The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake

9781529017434 high res jacket The Thunder Girls

The Thunder Girls – Melanie Blake

Summary:

THE

Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita, an eighties pop sensation outselling and out-classing their competition. Until it all comes to an abrupt end and three of their careers are over, and so is their friendship.

THUNDER

Thirty years later, their old record label wants the band back together for a huge money-making concert. But the wounds are deep and some need this gig more than others.

In those decades apart life was far from the dream they were living as members of The Thunder Girls. Breakdowns, bankruptcy, addiction and divorce have been a constant part of their lives. They’ve been to hell and back, and some are still there.

GIRLS

Can the past be laid to rest for a price, or is there more to this reunion than any of them could possibly know? Whilst they all hunger for a taste of success a second time around, someone is plotting their downfall in the deadliest way possible . . .

 

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My Review:

Being completely honest I was not sure what I was going to think of The Thunder Girls (Pan Macmillan) by Melanie Blake but I need not have worried. This was a real page turner. If like me, you loved the music of the 1980’s you will love this.

When I think of the 1980’s I think of the music and I was close to the music business back then and I could tell you a few hair-raising stories. It was THE decade, colourful and exciting. The same could be said of the very successful The Thunder Girls. Four women who had the pop in the palm of their hands. Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita had it all. They were living the dream and loving it all. And then it came to a crashing end along with the friendships that went with the success.

We have heard it all before about pop bands being successful and then it all ends very suddenly. Now fast forward three decades and would you believe it their old label is trying to get the girls back together again but are the wounds still deep or can they be healed by heading back into the studio to record more songs and rekindle the good old days.

Superb fast paced drama being played out and Melanie Blake takes you on a breath-taking rollercoaster of a ride through the lives of the four women, it has it all, success and break-up, to jealousy and much more. There is a list of characters that reads like a Hollywood blockbuster. Don’t get me wrong this is not just a glitzy look at showbiz but also some rather serious themes run through this book, and if you think of showbiz and success and fame just think of the temptations that can be there and then you will see how deep this novel will go.

There is humour as you would expect in this story and you will judge some of the characters as well as you will like some of the girls but not others. People change over thirty years but sometimes the wounds do not heal as you would expect.

Over 400 pages but you will not want to put this one down in a hurry. The Thunder Girls packs a punch.

416 Pages.

Thank you to Megan Denholm (ed Public Relations) for the review copy of The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake

The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake was published by Pan Macmillan and was published on 11th July 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

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The Carer by Deborah Moggach

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The Carer by Deborah Moggach

Summary:

James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips, and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss. Is this really their father, the distant figure who never once turned up for a sports day, now happily chortling over cuckoo clocks and television soaps?

Then something happens that throws everything into new relief, and Phoebe and Robert discover that life most definitely does not stop for the elderly. It just moves onto a very different plane – changing all the stories they thought they knew so well.

My Review:

This was one book I knew in advance of the London Book Fair earlier this year and was so delighted when a copy of the proof arrived but missed out on an interview with Deborah Moggach at the London Book Fair due to work commitments. This would have been one of the highlights of the year. Just a few days after publication The Carer by Deborah Moggach is selling fast.

The story follows a number of characters in James who is now elderly and is having to look after himself after his wife passed away and also son and daughter Robert and Phoebe both independent people and living lives as their parents hoped they would but they both know their father needs some help as they cannot be their all the time.

Along comes Mandy who is employed to look after their dad on a full-time basis. Mandy at first is really liked by both Robert and Phoebe and even their father but them something does not seem right and they see their father becoming a little more different than the father they thought they knew. Mandy seems to have worked some magic. Now the man who always seemed a little far off and not one for jokes seems to have found a new lease of life. He is laughing and with Mandy they go off exploring. What has changed and how and why? I am not giving away any spoilers here. This I want you to experience for yourself.

Now it is both Robert and Phoebe who are looking at themselves and asking many questions not only about their father and each other but now they are asking who really is Mandy? What has she done to the distant father they always knew. There is some doubt between them both to Mandy. The tended to go in a way I was not really expecting. Which I really liked. At the very beginning of the book is a ‘Meet the Characters’ which I actually thought was a great idea so you go to know the leading players before you start the novel.

