Monthly Archives: February 2018

MEET THE AUTHOR CLEMENCY BURTON-HILL ~ YEAR OF WONDER: CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR EVERY DAY

 

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MEET THE AUTHOR

CLEMENCY BURTON-HILL ~ YEAR OF WONDER: CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR EVERY DAY

In the latest in a series of Meet the Author Interviews and in conjunction with The 2018 Jewish Book Week I am delighted to welcome Clemency Burton-Hill to talk about Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Everyday which was released in October 2017 through Headline Home and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops. Clemency presents Radio 3’s Breakfast Show and also is a leading arts show presenter including the BBC TV’s coverage of the Proms season and also Young Musician of the Year. A distinguished Violinist Clemency has played under some of the world’s leading conductors and also has written a number of novels.

Clemency Burton-Hill will be talking about her book Year of Wonder on Monday 5th March at 7.30pm at Kings Place, London as part of the Jewish Book Week. There are still a few tickets remaining. To book your ticket visit  Jewish Book Week or call 020 7520 1490 tickets cost £14.50 each. An event not to be missed. You can also catch Clemency Burton-Hill on the BBC Radio 3 Breakfast Show weekdays between 06.30 and 09.00 am.

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JF: Congratulations on your book Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day that was released last October. Where did you get the inspiration for writing a book that has 366 pieces of Classical Music?

 CB-H: Thank you. I’ve been lucky enough to have classical music in my life since I was very young, so I know how enriching a regular relationship with this music can be. (There’s so much scientific research that suggests it’s really good for our brains as well as our souls!) Since 2010 I’ve been presenting the Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 3 so I’ve also been able to see and hear from my listeners at first hand how a daily interaction with such music can nourish their lives, which has been inspiring. There’s so much unhelpful cultural baggage around the label ‘classical music’ which can put people off or make them feel as though they need special credentials to listen to it – but the fact is, the music itself is some of the most instantly direct, affecting and moving that we have, of any genre (just ask a film director – or a funeral director). So I wanted to do away with the ‘inaccessible’ or ‘elitist’ classical stereotype and empower people to know that whoever they are, irrespective of their background or musical education, they can engage with this music on their own terms. And technology has evolved so quickly in the past few years that now, having access to the music itself is no longer a barrier to entry which is incredibly exciting. Increasingly I was hearing from people who wanted me to make them classical music playlists, so I decided to curate a sort of secular devotional, suggesting a single piece of music for every day of the year, which felt like a manageable and achievable daily ritual – no matter how busy or stressed you may be!

 F: Classical Music covers such a wide spectrum, just how difficult was it in choosing the final selections for Year of Wonder?

 CB-H: Really difficult – it kept me up at night! I was facing almost 1000 years -worth of so-called classical music, from the medieval era to millennials, and wanted to make sure I represented not just leading figures or famous pieces from within each era but plenty of neglected or forgotten voices too – so, lots of women, composers from backgrounds not usually associated with the classical canon, unusual instruments and really diverse sound-worlds. I also wanted, wherever possible, for the piece to have a compelling connection to the day on which it appears, or else to feel seasonally appropriate; but I also needed each piece to work with the ones juxtaposed alongside it in the playlist (as though I were programming my radio show) so that each month there would be a beautiful mix that flowed perfectly from one work to the next. It was so much fun, but a major headache to have to decide what to keep and what to lose – especially when it came to dropping works that I adored! I was forced to do something I’ve never done in my life and actually created a spreadsheet to keep it all under control!

JF: Do you have a personal favourite piece of music within the Year of Wonder?

 CB-H: I of course am tormented by this question, it’s like choosing a child, but if pushed I think I’d have to opt for the slow movement of Bach’s double violin concerto, which appears on February 14. It is not only one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, but deeply special to me, as a violinist, having played it for so many years of my life. Bach is my absolute god.

 JF: I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Classical Music when I was very young and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto led me to learn to play and eventually move onto playing the Clarinet. How important do you think it is that children are taught Classical Music?

