Blog Tour

Blog Tour

Thursday, 21 August 2014

BOOK TOUR: Q&A with author Leah Fleming

I am very pleased to be taking part in the tour for Leah Fleming's latest book, The Postcard, I reviewed the book earlier this week here. I was able to ask Leah some questions about the inspiration for the book and also what she has been reading herself:

1. How did you research the Gaiety Girls?
I researched the story of the Gaiety Girls first through their postcard images online and then some biographies especially one of a famous beauty: Lily Elsie: a working class girl, child  artiste who was spotted by George Edwardes , the impresario for her looks and talent on stage. She married a wealthy heir as did many of the IT girls of that era. She was the inspiration for Phoebe Faye.

2. What was your inspiration for this book?
The inspiration  for this book was the idea that one lost postcard could change lives down the generations. Also I was inspired by those brave women SOE agents who put for Callie.

3. Where did the idea for the animal sanctuary come from?
There's an northern animal sanctuary not far from me called : Only Foals and Horses. The Brookes Donkey sanctuary has always touched me. Now  animals provide therapy for both man and beast. Cruelty to any dumb animal makes me physically sick but they only got going in the UK circa 1960s. That is why there was one around to help Callie.

4. Could you describe your typical writing day?
My typical writing weekday begins with the usual chores around a house followed by sitting down to write 3 pages in my Journal of whatever comes into my head.  This sort of meditation releases the " must dos" of the day and any frustrations fears or ideas that pop up. I then go to my "plotting shed" in the garden with just a pen and paper and write for 2 hours. I may do researches in the afternoon, read, shop, play out with friends or grandchildren after that. I try to turn up at the blank page most days when I have a deadline.

5. Could you recommend any books that you have enjoyed recently?
I've just finished Milly Johnson's:  The Tea shop round the Corner It is  a warm, compassionate funny and moving read.
I love well researched historicals. I can recommend Catherin Czercawska's The Physic Garden . For any body who loves their garden and history you just have to read The Morville Hours. by Katherine Swift.

Many thanks to Leah Fleming for answering my questions and to Diana at Ruth Killick Publicity for organising this post. Please take a look at the blog tour poster at the top of my page to see where the tour stops next.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

I opened a book...

I just came across this lovely poem by Julia Donaldson about reading and I wanted to share it with you. It sums up exactly why reading is so important to me:

I opened a book and in I strode,
Now nobody can find me.
I've left my chair, my house, my road.
My town and my world behind me.
I'm wearing the cloak, I've slipped on the ring,
I've swallowed the magic potion.
I've fought with a dragon,
Dined with a king.
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I openened a book and made some friends,
I shared their tears and laughter,
And followed their road with its bumps and bends,
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came,
The cloak can no longer hide me,
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Postcard by Leah Fleming

1930's London
Caroline has lead a privileged life, supported by her Aunt Phoebe. But when her impulsive elopement to Cairo quickly turns sour, she finds herself alone with a newborn son. Then war breaks out and Caroline feels compelled to play her part. Leaving her son, Desmond with Phoebe, she begins a dangerous existence on the front lines. Will they be reunited?
2002, Australia
On his death bed, Melissa Boyd's father confesses a devastating family secret. Armed with only a few tattered keepsakes, including an old postcard addressed to someone called Desmond, Melissa embarks on a journey that will take her across oceans and into the past...

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 405

Leah Fleming weaves a marvellous story in her latest book, The Postcard. The book revolves around secrets and their varying consequences. Caroline's Aunt Phoebe kept a huge secret from her until she was forced to tell her the truth. The secret destroyed their relationship and affected how Caroline went forward in life and the decisions she made. In the present day Melissa discovers that her father had a secret too, she is going to have to delve in to the past in order to discover how she is connected to the Desmond addressed on the postcard left by her father. If she is connected to him then why has her father waited so long to tell her?
The Postcard has a brilliant pace and as a reader you are taken from Scotland to London, Egypt and Australia. The depiction of the Second World War is fascinating and highlights the lengths that women went to in order to help the war effort. Some left behind children, never to see them again, all in the name of duty.
I highly recommend this book, Leah Fleming's writing style is rich and enticing and the book is brimming with secrets and mysteries.

