I just want to say a massive thank you to the wonderful and lovely Karen, from twitter and from my WhatsApp squad…. ( you know who you are 😉 ) for sending me this gorgeous and highly intriguing copy. So lets get on to the blurb.
There’s more than one way to capture a life…….
When Elspeth arrives at her ex-husband’s LA mansion for his 50th birthday party, she’s expecting a crowd for the British film director. Instead, there are just seven other guests and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank.
Come morning Richard is dead!!!!
In the weeks that follow, each guest is investigated for his murder, and as stories of Richard’s past surface, Elspeth begins to question not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would want to trap this mysterious, intelligent creature.
From the LA hills to the Norfolk marshes, The Octopus is a stylish exploration of power.
Well, intrigued yet? I certainly was and couldn’t wait to get sucked into the story. From the outset we are introduced to all the characters, including Elspeth, Richard and the other cast of characters that make the story twist and turn. I have to say that all the characters were despicable and nasty, I was left afterwards with the thought that of all the characters I sympathised with it was the Octopus herself, Persephone, no one else. The narrator, Elspeth I really disliked, she did not like her husband, for various reasons which I will not divulge here (spoiler free blog guys!!!) and also had a love and slightly bizarre relationship with her daughter almost love/hate but then again thats too simple to describe their bond. There is at times a selfishness that makes her quite cold and calculating and slightly odd, you kind of feel that you need another persons view point to balance her views, ( I was hoping she would get framed for the murder, really thats how much I disliked her character)
There were other characters that were equally as awful ( not written badly I might add) just written I think for you to also thoroughly dislike, here are all these stinking rich people moaning and basically getting high and drunk in LA. I am sure things like that went on and still go on, but because I felt no sympathy or empathy for any of the characters it just made the whole story feel like you were constantly tripping. The only niggle I had about the whole novel was the character of the daughter, I couldn’t quite see her or even feel anything for her, maybe this story is not aimed at me, but I was mainly off put by most of the characters antics and the narrator being well quite horrible.
I don’t mean to suggest do not buy it, no no no you really need to read this to understand the whole situation, it also highlights what is wrong within the film industry and how toxic life within ( I will say it ) the cult of Hollywood has become. It does have a flavour of the old Agatha Christie style murder where everyone is suspected at a party of the deceased and who will it be?!!! but only slightly and then it just goes off into its own unique murder mystery.
For me I think this is good, bizarre, but good and I hope there is more to come from this author, because although this story was a bit odd, I really liked her writing style, it really flowed and gripped you that you had to carry on reading it even though you had no idea where it would lead you.
Ratings: 4 🌟s with a cup of tea…. no sweet distractions (sorry run out and it’s not one of those that require it…. maybe a glass of 🍷 or 🍹)
So yes please grab yourself a copy of this weird and intriguing tale, and I grant you, you will be taken on a ride. You can get this from Waterstones, Amazon or all independent book stores that are near to you, the majority of independents will do delivery so if you don’t live near one don’t fear you can get hold of it.
Thank you for following me this far, I hope you like this little review, I really don’t want to give too much away and yet sometimes I feel there’s not enough information for you to get your teeth into? please feel free to leave comments on how you think of my blogs (please be polite in your criticisms if you have any lol) or you can just like it and that too is fine. So I hope you day has been good I am now going to head off and read….. how inspiring of me hehe. See you all soon.
Love Orange…. What a title, what does it conjure up for you in your mind? an orange farmer? someone who loves oranges? Not sure? ok I will let you off the hook (considering this is a debut book) What you find here is my honest opinion and that I have not been coerced by anyone to write this review. I was able to and was kindly given by Elizabeth Ana at Quercus Publishing House a copy of this lovely wicked and seductive book by Natasha Randall, so any faults in my review on the story are mine and mine alone. I hope to do justice to this wonderful book and be able to help this brilliant author get the notice she definitely deserves. So lets get started, with the blurb….
While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments. Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters….
This is what caught my interest, the whole modern family (though this is set in America I can see this sort of thing happening here in the UK) idea and how toxic and destructive some of the thoughts that swirl around in the heads of the parents. The kids on the other hand are relatively ok, they are normal (whatever that word means) and are happy in their own ways. Though I feel this story is not solely focused on them, they hold the family together and I feel, help to try to bind them together. I am not going to spoil this marvellous and beautiful book. It has lots of themes to get your teeth into, some of it is quite shocking and at others you definitely sympathise with certain characters. All I will say is this is a great exploration into how, if you feel that, living in a predictable lifestyle, like being a housewife and how all the little niggles can make you feel that life outside is greener and freer, that actually it might not be as green or free as it might be.
I find Jenny very sympathetic, the fact that she was a working woman, who then had to give that up to look after her kids, is something that a lot of families go through. It cause a lot of frictions between the two who should be close and supportive to one another, which can be seen through her thought processes, it’s also the same for Hank, he is the man, needs to provide for the family, has to support them financially and for safety, and that is a weighty load to bear for anyone let alone a man. Yes there are moments you do feel he is a bit of a jerk, but there are moments when you feel that its not him that is a jerk its societies pressures that make him who he is, which is quite sad.
I love this book and cannot rate this highly enough, I was gripped from the first page to the last. It feels so well written that I am surprised to discover that the Author is new and this book is her first. I am so happy and excited what Natasha Randall can do next, if this is her first well her next is going to be glorious ( sorry Natasha don’t mean to pile on the pressure but you have written a good one with this) for those people who are looking for as close to now as possible, please don’t not with this, this has dates and times but it doesn’t feel that it should be set definitely in that time, I feel it can be a bit loose its definitely around 2015 but thats really the only date you get. So please no, where is coronavirus? where are the lockdowns? restrictions? that is not what this book is about and it shouldn’t be held up to that either. This book is looking and delving into the Idea of a modern American family and how the threads that connect each family member to each other are relatively thin and can snap at any moment. I also love the nod to the Simpsons, I won’t spoil anything but look out for an even more lil Easter egg for them too.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. I love love love this.
Ratings: 5 stars with a mug of ☕️ and 3 🍪( possibly more)
This book and many more are out on the 3rd of September so please I beg you grab yourself a copy of this gorgeous, beautiful and enthralling book. You will not regret it I promise you. You can I am sure get a copy from Waterstones, Amazon and all independent stores around the UK or wherever you are in the world (sorry if I don’t know worldwide publication dates). I hope you enjoyed this review and when it comes out your more than welcome to leave a comment or like it, I will respond ( don’t worry you won’t be talking to a computer I can promise that) Thank you so much.