 CB-H: Absolutely vital. It’s one of the most depressing aspects of modern life that classical music has been so marginalised in our society and our schools, so that now it’s perceived as being the preserve of rich, white, privileged kids – and is increasingly a niche pursuit. Music is our universal human language, and engaging with it from an early age is as important as engaging with verbal or numerical language. More important, I might argue, as we know it fosters so many other important developmental areas in our brains and emotional centres. There is overwhelming scientific and circumstantial evidence to prove that children who engage with classical music from an early age also do better with reading, writing, maths, science, teamwork, empathy, friendship, relationships, you name it. So it’s not that I believe children should be forced to learn instruments in order that Britain can churn out millions more professional musicians – we most certainly do not need that given the paucity of opportunity and cuts to public art subsidy. Rather, this is about the sort of human society we want to create. I know that a more engaged relationship with classical music as part of a mixed diet from the beginning would have untold benefits  to the way humans listen to each other and interact with each other; it would also bring a great deal of joy and beauty into people’s lives.

 JF: Do you think that Classical Music still has this air of scary and that is somewhat daunting to many people and is there more that can be done to bring Classical Music to the masses?

 CB-H: Yes, it does – see above. I think there is SO much more that could be done to bring classical music to the masses and it’s part of my mission to do so! We’re fighting an uphill battle: there are so many political, educational, financial, cultural and societal pressures that end up seeming to keep classical music in this bubble only for those ‘in the know’. But like many of my heroic colleagues such as James Rhodes, Nicola Benedetti, Gustavo Dudamel, Alison Balsom, Jamie Bernstein and so many others, not to mention enlightened organisations such as Aurora Orchestra with their amazing series of children’s concerts, I’m doing everything I possibly can, as a broadcaster, writer and communicator, to try and spread the message that this music is for everyone – no matter who they are, how old they are or where they come from.

 JF: You are a classically trained Violinist Through the Royal College of Music. What made you want to play the Violin?

 CB-H: It’s the great mystery of my life: I don’t know, but it was clearly meant to be! I was two years old. My mum didn’t play an instrument, and is by her own admission tone deaf; my two older brothers didn’t learn an instrument except the basic recorder at school. And there I was, watching some kind of carol concert on TV that Christmastime, and I saw a little girl playing the fiddle and announced: I want to do that. My mum assumed I would give it up, obviously, but I kept banging on about it and eventually, through a friend, she heard of a method of teaching very young children to play, called Suzuki. Bless her: she whipped out the phone book, spoke to a lot of baffled blokes in motorcycle dealerships, and was finally on the verge of giving up when she got through to a truly magical lady at the London Suzuki Group called Helen Brunner. That was the great defining point of my life. I started learning a few months later, and will be forever grateful.

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JF: Today you present the weekday Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 3 How important is this to you knowing listeners are starting their day with a friendly voice?

 CB-H: Very important. Because of all the unhelpful preconceptions around classical music, people are often so daunted to dive in and actually just listen. For me it is a great responsibility to be in people’s homes, bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, commutes first thing in the morning, and I try to improve people’s days, not just through the music I play on air, but also the way in which I present it to my listeners – which I hope sounds the same as the way any other musical DJ talks to theirs. Because music is music. I never want anybody to feel isolated from classical simply because they don’t know the terminology or haven’t ever heard of a certain composer. None of that stuff matters. All that matters is that they have ears and curiosity: that they know it’s their right to listen and make up their own mind about what they’re hearing – just as they would with a pop or any other music radio station.

 JF: Some reading this may not know that you have also written two novels ‘All The Things You Are and ‘The Other Side of the Stars’ Are you tempted to one day write another novel?

 CB-H: Literature is my other great love, alongside music: I was always a massive bookworm and drawn to making up stories even as a child. I read English Literature at university and my first jobs in journalism were as a book critic and reviewer. I am still obsessed with reading, I always have stories and characters going around my head, and I suppose if you were so inclined you could say a ‘literary sensibility’ is part of how I process the world. At the moment though, I’m focusing on non-fiction and journalism, not least because on top of a busy freelance career juggling many different things I also have a toddler and am about to give birth to my second child – so it’s fair to say life is pretty hectic. Fiction, in my experience, requires a degree of time, reflection and headspace that my current life in no way affords. So, no plans to write another novel at the moment, but I’d never say never…

 JF: What do you hope that readers will take from Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day?

