Wednesday, 23 May 2018

#BlogTour: Ask Me To Dance by Sylvia Colley @SylviaColley @MuswellPress #AskMeToDance #RandomThingsTours

Published on 3rd May 2018 by Muswell Press. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on to the blog tour. You can get your copy of the book here.

Rose Gregory has suffered a devastating blow, a double bereavement from which months later she is still reeling. Sanctuary and rest are prescribed by her doctor. But when she arrives at her refuge, a dank and decaying Monastery, she finds it is not the haven promised. Despite the veneer of calm contemplation, the Monastery turns out to be a hotbed of intrigue and disharmony. Rose witnesses bullying and cruelty and ultimately in defence of the vulnerable turns to violence herself. Sylvia Colley s extraordinary understanding of a woman s struggle to deal with grief, the denial, the anger, the loneliness, is described without sentimentality. A beautifully written and moving story.

My Thoughts:

Ask Me To Dance is the incredibly moving and engrossing first novel by author Sylvia Colley. A portrayal of grief, healing and faith. It is incredibly well written and atmospheric.

Rose Gregory is all consumed by grief, she doesn't even know herself anymore. She is barely able to function at all when at her Dr's request she goes to stay at a Monastery in the hopes of healing and being able to put herself back together with peace and quiet and a little faith. 

The Monastery is falling down, unkempt and the Brothers are soon to be moving on. All is not well, complacency is rife and they seem to view Rose as an added problem. It would seem the the Monastery is far from the tranquillity and getting away from it all that Rose had envisaged. 

The atmosphere and descriptive nature of this book is superb. The descriptions of the unravelling of Rose's emotions and the monastery make the story seem very real, and created a real sense of foreboding. I could sense the damp and decay of the surroundings and I could put myself in the shoes of Rose who seemed a little cold but in reality was so grief stricken she was numb. 

Sylvia Colley is a writer to be reckoned with, a force of nature with the pen. She has managed to write a story that is highly readable, that is relatable to all and is a perfectly pitched examination of love, grief, loss and religion. 

Well written, I recommend this. 

About the Author:
Sylvia Colley was born in Romsey, Hampshire. She became a teacher and spent many years as Head of English at the Purcell School in North London.
She has published a book of poetry, It’s Not What I Wanted Though, and a novel, Lights on Dark Water. Her work has been read on BBC Radio 4. She lives in Pinner, Middlesex.

You can find her on Twitter: @SylviaColley

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

#BlogTour: Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald @LindaMac1 #MeetingLydia #RandomThingsTours

Published by Matador on 22nd March 2018. My thanks to the author for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation for the blog tour. You can get your copy of the book here.

Meeting Lydia explores the very relevant topics of childhood bullying, midlife crises, the pros and cons of internet relationships, and how the psychological effects of these affect the main character and those around her. Readers will be gripped by the turbulent life of Marianne who navigates the onset of menopause, an empty nest, a suspected errant husband and a demanding new obsession that pulls her in deeper as the story unfolds. Those interested in the psychology of relationships will enjoy this novel, as well as those who delight in an enthralling story with relatable characters and the powerful question of what happens when the past catches up with the present. This second edition has reworked the early chapters of the first edition, making for a pacy and shorter version more in line with the audiobook.

Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in their kitchen. Old childhood insecurities resurface, stemming from a time back at school when she was bullied. Jealousy rears its head and her happy marriage begins to crumble. Desperate for a solution - and introduced by her daughter to social networking - she tries to track down her first schoolgirl crush, the enigmatic Edward Harvey. But Marianne is unprepared for the power of email relationships ...

My Thoughts:

Meeting Lydia is the second book that I have read by Linda MacDonald having read and enjoyed The Man in the Needlecord Jacket last year, you can read about that here.

This book is again an exploration of relationships and dynamics that was engaging and enlightening, the reader can't help but be drawn into the lives that are portrayed, the unravelling and the putting back together. 

At the centre of this story is Marianne. A history of bullying has left its scars, and the authors portrayal of this is sensitively handled and accurate. Fast approaching middle age, the menopause and the catalyst of her errant husband leads Marianne into the realms of online relationships and Edward Harvey. 

This book is not particularly fast paced or full of dramatic suspense but what it brings is something else, something different. It peels back the layers so that any of those characters traits could belong to you or me. It was uncomfortable at times. It felt like being a fly on the wall, on the other hand Linda MacDonald has managed to scrape beneath the surface and make her story seem very real and relevant to a whole host of readers. 

