Well here we are again! The weeks just seem to fly by I did have a day away from reading one day this week. I have been reading some quite heavy books just recently and taking a day off to watch films was just the thing I needed. So I decided to pick a couple of lighter reads and the two books I chose were absolutely perfect for lifting my spirits. So lets have a look at the books I have been reading shall we…
Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin was absolutely brilliant. You can read my review HERE. This is about Rosie making the most brilliant drunk purchase…A Pink Camper Van!!!! I loved this book a lot as I was taken on a journey around festivals, met Rosie’s new friends and it was a absolute delight to read.
Next up was a book that I saw Rachel Gilbey pop on Facebook. It had been released on NetGalley and I have seen so many great things about it that I immediately requested it. I have to say that whoever was on the Approving Button that day was amazing, within seconds of requesting I had been accepted. I downloaded and read this book immediately…
Amazing Grace by Kim Nash. Oh My Goodness… my poor emotions went through the wringer with this book, laughing, crying and anger in a book that absolutely adored from the the very first page to the last. There are some very poignant scenes in this… Oh I could go on and on about this book so I am not saying anymore. You really do NEED TO READ THIS…
Next is a book that had fallen into the “older than 3 months” category on my NetGalley shelf, as I write this I am so pleased that this is the final book in that category, but I now there are a couple that are getting close to filling that gap.
The Dollmaker by Nina Allan. This book took me a while to get going with, it is a stories within a story book. At times it is dark and has a twisted fairy-tale feel to it, other times it is a gentle wandering amble of a read. It is one that I would say falls into Literary Fiction and I have a feeling this is not going to be for everyone, it is however, one that I gradually warmed to as I read further and found myself unable to put down.
My final read this week is for an upcoming Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. My full review for this will be on my stop tomorrow (12.03.19)
Fox Halt Farm by Celia Moore. Well this had a dramatic start, I admit it took me a while to get going with this one but once I found myself getting used to the timelines and characters I found myself enjoying the story a lot. Look out for my review on Friday and check out the Blog Tour to see what other Book Bloggers think.
I have followed this series from the very first book The Shadow of the Wind that was first published in 2001. The series is best read in order, but the author has stated that they can be read in any order, this final book does, however, wrap all the previous ones together.
I would like to thank Orion Publishing Group for accepting my request to review this book via NetGalley. As always my opinions are very much my own.
The Shadow of the Wind
The Angel’s Game
The Prisoner of Heaven
The Labyrinth of Spirits.
So let’s see what The Labyrinth of the Spirits is all about…
The long-awaited new novel from the author of the global bestseller and modern classic, The Shadow of the Wind.
As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermín to save him.
Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war. She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.
The Labyrinth of the Spirits is an electrifying tale of passion, intrigue and adventure. Within its haunting pages Carlos Ruiz Zafón masterfully weaves together plots and subplots in an intricate and intensely imagined homage to books, the art of storytelling and that magical bridge between literature and our lives.
So this is the 4th book in The Cemetary of Forgotten Books series. It is an 800+ page book that I very easily found myself disappearing into. It pieces together the remaining pieces of past puzzles and wrapping them up.
This book has a darker feel to it than previous books, but it is a few years since I last read them. It didn’t take me long to remember certain characters and of course, remember how this author can wrap me up in his words.
Its roots are in Spain and I found myself once again drawn into the maze-like streets and atmosphere of Barcelona. An era of unrest and uncertainty as this is the time of Franco, Spanish Civil War, and nationalist airstrikes. The main characters are Daniel, the rather dramatic Fermin and our heroine Alicia Gris, there are many more other characters that have important roles to play but I will leave you to discover them yourself.
Alicia is trying to complete an assignment, at the end she hopes to be free of her role and start a new life. She is trying to discover the whereabouts of Mauricio Valls, not easy and definitely dangerous. In her investigations, she meets various other characters and the depth of the plot really does start to stand out.