 CB-H: I hope they will feel empowered to know that there is a wealth of simply glorious music for them out there, available to everyone at the click of a button, and it doesn’t matter a jot if they don’t have any pre-existing background in classical music. I hope they will form their own opinions of the music I’ve chosen each day of the year: I certainly don’t expect or even want them to like every single work I suggest, but that’s all part of the process of them figuring out their own relationship to the music  -and then hopefully using that as a springboard to discover more of the sort of genres, artists and sound worlds they do love. I hope to bring people surprise, wit and delight, to move them through this amazing music, and ultimately to prove, through the context I provide and the stories I tell in the book, that, far from being some arcane thing written by some dead white bloke in a powdered wig who has zero connection to their life, ‘classical music’ has been created by living, breathing, thinking, feeling, grieving, celebrating human beings with many of exactly the same concerns as them. Truly!

 JF: Final question if someone asked you to suggest a piece of music that would inspire that person to start listening to Classical Music what would your choice be?

 CB-H: It’s impossible for me to select any one piece, especially given the breathtaking diversity of the art form and how all our tastes are different, so I’d probably cheekily suggest: how about starting with January 1st’s selection of some rousing Bach and working your way through the 366 pieces of Year of Wonder! I guarantee there’ll be something in there to fall in love with.

My thanks to Clemency Burton-Hill for taking the time to join me on Meet the Author and also to Rebecca Fincham (Bigmouth Presents Book events) and also to Georgina Moore (Communications Director at Headline).

Jewish Book Week

To learn more about the Jewish Book Festival which runs from 3-11th March 2018 visit the official website at Jewish Book Week or join in the conversation by using the Hashtag #JBW2018 on Twitter.

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Killed by Thomas Enger

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Killed by Thomas Enger

They say all good things have to come to an end at some point but this is one end I never wanted to come. So it is that we have reached the finale of one of the great crime series. The last in the Henning Juul series. But what a finale. Superbly crafted and delivered. Killed by Thomas Enger delivers a final punch that is a must read for all lovers of Nordic crime noir.

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I did say this was a book worthy of reading. Be prepared as your senses and your emotions will be tried and tested. For Henning Juul life was over after his son was killed. Opening with a step back to thirteen years previous. Our crime investigative journalist Juul is on the trail of his son’s killer. Juul is scarred deeply and life seems to offer nothing more for him except to find whoever murdered his son and he will do whatever he needs to make that happen. But who can he trust now?

He knows that there are dark forces at large out there and that not only his life but the lives of those he loves will be at great danger the closer he gets to the truth. And the truth is out there. All I will say at this point is that some people are going to die in the process of seeking the truth. This is one of the most explosive and emotional rollercoasters I have been on when it comes to reading and reviewing crime novel. It is impossible to review too much without giving a lot away. This final book in the series just explodes in your hands. The pace leaves you breathless. Then the ending will have you reeling and numb.

Just imagine you are Henning Juul and you want answers regardless of the consequences. Your life is over so you have not a lot to live for. Find the truth even if it means dying in the process of seeking answers and finding those who killed your son.

Thomas Enger has delivered a finale that will make you feel you have been hit by an express train. Killed is not just brilliant it is totally outstanding and worthy of hitting our small screens. My advice is simple. Cancel all your plans with this book and ignore the phone and lock yourself away as you will not put this book down. Killed is breath-taking. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

 276 Pages

My thanks to Karen Sullivan and also Anne Cater for the review copy of Killed by Thomas Enger.

Killed by Thomas Enger is published by Orenda Books and was published on 15th February 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops

COMPETITION TIME:

For one lucky reader I have a copy of Killed by Thomas Enger to giveaway. Head over to my Twitter page @thelastword1962 and Follow and Retweet the prize draw Tweet to enter.

This is UK only prize draw and the entries will close at 6am Monday 26th February 2018. Good luck.

How to follow the #Killed by Thomas Enger Blog Tour

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Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd

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Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd

I am incredibly honoured to be a blogging partner to the 2018 Jewish Book Week that takes place between 3-11th March 2018. I will be there in person for two events and can honestly say that it is going to be an incredible week of great talks and discussions.

