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Friday, 21 September 2018

#BookReview The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

About the book

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe's life is in ruins. 

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist's sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river. 

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker's Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter.

Published by Mantle

Purchase Links  £13.69

waterstones  £9.49

Book Depository  £9.49


I was lucky to read this via The Pigeonhole app, which meant you got to read along with others over 10 days, make comments and hear comments from the author as well and that made for a wonderful reading experience and happy to say that I loved this story! Watching a story told over 150 years and with many characters and varying threads always makes for a fabulous tale and Kate Morton seems to have this knack of storytelling down to a T!

Elodie is the character in the now. She's an archivist, happy in her work of looking back at history, and when she comes across a satchel containing items linked to the Stratton family she can't wait to find out more about them, through whatever means necessary especially as she feels so connected to them! The more time she spends with these peoples' items, the more she feels she knows them and this sets her off on an incredible journey as she seeks to find out more.

We are also introduced to the character of Edward - a painter from the past who becomes fixated on his muses and his latest work at his home at Birchwood. This house plays such a huge role in this book that it becomes a character in its' own right and the secrets it has laid witness to over the years are never too far away from being revealed - if people just knew the right places to look.

The story flits between the present and the past seamlessly - each storyline has so many fascinating characters and plot developments that I never found my interest waning which can sometimes happen especially in such a large book! Many of the characters could have even had their own book written about their stories - Ada, Lily, Jack, Lucy to name a few - as they were so full of captivating experiences and varying backgrounds that I just wanted to know even more about them!

Elodie too had her own issues to deal with in her personal life despite her quest distracting her. She was such a sympathetic character and a gentle soul that you feel a connection with her and keep wondering how she feels so linked to this house that she'd never even heard of until she sees a painting.

The sense of history and attention to detail were exquisite once more, and one that you just come to expect from a Kate Morton book! I just hope there'll be many more!!


Thursday, 20 September 2018

#BookReview The Corset by Laura Purcell #PublicationDay #TheCorset

About the book

The new Victorian chiller from the author of Radio 2 Book Club pick, The Silent Companions.

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea and Ruth. Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless. Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea's charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person's skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea's belief in rationality and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

Published by Bloomsbury

Purchase Links


This was such an eagerly anticipated read for me after being terrified by The Silent Companions, and although The Corset didn't have that same horror element for me, it still had so many chills and creepy moments that I raced through it and loved being transported back into the world of Ruth and Dorothea.

They are very different characters and that's the strength of this story. You get to enjoy their very different outlook on life brought together by Dorothea visiting Ruth in prison and listening to her story in the hope that she can get to the bottom of why some people behave the way they do, by using phrenology. Dorothea is one of those people who thinks there is good in everyone, so although she is horrified by the story of Ruth and her crimes she is equally fascinated.

Ruth on the other hand has a very matter of fact approach to her life. She tells her life story to Dorothea in such a distanced manner that it adds to the chills while you are reading. Her life, at times, was terrifying but she seemed to process it all in a different way and that makes you question her sanity and innocence. It's all very unsettling to read but the more you learn of Ruth and her past, the more you begin to understand why she maybe turned out the way she did. A very tough childhood full of poverty and bullying, seems at odds with the ease that she takes to embroidery work. And as a keen cross-stitcher myself, I now can't pick up a needle without thinking of Ruth and her story!!

Ruth led a very grim life and, for me, that made her story more compelling than that of Dorothea. Dorothea and her life story were quite well guarded and I would have liked more of her past to see what led to this 'need to know' why people do things they do.

I loved the whole feel of this book with its' attention to detail of the history, the backstory was enthralling and having 2 such strong female characters was also a strong plus point for me. It was dark and full of revenge and just kept me gripped!! Cannot wait to see what Laura Purcell writes next as she's definitely become one of my favourites!


#PublicationDay Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott

It's a very happy Publication Day to DEAR MR POP STAR by DEREK & DAVE PHILPOTT.  I always love to share news of books that are brought to life by the fabulous UNBOUND  website, and anything to do with music associated with the 1980's has  a special place in  my heart!! This is one book I'm so looking forward to reading very soon!

For nearly 10 years, ‘Team Philpott’, as their followers fondly refer to them, have been on a quite bonkers crusade, writing old-fashioned letters to pop and rock stars, picking up on genuine ambiguities within their lyrics or often deliberately misunderstanding them for comedic effect.

