Author Archives: thelastword1962
Help the Witch by Tom Cox
To me autumn means many things days get shorter, the colour of the trees looking for natures rich harvest cosy days and evenings curled up with a book of short stories and if that book is one of old folk tales and creepy stories that just make the hair on the back of your neck stand up all the better. Well if this has got your attention then you are going to love Help the Witch (unbound) by Tom Cox.
Tom’s previous book 21st-Century Yokel was longlisted for the 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize. Help the Witch is a book I just loved. This is just the perfect autumn book to curl up with. There are ten stories some of which I went back to read twice. I always feel a book of short stories should start with a story to grab the reader and in this case the opening story just nailed it. It is the story of the title of the book. Help the Witch. I just loved the setting and of isolation. A journey and in the snow and the snow gets heavier as you travel and then you arrive. I have always found travelling country lanes in the dark really creepy did I really see something or was that just a shape of a tree, a shadow. You have the feeling something is watching you. You get the drift.
Then there are a further nine stories to read. I was just totally immersed in each story. These are stories that that could have been written many years ago but Tom Cox gathered his inspiration from E.F. Benson and M.R. James. Some tell of natural landscapes and old broken sheds and rusty barbed wire with shred of old wool still clinging on despite best efforts of winter winds. Each story is unique but just perfect for this time of year. You know you are being taken on a journey but you are not sure how or where. Then there is the last story. I will just leave this hanging there.
I have come to really enjoy reading books by Tom Cox because you know you are reading a book by a very talented writer. Tom has covered many genres but this is his first foray into short stories and I am hoping there are more to come. Readers will flock to this attracted by the incredible cover designed by Joe McLaren and there are illustrations in the book by the authors mum. How wonderful is that.
Help the Witch is just superb and another by the superb publisher Unbound and I am delighted to Highly Recommend.
Thank you to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy Help the Witch by Tom Cox
Help the Witch by Tom Cox is published by Unbound and is released on 18th October 2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Help the Witch – The Blog Tour
Palm Beach Finland – Antti Tuomainen
No secret here, I really enjoy Nordic Crime Noir and also Antti Tuomainen’s books so I was delighted when his latest landed on my doormat a while back. Palm Beach Finland (Orenda Books) Still contains the added humour that makes Tuomainen’s thrillers so good.
Our intrepid detective Jan Nyman of the Covert Operations Unit of the National Central Police is now investigating the somewhat strange death of a man in a quiet and unassuming seaside town. But there is a holiday village here that has quite a boast. The ‘hottest beach in Finland’. Complete with a shocking plastic Flamingo. (That would put me off visiting) But the money is rolling in and the characters are arriving in their droves to holiday here. Now all the Jan has to do is solve the mystery death.
Straight off Jan has one prime suspect and that is the owner of the house were the man died and that is Olivia Koski. But Koski has a strong alibi and that she was not there at the time. There is the usual mix of characters who all have their own stories to tell yet this is what makes Toumainen’s books so good and so brilliantly readable. One of THE great characters of this book is the owner of the holiday village Jorma Leivo. He is one character to keep an eye on.
Sometimes when you have a host of characters in a book it can be easy to lose track of who is who and doing what. But this is why I really enjoy reading Antti Toumainen. He makes his books so readable and this is a book were time will pass you by very quickly. If you like your crime novels with added wit and humour, then Palm Beach Finland is one book you will love. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you to for the review copy of Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen
Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen is published by Orenda Books and is published on 18th October 2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Follow the Palm Beach Finland Blog Tour
Dear Mr Pop Star – Derek & Dave Philpott
One of my greatest loves is music and music from the 1960’s through to the 1980’s. During the late 1970’s I ran a few pirate radio stations and then moved onto running a hospital radio station through the 1980’s. Then onto interviewing some of my music idols from the 1970’s and 1980’s. I was in music heaven.
Just out from Unbound is Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott. A humorous book on letters written by Derek and his son Dave to pop stars and bands of the day to take umbrage at their lyrics. This is actually really funny as the stars actually write back. The letters back are really something to enjoy and some really do go into detail on their response. All done in the best possible taste of course. They saw the humour and went with it.
