paris to celebrate Paul’s seventieth birthday, as well as Lauren and Paul’s fortieth wedding anniversary.

Linden had not given the hotel’s warning another thought. When he left New York for Paris on Thursday evening, he felt weary. It had been two full days, and before that, weeks of hard work around the globe. He would have preferred to fly back home to San Francisco, to Elizabeth Street, to Sacha and the cats. He had not seen much of Sacha, nor the cats, in the past month. Rachel Yellan, his dynamic agent, had landed him one job after the other, a dizzying swirl from city to city that left him depleted and longing for a break. The narrow blue house in Noe Valley and its cherished inhabitants would have to wait until this special family event was over.

“Just the four of us,” his mother had said, all those months ago, when she had booked hotel and restaurant. Was he looking forward to this? he wondered as the plane took off. They had not often been together, just the four of them, since his teenage years at Sévral, where he grew up, and more so, since he had left Vénozan, his father’s familial domain, in 1997, at nearly sixteen. He saw his parents once or twice a year, and his sister whenever he went to London, which was frequently. Why did “just the four of us” sound both so cozy and ominous? 

On the flight to Paris, Linden read Le Figaro and realized with a jab of apprehension that the situation described by the hotel was, in fact, disquieting. The Seine had already flooded in late November, as Tilia pointed out, after a wet summer and autumn, and previously, in June 2016. Parisians had kept a wary eye on the Zouave, and the little waves lapping up his shins. Fortunately, the flow had stopped increasing. Le Figaro explained that thanks to modern technology, one could predict the river’s engorgement three days ahead, which left ample time for evacuating. But the actual problem was the torrential rain, which had not lessened. The river was on the rise again, and threateningly fast…

If this extract and Tatiana de Rosnay’s beautiful writing has left you wanting more, then why not buy yourself a copy of The Rain Watcher!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Tatiana de Rosnay, of English, French, and Russian descent, was born in 1961, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and raised in Boston and Paris.

After studying literature in England at the University of East Anglia, Tatiana worked in Paris as a reporter for Vanity FairPsychologies Magazine, and ELLE.

She has published twelve novels in French and three in English including New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, which sold over eleven million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Kristin Scott Thomas in 2010.

Her books have been published in 42 countries and in 2011 she was listed by Le Figaro as the fifth most-read French author worldwide.

Looker by Laura Sims | @ljsims50 @Bookish_Becky @TinderPress | #Looker

Author : Laura Sims
Title : Looker
Pages : 180
Publisher : Tinder Press
Publication date : January 8, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Have you ever wanted to steal someone else’s life?

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan has left her; she can’t have a baby. All she’s left with is Nathan’s old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn’t even like.

Then a celebrity actress moves into the area. She’s beautiful, with long auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She’s got children – a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves discarded household items and toys outside for thrift collection. She leaves her windows open, even at night.

There’s no harm, the Professor thinks, in recycling those items. Or looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family. Is there?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Wow! For a mere 180 pages, this packs quite the punch!

Looker is the story of an unnamed professor whose life and mind slowly start to unravel after a series of unsuccessful IVF attempts and the departure of her husband. All she’s left with is the cat, and she doesn’t even like it. The unnamed professor becomes fixated and obsessed with the unnamed actress who lives on her street. The actress has everything : good looks, a handsome husband, three children, a nice house and a career. Everything the professor doesn’t have.

This is not an easy read. It’s incredibly unsettling and made me rather uncomfortable at times. But it’s also intensely compelling and slightly voyeuristic in that way where you’re just standing by, watching someone fall apart. It’s like you want to look away but you can’t. While the professor might not be a character to specifically like, she is one to feel some sympathy for because it’s easy to imagine her pain and the jealousy she has to deal with when something that so many other women seemingly effortlessly have in their lives, is completely out of her grasp.

Laura Sims does an incredible job in blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. At times I myself was left to wonder what was real and what wasn’t. I wasn’t entirely sure about how much of the professor’s narration I could trust. Throughout the storyline, a feeling of extreme unease kept growing. This sinking feeling in your bones that lets you know something is coming but you have no idea what. And I didn’t have a clue, as I couldn’t predict the outcome at all.

I’m not entirely sure how to label this book. It isn’t your typical psychological thriller, although it seems to be marketed that way. I really hesitate to call it that. It’s more of a fascinating character study about a woman losing her grip on reality. Looker is slightly disturbing, somewhat sad and also creepy all at once. To be honest, at the end of it I was desperate for something fluffy. Yet, it’s brilliantly written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Huge thanks to Becky Hunter for the review copy!