I love this tender and funny novel and the wit that only Deborah Moggach can bring to her novels. If you are a fan, then you are going to fall in love with The Carer. Sensitive and well-structured and one book I am delighted to Highly Recommend.

272 Pages.

Thank you to Georgina Moore for the review copy of The Carer by Deborah Moggach

The Carer by Deborah Moggach was published by Tinder Press and was published on 9th July 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

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A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

Translated by Rosie Hedger

Summary:

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

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My Review:

This is really a story many of us can easily identify with. A Modern Family (Orenda Books) by Helga Flatland and beautifully translated by Rosie Hedger. Many will not know Helga Flatland but she is already an award winning author in Norway after her debut novel Stay if You Can, Leave if You Must. This is now her fifth novel and follows three siblings. Liv, Ellen and Hakon and all their respective family members travel to Italy for their father’s birthday celebrations in what should be a grand affair. But what if all does not go as planned?

Their parents are the glue to which the family are bonded. But the glue has come unstuck as the extended family arrive in Rome for the celebrations their parents have an announcement to make. They are getting a divorce! BOMBSHELL! No-one was expecting this. It has come out of no-where and no warning of this announcement.

The initial shockwave is like watch what happens when a pebble is thrown onto a pond. The ripples extend outwards through each the families and how they come to terms with the news their parents have dropped on them. For Liv who is also the elder of the children, this has hit her hard and we follow her world as it has come to a standstill. For Ellen she is more or less the quieter of the siblings and then the young member Hakon who is the brother.

Each of the family member’s lives is now the centre of the story and each one has something of interest to the reader and many like me will find themselves nodding in agreement with certain parts of the storyline. ‘Yes I recognise this from my own family’ I won’t divulge too much about each of the three but they all have their hang-ups in life, just like we all do.

Helga Flatland has hit the nail on the head with A Modern Family as she has written a story that is not a thriller, or a crime novel, nor a romance novel but a novel based on a normal family. This could be my family or yours. This is about a family and each member and how they have come to terms with a piece of news that none were expecting to hear and how they now look at each other and their own relationships.

I want to just congratulate Helga Flatland on such a beautifully written and poignant novel. She describes a normal family with such vibrancy and the characters could be any of us. This is a novel that just reached out to me and one I did not really want to come to an end. Helga Flatland you have nailed it. One book I would recommend for your holiday read this Summer. Highly Recommended.

 276 Pages.

Thank you to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland was published by Orenda Books and was published on 13th June 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The 2019 WAINWRIGHT GOLDEN BEER BOOK PRIZE SHORTLIST

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THE 2019 WAINWRIGHT GOLDEN BEER BOOK PRIZE SHORTLIST

At 9am on the 2nd July the shortlist for this year’s Wainwright Golden Beer Shortlist was announced. Now in its Sixth year, The Wainwright Book Prize is my favourite book prize of the year. This is a book prize which celebrates the best writing about nature, the outdoors and UK travel.

Never before has writing about nature and the great outdoors been so significant and important. Our landscape and the natural world is under increasing pressure from many areas. So how wonderful it is to see the Wainwright Book Prize grow year on year.

This year there are seven titles that make up the shortlist.

Underland by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton)
Wilding by Isabella Tree (Picador)
Time Song by Julia Blackburn (Jonathan Cape)
Our Place by Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape)
Thinking On My Feet by Kate Humble (Aster)
Out Of The Woods by Luke Turner (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
The Easternmost House by Juliet Blaxland (Sandstone Press)

So lets take a closer look at the titles that make up this years outstanding shortlist:

UNDRLAND

Underland by Robert Macfarlane

(Hamish Hamilton)

Discover the hidden worlds beneath our feet…

In Underland, Robert Macfarlane takes us on a journey into the worlds beneath our feet. From the ice-blue depths of Greenland’s glaciers, to the underground networks by which trees communicate, from Bronze Age burial chambers to the rock art of remote Arctic sea-caves, this is a deep-time voyage into the planet’s past and future. Global in its geography, gripping in its voice and haunting in its implications, Underland is a work of huge range and power, and a remarkable new chapter in Macfarlane’s long-term exploration of landscape and the human heart.

I reviewed Underland in issue 34 of Word Gets Around.