The letters are eminently publishable in their own right, mixing sharp wit, confusion, and mundane daily chores with trips to the shops, daytime telly, Derek’s legs playing up, and unarguable logic in relation to questioning the offending chart hits under scrutiny.

What makes this project especially deserving of attention, however, is that it has achieved a feat never before attempted or probably even thought of. The artists quite unexpectedly started to reply, writing back in just as witty and articulate a fashion, politely pointing out exactly where the original letter went wrong...or right.

Also, crucially, nearly all of the responses were procured via ''the back door of the industry'', via roadies, mutual fans, cousins of bass players, and even other famous participants telling the artists directly of the Philpotts’ written pressing inquiries. This marvellous online community, which stretched as far afield as Europe, Canada, Japan, the U.S.A, Australia and Stoke, even cultivated and organically evolved the whole surreal venture by offering up willing stars that the authors would probably not have thought of.

Under pressure from fans to go to print, a staggeringly successful Kickstarter Campaign in 2015 raised over 18k in order to self-publish, resulting in a wonderfully impressive book which went out to the hundreds of pledgers and was met with great acclaim before being made available via Amazon prompting nearly 100 five star reviews from avid readers.

Now the Authors are delighted to have been accepted by renowned publishing house Unbound. The new, second book  ‘‘Dear Mr. Pop Star’’ will also benefit from a trade edition being distributed by Penguin Random House. The book features nearly 100 of the best letters and responses from famous and legendary names spanning the whole pop and rock spectrum, all relishing their involvement and revealing their own, in many cases, hitherto unknown humorous sides within what could well be the most interactive dialogue compiled between music stars and their audience ever undertaken. Of course, it is not always possible to reach certain targets, hence many unanswered observations are also included, as they were considered too amusing not to be.

Amongst those to be saluted for their great sportsmanship are Deep Purple, Dr. and The Medics, Dr. Hook, Nik Kershaw, Judas Priest, Starship, Tears For Fears, The Eurythmics, Dr. Hook, Wreckless Eric, Neil Innes from The Bonzo Dog Band, DEVO, Alannah Myles, Ian Gillan, Was Not Was, Mott The Hoople, The Knack, The Wurzels, Jesus Jones, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Men Without Hats, Bauhaus, Heaven 17, Del Amitri, Wang Chung, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro and Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

Ultimately, this book explores how when a song is released into ‘the wild’ the artist loses all control over it, especially pertaining to its interpretation. It is also testimony to the community spirit capable of being created over social media and how positive and fun it can be.

Photo Collage of contributors to 1st book

What the pop stars say of ‘’Dear Mr. Pop Star’’:-

''I had wonderful fun letting my 'mad hatter' express himself. Stay insane.''
Martin Page, Starship

‘’Team Philpott’s masterful oeuvre, with their infallibly astute and uncannily insightful interpretation of popular songs, has raised the world of pop-music criticism to the level of ‘high’ literary art! (Which is also the recommended state for fully appreciating their comic genius!)’’  Dean Friedman

‘’Thanks for the brilliant work and for allowing me to fence with such a couple of formidable comic swordsmen'' David Was, Was Not Was

''Thank you for your letter. It has changed my life. I folded it up and used it to stop my coffee table from wobbling'' Stan Cullimore, The Housemartins

''....a gateway between our normal glamorous botoxed lives and your mundane world – a lovely post-modernist way of us bonding'' Dr. & The Medics

"I meant every word of it. At least I think I did." Richard Jobson, The Skids

''I have passed your letter on to my lawyer, a restraining order will shortly be in place. Let that be the end of it. What wonderful madness'' Glenn Gregory, Heaven 17

''If you don't like this book, then you're no friend of mine''
Ivan, Men Without Hats

"These remarkable pedants have been the bane of my life in recent years; one can only wonder at what they would possibly glean from such works as T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland", or "The Ballad Of Tam O'Shanter" by the great bard Burns his self. On behalf of all concerned, please don't do a poetry book, we implore you. Well done again and all the very best.’’
Jo Callis (Mrs.) On behalf of The Human League (also Mrs.).

