Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2017

Welcome along to another Friday, and another post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  Today I am delighted to introduce you to Cranachan Publishing headed up by Anne Glennie and Helen MacKinven.  Today I have  a review of the awe inspiring “Fir for Luck” by Barbara Henderson to share with you and a short interview with the woman behind the tale.


Book Feature:

41d9spumitl-_sx322_bo1204203200_

Published: 21 September 2016
5 out of 5 stars

Description:

Would you be brave enough to fight back?

When 12-year-old Janet’s village is under threat– she decides to take action. It’s a split-second decision that could cost her everything: her home, her family – even her life.

Can Janet save her village from being wiped out? Or will her family and friends be forced from their homes to face an uncertain future?

Based on real life events, Fir for Luck is a tale of the brutal Highland Clearances, when land owners cared more about sheep than people.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

When I first saw this book advertised as a “Children’s Book” I was sceptical, would I enjoy it, would it hold my attention, would there be enough story there to fascinate me – these were just some of the initial ponderings I had, and happily I can say I needn’t have worried.

“Fir for Luck” is a magnificently written book,  and one I think may well sneak onto my top books of 2017.
Steeped in rich history, Barbara Henderson weaves together the tale of a young girl in a Highland village who struggles to comprehend the fate of her community.  For those not familiar with the history of the Highland Clearances, this is a book well worth reading, it acts as a little guide to a brutal point in Scottish history, but by adding the human element through young Janet, Henderson really brings the tale alive.  During the Clearances, tenants were driven from their homes and villages (often with violence) to free the land for sheep farming which was seen as the more profitable use for land at the time.  The villagers were given little to no notice that they were to be evicted from their homes, and little opportunity to find somewhere else to go before being left destitute.

One of the best things about this book was the idea of a young girl being the first to find out about the eviction order.  The innocence of childhood, the black and white thinking that comes with a mind uncomplicated by adult themes makes this a truly remarkable read.  Janet is a wonderfully endearing character and one I think many readers will feel a bond with.  Her determination to save her family and community makes my heart break at times but also swell with enormous pride.  Her fierce intelligence and headstrong ways means she is not afraid to speak out when she believes something is wrong (up here we’d call her “thran“).  Her defiance towards following the set gender stereotypes is something I think many of the female target audience will appreciate – why shouldn’t she be allowed to go with the men on Bent Day?

The vivid descriptions used in the writing transport the reader to early 19th Century Sutherland, the reader can smell the peat in the air, see the beautiful rugged setting, envision the smoke filled cramped homes of the villagers.  There’s a richness to this that I had not expected and I thoroughly enjoyed stepping back in time reading this.  The pace of the story is swift and excellently matched to the tale, this makes for a spellbinding read.  The inferences of Scottish folklore and superstition (fir for luck in the chain of the cooking pot, not allowing the Writ to be touched by any of the villagers to complete execution etc.) were a lovely nod to tradition and added an authenticity to the story.

Despite this book being aimed towards an audience of 8-12 year olds, I would recommend it everyone.  Yes, it is a good book for children to read to gain an understanding of the Highland Clearances, but it also teaches the audience to find the courage that lies within them and embrace what lies ahead.

A very impressive debut novel from a very promising author, one I will be keeping an eye on in the future.  I just need to find out if Barbara Henderson will be at any literary events so I can get a signed copy of this beautifully enchanting book!

You can buy a copy of “Fir for Luck” via Amazon here or Book Depository here


Author Feature:

barbara-henderson-bio-photo

Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. She now teaches Drama, although if you dig deep in her past you will find that she has earned her crust as a relief librarian, receptionist and even a puppeteer. Her worst job ever was stacking and packing freshly pressed margarine tubs into cardboard boxes while the plastic was still hot – for eight hours a day. She is still traumatised!

Barbara has been interested in the history of the Highland Clearances since the early 90s. But it was when she stumbled across the crumbling ruins of Ceannabeinne, near the village of Durness on holiday, that her current novel Fir for Luck began to take shape in her imagination – and that story simply wouldn’t be ignored.