I am taking part in the blog tour for this book, please take a look at the poster at the top of my blog for more information and come back on Thursday where I have questions and answers with the very talented Leah Fleming. 

Friday, 15 August 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Making Marion by Beth Moran

Marion came to Nottinghamshire to discover her father's mysterious past, but all she has to go on is a picture of her father dressed up, it would seem, as Robin Hood.
Whilst looking for somewhere to stay, she somehow finds herself on the wrong side of the reception desk at the Peace and Pigs camp site and despite her horrible shyness, promptly lands herself a job.
It takes Marion all she's got to come out of her shell and get to grips with life on a busy camp site, where the chickens seem determined to hinder her and an unfortunate incident with a runaway bike throws her into the arms of the beautiful, but deeply unimpressed Reuben. However, Marion's would-be boyfriend Jake and Reuben's stunning fiancee Erica seem intent on thwarting any hint of romance between the two of them.
Can she really find peace and perhaps even love amongst the pigs?

Publisher: Lion Fiction
Pages: 316 

I am going to be completely honest, when I saw the front cover of this book I was expecting a very twee and cheesy read. However I was pleasantly surprised to discover a particularly warm hearted and thought provoking read.
Marion is shy and I mean seriously shy, she was pretty much mute as a young child. She has to employ extreme courage when she accidentally gets a job at the Peace and Pigs camp site in Sherwood Forest. Marion is there in search of her father, a mysterious figure who she knows nothing about. Instead she is employed by the extremely glamorous and lovable Scarlett who takes her under her wing. Marion very much becomes one of the family and we see her blossom. Marion was focused on looking for her father when she set out so she was completely unprepared for Reuben, the son of the local Lord and Lady of the manor who she literally bumps into. Reuben already has a fiancee though and Marion already has an admirer at the camp site but will true love win?
Making Marion is a lovely read, I found myself rooting for Marion and I so wanted her to find her voice and be happy. I would highly recommend this book.

Many thanks to Midas PR for sending me a review copy of the book, it is out now. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon

Sometimes you just have to step out of the light to see clearly again...
Bronte never expected to see Alex after their one night together, but she never stopped thinking of him. So when she arrives at work one day to find that Alex is a new colleague, she is secretly thrilled. The only problem is that Alex is now engaged to the girl he was on a break from the night they met.
Determined to move on, Bronte becomes a part-time wedding photographer, alongside her day job. Surrounded by loving couples, tearful bridesmaids, mischievous  pageboys and interfering mother-in-laws, she struggles through wedding after wedding whilst he heart is slowly torn apart.
As Alex's own wedding day draws ever nearer, their chemistry becomes harder to ignore. Bronte must decide whether to fight for the man she loves, or to let him go forever. 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 422

Thirteen Weddings is a brilliant read and my favourite of the Paige Toon books that I have read so far. Sadly, I've not had any weddings to attend this year but after reading this I feel like I've been to so many! I read this book over two days as I just couldn't put it down which I always find with this author's books.
Thirteen Weddings revolves around Bronte, she has a one night stand with Alex when she is visiting the UK from Australia for a friend's wedding. She thinks she won't see Alex again  but she never stops thinking about him. A year and a half later, Bronte finds herself back in the UK for a year long work placement. She cannot believe her eyes when Alex turns up in her office as the new Art Director. Alex who she has not stopped thinking of, Alex who is now engaged to be married in three months time. Bronte tries to keep her distance but she cannot ignore her feelings and neither can Alex. Bronte starts to spend a lot of time with Lachie, a fellow Australian living in the UK. She tries to occupy her spare time by becoming an assistant to a wedding photographer at the weekends. She has vowed never to get married due to her parents miserable relationship but watching several couples declaring their love for each other and making a life time commitment raises some questions in Bronte's mind.
Will Alex really marry his fiance and should Bronte give up her chance of happiness with another man? Can she truly love two men at the same time?
I was completely in love with Alex and Lachie by the end of the book and I was so unsure of who I wanted Bronte to end up with. Paige Toon has created two very appealing and believable male leads, I could see why Bronte loved them both. There were subtle differences in her relationships and this made it very difficult to decide who she was the most suited to.
Bronte's dislike of marriage added an extra element to the story. Her parent's marriage breakdown has greatly affected Bronte and I thought that Paige Toon dealt with this very well; it added real intrigue to the story as we don't find out exactly what happened until the very end.
Thirteen Weddings is the perfect summer read, it is full of love, friendship, passion and weddings! Read it, you won't be disappointed!

