Category Archives: Tinder Press
I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
If life teaches us one thing it is that each day is precious and that we need to live each day and grab hold of life and never let, go. The Costa Awarding writer Maggie O’Farrell has released a memoir like no other. In I Am I Am I Am she talks openly about the 17 near death experiences that she has gone through. It is a frank and an astonishingly beautiful written memoir.
Each chapter is named after a part of the body so the book starts with the Neck and moves onto Lungs, Spine, Legs, Pelvis Abdomen etc. The opening chapter is shocking for Maggie when she was just 18 years-old. While she was in between shifts at a job while she was studying she takes a walk. She passes a man while she walks up to a tarn. She thinks nothing of it but then he is there when she is heading back down. Now she is concerned. He was clearly waiting for her. What happens next is nothing short of frightening. She basically escaped with her life. I will not reveal anymore here but this is a life changing moment for Maggie O’Farrell. Each of the chapters not necessarily in order more a skip back and forth through her life and dramatic medical dramas that she deals with the incredible resolve of a woman a writer is not going to be bowed and beaten by any of the threats to her life. There is one chapter were she is on a flight when the flight to Hong Kong suddenly is out of control and there is panic among the passengers the fear is palpable as the aircraft plummets. Then there is the direct threat to her life while in Chile when a would be mugger holds a machete to her throat. Anyone of these threats to your life could and would challenge anyone.
Life is precious and threats to our lives can happen at any time with little or no warning. One chapter that hits O’Farrell hardest is the life-threatening problems that face her daughter and continue to do so daily. I Am I Am I Am is the closest you will get to a love letter to that one thing we hold dear and that is life. It struck me that with everything that Maggie O’Farrell has come through it has made her stronger and more determined to live life and to help her cope with the worries and concerns for her daughter. I have learned through experience that we are not alone and there are those we can turn to for support someone to listen to us in times of need. Deep inside us is that inner strength and resilience that we call upon when our lives are being rocked by threats.
I Am I Am I Am being nothing short of a literary gem. A powerful heartbeat to life and a lesson to cherish every moment and each other. I speak with experience of near death challenges which is why I was drawn to reading memoir. How many times have we thought what If I done something differently? Life is just a fraction of a second away from uncertainty. I have learnt over recent years to greet each day and live for every moment.
This is a book that will touch your soul, written by a writer at the top of her game and she tells it with passion for life. Never one to dwell but to live and to love. Very much a life-affirming book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell is published Tinder Press and was published and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Tin Man – Sarah Winman
A beautiful bright yellow cover heralds what is quite simply a stunningly beautiful novel inside. Tin Man by Sarah Winman begins with a painting of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers being won in a raffle. A story of friendship, love and loss a story of two boys as friends that drifted apart and then reunited. A beautiful story that I found so difficult to leave. Although on short at just around 200 pages once started it was over so quickly as I could not put it down.
When both Ellis and Michael were boys they entered each other’s lives and they were inseparable. They were the best of friends. But as they grew life would play its part. Annie then enters their lives and the story then moves on to see Annie and Ellis marry and Michael departs their lives and moves away to London for his own reasons. Time moves on for both Ellis and Michael.
The novel is split between the story through Ellis and then later through Michael and his thoughts as he travels through Europe and the memories he recounts especially the days spent in the South of France with Ellis when for those precious days the two became one. For those brief moments in their life anything was possible.
Sometimes we believe a life plan is set out for us only never to be fulfilled a life that could have been so different. But sometimes life can only but give us a brief glimpse of what could have been and then cruel reality. Sarah Winman writes with such emotion. The characters in Tin Man are just so incredible. Lives so fragile and so precious. All three share the same one aspect and that is love. This is not just writing this is a story set to poetry it is that remarkable. It is all here every human emotion. Love, loss friendship and loneliness. It will move you, it break you and put you back together again. Like a precious vase the human heart is capable of being broken and shattered yet it can also heal.
Tin Man by Sarah Winman is one of those books that will make you realise just how precious we all are. A difficult review to write without giving too much away. It is emotive and powerful. I expect to see this beautiful book in many reader’s books of the year. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Tin Man by Sarah Winman is published through Tinder Press and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Today sees the release of two of this year’s biggest must read books. Paula Hawkins follows up from The Girl on the Train with Into the Water (Doubleday)and a debut novel by Sarah Schmidt called See What I Have Done. (Tinder Press) Two books that are going to be on everyone’s TBR lists this Spring and Summer.