Over the years, writing has always been what she loves most: Barbara has won several national and international short story competitions and was one of three writers short-listed for the Kelpies Prize 2013 with a previous novel manuscript.
Barbara currently lives in Inverness and spends her time researching how on earth other people manage to make money from writing. She blogs regularly at www.write4bairns.wordpress.com

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

To be honest – there are loads of things I love about being an author. But most of all, I love the way that an idea can take hold of you, and – in time – that very idea, these very characters and situations and places, can take hold of a reader’s imagination, too.

For such a long time, I was the only person who knew about Janet, the main character in my clearances novel Fir for Luck. Now I get kids coming up to me at school visits, saying ‘I like how Janet is so brave’ or ‘Wee Donald is my favourite character’ or (as a kid said to me yesterday) ‘your book is the best book in the world!’ My story, the one that started only in my head, is now in lots of heads. There is no better feeling than that!

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

It’s slow work, and sadly, there is no guarantee that somebody is going to publish, sell or buy your book. I’d love to write full time, but there is not quite enough certainty for that yet. I have written so many manuscripts that have yet to see the light of day. You have to have quite a thick skin! Perseverance and tenacity are probably just as important as talent.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

This varies a lot. Saying that, I really admire authors who write funny fiction. It’s one of the hardest things to achieve: series like How to Train your Dragon or Mr Gum have me in stitches. Wish I’d written those!

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I play fiddle, I walk my dog, I hang out with my beyond-crazy family, and I read lots. Boring things like housework and taxi-ing kids around need to happen too – but my part-time job as a Drama teacher is interesting and varied, and I get to spend a lot of time with young people – the very audience I like to write for! All good!

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

Not rituals as such, but coffee helps – ideally from my favourite Inverness café, Velocity. I’ll often go there when I have trouble getting started – at home there are so many distractions! The ‘white’ noise of a café doesn’t disturb me at all, but I find that the traffic of kids and teenagers in my own house is harder to ignore. I leave the last sentence unfinished at the end of a writing session, so it’s easier to start straightaway the next day. I read every word aloud before I show it to a living soul! And photos and images really help me focus on the world I try to create, so the study is plastered with pictures. My best writing happens when others in the house are sleeping: sometimes last thing at night, but often first thing in the morning. The bags under my eyes bear testament to that!

A huge thank you to Barbara for taking part and letting us know more about her, if you’d like to know more about Barbara and her books you can check out her website www.barbarahenderson.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @scattyscribbler

white-logo1


If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

 

 

Read Full Post »

41zsxpqfasl-_sx319_bo1204203200_

Paperback Published: 9 February 2017
4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Black Swan as part of blog tour

 

Description:

THE GLOBAL MILLION-COPY BESTSELLER
PUBLISHED IN 15 LANGUAGES WORLDWIDE
A 21ST-CENTURY HIGH-CONCEPT DISASTER THRILLER

Tomorrow will be too late.

A cold night in Milan, Piero Manzano wants to get home.

Then the traffic lights fail. Manzano is thrown from his Alfa as cars pile up. And not just on this street – every light in the city is dead.

Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electricity grids collapse.

Plunged into darkness, people are freezing. Food and water supplies dry up. The death toll soars.

Former hacker and activist Manzano becomes a prime suspect. But he is also the only man capable of finding the real attackers.

Can he bring down a major terrorist network before it’s too late?

My Thoughts & Review:

“Blackout” is a thriller of high intensity, but alarmingly it also serves to enlighten us about how much we have come to rely on technology, and the resulting catastrophic fallout that will be endured should our beloved technologically advanced fail us.

When countries suffer blackouts throughout Europe they are plunged into a state of panic, traffic accidents occurring, petrol stations unable to function, homes without power, power grids descending into complete chaos.  Following an array of characters in each country, Marc Elsberg draws the reader in with his wonderful style of writing, holding readers in a trance as they frantically turn the pages of this book trying to find out what will happen next.  Former hacker Manzano becomes the prime suspect for this heinous crime, his background means that suspicion falls on him, but he is determined to untangle the mess to restore power (and clear his name!) before the death toll mounts any higher.

The most spectacular thing about this book was how realistic the scenario was.  Marc Elsberg has created a situation that is horrifyingly possible, and provides some brilliant narration as to the reactions of citizens, making for an addictive read.
A very thought provoking read and one I suspect will be a great conversation starter, I know that I’ve already posed a few questions to my husband about the likelihood of a similar scenario occurring.  Perhaps I’ll make sure we’ve plenty tins (and a tin opener), bottled water, and I’ll knit some more blankets just to be on the safe side…….