Looker is available to buy in ebook format. The paperback will be published in July.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor | @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #TheTakingofAnnieThorne #blogtour #recommended

Absolutely thrilled to bits to host a stop on the blog tour for The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor today! Huge thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and for the fabulous review copy!

Author : C.J. Tudor
Title : The Taking of Annie Thorne (The Hiding Place)
Pages : 344
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : February 21, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing. It was the day she came back. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh my word, where to even start?! I’ve been a proud C.J. Tudor fan from the second I read The Chalk Man. Quite frankly, if I were a teenager and she was a rockstar, her poster would be on my bedroom wall. I can’t possibly begin to describe the excitement that coursed through me when I was finally able to pick up The Taking of Annie Thorne. Yes, I had high expectations but I was never in any doubt whatsoever that I would just love this book to pieces. And I did!

This is a tough one to review without giving anything away. Other than the exquisite book trailer, I knew absolutely nothing about this book and it’s the best way to experience it. Also, if you’re expecting some incredibly coherent review, this one won’t be it. If I could have gotten away with four paragraphs of exclamation marks, I totally would have done it. I find it extremely hard to explain why I love this book so much and I can only hope it comes across somewhat (possibly in a slightly embarrassing way, I do apologise) and it’ll convince you to give this one a go.

I don’t know what it is about small town settings but I just love them and they don’t come any more intriguing than Arnhill does. It feels particularly gloomy and depressing. Joe never thought he’d go back there. Who would even want to? Especially after what happened.

When my sister was eight years old, she disappeared.

And then she came back.

[Note to self : never move anywhere near a mine pit. Also, always keep the loo lid down.]

As someone who was a teenager herself in the 80’s, any and all references to that era just make me giddy and there are a lot of them in this story that put a huge smile on my face. Throw in Joe’s delightful sense of humour, sarcasm and inner voice and I was hooked. With a dark atmosphere, a high creepiness factor, fascinating characters and lots of questions that need answers, this was one suspenseful and thrilling ride. And then just when I thought I could sit back, relax and breathe again … the rug was pulled from under my feet with the most deliciously chilling epilogue that almost made my eyes pop out of my head.

By the way, if you’re a fan of audiobooks, and quite frankly even if you’re not, you should most definitely give this one a listen! I may be starting to sound like some sort of running advertisement for the amazing Richard Armitage but seriously, you guys, his narration brings this story to a whole different level of intensity. It’s a fantastic experience all on its own.

Anyway!

The Taking of Annie Thorne is a brilliantly plotted, exquisitely written, utterly compelling, addictive and “unputdownable” page-turner. Whatever “it” is, C.J. Tudor has it in abundance and then some. There’s something about the way she writes that has me captivated from the very first word. It almost feels like being under a spell and I’ll gladly let her guide me wherever it is she wants to take me. I’m a fan, what more can I say?

I think I’d better leave it here. This whole thing is starting to sound like a teenage girl writing a letter to her favourite boyband member. 😳

In case it wasn’t clear, I absolutely LOVED The Taking of Annie Thorne and you will without a doubt be seeing this book again in my top 5 at the end of the year, just like The Chalk Man was last year. I am so ridiculously excited to see what C.J. Tudor comes up with next that I have already pre-ordered her next book. So should you, right here 😉

To recap : !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! x infinity

The Taking of Annie Thorne is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

Please check out these amazing bloggers on the tour who say it all much better than I do.

Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch | @Angela_Petch @rararesources | #blogtour #guestpost

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join. Author Angela Petch joins me on the blog today to talk about what prompted her to write this novella.

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Author : Angela Petch
Title : Mavis and Dot
Pages : 206
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : November 14, 2018

aboutthebook

A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship.Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.”This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with a lot of readers.” Gill Kaye – Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer, Angela Petch’s seaside tale is a departure from her successful Tuscan novels. 

All profits from the sale of the books will go towards research into the cure for cancer.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

guestpost

Mavis and Dot is a departure from my usual historical novels and I’m apprehensive about how it will be received. But, it’s a novella I have wanted to write since losing my best friend to ovarian cancer twelve years ago.

