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Published: 18 May 2017

 

Description:

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET
Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.
But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.
Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

My Thoughts & Review:

There’s just something so lovely about picking up a book by Jenny Colgan, you know from the moment you start reading that there will be laughter and fun as well as a few more serious moments.
“Spandex and the City” is wonderfully humorous from the opening chapter, poor Holly Phillips finding her chances of a love life aren’t helped by having her knickers splashed over the front pages and on social media.  Her night starts innocently enough, a much needed night out with her best friend Gertie when a band of masked robbers descend upon the bar and demand valuables, phones etc.  These raids aren’t the first that the town has endured and without fail the local superhero Ultimate Man is soon in the vicinity to save the day, unfortunately when he rescues the damsel in distress (or distressing damsel) he throws her over his shoulder to lead her to safety not realising her knickers are on show for all to see.  Holly is mortified when people recognise her face in the picture and attracts some unwanted attention because of this.

The raids continue across the town, and as luck would have it Holly usually ends up being in the same place, as does Ultimate Man.  The pair share a few conversation at their unplanned rendezvous, and from there a budding romance of sorts forms.

“Spandex and the City” is different from Colgan’s other novels, yes there is a love story in here, but there is also a lot more to this novel than some readers may expect.  The superhero and science fiction elements in this novel are well written and it has a feel of an updated superhero tale.  Characterisation is really good, Holly is a funny and charming character that oozes warmth and humour.  Her exchanges with her best friend Gertie as well as those with Ultimate Man are wonderfully crafted and very enjoyable.  Ultimate Man is a little bit of an enigma, very alluring and interesting but I have to agree with Holly’s remarks about his name, it doesn’t sound the greatest!  The evil mastermind was a fantastic character, one with many sides it would seem but how many of them were true?

A lovely light hearted read with plenty of laughter – just what I’ve come to know and love from Jenny Colgan!

My thanks to Hayley Camis for recommending this book and inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “Spandex and the City” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

 

Follow the blog tour!

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Published: 18 May 2017

 

Description:

No one in Carniskey has ever truly understood what led Sean Delaney, a seasoned local fisherman, to risk his life in a high storm in the dead of night. Now, three years on from that tragic night, his wife Alison is still struggling with her unresolved grief and increasing financial worries.

After three difficult years, Alison has grown distant from her daughter and estranged from her friends and fellow villagers, particularly her best friend Kathleen who harbours a deeply guarded secret of her own. Isolated by its stunning yet often cruel surroundings, this is a community used to looking after its own but the arrival of an outsider – artist and lifelong nomad, William – offers Alison a new perspective on life and love that threatens to unearth the mysteries of the past.

A story of courage and enduring humanity, Finding Alison follows the community through their struggles in love, loss and betrayal, each coming to understand that only in truth can we find the peace and liberation essential for true happiness.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Finding Alison” is one of those books that instantly appeals to me as soon as I’ve read the description, it’s a lovely change of pace from dark and gritty crime thrillers but it’s still an emotional rollercoaster ride.

The reader is faced with one of the most heart wrenching openings, Alison Delaney is wakened by a knock on the door that will change her life forever, her husband Sean was seen taking his fishing boat out late at night on stormy seas and it has sunk.  Alison is dumbfounded with grief, she struggles to cope with the idea that Sean is gone, wandering the beach and harbour in hope.  As time passes and no sign of Sean or his boat appear washed up on the shore the search is called off and Alison is forced to accept he has gone.  Alison is not the only one in mourning, their young daughter Hannah essentially loses both of her parents that stormy night, Sean’s mother Maryanne stepping in to care for the youngster when Alison is unable to cope.

As years pass, Hannah steps into her teenage years and rebels, perhaps a telling sign of her years but she cannot understand why her mother has sunk to the levels she has, not taking care of her appearance or her health and developing an alarming reliance on a bottle of wine or two to get through an evening.  Alison struggles to connect with Hannah, finding that the gap between them has become too wide, she relies on the help of her best friend Kathleen and her sister Claire.  There are also financial struggles for the Delaney family, the insurance payout from Sean’s accident cannot be released until 7 years have passed so that he can be legally declared dead.
A burglary gone wrong in Maryanne’s home one evening leaves her suffering a massive knock to the head, and she is moved to a nursing home to be cared for and Alison feels duty bound to visit everyday.