Just imagine for one moment the world beneath your feet. In Underland best-selling writer Robert Macfarlane author of many books on our natural world including The Wild Places and Landmarks and also The Lost Words now takes us on an adventure deep underground. This is a book were past and its future are all here. From the Bronze Age burial chambers of the Mendips in Somerset to the glaziers of Greenland, the catacombs of Paris, Arctic sea caves to a point deep sunk hiding place where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years.

The much-anticipated sequel to The Old Ways Robert Macfarlane now takes the reader on an unforgettable voyage exploring our relationship with darkness and what lies beneath. There is wonder, loss, fear and hope deep within the pages of Underland.

‘Into the underland we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save…’

It is hard to imagine a world that exits deep beneath us but that is exactly what there is. A truly remarkable book of discovery the reader will explore many themes including myth and literature as we travel the globe and discover a whole new world. Robert Macfarlane’s writing is both lyrical and breath-taking. A book that has opened even my eyes and will have a profound effect on how we see our precious world. The powerful cover was designed by the acclaimed artist and writer Stanley Donwood.

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Wilding by Isabella Tree

(Picador)

In Wilding, Isabella Tree tells the story of the ‘Knepp experiment’, a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of the ecology of our countryside, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.

Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell made a spectacular leap of faith: they decided to step back and let nature take over. Thanks to the introduction of free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer – proxies of the large animals that once roamed Britain – the 3,500 acre project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife numbers and diversity in little over a decade.

Extremely rare species, including turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons, lesser spotted woodpeckers and purple emperor butterflies, are now breeding at Knepp, and populations of other species are rocketing. The Burrells’ degraded agricultural land has become a functioning ecosystem again, heaving with life – all by itself.

Personal and inspirational, Wilding is an astonishing account of the beauty and strength of nature, when it is given as much freedom as possible.

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Time Song: Searching for Doggerland by Julia Blackburn

(Jonathan Cape)

Julia Blackburn has always collected things that hold stories about the past, especially the very distant past: mammoth bones, little shells that happen to be two million years old, a flint shaped as a weapon long ago. Time Song brings many such stories together as it tells of the creation, the existence and the loss of a country now called Doggerland, a huge and fertile area that once connected the entire east coast of England with mainland Europe, until it was finally submerged by rising sea levels around 5000 BC.

Blackburn mixes fragments from her own life with a series of eighteen ‘songs’ and all sorts of stories about the places and the people she meets in her quest to get closer to an understanding of Doggerland. She sees the footprints of early humans fossilised in the soft mud of an estuary alongside the scattered pockmarks made by rain falling eight thousand years ago. She visits a cave where the remnants of a Neanderthal meal have turned to stone. In Denmark she sits beside Tollund Man who seems to be about to wake from a dream, even though he has lain in a peat bog since the start of the Iron Age.

Time Song reveals yet again, that Julia Blackburn is one of the most original writers in Britain, with each of its pages bringing a surprise, an epiphany, a phrase of such beauty and simple profundity you can only gasp.

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Our Place: Can We Save Britain’s Wildlife Before It Is Too Late? by Mark Cocker

(Jonathan Cape)

Environmental thought and politics have become parts of mainstream cultural life in Britain. The wish to protect wildlife is now a central goal for our society, but where did these ‘green’ ideas come from? And who created the cherished institutions, such as the National Trust or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, that are now so embedded in public life with millions of members?

From the flatlands of Norfolk to the tundra-like expanse of the Flow Country in northern Scotland, acclaimed writer on nature Mark Cocker sets out on a personal quest through the British countryside to find the answers to these questions.

He explores in intimate detail six special places that embody the history of conservation or whose fortunes allow us to understand why our landscape looks as it does today. We meet key characters who shaped the story of the British countryside – Victorian visionaries like Octavia Hill, founder of the National Trust, as well as brilliant naturalists such as Max Nicholson or Derek Ratcliffe, who helped build the very framework for all environmental effort.

This is a book that looks to the future as well as exploring the past. It asks searching questions like who owns the land and why? And who benefits from green policies? Above all it attempts to solve a puzzle: why do the British seem to love their countryside more than almost any other nation, yet they have come to live amid one of the most denatured landscapes on Earth? Radical, provocative and original, Our Place tackles some of the central issues of our time. Yet most important of all, it tries to map out how this overcrowded island of ours could be a place fit not just for human occupants but also for its billions of wild citizens.

