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Thursday, 2 April 2020

#BlogTour THE GARDEN OF LOST MEMORIES by RUBY HUMMINGBIRD #BookReview @bookouture @BOTBSPublicity


Hugely excited to be taking part in the Blog Tour today for the wonderful THE GARDEN OF LOST MEMORIES by RUBY HUMMINGBIRD. My thanks to the author, publisher and Sarah of https://twitter.com/BOTBSPublicity for letting me be part of the tour and putting it all together!

Book Description:

Just because you feel ordinary doesn’t mean you aren’t extraordinary to someone else.

Sixty-two-year-old Elsie knows what she likes. Custard creams at four o’clock, jigsaw puzzles with a thousand pieces, her ivy-covered, lavender-scented garden.

Ten-year-old Billy would rather spend his Saturdays kicking a ball, or watching TV, or anything really, other than being babysat by his grumpy neighbour Elsie and being force fed custard creams.

If it was up to them, they’d have nothing to do with each other. Unfortunately, you can’t choose who you live next door to.

But there is always more to people than meets the eye…

Elsie doesn’t know that Billy’s afraid to go to school now, or why his mother woke him up in the middle of the night with an urgent shake, bags already packed, ready to flee their home.

Billy doesn’t know that the rusting red tin he finds buried in Elsie’s treasured garden is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode her carefully organised life. And that when he digs it up, he is unearthing a secret that has lain dormant for twenty-eight years…

This moving tale is for anyone who has ever felt the pang of loneliness, or worried that their broken heart might never be the same again. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Keeper of Lost Things and The Library of Lost and Found will fall head over heels for this life-affirming novel that shows us that if you’re willing to take a risk, happiness is only ever a heartbeat away.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Ruby Hummingbird is a novelist based in the English countryside. She loves nothing more than writing uplifting and heartwarming fiction that gets her readers reaching for the tissues. When she isn’t storytelling, she can be found tending to her beloved sunflowers or sipping on hazelnut lattes.  

@HummingbirdRuby


Buying Links:

Google Play: https://bit.ly/3bqY3Wr


MY REVIEW

Stick a garden in a book and I'm immediately interested! Throw in a wonderful character in the form of Elsie and the unlikeliest of friendships of forming, and I'm smitten!! I adored this book and really took these characters to my heart!

Elsie lives alone, is elderly and gets through each day with her routines, doing her best to avoid the 'chit chat' of neighbours or people she bumps into at the shops.  She's also prone to making judgements about people before knowing the real story, and she finds herself doing that with her new neighbours.  10 year old Billy lives with his mum next door and they've moved away from his Dad. He's scared, frustrated and being bullied at school so he often lashes out at the wrong person and definitely isn't a fan of being left in the care of Elsie when his mum has to go out to work.  She seems strange to him, sees her talking to herself and would rather be anywhere else but there! But something magical happens when she gets him to help her in her beloved garden that has become a little too much for her to cope with.  And this healing power of a garden was one thing that really connected with me. It gives you the chance to focus on something else in the world and it does Elsie and Billy the power of good, especially with the outside world causing them so much suffering.

When they uncover a tin buried in the garden, it leads to an extraordinary journey for the both of them and it was just so uplifting to see them heading out together to piece together the pieces of memories left behind in this tin.  Elsie is reluctant to visit one place but Billy goes by himself and makes a new friend and he starts to believe in himself again and feel less angry at the world.

This is a story that pulls on the heartstrings and shines the spotlight on how important it is not to judge people on first impressions.  I enjoyed watching the story of their pasts unfold, and how coming together helped them all move on.  Wonderful!

★★★★★


#BLOGTOUR IF ALL THE WORLD AND LOVE WERE YOUNG by STEPHEN SEXTON #BOOKREVIEW #POETRY @dylanthomasprize #SUDTP2020


Delighted to be a part of the wonderful Blog Tour to share my thoughts on a stunning poetry collection, IF ALL THE WORLD AND LOVE WERE YOUNG by STEPHEN SEXTON. My thanks to Martina at  Midas Public Relations for the copy of the book and putting the tour together.