The whereabouts of a mysterious author, Victor Mataix, the secrets of the Sempere family, the Cemetary of Forgotten Books, murder, kidnapping and a whole host of deception, tricks, and foul play are just the tip of the iceberg within the pages
The story itself is laid out in four interlocking stories that lead the reader through the labyrinth that is the story. Each section is intricately woven and leads from plot to plot. I found it easy to follow and though it has a great depth I found myself able to enjoy it a huge amount.
The thing about this book is the fact that it is essentially a multi-genre one. It has murder, mystery, history, suspense and thriller qualities. With everything going on in this book it may come across as being complex, but I found it flowed beautifully. With so many different plots and themes, I am really struggling to find the words to describe how amazing this book, in fact, the whole series has been. So I am going to break it down into basic words that immediately spring to mind when I think about this book…atmospheric, bewitching, heartbreaking, cryptic, dark, mysterious, complex, twisted, beautiful, historical, literary, fabulous, compelling, intriguing, and bloody brilliant…I think that sort of sums it up.
This is a book and a series I would absolutely highly recommend.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a Spanish novelist. Born in Barcelona in 1964, he has lived in Los Ángeles, United States, since 1994, and works as a scriptwriter aside from writing novels.
His first novel, El príncipe de la niebla (The Prince of Mist, 1993), earned the Edebé literary prize for young adult fiction. He is also the author of three more young-adult novels, El palacio de la medianoche (1994), Las luces de septiembre (1995) and Marina (1999).
In 2001 he published the novel La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind), his first ‘adult’ novel, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. Since its publication, La sombra del viento has garnered critical acclaim around the world and has won numerous international awards. Ruiz Zafón’s works have been published in more than 40 countries and have been translated into more than 30 languages.
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I am delighted to be sharing my review today for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. My thanks to Rachel for the invite and also to Angela for my e-copy of this book. All profits from the sale of the books will go towards research into the cure for cancer.
Mavis and Dot
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.
Mavis and Dot are initially strangers and very different in character. They meet by chance at a local Bridge evening and it marks the start of a friendship. Along the way they meet a real variety of wonderful other characters, again each of these are very different, but they all have one common thread…loneliness.
I followed Mavis and Dot as the rummaged their way through charity shops and bargain baskets and it started to give me a glimpse into what makes them tick.
Their quirkiness or rather their individuality is something that really stood out for me along with their moral compass, that not everyone has had the same chances as both Mavis and Dot. A couple of women who take a breather from their shopping in the various and numerous cafes, tea rooms, chippies and coffee shops, giving a chance to get to know them a little better. Both of these women definitely make the most of what they have and deal with events and opportunities along the way.
They meet up and make their own friends and gradually of family-like bonds are developed. Something that came to me as I read is that neither women are the stereotypes that can often be associated with this age group. They are not judgmental and are open-minded and approachable in a friendly and genuine way. Something that many could definitely learn from.
This has story has humour and heart, life and relationships and above all friendship. It is a book I would recommend to readers of general fiction and I would love to think that this could be the start of a series.
About the Author:
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.
I am delighted to be sharing my review with you all today for Love Punked by Nia Lucas as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. Huge thanks to Rachel for the invite to join the tour and also to Nia for my e-copy of her book.
When her life is irrevocably altered by a post-Rave tryst on her mother’s floral patio recliner, Erin Roberts’ long-standing relationship with Humiliation takes her down a path that’s not so much ‘less well trodden’, more ‘perilous descent down sheer cliffs’.
Armed with a fierce devotion to her best friend and the unrequited love for the boy she might have accidentally married at age seven, when Erin falls pregnant at sixteen, life veers off at a most unexpected tangent.
Her journey to adulthood is far from ordinary as Erin learns that protecting the hearts of those most precious to you isn’t balm enough when your Love Punked heart is as sore as your freshly tattooed arse.
Whilst raising football prodigies and trying not to get stuck in lifts with Social Work clients who hate her, Erin discovers that sometimes you have to circumnavigate the globe to find the very thing that was there all along.