I would not normally review a book like this but I could not resist is unique charm from the music of the 1960’s to 90’s and the bands and pop stars read like a who’s who of their generation.
Just to name a few: Doctor and the Medics, Nick Kershaw, Deep Purple, Suzi Quatro, T’Pau, The Wurzels, Dr hook, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Tears for Fears and Paper Lace. Now I am going to be singing Billy Don’t Be a Hero all day.
A wonderful light hearted book with letters so wonderfully written as well as the responses. A book that really made me laugh and brought back some of the happiest memories. Oh to relive those years all over again. I am going to be leaving this book out on one of my coffee tables as I know some of my guests will grab this to read.
Thank you to for the review copy of Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott
Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott was published by Unbound and was published on 20th September 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Blog Tour
The All Night Bookshop by David Belbin
I have been very fortunate to have been able to review a number of titles by Candlestick Press and I am delighted to share my review of their latest release that came out just in time for Bookshop Day 2018. The All Night Bookshop by David Belbin is a short but beautifully written story for anyone who like me loves books and bookshops.
A shop like many others in the area that has seen better days. This shop is though unlike any of the others, it is a bookshop though you may not know it as it only opens during the night for those who work unsociable hours or just cannot sleep. It does not sell bestsellers as those are sold by supermarkets in the area and of course whisper it quietly Amazon. The shop is dusty and on many floors. Old books, magazines and periodicals.
The short story is told by a young man who was hired by Zelda the young manager who is blind in one eye who like her assistant rarely sleeps. This young man holds an unspoken love for Zelda as they quietly run the All Night Bookshop. The mystery here though is the owner of the bookshop, he/she has never been seen and there are many stories of the reclusive owner who lives in the flat above the shop.
The shop rarely makes enough money to survive but survive it does for those who cannot sleep and arrive in dressing gowns and slippers. The narrator clearly loves Zelda but also wants to find out about the mystery owner of the dusty old bookshop.
A book with a hidden story behind it, a mystery, a love story. And just who lives in the flat above The All Night Bookshop. This may be only 16 pages but I just loved the idea with poems by Jim Burns and Jackie Kay. If you love books and bookshops especially those old dusty bookshops that I seem to find myself in this is for you and this is for bookshops everywhere.
Candlestick Press are a small independent publisher based in Nottingham and were founded in 2008. The team consists of four dedicated people in Di Slaney (Publisher), Kathy Towers (Assistant Editor) and two admin assistants. Their aim is simple to spread the joy of poetry to adults and children alike who love poetry and or may be just beginning their journey in to enjoying poetry. These small pamphlets are just ideal for bedtime reading or like I have been doing and that is enjoying them on journeys.
They have published so many of these beautiful pamphlets on a wide range of topics from Christmas to Cricket, from Dogs to Sheep and even Clouds. With Christmas not too far away this is an ideal time to think of sending cards to loved ones and friends. The pamphlets of stories and poetry make the ideal gift to send. For more information, please visit the Candlestick Press website: Here
Thank you to for the review copy of The All Night Bookshop by Jim Belbin
The All Night Bookshop by Jim Belbin was published by Candlestick Press and was published on 1st October 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Syndicate – Guy Bolton
I have to admit I have not read The Pictures but everything I hear about this novel was that it was superb. Guy Bolton now returns with the sequel The Syndicate. (Point Blank) The year is 1947 and Ex police detective Jonathan Caine now out of retirement following the murder of the infamous mobster Benny ‘Bugsy’ Siegel.
Now Caine’s son’s life is in danger and now he must return to Hollywood and find the killer. The pressure on Caine is massive as mob boss Mayer Lansky has given him just five days to find the killer of Benny Siegel or he and his son will die.
Caine now must use all his experience and knowledge of his past experience and track down the killer before the trail goes cold. Going to the police is clearly out of the question so he must use other methods in tracking down the killer. Plus, he is not alone. For the mob have added ‘Abe’ Levine to accompany Caine at all times. Keeping a close eye on proceedings.