"'My oh my Derek', when this is over then 'Everyday will 'hurt' without you!! I need to pick me up a Strange Little Girl!  xx’’
Dave, Sad Cafe

‘’I can only repeat my response to your last enquiry on this subject: I'm sorry, but I am NOT interested in purchasing your book, "comic" though it may be.   I trust this puts an end to the matter, and I will have no need to write you a third ti-- oh, wait a second, I might have gotten...Congrats on your new book!
Eagerly awaiting my copy, I remain as ever…’’
Berton Averre, The Knack’’

''It's not often the drummer in the band gets to speak, apart from "Where's my bleedin'  wages ?". So thank you chaps for the opportunity to spout off a load of ol' drivel for your hilarious project. The pleasure was all mine.'' Gary Long, Tadpole Tuna

     ‘’Dear Team Philpott - Your book is going to change my life - I shall probably never work again’’ Bruce Woolley

''In which I answer the musical question...erm...what was the question?" Chris Butler, The Waitresses

“It was a thrill to receive your enquiry and an honour to be able to respond” Will Birch, Kursaal Flyers

''Derek... stop wasting my ****ing time" !!!!'' Owen Paul


Links to buy

Amazon UK  £16.99  £12.05

Waterstones  £16.99

Author social media sites


#BlogTour Street Cat Blues by Alison O'Leary #BookReview #RandomThingsTours

It's my pleasure to be the latest stop on this Blog Tour for the fabulous STREET CAT BLUES by ALISON O'LEARY! My thanks to the author and publisher for letting me be part of it all and to Anne of Random Things Tours for organising it all so wonderfully!

On to the important stuff! Here's a little bit more about the book before my thoughts!

About the book

A quiet life for Aubrey?  After spending several months banged up in Sunny Banks rescue centre, Aubrey, a large tabby cat, has finally found his forever home with Molly and Jeremy Goodman, and life is looking good.   However, all that changes when a serial killer begins to target elderly victims in the neighbourhood.   Aubrey wasn’t particularly upset by the death of some of the previous victims, including Miss Jenkins whom Aubrey recalls as a vinegar-lipped bitch of an old woman who enjoyed throwing stones at cats, but Mr Telling was different.   Mr Telling was a mate… 

Publisher Crooked Cat Books

Purchase Links

About the Author

Alison was born in London and spent her teenaged years in Hertfordshire. 
She has also lived in Somerset and Gloucestershire. 
After studying Law she decided to teach rather than go into practice and for many years taught Criminal Law to adults and young people. 
Since moving to the south coast, Alison has been involved in qualification and assessment development for major awarding bodies. 
When not writing, she enjoys crosswords, walking by the sea and playing Scrabble on her iPad – which she always sets to beginner level because, hey, why take chances? 
Alison lives with her husband John and cat Archie. 
Twitter @alisonoleary81


What a charming read this was! Lots of fun with a dark edge too! Who knew a cat would make for a great detective?! I loved Aubrey - the cat - as he was such a character and had an opinion on everything and everybody that crossed his path, be that good or bad!

When there's a serial killer on the loose in the neighbourhood everyone is on tenterhooks. And Aubrey who is used to patrolling the area on his 'rounds' has been noticing some strange goings on. But when his friend Mr Telling is killed, he goes into action to try and find the killer as Mr Telling was a mate and kind to all the cats in the area. 

His owners, Jeremy and Molly, are also wary of what has been happening in the neighbourhood, and as Jeremy is a teacher he notices things amongst the pupils of his class too. When a murder happens that affects one of his students he has no choice but to get involved and this adds another element to the story, and quite a tender one too.

Aubrey is a cat with attitude and he has the measure of the local residents! The chats he has with the other neighbourhood cats were a lot of fun to listen in to and he makes a number of quirky observations which had me giggling away!

But alongside the snarky cat side, he also gets to show his caring side when he gets close to young Carlos and it just goes to show that you shouldn't judge people on their cirumstances. Carlos has been dealt a very bad hand as a kid and having to deal with something so traumatic, but he finds solace in sharing his problems with Aubrey and this was really touching to see.


Wednesday, 19 September 2018

#Unboxing Bookishly September Classic Book Crate - The Jungle Book Edition!

Hello!  More things bookish today and that involves me sharing an unboxing of a fabulous #classicbookcrate that I recently treated myself to!  The lovely people at Bookishly have put together another wonderful box of goodies all centred around the classic THE JUNGLE BOOK by RUDYARD KIPLING. How could I  NOT treat myself when I saw details of this! So here's a look at what I received this week - and if you click on the Bookishly link above I think they still have a few left now if you want to treat yourself or know of somebody who would love it!