Erin Roberts is an average girl growing up. She is feisty, determined and will stand up for herself and her best friends. After falling pregnant at 16 after a one night stand her life is not the one she imagined for herself as she juggles being a mum with studying. With unwavering support from her family and a small group of friends, she does all she can as a mum and as a woman. Her priority in life has changed, being a mum is the most important thing in her life and they always come first, even before her…
This story is so full of highs and lows, inspirational and poignant as well. At times I got angry with Erin as I thought she was passing up opportunities for happiness as she puts her family first. But as it happens she does do the right thing and more importantly the right thing for her family. I can understand her not wanting to have a potential man in her life if they are not serious. For me, Erin grew up very quickly and at times had an old head on young shoulders. Determination has got her through some difficult situations as she gradually makes her way through the story and the early years of being a mum.
Now this story is a little colourful in language and, while it may not appeal to all readers, I think it was so appropriate for the characters, the setting and the time of the story. She says what she thinks and occasionally without a filter. This is a character that does not see the qualities that others see in her, she has doubts, fears and a strength that she is unaware of.
Now I did find I went through quite a few emotions with this book, anger, sniggering and, the odd tear. At times it is beautifully poignant and at others raucous and wild. A real modern feel to this story that tells the story of a young woman growing up that is faced with many challenges and decisions to make.
It is a book I wasn’t sure how I would get on with but I found myself completely immersed with and read in a couple of days a great debut. A story that is modern and gritty but also loving, witty and hopeful, one I would definitely recommend to readers of contemporary and literary fiction.
About the Author:
I am a UK based author of Contemporary women’s fiction who is passionate about telling the stories of strong, sympathetic, entertaining and engaging female characters and the lives that they lead. My Welsh heritage and my life as a practising Social Worker with teenagers and their families heavily influences my work as does my love of all things 90’s and an adolescence spent immersed in clubbing culture.
I am delighted to be sharing my review of Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman. This is part of the Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources and I wish to say a big thank you to Rachel for the invite and to Lucy for my eBook.
You can purchase your own copy of SnowFlakes Over Holly Cove HERE
As the snowflakes start to fall, Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…
For lifestyle magazine journalist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around…’
So, Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air and rugged stranger, Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart.
Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Christmas wishes might just come true…
Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly beautiful Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands, where the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.
As cosy as a marshmallow-topped mug of cocoa, fall in love with a heart-warming festive story from the bestselling author of The French Adventure.
Tia is a lifestyle journalist for “Love A Happy Ending” magazine. She has been struggling emotionally following the recent death of her mum. Tia’s boss Clarissa is concerned for and decides that Tia’s next assignment can be done at a little cottage at Holly Cove. A picturesque setting on the Gower coast in Wales was just the thing Tia needed.
This is the first time I have read anything by this author and I absolutely loved this book. It is a beautiful story of relationships within families as well as finding love. This theme is something that is mirrored in Tia’s assignment as she is tasked with writing articles about how couples and families celebrate Christmas and the New Year. As she is working for a magazine the articles are written months in advance, so there is a span between the assignment and Christmas.
This will be Tia’s first Christmas with her Mum and she knows it will be hard. Tia has a brother and is they have just been getting back to familiar ground after a disagreement left them not speaking for a few years. Christmas is a time for family and being together, not everyone is able to do this for various reasons.
While at the cottage Tia meets Nic, and does he have the weight of the world on his shoulders. He initially comes across as moody, but actually, he and Tia seem to have a few similarities. As he divulges little snippets about his life and how he is reluctant to trust people, she can see that she also has the same issue. Then there is Max, an ex-serviceman who has decided that a simple life is the way to go. The mother hen of this little group is Olwen fussing and keeping an eye on everyone is what she does best.
This is a fabulously addictive book that looks at families and relationships and the challenges that can appear. Allegations can be made and they can cause rifts, sometimes a moment to see another person’s perspective or just to listen to the other side of an argument is a way to understand the whole story.
With its wonderful setting descriptions of cottages, rugged beaches and a wonderful cast of characters bring some great imagery and a feeling of warmth. The characters are wonderful and I got the chance to see the different sides to certain individuals.