Deep rooted in this tale is a connection with the sea, it almost becomes a character in its own right.  The descriptions of the seascape are utterly hypnotic and the poetry used to portray the movements of the waves make it easy for a reader to “see” the alluring appeal of the sea.  It’s whilst seeking solace beside the sea that Alison meets William and from there she steps into the light and embarks on a journey to find herself.
 

At the heart of it, this is a story of growth, finding yourself and reminding us of the lasting impact people leave on each other.  This is a powerful and evocative read, and at times it’s heart wrenchingly sad, there were moments I could feel tears threatening to spill out but equally there were moments I laughed out loud.  There were also revelations which I genuinely did not see coming and gasped in surprise before reading on eagerly to find out what happened next.
This is very much a book that lingered on in my mind after I’d read it, the writing is so wonderfully rich.  The descriptions of settings, characters, relationships all felt so real and authentic.
My absolute heartfelt thanks to Joanne – Portobello Book Blog and Lina at Black and White Publishing for bringing this book to my attention, I cannot thank you both enough!
You can buy a copy of “Finding Alison” via:
Don’t forget to follow the blog tour!
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Published: 18 May 2017

Description:

A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. The only clue to his identity is an admission stamp for the local gay club.

DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man’s death draws the attention of the local gay rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.

Things become more complicated with the emergence of a far right group targeting immigrants in a local working-class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.

Hatred and complicity abound in the days leading up to the Brexit vote in McGilloway’s new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner.

My Thoughts & Review:

Bad Blood is the fourth book by Brian McGilloway to feature DS Lucy Black, and thankfully for me this can read well as a stand alone book, although after reading this I am very keen to go back and catch up on the previous three books.

There is a very current feel to this, the plot incorporating the Brexit referendum as well as issues of racism, immigration and homophobia.
DS Black and her superior officer, DI Tom Fleming are members of the Public Protection Unit which requires them to assist on numerous investigations including the murder of a gay teenager.   With the influx of crime on the Greenway estate, racist attacks and and building unrest it soon becomes clear that their investigations will be far from easy, the PPU having to sensitively navigate round certain figures within the communities to get the answers they need.  The way that Brian McGilloway manages to weave threads of different factions and their grievances is very interesting.  From those who would fight in favour of bakeries discriminating against homosexuality for religious reasons all the way through to people retaining anger at the injustices of the Troubles, the author manages to incorporate details that add to the plot but never overshadows the main storyline.

As a police procedural this is a good read, there are enough twists to the plot to keep a reader interested and keep them guessing as to what may happen.  There are some incredibly well created characters that will delight readers.  DS Lucy Black is a refreshing change from the usual detective, she does not appear to be damaged or have a horrendously sordid backstory and instead works well with others to do her job well.

My thanks to Hayley Camis and Corsair for the opportunity to read and review this book as well as for being part of the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “Bad Blood” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour for reviews and extracts!

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Welcome along to my Friday post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  Today I am delighted to bring you another book from  Cranachan Publishing and share my review “Charlie’s Promise” by Annemarie Allan.  I was also lucky enough to grab a few minutes of Annemarie’s time so interrogated her thoroughly for the author feature!


Book Feature:

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Published: 19 March 2017

Would you break the rules or break your promise?

On the outskirts of Edinburgh, just before the outbreak of WW2, Charlie finds a starving German boy hiding in the woods near his home. Josef can’t speak English and is desperately afraid, especially of anyone in uniform. Charlie’s promise to help Josef find his Jewish relatives in the city is the start of a journey that will force them to face their fears, testing their new-found friendship to the limit.

 

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Cranachan Publishing are fast becoming my go to publisher when I want to read something a little different.  Several of the books they have published have been narrated through the eyes of a child and I find this richly rewarding.  There are so many things that when viewed through childhood innocence seem much more poignant and untethered by the politics of adult life and this is one of those books.

