Category Archives: Fiction
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
‘In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away…’
For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .
I cannot believe that this is my first review of a book written by one of our foremost critically acclaimed female writers of our time in Elif Shafak. After reading her latest novel set in the bustling city of Istanbul. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is just breath-taking.
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is in fact the last moments of the life of Tequila Leila’s life. These are her dying moments and each one a memory.
Tequila was a prostitute and her body has been dumped within the city and left to die. It is during these last moments of her life that she recalls her own past in flashbacks to her childhood and growing up, her family and the tastes and the smells of the Istanbul. But also her five friends that gave her the life and also peace of mind. Through these last minutes we see these friends that became close to Tequila they like her were surviving as only they knew how. They left the families and made their own lives. Living from one day to another they had created their own unique community looking out for one another. Each one is different and it is down to the reader to find one that you become fond of. I became attached to all of them just because they were so supportive of each other. I just warmed to their individual lifestyles.
Now I know why so many people love and totally respect the writing of Elif Shafak, only Elife can bring a story set in Turkey and breathe such life into such a story. There are of course many sad moments that will leave you asking many questions but there are some moments of real humanity and warmth. This is the story of Tequila Leila’s life and how she met her death. Leila is strong and this really comes across in this simply magnificent novel. Istanbul is vibrant and colourful. Her friends are bereft and devastated at the loss of their friend and cannot give her the burial she deserves. I am now a fan of Elif Shafak and will be seeking out further novels in the future.
For more information on Elif Shafak: http://www.elifsafak.com.tr/
Twitter: @Elif_Safak; Instagram @shafakelif
Thank you to Viking Books UK for the review copy of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange Worldby Elif Shafak is published by Viking UK and was published on 6th June 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail N. Rosewood
As a child, isolated from the world in a secretive military encampment with her distant mother, she turns for affection to a sympathetic soldier and to the only other girl in the camp, forming two friendships that will shape the rest of her life.
As a young adult in New York, cut off from her native country and haunted by the scars of her youth, she is still in search of a home. She falls in love with a married woman who is the image of her childhood friend, and follows strangers because they remind her of her soldier. When tragedy arises, she must return to Vietnam to confront the memories of her youth – and recover her identity.
An inspiring meditation on love, loss, and the presence of a past that never dies, the novel explores the ancient question: do we value the people in our lives because of who they are, or because of what we need them to be?
A novel that is separated into two parts with the first part beginning the story in Vietnam in the 1990’s and is focussed on a young girl who remains nameless throughout and is brought to this decaying military camp with her mother. If I Had Two Lives (Europa Editions) by Abbigail N. Rosewood tells the story of the young girl who from the age of four through to the age of twelve is kept behind the wire fence in the camp along with her mother. The story is very much in the first person narrative and we learn of how she copes in the camp and the only friends are another young girl and a soldier with whom she befriends and he repays this friendship by teaching her.
We learn that they a brought to the camp to protect them as the regime is very much against her. The child clearly has psychological problems as she was abused and left. At the age of twelve her mother manages to arrange her escape to the USA and begins a new life with relatives. Her mother will very soon follow, albeit an empty promise as her mother is soon embroiled in a political twist and turns back in Vietnam and never follows her daughter to America. She has been abandoned once again. For our young girl the past is haunting her and she struggles to move on with memories if the past.
It is one day that she spots a woman who shows a remarkable resemblance to the young girl in the camp she befriended and she falls in love with Lilah. But she is married. What happens next is that she has a child for the couple and then the story takes on a sadder route as we watch from afar our young girl and her young daughter head back to Vietnam not only to find her mother and the girl in the camp but it is also a healing process.
A remarkable story with an even more remarkable ending told with such detail and written with such beauty and a story of bravery and trying to heal the past and look to a new future. This one book I heartily recommend.
Thank you to Daniela Petracco for the review copy of If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail N. Rosewood
If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail N. Rosewood was published by Europa Editions and was published on 11th April 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver
A student kidnapped from the park.
Nineteen-year-old Sophie disappears one summer afternoon. She wakes up to find herself locked inside a derelict warehouse, surrounded by five objects. If she uses them wisely, she will escape her prison. Otherwise she will die.
An investigator running out of time.