For the first time I am running today on my blog a double book review. Starting with Paula Hawkins Into the Water.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Imagine for a moment trying to sit down and write your next novel. Ok you say but what if you were the author of the massive international hit that was The Girl on the Train Then not for a moment can I begin to imagine what Paula Hawkins must be thinking as today see’s the release of her new thriller Into the Water. (Doubleday) Although some readers found that The Girl on the Train with its narrator that we know as unreliable to say the least. Paula Hawkins has gone a different route this time around as this new psychological thriller is very different and if this is at all possible it actually is better that her monster hit that captured the imagination of readers across the globe and was also a massive success on the big screen that starred Emily Blunt.
What you will find with Into the Water is that here is a thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat as this is a stunning thriller with more than just the usual twists than your average read. This is an ambitious attempt to move away from the formula that gave Hawkins so much success, here there are more characters and the plot is so layered that is gives more to the reader. There is even something Hitchcock about this book and one that many readers will flock to. The story is set in a small riverside town, and the opening sequences are nothing short of horrific as a woman is tied up and then drowned by a group of men. At this point I had to re-read this first part as I was not sure if this was a current event or was this a past event from history and if so was history to play a major part in the novel. A chilling start that set the tone for what was to be a gripping thriller. It is now August 2015 and this little riverside town now becomes centre stage and a small of that river that has a notorious history that involves the drowning of witches. But there has been a much more recent drowning a middle aged woman called Nel Abbott is found dead in this stretch of water but how was this possible? Now let your imagination play with you here. Some including her daughter think Nel planned to end her life but Nel’s sister Jules is not sure. Now the history of this part of the comes to the fore as other deaths by drowning come to light. It also appears that Nel was taking a keen interest into the drownings has she taken some if its secrets and the towns secrets with her.
There are many character here that have a story to tell and they do this in bite size chapters that play a part in telling the real story of what has been going on in this small town. Some of these characters are hiding the truth and it also appears that Nel was not liked by many in the town. Question is why? Add into the story a psychic and you have the recipe for a thriller that is just building page by page with suspense until the very last moment. If you are going to read Into the Water on a train journey, be warned you may miss your stop but at least it stop you looking at people’s homes through the window of your carriage.
My thanks to Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy of Into the Water.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins is published by Doubleday and is released today 2nd May and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
It is the morning of 4th August 1892 and the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are discovered in their home. They have been brutally murdered with an axe. It was Lizzie Borden who discovered the mutilated body of her father. Here in See What I Have Done (Tinder Press) the debut novel by Sarah Schmidt she tells the story with fact and fiction in a gripping and riveting debut.
I have to admit to not knowing the story of the brutal murders that took place in the Borden home so before I started to read the book I did a little research to prepare myself for the book. Once I started I became hooked on Sarah Scmidt’s telling of the story using both facts and then using fiction to re-tell the infamous story.
When the Police arrived at the family home in Fall River, Massachusetts it becomes clear there was only one suspect and that was Lizzie Borden. Could she really have taken an axe to her stepmother and to her father? Despite the fact that there was other people in the house the police believe that she was responsible for the murders. Lizzie Borden was then tried and acquitted. To this day the murders remain unsolved in what remains one of the most heinous crimes the axe that was used in the murders was never found.
There are a numbers of characters that Scmidt focuses on in the novel with Lizzie and her sister Emma who at the time of the murders was not present in the family home, then there is the girls Uncle John and then the maid, Bridget. With the facts of the case already known Schmidt then weaves a dark and claustrophobic story. Behind the front door of the family home clearly all was not well. To say this was a troubled family even dysfunctional, there was many things quietly bubbling away under the surface in that steaming hot summer. The entire story just jumps out at you and leaves your pulse racing. This is an incredible first novel that is visceral and truly compelling. Schmidt’s writing is dark and chilling and the palms of your hands become sweaty or was that blood oozing from the pages of this disturbing read. This was clearly a family with many problems hidden behind the shutters of the windows as if they were keeping the secrets from the outside world. The parts of the story as told through Lizzie Borden leave you cold and wondering about her sanity and left me in cold sweats. See What I have Done is a Superb first novel and one I highly recommend.
Thank you to Georgina Moore for the advanced review copy of See What I Have Done.
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt is published by Tinder Press and is released today 2nd May and available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Unseeing – Anna Mazzola
The Last Word Review
As debut novels go this is something rather special. Anna Mazzola with The Unseeing has managed to create a story which is based on an actual true story. From the moment you pick this book up with its eerie eye in the centre of the cover you know it is going to be something outstanding and believe me The Unseeing captures the reader’s attention from the opening page.
The setting is London 1837 and Sarah Gale has been sentenced to hang for her involvement in the brutal murder of Hannah Brown. Edmund Fleetwood has been charged with investigating the case of the murder after Sarah files for mercy. But something is not right, Sarah is not forthcoming with any information that will help her case, why? If the investigation fail’s Sarah will surely hang. So why is she not helping Edmund?