ABOUT THE BOOK

'Every poem in this book is a marvel. Taken all together they make up a work of almost miraculous depth and beauty' Sally Rooney

'A poetry debut fit to compare with Seamus Heaney. This wonderful long poem is up there with the greats' Sunday Times

Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection

When Stephen Sexton was young, video games were a way to slip through the looking glass; to be in two places at once; to be two people at once. In these poems about the death of his mother, this moving, otherworldly narrative takes us through the levels of Super Mario World, whose flowered landscapes bleed into our world, and ours, strange with loss, bleed into it. His remarkable debut is a daring exploration of memory, grief and the necessity of the unreal.


PURCHASE LINKS






MY REVIEW

I found this to be a stunning piece of work.  I wondered how mixing the world of Super Mario World with grieving would work, but somehow it just does! It had me smiling at the memories it created in my mind about playing Super Mario World and the escapism that the game offered, and had me crushed by his descriptions of watching someone he loves be so ill and dealing with loss and grief.

What really comes across is the honesty and emotion that he was clearly going through. How do you make sense of watching the world around you and all that you know crumble away? For him, losing himself every now and then in a fantasy world of a video game was the release he needed.   It mixes the memories of different levels in the game - seeing the names appear and the challenges in each level made me smile with fondess! - alongside memories of his family and his mother. Life provides challenges of its' own and we are all competing in the video game of life - with hopefully no big bad beastie/boss at the end to have to defeat.

I thought this collection was a pure gem that left me in tears.  It was beautifully written, poignant but punchy, raw but refined and how the little moments during his life now meant so much to him.  Cannot recommend this highly enough!

★★★★★




For more information about the Dylan Thomas Prize 2020 please click the link below...



Wednesday, 1 April 2020

My April TBR.... a weird month ahead! #BOOKBLOGGER


I think we're all in for a very weird month ahead! And I'm sure my TBR reading won't go exactly to plan but I thought I'd make a little list to try and get myself a little organised so these are the books that I'm hoping to get to during the next month. I've actually managed to get ahead of myself in terms of Blog Tour reading - yay me! - so this month can be a little looser! Time to attack the Netgalley shelves for April releases and get through a few of the books I'd been meaning to read for ages.....click on the title for a link to the GoodReads page.

Borrowed a couple of audiobooks from the library digital app..






And time to attack the Netgalley shelves.....think I say this every month and then just add to the TBR shelf haha!!












And a couple of  new releases  I want to get to....






📚📚📚

I think that's enough to be going on with! 

Wishing you all a safe reading month ahead!!

HAPPY READING!







Tuesday, 31 March 2020

#BookReview #PublicationDay HAMNET by MAGGIE O'FARRELL #Hamnet


ABOUT THE BOOK


Drawing on Maggie O'Farrell's long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare's most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

Award-winning author Maggie O'Farrell's new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.

PUBLISHED BY TINDER PRESS

PURCHASE LINKS

GOLDSBORO BOOKS - signed first edition

Waterstones - signed edition



MY REVIEW

Exquisite!!!

If I could give this 6 stars I would!! I found myself completely captivated by this story of family, of love, of grief and I lost count of how many tears I shed throughout!

This is the story of the man behind the plays. And it features his family - his wife, Agnes and their 3 children, Susanna, and the twins Hamnet and Judith. And each character has such a stunning tale to share that it's hard to pick the one I enjoyed the most.

In Agnes, the mother, there's her story of how she met her husband, the hard upbringing she had especially when she lost her mother, and her devotion to using medicinal herbs. Something that marks her out as different to others, and something her daughter Susanna finds embarrassing and resents her 'abilities'.

And then there's the bond between twins with Hamnet and Judith which was breathtakingly explored. When his sister takes to her bed extremely unwell, Hamnet is beside himself in what to do. His mother is out tending her herbs, his father is in London, and all he wants to do is find someone to make his sister better. He is truly pained by watching his sister suffer so much and is driven to extreme lengths to try and get her some help.

