From the Mill to Monte Carlo: The Working Class Englishman Who Beat the Casino and Changed Gambling Forever by Anne Fletcher
From the Mill to Monte Carlo: The Working Class Englishman Who Beat the Casino and Changed Gambling Forever – Anne Fletcher
Well this is a book that had me up for a few late nights. A true piece of detective work by the writer Anne Fletcher as she traced the incredible story of Joseph Hobson Jagger who was an engineer from Bradford who then travelled to Monte Carlo and literally broke the bank. From the Mill to Monte Carlo (Amberley Publishing) tells the remarkable story of just how Jagger managed to pull this off. What’s more The author Anne Fletcher is the great-great-great niece of Joseph Jagger.
For the author it all started with a single photograph, a newspaper article and then lyrics to a famous song. There was no way Anne Fletcher was going to stop the research now. There was an incredible story to be uncovered. And this really is an incredible true story.
Joseph Jagger was a married man with four children with the youngest of his children aged only two. Life was incredibly hard. He himself came from a large family, not unusual in those times. He taught himself to read and write before working in the Mills. He then set up his own business which was maintaining the cotton looms. His business later failed with large debts and now the family was facing the worst scenario the dreaded debtor prison. Life would be incredible harsh with little chance of ever getting out.
Jagger knew of only one way to escape the debtor prison and his plan which was nothing short of crazy was to find the cash and travel to Monte Carlo by 1861 Jagger was bankrupt, but he was determined to get to Monte Carlo and this did not happen until 1880. Through the generosity of friends, he managed to get enough money together and travel 1000 miles to Monte Carlo were he hatched out a plan to get rich quick.
He cleverly realised that the roulette wheels never span true. He studied the wheels very carefully and then started gambling. By the time he had finished he had won the equivalent of seven million. This had got the owners of the casino’s questioning what he was doing and in the end the wheels were redesigned. Jagger knew it was now time to quit and return home.
So what exactly did Joseph Jagger do with all his winnings? Jagger was clearly not a man who fame, he sought a fortune to solve a problem and won. When he got home he quietly faded from the scene. He paid back everyone who had lent him money and then made sure his children never faced the same fate he did. Jagger never lived a life of a rich man, he carried on living in the same home and just lived a very quiet life. When he died in 1892 there was no wealthy will to be read out.
It seems Joseph Hobson Jagger was ashamed of what he had done and did not want the fame that went with the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo. An incredible story wonderfully told by Anne Fletcher.
Thank you to Hazel Keyes for the review copy of From the Mill to Monte Carlo by Anne Fletcher
From the Mill to Monte Carlo by Anne Fletcher was published by Amberley Publishing and was published on 15th July 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Crowdfunding to get The Lost Words into Somerset’s Primary School’s
The Oxford Children’s Dictionary decided to remove around 50 words that connect children and British Wildlife, words such as Otter, Dandelion, Bluebell, Kingfisher, Conker to name a few, the award winning writer Robert Macfarlane and artist Jackie Morris got together and came up with a fantastic idea that has swept across the country and taken a life of its own. The Lost Words (Hamish Hamilton) came into being.
With spell-poems by Robert Macfarlane and the stunning artwork by Jackie Morris brings together just some of those words that would have been missing from children’s vocabulary. Nature at such a young age is so important. It was over 40 years ago that I was inspired by nature just by sights and sounds and words read in a book. All these years later nature and wildlife still bring the many pleasures and joys to me. The health benefits of being outdoors and being and being close to nature at a young age can spur a love of wildlife that may last a lifetime and who knows to their children.
It was not long after The Lost Words was released and people started to take the book to their hearts and then it began. First in Scotland. In early 2018 Jane Beaton raised £25,000 to get a copy of The Lost Words into every school in Scotland. This was the spur and The Lost Words is now a movement and around the country there are at present fifteen fund raising campaigns to get The Lost Words into school’s and the words back into children’s lives. It is a movement of love and the work and dedication of everyone involved really has moved moved me. It is uplifting and inspiring.
Over recent months I have been close to the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize and I was delighted to see this remarkable book reach the longlist. Then to see it reach the shortlist and with a chance of winning the Wainwright Book Prize. I attended the shortlist party and spoke with Robert Macfarlane about The Lost Words and I know how much the campaigns mean to him. The the prize winning event earlier in August I spoke with the artist Jackie Morris about my initial idea of raising enough money to get a copy into Somerset’s Primary School’s.