Olga and I met at the school gates. Our daughters remain best friends – my Emily was bridesmaid last year to her Beth. A candle for Olga was lit and I am sure she was there… When she was alive we often went on “jaunts”, as we called them, hunting in charity shops for bargains. Sometimes we found monstrosities too and we basically had a good laugh. We called each other Mavis and Dot. When her diagnosis was terminal, I wrote her a silly story about us – but it wasn’t really about us. It was about the caricatures we’d invented for ourselves. She enjoyed it and drew a picture which I have framed on my loo door.

It’s taken me a long time to turn into something longer than one story and I hope it will entertain and raise some pennies and pounds for research into cancer. Because she and loads of other sufferers should still be here today.

There are ridiculous moments in Mavis and Dot, but there are poignant episodes too. Both ladies had difficult pasts. Recently retired to the seaside, they are lonely and, although very different, form a friendship; a kind of prop. Then, Mavis meets Lance, a singer in a night club who likes to wear frocks and in Chapter 22, he drags them out one autumn afternoon.

Two days later, Lance came to the door. ‘Right, ladies, I’ve come to whisk you both away for the afternoon.’

He stepped into the hall and Mal growled, the fur on his back rising, ‘It’s all right, mate, don’t you remember me?’ Lance said, bending to the dog who backed away, tail between his legs.

‘You have to admit,’ said Dot, ‘you do look rather different from the other day.’

Her gaze took in his knee-length black frock, fur jacket and crocodile-leather ankle boots.

‘Can’t your hound smell my scent, Dottie?’

‘She’s Dot, remember!’ Mavis intervened.

‘Oh, I don’t mind Lance calling me Dottie,’ said Dot.

‘Takes one dotty person to recognise another, eh?’ Lance giggled,

‘Yes, well…’ Dot said. ‘Anyway, Mal probably can’t recognise your scent today because of whatever you’ve drenched yourself in.’ She pinched her nose between finger and thumb. ‘What on earth is it?’

‘I stopped in Beale’s on the way to the bus and tried loads of perfume testers,’ Lance said, holding out his wrist to Dot, who wrinkled her nose. ‘I’m not sure I can come with you today,’ she said. ‘What if hospital lets baby Dorothea out early? I should be here for them.’

‘I’m taking no excuses, Dot. It will do you good to get out of the house,’ Lance said. ‘Mave, do you have a belt I could borrow? To nip this in at the waist?’ He pulled at the loose material of his dress.”

I’ll admit Mavis and Dot are caricatures – exaggerations or oversimplifications. But we all have our little ways, we are all products of our past and we are all individuals. One of my editors was annoyed by my ladies “of a certain age”. “I was a young woman in the 60s,” she said, “and I would never have behaved like Mavis.” We are all different, is my counter-argument.

I hope readers enjoy meeting Mavis and Dot.

abouttheauthor

A prize-winning author, Angela Petch lives half the year in West Sussex and the summer months in a remote valley in the Tuscan Apennines. She recently signed a two-book deal with Bookouture for her Tuscan novels and “Mavis and Dot” is a temporary departure from her usual genre. She has travelled all her life: born in Germany, she spent six years as a child living in Rome, worked in Amsterdam after finishing her degree in Italian, moved to Italy for her job, then to Tanzania for three years. Her head is full of stories and she always carries a pen and note-book to capture more ideas.

In May 2017, Angela Petch won PRIMA’S monthly short story competition and recently had a dozen stories published by The People’s Friend magazine.

“Mavis and Dot” was written in memory of a dear friend who lost her battle with ovarian cancer. All profits from sales of the book will go towards research into a cure for cancer. 

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty @MichaelJBooks #NinePerfectStrangers #NetGalley

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Author : Liane Moriarty
Title : Nine Perfect Strangers
Pages : 432
Publisher : Michael Joseph / Penguin UK
Publication date : October 4, 2018

aboutthebook

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

mythoughts

This may come as a bit of a surprise considering the genres I usually read but boy, do I love me some Liane Moriarty. I was very excited to hear she had a new book coming out and couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.

Nine Perfect Strangers is rather hard to put a label on. It’s contemporary fiction in the way Liane Moriarty does best, but there’s also a touch of the psychological thriller vibe to it and it had me hooked from the start.

That was mainly due to the fabulous character of Frances, whom I adored from the minute I met her. Frances used to be a bestselling romance author but now she’s lost her way a little bit. Suffering from a bad back, a broken heart, menopausal symptoms and an awful paper cut, she checks herself into Tranquillum House for some pampering and a ten day cleansing. But not even the imaginative Frances could possibly predict the challenges that lay ahead.