The story flits backwards and forwards in time to particularly memorable moments in all their lives and then those moments that are extremely devastating and gutwrenching. The descriptions of grief showed as a mother loses her child and the days, weeks, months afterwards were brilliantly portrayed and caused me to shed the most tears as you suffered those emotions with her.

I simply adored this book from the first page to the last. The ambience of the times is brought to life so beautifully, each character is well developed for you to connect with and it was a haunting, emotional and staggeringly brilliant read! A must read!!

★★★★★★

My thanks to  Georgina at  Midas PR for the review copy in return for a fair and honest review.

Monday, 30 March 2020

#MusicMonday LET'S DANCE by FIVE



Monday is here once more! That means MUSIC!  Hosted by Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek, it's a weekly chance to share some tunes!|

I'm in need of songs that make me smile and want to dance, and this is one of my faves for doing that!  Five and Let's Dance....


Jiggy jump to the beat
And keep bouncing
Thirty seconds and counting
Hot one, this choice critical
Situation is difficult
My caliber won't allow me to rhyme on a level where you people can hear me
See me, guess I know you want to be me
In the meantime bounce to the beat see
Music is my life
Cause my life is music
The beat of the drum in your heart
Let's dance
Like you mean it, can't you feel it, don't you know
Let's dance
Cause you need it, better believe it, here we go
Let's dance
Give your all when we're coming together on the floor
Let's dance
You know that you've got what I like
Check it down
Dropping verbal bombs on the beat
Hoping that you people think this sound is unique
Ccause I like to party
You like to party
Come on everybody got to get it started
I got something to get you jumpin'
When I kick a freaky rhyme I get the dance floor thumpin'
Just step back and take time to check
When I rock up on the mic you people never forget
So check it out.
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Richard Breen / Jason Brown / Sean Conlon / Julian Gallagher / Martin Harrington / Ash Howes / Richard Stannard
Let's Dance lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Songtrust Ave

Sunday, 29 March 2020

#BookReview WILD DOG by SERGE JONCOUR


ABOUT THE BOOK

'So original, so beautifully done, and sinister and savage. I didn’t want it to end' Chris Whitaker, author of Tall Oaks

When you're confronted with a wolf, you have to think like a wolf...

Franck and Lise, a French couple in the film industry, rent a cottage in the quiet hills of the French Lot to get away from the stresses of modern life.

In this remote corner of the world, there is no phone signal. A mysterious dog emerges, looking for a new master. Ghosts of a dark past run wild in these hills, where a German lion tamer took refuge in the First World War…

Franck and Lise are confronted with nature at its most brutal. And they are about to discover that man and beast have more in common than they think.

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

publication date -  2nd April 2020


PURCHASE LINKS





MY REVIEW

This was a quietly unsettling story which worked so well over the dual timelines in which it is set. And if you think living in isolation in the hills of France would be a pleasant, relaxing experience, then think again!!

Set in 1917 and 2017, we follow stories that are very different in their context, but very similar in their outcome! Elements of fear are mixed with the reality of day to day life and it was an exhilarating mix as the two worlds mirrored each other with the noises of the animals in the hills echoing around.

In 2017, Lise and Franck rent a cabin high up in the hills. She's recovering from illness and wants away from the stresses and strains of modern living. Franck is not so keen and the whole idea of being without a phone signal terrifies him! She immediately settles into the life of peace and tranquility, whereas it just sets Franck off on high alert - afraid of every noise he hears, or movement he sees. The only peace he finds is when he goes to a nearby village to be amongst people for supplies and a coffee, and to catch up on his phone messages as he's stressed by work issues.