This is a book I could have happily read in one sitting and is an author I am definitely going to be reading again.
I adored this book from the start and although it came to a natural ending that felt complete, I couldn’t help feeling a little sad that I had actually turned the last page. A story that would appeal to readers who like to delve into family life, relationships, misunderstandings, and romance and is a really wonderful festive uplifting read and one I would highly recommend.
About the Author:
From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’
Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.
When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.
Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.
Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.
Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.
Giveaway – Win a signed paperback of A Cottage in the Country and a rustic wooden heart decoration (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Today I am delighted to be sharing an extract from The Tissue Veil by Brenda Bannister as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. As much as I would love to read all the books that I get an invite to read, there is just not enough time for me to do this. So instead, having an except is one way I can support a tour. The synopsis and the excerpt has definitely intrigued me, and intrigued me enough that I have bought my own copy 🙂
What if you discovered a hundred-year-old diary under your floorboards – and then found references in it to yourself? Or if you lived in 1901, yet kept seeing glimpses of a girl from modern times? And what if both of you had problems that only the other could really understand? Emily and Aysha live in the same Stepney house and an inexplicable link develops between them, fuelled by Aysha’s discovery of a journal and Emily’s sightings of a ‘future ghost’. Each takes courage from the other’s predicament – after all, what’s a hundred years between friends?
Excerpt from Chapter 13 of The Tissue Veil
From time to time Emily has inexplicable glimpses of a strange girl in her room and hears voices address the girl as ‘Aysha’. This first occurs in the days after Emily’s mother’s funeral. When, late one night, it happens again, she recognises that Aysha, like Emily herself, is troubled…
We tie up three puddings in muslin ready to go in the boiler, but it’s already late in the afternoon when they start to cook and we have to wait past bedtime for them to finish steaming. Daisy, who was up at six, is falling asleep, so I offer to watch them for the last hour.
“Mind you don’t let ‘em dry out, miss,” she yawns. She doesn’t trust me to keep awake, but she knows she won’t either. I don’t dare let myself sit down, so I occupy the hour lining up jars and packets in the pantry, writing lists of things we need and polishing the silver teapot. At last, I am able to turn off the boiler, remove the puddings and leave them to cool.
I’m not even thinking about Aysha, but when I go to my room I see her, slumped in a chair by the window. Her outfit is different and much grander than before: a blue tunic with matching pantaloons, embroidered in gold. They are clothes I imagine an Indian princess might wear, but she seems careless of them and looks as if, like me, she’s exhausted.
“Aysha!” I say, but she doesn’t know I exist. I study her face: she will not sleep well. Too much is written there.
She gets up, stretches, and begins to speak. Not to me or, it seems, to anyone else who’s there; rather, I imagine, out of a troubled heart. At first I think I recognise the words, then I am confused.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a young man in possession of a… a chain of fried chicken shops – she curls her lip – must be in need of a wife. Then her mouth twitches into a smile and she glides from side to side across the floor, swaying her arms as if she’s dancing or skating. Then, suddenly, she’s gone.
Miss Morgan showed the class a picture book of India once. There were paintings of forts and temples and elephants carrying maharajahs, and each of the illustrations was overlaid with a leaf of tissue paper. I would ask to see the book and try to remember the order in which each picture came, to guess what was underneath the overlays. The images were there, behind their tissue veils, but you couldn’t quite see them until you turned the leaf. Sometimes I think that’s how it is with Aysha: that she’s here all the time if I could only see. But which of us is behind the tissue, I cannot tell.
About the Author:
Brenda studied English at university and later qualified as a librarian, working in various educational settings from schools to higher education. Moving from London to Frome in Somerset in 2010 proved a catalyst for her own writing as she joined local fiction and script writing groups. She has had a number of short stories published, plus short plays produced in local pub theatre, but all the while was incubating a story based in the area of Tower Hamlets where she had worked for eighteen years. This germ of a story became ‘The Tissue Veil’.
