Monthly Archives: July 2018

We That Are Young by Preti Taneja

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We That Are Young by Preti Taneja

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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.

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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.

503 Pages.

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

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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.

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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.

384 Pages.

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

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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.

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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.

300 Pages.

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

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The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith – eBook cover Re-launch

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 336 Pages.

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

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Take Nothing With You – Patrick Gale

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Take Nothing With You – Patrick Gale

I have been so very lucky to have read many great books ahead of publication a number spring to mind and now joining this list is Take Nothing With You (Tinder Press) by Patrick Gale. Why oh why is this the first book by Patrick Gale that I have read. I know that many are going to fall headlong into Patrick’s latest on publication. It is just beautiful in every sense of the word.

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Because I am writing this sometime ahead of publication I do not want to give too much away. The story is about Eustace who has fallen in love again but now he is suffering from Cancer. Life is a little complicated for Eustace the man he has fallen for is not aware of how he feels.

For now, his very best friend Naomi is his closest friend and he chooses to let Naomi in on his feelings. At this time of his life and successful in his career, he is starting radiotherapy treatment and it is his Cello music that he is listening to put together by Naomi that suddenly takes Eustace on a journey back through his life to the 1970’s and Weston-Super-Mare and when as a young boy Eustace was signed up for music lessons. Eustace is struggling to find himself and he starts to learn the Clarinet but as time passes he knows this is not for him. But then he discovers the Cello and his world is changed. The overwhelming power of music. He is at one with his Cello as this becomes his escape from the problems within his family which is at best difficult. It is around this time that Eustace is now discovering his true self and his own inner feelings regarding his sexuality. At this time Naomi arrives in his life and their friendship is destined for a lifelong friendship. The trust that builds between the two is heartfelt. Patrick’s writing of Eustace’s life is so beautifully handled and told. The characters are rich and many. Each add to the story in their own way from the music teacher to school to his home life and friends. Eustace will come up against many barriers and at times this is extremely sad, but through the book there are many laughs to be found.

If I say anymore I will be giving the story away. All I will say is that I love this book so much it practically hurts. The story moves at a constant pace so that the reader will cherish every word. It is beautiful, tender and moving. If you have read any of Patrick Gale’s previous novels you are going to love Take Nothing With You.

352 Pages.

Thank you to Go Georgina Moore for the review copy of Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale

Take Nothing With You was published by Tinder Press and will be published on 21st August 2018 and is available to pre-order Waterstones, Amazon and also through your local independent bookshop.

Patrick Gale is on tour from July through to November with Take Nothing With You.

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The 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize – Shortlist Announcement

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The 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize – Shortlist Announcement.

Thursday 5th July saw the announcement of the much anticipated Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize Shortlist. This year there are seven books that make the shortlist and what a shortlist. Later that day at there was a party to celebrate the shortlist announcement which was held at Waterstones Piccadilly were all the authors of the books were present as well as some of the judges and invited guests.

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Chair of Judges: Julia Bradbury

Chair of judges Julia Bradbury introduced each of the authors and their books and gave an insight to this year’s book prize and how difficult it has become to judge as the standard of nature writing has increased year on year since the prize was first launched. It is pleasing that this year for the first time we have a children’s book in The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris.

The judges for this year’s prize are for the second year will be chaired by Julia Bradbury, and her fellow judges are: TV presenter Megan Hine; Waterstones non-fiction buyer Bea Carvalho; National Trust publisher Katie Bond and ex-chairman of the campaign to protect rural England, Peter Waine.

The winner of the Wainwright Book Prize again this year be announced the National Trust Arena at BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace, on 2 August. The winner will receive a cheque to the value of £5,000.

This is a book prize that is very close to my heart as my passion is nature and the great outdoors and to share this book prize that has the name of one of my boyhood heroes the great man himself Alfred Wainwright a lover of the fells of the Lake District and also a  great writer.

The 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize Shortlist:

Alys Fowler

Hidden Nature by Alys Fowler (Hodder & Stoughton)

Written by award winning Guardian writer, Alys Fowler explore the canals and waterways of Birmingham via a Kyak. A book of real beauty where she explores and finds nature in places many would not expect. But this is now just a nature book, it is a personal journey of losing and finding and opening up. Nature as well as a personal journey.

240 Pages

 

John Grindrod

Outskirts by John Grindrod (Sceptre)

A social history of Britain’s green belt landscape. Conservationists and developers as well as politicians have come into conflict since the post wat years as more and more land is sought after. Hidden in the landscape that John explores are nuclear bunkers, landfill sites and on his journey meets those who fight for the protection of green belt land and those who seek to exploit it. This is a fascinating insight into today’s Britain and its social history.

368 Pages

John Lister-Kaye

The Dun Cow Rib by John Lister-Kaye (Canongate)

I have long been a fan of John Lister-Kayes writing since Song of the Rolling Earth was published in 2003. With his latest book that has made the longlist this is his memoir of growing up and finding that the natural world was about to become his life. From finding nature to founding the Aigas Field Centre in the Highlands, this is John’s memoir to this countries natural landscape and heritage.