I will also be talking about some of the books and author interviews that will be coming up during the week and to start I am going to introduce Julia Boyd and her latest book that was released in August 2017. Travellers in the Third Reich – The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People. (Elliott & Thompson) Julia Boyd will be in discussion Anna Sebba on Thursday 8th March at 7pm and tickets are still available.

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Travellers in the Third Reich is a look through the eyes of those who visited what is in a sense Hitler’s Germany between the 1920’s and 1930’s. With Germany on her knees after the First World War and then the rise of fascism and the then rise of Adolf Hitler those who visited Germany got a real first-hand look and a real glimpse of what was coming. Through this outstanding and well researched book Julia Boyd takes British, French and a few Americans and even a Chinese scholar notes and diary entries to give a real outsiders view to a Germany that was rebuilding and also rebuilding its armed forces. Subdued but now strong under Hitler these notes and diary entries make powerful reading.

Some of these notes and accounts comes from well-known sources such as Neville Chamberlain Unity Mitford and even the poet W.H. Auden. These accounts as seen by these and just the ordinary traveller give a real insight to the day to day life of Nazi Germany.

During the 1930’s it is easy to try and figure out what people in Britain thought about the Nazi regime and especially Hitler but what Boyd has done with this book is give a real insight to what people really thought their inside Germany especially when they came face to face. Sometimes honest and sometimes really quite shocking. But life was carrying as normal in Germany cultural visits to the country were common and even children were sent their as part of cultural educational visits. Then even as Europe was just moments away from WWII Thomas Cook was still advertising German holidays.

It is important to note that without these travellers who visited and even stayed in Germany for a while and those who kept diaries and wrote letters and journals these historical notes would never come to light. These are an important and also fascinating to read. This book covers just about everything that went on in Germany whether that is how popular Germany was with American tourists to fascists burning books and also concentration camps. This is well written and also an easy to read book that really does give a very real look at what Germany was like through those that went to visit Germany.

Reading Travellers in the Third Reich has given me a new look at how people viewed Germany between the wars which is somewhat different to how I was always told or read in other books. Boyd has written what I think in time will become a valuable research tool for those wishing to learn more of Nazi Germany. Virginia Wolf herself thought German was “pretentious” while author of Tarka the Otter Henry Williamson spoke on Desert Island Discs about nature loving Germans. There is so much to learn through these pages and even now I am going through and finding fascinating accounts. These notes, letters and accounts are voices from the past recounting visits that are historically important now as they were when they were first written. Future generations will read this outstanding book and learn. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

464 Pages

My thanks to Rebecca Fincham and also Elliott & Thompson for the review copy of Travellers in the Third Reich.

Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd is published by Elliott & Thompson and was published on 10th August 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

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To learn more of the 2018 Jewish Book Week and view the ‘What’s On’ pages and even book tickets to the events taking place at Kings Place visit the website.

Jewish Book Week you can also book tickets by telephone on 020 7520 1490

You can also keep up to date with the Jewish Book Week on their Twitter page: Join the discussion @jewishbookweek I hope to see you there.

The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements

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The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements

As we are still in the winter months The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements is just the perfect ghost story for those chilly dark evenings set in the 17th century among the bleak and dark Yorkshire moors.

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The year is 1674 and the focus is an isolated Manor House and farm on the misty and eerie Yorkshire Moors. Scarcross Hall is the manor house and the coffin path that leads to the house. They say the manor house is haunted and that there is something evil that lurks there.

The story follows Mercy Booth; she is not at all bothered about the stories of hauntings. Scarcross Hall is owned by her elderly father and the property is now pretty dilapidated, but she knows that one day her father will die and that Scarcross Hall will belong to her. Enter the story a man by the name of Ellis Ferriby who now will work as a farm hand and now the story takes on a whole new twist. The narration moves between the two people. Events now start to take effect on the main characters and also those around them. Mercy starts to feel rather uneasy at the home. Strange noises and also creaks coming from her home. Her father’s health has declined. Many stories of the house being cursed, could this now be true and will this now start to affect her and what of the farm workers. Now as winter sets in and the bad weather mutilated sheep start to appear on the farm. Strange goings on with some of the staff at Scarcross Hall and items that just seem to mysteriously disappear. What are those strange creepy sounds coming from deep within the Hall?