You can buy a copy of “Blackout” via Amazon here or Book Depository here.

Many thanks to Thomas Hill at Transworld Books for my copy of Blackout.

 

Read Full Post »

I am delighted to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for Jennifer Gilmour’s “Isolation Junction” and share an extract with you from her moving debut novel.  There’s also a giveaway running this week so be sure to click on the link for your chance to win a signed paperback copy and ebook copy of Isolation Junction.

51mebrsdr5l-_sx322_bo1204203200_1
Description:

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

You can buy a copy of Isolation Junction here

For your chance to win a  signed paperback copy and an ebook copy of “Isolation Junction” just click on this link to enter the giveaway


Extract: Chapter One

The local cinema was a weekly visit for my two close university friends Lyndsey and Helen. Together we laughed and giggled, had those stupidly drunk nights out and shared a lot of secrets that wouldn’t be told to anyone outside of our triangle. Lyndsey and Helen managed to scrape some time out of me even though I had that inescapable new relationship.

Lyndsey was blonde and ditzy and couldn’t be without a friend by her side; Helen was a brunette and seemed to have more fun than Lyndsey (Lyndsey seemed to always end up with her heart broken).

The three of us had just seen a comedy film. We couldn’t deal with sad films and horror films were written off completely as Lyndsey would scream and scare the audience as well as get us thrown out. Laughter had over-taken all emotions and we looked like three giddy teenaged girls which was often the case when we got together! I was meant to meet Darren at the end of the film to walk back to the girls’ newly rented home. However, Darren hadn’t turned up; there was a text message on my phone: ‘gone home’ which seemed a little odd to me but I didn’t think anything more of it. Lyndsey had offered to give me a lift home and so I enjoyed some more giggles with them for those last five minutes. I arrived home and was laughing on the way in; our terraced house was a small two-bed with the bathroom on the bottom floor but it was close to the centre of town and ideal for now. Darren and I both lived with housemates before moving in together and it was rushed into a frenzy when his housemates said they were moving out in a couple of weeks as they had gained jobs abroad. Darren had no one to move in with and I had come to the end of my tenancy so we were forced into a situation.

As I stepped through the small front door, it was like there was a sudden floodlight on me; the air felt cold and the room was dimly lit. Darren was sat in the armchair in the corner, slowly taking drags from his cigarette; he looked over at me like I was something stuck to the bottom of his shoe. As I always did, I began to tell Darren about how much fun I had and wondered where he had gotten to; I was looking forward to ending the evening with him which seemed like a perfect conclusion. As I talked, Darren sniggered and it took me a little while before the penny dropped.

Darren spoke in an unfriendly tone, “Seems like you’ve had a lot of fun without me.” I was lost for words and couldn’t tell where this conversation was going and why Darren was glaring at me.

“I erm, well, I always have fun with Lyndsey and Helen, it was good to catch up with them, but of course it’s good to see you now.” I sent a cheeky smile to him which he knew to be that special signal and I thought this might just cut through the ice but for some reason I was becoming nervous. Darren didn’t look impressed and I wasn’t really sure what was going on and my nerves started to show in my voice as I spoke again, “Anyway I’m tired so I’m going to get to bed.”

I remember everything like it was yesterday and I wish it wasn’t so clear. I walked up the stairs and ripped off my clothes and got into my pyjamas super-fast as it was the winter and I didn’t want to get too cold; I had mastered this as I am anaemic and often have to jump out and into clothes in seconds. I fell to sleep rather fast as I had had a long day.

A couple of hours had gone by when I woke up in shock to Darren shaking me, “Rose, Rose, we have to sort this out!”

At first I thought there was an emergency and my heart was racing from the adrenalin. “What do we need to sort out? What’s happened?” I was disorientated and panicky.

“Well, the fact that you think you can go out whenever you want and be with whoever you want,” Darren said as if I had had an affair or something.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m tired and it’s the middle of the night.” I tried to turn over and closed my eyes tightly. Darren was persistent and kept rocking me. I am one of those deep sleepers who has vivid dreams and sleep talks and walks so didn’t take calmly to someone disrupting my beauty sleep at all. Darren just wouldn’t leave me alone and after half an hour I was wide awake and stormed off (I often had those teenage moments). Even then he wouldn’t leave me alone and persisted by following me down the stairs and I could only catch parts of what he was saying as I was focused on getting out.