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Monday, 11 August 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendel

The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb.
News reports put the fatality rate at 99%
Civilization has crumbled.
A band of actors and musicians called The Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels pretty safe.
But now, a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.
Moving backwards and forwards ín time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan- warned about the flu just in time; Arthur's first wife Miranda; Arthur's oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony and the mysterious and self-proclaimed 'prophet'.
Thrilling, unique and deeply moving, this is a beautiful novel that asks questions about art and fame and about the relationships that sustain us through anything- even the end of the world.

Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: 10th September, 2014

This post-apocalyptic novel was quite a different read for me but one that I've very much enjoyed and it left me with a lot to think about.
Station Eleven goes back and forth, before the Georgia Flu has wiped out much of the world and then the aftermath where we follow some of the survivors. In the past we get to know famous actor Arthur Leander and he is the character that links all of the others, past and present. Arthur died the night that the Georgia Flu hit yet he still exists in the current world, through some character's memories plus celebrity memorabilia that has survived.
In the present, the author mainly focuses on Kirsten, she was a child actress who worked with Arthur and now she is part of the Travelling Symphony. One one of the symphony's caravans is the quote: 'survival is insufficient.' and that really is the issue that the author is exploring. All of the characters in the present have had to learn to survive but is that enough? Should they not still enjoy the beauty of their surroundings, can they not pass some time watching Shakespeare being performed?
Station Eleven is not just the title of the book but also the title of a comic series written by  Arthur's ex-wife. Two copies are in circulation and St. John Mendel looks at how differently they (and art in general) can be interpreted. Something borne from someone's
imagination is shown to have far reaching consequences.
Station Eleven very much makes you think, certain parts of it gave me goosebumps as it is all so realistic. We only have to look at the issue of Ebola in the news to understand that this is a situation that could arise and Emily St. John Mendel's description of The Georgia Flu and how it spread are terrifyingly believable.
At the start of the book I was willing certain characters to avoid the flu and survive but as we spend time with the survivors we begin to question whether they really are the lucky ones?
Emily St. John's writing has a real literary feel to it, I love how she subtly poses questions for the reader to mull over, sometimes providing answers and other times, leaving them open. Station Eleven is an interesting read that I think a lot of people will be talking about.

Many thanks to Picador for allowing me to download a review copy from Netgalley. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

The girl emerged from the woods, barely alive. Her story was beyond belief. But it was true. Every dreadful word of it.
Days later, another desperate escapee is found- and a pattern is emerging. Pairs of victims are being abducted, imprisoned then faced with a terrible choice: kill or be killed.
Would you rather lose your life or lose your mind?
Detective Inspector Helen Grace has faced down her own demons on her rise to the top. As she leads the investigation to hunt down this unseen monster, she learns that it may be the survivors- living calling cards- who hold the key to this case.
And unless she succeeds more innocents will die...
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 437

I had seen this book pop up on a few people's blogs and TBR piles and I liked the idea of it; in the main I wasn't disappointed. M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the past 15 years (I read that it was actually the pseudonym of the TV magician Paul Daniels but sadly this is not true!) producing prime time crime serials. Eeny Meeny is his debut novel but his TV experience shines through and there were several points where I could easily imagine the book being adapted for television.
M.J. Arlidge immediately takes you into the action, with the first two victims, Sam and Amy. Would you kill or be killed? That is the question the author repeatedly presents. It is almost a look at human nature and our natural instinct for survival. Helen Grace is the Detective Inspector called in to head up the case, at first she cannot comprehend what has happened to Sam and Amy but when more victims emerge, Helen knows that she has a serial killer on her hands.
As you can imagine there were a lot of twists and turns in this book; my only problem was that I felt it was a little long. There were several large and unexpected events at the end of the book but their impact was lessened for me as I had lost a little bit of interest in the story at that point.
Overall the book has good pace, the chapters are short and snappy but in my opinion there were just too many of them. I thought that the idea behind the book was fantastic and that did keep me reading. I like the character of Helen Walsh and there is plenty of room to develop that so I shall look out for more books by this author in the future.

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