There is something about Ellis and he is hiding his true reason for being there, and now Mercy is beginning to think that everything that is going on is her punishment. Who really is Ellis and what does he want from Scarcross Hall? The pace continues and then your pulse rate quickens.

A true gothic ghost story that is superbly told by Kathrine Clements that is rich in historical terms. Both the main characters are interesting and you have the feeling that there could be something between them but then the ending comes along. A chilling and engrossing creepy tale that I really enjoyed. Perfect Winter reading.

384 Pages

My thanks to Caitlin Raynor for the review copy of The Coffin Path.

The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements is published by Headline and was published on 8th February 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops

 

 

Home by Amanda Berriman

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Home by Amanda Berriman

Welcome to life through the eyes and also words of four-year-old Jessica Petrowski. Both little Jessica and her mum will become your new heroes. Home the debut novel by Amanda Berriman is nothing short of extraordinary. This is an extremely moving story of a single mother coping with life and also trying to bring up Jessica and her baby brother Toby.

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The family live in what can only be described as an appalling flat not fit to bring up a very young family. The stairs to their ‘home’ are smelly as Jessica knows only too well. This is the story of their lives through little Jessica’s eyes. And I will warn you now Jessica will steal your heart. This little lady sees and hears everything. She knows the ‘Money man’ comes to call and he is not at all nice. Jessica’s world is ever changing and she is growing up fast.

The story of this family almost certainly can be any story involving a single mum living in shocking housing conditions and trying to cope with everyday life and bring up her family. Jessica’s father left the family home to move to Poland. Leaving them to cope alone. Then one night Jessica wakes up to find the green man hurting her little brother, in fact he is a paramedic and Toby is very poorly with ‘new monia’ and has to be rushed to hospital and this is where also Tina is admitted with the same illness. Jessica is now separated from her mum and baby brother for a number of days and has to stay with a foster family while Tina recovers.

All Jessica wants is for her mum and Toby to go to a home with a garden and a trampoline. But they have to go back to the disgusting flat with the smelly stairs. Now Tina faces eviction from what she calls their home. Now what will happen to them. Who will take them in. Jessica sees her mummy crying a lot and cannot understand why she is so sad. We are also introduced to her new best friend Paige, but Paige has a secret and this secret will have shocking consequences come the end of the story.

An incredible story that will move anyone who reads this book. For Tina trying to cope with so much and not at all trusting of many if anyone at all. She is a real hero in every sense of the word and yet she does not want help from anyone. But sometimes in life we all need a helping hand when we are down on our knees as life seems to grind you down. I loved the characters that Amanda Berriman has created here, and Jessica’s voice will live with me for a very long time to come. I wanted the family to pull through and you will be rooting for them as well.

A powerful and moving story of poverty and also abuse but also a story of a mother’s love for Jessica and Toby that shines through despite the desperate heartache. A story many will want to read. My congratulations to Amanda Berriman on a sensational debut novel. A new voice that I am looking forward to hearing more from in the future. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

352 Pages

My thanks to Sophie Christopher for the review copy of Home by Amanda Berriman

Home by Amanda Berriman is published by Doubleday and is published on 8th February 2018 and is available NOW through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops

 

How to follow the #Home by Amanda Berriman Blog Tour

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Ten Sexy Poems by Candlestick Press

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Ten Sexy Poems by Candlestick Press

Last November I wrote a blog piece on a small independent publisher of some of the most unique and incredible poems which was so well received and also many messages about where people could find their poetry pamphlets.

With St Valentine’s Day coming up tomorrow I thought I would showcase one of their very latest titles that was released last month. Ten Sexy Poems that captures the extraordinary power of desire. Ten incredible poems from Neil Rollison’s tenement building stirred by the passion of loving couples on St Valentine’s night to DH Lawrence’s painterly celebration of a beautiful woman as she washes in early morning sunshine.