On the morning of 15th August I launched my Crowdfunding page to raise £2,500.00 which would mean that I would be able to place a copy of The Lost Words into each of the 242 Primary School’s in Somerset. I am extremely grateful to Penguin/Random House for giving me a very special price of £9.60 rather than the cover price of £20.00 which helps keep the target figure to £2,500.00.
This is were I need your help. I have until 10th October to raise the funds, and I would be extremely grateful for any donations that you can give.
The Lost Words Artist Jackie Morris has very kindly donated three special prints. If you donate £75.00 you can select a word and Jackie will create this word written in Otter. I have seen some of these and they are rather special. There is only three available. When they are gone they are gone. Jackie has also very kindly donated a small Inked Otter print. If you donate £5.00 or more you will automatically be entered into the draw to win this Small Inked Otter print.
Please spread the word far and wide the more people know the better chance we have of achieving our target.
I hope you can help and pledge to support The Lost Words for Somerset’s Primary School’s.
Thank you for reading.
Hitler’s British Isles: The Real Story of the Occupied Channel Islands by Duncan Barrett
When Hitler’s forces rampaged across Europe and then finally France fell to the Nazis, Hitler then turned his attention to across the Channel. Mainland Britain prepared for a similar Blitzkrieg but the Channel Islands lay perilously close to the French coastline, it was now apparent that they would be alone and not defended by Britain. In Duncan Barrett’s Hitler’s British Isles this is the definitive account of the Channel Islands five-year occupation by German forces during the war.
Writer Duncan Barrett interviewed over one hundred people on the islands who had direct experience of the war under the Nazis. When it was announced that the Channel Islands would not be defended, an evacuation took place in 1940 of British forces and also many of the children. Though some could not come to terms of being separated from their parents and stayed on despite the fear of what was on the horizon.
It was June 1940 and the Luftwaffe arrived over the islands bombing and strafing many lost their lives during the attacks. The Islanders were not in a position to fight back. The occupation had begun and the Channel Islands were now under Nazi control. These are British Islands and they had been invaded. Over on the mainland the Battle of Britain was about to begin.
Many on the islands had their homes taken over and families had to move out. The effects of the invasion now came into force. Food was rationed and as the war went on food was scarce and the inhabitants went hungry.
At first those that represented the islanders co-operated with their occupiers. Many of the German soldiers believed the war would be over very quickly, but after the Battle of Britain they knew they were on the Islands for some years. Many of the German soldiers believed that being on the Islands prevented them later from being sent to the front line when Hitler invaded Russia.
There was a small Jewish population living on the Channel Islands and many went into hiding sadly though many were found and rounded up and sent to concentration camps never to return.
As the war went on it was clear the Nazi command was intent on turning the main Islands into a fortress and the Organisation Todt brought around 15,000 men as slave labourers were brought in from the Eastern Europe and they were badly abused and many died of hunger or killed during the building of the fortresses. One of the sadder stories was that of Louisa Gould who helped some of the men and was caught. Louisa was sent to the infamous Ravensbrück concentration camp. She was killed in the gas chambers.
By latter part of 1944 the Islanders were starving there was little food remaining and pets were killed to survive. Now Red Cross Parcels started to arrive and just in time.
There are many horrific stories that are uncovered in Barrett’s outstanding book, and as the war ended, some of the Islanders sought justice on those who were a little too close to their German Masters. It was time for retribution.
When the war ended it was a time of trying to pick up the pieces of shattered lives. Many sent to Europe never returned. Then there is the story of a young woman from the Island of Sark who fell in love with a German and when he was sent to England as a prisoner after the war after a number of ‘arranged’ meetings it was clear their love was too strong and they married and then later returned to Sark to live their lives in peace.
Duncan Barrett has well researched the stories of the occupation of the Channel Islands and must be complimented on how well this is set out against the personal stories of those involved. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you to Sue Stephen (Simon & Schuster) for the review copy of Hitler’s British Isles by Duncan Barrett
Hitler’s British Isles by Duncan Barrett was published by Simon & Schuster and was published on 14th June 2018 and is available in Hardcover through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap
There was something about The Rules of Seeing the debut novel by Joe Heap that just attracted me even before a copy had arrived and I am so pleased a copy did arrive. One of the best debut novels I have read this year. Just sometimes a book will come along and give you a jolt and this is that book.
They say never judge a book by its cover and this is one, I thought I was going to have a good idea of how this was going to play out. I was wrong. In the end I loved it more.