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Thinking on My Feet: The small joy of putting one foot in front of another by Kate Humble

(Aster)

Thinking on My Feet tells the story of Kate’s walking year – shining a light on the benefits of this simple activity. Kate’s inspiring narrative not only records her walks (and runs) throughout a single year, but also charts her feelings and impressions throughout – capturing the perspectives that only a journey on foot allows – and shares the outcomes: a problem solved, a mood lifted, an idea or opportunity borne. As she explores the reasons why we walk, whether for creative energy, challenge and pleasure, or therapeutic benefits, Kate’s reflections and insights will encourage, motivate and spur readers into action.

Also featured are Kate’s walks with others who have discovered the magical, soothing effect of putting one foot in front of the other – the artist who walks to find inspiration for his next painting; the man who takes people battling with addiction to climb mountains; the woman who walked every footpath in Wales (3,700 miles) when she discovered she had cancer.

This book will inspire you to change your perspective by applying walking to your daily endeavours.

This is a book I am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying. I can see why so many people really took this book to their hearts.

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Out of the Woods by Luke Turner

(Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

After the disintegration of the most significant relationship of his life, the demons Luke Turner has been battling since childhood are quick to return – depression and guilt surrounding his identity as a bisexual man, experiences of sexual abuse, and the religious upbringing that was the cause of so much confusion. It is among the trees of London’s Epping Forest where he seeks refuge. But once a place of comfort, it now seems full of unexpected, elusive threats that trigger twisted reactions.

No stranger to compulsion, Luke finds himself drawn again and again to the woods, eager to uncover the strange secrets that may be buried there as he investigates an old family rumour of illicit behaviour. Away from a society that still struggles to cope with the complexities of masculinity and sexuality, Luke begins to accept the duality that has provoked so much unrest in his life – and reconcile the expectations of others with his own way of being.

OUT OF THE WOODS is a dazzling, devastating and highly original memoir about the irresistible yet double-edged potency of the forest, and the possibility of learning to find peace in the grey areas of life.

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The eEasternmost House by Juliet Blaxland

(Sandstone Press)

Within the next three years, Juliet Blaxland’s home will be demolished, and the land where it now stands will crumble into the North Sea. In her numbered days living in the Easternmost House, Juliet fights to maintain the rural ways she grew up with, re-connecting with the beauty, usefulness and erratic terror of the natural world.

The Easternmost House is a stunning memoir, describing a year on the Easternmost edge of England, and exploring how we can preserve delicate ecosystems and livelihoods in the face of rapid coastal erosion and environmental change.

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I really envy the judges trying to find a winner from this years incredible shortlist. Seven books that are all worthy winners.

This years winner will be announced on August 15th at the BBC Countryfile Live at Castle Howard, Yorkshire.

Last years winner was won by Adam Nicolson for The Seabirds Cry (William Collins).

Past Winners:

2014 – The Green Road into Trees: A Walk Through England by Hugh Thomson
2015 – Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field by John Lewis-Stempel
2016 – The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
2017 – Where Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War by John Lewis-Stempel
2018- The Seabird’s Cry by Adam Nicholson

The 2019 Judges:

Chair: Julia Bradbury

Waterstones Non-fiction buyer: Clement Knox

National Trust Publisher: Katie Bond

Publisher at Unbound and Blacklisted Podcast Host: John Mitchinson

The Urban Birder: David Lindo

Creative Partner for And Rising

Follow news about The Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize on Twitter: @wainwrightprize

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Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm by Isabella Tree

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Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree

Summary:

In Wilding, Isabella Tree tells the story of the ‘Knepp experiment’, a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of the ecology of our countryside, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.

Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell made a spectacular leap of faith: they decided to step back and let nature take over. Thanks to the introduction of free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer – proxies of the large animals that once roamed Britain – the 3,500 acre project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife numbers and diversity in little over a decade.

Extremely rare species, including turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons, lesser spotted woodpeckers and purple emperor butterflies, are now breeding at Knepp, and populations of other species are rocketing. The Burrells’ degraded agricultural land has become a functioning ecosystem again, heaving with life – all by itself.

Personal and inspirational, Wilding is an astonishing account of the beauty and strength of nature, when it is given as much freedom as possible.