 

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The collection consists of poetry by the following:

  • Scent by James Sheard
  • The Ecstasy of St Saviours Avenue by Neil Rollinson
  • December 11th by Anne Sexton
  • For Desire by Kim Addonizio
  • The Shipwright’s Love Song by Jo Bell
  • Ramadasi by Shazea Quaraishi
  • Hidden Rose by Wayne Burrows
  • A Kiss Remembered by MR Peacocke
  • Gloire de Dijon by DH Lawrence
  • This Morning the Postboy Brought Me a Letter by Hilary Davies

This is desire by poetry straight from the heart and I have to say that my favourite is Gloire de Desire by DH Lawrence. Apples, roses, Oysters, chocolate and even the strong pungent aroma of cheese all stir the senses for love and all captured in ten exquisite poems of love and desire.

Happy St Valentines Day for tomorrow.

 20 Pages

My thanks to Kathy Towers at Candlestick Press for the review copy of Ten Sexy Poems.

 Ten Sex Poems published by Candlestick Press was released on 19th January 2018 and is available through some Waterstones and also from Amazon.

The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson

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The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson

I was very fortunate to have met and even interviewed Magnus Magnusson back in the mid 1980’s and so when The Sealwoman’s Gift by the Broadcaster and Journalist Sally Mangnusson landed on my desk it brought so much excitement to me. Old stories from Iceland are part of folklore and The Sealwoman’s Gift is a remarkable debut that just adds to the legend of Icelandic stories.

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This is a story that is set in the 17th Century and a pirate raid on the small Westman Island close to Iceland. The pirates were only after one thing to round up as many of the men and women and children and sell them as slaves in the far off Arabian countries.
It is 1627 and the pirates have taken the Pastor Olafur Egilsson, his wife and children along with hundreds of the inhabitants of this small island and now they are on a long voyage not without danger. When they arrive in Algiers the islanders are sold off for slavery with the exception of the Pastor Egilsson who is allowed to travel back to his country to seek a ransom to free those now captured and are now slaves.
Egilsson’s wife Asta has three children and with a fourth on the way she is now thrust into new life thousands of miles away from her home on the island of Westman. For Asta she is a voice in this extraordinary novel which she breathes life to this story. On the island of Westman life is incredibly hard were the weather never seems to let up. Asta has always believed on the Icelandic fables and she believes in elves much to the dismay of her much older husband Olafur Egilsson.
Sally Magnusson has managed to recreate the dreadful conditions on the pirate ship as the islanders have to contend with the stench and the cramped conditions on-board and this is where Asta will give birth to her fourth child a son and the name of Jon. What a life this poor child arrives into aboard a slave ship wrapped in nothing more that filthy rags.
Now sold into slavery in a country so vastly different, food in abundance and a riot of colour, and also the weather is so different gone is the cold and wet and now it is hot sun nearly every day.
Asta has never forgotten the old stories and it is here that she now tells these stories to her master Ali Pitterling Cilleby. Old stories from thousands of miles away from a far off small island now be told in Algiers. These stories are a reminder of her far off homeland and she thinks constantly of her husband is travelling to seek a ransom to free them. Will Asta ever be re-united with her husband or even her homeland ever again?
I have to say that I am deeply impressed with the writing of Sally Magnusson and how she tells such an engrossing and accomplished novel. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

384 Pages

 My thanks to Rosie Gailer at Two Roads Books for the review copy of The Sealwoman’s Gift.

The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson is published by Two Roads Books and is published on 8th February 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski

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Hydra by Matt Wesolowski

Matt Wesolowski’s debut novel Six Stories was just incredible a real thrilling crime novel based around six podcast interviews. It was in the end in my selection of one of my best books of 2017. Matt Wesolowski returns with his follow up crime novel Hydra.

 

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One very cold night in November 2014, 21-year-old Arla Macleod murdered her mother, younger sister and also her stepfather. All bludgeoned to death. The question is why, what provoked Arla to murder her own family?

What follows is nothing short of extraordinary piece of writing, as Arla now incarcerated in an institution. She now is shut up and drugged up. But she will not speak to anyone about what happened that night. That is with the exception on one person and that is Scott King. Readers of Six Stories will instantly know who Scott King is. King runs a series of Six Podcasts and interviews six people closely connected to the crime.