Nova is blind, in fact she has been blind since birth. But that has not stopped Nova from fulfilling her life. She accepted being blind and got on with life. Then there is Kate, but she is suffering in a very different way at the hands of her abusive husband Tony. One day both Nova and Kate unintentionally meet at the hospital. Nova has surgery that is giving her something that she thought she would never have. Sight. Kate is at the hospital but in complete denial. She is hurt but of course it was nothing to do with Tony.
Two people’s lives are now connected as Nova is an interpreter for the Police and of course she knows Kate’s husband. The first part of the book is told by both Nova and Kate as the story starts to build from halfway. This is an incredible story of two women whose lives have suffered in one way or another.
The Rules of Seeing is a story so full of emotion. The characters of Nova and Kate are strong and yet Tony who is the ultimate of two faced character representing the law and the thug at home. The horrific abuse Kate has to suffer is shocking.
I loved this book for many reasons it is thought provoking. I have not come across a story of one person who is blind and then able to see after pioneering surgery. It made me think. One woman blind from birth but another woman blind to the horrors she faced daily at home.
I remember that tingling feeling when I have read an extremely great debut novel. I had that very same tingling feeling after I finished reading The Rules of Seeing. Congratulations Joe Heap.
Thank you to Felicity Denham at Harper Collins for the review copy of The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap.
The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap is published by Harper Collins and published today 9th August 2018 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Follow ‘The Rules of Seeing’ Blog Tour
The 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize
I was delighted to have been invited to the 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize announcement which took place at the beautiful surroundings of Blenheim Palace and the BBC TV’s Countryfilelive event. The day was just perfect with the event bathed in hot sunshine all day.
This year Countryfile’s Ellie Harrison made the announcement with Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove also giving a speech about nature and the environment in front of a packed audience.
With all the authors and illustrators present and in turn each giving a little talk about their book. You could almost feel the tension rise as the moment for the announcement came.
BBC TV’s Countryfile present Ellie Harrison announces the 2018 winning author and book.
And so the winner of the 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize went to:
The Seabird’s Cry by Adam Nicolson (William Collins)
Originally published in Hardback in June 2017 The Seabird’s Cry (William Collins, Harper Collins) is an incredible book dedicated to the lives of seabird’s. A strong environmental message comes out of this book that I said long before it won the Wainwright Book Prize that it was a natural history classic.
There are ten chapters each dedicated to a specific seabird. From Fulmar’s to Puffin’s Adam Nicolson follows their lives from the coastlines and islands of the UK to Norway, Iceland and the coastline of America. What Adam sees are numbers crashing. Seabirds that are majestic on the sea and in the air travel hundreds of thousands of miles each year to breed and then to spend winters travelling the sea’s.
Were once the numbers where in many thousands they are now at a shocking level that one day soon could be lost forever and we will be left remembering the mass of seabird colonies in the spring. This is not a threat it really is happening.
A superbly researched and beautifully written book with illustrations by Kate Boxer. The Seabird Cry now joins the illustrious previous winners of the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize.
Adam Nicolson collects his prize as winning author for The Seabird’s Cry.
Congratulations to Adam Nicolson but also to all the authors and illustrators who made the longlist and shortlist. This almost certainly was a tough decision to choose a winner and that is a testament to the sheer quality and resurgence of nature writing in the UK today.
My thanks go to Laura Creyke and everyone at Mark Hutchinson Management and also to Alastair Giles and the team at Agile Ideas for all their help and support.
The Wainwright Book Prize is named after the Lakelands much loved Alfred Wainwright, and is supported by White Lion Publishing (publisher of the world famous Wainwright Guides), Wainwright Golden Beer, the Wainwright Estate and in Partnership with The National Trust. The winner receives a cheque for £5,000.
Please use the Hashtags:
#WainwrightPrize18 #LetTheOutDoorsIn #FindYourMountain
We That Are Young by Preti Taneja
On the evening of the 20th June The Winner of the 2018 Desmond Elliot Prize was announced in front of a packed invited audience with many more following via social media. This year’s winner was incredible We That Are Young (Galley Beggar Press) the debut novel by Preti Taneja set to the backdrop of contemporary India but this is no ordinary story but one with Shakespeare’s King Lear at its heart.
Weighing in at over 500 pages this is by no means your average novel yet once I turned the first page I found this brave yet impressive story about modern India and its take on the country its inter family battles. I was all consumed and breathless by the time I had reached the last page. This indeed is a compelling debut novel and Taneja’s writing makes her a writer to watch for the future.