Sophie’s distraught father calls in the one man who can help find his daughter: unique investigator Colter Shaw. Raised in the wilderness by survivalist parents, he is an expert tracker with a forensic mind trained to solve the most challenging cases. But this will be a test even for him.
A killer playing a dangerous game.
Soon a blogger called Henry is abducted – left to die in the dark heart of a remote forest – and the whole case gets turned on its head. Because this killer isn’t following the rules; he’s changing them. One murder at a time…
This is the first in a new series from the master thriller writer Jeffery Deaver. I was delighted to receive a copy in the post and a thumping page turner it really is. So much so that I am actually a few days late with my review as I kept re-writing the review. A good sign.
Our main character is Colter Shaw who is by definition a reward seeker pure and simple. Shaw’s skill is tracking after being brought up within a family that honed his skills and now he puts them to good use in this tense thriller The Never Game (Harper Collins). His services have been requested to search for a missing woman Sophie Mulliner after her father becomes worried for his missing daughter. Frank has heard so much of Shaw’s experiences and is frustrated at the lack of a breakthrough by the local police.
But soon this becomes a tale of red herrings and murder. One centre of attention is Sophie’s boyfriend Kyle who had a bit of a reputation for mistreating her. What does Kyle know? But there is another twist when Kyle himself is killed when they end up in a disused factory. Was Kyle himself silenced?
This is a fast paced thriller and there is a link to video games within the plot, well this is a first in a thriller for me. But found our main character Colter Shaw to be one interesting character with a past of his own. If you are a fan of Jefferyy Deaver’s novels, then you will not be disappointed and I am now already looking forward to the next instalment.
Thank you to Rebecca Bryant for the review copy of The Never Game by Jeffrey Deaver
The Never Game by Jeffrey Deaver was published by Harper Collins and was published on 16th May 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Crossing Over by Ann Morgan (Audio Book)
Edie is struggling. She’s increasingly confused, but she can’t let the women in the village find that out – they’d only talk. But she’s forgetting so much – forgetting to wear matching clothes, forgetting to bake one of her walnut cakes for the WI sale…and forgetting to lock the door…until one day she wakes to find Jonah in her house and herself in her past.
Jonah is struggling. The journey to England was illegal and dangerous, and he’s the only one who survived – and he still hasn’t made it to London. Everything will be fine if he can just get to London. But can he leave Edie to look after herself? And can he hide from the authorities? And from his past?
I am still struggling to believe that I have previously not listened to audio books as I always preferred holding a book. Yes, there are so many positives to audio books, when I have been so tired to read I just listed to the story being narrated to me and it really works. Now I am hooked and so Crossing Over by Ann Morgan becomes the very audio book review.
What is important to know first is that Crossing Over is only available in audio book format and is available to download via Audible. Ann Morgan the bestselling author of Beside Myself (Bloomsbury) was released in 2016 and reviewed on my blog.
I have to say how much I loved listening to Crossing Over. The story of Edie who is alone and getting old and now and is starting to struggle by forgetting things that show would normally just get on with. It is a very sad story as we begin to understand what is really happening to Edie. She can recall many things especially from the past. But it is the day to day things she is forgetting and Edie does not want any of the women in the town to know. She forgets to bake one of her Walnut Cakes she would normally bake for the WI sale. Edie is getting confused easily now. Then one morning she discovers Jonah on her property and suddenly she is transported to a time past.
Edie has previously lost the one true love in her life Michael, but she is confused by Jonah.
Jonah’s story is an horrific story as he is an illegal immigrant and has travelled from Africa leaving everyone behind to find a new life but he is the only survivor of the crossing and this has scarred him. London is his destination as this is where he believes his destiny lies. But he hiding from the authorities and he knows what fate awaits if he is caught. Trust is a word that comes to mind here as both are worried and suspicious of all around them for different reasons that become apparent.
A story that is so breathtakingly beautiful and also painfully sad. My heart at times was so heavy and so sad as we know that the onset of Dementia for Edie and the story of Jonah who just wants to find a new life a better life that the one he left behind. Does he make it? That is for you to find out and the Narration by Adjoa Andoh works so very well it was as if this story was made especially for Adjoa to narrate. A story of our time and if you like listening to audio books please add this to your list of downloads. You won’t regret it.