Brenda is a founder member of Frome Writers’ Collective, an organisation which has grown from a handful of members to over a hundred in the past four years, and helped set up its innovative Silver Crow Book Brand. She is also the current organiser of the annual Frome Festival Short Story Competition. A lifelong reader, Brenda rarely follows genres, but enjoys modern literary fiction, historical fiction, classics and the occasional detective novel. The latest Bernard Cornwell might be a guilty pleasure, but she’ll be even more eager to get her hands on Hilary Mantel’s final instalment of Thomas Cromwell’s story.
Today I have two reviews to share with you, Magic O’Clock and also Magical Memories by L.S. Fellows as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. These quite short stories and you can purchase your copy of :-
Magic O’Clock using a Universal Amazon Link Here OR Other eretailers (Kobo, B&N, Apple)HERE
Archie Royle is a kind, funny, gentle man. He’s also my dad. My storyteller. My hero. Except he doesn’t remember my face any more. His world, these days, doesn’t include me or his family. Life may have changed for him, but he hasn’t given up on life. Not at all. It’s just different. Dad still tells his stories, albeit for a new audience. He makes people smile and chuckle. As he always did.
He’s a fighter, a survivor and maybe sometimes too clever for his own good! He’ll surprise you. I can assure you of that.
Welcome to Magic O’Clock, where time is irrelevant and hope is unlimited.
My Thoughts on Magic O’Clock:
Archie is a resident in a care home, he has dementia and doesn’t recognise people. But at 3 pm Archie comes into his own relating tales and stories that has everyone in rapture, a chance to get a glimpse of the man he was.
This is a fictional story that gives a momentary glimpse into the emotions when a family member doesn’t know who you are. This is only a few pages long and in it are such a range of emotions as you would expect. This is from the perspective of a family member, the pain and grief of still being able to see the physical person but not recognising the inner personality was done so well. It carried the feeling and also some humour.
This story shows two sides to dementia; the forgetful side but also the lucid side. A quick enjoyable read that is sad but in a way that shows love and honesty. A wonderful read and a perfect introduction to the next book; Magical Memories.
As Archie Royle takes his final breath, three sisters race to say their goodbyes. Two don’t make it in time. I do. And now, it’s all my fault they’re too late. Despite him having dementia. Despite them not visiting in over a month. But I won’t let anger win. After all, we’re all grieving, aren’t we?
Surely, as a family, we can let bygones be bygones. It’s what Dad would want. Expect. It’s what he deserves. We have so much to be grateful for. So many fond and magical memories to share.
Magical Memories is a fictional tale of loss, grief and moving on.
My Thoughts on Magical Memories:
Coming to the second book sees Archie in his final hours as his youngest daughter sits with him. She has the job of telling her two older sisters of his passing as they did not get to him in time to be there. Now the arrangements can start.
The sisters have to agree to the funeral arrangements for Archie. Not an easy thing as they have quite strong personalities and to a point a sense of hierarchy, but something that is very common. Sometimes it takes one person to intervene and for the others to see sense.
The sisters gradually come together and start to deal with their grief not only individually but also together. A time for reminiscing and retelling tales about the man they all called Dad.
This story is emotional and beautifully told, I had to get the tissues out on a couple of occasions. Again a quick read but my goodness did it pack a punch on the heartstrings. A story of loss, grief, happy times, and moving on with life.
These are two books that are ideal for readers of family, life, love, loss and grief. They are beautifully told, emotional and they also have moments of joy and hope. Two books I would definitely recommend.
About the Author:
Despite being born in England, my heart now lies in Spain. Many moons ago, I was a student in Granada, Spain. I loved it so much and swore I would return one day on a more permanent basis. In 2003, I did just that.
Now, as a fur-mum to two adorable but mischievous mutts, in my free time I can usually be spotted with my nose in a book, armed with just the teeniest chunk of chocolate and a zillion pomegranates!
I am so delighted to be bringing you The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech. This is a beautiful story, and after watching a Twitter video of Louise opening her parcel of finalised copies, I can also say she may be a little excited about the cover being embossed. Yes Louise Beech is embossed! You really need to watch this, its brilliant 🙂
My huge thanks to the fabulous Orenda Books for my copy and also to Anne Cater for my invite to take part in this blog tour. I may have been a little excited in my email back to Anne about joining this tour to help share the book love, this was already a book that was generating fantastic early reviews, there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to take part.