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My review:

I could give Wilding by Isabella Tree so many plaudits. But inspirational and outstanding are just two. This is a story of how a 3,500-acre farm in Knepp in West Sussex owned by Isabella’s husband Charlie Burrell was returned to nature. I am so delighted to see this book now longlisted for the 2019 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize.

The project on the farm started back in 2000 and the difference now is nothing short of incredible. From the intensive modern farming methods to the point where the farm was no longer a viable going concern and something had to be done to turn this around.

This was a risk but it was a risk well worth taking despite some complaints and objections they tore down the fences and slowly returned the farm to its past. They brought in a select breed of pigs as well as cattle and Exmoor ponies and let them roam free. The ‘rewilding’ of the farm was underway.

The UK has a whole has seen its wildlife plummet with some of our species flora and fauna close to extinction. What has been created on their farm is nothing short of incredible. To see what the farm has become today and the species that have now returned to the farm. Nightingales have returned to the farm where nationally they have crashed and Turtle Doves have started to return to the farm and Purple Emperor Butterflies have also been seen and are now breeding on the estate long with Orchids and other rare plants have been found. This is no coincidence.

This is a part memoir and also I believe a book of hope for the future of farming. A move away from the intensive agricultural policies of the past and what I liked was that Isabella talks about rewilding of farms and also that you can at the same time feed the populations of the world.

Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm is nothing short of astonishing and proves we can bring back nature to our countryside and also farm at the same time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Shortlist for the 2019 Wainwright Golden Beer Prize will be announced at midday on the 2nd July.

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384 Pages.

Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree was published by Picador and was published in Paperback on 21st March 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Exhausting Summer of São Martino by Simon Carr

SIMON CARR

The Exhausting Summer of São Martino

by Simon Carr

Narrated by Steven Pacey

Summary:

Prospero is the mayor of a small town that has escaped the attention of the modern world. In Tapoli, news still travels by word of mouth – and it travels fast, since everyone knows everyone else in the town’s latticework of narrow streets. We first encounter Prospero at a local summer festival, where his attention is caught by a visiting Englishwoman who seems oddly familiar. As the couple embark on a curious friendship, and then an even more curious love affair, Prospero discovers the woman’s connections with his own past. As his personal life grows complicated, so does his role as the town’s mayor – especially when strangers arrive, rubbing up against the entrenched local community and against local traditions. Prospero’s own role as mayor comes under growing public scrutiny as he struggles with the conflicting advice of his head and his heart.

My Review:

My second Audible book review and what a beautifully narrated story this is. You the listener are transported to the heat of the day in Tapoli. Life has always been in a time warp of bygone sleepy long summer days. The modern era has not reached this town in Portugal.

Prospero is the Mayor of Tapoli and all he wants is the town to become successful and modern as well as a town that remains quintessentially still of a time gone by feel. This is a challenge for Prospero as the town is reluctant to wake up to the modern ways of the world. Imagine going to buy your bread at the bakery and getting the local news of the day at the same time. This is Tapoli. Like all towns there are the usual issues to solve but not like anywhere else though. Then there is the Englishwoman who visits the town and Prospero and the woman begin a friendship that leads to love but what is it about the Woman that seems familiar?

This is a story written by Simon Carr who moved to Portugal some years ago so this is a story he has wanted to write about the home he has adopted. There is humour in the story which is so wonderfully told by Steven Pacey as he plays each role so wonderfully. I just loved the gentle style of how the story flowed that you could almost feel the heat of the day and the sound of crickets in the background. You are transported to Tapoli through the words of Simon Carr and gentle narration of Steven Pacey.

About the author

Simon Carr was for a dozen years the parliamentary sketch writer of the UK national newspaper the Independent. His retirement – earlier than expected – ultimately led to an abandoned smallholding in the depth of central Portugal. With the help of a digger, a tractor and with the long-suffering support of the Medelim community, he developed the wild, bramble-covered property into an idyllic little domain.

About the narrator Steven Pacey.

Steven Pacey needs little introduction. A star from our screens, radios and audiobooks, he has played and read an extraordinary number of parts. You may know him for his roles in musical theatre – such as La Cage Aux Folles (2009) or Spamalot (2012/13) – or from his appearances in shows such as King Lear (2013/14) and Peter Pan (2011). More recently, he has become a prodigious narrator, turning his voice to an array of books across genres: fiction, children’s novels and more. In his own words, the great joy of audiobooks is ‘that you get to play all the parts that you wouldn’t possibly be considered for visually’. He does so here with characteristic vivacity and verve.