And back in 1917, it's a newcomer to the hills that unsettles the locals, especially with the start of the War hitting them hard, and this unknown strange German in the hills, with his lions and tigers - can they trust him? Is it safer for them with him around? For their peace of mind they share an uneasy truce with him, and life carries on but there's lots of fear around and they seek comfort in faith. They have so many questions about this Lion tamer in the hills - why is he there? how is he feeding his animals? - but the mayor seems to be on his side so they settle into trying their best to ignore him and getting on with their lives, but with strange things happening it's not long before nerves are on edge. And when he gets close to one of the villagers you wonder how that will change the dynamics of the lives they're all living.

With work pressure building for Franck, Lise seems totally at ease amongst nature and I enjoyed seeing how they both reacted to the environment they were living in. The story seemed to switch to a darker theme with Franck and his battle with his mind, and the introduction of a wild dog that shows up on their doorstep that seems to have a connection with Franck. The silence used to be deafening for Franck, but the more time he spends in his surroundings it seems to give him clarity about a few things going on his life and he knows he needs to act on that.

I enjoyed the unpredictability of the story and a few of the threads took me by surprise which was really clever and it appealed to my twisted mind in showing how irrational our minds can make us at times of stress and fear. The remote setting was perfect and added to the uneasy feeling that you get as a reader as you watch events unfold. An enjoyable and dark read!

★★★★

#BookReview THE BLACK AND THE WHITE by ALIS HAWKINS


ABOUT THE BOOK

A thought-provoking Medieval mystery you don’t want to miss! Perfect for fans of S D Sykes, L C Tyler, Karen Maitland and S J Parris.

Not every corpse put in a pit has died of the plague…


England, 1349

The Black Death is tearing through the country and those not yet afflicted are living in fear.

Martin Collyer wakes up in his family's charcoaling hut in the Forest of Dean to find his father dead on the bed beside him, half-sewn into his shroud. As Martin’s most recent memory is of being given the last rites, he cannot account for why he is alive and why his father – whose body bears not a trace of the plague – is dead.

With no home to go to and set free from the life of virtual servitude that his father had planned for him, Martin sets off on a journey across England to seek salvation for his father’s unconfessed soul.

He befriends another traveller on the way. But the man – Hob Cleve – seems to be harbouring dark secrets of his own.

As more suspicious deaths occur, Martin is left wondering whether Hob can be trusted.

What is Hob hiding? Is Martin travelling with a killer?

And what really led to Martin’s miraculous recovery?


THE BLACK AND THE WHITE is a chilling historical mystery set during the Medieval plague era.

PUBLISHED BY  SAPERE BOOKS


PUBLICATION DATE - 3OTH MARCH


PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon  99p


MY REVIEW

A timely read considering the world we find ourselves  living in, and I was utterly absorbed by this historical tale, set during the Great Plague and following a man on a mission of discovery. Not easy when you are joined on your journey by a man who has completely different values and outlook on life.

Martin finds himself waking up alongside his dead father, while the plague ravages family and villages, and wonders why he's been spared. He wakes up clutching a figure of Saint Cynryth, a figure his father idolised, and Martin sees this as a sign to seek salvation for his father and to spread the word of this Saint that may, or may not, have saved his own life.

Martin is a quirky character! He is utterly devoted to doing the right thing and playing by the rules, but is troubled by nightmares - during the day he's lonely, by night he's terrified by demons.  As he travels from village to village on his way to Salster, where the shrine to the Saint is said to be, he is joined by Hob, who appears from nowhere to save him from being attacked. 

Wary but glad of the company, they make an odd duo travelling along and I loved watching their different attitudes towards the 'miracle' - Hob is a cynical soul and is bemused by the hold that this Saint has over Martin!  The way they challenge each other and their way of thinking was a fascinating part of the journey for me, and wondering if either of them really trust one another.  There are also a number of strange goings on that happen along the way which were an added twist to try and unravel!  It's a story that plays on the emotions of the characters - Martin especially as he's trying to find meaning amongst grieving for the loss of his family and finding himself alone.

It's a slow burner of a story but that allows you to immerse yourself more in the characters and get to understand their state of mind, and I thought the ending was particularly bittersweet and unexpected!  

★★★★