Be careful what you wish for…
Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it? What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
Wishes and dreams are part of life, but what happens when the things you wish and dream for are not as you imagined they would be. Dreams are great, but if you follow your dream for an alternative motive then in reality it isn’t what the dream was meant to be. Andrew the wish-maker and Ben with the dream are meant to be together, but why…
This is a story that I just found myself being captivated with from the very start as I met Ben in Zimbabwe at a lion sanctuary. This is his dream and also a fulfilling of a promise , but I realised that instead of being ecstatic and excited about helping lion cubs, Ben was subdued, there but not quite there. Here was a man with something on his mind, and as the story flitted between Zimbabwe and Hull I discovered a story that just blew me away.
In Hull I got to meet Andrew, a chance meeting allows Andrew to meet and get to know Ben. The story tells of their friendship and then their relationship,also of their feelings for what others may think. Family, relationships, misunderstandings and expectations really do come into play and the author deals with this in such a natural and wonderful way.
There is so much that I absolutely loved about this book, as well as the story line itself one thing that really stood out for me was the attention to detail. As a reader I like settings to be described in as much detail as possible but not in great long passages, this author has the ability to describe in detail in a short and vivid way. Not only did I get an image of the sights and sounds but also of taste and smell, from the mud coffee to the aromas the lions. For me it is the additional little details that are just as important.
Now the story line, it flits back and forward in time and also between Hull and Zimbabwe. The main characters are Ben and Andrew and I really did get to them well, there are other characters that also have major parts to play in the story, but Ben and Andrew are the key characters. The story is about many things, but love and relationships are the main ones. The author deals with Ben and Andrews relationship in such a beautiful way, and also on the flip side the way that a person may think that some may not like same-sex relationships.
The story moved along at a nice pace, building up and filling in details and history of the characters and their families and then suddenly took a route that not only caught me unawares, but also had me with my heart in my mouth. It moved into such an emotionally charged story as the author had me on the edge of tears. I tried my hardest to keep them in check for such a long time and just as I started to breathe normally again I came across three words that had me in a total sobbing mess. There are several parts of the story that had me balancing on the emotional see saw, and I think that many others will be the same.
This is a beautiful, emotional, passionate, wonderful story that had me absolutely glued from the first page to the very last.
An absolute must read for readers who want to experience an author who knows how to take a reader on a fantastic literary journey.
About the Author:
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.
I am absolutely delighted to be sharing Five To One by Chris Chalmers. I have read one of Chris’s books before, Dinner At The Happy Skeleton, and I was definitely interested in reading another book by this author. To purchase your own copy of these books follow the Amazon Link to Chris’s Author Page HERE.
EVERY MOMENT STARTS SOMEWHERE
A care assistant with a secret. A gardener with an eye for more than greenfly. An estate agent and an advertising man, each facing a relationship crisis. And a pilot with nowhere to land.
At twelve fifty-five on a sunny afternoon, five lives converge in a moment of terror as a helicopter crashes on Clapham Common. It’s a day that will change them all forever — and for some, will be their last.
Winner of the Wink Publishing Debut Novel Competition Nominated for the Polari First Book Award
‘A funny, often painfully honest and moving story about the absurdity of modern life and the concerns that propel us. Chalmers writes with a sensitivity and wit that recalls Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City’ – Penny Hancock, bestselling author of Tideline
‘A charming novel that’s cleverly structured and consistently engaging’ — Matt Cain, Editor-in-Chief, Attitude magazine
’A poignant study of genuine love in a big and fantastically diverse city’ – BytetheBook.com
The prologue for this book is set in the present when a helicopter crashes on Clapham Common. It is there to pick up someone as part of an ongoing publicity stunt when things go wrong. At five to one several strangers are caught up in some form at this crash. Why they were there on that day and at that time is what then follows as the story drops back in time.