Only available to download via Audible.
You can follow Ann Morgan on Twitter: @A_B_Morgan
Narrating Crossing over is Adjoa Andoh who is best known for appearing on two series over Dr Who and also a long serving member of BBC TV’s long running Casualty series before going on to make her Hollywood debut alongside Morgan Freeman in Invictus.
Thank you to Edwina Boyd-Gibbins (Midas PR) for the Audio review copy of Crossing Over by Ann Morgan
Crossing Over by Ann Morgan was released as an Audio Book on 29th March and is available as an audio download via Audible.com
Turbulent Wake – Paul E. Hardisty
Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father. Hidden in one of the upstairs rooms of the old man’s house he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of stories that seems to cover the whole of his father’s turbulent life.
As his own life starts to unravel, Ethan works his way through the manuscript, trying to find answers to the mysteries that have plagued him since he was a child. What happened to his little brother? Why was his mother taken from him? And why, in the end, when there was no one else left, did his own father push him away?
Swinging from the coral cays of the Caribbean to the dangerous deserts of Yemen and the wild rivers of Africa, Turbulent Wake is a bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love and loss … of the indelible damage we do to those closest to us and, ultimately, of the power of redemption in a time of change.
The first things I have to say is that I am not sure my review will ever do justice to what I found a remarkable novel that took my breath away. Many will know the author for his previous crime novels but Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty is a breakaway from his Claymore Straker series.
Prepare to be totally immersed in a novel that will sweep you up and and carry you along on a journey that involves love, loss and grief. A story told in the past but also in the present. A very personal novel drawn from the authors own personal experiences.
Ethan Scofield is on a journey to the past, the past being home to the very place he was born as his father has died and he must confront the past as his relationship with his father has broken down. It is at this point during sifting through his father’s belongings and discovering some journals that his father had written. These are written for Ethan but inside of the main character there is a lot of anger and you feel it bubbling away on every page. A man whose anger at his father, his former wife and his own daughter. There is anger really at the world at large. A man searching for answers as to why his own father deserted him.
The journals that Ethan is now reading may contain the answers that he is looking for as this is the story of his father’s own turbulent life story. From a young man so full of promise as his travels take to different parts of the world to the woman he loved. There is regret in these journals as Ethan reads of what his father has lost with no chance of turning the clock back. So much pain in the words that his father has written.
I must pass on my gratitude to Paul E. Hardisty for writing a novel that held me on every page and was hard to leave at the end and left with trying to find the right words to describe a novel of such beauty. I am not one for ‘urging’ people to read books that I review but this I would urge you to read. You will not regret it. Find some quiet time and shut the world away and read Turbulent Wake one of my books of the year.
Thank you to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books and Anne Cater (Randon Things Tours) for the review copy of Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty
Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty was published by Orenda Books and is published on 16th May 2019 and will be available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Follow the Blog Tour
Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery
In 1850, young Scottish plant hunter John Jeffrey was despatched by an elite group of Victorian subscribers to seek highly prized exotic trees in North America. An early letter home told of a 1,200-mile transcontinental journey by small boat and on foot. Later, tantalising collections of seeds and plants arrived from British Columbia, Oregon and California, yet early promise soon withered. Four years after setting out, John Jeffrey, and his journals, disappeared without a trace. Was he lost to love, violence or the Gold Rush? Green Gold combines meticulous research with the fictional narrative of Jeffrey’s lost journals, revealing an extraordinary adventure.
Since my early days in studying horticulture plant species I have always had an interest in those pioneers and plant hunters who travelled to far off lands to seek new species of trees and rare plants. So it great delight I was sent a copy of Green Gold (Unbound) by Gabriel Hemery.
This is the true story of the Victorian plant hunter John Jeffrey told in a fictional account of his epic solo adventure from Scotland to North America. It is 1850 and the journey begins after being asked and financed by a group of wealthy plant collectors. John’s journey would take him from the shores of Scotland to Canada through to Oregon and California the landscape was harsh and unforgiving from the frozen wastelands across mountains. He would send back on a regular basis specimens and seeds and also rare Beetles. It was requested by Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens that John Jeffrey would keep regular journals of his travels and findings to be sent back.