Linda MacDonald is a talented and ingenious writer who is capable of getting to the depth of her characters hearts and minds. I look forward to reading more from her in the future. 

Highly Recommended. 

About the Author:

Linda MacDonald is the author of four novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. All Linda's books are contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues. 

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths', Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. The first two novels took ten years in writing and publishing, using snatched moments in the evenings, weekends and holidays. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing. 

Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham in Kent.

Follow her on Twitter @LindaMac1

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

#BlogTour: Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson @DoubledayUK #MeetMeAtTheMuseum #RandomThingsTours

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson. Published by Doubleday on 17th May 2018. My thanks to the Publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the blog tour invitation. You can get your copy of the book here.

Sometimes it takes a stranger to really know who you are

When Tina Hopgood writes a letter of regret to a man she has never met, she doesn’t expect a reply.

When Anders Larsen, a lonely museum curator, answers it, nor does he.

They’re both searching for something, they just don’t know it yet. 

Anders has lost his wife, along with his hopes and dreams for the future. Tina is trapped in a marriage she doesn’t remember choosing.

Slowly their correspondence blossoms as they bare their souls to each other with stories of joy, anguish and discovery. But then Tina’s letters suddenly cease, and Anders is thrown into despair.

Can their unexpected friendship survive?

My Thoughts:

Meet Me at the Museum is a joy and delight and one of the best books I have read so far this year, I loved it . It is written in epistolary format and this really was the perfect way for this story to be delivered. It was authentic and the voices were real. 

Tina Hopgood originally writes a letter to Professor Glob after he dedicated a book to her and some other schoolgirls in the 1960's about The Tollund Man. Although not expecting a reply she was shocked to discover one from Anders Larsen the curator of the Silkebourg Museum in Denmark. Sadly Professor Glob had passed away some years previously.  What follows is a correspondence between the pair that spans all manner of things about their lives, past and present. 

The writing here is rich and draws the reader in to the lives of these two lonely older people. There is a sensitivity and warmth throughout that I found utterly charming. The blossoming of a friendship that allows these two characters to write without filter is unique and engaging. 

Meet Me at the Museum is everything I love in a book. The letter format here works extraordinarily well, Anne Youngson has managed to give Tina and Anders their own individual voices and they just came alive through their correspondence. An email will never be the same as a glorious hand written letter. 

A story of love in all its forms, of loneliness and being stuck in a rut. It is also a story of hope. 

Simple but powerful, this one really spoke to me. 

About the Author:
ANNE YOUNGSON worked for many years in senior management in the car industry before embarking on a creative career as a writer. She has supported many charities in governance roles, including Chair of the Writers in Prison Network, which provided residencies in prisons for writers. She lives in Oxfordshire and is married with two children and three grandchildren to date. MEET ME AT THE MUSEUM is her debut novel, which is due to be published around the world

Sunday, 13 May 2018

#Review: The Little Big Things by Henry Fraser @henryfraser0 @SevenDialsBooks #littlebigthings

Published on 7th September 2017 by Seven Dials which is the Non Fiction imprint of The Orion Publishing Group. 


'Henry Fraser is one of the most remarkable people I've ever met' J.K. Rowling

'What a story of transformation, inner power and inspiration' Jonny Wilkinson 

The memoir of the year by Henry Fraser, motivational speaker and mouth artist with a foreword by J.K. Rowling.

Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional...
Henry Fraser was 17 years old when a tragic accident severely crushed his spinal cord. Paralysed from the shoulders down, he has conquered unimaginable difficulty to embrace life and a new way of living. Through challenging adversity, he has found the opportunity to grow and inspire others.
This book combines his wisdom and insight into finding the gifts in life's challenges, and will resonate with anyone facing an obstacle, no matter how big or small. It includes Henry's thoughts on how to look at the right things and avoid the wrong, finding progress in whatever you do, and acknowledging and accepting the darkness when it comes. Right at the heart of Henry's inspiring philosophy is his belief that every day is a good day.

My Thoughts:

The Little Big Things is the inspirational memoir by Henry Fraser. Inspirational is a word that is often bandied about but in this case it is perfectly suited. Henry Fraser is the epitome of the word. 

On a holiday with friends when he was 17 a single moment changed his life. An accident in the sea left him permanently and completely paralysed. At this point most people would have given up but not Henry Fraser he decided that life was going to be different, not worse, not impossible, just different. It took him some time and lots of rehabilitation and of course dark days. 