“Well, that’s immature . . . aren’t you going to talk . . .? I can’t wait until the morning to sort this out…for fuck sake won’t you just say something!”

The anger had been building in me and that was it, I got my coat on and I slipped on my trainers and walked out of the house slamming the door behind me. I remember thinking at the time what the hell was I doing and why had I let him get to me like this. It was a winter’s night, cold and bitter and it had been raining and the only sound you could hear was my feet on the road with light thuds; my long hair flew behind me like a piece of fabric. It slapped me in the face reminding me of my situation. I thought a walk would clear my mind, but I heard someone following behind. ‘Why can’t he just leave me alone’? I was gaining more and more anger and paced faster but Darren was also doing the same and wouldn’t let it lie.

I saw a cut-through some cottage houses and slipped through thinking I could get to the end and hide around the corner until he passed. No luck; I was thinking why on earth was this turning into a horror movie scene with Darren being some sort of villain. Eventually, I became out of breath with my asthma and knew I had pushed my limits when the wheezing started. I had gone around in circles around the cottages and shopping estate and finally he caught up with me.

Darren pinned me to the wall by grabbing my wrists and shouting, “WHY won’t you just listen to me?”

I was terrified inside but tried my best to hold it together, holding back the tears and trying not to breathe too fast and give the game away. Darren continued, “Now you’ve made me look like I’m the one in the wrong when it was you. I just wanted you to listen but you wouldn’t, you were stubborn. If you’d listened, then you would see that I’m just doing this because I love you so much and want to spend time with you.”

I had figured out how to calm Darren down and it was to give up (feed him what he wanted) but I needed to look convincing so I had to believe that I was in the wrong; tears filled my eyes as I spoke apologetically and slowly, “I’m sorry, I know it was me but I was so tired and I wasn’t thinking straight.”

It was like a light switch flicked over in Darren, “See, I knew you knew it was you; don’t worry I will forget about this, let’s just get out of this rain and get home.” We both headed home, drenched from head to toe and Darren held my hand lovingly. I held his back like a good girl.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

poster

Read Full Post »

Welcome along to the first post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  I am delighted to introduce you to Urbane Publications run by the lovely Matthew Smith, who endeavours to bring some of the best books to the reading populace as possible.

Today I have the great privilege to share with you a review of The Gift Maker, the debut novel by Mark Mayes which will be published on 23rd February 2017 and a fantastic short interview with Urbane author David Gaffney.


Book Feature:

51af1dkbhal

Published: 23 February 2017

4.5 out of 5 stars

Description:

Gifts ought to be free, but they never are. They tie you to the wishes of others. To your own sad expectations. To the penitentiary of your dreams.’

Late one night, Thomas Ruder receives a strange package: a small blue box. Another such item is delivered to his friend Liselotte Hauptmann. These ‘gifts’ will change their lives forever. In the far-off border town of Grenze, a play is to be performed at the Sheol Theatre. Reynard the impresario expects a very special audience. Thomas and Liselotte, together with their friend Johann, are drawn into Reynard’s seductive web, as Daumen, the gift maker, must decide who his master really is.

The Gift Maker is a story about identity, about fulfilling your dreams and becoming the person you always were … at whatever cost.

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Gift Maker” is a book I would struggle to restrict to any one genre other than fiction really, there are elements of Fantasy (Dystopian), Metaphysics and something that borders upon a fairy tale all cleverly cloaked in intelligent language with some incredibly impressive plotting.
Followers of The Quiet Knitter will be somewhat used to my occasional reading tangents, merrily wandering off into the abyss of an intriguing sounding book, beguiled by a concept that challenges my logically restricted brain.  I have to say this is one of those books I am happy to branch out of my comfort zone with.

The overarching theme that runs through this novel is one of self discovery, each of the main characters sets out on their own journey and in doing so takes on the challenges that lie in their way to fulfil their dreams, regardless of the cost.  There’s just the right level of suspense in this and something almost haunting about the story that moves the pace along well.  I almost want to describe it as disturbing at times but not in a negative way, more in the way that this book leeches into your subconscious.  I found that even when I wasn’t reading it, my mind was wandering back to Thomas, Liselotte and Johann, imagining the thrall of Reynard or contemplating how it all evolved into something bigger, in essence a tale of morality.  A very philosophical read and one that challenges how you perceive things, is it as simple as good and evil?  How far would you go to achieve your wildest dreams?  And in doing so, at what cost?