The clock is ticking and every hour that goes by and the thought of his son being killed at the hands of the mob keeps Caine focussed at all times. The scene is brilliantly depicted at all times and the violence of the day you cannot hide from. The movie business rules throughout here and with the links that Caine had from his past all come through in this brilliantly portrayed crime novel. You don’t mess with the mob when the stakes are high and Caine knows what will happen if he fails in his task. It is all to play for. Added into the mix are some major actors of the day with Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, and Cary Grant all have walk on parts in this exhilarating sequel. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you to Margot Weale at Point Blank (Oneworld) for the review copy of The Syndicate by Guy Bolton
The Syndicate was published by Point Blank and was published on 4th October 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Francis Plug: Writer in Residence by Paul Ewen
I recently read Francis Plug: How To Be A Public Author and I have to say I loved everything about this book. It is a work of a genius. So incredibly funny. Well he is back. Francis Plug: Writer In Residence by Paul Ewen (Galley Beggar Press) is released on 4th October and I can promise you, if you loved the first instalment you are going to really enjoy this.
Well he has only gone and done it! Francis Plug is now an author, he has unleashed his book out into the world, but is the world ready for the now published author.
As you may recall if you have read the first book, our lovable character is pretty much penniless and lives in a garage which is no more than a box. So now Francis Plug has his book out there he needs to earn some money, so incredible he is offered the role of ‘Writer-in-Residence’ at Greenwich University. Now prepare for a barrel of laughs. Francis now realises that there are so many empty offices within the University and decides that one of them will fit the job as his home. There are one or two drawbacks, there is no bathroom for one and then what if someone discovers he has literally moved in?
Thanks to his boss in the Creative Writing Department is Dr Alex Pheby and he is arranging The Greenwich Book Festival and of course Francis jumps at the chance of helping, by trying to persuade his fellow famous writers to appear at the festival. Francis loves to attend author events, or is it just because there is free booze on offer. He tries his very best at every author event even at his own book signings were he seems to consume most if not all the alcohol on offer. Question is, do any of his famous author connection actually take up his offer.
As part of Writer-in-Residence at Greenwich University, Francis Plug is expected to write a novel, and talk to students at the Creative Writing Department. This means interacting with people, something that Francis dislikes especially students and he does his best to avoid any places where there are students and this includes a lot of the pubs in the area. Drink and Francis go hand in hand, yet he is finding he is being barred from a lot of the pubs he is using for his Campus novel.
By this time a lot of people connected to Greenwich University are just not sure about our boozy Francis Plug. There are many laugh out loud moments in this hilarious follow up novel. I attend lots of literary events every now and again you just get one and I have seen a few. I have to say Paul Ewen is fabulous writer and this is going to go down a storm. I loved Francis Plug: Writer In Residence. One I will happily raise a glass or three to. There is so much humour here, the humour just keeps on coming. What does become of Francis, and his home in the office at Greenwich University.
Next May when I am at the book festival at Greenwich University I will be wandering the corridors of this famous establishment just chuckling to myself. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you to Galley Beggar Press for the review copy of Francis Plug: Writer In Residence by Paul Ewen.
Francis Plug: Writer In Residence by Paul Ewen will be published on 4th October 2018 by Galley Beggar Press and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton
Many will know that I really enjoy debut authors and following their writing journey’s. I am so thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for the debut novel Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton and published by Unbound who are rapidly becoming a favourite publisher with the outstanding quality of the authors and writing.
This is a novel set over two periods in facts thousands of years apart. Dr Eloise Kluft is a geneticist working on her new project which are the remains of ‘Sarah’ who was alive 74,000 years before. Then we have ‘Sarah’ who with her new born baby they are alone in a landscape that is unknown but there is danger and it is not too far away.
London is the base for Eloise as she starts to piece together the remains of ‘Sarah’ from the incredible archaeological find. The story of Bone Lines is a story of two very strong willed women separated by time but the story could well be the same. Both women alone. For Eloise she is reminded of her own emotions and her past. For ‘Sarah’ she is alone and facing the hazard of migration but why is ‘Sarah’ alone with her child and were are the others.