Hello everyone, and what a start to March, I am currently all snuggled up on the sofa with a pile of books at my side (as usual) and a mug of coffee to get me through this morning (as usual). I hope March will be kind to us all and that at some point we will know if or when the date to go back to work…. (don’t worry I will still be doing my blog, just it might be a lot less frequently, than it has been. So as we move into a new month, its only appropriate to look back at the old, and as you may have seen by the title of this month’s wrap-up for books I have read (from my TBR, To Be Read, pile I might have to think again about the choices I make lol) due to how long this lockdown has been, and other personal issues that have cropped up there are certain books I either didn’t read or finish. I am sorry about that, and I am sure I will get round to reading them at some point but for now I have to put them aside due to my current mood (also have way too many books crying at me for my time). So for now we or I will focus on the three I finished and love
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
I absolutely fell in love with this book, the plot and the characters just sprung from the page into my head and heart. I loved the idea of a school that you have to pit your wits against and if you don’t look to survive you will be dead. This novel takes no prisoners, and the main characters, El, or as she is not commonly known as Gladdriel (yes I do love the hilarious nod to J RR Tolkien) and Orion, who’s wealth and the people that support him gives him an edge over most of the poorer elements of this deadly school. Anyway what is this delightful book all about I hear you mutter… lets head over to the blurb and find out (I shout lol).
Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered!!!
There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal. Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate, or you die.
El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possess a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions – never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school.
Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it…… that is , unless she has no other choice.
I honestly cannot recommend this wonderful, brilliant and just down right belligerent and dark story about overcoming your fear of who you are (or think you are) and that sometimes friendships don’t always have to have an ulterior motive. This is a dark Hogwarts, one in which its dog eats dog or occasionally monster eats humans. I loved each of the characters the main character El has to deal with and which she soon becomes as close to friends she has ever come to, along with an annoying boy who seems to keep wanting to rescue said character (I mean ugh!! how annoying is that and frustrating…. we all know where this antagonistic and annoyance leads wink). I loved it all and cannot wait to hear more from these characters later on this year!!!! its bloody marvellous.
Ratings: 5 🌟s with a ☕️ and a large 🍰 and a 🍪 or two…maybe three. Honestly you need all the caffeine and sugar you can for this enthralling book.
Little bit about the author:
Naomi Novik is an avid reader of fantasy literature since age 6, she is also a history buff with a particular fascination with the Napoleonic era and a fondness for the work of Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen. She lives with her husband and daughter in New York City along with many purring computers.
2. Seven Kinds Of People You Find In Bookshops by Shaun Bythell
I have always loved Shaun’s dry, sarcastic and yes grumpiness about people (customers) turning up to his shop in deep dark Scotland, I know that when I am feeling down, miserable and depressed, his books will always lighten me up again and make my ribs ache from laughing out loud. This book is even better as it describes each customer as a strange and unique species that need cataloguing. So what’s this book about, I may have just touched on what it sort of is, but lets head to the blurb to clarify it for you a bit more.
In twenty years behind the till in The Bookshop, Wigtown, Shaun Bythell has met pretty much every kind of customer there is – from the charming, erudite and deep-pocketed to the eccentric, flatulent and possibly larcenous.
In Seven Kinds of People You Find In Bookshops he distils the essence of his experience into a warm, witty and quirky taxonomy of the book-loving public. So, step inside to meet the crafty Antiquarian, the shy and retiring Erotica Browser and gormless yet strangely likeable shop assistant Student Hugo – along with much loved bookseller favourites like the passionate Sci-Fi Fan, the voracious Railway Collecter and the ever-elusive Perfect Customer.
As I have said above I absolutely love this book, its one in which you can dip in and out of and its small enough to take with you anywhere you go, which is always a plus. I love little snippets, comedic the better, books like this one because it gives me so much pleasure to read, I laugh and have a giggle over the types of people that he has encountered whilst he’s had his bookshop running and it makes me yearn to go back and be able to walk into a bookshop and just browse… I miss being able to just walk in pick up a book and look and put it down again without feeling like I have contaminated something for which another person would have liked to read. This book is a warm chuckle infested book, and one in which right now we need something to remind us that there are businesses out there who will need us all to visit and yes to buy from too, and these small independents need all of our help if we are to keep some shops going. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a laugh and a chuckle, this is a lovely warm and friendly hug of a book.
Ratings: 5 🌟s with a large ☕️ and a large 🍰 with a few 🍪 s too… though you might want to have a bib due to laughing so much you spray everywhere 😉 honestly this book is brilliant.
Little bit about the author:
Shaun Bythell bought The Bookshop in Wigtown on 1st November 2001, and has been running it ever since with an increasing passion for the business, matched only by a sense of despair for its future, and an ill-humour inspired by almost two decades of dealing with confused customers and surly staff. His internationally – bestselling books The Diary of a Bookseller and Confessions of a Bookseller have been translated into over twenty languages, including Russian, Korean and French.
3. The MoonFlower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
So we have come to the final book which I read, loved and finished, I have always loved Horowitz’s writing style especially his two Sherlock Holmes novels which I adored by the way. I also loved Magpie Murders which is the first novel in I guess this duology? (can you get a duology lol) anyway now I will let you feast your eyes on this gorgeous book just look at those beautiful sprayed edges!!! sorry you can’t see inside but its even better. Anyway lets go and check out what this book is all about, on to the blurb!!
Retired publisher Susan Reyland is running a small hotel on a Greek Island with her long-term boyfriend. But life isn’t as idyllic as it should be: exhausted by the responsibility of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, Susan is beginning to miss her literary life in London – even though her publishing career once entangled her in a lethal literary murder plot.
So when an English couple come to visit with tales of a murder that took place in a hotel the same day their daughter Cecily was married there, Susan can’t help but find herselffascinated. And when they tell her that Cecily has gone missinga few short hours after reading Atticus Pund Takes The Case, a crime novel Susan edited some years previously, Susan knows she must return to London to find out what has happened. the clues to the murder and Cecily’s disappearance must lie within the pages of this novel.
But to save Cecily, Susan must place her own life in mortal danger……….
Honestly I loved this book from beginning to end, and yes its a mahoosive monster of a book. I hd to take my time with this one, not least because it was so brilliantly and cleverly plotted, but because my poor hands would ache after lumping it around wherever I was more comfortable (seriously try reading this tome in bed and you will see why I found it awkward). That is the only real quibble I had with this book, the size and weight, part from that I was hooked, the plot and the book within a book, as well as a mystery within a mystery was just mind benignly brilliant. I honestly cannot recommend this book highly enough, if you like your Agatha Christie style crime, this book is a treasure that you have to read and I would also recommend The Magpie Murders too if you haven’t encountered that book already.