Despite being completely out of my comfort zone I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was challenging but rewarding to read, the skill that Mark Mayes demonstrates through is writing is superb.  It’s refreshing to see an intelligently written book that does not shy away from linguistic excellence (and yes, I admit there was the occasional word that I checked on the dictionary of my kindle –  I love finding new words).  The atmospheric description of Grenze was haunting but absolutely fantastic.

You can buy a copy of “The Gift Maker” directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository


Author Feature:

david-gaffney-colour-small-218x300

David Gaffney comes from Cleator Moor in West Cumbria and now lives in Manchester. He is the author of Sawn-off Tales (2006), Aromabingo (2007), Never Never (2008), The Half-life of Songs (2010) and his latest collection of short stories, More Sawn-Off Tales (2013). David has written articles for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times and Prospect magazine and is a judge for the 2015 Bridport prize as well as heading up the Arts Council in the North of England.

David’s novel “All The Places I’ve Ever Lived” will be published by Urbane Publications on 26th February 2017.

As part of the “Celebrating Indie Publishing” I thought it might be good to get to know some of the authors behind the books.  David kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his likes and dislikes of being an author as well as sharing where he prefers to do most of his writing.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Being an author is like being given your own big private storage unit where you can put all your ideas and thoughts. Because without this storage unit, what can you do? Haul it all around with you everywhere. So it’s such a relief when you are a creative person to be given a repository, an outlet like that. Like the pages of a book or a novel. Writing books is like bleeding your radiators. If you don’t bleed them, they get clogged up with creative ideas and everything else in your head stops working unless you have a way to get rid of all the imaginative gunge.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

People expect you to be able to answer questions about grammar and punctuation – like hey David what’s the definition of an Oxford comma? Or define the correct use of a semi colon, would you please? You’re an author aren’t you?

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

I wish I had written the Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills. Everything from the title onwards is like a compelling dream, and so incredibly funny and serious all at the same time, a mix of surreal and banal that is very European and somehow also very northern English.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up in plotting your next book?

I also play music so I’d be ideally playing piano or guitar – but the writing takes over I’m afraid most of the time.

Do you have a set routine ?

I like to write on trains if I can so that’s where I do a lot of it. Sometimes I go away to work, such as my friend’s cottage in Wales, or a place in a city. I don’t really like remote places in the country side. The last place I stayed in with the purpose of completing a book was in the middle of Lisbon, and I’ve done the same in Paris. Writing in a city means that at the end of the day there’s something to go out and do rather than just look out of the window at the sheep or stare at the fire and wonder what it would be like to have the internet. Oh and I often hold a pen in my hand while I type. I think it helps me to think.

A huge thank you to David for taking part and letting us know more about him, if you’d like to know more about David and his books you can check out his website www.davidgaffney.org or follow him on Twitter @ggaffa


If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

 

Read Full Post »

cover101942-medium

Published: 9 February 2017
Reviewed: 4 February 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by HQ & Netgalley

 

Description:

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

My Thoughts & Review:

After the success of “Behind Closed Doors”, B A Paris is back with another gripping thriller with opening scenes that will grab the reader and hold their attention from the outset.
In “The Breakdown” the reader is introduced to Cass, who takes a shortcut one night in a torrential downpour along a rural road and makes a decision that will have far reaching consequences for her.  Upon realising the car she saw in the woods the previous night had a woman who would be found murdered, she struggles with guilt, remorse, paranoia and suspicion.
What the author then does is cleverly draw the reader further in, detailing the downward spiral that Cass becomes entangled in, charting her grip on reality loosening to the point of desperation.  The way in which this is written is very powerful, evoking empathy from the reader but also sympathy towards Cass, the vivid descriptions of the emotions felt by Cass were powerful.

This is a very well plotted book, the tension builds to the point that readers will struggle to tear themselves away from what is happening, possibly reading into the small hours of the morning (yes I read past 2am with this one).  The characters in this are very well formed, and the reader cannot help but feel a connection with them.
There’s something sinister that lurks between the pages of this book, plenty of suspense and intrigue.