It arrives beautifully parcelled up!! Time to delve in...

Goodies galore!!


Beautiful print!


                                                     I do love a mug!!

the book itself with a stunning exclusively designed cover!


Another fab print


                                                           Postcards and tea!! Two of my favourite things!


Stunning calendar full of lovely images and quotes throughout!!


Huge thanks again to Bookishly for creating yet another great set of products and another stunning book to add to my bookhselves! Really looking forward to seeing what other Classics get the Bookishly treatment in their monthly Classic Crates.... and wondering if my bookshelves have room for a few new additions .......😉

#BlogTour What Was Lost by Jean Levy #BookExtract #BookReview

Extremely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for WHAT WAS LOST by JEAN LEVY.  My thanks to the author and publisher for allowing me to be part of it all!

On my stop today will be my review of this stunning book, alongside a sneaky extract for you all to enjoy! 

About the book

How would you live if you had no memories? And what if you were suspected of a terrible crime?

Sarah has no memories. She just knows she was found, near death, on a beach miles from her London home. Now she is part of a medical experiment to see whether her past can be retrieved.

But bad things seemed to have happened before she disappeared. The police are interested in her hidden memories too. A nice man she meets in the supermarket appears to have her best interests at heart. He seems to understand her - almost as if he knows her...

As she fights to regain her memories and her sense of self, it is clear that people are hiding things from her. Who are they protecting? Does Sarah really want the truth?