The Little Big Things is his candid and non sugar coated account of a reality that most of us could only imagine. It could have been dark, depressing and bleak but it isn't. It is littered with hope and a determination that is admirable. 

Henry Fraser has shown that with a sheer will that anything is possible, now an incredibly talented artist through the medium of mouth painting and a motivational speaker. A high achiever who doesn't rest on his laurels. 

The Little Big Things is about how a tragic accident can shape your life but not define or confine it, and that a persons attitude is key in the ability to live a meaningful and positive life. 

So much respect and admiration for this book and this author. 

About the Author:
Henry Fraser is a British artist and motivational speaker. At the age of 17 he was paralysed in an accident. He had to learn to live life in a different way. 
Henry became a mouth painter. His first solo exhibition, Hand-to-Mouth, took place in July 2016. He has produced images for The Times coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and earned a strong A-list fan base from J.K. Rowling to the England Rugby and England Cricket teams.
Henry's 'Pushing Myself' talk inspires a number of high profile businesses and sports teams, including the Saracens and the England 7's. His talk encourages others to step outside of their comfort zones to find the gifts in life's challenges. Henry perfectly embodies his personal mantra of taking a 'relentlessly positive approach to life' and passionately motivates others to do the same.
He was named as the Powerlist's 7th most influential person living with a disability in Britain 2017.

Twitter: @henryfraser0

Friday, 11 May 2018

#BlogTour: A Spoke in the Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt @KathleenJowitt #ASpokeintheWheel

A Spoke in the Wheel was published independently and is available now. You can find out more here.

The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.

The first thing she saw was the doper.

Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.
Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.
But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.
Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…

My Thoughts:

A Spoke in the Wheel is the second novel by author Kathleen Jowitt. I don't particularly have much interest in cycling but something about the blurb for this one drew me in and I am so glad that it did. I read this book in a couple of sittings, it was addictive and written excellently.

This books centres on three characters. We have disgraced ex cyclist Ben, disabled Polly and Vicki who works hard and is the staple in the trio. The characters are underpinned by cycling.

I really enjoyed the fact that the story is told from Ben's perspective, having been disgraced he was hoping to fade in to the background but life is never as easy as that. I loved the fact that this story is mainly about the characters, I felt invested as a reader and couldn't wait to reach the conclusion which I was happy with. 

The writing here is engaging and enjoyable. The story is warm and I found the characters likeable and endearing. I am so pleased that I read this entertaining and addictive novel. I enjoyed going on the journey with all of the characters. 

About the Author:
Kathleen Jowitt was born in Winchester, UK, and grew up deep in the Welsh Marches and, subsequently, on the Isle of Wight. After completing her undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Exeter she moved to Guildford and found herself working for a major trade union. She now lives in Cambridge, works in London, and writes on the train.
Her first novel, Speak Its Name, was the first self-published book ever to be shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize.

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

#BlogBlitz: The Things We Need to Say by Rachel Burton @bookish_yogi @rararesources @HQDigitalUK #thethingsweneedtosay

Delighted to be a part of the blog blitz celebrating the publication of The Things We Need to Say by Rachel Burton. Published by HQ Digital, you can get your copy here.

Sometimes the things we never say are the most important.

Fran loves Will with all her heart. They had a whirlwind romance, a perfect marriage and a wonderful life. Until everything changed. Now Fran needs to find her way again and teaching a yoga retreat in Spain offers her just that. Leaving behind a broken marriage she has some very important decisions to make.

Will needs his wife, he needs her to open up to him if they’re to ever return to the ways things once were. But he may have damaged any possibility he had of mending their relationship and now Fran is in Spain and Will is alone.

As both Fran and Will begin to let go of a life that could have been, fate may just find a way of bringing them back together.

 Perfect for fans of Katie Marsh, Amanda Prowse and Sheila O’Flanagan

My Thoughts:

The Things We Need to Say is the first book that I have read by Rachel Burton and I found the writing to be striking and beautiful. This moving and beautiful story will stay with me for some time. 

An exploration of how life can affect love, how change can cause problems and whether there really is any way back when things begin to seem desolate. There is always hope. 

This story centres on Fran and Will and a crumbled marriage. A story that is told from both perspectives which I found very interesting. Fran is teaching yoga at a retreat in Spain leaving Will behind. I particularly enjoyed the scenes at the retreat and the characters that we meet there. Can Fran find herself and gain peace and learn to move forward with life?