You can buy a copy of “The Breakdown” here.

 

About the Author:

B A Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, her debut novel. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working in Finance before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters. Her second novel, The Breakdown is out February 9th, 2017.

Follow B A on Twitter @BAParisAuthor

 

My thanks to HQ and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.

 

 

Read Full Post »

It is with great honour that I welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for #Sealskin and share with you a touching guest post written by Su Bristow, the author of this breathtakingly beautiful novel.

Su dedicated her book to her mother and many readers including myself were intrigued by what was written in this dedication, wondering what the story behind it was and kindly Su has shared this with us.

51fcpwukgjl-_sx323_bo1204203200_

 

‘To my mother, Moraig MacLauchlan, who never found her way back.’

My mother grew up in Glasgow in the 20s and 30s, and she had a short and troubled childhood. Her father’s family were crofters in Perthshire, and I’m not sure her father coped well with city life. By the time she was in her early teens, he was alcoholic and her parents had separated. When he died, just a few streets away, it was three days before she and her mother found out. They had no photos and never talked about him at all. In the same year, the house where they lived burned down, so they lost their home as well.

During the war she worked in the Glasgow telephone exchange, and she became engaged to a Canadian serviceman. When he was stationed in Surrey, England, she – and her mother – moved to be nearby. He was sent off to fight, taken prisoner in Italy, and repatriated to Canada at the end of the war…where he met and married someone else.

She never went back to Scotland. And if she’d ever been playful or carefree, she lost those qualities before I was born. I don’t know what she’d have made of Sealskin! But one of its themes is the loss of childhood innocence and the pain of exile, so I wanted to acknowledge her in that way.

You can buy a copy of Sealskin here.


 

About the Author:

su-photo

Su Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She’s the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern. Her published fiction includes ‘Troll Steps’ (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and ‘Changes’ which came second in the 2010 CreativeWritingMatters flash fiction competition. Her forthcoming novel, Sealskin, is set in the Hebrides, and it’s a reworking of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writing has been described as ‘magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey’.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the #Sealskin blog tour for reviews, giveaways and some fascinating and interesting guest posts by Su.

 

sealskin-blog-tour-amended

 

orenda-header

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

51fcpwukgjl-_sx323_bo1204203200_

Published: 15 February 2017
Reviewed: 31 December 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Orenda Books as part of blog tour

 

Description:

Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous, and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives—not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies—seals who can transform into people—evokes the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set.

My Thoughts & Review:

Where do I begin with this review…..this is quite possibly one of the most difficult reviews to write, and one that I think a thesaurus might have to be used.  How many words for “good” “wonderful” and “amazing” are there?  And that’s just snapshot of the words I would use to describe this book.  It really is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read.

For regular readers of The Quiet Knitter, you will be wondering if the New Year has brought about a change in genre, and fear not, I still love crime thriller and police procedurals.  I do however have a love for folklore and mythology, especially when it relates to Scottish tales I have known since childhood.
The legend of the Selkie is one that many Scottish children grow up hearing, but they also feature in Irish, Scandinavian and Faroese mythology too.

Selkies are creatures that live as seals in the sea, who come ashore and shed their skin to become human.  In this bewitching tale there is no shortage of characters whose lives are changed forever by one of these such creatures.
Donald is a young fisherman, a social outcast of sorts who fishes alone with only his empty creels for company, but one night he witnesses something that shakes his world, and in a rash moment his actions bring about a cataclysmic change for those around him.

What follows is a flowing tale of love, friendship, acceptance and coming of age for the varying characters.  Set against the ruggedly beautiful Scottish backdrop, the vivid descriptions draw the reader in, detail oozing from the pages and giving the reader a chance to feel the coastal winds whipping at their faces, taste the salt in the air, feel the uneven terrain underfoot as they clamber through the heather and over rocks.  It really is hard not to become immersed in such an enchanting and beguiling setting.
Add to this the cast of characters who make up the coastal community, each one plays an important role in the lives of those around them and is accountable for something.  Through the powerful and poignant story telling the characters all develop in ways I could never have imagined when I started this book.  Donald in particular was a character who seemed to come full circle.  His early actions evoking emotions in me that changed once I saw him evolve into the man be became.  Mhairi was a character that despite being mute said volumes through her actions.  The mystery surrounding her was a joy to read, and she is a character that stays with the reader long after they read the final words of Sealskin.