Published by The Dome Press

Author social media link @JeanELevy

Purchase Links

Amazon UK £8.99

Waterstones £8.99  £7.75


Episode Two (cont’d) 
I stared at the apple resting against my shoe. It was probably a too-red Bramley, perhaps a too-green Gala. I can’t remember now. But I do remember that, even after everything that had happened, everything I had lost, I could still remember the names of apples. And I could still remember Granny Clark’s stories: how apples came to be called this or that. Barnaby Smith’s old grandma used to hide those hard green apples in a box under her bed so that the night fairies would never find them. Annabel Bramley had been disappointed that only one of her apple pips germinated although she wasn’t to know that trees from that one tiny seedling would one day provide fruit for the best apple pies in the world. I was writing all those stories into picture books. Doing the illustrations myself. In fact, I’d been thinking about Orange Pippins that very morning. Before the black and white cat had purred in through the flap and demanded tuna.  
I stopped to retrieve the unsolicited fruit, lifted it to my nose and was briefly overwhelmed by a memory of pumpkins and autumn sunshine. I read the name on the round, sticky label. Was Braeburn in Scotland? Perhaps that was something I once knew.  
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t aim that at you!’ 
I looked up. He was smiling. The man who had not aimed the apple was smiling. He was, perhaps, early forties, tall with some very pleasing russet stubble, specked golden in the artificial light. His eyes were green: not apple green, more pastel green, like husky eyes made white by the snow. I offered him the apple. ‘It seems OK,’ I said. I really liked the colour of his eyes. Mine are just brown, like most other eyes. ‘But you ought to put it back. In case it’s bruised.’ 
‘Then someone else might finish up with a bruised apple.’ 
I felt myself smiling. That in itself was brave of me. ‘Shall I put it back for you?’ 
He made a display of coming to a decision. His smile disappeared. But the tiny creases beside his eyes didn’t. ‘No, never get anybody else to do your dirty work. I’ll take it to a member of staff and explain.’ 
‘They’ll put it back when you’re not looking.’ I was amazing at my own boldness. 
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but at least my conscience will be clear.’ He took the apple, hovered momentarily, then his face broke into a broad smile. ‘See ya!’ 
I watched him return to his trolley, replete with vegetables, grabbed a grapefruit I didn’t want, pulled off my scrunchie and reorganised it, then hurried away towards canned fish, where I loaded a dozen small tins of line-caught tuna in spring water into my trolley, before collecting two bags of cat biscuits and wheeling on towards the checkouts. Did tuna live in spring water? I couldn’t remember. I joined the nearest queue and thought about Orange Pippins, remembering what Granny Clark used to say: if they rattle they’re ripe. I could remember her holding those yellow-red apples to my ear and shaking them. I could remember them rattling. I could remember back then.  
‘Fancy a coffee?’ 
I spun round. ‘What?’ 
‘Coffee, do you fancy a coffee?’ The apple man. He as right behind me in the queue. 
I caught my breath, recovered. ‘I have to get back. I’m writing a book. For children.’ I noticed a slight flicker of awkwardness in his pastel-green eyes. ‘But thanks, if I didn’t have to… Do you come here often?’ 
‘He laughed away the awkwardness. ‘Excellent line! You’re clearly a world-class author.’ He took a very obvious deep breath. ‘Mostly Thursdays. Occasionally Saturdays. Not usually as early as this. The name’s Parry. Matthew Parry.’ He offered his hand.  
‘Can I help?’ The checkout operative sliced through our conversation. 
‘Oh, sorry,’ I said and hurried four tins on to the conveyor belt. 
‘Do you need help?’ He lifted two tins and my box of cornflakes and aimed them at the till. ‘Are the cornflakes for you or your cat? I presume you have a cat.’ He scooped up the cat biscuits. ‘Either that or you have a strange taste in biscuits.’ 
I forced myself to smile and quickly transferred the rest of my shopping before he could offer further assistance, pushed my trolley past the checkout and hurried everything into my bag, handed the woman my credit card, punched in the number that was written across my wallet, glanced towards the exit and waited. 
‘I’d like you to have this as a deposit.’ Again I was forced to look round. I was being offered a familiar red and green apple. The shop assistant tutted. He addressed her directly. ‘It’s weighed and included in the price.’ He demonstrated the sticker on his bag of other red and green apples. ‘Do you want to check it?’ 
The assistant rolled her eyes and ripped my receipt from the till. ‘Next!’ she instructed the conveyor belt, which was already filling with vegetables. 
I accepted the apple, surprised at my lack of embarrassment. Perhaps I’d forgotten how to feel embarrassed. He continued to unload his shopping. ‘Perhaps this Saturday? Same time, same place?’ 
I popped the apple into my bag and said nothing - which was pretty much a reflection of what was inside my head - left the supermarket in a blur and drove home, wondering who he was, what he did, where he lived. What he would think if he knew.  
I pulled into the residents’ parking zone, parked in my allocated space, being careful not to reverse into the builder’s skip that was occupying the two visitor parking spaces, hauled my shopping off the passenger seat and stepped out of my car. The black and white cat emerged from under a nearby van, rubbed past the back wheel of my dilapidated Escort and threw its ear against my leg. I hurried inside. The cat knew not to follow. 
Secure in my kitchen, I pulled a tin of tuna from my bag and emptied its contents onto a clean plate. I glanced up as a familiar black and white head purred through the flap, watched as the indifferent animal lapped systematically around the outside of the tuna flesh, savouring the spring water, before attacking the main course. The purring intensified. I washed my hands thoroughly then emptied my shopping onto the work surface, snatched up the apple as it rolled away and tried to remember whether apples ought to be kept in the fridge. It didn’t look as if it did. So I put it in the fruit bowl with the grapefruit and bananas. I stacked the rest of the tins and the cat biscuits into the cupboard under the sink and then returned to the small box of cornflakes, carried it over to the cereal cupboard, and took a deep breath before opening the door and inserting the fresh box alongside all the other identical boxes arranged two deep on all three shelves of the cupboard.


Why are books that mess with your mind so wonderful to read?! I found this story to be so compulsive and intriguing that it was really difficult to switch off from! 'Just one more chapter' become my mantra while reading this!
Sarah is a successful author and is found unconscious, bloodied and frozen on a beach miles from home with no memory of how or why she is there! Her story then becomes a battle to try and recover the lost memories alongside trying to hold on to the memories she has left. And the more that is revealed about her story, then the more you know there's a lot of darkness in her past - plenty to keep the reader trying to second guess where the story will go next. There are so many red flags throughout that i just kept trying to work out if certain bits of information were important or not!
The police are suspicious about Sarah - is she claiming memory loss to throw them off track about something bigger, or is she genuine and if so what happened to her! She is introduced to people from her past and she struggles to build bonds with some of these people and others she trusts implicitly. Even photos from her past are kept back from her by her Doctors' as they fear this could be too much of a trigger for her and you just put yourself in her position and wonder how you would react in such a situation. Wondering who to trust and what was being kept from you must be terrifying!

This was a truly thrilling read that I devoured and an astonishing debut from the author.