Thank you to Phoebe Swinburn (Midas PR) for the review copy of the audio book of The Exhausting Summer of Sao Martino by Simon Carr. Available now via Audible.co.uk

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

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The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

Summary:

It begins with an abduction. The routine of a family shopping trip is shattered when Michelle Spivey is snatched as she leaves the mall with her young daughter. The police search for her, her partner pleads for her release, but in the end…they find nothing. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air.
A month later, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, medical examiner Sara Linton is at lunch with her boyfriend Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But the serenity of the summer’s day is broken by the wail of sirens.
Sara and Will are trained to help in an emergency. Their jobs – their vocations – mean that they run towards a crisis, not away from it. But on this one terrible day that instinct betrays them both. Within hours the situation has spiralled out of control; Sara is taken prisoner; Will is forced undercover. And the fallout will lead them into the Appalachian mountains, to the terrible truth about what really happened to Michelle, and to a remote compound where a radical group has murder in mind…

Author

My Review:

Shock! I have only just discovered the international bestselling author Karin Slaughter. I cannot believe this either. But I am so pleased I have. I am new to the Will Trent series but this did not deter me and can be read as a standalone novel.

This is a terrifying thriller and you will need to prepare yourself for some parts of the storyline as it contains some scenes which will make you angry. Do not let this deter you from reading as the tension is heart-stopping with some brilliant characters written into the plot and there is no let-up in the action as the story begins when a family head off to a shopping mall. As Michelle Spivey leaves the mall with her young daughter it is Michelle who is kidnapped. But who has taken her and why? Despite everything there is no sign of Michelle.

If this is not scary enough then the story really ignites as Will Trent and Sara Linton are enjoying what was going to be a relaxing lunch, but sound of explosions means their lunch will go cold but the action now really hots up as they speed to help and find a car accident and they stop to help. Home-grown terrorists have attacked Georgia leaving many dead and wounded.

These are bad guys and Sara is taken. Will is hurt but one of the bad guys is taken prisoner. Now the situation is rapidly getting out of control and there are some difficult moments in this story. Will is lost and hurt at prospect of allowing Sara to be taken by the gang members. This is Will at his most vulnerable but he must regain control to have any attempt of finding Sara alive as he now goes undercover and finds these murderous white young men are planning something more horrific and terrifying.

What they find is utterly shocking as there is an ultra-right wing group with one thing on their mind. Murder! This group of young white supremacists with an agenda and they will not be stopped. Something we are hearing a lot of in the sad times for real.

As much as some of the scenes are shocking I believe you can move quickly to avoid any upset to the reader. The characters of Will and Sara are strong and they both bring so much to this rollercoaster of a story.

Nothing is left to chance in this pulsating read as fans of Karin Slaughter will know from her previous novels. The author has researched well for the plot line and the superb characters she brings to her novels as well as emotions that are at times plainly raw.

The start may seem slow but persevere as this story just comes to life quickly and there is so much going one that you wonder how it will all end. A brilliant if at times disturbing read but we are living in troubled times. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

464 Pages.

Thank you to Rebecca Bryant (Harper Collins) for the review copy of The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter was published by Harper Collins and was published on 13th June 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Last Widow – The Blog Tour

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New Titles from Candlestick Press

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Ten Poems about Childhood

Selected and Introduced by Mimi Khalvati

We all have memories about childhood or are reminded of our childhood by those that are close to us. Our childhood years make us become who we are. Sometimes I find looking at photos can suddenly take me back to one moment back then or a piece of music but also it is poetry that can reflect the childhood years really well.

One of the very latest poetry pamphlets by Candlestick Press is Ten Poems about Childhood. Selected and introduced by Mimi Khalvati. Ten wonderful poems that speak to us of childhood. Poems by Poems by Kayo ChingonyiJane DuranLouise GlückSeamus HeaneyElizabeth JenningsMimi KhalvatiHannah LoweJames MerrillTracy K Smith and James Womack.