The story moves from present day to the past as John’s journals are discovered and from here the story is constructed in a fictional account. I have to say just how much I really enjoyed reading the account of John Jeffrey’s expedition even if it was told in a fictional narrative. The old plant hunter in me came out from the past as I read of the new specimens that John wrote about on his travels.
There is a real human story here not just a story of the plant hunter. The promise of sending back details of his travels and findings never happened and eventually the backers lost their faith in John Jeffrey but before they could take any further action, John had disappeared but disappeared without trace. Nothing was heard from the plant hunter. So many theories as to what happened to John Jeffrey. Did he get lost and perished, was he murdered, or did John find a love he could not leave.
I have to say that Gabriel Hemery has done an amazing job in telling the story of the plant hunter and his expedition through his journals. For anyone who loves history or the study of plants then Green Gold is a book you will enjoy reading.
@GabrielHemery @Unbound @Unbound_ Digital
Thank you to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) and Unbound for the review copy of Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery
Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery was published by Unbound and was published on 18th April 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Blog Tour
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenny―her American grandniece, and her only relative―give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.
When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper. In writing down the stories of her colourful past―working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris during the 30s, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of the Second World War―can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, to unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris’s life?
Doris is 96 years-old and lives in Stockholm, when she was young her father gave her a red address book. Throughout her life Doris added names and addresses of all the people she had met into her red address book. Now she is housebound and living alone. She admits death is waiting for her.
Each week she looks forward to her weekly Skype with Jenny who is her American great-niece and at the same time Doris is writing her memoir which is based on her red address book and the names contained within it.
Sadly, the one thing that we all have to expect in life is losing those who come into our life whether that is family, friends or those that come into our lives for whatever reason and in Doris’s red address book there are names that are crossed out and the word ‘dead’ written against them. But each name means something, a friend, a lover or not so nice. The address book is not just a book of names it is a key to memories of times gone by, each name unlocks a part of a memory of happier times or sad times.
Doris has lived a life, she has made choices as we all do but for Doris she has lived through the good times and the worst of times, but she has learned to accept her decisions that have not gone well, she has also survived being torpedoed in WWII lived. The story moves between the past and the present. She never likes to listen to the carers who visit her and then one day she breaks a hip and Jenny then arrives at the hospital. It is Doris who ended up being a mother to Jenny after her own died when she was very young. This is deeply poignant story that left a mark on me. You know when Doris is lying in hospital not listening to the nurses or doctors because the end is coming. This is a woman who has lived. Now at her last she issues some wise words to Jenny “Don’t be afraid of life, Jenny. Live” As you read and especially towards the end you the reader will start to think about your own life and the people who have come into it for whatever reason. Love is a theme that pours out of the pages of The Red Address book. We all own an address book with names that are crossed out. Next time just take time to read those names and remember who they were. Beautifully written and uplifting a book to savour on a quiet Sunday sat in the garden. Keep hold of those old address books after reading this you will know why. “In the end all that matters is love”.
Thank you to The Borough Press for the review copy of The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg was published by The Borough Press and was published on 24th January 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech
Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.
Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …
What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…
With echoes of the Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…
I have been a huge fan of Louise Beech since her debut novel How to be Brave (Orenda Books) was released back in 2015. Just look how far this amazing writing journey has taken Louise to-date. Now comes her latest release Call Me Star Girl (Orenda Books) which hit the bookshops on 18th April. Now I read this back in February and have had to wait ever so patiently to post my review.
To put it simply Louise Beech has blown me away. It can be difficult when a writer changes genre style but Louise has done this effortlessly. Now a psychological thriller writer and it is just sensational. Anyone who has seen the Hollywood film Play Misty for Me starring Clint Eastwood will love this novel.
Stella McKeever is a radio show host and it is her last show and she decides she wants to end with something different. Stella asks her listeners to call in with their secrets, and in return Stella would share some of hers. Dangerous territory for a radio host to enter as you just don’t know how far it could go.
Then a local girl is found dead and it is clear this is murder and there has been a witness and this witness calls the studio to say they saw the murder. The beauty of this tight and pulse racing thriller is that there are not many characters in the storyline so you get to concentrate on the plot.
Stella has her own secrets and these include the relationship with her boyfriend Tom. Then there is her mother and the broken relationship between them both.