There are quite a few characters in this delightful story. On top of the nine guests, we also meet the owner and her staff. Each one of these characters is so brilliantly introduced that it never gets confusing at all, even with chapters switching back and forth between them. Some are likeable from the start, some take a little getting used to but each one comes across as highly realistic and believable.

The guests are there for very different reasons and some parts made me feel quite emotional. It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are some fantastically witty moments and retorts, which made this a highly entertaining and enjoyable read. Even though some of the events involving the owner may have gone slightly over the top, I was so engrossed that it didn’t bother me at all.

I loved Nine Perfect Strangers from the outset. It may not quite have turned out the way I expected it to but I had a fabulous time meeting these characters, sympathising with them, rooting for them and it all leads to a wonderful conclusion. I have no doubt this one will do well and I look forward immensely to whatever Liane Moriarty comes up with next.

My thanks to the publisher for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley!

Nine Perfect Strangers is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #bookreview #recommended #mustread

I’m beyond delighted to join the blog tour for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech today! Massive thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my gorgeous (and embossed!) copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the tour!

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Author : Louise Beech
Title : The Lion Tamer Who Lost
Pages : 323
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 20, 2018

aboutthebook

Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting where they least expect. Some collisions are by design, but are they for a reason? Ben’s father would disown him for his relationship with Andrew, so they must hide their love. Andrew is determined to make it work, but secrets from his past threaten to ruin everything.

Ben escapes to Zimbabwe to finally fulfil his lifelong ambition. But will he ever return to England? To Andrew? To the truth?

mythoughts

Good grief. I need a minute. Or a lie-down. Or maybe a few stiff drinks to get past this huge lump in my throat.

I don’t really consider myself a particularly emotional person (although I did once cry at a diaper commercial but that’s another story), yet somehow Louise Beech always manages to rip out my heart, stomp all over it and leave me a big, unattractive, blubbering mess.

We first meet Ben in the magnificent surroundings of Zimbabwe, where he’s volunteering at a lion sanctuary. It’s rather obvious from the start that Ben is trying to run away from something or someone but the what or the who is only teasingly revealed  and it took me a while to figure it all out. Back in England, we get to know Andrew. He’s a children’s author with a long outstanding wish. But when his wish comes true, he wishes it hadn’t. I’m not telling you any more than that. You need to just jump into this novel and be completely swept away.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a powerful, tragic and incredibly emotional love story. With realistic and believable characters that almost jump from the pages, I quickly found myself utterly invested in their lives. Their pain was my pain, their tears were my tears, their heartache was my heartache. What an incredible talent Louise Beech has to evoke all these emotions.

This beautifully written tale is not to be raced through or devoured. Every single word on every single page is to be savoured, to be cherished, to be felt deep down into your very core. It’s so hard to explain but it’s just … special. Original, compelling, emotive, exquisite and in case you weren’t able to tell, it left me lost for words but it is a gem of a book I will treasure forever.

This is the fourth book by Louise Beech I’ve read and I can never find the right words (or any words really) to do them any justice. She is the most amazing storyteller and if you’ve not yet read any of her novels, you’re doing yourself an extremely big disservice. Start with this one, work your way back. I promise you will thank me later! In the meantime, I will (im)patiently sit here and await whatever it is Louise Beech comes up with next because I just know it will be special once again.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.

Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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Vox by Christina Dalcher @CVDalcher @HQstories @LilyCapewell #100words #VOX #WeWillNotBeSilenced

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Author : Christina Dalcher
Title : Vox
Pages : 384
Publisher : HQ
Publication date : August 21, 2018 (ebook)

aboutthebook

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

mythoughts

100 words a day. Just sit and think for a minute how that would impact your life.

A life where you walk around with a counter bracelet, ticking down every time you utter a word until you reach your daily limit. Where an electric shock awaits you if you dare speak one word more. You can’t, can you? And things for Jean and all the women in her country are far worse than that. No sign language, no writing notes, no reading. No passports, no jobs, no bank accounts and each and every decision is made by the men.

Men who may not all agree with what’s going on but for various reasons don’t stand up to make a change. Young boys who are growing up in this environment, almost brainwashed to the point where they think this treatment of women is perfectly acceptable. Little girls who aren’t allowed to learn how to read or write, who have never been read a bedtime story and for whom remaining silent all day suddenly seems like a fun competition. And people who don’t fit the mould or break the rules are sent to camps for the rest of their lives.