Ratings: 5 🌟s with a large ☕️ and a large 🍰 and 🍪 s of course 😉
I know you are wondering where did the other five books go, well sometimes you may find yourself not in the mood or that the book you think you will enjoy turns out you are not sure about or even find that you have changed your mind about it. This is all perfectly fine, not all books are going to make you jump to the skies with joy or make you think about yourself and others as well as the planet in a new and thoughtful way. Books are fabulous magic, but they can also be fickle and like us we just have to browse amongst them to come across something we love or tickles our fancy. I found the choices I made with five of them may not have turned out exactly as I planned, but I enjoyed and loved three of them which makes my February stack all worth it. I also am not going to put book reviews on here which dismisses them or say how bad they are thats not my blog and not something that should be shouted about (well thats my opinion anyway) because even if I didn’t enjoy them I know plenty of people have, and that I don’t want to cause hurt or anger because this is only my opinion and also the author has worked jolly hard to get their creation (paper baby, sometimes even digital baby) out into the wide world and well it just feels mean and spiteful to say how rubbish or worthless it is, because they are not that. I may not have go into the book but thats down to me being not involved or missed something, the book is not to blame neither is the author, it just happens that it or they didn’t grab my attention which makes reading all the more fun, because you never know which book might grab your interest next.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this little post of mine and hopefully this new month will bring me many happy readings, look out for my next post on books to read in March, though I think I may have to tell myself not to restrict it to only march or even say I have to read the 8!! (I know *gasp* shock and horror) but seriously this month is going to be particularly busy with loads more blog tours and other reviews to come.
Looking back on a year that has been strange, unsettling and terrifying I have to say thank you for all the people that have and are supporting me through what I have found to be my calling (as it were) without my SquadPod girls and also my friends and family I don’t think I would have been quite as mentally happy as I am now. I have always loved books and enjoying reading them as much as I can, to be able to shout about books and write it up on a blog that people (I hope) are reading fills me with pleasure and just gratitude that you think I am making sense lol. So thank you each and everyone of my followers on here new and old I love you all. So I will leave you now to only say Happy Reading and see you all soon!!!
I would like to say a huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel Random Resources Tours for organising this books tour. I would also like to say thank you as well to Pen&Sword for allowing me to read a digital copy of this wonderful book for this tour. I would like to say thank you too, to the author, Zoe Wheddon, for introducing me to a person that meant so much to one of my all time favourite authors Jane Austen, to know she had someone she could bounce ideas off of and have a giggle with too, makes her become real and alive and not just some famous person from a bygone time, she becomes almost as meaningful now as she was when she was alive.
So what is this wonderful book about? lets head to the blurb and find out.
All fans of Jane Austen everywhere believe themselves to be best friends with the beloved author and this book shines a light on what it meant to be exactly that. Jane Austen’s Best Friend; The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd, offers a unique insight into Jane’s private inner circle. Through this heart-warming examination of an important and often overlooked person in Jane’s world, we uncover the life changing force of their friendship. Each chapter details the fascinating facts and friendship forming qualities that tied Jane and Martha together. Within these pages we will relive their shared interests, the hits and misses of their romantic love lives, their passion for shopping and fashion, their family histories, their lucky breaks and their girly chats. This book offers behind the scenes tour of the shared lives of a fascinating pair and the chance to deepen our own bonds in ‘love and friendship’ with them both.
I have always been a huge Jane Austen fan ever since that infamous scene in BBC’s Pride & Prejudice adaption of said book, you all know the one I mean…. If you have no idea, well lets just say white shirt, Colin Firth and a lake and just leave it at that…. phew!!! even from a young age I loved romances and well the world that Jane Austen created was fun, full of adventure and had wit dripping from every page, be it sarcastic, sharp or even gentle. As soon as I could I started gorging on all the books that Jane Austen had published and fell head over heels in love with her storytelling and how her words have resonated with me. In times of trouble she is there to offer comfort and advice, and it makes what this book means to all her fans who also like me love her words and storytelling, a jewel to be treasured as it means we get to see the girl, the teen and then the woman that we know and love, yet at the same time she is still is a mysterious and enigmatic figure. We may feel that we ‘own’ her and know her, but we don’t not really (unless you have a time machine in your garage somewhere) we will never really know her as someone alive and close to us, but these little glimpses into her everyday thoughts and feelings with someone who knew her incredibly closely almost like sisters this is something to hold close to.
I loved getting to know Jane Austen through someone so close and meant so much to her, so much so it seems she must have had her friend in mind for some of her characters, ( me personally I feel Jane, the sister of Elizabeth Bennet is a mixture of Cassandra and Martha, due to how close those sisters, fictionally were, and also how close Jane is to both of her sister and well I guess her soul-sister). I have always been fascinated by Jane Austen and her life and background, who was she? how did she become the most beloved author for regency romance? and also questions which though this book has shone a light on and we can just catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of our eyes, still can’t quite plumb the depths of who she was, what made her tick and just so many things. I did feel that it was a bit too gushy, but overall I loved how we got to know both Jane Austen herself, but also her family and the people they meet and throughout her life and after her death.
From reading this I have definitely felt much closer to seeing Jane Austen as a girl, a teenager and a woman not just some flat representation or meek and mild. She was more than what other people have said about her, she was vibrant, alive, quick tempered, generous, loving and yes humorous, cheeky and spirited. With these snippets of her from letters she wrote to her friend we catch a glimpse of this warm hearted and absolutely brilliant best friend, and how her friendship with Martha meant so much to both of them.
If you love Jane Austen and want to know a little bit more about her and how important this lady was for her throughout her short-lived yet full life, I can highly recommend this delightful and loving book and how friendships can last a lifetime and help inspire each other.
If you would like to buy this book here are the links:
Ratings: 4 ⭐️s with a cup of 🫖 and 🧁 maybe some 🍪s too if your peckish… this book has all the elements of tea parties and summer skies.
Zoe Wheddon is a native of Jane Austen’s beloved county of Hampshire, she lives in a village on the outskirts of the town that she and her husband Mark grew up in, with three grown up children and a cat called Leia. She co-presents the popular What Would Jane Do? podcast, and writes articles and book reviews on matters relating to friendship, self-compassion and personal development on her blog. When not researching or writing her next book, Zoe can be found in the classroom teaching Spanish and French or singing ABBA songs loudly in her kitchen.
Thank you so much for joining me on this lovely stroll with Jane Austen and her friend Martha and how we should all treasure our friendships (not be jealous or guard them) but to understand how important our friendships are with one another, it doesn’t even have to be as deep or as meaningful as Janes with Martha or vice versa, it can be the quiet kind, and subtler. I know I have a much more vivid image of Jane Austen than before, she’s not as blurry or plain…. no definitely not plain, there’s more of a spark and a twinkle in those dark eyes than before and I love it. So will leave you now only to say Happy Reading and see you all soon!!!
I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition and/or the BBNYA tours organised by the @The_WriteReads tours team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest (or insert your own standard version of the same). I would also like to say a huge thank you to both The Write Reads Tours team and to Listen Jacques for allowing me to help participate in this books tour, I am extremely grateful.
BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors.
If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can apply to be part of BBNYA 2021 by filling out this form (also remember to read the terms and conditions before signing up)!
BBNYA is brought to you in association with the Folio Society (If you love beautiful books you NEED to check out their website!) And the book blogger support group TheWriteReads.
So what is this darkly enchanting book all about, lets head over to the blurb to find out.
Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.
Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.
The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.
And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.
I have to admit this now before we head into what I thought about this book, I am a relative newbie to the whole concept of Book Blogging, this will soon be my first year of starting up my blog to shout out about the books I love to you near and far, family and friends, and of course the hidden reader from wherever you are able to find this little blog of mine, I would also just like to say a huge thank you to all the bookish people on Twitter who have welcomed me with open arms and just accepted me for who I am and support me in what I do, my Squadpodettes I love you thank you hugely.
So what did I think of this book, to be perfectly honest with you, knowing that it was entered into this wonderful award and came out 6th overall, I did feel daunted by that fact. I was also a little bit trepidatious by the fact I don’t usually go for this type of genre, so I was a little bit wary how I would find this book.
I have to admit I shouldn’t have been, though reading this book during a lockdown for a pandemic that is sweeping the world, is probably not the best read right now, considering its main theme. Though instead of it being set right here in the present modern day, it is set on an earth where magic is a plague which forces the human survivors to head deep down in the earth, through intricate tunnel systems and caves which they hope to survive and thrive instead of up above. But even down in the depths things are not as safe as the humans hope and Azure and Armin are about to find this out.
This book from the moment I started reading, gripped and enthralled me, I felt totally immersed into this strange new world full of unsettling and weird monsters and magic, I liked spunky Azzy and how she fights to protect her brother from both the monsters, other humans and even himself. I loved all the different characters we meet, some likeable more than others and yes there were ones we particularly disliked. I loved how eerily similar it was and yet also not quite the same. This is an intriguing and brilliantly written dystopian/fantasy story that takes issues such as human fear of contagion, distrust, our fear of differences, ignorance, stupidity, arrogance, love, bravery and courage and the belief in ourselves for what is right.
This has an ethereal quality which you only find in classic fairytales, where the heroes and the heroines are set up against huge and terrifying monsters both vivid and in their minds and how they overcome all or mostly all obstacles that lie in their path. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in this type of gothic, dystopian, fairytale novel this is one for you.
Kristin Jacques is an author from small town New England. She grew up in the sticks, surrounded by river wildlife, and various swamp inhabitants. Somehow she managed to keep all her toes despite a run in with a snapper or two.
She lives with her husband and sons in another small New England town. She is mighty attached to them.
When not writing, she is likely reading, watching a terrific B-Horror flick, or further spoiling the family cats. Sometimes she has blue hair.
I hope you have enjoyed my little post on this fascinating and intriguing novel, It was great fun to read even if my dreams were a bit strange and disturbing (am sure that was the cheese lol) anyway all it leaves me now to say is Happy Reading and see you all soon!!!
I would like to say a huge thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for organising this intriguing and wonderful book’s tour. I would also like to thank Pan for allowing me to read a digital arc of this book and also thank you to Netgalley as well. I would also like to say a huge thank you to the author herself for creating this thrilling book, Trisha Sakhlecha, This really brought to life how teenagers and girls especially, with all the emotions running at fever pitch and trying to find their way through to becoming an adult, sometimes get caught up in their emotions and feelings of jealousy, envy and spite can be all mixed with wanting to be someone else or be as popular or even just have a friend to rely on. So without going into why I love this book so much lets head straight to what this book is all about, the blurb.
Three Indian girls. One horrific scandal. And fifteen years later, secrets that refuse to stay buried……
Fifteen years ago, three sixteen year-old girls meet at Westcott, an exclusive private school in India. Two, Sabah and Noor, are the most popular girls in their year. One, Alia, is a new arrival from England, who feels her happiness depends on their acceptance.
Before she knows it, Sabah and Noor’s intoxicating world of privilegeand intimacy opens up to Alia and, for the first time, after years of neglect from her parents, she feels she is exactly where, and with whom, she belongs.
But with intimacy comes jealousy, and with privilege, resentment, and Alia finds that it only takes one night for her bright new world to shatter around her.
Now, Alia, a cabinet minister in the Indian government, is about to find her secrets have no intention of staying buried…..
Wow as soon as I started to read I was hooked from the first page, an exclusive school? tick, girl friendships with all the highly charged emotions that entail? tick, tragedy? tick, secrets? tick. This book has it all in spades, and all set in and around India and how being rich and having a perfect looking family, may not be what it seems on the surface. This novel sets up the action with three girls, we have Ali, a newbie to the school who feels like an outsider due to her parents not being as rich as the other kids who go to this exclusive school we understand at this point that she has been lumbered off to stay with her grandparents who are the ones that can afford to send her there, then there is Noor and Sabah, who have known each other for so long and which their families have known and been around each other, that they are almost like sisters, they are also quite well off and of course they are popular and hold the key to what Alia wants, acceptance, friends and basically not being alone.
We follow these three girls, from when they first meet to all the little incidences that happen along the way, we also see two of them grown and in different areas of life and work, one still living in India and the other completely far away from where she used to live. What happened? what caused this rift? and what secrets are building and about to come out? I won’t spoil all the twists and turns in this fabulous and thrilling book, as it would just ruin the surprise, the gasps and the shocks that come your way. There’s another element too that seeps its way and is almost like a background humming noise, thats the societal aspect of how men treat women and look at them and judge their behaviour according to what “they” the men think a women or girls should behave, act and do.
There’s also another issue to contend with, how single minded and focused families are to the wellbeing of these characters, how important behaviour is to families and if you disrespect that or your behaviour is an embarrassment….. well this is where things go a bit a dark in this book, its not exactly honour killings but there is an element of that within the tragic circumstances that pervades throughout the telling of this story. Theres also a lot of money being handed around and how wealth is easy to overcome obstacles such as the law and justice in India (this story’s India I must say before anyone starts getting any ideas).
Throughout the novel and though each character’s view point of what they perceive went down, I swung from one character to another in who I sympathised and supported or not, there were many people by the end that I thought were awful and just despicable… bizarrely I was the men (hmm funny that I wonder why? lol) you get caught up with each of the characters and feel for them if something goes wrong or even any spite that comes their way. I did find that some of the side characters behaviour were appalling but it also felt real and added to the suspense of what is going to happen next?
This is a cleverly constructed, twisted and multi-faceted crime/thriller novel and one in which every crime/thriller lover should have in their clutches, You really fall for and get behind each character and the tension, suspense ratchets up and up until halfway through and it just goes flat out near to the end. I loved every page turning and just down right thrilling moment of this book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
Ratings: 4 🌟s with a large ☕️ and huge 🍰….. possibly some 🍪s if you get peckish…. seriously you will not want to put this book down.