Here in Hydra Scott King follows creates the next set of six podcasts around interviews as he delves deep into the case. What was the motive for the crime? Through the six podcasts Scot tries to get under the skin of the complex and chilling case and find out what the motive for the horrific crime. Now as we move from one story to another as he interview witnesses something begins to emerge and a story starts to takes shape. Arla never disputes the murders, but what drove her to wipe out her family that cold November night?

Scott manages to interview Arla herself, each podcast was like listening to a thriller in itself I was totally gripped with suspense and wondering what each of the guests. We knew the murderer that was never in question but the five other guests held me in complete suspense.

The real beauty of Hydra is the way that Matt Wesolowski has created his own unique genre around crime solving that involves using podcasts. Scott King is an intriguing chap. Not much is known about him and this just adds to the mystery of these stories. One aspect of Hydra I will not get out of my mind is that of the “black eyed kids” this was straight out of a black and white horror film. It was beyond creepy. I went cold when they were first mentioned. I am a massive fan of Matt Wesolowski and his incredible writing skill that has you on the edge of your seat. It is just innovative and new. If you read Six Stories, then Hydra should be on your to be read pile. A real contender for one of the books for 2018. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

320 Pages

My thanks to Karen Sullivan for the review copy of Hydra by Matt Wesolowski.

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski is published by and is published on 15th January 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops

 

How to follow the Hydra Blog Tour

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Blue Night by Simone Buchholz

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Blue Night by Simone Buchholz

Translated by Rachel Ward

This is the first in a series starring Chastity Riley. Blue Night by Simone Buchholz. This has been a huge hit in Germany and now translated by Rachel Ward. This was a gripping and superbly written thriller that I got through in two sittings. I can see why it was a number one bestseller in Germany. It will be interesting to see how it is now received here in the UK but deserves to be a hit.

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Chastity career has hit the rocks after being successful in a previous case of corruption that went in house. Now she is wondering what is to become of her own career following this case. Chastity is one tough prosecutor in Hamburg. But now she has a case that will give her want she really wants. Being good at what she is a main prosecutor.

A man is under police guard I the local hospital and he has been beaten up so badly and he is almost broken in every sense of the word and even worse. A case of mutilation. This man is keeping quiet and not speaking to anyone. This is the sort of case that Chastity really enjoys and excels in. Over time she begins to bring the man out of his shell and starts to gain trust. But trust is earned both ways. Then it becomes clear just what Chastity is really facing and suddenly she has to use all her skills she has learned and her initiative to crack this case.

Make no mistake Blue Night is a gritty and raw crime novel that brings German Crime noir to the British reader.

Simone Buchholz pulls no punches in this the first in an exciting series. This is stunning new novel that really ends up exploding in your face. If this is how you love your thriller, then Blue Night is one for you. It is not a long read at under 300 pages you should easily get through this in a weekend. I dare you to put this one down! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

276 Pages

My thanks to Karen Sullivan for the review copy of Blue Night by Simone Buchholz.

Blue Night by Simone Buchholz is published by Orenda Books and is published on 28th February2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops

 276 Pages

 My thanks to Karen Sullivan for the review copy of Blue Night by Simone Buchholz.

Blue Night by Simone Buchholz is published by Orenda Books and is published on 28th February2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

 

How to follow the Blue Night by Simone Buchholz Blog Tour

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The 2018 Quick Reads Launch by The Reading Agency

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The 2018 Quick Reads Launch by The Reading Agency

Thursday 1st February 2018.

 It is a great honour to have been asked by Annabelle Wright to be a part of the promotion to launch the 2018 Quick Reads by The Reading Agency with the Official Launch Day being today 1st February.

Reading has been my life and at one point even saved my own life when I hit the lowest point of my life some years ago. Evidence shows that reading is a vital part of our mental and physical wellbeing. Reading can take us to many places and even walk in other people’s shoes.

In recent years I have made a point of handing out books to homeless people who sadly do not get access to books. Also handing out books to patients in hospitals and also to those living in sheltered accommodation. In recent years it has been a real privilege to go into some schools to help some children with reading difficulties.