First, I love the cover of this book, now as I look at it properly I can see how well it fits in relation to the story.
The author introduced me to a series of characters individually so there are quite a few names to remember, especially as also included are family and friends. As I got to learn about the people and their partners, family, friends I started to build up a recognition as their stories are told. I gradually started to empathise and care about the main characters, about how they lived and some of the things that happen in their everyday lives, their frustrations, anger, sometimes they feel helpless and out of the loop with decisions, or just plodding along in life as everyone else does. While this is about ordinary and everyday people, the author has managed to create characters with substance, at times I disagreed with some actions but could also understand the reasoning behind them.
This is one of those stories that is quiet and subtle as it explores human nature. It looks at various people with diverse lifestyles, with varied backgrounds. All the way through the story they have one thing in common; the crash, it is the way they are led to that time and date that is what this story is about. It is a story about people. What makes them tick. What their dreams are.
I absolutely fell in love with this story, from a slow start getting to know everyone, and then it just transformed. The author has captured the essence of his characters, given them a voice, and given them a chance to change.
This is a story I would absolutely recommend to readers of contemporary fiction and literary fiction. It was an absolute joy and pleasure to read xx
About the Author:
Chris Chalmers was born in Lancashire and lives in south-west London. He’s been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 countries and swum with marine iguanas. His first novel, ‘Five To One’, was winner of a debut novel competition and nominated for the Polari First Book Prize. He has written a diary for 42 years and never missed a night.
Click on a Five-To-ONE-MINUTE-MOVIE for a 60-second intro to the main characters and themes of ‘Five To One’. Or search ‘chris chalmers novelist’ on YouTube, for clips of Chris reading from his other books, poems about Christmas Eve and butcher’s shops, and fox cubs dancing to ABBA. (Yep, it’s as high-brow as that.)
Today I have my thoughts on Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. It was a chance for me to take a dip into one of the classics, I had read quite a few of the classics a couple of years and never did quite get round to this one. I have read Grapes of Wrath and also Cannery Row and enjoyed them and gave me a chance to get a feel for the authors grim and gritty style. You can get a copy of Of Mice and Men from most good bookshops and online at Amazon UK, my copy is the Penguin Red Classics edition.
Drifters in search of work, George and his childlike friend Lennie, have nothing in the world except the clothes on their back – and a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are dashed as Lennie – struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy – becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes of friendship and shared vision, and giving a voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men remains Steinbeck’s most popular work, achieving success as a novel, Broadway play and three acclaimed films.
Of Mice and Men is the story of George and Lennie. They work various jobs and travel around looking for new work as one job runs out or they run out. The story begins as they head towards their next job. George has a dream to one day own his own plot of land and Lennie is happily caught up in this vision of the future. Lennie is a gentle giant of a man and is referred to as being not very bright but will work hard and do as he is told.
George looks out for Lennie and knows that many would not want a man like Lennie working for them, prejudice at this point in history is ripe so anyone being slightly different is not acceptable to many. Even though George is often frustrated by the simple nature of Lennie, he is a friend and will support him. They are each other has.
This is a simple tale of friendship between two men travelling for work. Rather than being loners as many travelling labourers are, they have a bond in their friendship, they are able to talk about their dreams for the future and it gives them hope. George tries his best to keep Lennie out of trouble, but this is not always possible and misunderstandings do happen.
This is a quick read at only 121 pages and is easy to read in one sitting. It’s style is one I like, a slow meandering yet descriptive and emotional one. It explores various inequalities and prejudices that were relevant at the time. A wonderful read that slowly rolls along until it picks up speed as a sense of tension begins to build.
This is a book I would recommend to readers who enjoy American Social History, Literary Fiction and Classic Fiction.
About the Author:
John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a labourer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938).
Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).
Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled ‘Something That Happened’. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.
Steinbeck’s compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a “great work” and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952)East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include: Sweet Thursday (1954)The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966) and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969),Viva Zapata! (1975,The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.
Photo by Nobel Foundation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
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