Trisha Sakhlecha grew up in New Delhi and now lives in London. For her new novel she draws upon a true story – a famous scandal that erupted at her own high school and which changed India. She works in fashion and is a graduate of the acclaimed Faber Academy writing course. In the past, Trisha has worked as a designer, trend forecaster, and lecturer. She is the author of Your Truth or Mine?.
Thank you so much for coming with me on this thrilling, intriguing story one in which it is based on a true story which shocked and shaped India and which affected the author too. I hope that you find this intriguing enough to buy it, you can find this on Waterstones, any independents and of course on Amazon. It only leaves me now to say Happy Reading and I will see you all soon!!!
I would like to say a huge thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for organising this wonderful tour for this intriguing and fascinating insight into an affair through a period of fast living, and intoxicating yet swirling times of the 30s and 40s. I would also like to thank Duckworth publishing for sending a copy of this insightful book and of course a huge thank you to the author Julia Parry, with whom this book means so much and I (we) are indebted to her for allowing a little glimpse into her family’s secrets so thank you. This book is not a fiction, even though it has all the elements to make it so, there’s love, loyalty and yet there is as well a lot of infidelity and hurt too, all surrounding three people one who is and was a well known and respected author of her time. So lets head to the blurb of this fascinating portrait of two families bound together by love, letters and of course that ‘Shadowy Third’.
A sudden death in the family delivers Julia a box of love letters. Dusty with age, they reveal an illicit affair between the celebrated twentieth-century Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen and Humphrey House – Julia’s grandfather.
So begins an intriguing quest to discover and understand this affair, one with profound repercussions for Julia’s family, not least for her grandmother, Madeline. This is a book about how stories are told in real life, in fiction and in families.
Inspired by Bowen’s own obsession with place and memory, Julia travels to all the locations in the letters -from Kolkata to Cambridge and from Ireland to Texas. the reader is taken from the rarefied air of Oxford in the 1930’s, to the Anglo-Irish Big House, to the last days of Empire in India and on into the Second World War. The fascinating unpublished correspondence, a wealth of family photographs, and a celebrated supporting cast that includes Isiah Berlin and Virginia Woolf add further richness to this unique work.
I have to admit first of all that I do not know who Elizabeth Bowen was as an author, I am sure I may have come across her name in books and online as an inspiration for other writers, but I may have been too blind to notice, so this is me being a bit awkward and to apologise for my ignorance. I have always been fascinated though by other people’s history, going round old houses and poking my nose into who and how these families lived their lives, may have also inspired my degree and where I work today (I will not say where I work lol…. don’t worry its not a huge secret but I like to keep my blog free from work) anyway what I am trying to say is that being new to Elizabeth Bowen, this book and the love between her and the author’s grandfather Humphrey makes this a touching and fascinating story intriging and touches that nosy side of me interested in family history.
I was hooked from the first page to the last, yes I don’t need murder or anything else to get me into a book, what is fascinating about this is that the author seems to have a collection of not just one side of the communications between the lovers but also from Elizabeth Bowen with some intriguing corrections written after these two have passed from the person who would mostly likely have felt betrayed the third woman, the wife of Humphrey, Madeline the author of this books grandmother. This collection of family stories, letters and remembrances is incredibly moving and powerful, as well as incredibly fascinating for us the reader. We get to see the loves, deceits, betrayals, joys happiness, along with the bitterness and hurt of these two I would have to say selfish people both Elizabeth Bowen and Humphrey House, and how their relationship goes up and down depending on circumstances as well as on Humphrey’s inclination and almost naive out look on his relationship with his mistress and his wife.
I found that as I was reading this book how an affaire can look from the outside, though these letters are not as hot or suggestive, the fact they are written and that Humphrey sees Elizabeth has his equal or near as, as a man at that time could just about admit ( sorry can you tell I am not a fan of Humphrey and his treatment of women especially his wife). We also see a glimpse of who Elizabeth is like through these wonderful snippets of her communication and how alive and vibrant she comes across from the letters she writes to her lover. Sadly from what Julia says, that her grandmother burnt all her letters to Humphrey and vice versa which makes me feel that we have lost a balance in the story that we have, though at the same time it makes sense for Madeline to do that, for her the tale of his (Humphrey’s) betrayal is a private wound, not to be shared or poked through. I feel it is quite lucky that these snapshots of love captured in letters are jewels to be hoarded due to how ephemeral and fragile they can be to passing of time and the complete destruction of setting them to the flames.
I also felt incredibly grateful to be able to read about someones family’s (I guess dirty laundry) secrets and history of an affaire that though in later years of it turned more into friendship than what it used to be in former times and how reliant Humphrey was on Elizabeth to help him and open doors to him, in which he never thought possible, I did on occasion find him a bit of bore in certain aspects of his personality especially when he spoke about women learning in Universities considering how successful Elizabeth, and in her own quiet yet steady way,Madeline were.
I loved delving into other peoples lives, especially when it is letters, there’s something so private and personal when reading letters, for a brief moment you get to view the thoughts and feelings of that person at that point of time and from wherever they are, its like a tiny snapshot into the life of that person. It breathes life into the past and gives you little snippets of what life was like then. This book also shines the light on how society treated infidelity between a man and a woman, how it tended to favour heavily in the man’s way and that the woman (with whom the man is not married to) is considered morally wrong, and even the wife who is being betrayed is forced by society to ignore the man’s indiscretion because it would cause too much of a scene to divorce and also that supposing the woman was able to get the outcome she desired.
If you love history, family history and stories and if you also know and love Elizabeth Bowen and have a fascination with letters and love triangles this book is the one for you, I can highly recommend this fabulous journey into a family’s hidden secret. This book is at times sharp, poignant and deeply moving and we get closer to both Elizabeth Bowen, Humphreys and Madeline all through the pen and the inheritor of their pasts and history.
Ratings: 5 🌟s with a ☕️ and a large 🍰 maybe a few 🍪 s too…. and all snuggled up somewhere comfy.
Julia Parry was brought up in West Africa and educated at St. Andrews and Oxford. She teaches English Literature and has worked as a writer and a photographer for a variety of publications and charities. She lives in London and Madrid. This is her first book.
Thank you so much for reading my little pice on this marvellous book, I have learnt about another author who I will check out as soon as I possibly can, and have also learnt the value of letter writing and how it is a bridge to the past and that with all this digital take over have we lost something so vital and exciting as a piece of paper with a handwritten note that breathes to life scenes from a bygone age and occasionally brings to life people we have known, loved, argued with and yes lost lovers too. I hope that you will buy this wonderful book and you can find this on Waterstones, any independent and of course on Amazon too. So all it leaves me now to say is Happy Reading and see you all soon!!!!