There is something very unique about the way Anna Mazzola has written The Unseeing you get a real feel for the time and the place, at times dark and foreboding the tension is palpable as we the day for Sarah’s execution getting ever closer but still she refuses to pass on information that could save her life. Just about the only statement she gives throughout is that she played no part in the murder of Hannah Brown. Taking into account that she is imprisoned awaiting her fate, she is also a mother and her child faces a bleak future is she hangs. For Edmund he is rather keen to make his mark and impression on this investigation and this is testing him. The public have already condemned Sarah and want to see her on the end of the rope for her part. This indeed is both a complex and challenging investigation. The interviews between Edmund and Sarah are incredibly revealing. This is a story with many twists and turns before we find out what happens to Sarah. Some of the answers to my own questions were not as I thought. The research carried out by Mazzola on an actual crime that took place in the nineteenth century must have been difficult and painstaking trying to piece together actual facts and create a gripping debut novel that is worthy of many plaudits.
Throughout the story I was not sure of Sarah a character that one minute you believed then you were unsure of what she was hiding. I warmed to Edmund as he went about trying to put a case together that would save her life. He came across in the end as a genuine man.
The Unseeing is a book a highly recommend, the perfect read for the autumn as the days grow shorter.
Thank you to Tinder Press and Bookbridgr for the review copy.
The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola is published by Tinder Press in hardback and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.
In a Land of Paper Gods by Rebecca Mackenzie
The Last Word Review
An evocative story of a missionary school in China. Poignant yet funny. An enchanting debut novel
At the end of 2016 we may look back and declare this year to be one of those incredible literary years. Two months into 2016 and already we are seeing some truly outstanding books being released including debut novels and I include In a Land of Paper Gods by Rebecca Mackenzie in this.
We all know China as a land of mystery and legends. What Mackenzie presents to the reader here is a beautifully told story of a boarding school set high on a misty mountain and that of a ten-year-old Henrietta S. Robertson who is sent to the school. Set at the outbreak of WWII Etta as she is known sent there so both her parents can continue their Missionary work teaching Christianity to the Chinese.
As Etta makes friends at the School including one she names as ‘Big Bum Eileen’ they soon realise that they are missing in their lives and set about make a secret society called The Prophetess Club with new names and mystical secret powers. The brave girls set about exploring the grounds of the School. Harmless fun at first as the girls are missing their parents and with very few teachers present to control them the girls then cross the boundaries soon something happens that will have dire consequences for Etta. It is now 1941 and Japanese forces have moved into China and the world that seemed so far away from Etta and her friends is now a dangerous one and soon the Japanese soldiers are running the school. Life for Etta is now one of grave danger and the story so poignantly told by Mackenzie takes a darker route.
In a Land of Paper Gods is a story told through the eyes of a young girl in a beautiful land of full of mystery and a unique culture from the one she knows but it is one of great danger so far away from home and separated from her parents the story of Henrietta is set over a period of ten years and follows her from the young girl seemingly so alone and afraid to one of a young lady so confident and assured and making her way through life. A story of incredible imagination at times funny but also one of bravery as a teacher who becomes a surrogate mother to Etta and to watch their story unfold in a time of incredible uncertainty and mortal danger.
Henrietta is an unforgettable in this coming of age story one that you will find extremely hard to leave alone especially as you progress into the second half of the story and one that at times is horrifying.
A stunning debut novel from Rebecca Mackenzie and one that has left an indelible mark on this reviewer. Yet another brilliantly written first novel and one that deserves many plaudits. I now find myself wondering what became of Henrietta now that we leave her. In a Land of Paper Gods, a story that I will not forget in a hurry.
I am extremely grateful to Ella Bowman at Headline for a review copy.
In a Land of Paper Gods written by Rebecca Mackenzie and publishes by Tinder Press and is available from all good book shops.
The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop
Review Date: 16 August 2015
Author: Stephanie Bishop
Release Date: 13 August 2015
Publishers: Tinder Press
ISBN -10: 1472230612
ISBN – 13: 978-1472230614
Available in Hardback, Kindle & Audio
Authors Website: http://www.stephaniebishop.com.au/
The Last Word Review
A story that will stay with you long after you have finished, outstanding prose. Full of emotion but a beautiful book
The advance reviews for The Other Side of the World have been outstanding, so I was pleased to have been asked to write a review.
This is not a fast paced novel, by Stephanie Bishop, it is a book that moves along at a steady pace that allows the reader to be drawn into the mesmeric prose, if that was part of the plot for the story then it really works. I fell for the story line very quickly.