There is something about creating a storyline around a radio station at night it is dark and quiet. Just you and your listeners and you set the tone and you can hold them in the palm of your hand. There are many twists and turns in the plot that you just do not know where it is likely to turn next.
The tension builds so much that you could cut with a studio microphone, it is atmospheric and compelling. You might even say disturbing. But either way it is nothing short of brilliant. Louise Beech’s fifth novel is by far her very best and this is why I love Louise Beech’s writing. HIGHY RECOMMENDED
Thank you to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books and Anne Cater for the review copy of Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech
Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech was published by Orenda Books and was published on 18th April 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
How to follow the Blog Tour
On Tuesday 2nd April the shortlist for The 2019 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize was announced. Always one of the most anticipated of literary prizes. The winner will be announced on Thursday 16th May. There will be a special event being held at the British Library on 15th May when all the shortlisted authors will be present. I am really excited at this year’s longlist and already looking forward the British Library event as I will be attending this year.
You can follow the prize via Twitter: @dylanthomprize #IDTP19
This year’s shortlist of 6 books comprises five novels, one short story collection.
The Shortlisted authors:
The 6 shortlisted books comprise 5 novels and 1 collection of short stories including:
- American-Ghanaian writer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (27) for his debut short story collection Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US) and Riverrun (UK)) which explores what it’s like to grow up as a black male in America, and whose powerful style of writing has been likened to George Saunders.
- Debut novelist Zoe Gilbert (39) for Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing) which was developed from her fascination in ancient folklore and the resurgence of nature writing. She has previously won the Costa Short Story Award in 2014.
- British-Sri-Lankan debut novelist, Guy Gunaratne (34) for In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press, Headline), longlisted for The Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize, The Gordon Burn Prize as well as the Writers Guild Awards.
- Third time novelist, Louisa Hall (36) with her latest book Trinity (Ecco) which tackles the complex life of the Father of the Atomic Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer through seven fictional characters.
- For the second time Sarah Perry (39) has been shortlisted for the Prize this time for Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail), one of The Observer’s Best Fiction Books of the Year 2018, and a masterpiece of moral complexity, asking us profound questions about mercy, redemption, and how to make the best of our conflicted world.
- Zimbabwean debut novelist Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (30) with her wildly inventive and darkly humorous novel House of Stone (Atlantic Books) which reveals the mad and glorious death of colonial Rhodesia and the bloody birth of modern Zimbabwe.
The winner will be announced on Thursday 16th May at Swansea University’s Great Hall, just after International Dylan Thomas Day on 14th May.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is from Spring Valley, New York. He graduated from SUNY Albany and went on to receive his MFA from Syracuse University. He was the ’16-’17 Olive B. O’Connor fellow in fiction at Colgate University. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Guernica, Compose: A Journal of Simply Good Writing, Printer’s Row, Gravel, and The Breakwater Review, where he was selected by ZZ Packer as the winner of the 2nd Annual Breakwater Review Fiction Contest. Friday Black is his first book.
Zoe Gilbert is the winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2014. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, and in anthologies and journals in the UK and internationally. She has taken part in writing projects in China and South Korea for the British Council, and she is completing a PhD on folk tales in contemporary fiction. The co-founder of London Lit Lab, which provides writing courses and mentoring for writers, she lives on the coast in Kent.
Guy Gunaratne lives between London, UK and Malmö, Sweden. His first novel In Our Mad and Furious City was longlisted for The Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize, The Gordon Burn Prize as well as the Writers Guild Awards. He has worked as a journalist and documentary filmmaker covering human rights stories around the world.
Louisa Hall grew up in Philadelphia. She is the author of the novels Speak and The Carriage House, and her poems have been published in The New Republic, Southwest Review, and other journals. She is a professor at the University of Iowa, and the Western Writer in Residence at Montana State University. Trinity is her third novel.
Sarah Perry was born in Essex in 1979. She has been the writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library and the UNESCO World City of Literature Writer in Residence in Prague. After Me Comes the Flood, her first novel, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize and won the East Anglian Book of the Year Award in 2014. Her latest novel, The Essex Serpent, was a number one bestseller in hardback, Waterstones Book of the Year 2016, the British Book Awards Book of the Year 2017, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and Dylan Thomas Award, and longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017. Her work has been translated into twenty languages. She lives in Norwich.