I would like to say a huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for allowing me on to this wonderful book’s tour I am extremely grateful to also have been sent a copy of this fantastic book. I would also like to thank Steven Cooper for organising this tour and being absolutely lovely and also thank you to the creative, devilish genius Bethany Clift for coming up with this Prophetic? storyline… I can say that as soon as I finished this book I needed to hug and call all my friends and family just to know that they were fine it is definitely one to make you realise how much you hold dear and can take for granted and also how social we are. So what is this book all about? lets head over to the blurb and find out.
The End of Everything Was Her Beginning……
It’s November 2023. The human race has been wiped out by the 6DM virus ( Six Days Maximum – the longest you’ve got before your organs disintegrate and you melt from the inside out). The end of the world as we know it.
Yet someone is still alive. Alone in a new world of burning cities, rotting corpses and ravenous rats, one woman has survived. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants and hiding how she feels to meet other people’s expectations. From her career to her relationships, to what she wears and where she lives, she’smade a lifetime of decisions to fit what other people want her to be.
But with no-one else left, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?
Wow, what a book, I was hooked right from the start. I have to say that its not about the end of the world even though I have put it above as a genre, It does involve an end of the world scenario but its so much more than just that. This is about one woman learning to live and be comfortable with herself and also find herself too in a world that has suddenly lost all humans and also gone deathly quiet … well apart from the birds and animals of course. I was enthralled by the main character, we never really get her name all we know is she’s a woman and is the only survivor of a widespread pandemic which has killed off all human life, apart from her.
I have to admit that reading this book during this lockdown and how isolated and alone we all are feeling, is probably not the best book to read right now. YOU ARE WRONG. Sorry not quite sure what happened there… anyway, we see her trying to survive in a world that has gone dark and silent, there are no planes, there are no cars or the usual sound from a busy, bustling city that is London. We watch in our collective sadness, fear and yes hilarious moments as she starts to move further into London to see who if any one is still around or if it is just her. From moments where she still feels shame to breaking into shops to full blown looting and getting drunk on champagne and basically partying in the fanciest of hotels…. yes that is a scene from the book and I too do wonder if this is a fantasy that the author sees herself doing if she too was the only one around on earth (come one wouldn’t we all want to just get as drunk and basically go as crazy as we could, because no one would know or even care).
But thats not to say its all fun either, she then finds herself becoming restless and fearful and also bored, she also questions herself and thinks can she be the only one? maybe she should check and see? so we are then with her on this mad, dystopian and terrifying journey to see if she can find anyone who can help or even just to talk to, to know that she isn’t alone. What she finds is a lovely, wonderful dog who helps keep her as sane as she can be. We see through her eyes the devastation that swept through the UK and sees mounds of rotting and burning corpses like pillars of smoke to a god that doesn’t seem to care about the fate of these tiny creatures. We follow her on a heartbreaking journey as she discovers personal loss and sorrow, which in any other circumstances would make anyone go over the edge.
This story is not just about the fear of being alone, death and misery, its about survival, its about that hidden courage which we all have, but because we are not tested to extreme lengths we don’t know what we have inside of ourselves. Its about finding who we are and what we become when we find ourselves alone and how we make friends (whether it is an animal or in her case a dog) and its also about the journey of self discovery. I laughed, cried and felt that I needed to hug and reach out to this character, with whom you grow, over the course of the book, to love and support her in what she does and where she eventually ends up. I will not say more because I don’t like spoilers and also this book is such a wonderful, brilliant almost Alice in Wonderland-like narrative I feel I cannot do it any more justice.
If you find that recent events going on in the world make you a bit uneasy about reading this novel, I would like to say that, yes there is a pandemic that hits and wipes out the human population and yes there are scenes of some disturbing and emotional stress which the character feels. But this is a fiction, and that in fiction it is much more dramatic and bigger than what actually happens in real life and what is happening right now. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, because its not a story of sadness or depression its a story of hope, fun and adventure, because there is a hope throughout the novel that she might not be the only one….
Ratings: 5 🌟s and a large 🥂 with some 🧁 😉 and some 🫖 because well you definitely need comfort for this one.
Bethany Clift is a graduate of the Northern Film School and has had projects in development with Eon and Film 4, as well as being a director of her own production company. Last One At The Party is her debut novel.
Thank you so much for following me on this long, lonely and yet hopeful journey, I hope my waffle does show how much I loved this extraordinary book. I feel that no matter what I say I can’t quite describe or do this book justice it is just outstanding. You can buy this wonderful book now in Waterstones, any independent and of course on Amazon. If you are very lucky you might be able to get your hands on the gorgeous Waterstones edition with pink sprayed edges!!! honestly I swooned. So I will leave you now to say Happy Reading and see you all soon!!!
I would like to say a huge thank you to Amber Choudhary at Midas PR as well as 4th Estate publishing for allowing me to take part on this tour and for sending me this wonderful and heartwarming book, about what it is to be a human and can a robot evolve to have feelings? you know everyday questions that we all worry about hehe. Thank you also to the creative genius that is Simon Stephenson for thinking of these questions and putting them down into a novel which I think answers them, well or allows you to think it has been answered. What is this book about I hear you ask though, lets head over to the blurb and find out.
Set in 2054, where humans have locked themselves out of the internet and Elon Musk has incinerated the moon, Set My Heart To Five, is the hilarious yet profoundly moving story of one android’s emotional awakening.
Unhappy with his programmed job of dentistry and inspired by a love of classic movies, Jared sets out on a bold mission: to use the power of his burgeoning feelings to forever change the world for him and all his kind. Unfortunately, Jared intends to do this by writing his own movie, and things do not proceed according to plan……
Set My Heart To Five is a book for anybody who has feelings, loves movies and likes to laugh and cry and sometimes do both at the same time. It comes uniquely guaranteedto make it’s readers weep a minimum of 29ml of tears*
*Book must be read in controlled laboratory conditions arranged at reader’s own expense. Other terms and conditions may apply to this offer.
Oh boy this was such a joy to read, I was gripped and hooked from the first page. I loved the character Jared and his robotic, dull way of life and how he suddenly found himself able to feel emotionally, which at first he thought was just a normal malfunction. This book makes you think about what it means to be human and also how silly and idiotic our lives can be when seen from say a robot or even (maybe possibly animals) point of view. I love how its also set in the far (yet not too far) future where the moons been blasted and planes have fallen from the sky (either due to the moon being incinerated or something else) and how the world has slowly but surely become small again.