The Things We Need to Say is poignant and touching and incredibly well written. A story of loss and fertility and an examination of what happens when we forget to talk.

Rachel Burton writes beautifully, eloquently and sensitively. I very much enjoyed reading this story of love, loss and hope and will be reading more from this author in the future. 

About the Author:
Rachel Burton has been making up stories since she first learned to talk. After many false starts she finally made one up that was worth writing down.

After graduating with a degree in Classics and another in English, she didn't really know what to do when she grew up. She has worked as a waitress, a paralegal and a yoga teacher.

She has spent most of her life between Cambridge and London but now lives in Leeds with her boyfriend and three cats. The main loves of her life are The Beatles and very tall romantic heroes.

Her debut, The Many Colours of Us, was an Amazon Kindle bestseller. Her second novel, The Things We Need to to Say, is released on 11 May 2018. She is currently working on her third novel in which the heroine follows the love of her life to live in a city in northern England. It has no autobiographical elements at all.....maybe.

Find her on Twitter & Instagram as @bookish_yogi or search Facebook for Rachel Burton Author. She is always happy to talk books, writing, music, cats and how the weather in Yorkshire is rubbish. She is mostly dreaming of her next holiday....

Monday, 30 April 2018

#BlogTour: Dead Man's Badge by Robert E Dunn @WritingDead @BrashBooks #DeadMansBadge #RandomThingsTours

Published by Brash Books, Dead Man's Badge is available now. You can get your copy here. My thanks to the author and the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on to the blog tour.

Career criminal Longview Moody, on the run from killers, assumes his dead, twin brother's identity as the new Chief of Police of a Texas town that's being terrorized by a Mexican drug cartel. To pull off the deadly deception, Longview desperately works to become the kind of cop and man that his brother was. But when the two lives he’s living converge, he’s forced to embrace the violence within him to get justice...and vengeance.  

My Thoughts:

Dead Man's Badge is a thrilling slice of noir with a pace that will take your breath away and it leaves the reader with no let up, it is relentless and exciting. 

As the novel begins Longview Moody is digging his own grave in the desert. The drug cartels that he works for finally catching up with him. When his brother is found dead Longview assumes his identity, which incidentally is as the Chief of Police of a town where the so called drug cartels are running rife. This is something that was never going to run smoothly. Longview Moody is out for revenge and knowing who can be trusted and who can't is another matter.

Dead Man's Badge is gripping but it is also extremely gritty and often brutal. The author has written his characters well, they become alive on the page and are mostly unreliable. Themes included are violence and corruption.

If you are looking for a thrilling read and don't mind a bit of violence then I can recommend this one. There was plenty to keep the reader turning the pages of this frenetically paced novel, which has a great sense of place. 

About the Author:
I wasn't born in a log cabin but the station wagon did have wood on the side. It was broken down on the approach road into Ft. Rucker, Alabama in the kind of rain that would have made a Biblical author jealous. You never saw a tornado in the Old Testament did you? As omens of a coming life go, mine was full of portent if not exactly glad tidings.

From there things got interesting. Life on a series of Army bases encouraged my retreat into a fantasy world. Life in a series of public school environments provided ample nourishment to my developing love of violence. Often heard in my home was the singular phrase, "I blame the schools." We all blamed the schools.

Both my fantasy and my academic worlds left marks and the amalgam proved useful the three times in my life I had guns pointed in my face. Despite those loving encounters the only real scars left on my body were inflicted by a six foot, seven inch tall drag queen. She didn't like the way I was admiring the play of three a.m. Waffle House fluorescent light over the high spandex sheen of her stockings.

After a series of low paying jobs that took me places no one dreams of going. I learned one thing. Nothing vomits quite so brutally as jail food. That's not the one thing I learned; it's an important thing to know, though. The one thing I learned is a secret. My secret. A terrible and dark thing I nurture in my nightmares. You learn your own lessons.

Eventually I began writing stories. Mostly I was just spilling out the, basically, true narratives of the creatures that lounge about my brain, laughing and whispering sweet, sweet things to say to women. Women see through me but enjoy the monsters in my head. They say, sometimes, that the things I say and write are lies or, "damn, filthy lies, slander of the worst kind, and the demented, perverted, wishful stories of a wasted mind." To which I always answer, I tell only the truth. I just tell a livelier truth than most people.

Twitter : @WritingDead

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