It’s very hard to describe this book without giving anything away, it’s rich and enthralling yet dark and foreboding at times.  The rugged coastal setting matches so well with the tale, almost poetically.  I found that I read this book in one sitting, and try as I might I could not read this slowly.  There’s a magic in the pages that sparks something within the reader and enchants them, keeping them enthralled.  

Su Bristow has done the legend of the Selkie proud with her take on the tale, and shows a wonderful talent that implores readers to pick up her books even if it might not be something they would ordinarily read.  The weaving of folklore with a modern slant is poetic and hauntingly beautiful.

You can buy a copy of Sealskin here.

 

About the Author:

su-photo

Su Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She’s the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern. Her published fiction includes ‘Troll Steps’ (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and ‘Changes’ which came second in the 2010 CreativeWritingMatters flash fiction competition. Her forthcoming novel, Sealskin, is set in the Hebrides, and it’s a reworking of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writing has been described as ‘magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey’.

sealskin-blog-tour-amendedorenda-header

 

Read Full Post »

It’s not often that I post anything other than reviews on here, I do occasionally consider writing a “round up” each week of what I’ve read and what reviews are coming up, what blog tours The Quiet Knitter will be participating in etc but I never quite get around to it…..time slips away from me and well I forget entirely once I’ve written and scheduled another review.  But from Friday (10th February), I will be hosting a special feature to celebrate independent publishers, their books and their authors.

For those who have followed The Quiet Knitter over the last year you will probably be aware that I love Indie Publishers, their books are diverse and exciting.  I’m always keen to help put their books in the spotlight and share how great they are and I’ve decided that a good way to do this is to dedicate every Friday to sharing a post about a book/an author/or a publisher.  There are some fantastic publishers lined up to take part and the books that I have to share with you are some of the best ones I’ve had the privilege to read.  There’s also some wee giveaways lined up throughout the year so be sure to check back for details.

The first to feature will be Urbane Publications with a book review of The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes and also an author feature with David Gaffney

Here are some of the fantastic publishers taking part, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be able to share their books with you.  A huge thanks to these guys and their authors for taking part and most importantly for their devotion to incredible books.

 

If you are an independent publisher and would like to take part in this feature please get in touch.

 

Read Full Post »

51cl1gao1pl-_sx325_bo1204203200_

Published: 12 January 2017
Reviewed: 31 January 2017

5 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Simon & Schuster UK

 

Description:

A story of intrigue and revenge, perfect for fans of Jane Eyre and Fingersmith and The Miniaturist.

On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of the barren landscape, lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man, and his sister, the brisk widow, Hester.

When Annaleigh, a foundling who has fled her home in London, finds herself at the remote house, in service to the Twentymans, she discovers all is not as it seems behind closed doors.

Isolated and lonely, Annaleigh is increasingly drawn to her master. And as their relationship intensifies, she soon realises that her movements are being controlled and her life is no longer her own. Slowly she is drawn into a web of intrigue and darkness, and soon she must face her fears if she is to save herself.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the very moment I head about this book I knew I had to read it, from the incredibly compelling description to the magnificent cover this book had my full attention and I was delighted to be able to review it.

Sophia Tobin writes beautifully and evocatively, drawing the reader in from the very opening pages of this book and holds the reader fast in an intensely atmospheric tale.  The way in which characters and settings are described in this book is almost intoxicating, the landscape is so vividly described that the reader can almost see Becket Bridge and envision the moorlands, feel the cool tendrils of the moorland mist, sense the danger that lies out there.
The same detail is applied to the characters in this, Annaleigh is portayed as a young woman who wants to fight against the rules of society and her place within it, but shows a willingness to work hard and obey her masters.  Marcus Twentyman is a character that gives the reader pause for thought, his outward appearance is that of charm but yet there is something venomous and dangerous about him, this sinister notion is prevalent throughout the novel.

I am loathe to say too much about the plot, but I will say that this is a gripping story, very well written and a sheer delight for readers, one that is perfect for a quiet Sunday afternoon with a steaming mug of tea (and a few biscuits, as long as you’re careful with the crumbs!).

Having never read any books by Sophia Tobin before I had no real grounding of her writing before starting this book, but if this is the standard what she writes at I will be checking out her other books immediately!