This incredibly frightening scenario sadly sounds all too believable in this day and age. It made me angry and it saddened me. The whole thing may seem far-fetched and yet, parts of it are extremely plausible. You may think, just like Jean, this will never come to pass but before she and other women realise, there they are. There’s a lesson here. Stand up and make your voice count. Not only vocally but by voting. As the characters in the novel say, the time to act is always now.

This is quite a hard one to review. It evokes a lot of emotions but it’s one of those books you need to read for yourself to get the full impact of immersing yourself into these women’s circumstances and hoping you’ll never find yourself in that position.

Vox is immensely powerful and thought-provoking, leaving me with a massive feeling of claustrophobia and sheer dread. It’s disturbing, more terrifying than any gruesome thriller I’ve ever read or nightmare I’ve ever had. It’ll make you think and get under your skin and like me, I doubt you’ll ever forget it.

My thanks to Lily Capewell at HQ for my review copy!

Vox will be published in ebook format on August 21st.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Gina Kirkham @GinaGeeJay @urbanebooks #blogtour #LoveBooksGroupTours

Truly delighted to join the blog tour for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Gina Kirkham today! My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for the invitation to join and the publisher for my review copy.

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Author : Gina Kirkham
Title : Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Series : Mavis Upton #2
Pages : 320
Publisher : Urbane
Publication date : July 19, 2018

aboutthebook

Our hapless heroine Constable Mavis Upton is preparing to step down the aisle with her fiancé Joe, but has to deal with her temperamental teen daughter, as well as investigate a serial flasher on a push bike. Throw a diva drag queen into the mix and readers can expect the usual hilarious Mavis mishaps that made the first book such a hit. Revel in Gina Kirkham’s humorous, poignant and moving stories of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.

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All hail the return of the fabulous Mavis Upton!

I’ve been desperately waiting for Mavis to return since I flipped the final page of the previous book Handcuffs, Truncheons and A Polyester Thong, and was incredibly looking forward to seeing what she would get up to this time. With hen parties, weddings, donuts, drag queens and hippos, I wasn’t disappointed! You can’t make this stuff up, unless your name is Gina Kirkham obviously and she’s an absolute natural in setting a scene and making me laugh.

Hilarity ensues throughout the story. Yet, it’s not all a laugh-a-minute and there are some incredibly poignant moments that left me with a lump in my throat. One minute I’m laughing my arse off at the various shenanigans, the next I felt myself go all teary-eyed and in need of a tissue. Not only is Mavis dealing with her dad who is suffering from dementia, she’s also fiercely missing her mom. As was I, to be honest, with her wonderful malapropisms and I’m delighted Gina Kirkham managed to squeeze some in there anyway.

Tackling a tough topic like dementia, in what is essentially a comedy novel, is not an easy thing to do. Yet Gina Kirkham has finely tuned the balance between the sad reality and the lighthearted moments. Having personal experience with this cruel disease, I could really appreciate that because that is what it’s like. As a side note, I will never again be able to listen to Lucy in the sky with diamonds without giggling like a lunatic.

There is a truly delightful and colourful cast of characters to keep you entertained, from Mavis’ friends to her colleagues. The banter between the team is such a joy, whether they’re actively mocking someone or using humour as a coping mechanism to deal with some of the things they stumble on while on active duty. Special shout-out to Petey who caused me to snort tea all over my Kindle on more than one occasion.

I’ve loved every minute of catching up with Mavis. No matter how crappy my day is going, she always manages to make me smile. This series is the perfect escapism, wrapped in a slightly quirky but delightful bow. I do so hope there will be more from Mavis! [Did you know she has her own Twitter account?] Hugely entertaining and you should grab yourself a copy and meet her for yourself. We all need a little bit of Mavis in our lives!

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Gina Kirkham was born on the Wirral in the not-so-swinging 50’s. Being the less
adventurous of three children, she remains there to this day.

Trundling a bicycle along a leafy path one wintry day, a lifelong passion to be a police officer gave her simultaneously an epiphany and fond memories of her favourite author Enid Blyton and moments of solving mysteries.

Thus began an enjoyable and fulfilling career with Merseyside Police. On retirement she put pen to paper to write a book based on her experiences as a police officer.

And so Mavis Upton was born…

Author links : Instagram | Twitter | Website

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The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen @wordsofhelen @MichaelJBooks #blogtour

It is such a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen. My thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and for the wonderful review copy!

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Author : Helen Cullen
Title : The Lost Letters of William Woolf
Pages : 325
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : July 12, 2018

aboutthebook

Lost letters have only one hope for survival . . .

Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

When William discovers letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?