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma grew up in Zimbabwe and has lived in South Africa and the USA. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies, and she was awarded the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize for the best literary work in English
Meet the Judges
Professor Kurt Heinzelman is a poet, translator, and scholar. His most recent book of poems is Whatever You May Say and he has translated Demarcations, a collection of poems by Jean Follain. He has been the Executive Curator at the Harry Ransom Centre and the Director of Education at the Blanton Museum of Art. A Professor of English at the University of Texas-Austin specializing in Poetry and Poetics and a teacher in the Michener Centre for Writers, he is also the former Editor-in-Chief of Texas Studies in Literature and Language (TSLL), and the co-founder and long-time Advisory Editor of Bat City Review. [photo credit University of Texas at Austin/ Christina S. Murrey]
Professor Dai Smith CBE is a distinguished historian and writer on Welsh arts and culture. As a Broadcaster he has won numerous awards for arts and historical documentaries and from 1992 to 2000 was Head of Programmes at BBC Wales. He was Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan from 2001 until 2005 and is currently the Emeritus Raymond Williams Research Chair in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University. He was Chair of the Arts Council of Wales from 2006 until 2016 and is Series Editor of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Library of Wales for classic works. In 2013, he published a novel Dream On and in 2014 edited definitive anthologies of Welsh short stories, Story I & II, for the Library of Wales. His latest fiction, the novella What I Know I Cannot Say, and the linked short stories All That Lies Beneath, was published by Parthian Books in 2017. Professor Smith is Chair of the Judging Panel.
Di Speirs is the Books Editor for BBC Radio, overseeing all London Readings, ‘Open Book’ and ‘Book club’ on BBC Radio 4 and ‘World Book Club’ on the BBC World Service. She has produced innumerable editions of ‘Book at Bedtime’ over two decades and produced the first ever ‘Book of the Week’ in 1998. Instrumental in the BBC National Short Story Award since its inception, and its regular judge, she has also chaired the Orange Award for New Writers in 2010, judged the Wellcome Prize in 2017 and twice been a nominator for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (Literature). She is a member of the Charleston Small Wonder Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award panel.
Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother and Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, for Social Services and the Crown Prosecution Service. She is a founding member of Leather Lane Writers and Oxford Narrative Group and has won numerous awards for her short stories and flash fiction. My Name is Leon, her debut novel won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2017 and was shortlisted for numerous other awards including the Costa First Book Award and the Desmond Elliott Prize. The Trick to Time, her second novel, was published in 2018 and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
My thanks to the team at Midas PR.
The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine
Released in paperback on 7th March is the latest best-seller by Barbara Erskine. The Ghost Tree (Harper Collins). The main character Ruth Dunbar has returned to Edinburgh after the death of her father. Now she is faced with sifting through all his belongings.
Ruth is having a tough time after the break-up of her marriage and also losing her career. The death of her father has come as a latest blow. Sifting through her father’s she now comes across a cupboard full of possessions belonging to her mother among them are letters and documents and also diaries kept by her mother’s ancestor Thomas Erskine. Thomas really lived a life but as she reads she begins to feel she is not alone in this isolated room at the top of the house.
As the name of the book suggests this is also a ghost story. But it is not just the ghost of Thomas Erskine that Ruth can feel, as she discovers more about Thomas’s past she also realises that he had his enemies and now she feels the presence of not only Thomas but also his enemy.
Ruth now must count on her friends who have experience in dealing with the paranormal. This is not really a scary ghost story but you find this novel dealing with aspects of trying to rid the house of the ghostly existence.
The story moves between the past and the present and this historical part of the novel I enjoyed more especially as Barbara Erskine brought into the novel her great-great-great-great-great grandfather Thomas Erskine who she heard so much about through her own family.
It is not only the past that contains enemies but also the present for Ruth, one such person is Timothy one man that really is not at all pleasant and is seriously questioning Ruth’s inheritance.
If you are a fan of Barbara Erskine then this really is for you.
Thank you to Charlotte Walker from LoveReading for the review copy of The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine.
The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine was published by Harper Collins and was published on 7th March 2019 in Paperback and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Ghost Tree – Blog Tour