There also seems to be no internet, which for some people may cause shock and horror, I at first thought this was hilarious, and then a thought struck me…. what would happen to me ordering books?!!! yes for me I was more concerned about books (then of course I worried about my family, friends and anyone else I could think of which we all rely on contacting and being connected to) which may have caused me to twitch… slightly maybe. This is also not just about Robots vs Humans but about how we as humans have this fear of the “other” someone who we don’t recognise as the same as us and so we build up our neurosis and paranoia of they are out to get us so we should get them first (“Humans I Cannot”), I almost feel that this is symbolic of the racism throughout history in America and globally around the world and how if we just look and feel and just take a moment to understand each other we can overcome our own silly fears.
This novel also highlights our strengths to, that feelings, especially our high emotions with low emotions too is what makes us unique and also what makes us human. We fall in love, we laugh at things that tickle us or find amusing, we are creative and most of us are empathetic with each other. During this world and possible future we as humans rely on our creative side to take the stress away from us and rely on robots to do all the work and drudge… the only issue I have is bitcoin being a form of commerce which begs the question… are they locked out of the internet? that is my only little niggle, only small niggle like really tiny.
I fell in love with all the characters especially Jared who befriends and falls in love, and finds that sometimes what he thinks will fall out actually there are many twists and turns and steep learning curves which all humans go through, throughout their life. We also experience a sadness and desperation to try and help these humans understand and not to fear the bots which they have made to help their own lifestyle. It does mean I will be looking at a lot of my appliances in a new way especially the simple yet functional toaster….When you read this book you will understand what I mean (just get this book honestly you will have no regrets… unless you malfunction of course lol… yeah that was a low joke)
This novel also asks you the question of who are the real ‘bots” the humans who fear, send bots to be wiped if they malfunction, who grumble and protest about them taking their jobs (does this sound familiar at all) or is it the ‘bots’ themselves who do the dirty work (actually the majority of jobs) so that it gives the human race a chance to not worry, fear or have cares? I have my answer will you?
Ratings: 5 🌟s with a ☕️ and a large 🍰 with some 🍪 maybe 😂…. though you might find yourself spraying crumbs and coffee everywhere honestly it’s hilarious.
Simon Stephenson is an author and screenwriter based in Los Angeles. His previous book Let Not The Waves Of The Sea won Best First Book at the Scottish Book Awards. He also (in his words) Once Upon A Time, In A Galaxy Far Far Away, was a medical doctor… (ahhh I see you say thats where the use of dentistry? comes in? lol) is an outlaw from Edinburgh (my words lol I don’t think he’s in any actual trouble) Scotland.
I hope you have enjoyed the ride, and will now become a better person…..ahem yeah whatever lol. But even if this book doesn’t make you want to hug and love your fellow bots (humans too) this absolutely side-splitting, genuinely heartwarming book that just feels like a big warm hug, you need to grab a copy for yourself, I loved everything about this book, it is a strange look at our world and what it could be, but it is also very comedic and just brilliant. You can buy this from Waterstones, any independents (though Iwould check with them first) and of course on Amazon. So I will leave you to say Happy Reading and see you all soon!!!
I would like to say a huge thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for organising this intriguing book’s blog tour, I would also like to thank Flame Tree Press and Netgalley for allowing me access to the digital copy of this book. I would also like to say a huge thank you to the creative genius that is Ramsey Campbell, for creating such an unnerving, strange and surreal story that creeps up on you and keeps you up at night wanting to know more. So what’s this delightful book all about? lets head to the blurb to find out.
1952. On a school trip to Franceteenager Dominic Sheldrake begins to suspect his teacher Christian Noble has reasons to be there as secret as they are strange. Meanwhile a widowed neighbour joins a church that puts you in touch with your dead relatives, who prove much harder to get rid of. As Dominic and his friends Roberta and Jim investigate, they can’t suspect how much larger and more terrible the link between these mysteries will become. A monstrous discovery beneath a church only hints at terrors that are poised to engulf the world as the trilogy bring us to the present day…..
Wow what a book, I have to admit this is probably one of the strangest and unsettling books I have read in a long time. It really gets under your skin, and makes you want to keep on reading it just to see where the story goes and what happens. I am not a hundred percent sure where this is set, but really it doesn’t matter it could be any town in England, Scotland or Ireland and the past (well this story’s past anyway) comes to life in vivid detail. We have our intrepid hero’s Dominic, Jim and Roberta (Bobby) who notice some strange goings on within their small town. Dominic is the main observer of all these strange happenings and finds himself wondering what his teacher has a part in all of these happenings and why does he (Mr Noble) take his baby to the cemetery? and why does the baby freak Dominic out so much? I won’t go further and spoil this book for you but these and other questions do get answered later on.
I wasn’t at first able to place these characters or even get into the story, due mainly to the fact that I couldn’t visualise where this town was set, but that added I think to how surreal the and unsettling the story becomes. The characters as well are fairly ordinary as in the parents of Dominic, Jim and Roberta, but there are some unusual people which make the story even more bizarre and strange. The widowed neighbour being one such and some of the teachers where Dominic and Jim get sent to school are even more odd. I am not sure if from the description of the school with its focus on “Brother” (denoting Teacher) and “Father”denoting Headmaster) the sense of a religious school, I wasn’t convinced by the school, but it definitely added to the strange and weird feeling of the story. The atmosphere of a creeping menace and sense of doom is pervasive throughout the story that is being narrated by Dominic, and it does creep up on you slowly but surely almost like a spine tingling shiver running up and down your back. I loved how these three friends have to battle to save their town against whatever forces of evil that seem to threaten their way of life….or do they?
I found myself caught up in the whole chilling, threatening and looming atmosphere that is created in the story and it does not let go, in fact it doubles up in pace by the end. I would highly recommend this book to any one who loves the weird, unusual and uncanny valley, with that slightly eerie, unsettling and strange sensation that all is not quite right. In my head it feels similar to tv shows such as The League of Gentlemen, not quite as surrealist comedic affect but with that hint of uneasy, disturbing, strange atmosphere. It also had strong nostalgic flavour of Scooby-Doo meets Stranger Things, that creepy crawly sensation which always seems to presages a death or a horrific monster (I am now thinking of horror movies with that crescendoing music score in the background… see Jaws) I have to admit this book kept me awake at night (my poor husband) due to some weird and wonderful dreams after reading this intriguing book.
This is one where I feel undecided, not in a bad way but because there is so much to say about this novel, there’s the friendship between Jim, Dominic and Bobby (Roberta), there’s this sense of a dawning new era with the Queen being recently installed on the throne and all these weird and strange happenings that seem to imply a reckoning. I love the sense of danger that only it seems the kids seem to have any inkling about with the adults either not aware or even worrying about it. I will leave you with words from a famous director and conjuror of the strange and uncanny…
‘An absolute master of modern horror. And a damn fine writer at that’ Guillermo del Toro
Ratings: 4 🌟s with a large ☕️ and a huge 🍰 maybe a few 🍪s…. definitely needed whilst reading this book.