William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.

mythoughts

William Woolf works at the Dead Letters Depot in East London. A place where lost letters and packages are given a second chance to find their rightful owners. One day, William finds a letter simply addressed to “My Great Love”, written by a woman to a soulmate she’s not yet met. Living a life that didn’t quite pan out the way he thought it would and with a marriage that’s seemingly crumbling, William wonders if he might be the soulmate of the letter writer.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf oozes nostalgia. For the days when people took the time to write long and thoughtful letters and sent them all around the world, but also for those carefree times in our lives when it felt like you were on top of the world and everything would magically sort itself out until life and its everyday toils and troubles got in the way.

The letters and packages aren’t the only things that are lost. William is lost as well. It took me a while to warm to William. I felt he was a tad wishy-washy, indecisive and lacking a bit of backbone. Yet, his quest to find Winter is intriguing in that way that we all somehow think the grass is greener on the other side. What would life be like if we’d made other choices or decisions? It’s not just the letters at the Depot that are given a second chance. There is one for William as well but will it be with his wife or with Winter?

This is a very slow-paced novel and I struggle a little with reviewing it. It didn’t quite turn out the way I expected it to. I assumed the story would be about all those lost letters at the Depot with William playing the part of a very different kind of detective than the ones I usually read about. It’s not that I didn’t care about what happened to William but I sometimes felt the focus lay a bit too much on his marriage, whereas I would have quite gladly spent way more time at the Depot reading letters and handing them over to the person they were intended for. Doesn’t this sound like the most wonderful job? There are one or two moments where this happened and they were so delightful that they left me wanting more.

That aside though, this is a wonderfully moving and beautifully written debut novel by Helen Cullen about all sorts of lost communication, love, hope and second chances.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London. She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010. In the UK, Helen established a career as an events and engagement specialist before joining the Google UK marketing team in 2015.

The first draft of her debut novel THE LOST LETTERS OF WILLIAM WOOLF was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.

‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ will be published in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Greece and Israel.

Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.

Author links : Twitter

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The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise @SpencerWise10 @annecater @noexitpress #blogtour #RandomThingsTours

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise today! My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

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Author : Spencer Wise
Title : The Emperor of Shoes
Pages : 312
Publisher : No Exit Press
Publication date : July 26, 2018

aboutthebook

Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant’s vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex’s own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line. When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. She is an embedded organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow labourers. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?

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How often do we buy something that says Made in China? When we do, do we stop and wonder about the conditions of the people who made this pair of jeans, this phone in our hand or the shoes on our feet?

At twenty-six years of age, Alex Cohen hasn’t really been questioning these things either, despite the fact his father owns a shoe factory in China. It isn’t until Alex meets Ivy, a seamstress at the factory, that his sympathies begin to shift.

This novel is mainly centred around the relationship between Alex and his father. Alex is fiercely loyal and while he feels changes need to be made somehow, he’s wary of going against everything his father stands for. All he really wants is to make him happy and proud. But Fedor Cohen isn’t a particularly likeable character most of the time. He doesn’t care one iota for his workers, the conditions they work and live in and would like nothing more than to see his son follow in his footsteps. Yet, despite their relationship being quite complicated, it’s also rather wonderful. There’s mutual respect and also a lovely dose of humour.

And then there’s Alex’s relationship with Ivy. Ivy was present at the historical and unforgettable student protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and despite the devastating consequences, her desire for a democratic and better China hasn’t waned. Is she using Alex to push through changes, though?

I must admit I struggled with this novel a little bit at the start and wondered if literary fiction was perhaps a step too far for me. But at some point, things just clicked and I became quite engrossed. This is an incredibly thought-provoking novel that gives immense insight into the social issues that plague China and its population. The injustice and the corruption is really laid bare. But it’s not all doom and gloom as there are some quite funny moments too. Chinese proverbs do not translate well to English, for one, and there’s also an older factory worker who apparently learned the little knowledge of English she has through movies.

With wonderfully vivid descriptions of China and an eye-opening topic, this beautifully written and realistic novel about change in every shape or form is a powerful debut by Spencer Wise and I’m glad, that despite the initial struggle, I persevered.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryKoboGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Spencer Wise is a graduate of Tufts University and the University of Texas at Austin. He recently won the 2017 Gulf Coast Prize in nonfiction. His work has appeared in Narrative magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Florida Review, and New Ohio Review. Wise teaches at Florida State University and lives in Tallahassee.

Author links : Twitter

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