The poem The Railway Children by Seamus Heaney just reminded me of my young days sat watching the trains at a station. I was fascinated. What is Written by Jane Duran. The opening lines:

The way you look at your book:

crawl round, lie over it,

turn number of pages at a time

and sit and put your face down

to look deeply into the words,

These opening lines of the poem could by anyone of us when we were young. It was certainly me.

Ten Poems about Childhood available now to order through Candlestick Press.

 

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Ten Poems about Bees

 Introduced by Brigit Strawbridge Howard

Another of the latest of the poetry pamphlets is Ten Poems about Bees introduced by Brigit Strawbridge Howard is just sublime. Bees right now need our help.

The Honeybee provides us with that wonderful golden honey that we spread on our morning toast as well as many recipes. But just imagine a world without the bee? Too frightening to contemplate but the threat is more than just real. We are so closely intertwined with the bee.

There is even a poem by the nature writer Miriam Darlington called Beekeeper and it deserves to be read. As a child I was scared of bees as I did not understand them until I discovered nature and I became fascinated by the lives of bees, from the honeybee to the solitary bee each one so unique and wonderful. I have been stung far too many times so seeing the poem Stung by Heid E. Erdrich tells of a person being stung.

These poems are just delightful and ones to treasure. Ten Poems about Bees avaialble to order through Candlestick press.

 

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Thank you to Kathy Towers of Candlestick Press for the review copies of Ten Poems about Childhood and Ten Poems about Bees both now available to order through Candlestick Press website.

 

Candlestick Press are a small independent publisher based in Nottingham and were founded in 2008. The team consists of four dedicated people in Di Slaney (Publisher), Kathy Towers (Assistant Editor) and two admin assistants. Their aim is simple to spread the joy of poetry to adults and children alike who love poetry and or may be just beginning their journey in to enjoying poetry. These small pamphlets are just ideal for bedtime reading or like I have been doing and that is enjoying them on journeys.

They have published so many of these beautiful pamphlets on a wide range of topics from Christmas to Cricket, from Dogs to Sheep and even Clouds and walking and even breakfast. These wonderful poetry pamphlets make the ideal gift to send to friends and loved ones. For more information, please visit the Candlestick Press website: Candlestick Press

The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger

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The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger

Summary:

Opening with the shooting of Lady Virginia ‘Ginie’ Courtauld in her tranquil garden in 1950s Rhodesia, The Dragon Lady tells Ginie’s extraordinary story, so called for the exotic tattoo snaking up her leg. From the glamorous Italian Riviera before the Great War to the Art Deco glory of Eltham Palace in the thirties, and from the secluded Scottish Highlands to segregated Rhodesia in the fifties, the narrative spans enormous cultural and social change. Lady Virginia Courtauld was a boundary-breaking, colourful and unconventional person who rejected the submissive role women were expected to play.

Ostracised by society for being a foreign divorcée at the time of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Ginie and her second husband ,Stephen Courtauld, leave the confines of post-war Britain to forge a new life in Rhodesia, only to find that being progressive liberals during segregation proves mortally dangerous. Many people had reason to dislike Ginie, but who had reason enough to pull the trigger?

Deeply evocative of time and place, The Dragon Lady subtly blends fact and fiction to paint the portrait of an extraordinary woman in an era of great social and cultural change.

My Review:

Following on from her first book The Lodger published in 2014 I have patiently been waiting for Lousa Treger to release another novel. The wait is over today as The Dragon Lady (Bloomsbury Caravel) is published this very day.

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A mix of fiction and non-fiction and a real blend of history, crime and a dash of romance thrown in. The Dragon Lady is the story of a rather intriguing woman Lady Virginia Courtauld. Ginnie as she was more widely known was something of a real intoxicating figure. She was known for the incredible snake tattoo that seemed to be working its way up her leg.

The book begins in 1950’s Rhodesia and Ginnie has been shot in the gardens of her and husband Stephen’s beautiful gardens. The story finds its way from Italy to the rugged Scottish Highlands to the British ruled Rhodesia the world was changing around them during these times but Ginnie was not one to be away from the headlines as she was a woman of immense character and no ordinary woman.

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We never quite know who shot Ginnie or why as you read and you do begin to look for clues. It is true she had those who did not like or agree with her thoughts or attitude. While settling in hot climate of Rhodesia both Ginnie and Stephen became outspoken at what they saw as racist behaviour. So could this have been the motive for Ginnie’s shooting in the gardens of their home La Rochelle.