With the ever present threat to our much loved local libraries, reading and access to books is now more important than ever before. By sharing my passion and also my love of books and reading can help spread the word of just how important reading is in today’s world.

You can follow Quick Reads on Twitter using the Hashtag #QuickReads 

 

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The Six Titles that make up the 2018 Quick Reads by The Reading Agency released today. Each copy will cost £1.00 and will consist of around 100 pages.

Cut Off by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown): A punchy, taut urban thriller about that moment we all fear: losing our phone! For Louise, losing hers in a local café takes a sinister turn. Billingham has sold five million copies of his novels and has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Award for Crime Novel of the Year.

 The Great Cornish Getaway by Fern Britton (HarperCollins): As the sun sits high in the sky over Cornwall, and the sea breeze brings a welcome relief to the residents of the seaside village of Trevay, a stranger arrives in need of a safe haven. The former presenter of This Morning, Britton is now a Sunday Times bestselling author and this story is full of her usual warmth and wit.

 Clean Break by Tammy Cohen (Transworld): A dark and twisty portrait of a marriage coming to its bitter end, from the mistress of domestic noir. Can Kate rid herself of her jealous husband before it’s too late? Cohen’s acclaimed novels include The Mistress’s Revenge, The War of the Wives and Someone Else’s Wedding.

Inspector Chopra and the Million-Dollar Motor Car by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton): An enchanting Baby Ganesh Agency novella from the bestselling Khan set in the bustling back-streets of Mumbai. Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick have two days to solve the mystery of a missing – and very costly – car for its gangster owner, or there’ll be a heavy price to pay.

The Beach Wedding by Dorothy Koomson (Arrow): A gripping short read featuring a wedding, family drama, and old secrets. Tessa is thrilled when her daughter arrives in Ghana to get married but memories of the last time she was there haunt her; can she lay the ghosts of the past to rest or will they come back to haunt her daughter’s future? Koomson is the bestselling author of 12 novels including The Ice-Cream Girls, My Best Friends’ Girl and most recently The Friend.

Six Foot Six by Kit de Waal (Viking): A charming novella from Costa First Novel Award shortlisted author de Waal about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. Everything changes for Timothy, a 21-year-old with learning difficulties, when local builder Charlie calls on him for help. De Waal worked in criminal and family law and was a magistrate for many years before her international bestseller, My Name is Leon, was published.

Free to enter Prize Draw.

I am delighted to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a copy of Cut Off by Mark Billingham and also Six Foot Six by Kit De Waal just head to my Twitter page at @thelastword1962 and Follow and also RT the prize draw message to stand a chance of winning both copies. Very sorry but this is a UK prize draw only. Draw will close at 7pm Friday 2nd February. Prize will be sent via Sent via Annabelle Wright at ed Public Relations.

 

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Cut Off is by the number one bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham

 It’s the moment we all fear: losing our phone. Leaving us cut off from family and friends. But for Louise, losing hers in a local café takes her somewhere much darker.

After many hours of panic, Louise is relieved when someone gets in touch offering to return the phone. From then on she is impatient to get back to normal life.

But when they meet on the beach, Louise realises you should be careful what you wish for….

112 Pages

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Six Foot Six by award winning author Kit De Waal and author of My Name is Leon

It’s an exciting day for Timothy Flowers. It’s the third of November, and its Friday. And it’s his twenty-first birthday. When Timothy walks to his usual street corner to see his favourite special bus, he meets Charlie. Charlie is a builder who is desperate for Timothy’s help because Timothy is very tall, six foot six inches. Timothy has never had a job before – or no work that he’s kept for more than a day. But when Timothy and Charlie have to collect money from a local thug, things don’t exactly go according to plan….

Over the course of one day, Timothy’s life will change forever.

73 Pages.

My thanks to Annabelle Wright for the invitation to help with the launch of the 2018 Quick Reads titles through The Reading Agency.

 The 2018 Quick Reads titles are launched by The Reading Agency and are published on 1st February 2018 and are available to through W.H. Smith and many local book shops.

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