The story is so beautifully written and told as the reader alternated between modern day London and a time 74,000 years before. Eloise is extremely dedicated to her work so much so that her personal life just seems to have been put to one side as she dedicates her life to her profession. She is missing out and she knows it.
One aspect I did like was the letters she was writing to Charles Darwin this fascinated me as Eloise uses this aspect to come up with solutions and ideas. For someone like me who studied Darwin many years previous this was an eye opener. Clever to use this in a novel.
Two incredibly strong willed women who struggle with their own day to day life for different reason, whether to stay alive or to come to terms with the past as shape the future. A story that may take a little while to appreciate but when you do, it comes together brilliantly. The research by Stephanie for Bone Lines is outstanding and deserves credit. Highly Recommended.
Thank you to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton
Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton was published by Unbound and was published on 6th September 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Bone Lines – The Blog Tour
Roald Dahl’s Short Story Collection
It is a great pleasure to have been asked to participate in the Blog Tour for Roald Dahl’s Short Story Collection ahead of Roald Dahl Day on September 13th.
Many people will know Roald Dahl for his children’s books but not many will know that he also wrote a collection of short stories for adults. Ahead of Roald Dahl Day I am going to take a look at four of the eight books that Penguin released. I hope you may find this collection of interest.
Many will recall reading some of Roald Dahl’s children’s books when they were young which includes James and the Giant Peach, The BFG and of course Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Here though in this adult collection are some short stories that are dark and at times sinister. Some of these short stories were publishes in The New Yorker and Playboy.
Trickery: Tales of Deceit and Cunning. This of all the four books that I was sent I have to say I enjoyed. These dark and twisted stories of people using trickery and deceit as a weapon. But here in this collection are stories of what happens with the theme of repercussions just when you think your plan has worked and life comes back at you. Sometimes as they say you don’t always get what you hoped for.
Innocence: Tales of Youth and Guile. A collection of five short stories which includes an autobiographical account of Roald Dahl’s own youth. Roald Dahl was born in Wales on 13th September 1916 and this short story of his boyhood as well as four other stories of youth and of growing up including dark a tale of a bullying victim.
War: Tales of Conflict and Strife. Eight short stories which includes an autobiographical account of Roald’s years in the RAF as a fighter pilot. There are seven other short stories in this collection that look at conflict and of war and the total human cost of conflict.
Fear: Tales of Terror and Suspense. Fourteen tales that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. These stories by selected authors are spine tingling to say the least. Dahl could not master the ghostly story himself so in this collection he put together a series of spooky tales. Perfect for those dark nights that are approaching. From Cynthia Askuith’s ‘The Corner Shop’ to ‘The Telephone’ by Mary Treadgold. Great stories to make hide under the duvet.
There are four other adult short story books in the collection: Lust: Tales of Craving and Desire. Madness: Tales of Fear and Unreason, Cruelty: Tales of Malice and Greed and Deception: Tales of Intrigue and Lies.
A superb collection of short stories from the mast of storytelling. For anyone who loves great writing and these would make the perfect gift for anyone who loves the written word.
Thank you to Katie Ashworth (Penguin UK) for the review copies of Roald Dahl’s Short Story Collection.
Roald Dahl’s Short Story Collection was published by Penguin UK and was published on 10th August 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
#RoaldDahlDay 13th September 2018
Roald Dahl’s Short Story Collection Blog Tour 2018
A Perfect Mother – Katri Skala
I am delighted to be kicking off the Blog Tour for A Perfect Mother an impressive debut novel by Katri Skala (Hikari Press) that was released on 1st September.
The story follows Jacob Bedford who has arrived in Trieste in Northern Italy, Jacob who is a journalist is researching for a magazine article about the city. But there is more to Jacob’s visit to Trieste. While he is in the city, he is going to some personal research about his great-grandfather.