Many who met Ginnie Courtauld certainly would never forget they had met her. A woman of adventure and intrigue. A remarkable woman and an even more remarkable life and when it came to the suffering of native Rhodesia Ginnie steps up to the mark to stand up for them and it is through the pages that Louisa Treger talks of the oppression the natives of this land suffered.

This is beautifully written and told by Louisa Treger and the reader is carried along through the story of Ginnie. This is why I really became a fan of Louisa’s writing after her first novel and is absorbing and captivating and a book I became really attached to and could not put down.

In the 1958 New Year’s Honours Stephen was Knighted. In 1967 and Lady Virginia Courtauld then moved to Jersey were she died in 1972. Their home that was La Rochelle was bequeathed to the National Trust of Rhodesia (Now The National Trust of Zimbabwe) in 1970. If you enjoy books that involve both fiction and non-fiction, then I am delighted to highly recommend The Dragon Lady.

I am delighted to say that I will be interviewing Louisa Treger for a special podcast to talk about The Dragon Lady and Louisa’s writing process.

@louisatreger http/louisatreger.com/

#TheDragonLady @caravelbooks

320 Pages.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Caravel for the review copy of The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger

The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger is published by Bloomsbury Caravel and published on 13th June 2019. Available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness

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Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness

Summary:

When Joe Harkness suffered a breakdown in 2013, he tried all the things his doctor recommended: medication helped, counselling was enlightening, and mindfulness grounded him. But nothing came close to nature, particularly birds. How had he never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter took him one step closer to accepting who he is.

The positive change in Joe’s wellbeing was so profound that he started a blog to record his experience. Three years later he has become a spokesperson for the benefits of birdwatching, spreading the word everywhere from Radio 4 to Downing Street.

In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves.

AUTHOR

My Review:

I have loved nature since I was a young boy. But the one thing I have always felt is that nature has a way of mending. But I have always felt the same way about books and reading. Many months ago I had a phone call from Joe Harkness and we had a long conversation and he told me all about himself and the book he wanted to write after all the planning and the writing and the worry Joe Harkness has written an astonishingly open book called Bird Therapy (Unbound) and this is a book that really does go a long way to heal.

Joe was a broken sole, he was at the lowest point any human being can get, life seemed dark and devoid of any hope. Jo had suffered a breakdown in 2013 and was looking into a void with no light.  There is hope and there is help even when we don’t think there is.

Thankfully Joe got the help he needed and through this the first steps were taken and it was then Joe started bird watching and whether Joe found nature or nature found Joe it does not matter as in the end the light at the end of the tunnel was this. It has been proven how important nature is to mental health. Taking time out and looking at and even listening to nature is so important to all of us.

Joe has written in Bird Therapy a book from the heart. At the very start he talks in great courage to us about how low he mental health problems had got. But kit is through watching birds that has really helped Joe and his passion just pours out of the pages. Nature and people are connected and without nature we literally do not have a soul. Watching and studying birds requires time and patience not chasing around after rarities that are just a tick on a spreadsheet. But watching how birds interact with each other. We learn many things by watching each species and we learn many things that in turn help us.

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I have spent many happy days in Norfolk birdwatching as it is one the premier counties from the coasts to the Norfolk Broads to the marshes and this is also home to Joe Harkness and how he talks about his home as he travels to watch birds. Home is where the heart is and this is really where Joe’s heart belongs.

The first pages of Bird Therapy may seem dark and difficult to read but to understand a broken soul you have to be honest and open and Joes does this. There is a foreword by Chris Packham that discusses the stigma about Mental Health even in today’s world and there should not be any stigma at all. Being allowed to talk about problems is the start of the journey to recovery.

As Chris Packham says in his foreword this book will save lives. It will. Joe it was a real pleasure talking to you all those months ago. I knew just by talking with you that something incredible was coming. You have created something very special in Bird Therapy I wish nothing but success. Many will read your book and empathise with your words and your honesty. Bird Therapy is Natures Cure in its own right.

272 Pages.

Thank you to Unbound and also Joe Harkness for the review copy of Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness

Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness is published by Unbound and will be published on 13th June 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

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