Ramsey Campbell was born in Liverpool in 1946 and still lives on Merseyside. The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes him as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”. He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime AchievementAward of the Horror Writers Association, the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild and the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2015 he was made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University for outstanding services to literature. Among his novels are The Face That Must Die, Incarnate, Midnight Sun, The Count of Eleven, Silent Children, The Darkest Part of The Woods, The Overnight, Secret Story, The Grin of The Dark, Thieving Fear, Creatures of The Pool, The Seven Days of Cain, Ghosts Know, The Kind Folk, Think Yourself Lucky and Thirteen Days By Sunset Beach, Needing Ghosts, The Last Revelation of Gla’aki, The Pretence and The Booking are novellas. His collections include Waking Nightmares, Alone with the Horrors, Ghosts and Grisly Things, Told by the Dead, Just Behind You and Holes for Faces, and his non-fiction is collected as Ramsey Campbell, Probably. Limmericks of the Alarming and Phantasmal are what they sound like. His novels The Nameless, Pact of The Fathers and The Influence have been filmed in Spain. He is the President of the Society of Fantastic Films.
Thank you for coming on the weird, strange and unsettling journey with me, I hope you weren’t too scared (wink) I would recommend this book for people to read and you can find this on Waterstones, any independents and of course on Amazon. As I have said in most of my blogs please please support independents during this tough time most of them will have a website and will deliver to you wherever you are, if you are further overseas I am not so sure about when books are released or from where so you might have to get hold of your local bookseller, but in the UK please support your independents. So all it leaves me to say is Happy Reading and see you all soon!!!!
I would like to say a huge thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for organising this wonderful book’s tour. I would also like to say a huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of this intriguing book I am forever grateful. Thank you also to the creative genius that is Rachel Hore the author of this compelling, and intriguing tale of one women’s fight to do something different than just be a housewife and career woman, who wanted to feel alive and experience thrills, even though she eventually found that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, and that obstacles can be thrown from the most unlikely places. So before I head off into eulogies on this book, you might want to know what this is all about? lets head to the blurb to find out.
Minnie Gray is an ordinary young woman. She is also a spy for the British government.
It all began in the summer of 1928……
Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary, but longs to make a difference.
Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.
She soon gains the trust of important leaders. But as she grows more and more entangled in the workings of the movement, her job becomes increasingly dangerous. Leading a double life is starting to take its toll on her relationships and, feeling more isolated than ever, she starts to wonder how this is all going to end. The Russians are notorious for ruthlessly disposing of people given the slightest suspicion. What if they find out?
As soon as I read the first page I knew I would be entering a different world, one that had just about recovered from the previous war…. (sort of) and was soon hopefully to think of the future, which in hindsight, they really should have looked at the signs that were dangled in front of them, but of course people didn’t want another war and were too scared or even too nervous about what would happen. This novel takes place just before the Second World War starts, and how nervous and alert the British government were about this new political danger “Communism”, which was bandied about like a slur against anyone that had tendencies or even sympathies for that cause.
We are introduced to the main character Minnie, who is a young woman, bored and looking for more in the way her life is seeming to lead her. She aspires and dreams to live a full and rich life, one in which she hungers for as her normal life is living with her mother in Eastbourne amongst the middle class lifestyle. She feels stifled and suffocated by the idea of finding a man, marriage and having children and at this moment doesn’t feel like she wants it. Then everything changes when she meets someone from Secret Services, and her life is not the same again. I enjoyed following this characters journey from a young naive woman all the way to the end of her time as a spy where her innocence in all things spying, and exciting thrills are in tatters. I felt that she felt like many young woman at that time, bored and frustrated with their lot and wanting more than just being a ‘good’ housewife looking after the children while the husband works.
This also throws a light on how nerve wracking, and lonely spying was for anyone during those times. Unless you had been properly trained up and knew what you were getting in for, life could be hard, trying on the nerves or even just really dull. There is also a lot of going on your own initiative and using your own common sense when involved in a task to perform, it also depends on how reliant your other team member is when it comes to relaying the information back. All of this affects our character in different ways, as she is young, naive and ever so dream like in her fantasies of how she visions herself, we see her dreams stripped away from her eyes and how her views on spying and a different type of work to all her other friends are. We also see how alone she becomes, as she cannot fully trust her work colleagues who she is spying on or even fully trust her own boss, she soon becomes almost afraid of who and what she has become.
We, the reader watch this unfold and do feel a measure of sympathy, there were a few times I got a bit frustrated with her, there’s a scene where she visits India and yes being on your own at that time must have been nerve wracking, lonely and fearful, but I also found I disliked her views on certain aspects of that country, I also found her moaning a bit extreme when she had got excited about seeing a new country. There were other times I wasn’t convinced in the character herself and others felt a bit stilted when talking together. There are depictions of true and factual people Max Knight who was a spymaster for the British government during 1930s up to and including the Cold War, I wasn’t enamoured with or believed in how these characters met or interacted with one another, maybe because Max Knight is such a well known character in himself (M in James Bond has been rumoured to be based on him)
But what I did love was it showed how women were viewed and treated at this time, either as housewives, typists or even as spies, we see time and time again how women spies are viewed as seductresses and beautiful, when in actual fact the most successful spies are the ones you don’t notice or see. I also did love seeing her reactions to Max’s hobby of collecting animals… was quite amusing, though I think I would be quite unnerved to trip over a case that had a snake in it too. We also see how her estrangement from normal life leads her to be uncomfortable around her own family and a sense of being distanced and separate from the normal everyday discussions that her friends and family talk about. This eats away at her which we then see makes her have a few breakdowns throughout the novel.
I won’t say any more apart from how utterly beautiful and moving this story is and that it is based on a real life individual. If you love family sagas, mixed with war and spying you will love this wonderful book. I can highly recommend this to anyone who loves a bit of historical fiction mixed with spying.
Ratings: 4 🌟 with a large ☕️ and a large 🍰 (homemade of course 😉) this needs to be read in a comfy nook too.
Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she taught publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia before becoming a full-time writer. She is married to writer D.J.Taylor and they have three sons. Her last novel, The Love Child, was a Sunday Times bestseller.
Thank you so much for following my waffling, rambling post, I hope you have enjoyed this incredible and moving tale of one young woman’s desire to just feel alive and needed, I hope we can all agree that we all feel that urge from time to time and also empathise if her hopes and dreams are not what she thought they would turn out to be ( I feel this resonates with my feelings today). If you are intrigued by this story and would love to grab a copy for yourself you can find it on Waterstones, independents (maybe I would ask though to be sure) and of course Amazon. I will leave you now to only say Happy Reading and see you all soon!!!!