Indeed, with King Lear in mind Preti Taneja set about writing this incredible novel. There are the two India’s the extreme poverty and the very wealthy as well as the political machinations and cultures and of course corruption and scandal.
Jivan is returning to India. He has been living in the USA with his mother since the age of thirteen. Now years later the India he remembers has changed. The country has grown and with it has come wealth. But not for all. The years have passed and Sita is facing a marriage she does not want or wish for and she does not conform to her father’s wishes and traditions. She disappears. Devraj hands over the reins to ‘the Company’ to his two older daughters Gargi and Radha. Set to the backdrop of the anti-corruption riots of 2012 what takes place now is nothing short of brutal. The Company has fingers in so many industries and government officials and institutions that it is difficult to know where it begins and ends. It is of course who you know that gets you places and doors appear to open when they remain closed to the many. The story of Gargi and Radha is incredibly written by Taneja and how they become involved in the Company and what becomes of them both. This at times is both moving and painful.
When you want the best of both worlds there is always a collision of ideals, when you embrace change and the riches that come with it yet on the other hand you want the old culture of love and obedience something has to give. With many living in poverty and a minority enjoying the trappings of wealth. Change must come despite those that are determined to continue the traditions from generations past.
There is much to behold in this powerful story. You will hear from all the leading characters as they strive for more riches. Yet close by the extreme opposite. Many fighting hand to mouth to survive. There is so much contained within this all-consuming novel, the wealth and poverty and corruption that runs through India like a tradition. Superbly constructed I was riveted by We That Are Young and this is one book I really recommend.
Many congratulations to Preti Taneja on winning the Desmond Elliot Prize 2018 with We That Are Young.
The Desmond Elliot Prize is an annual prize for a first novel written in English and is published in the UK with a prize of £10,000 awarded to the winning author. Named after the literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliot.
Thank you to the Desmond Elliot Prize for the copy of We That Are Young by Preti Taneja
We That Are Young by Preti Taneja was published by Galley Beggar Press and was published on 10th August 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Last Thing She Told Me – Linda Green
Delighted to bring an early review for the ebook release of The Last Thing She Told Me (Quercus Books) by Linda Green. The ebook is released today (26th July) with the book being issued March 2019. This is the story of the families and secrets that come to life and then a grisly discovery.
This is basically a death bed confession story of a family that clearly had their problems. Nicola is sitting by the bedside of her grandmother who is close to dying. But what happens next completely takes Nicola’s breath away. Her grandmother whispers some words and then slips away. But it is those words that will shape the entire storyline. “There are babies at the bottom of the garden”. What on earth was her grandmother saying.
Nicola decides she is not going to rest until she investigates further and then a grim discovery. Her mum wants her to leave things alone and that spooks Nicola. Now the police have arrived and the story takes a sinister turn for the worst. Nicola’s mum now severs ties with her. Why? What could possibly have been going on in that house? The neighbourhood is full of quiet talk of all sorts of terrible stories.
Nicola is not the sort of person to leave things as they are and she knows she must get to the bottom of the story. But now she is being threatened but she does not know who is threatening her. These are dangerous moments for her and her own family. The past may hold the key to the story and this is where Nicola must delve into. There are so many questions and the answers must be found.
There are a number of twists and turns along the way and some may surprise you. Some of the story-line was a little predictable but overall I found this to be a really enjoyable and at times absorbing.
Thank you to Milly Reid at Quercus Books for the review copy of The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green.
The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green was published by Quercus Books and was published via an early eBook on 26th July 2018.
Do No Harm – L V Hay
I loved The Other Twin, which was the stunning debut novel by L V Hay last year. Now Hay is back with another gripping page turner. Do No Harm (Orenda Books) and is just a wonderfully crafted psychological thriller that will have readers glued to every page.
Lily has left her husband Maxwell after what was a pretty awful marriage and she has taken their son Denny. She has been in a relationship with Sebastian and now the wedding is about to take place and better life. Well you would think so wouldn’t you? That is for happy endings in other novels. Not this one. For Hay now takes the reader on a twisty journey were you just do not know what is going to happen next. Happy honeymoon later they couple return home, but when they arrive home they find one hell of a mess. The house has been ransacked. Nothing is working. What has happened. The memories of a happy wedding and honeymoon now fade as their lives are literally turned on their head.