You can buy a copy of “The Vanishing” here.

About the Author:

Sophia Tobin was raised on the Isle of Thanet in Kent. Having graduated from the Open University, she moved to London to study History of Art, then worked for a Bond Street antique dealer for six years, specialising in silver and jewellery. Inspired by her research into a real eighteenth-century silversmith, Tobin began to write The Silversmith’s Wife, which was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize, judged by Sophie Hannah and Professor Janet Todd. It was published by Simon & Schuster in January 2014.

Tobin’s second novel, The Widow’s Confession, will be published in January 2015. She works in a library and lives in London with her husband.

For more information see her website

Read Full Post »

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Mel Sherratt’s latest book in the Detective Eden Berrisford series and share an extract with you.

dont-look-behind-you-cover

Description:

She got into bed but sleep didn’t come easily. Every creak in the house made her alert. She was waiting for him to come and get her.

The small city of Stockleigh is in shock as three women are brutally attacked within days of each other. Are they random acts of violence or is there a link between the victims? For Detective Eden Berrisford, it’s her most chilling case yet.

The investigation leads Eden to cross paths with Carla, a woman trying to rebuild her life after her marriage to a cruel and abusive man ended in unimaginable tragedy. Her husband Ryan was imprisoned for his crimes but, now he’s out and coming for her.

As Eden starts to close in on the attacker, she also puts herself in grave danger. Can she stop him before he strikes again? And can Carla, terrified for her life, save herself – before the past wreaks a terrible revenge?

You can buy a copy of “Don’t Look Behind You” in the UK here, and in USA here

 

About the Author:

mel-sherratt-photo

Mel writes gritty crime dramas, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as she calls it. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, she finds inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes. Since 2012, all nine of her crime novels have been bestsellers. Four of her books have been published by Amazon Publishing’s crime and thriller imprint, Thomas and Mercer and she has a new series out with Bookouture.

Mel lives in Stoke-on-Trent, with her husband and terrier, Dexter, named after the TV serial killer, and makes liberal use of her hometown as a backdrop for some of her books.

Website: www.melsherratt.co.uk

 


Extract from Don’t Look Behind You:

He stood across the road, watching from the shadows. There was no point in causing a commotion. It wasn’t worth risking someone calling the police. Besides, he didn’t want her to know he was there just yet. It was the sense of excitement he had missed since he’d arrived in Stockleigh. The chase, the thrill, call it what you may. It never left him.

She was here, right in front of him. He would bide his time before letting her know he was here. It was fun watching her. She was his obsession, yet he could take her down any time he liked, and that was far more rewarding.

He didn’t really need to stand back in the shadows. Even though he wore dark clothes, he was sure she wouldn’t have noticed him anyway. He’d been following her for several days, yet she hadn’t suspected a thing. Which was pathetic, really, given the circumstances.


 

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, extracts etc

dont-look-behind-you-blog-tour-graphic

 

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

write4bairns

Writing for Kids

The Auld (Woolly) Alliance

When a Scottish Knitwear and Toy Designer and a French Compulsive Knitter Meet...

Put it in Writing

The Blog & Website of Anne Stormont Author: Writing, Reading, Reflecting

bibliobeth

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” - Cicero

Not Another Book Blogger

Reading, Writing, Drinking Tea

BookBum

A friendly space for all mystery, crime & thriller lovers

Broadbean's Books

Welcome to my blog where I share my thoughts on books.

Audio Killed the Bookmark

Two Girls Who Love To Read Spreading the Love For All Things Bookish! 💕📚🎧

Me and My Books

Books, book reviews and bookish news.

The Beardy Book Blogger

Reading and Reviewing Books - May Contain Beard: "From Tiny Book Blog Buds Shall Mighty Book Blogs Grow" - TBBB

Book lovers' booklist

Book news and reviews

Rosepoint Publishing

Blogger, Book Reviewer, Book Promotion

Crime Thriller Fella

Crime reviews, news, mayhem, all the usual

juliapalooza.com

Books, bakes and bunnies

A Knight's Reads

All things bookish

Letter Twenty

it's all about the tea

On The Shelf Books

A bookblog for readers

Gem's Quiet Corner

Welcome to my little corner. Grab a cup of tea (or hot drink of preference), find your happy place and join me to talk all things bookish...