The start of The Other Side of the World is set to a backdrop of Cambridge and Charlotte is a young wife and mother and is struggling with the idea of being both. On the other hand Charlotte’s husband Henry as born in India it is the year 1963 and another cold wet winter looms.
Something happen that is about to change their lives, a leaflet drop through their door one day, this starts Henry to think of Australia, a new start, warmer weather, all the usual things that comes along, health, wealth and happiness. Basically a new life.
Anyone setting off to the other side of the World is bound to miss home, family and friends, Charlotte is more than aware of this fact and it is playing on her mind. Charlotte is wary of moving to the other side of the world, but reluctantly she agrees and the young family are transported to a new life in Perth, Australia.
From here on the story is one of sadness and at times heartbreak as the promise of ‘The new life’ never really materialises and soon both Charlotte and Henry become ‘lost’ the strain of being a young mum so far away from home starts to tell. Meanwhile for Henry the promise of the career never really takes off. What we start to see from here is the sheer sadness as you watch their marriage start to come undone. What I found upsetting was how Charlotte started to take it out on the two little girls it is utterly heart-breaking to read, but Bishop writes with such prose that you are drawn in to the story but you feel helpless to do anything.
What the author writes with such clarity is Henry’s devout love to Charlotte despite his wife’s doubting of herself at times you read of the strong bond between the two but all through there is Charlotte self –doubting even self-loathing to a degree, can Henry save their failing marriage? We read of two countries one being home and the other Australia a brave new world but starting to mature and how Bishop weaves into the storyline about climates, this is done with such brilliance. I loathed to go give anything further away regarding the story as I think The Other Side of the World deserves to be read.
This is a novel destined for many good things in the months ahead and thoroughly deserves the success that will surely come its way.
Meet the Author
A stunning emerging Australian writer, Stephanie Bishop’s first novel was The Singing, for which she was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelists. The Singing was also highly commended for the Kathleen Mitchell Award. Her second novel, The Other Side of the World was recently shortlisted for the 2014 Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award under the title Dream England.
Stephanie is a frequent contributor to The Times Literary Supplement, The Australian, The Sydney Review of Books, The Australian Book Review and the Sydney Morning Herald. She holds a PhD from Cambridge and is currently a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of New South Wales. Stephanie lives in Sydney.
The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger
Review Date: 4 July 2015
Author: Sarah Leipciger
Release Date: 7 May 2015
Publishers: Tinder Press
ISBN –10: 1472223896
ISBN – 13: 1472223890
Available in Hardback, Paperback, Kindle & audio
The Last Word Review:
‘Sarah Leipciger sets the bar high with this rugged setting debut novel’
The wilds of Canada are the setting for Sarah Leipciger’s debut novel The Mountain Can Wait, this is a beautifully written and at times I found poetic. This is a novel that carries the reader at a gentle pace and really felt at one with this book at times you feel that the story takes time to come into its own as well as the characters. Whether this was the intention of the author but it does not in any way detract from the storyline.
The story starts with a tragedy and then you think the story would explode into life, and the beauty of the authors’ style of writing is that she keep it moving along at the same pace. Tom Berry has been left to bring up his two children (Curtis and Erin) alone after his wife Elka disappears. It is Curtis who is at the centre of the tragedy that starts this tale. Tom’s life as a forestry worker leading a small team in the remote forests. Now the tragedy will force Tom and his son to confront what has taken place and also the past and as well all know this will involve some soul searching and dealing with ghosts that have haunted Tom for some time.
The more that this reviewer read of the book the more empathy I had with Tom, he is a quiet man liking nothing more than the quietness of the forests and the nature of the Mountain don’t get me wrong here Tom is a man of strong character. If you look at this novel there are themes that are being explored deeply, the role the single parent and his relationship not only with his children and especially his son Curtis but also his wife and his forestry team then there is the theme of man and his relationship with nature. This is a story that will make you think as you read. There are not too many characters in The Mountain Can Wait and I felt that was just right, too many would have muddied the plot.
The feeling that I had after reading this was that here is a book that in time will come into its own a timeless classic.
This is an exceptional debut and I will for one be keeping an eye open for a second novel from Sarah Leipciger.
Meet the Author:
Sarah Leipciger was born in Peterborough, Canada. She spent her teenage years in Toronto, later moving to Vancouver Island to study creative writing and English Literature at the University of Victoria later leaving Canada in 2001 for Korea and South East Asia and currently lives in London with her husband and three Children where she teaches creative writing to men in prison. The Mountain Can Wait is Sarah’s first novel and she is currently writing her second.