Throw in Sebastian’s mother, and a long standing friend Triss and an ex jealous husband who wants to win back his family at any cost and you have the recipe for a superb knife edge thriller being played out right in front of your eyes.
For Lily and Sebastian, the fight is on to save everything they both wanted which was a happy and peaceful life. We get to hear from three people in the storyline two I am sure you can already guess but who is the third person. This you can decide for yourself. It is so brilliantly character driven and Hay’s writing is enough to keep you guessing and gripped. I felt so badly for Lily out of a disaster of a marriage and wanting the perfect life but someone wants their marriage to collapse. Ordinary people leading ordinary lives then all hell is breaking loose. Riveting stuff unless it is happening to you. You will be hooked.
Thank you to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) and Anne Cater for the review copy of Do No Harm by L V Hay
Do No Harm by L V Hay was published on 20th July 2018 by Orenda Books and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
#DoNoHarm @lucyvhayauthor @orendabooks
Do No Harm – The Blog Tour
I am delighted to share Mahsuda Snaith’s debut novel The Things We Thought We Knew and is being re-launched with a new eBook cover. A story of a young Bengali woman is who confined to bed with chronic pain since an accident some years previous. Here she now reflects on the past.
Ravine has not left her bed in the last decade, confined to the council flat in Leicester since her best friend Marianne disappeared. She has just celebrated her 18th birthday and with a bleak future ahead of her, she cannot leave the flat because she is in so much pain her mother as you can imagine is desperate for her daughter to try and make an effort ‘Will you at least try’ are the words from her mother. There is a sense that coming through the story that Ravine is using the pain as she is not in any hurry to make any effort. Her mother gives her a notebook to use as a pain dairy and then we journey back through the years as Ravine uses the diary to open her heart about her best friend Marianne and her disappearance. What really happened that day? As Ravine writes the reader is pulled into an intriguing journey and a story on an affecting friendship. It is clear that Ravine is hiding from the outside world even scared and hiding beneath the duvet provides her with security.
An intriguing coming of age story that will keep the reader guessing as to what really happened to Ravine’s best friend. This outstanding debut novel has some great characters that are so believable that weave through the story. With Mahsuda Snaith writing the initial novel when she was only sixteen. Impressive writing from a new and exciting author. From here I look forward to future books from Mahsuda Snaith.
Thank you to Thomas Hill at Transworld for the opportunity to share the new cover for Mahsuda Snaith and The Things We Thought We Knew in eBook.
The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith is published by Transworld Digital and Here
The Lost Letters of William Woolf – Helen Cullen
Have you ever wondered what happens to letters that may not reach their intended destinations? Well they end up at the Royal Mail’s Dead Letters Depot. Welcome to the wondrous debut novel by Helen Cullen just released. The Lost Letters of William Woolf (Michael Joseph). This particular Dead Letters Depot is in East London and this is where William Woolf and the team try and solve the mystery of those letters that for one of many reasons don’t make it through the letterbox. But there is more to this love letter to the written word. And oh what a divine cover. I am not sure who designed it but they need congratulating.
I have to say, when I first heard of the premise of this novel I was already sold even before a copy of the advanced review had arrived. I was simply going to love the idea of lost letters.
For William who works at the depot, he always wanted to be a writer but never made it. He is married to Clare after they met at university, their relationship is just ticking along as the fire that was there has diminished. Clare’s hopes for William have not come to fruition. William clearly enjoy solving lost letters. Their relationship is drifting like a boat on an open ocean not quite sure where they are heading or why. They are lost. Can they be found before it is too late, or is already too late?
One day William discovers a lost letter, that is addressed ‘My Great Love’ and William then discovers that is has been sent by someone called Winter. William is now hooked and more of the letters start to find their way into the Lost Letters Depot. For William he now is starting to think that she is looking for him and that the letters are actually meant for him to find. Is William the great love that Winter talks of?
I have to say I loved the characters in William and Clare, they have their problems in life and for William some may think that he is just dreaming or living a fantasy. Either way it is utterly compelling and wonderful. The art of letter writing is not dead after all. There is hope contained within the pages of this moving novel. I was lost in the beautiful lyrical prose of Helen Cullen’s The Lost Letters of William Woolf. The perfect book for Summer.
Thank you to Gaby Young at Michael Joseph for the review copy of The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen.
The Lost Letters of William Woolf is published Michael Joseph and was published on 12th July 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Lost Letters of William Woolf – Blog Tour