368 Pages

Neil Ansell

The Last Wilderness by Neil Ansell – Tinder Press

Alone with nature in some of the remote parts of Britain. This is Neil’s personal account of time in solitude. A time spent as one with the natural world at a time when he was losing his hearing the sound and birdsong slowly are lost to him. A captivating memoir.

320 Pages.

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The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (Michael Joseph)

This is the true story of a couple who lost everything just days after learning that her husband was terminally ill. Everything they have worked so hard for is gone. With little time left they set about walking the entire 630 miles of the SW Costal Path. Coming to terms with what they have lost and what is to come, this is a deeply honest and life-affirming account of a couple and a journey. Nature has the power to cure and with every moment on their walk around the coastline they find beauty in the land, sea and sky.

288 Pages.

Adam Nicholson

The Seabird’s Cry by Adam Nicolson (William Collins, Harper Collins)

There are ten chapters and each one is dedicated to ten seabirds. Charting their ocean travels and is set in the Scottish Shiant Isles a group of Hebridean islands in the Minch. With artwork by Kate Boxer this is look at these wonderful seabirds, with numbers now crashing this is timely and well researched book from a writer that has spent many years studying these wonderful seabirds. 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 recalling reading about them in books. And that day could be very close.

416 Pages.

The Lost Words

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (Hamish Hamilton)

Overtime there have been words from the natural world that have been lost to children. Robert Macfarlane writes the poems that tells of those lost words that meant so much to those of us who grew to learn them and Jackie Morris provides the stunning artwork. An enchanting book that has now gone into many schools around the country. A wonderful book that has already won many accolades.

128 Pages.

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.

For more information, and details of the shortlist  can be found on their website with a photo gallery from the shortlist party just visit:  The Wainwright Book Prize and you can follow on Twitter via: Wainwright Prize

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.

For more information, visit The Wainwright Book Prize and you can follow on Twitter via: Wainwright Prize 

Look out for my podcast coming soon were I will be discussing the Wainwright Book Prize shortlist and looking forward to the winner being announced on August 2nd at BBC Countryfile Live.

#WainwrightPrize18   #LetTheOutDoorsIn   #FindYourMountain

PRIZE DRAW:

WP Shortlist 2018

I am delighted to announce that I am running a prize draw to win a complete set of books (Seven) that make up the shortlist. If you are a lover of nature and the outdoors these are a set of books that will make your summer. A collection of books that just outstanding it the quality of writing. To stand a chance of winning the set please visit my Twitter page: The Last Word 1962 All you have to do is follow and RT the Wainwright Prize Draw Shortlist. Please NoteThe Draw will close at 7pm Friday 13th July. This is a UK only prize draw. Entrants after this time will not be included. GOOD LUCK! The prize will be issued by Mark Hutchinson Management.

My thanks to Laura Creyke and the team at Mark Hutchinson Management for the amazing work and for allowing me to run the Shortlist Prize Draw.

 

 

 

 

 

The Woolgrower’s Companion – Joy Rhoades

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The Woolgrower’s Companion – Joy Rhoades

I have always liked to share reviews from new writers and I am delighted to share my thoughts on The Woolgrower’s Companion the debut not from Joy Rhoades.

This moving story is set in 1945 New South Wales, Australia. Kate Dowd lives with her father on their Sheep farm, life is pretty tough, there is a drought and Kate’s husband, Jack is overseas with the army. Her father’s health has been in decline for some-time. But there is worse. The farm is struggling and the bank are hovering like vultures. It is sink or swim against a raging tide for Kate.

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This is where Kate now has to find the resolve to save the family farm. Kate’s father fought in WWI and the memory of the awful time has been kept alive as he named the farm ‘Amiens’. There is the arrival of two Italian POW’s who are sent to help on the farm as nearly all the young men are overseas fighting the war. Vittorio and Luca, but their arrival on the farm has an unsettling effect on the other people who work there. Kate has to keep focussed on trying to save the farm now that her father’s health is getting worse. But for Kate she finds herself drawn like a magnet to Luca. Now Kate receives the wort news as the bank has given her just eight weeks to turn things around or they will repossess and they will lose everything.

With the backdrop of the historical mistreatment of the aboriginal people of Australia, Kate turns to her Aboriginal helper, Daisy for moral support and help. I loved the premise of this historical story, with a host of sub-plots in the background, this I found was an epic and compelling read. Does Kate become unfaithful to Jack while he is away in the army or does she resist Luca?

There are many themes that Joy Rhoades brings to the reader of this moment in history for Australia, which makes The Woolgrower’s Companion so readable. The harsh landscape in the midst of one of the worst droughts in memory makes life incredibly hard for Kate who is trying to keep the banks away. It is not just their way of life it is the family home. So beautifully written and evocative. At the back of the book there are some recipes of the time and these would have been what Kate would have baked in the family kitchen and all of them sound just amazing. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

416 Pages.

Thank you to for the review copy of The Woolgrower’s Companion by Joy Rhoades

The Woolgrower’s Companion by Joy Rhoades was published by Vintage and was published on 28th June 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

How to follow The Woolgrowers Companion Blog Tour

 

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