Jacob’s Jewish great-grandfather went missing here in 1938. Many of his family were victims of the Nazis but there is nothing to say that his great-grandfather was also killed in the Holocaust many of the Jewish Population perished in Italy’s only death camp. It is highly likely than many of Jacob’s ancestors were murdered here.
It is here that Jacob meets Jane who is visiting the city as part of her book group and through Jane Jacob is introduced to Charlotte. Jacob who is facing a divorce is hoping the visit will also bring some romance to his life despite his past affairs.
What Jacob, Charlotte and Jane have to confront is there past and much deeper family histories that interconnect in their own lives. Charlotte is much scarred of an abusive childhood and then losing her own child.
When Jacob arrives home he decides to keep in touch with Charlotte and Jane, and this is where Charlotte now reveals more of her painful past. But Jacob is attracted to her and is seeking something more.
A Perfect Mother is a novel that delves into the past and how that can influence who we are. The past cannot be escaped it is there no matter how painful. A deeply complex novel of families and relationships past and present. Katri Skala is not afraid of bringing challenging subjects into what is at times a dark storyline. A Perfect Mother is superb first novel and one I highly recommend.
Thank you to Ruth Killick for the review copy of A Perfect Mother by Katri Skala
A Perfect Mother by Katri Skala was published by and was published on 1st September 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
A Perfect Mother by Katri Skalab – The Blog Tour
The Lost Words for Somerset Primary Schools – Fund Raising update
End of week Two update.
As you many of you will know I have undertaken a fund raising project to raise £2,500 so that I can get The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris into all Primary Schools in Somerset. When The Oxford Children’s Dictionary removed around 50 words that connect nature to children, words such as Bluebell, Otter, Kingfisher, Dandelion, Acorn and Conker to name just a few. The Lost Words is now trying to bring these words back into Children’s lives.
When The Lost Words was published in October 2017 and I was blown away by the Spell-Poems by Robert Macfarlane and the beautiful watercolour paintings by Jackie Morris. I have been so moved by all the fund raising projects from that have been undertaken by so many people around the country.
It was not long before people took this remarkable book to their hearts and it all started in Scotland with Jane Beaton raising an incredible £25,000 so that every school in Scotland would receive a copy of The Lost Words. Currently there are around 16 fund raising projects around the country all with one aim to bring The Lost Words back to life and into Children’s vocabularies. And this is why I am doing everything I can to raise £2,500 for the children of Somerset.
As week two comes to a close I have managed to raise an amazing £1,405.00 With a further £1,095.00 Still to be raised by 10th October. The sooner we raise the initial amount then we can keep fund raising until the closing date. This will then enable me to spread The Lost Words to even more schools across Somerset and learning centres. I have so many people to thank for their very kind and generous donations. If I manage to achieve this target, you will never know just how grateful I am. Every single pledge has left me humbled. I have been asked if I would extend to other parts such as Bath. I can only achieve this with lots more donations.
On 21st August I was a guest of Claire Carter and the Breakfast Show on BBC Somerset. Claire and the team have been incredible with their support of the project. If successful there will be a follow up show that will be at one of the School’s when a copy of the book will be handed over to the pupils and staff.
Below is a link to the BBC Somerset Breakfast Show.
As with all Crowdfunding if the target is not reached then no money is taken from those who have pledged. So here I am making this appeal to anyone and everyone who cares for words, books, nature and children to help me reach the goal of raising £2,500 and see the Goldfinches fly into every Primary School in Somerset.
I am so grateful for the incredible messages of support and already have many to thank for their incredible generosity. Your kindness will not be forgotten.
So now we enter week three and invigorated after the money pledged so far. I will not rest until the fundraising has been a success.
If you can please do help by making a pledge via my Crowdfunding Page:
You can keep up to date by following me on my Twitter feed: @thelastWord1962
Every £10.00 pledged is another copy to a Somerset Primary School. The benefits for every child is so worthwhile not just in recapturing those lost words in nature but also in the health and well-being of children. There are over 240 Primary Schools in Somerset. Help me make this dream become a reality.
My thanks to Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris for the continued encouragement and support.
“What we do not love, we cannot Save” – Robert Macfarlane