Set in the outskirts of Edinburgh in small coastal town called Morison’s Haven in 1938, we encounter young Charlie, who seems unphased by the looming war and will do whatever he can to avoid the school bully.  His luck is challenged one day when he is roped into helping his friend Jean find missing dog Laddie.  The pair of youngsters enter the woods they’d been told to stay away from, warned that collapsed mine entrances posed great danger, but Jean is determined to find Laddie and Charlie cannot let her go in alone.  When they do find Laddie they also discover a starved stranger, a young German boy.  Josef does not speak English, Charlie and Jean speak no German but the trio soon find a way to communicate to help Josef.  Realising that the only clue they have as to how Josef ended up in Scotland is a piece of paper with an Edinburgh address and a name on it, Charlie makes a promise to get his new friend to safety – he just needs to work out a plan first.

This book beautifully portrays a tale of the kindness of strangers as well as the innocence of childhood.  It reminds us to think about those who might need help without having to look for a route cause, and in this instance Charlie saw a young lad that was cold, alone and hungry.  He saw that Josef was scared and needed a friend, he needed comfort and he needed someone to help him find his way.
The characters in this, especially the three main ones are so realistic and you cannot help but take them into your heart.  Charlie needs to do the right thing, even if in a round about way he ends up telling a wee white lie or doing things he shouldn’t, he believes that if he has made a promise that he should honour it and that’s very commendable.  Jean is fearless, to a point.  She is a genuine friend to Charlie, who often is seen as an outcast because of disability.  Jean is the driving force in the duo, headstrong and determined.
Fear plays a big part in the lives of these characters, whether it is the fear of the belt at school, being sent to the headmaster, a warning from parents or in Josef’s case, a fear of strange grown ups and the way in which it is written makes it realistic.  You get a strong sense of the panic that is felt by the youngsters when faced with certain situations.

I found that this was a book I didn’t want to put down, the tale was so wonderfully crafted and expertly woven that I almost raced through it, relishing the small details as well as frantically trying to find out if the trio would make it to Edinburgh and just who Josef was trying to reach.

This book acts as a great reminder about humanity as well as a wonderful resource to teach youngsters about the harrowing events of Kristallnacht.  And although the target audience is 9-12 year old readers I would say this is a book that readers of any age can read and enjoy.

 

You can buy a copy of “Charlie’s Promise” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


Author Feature:

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Annemarie Allan was born in Edinburgh, lived in California and London, before returning to Scotland, where she decided it was time to take her writing seriously.
Her first published novel, ‘Hox’, won the 2007 Kelpies Prize and was shortlisted for both the Scottish Children’s Book of the Year and the Heart of Hawick book awards. Her third novel, ‘Ushig’, a fantasy based on Scottish myths and legends, was shortlisted for the 2011 Essex Children’s Book Award. Her latest novel, ‘Charlie’s Promise’ is set in Scotland on the eve of the Second World War, but the issues it deals with are still relevant today.
She writes for both adults and children and has authored several booklets on the history of East Lothian, where she now lives. She was a contributor to the historical review of East Lothian 1945–2000, edited by Sonia Baker, which was awarded first prize in the Alan Ball Local History Award 2010. More recently, her short story, ‘Entrapment’, won the flash fiction section of the 2015 Federation of Writers (Scotland) annual competition.
Her novels and short stories range from fantasy and science fiction to historical and contemporary fiction, taking their inspiration from the landscape and culture of Scotland, both past and present.

If you would like to know more about Annemarie and her writing, you can contact her at:
http://annemarieallan.com/
https://twitter.com/aldhammer

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

I love the sense that I’m making something that has never existed before, the challenge of bringing to life the characters who previously lived only inside my head. I also love the opportunity to meet readers and talk about my stories. If you write for children, it’s fairly easy to interact with readers through schools and libraries. I also write adult short stories and it’s much harder to connect with readers when writing that type of fiction.

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

I think that would be the sense of rejection when a story is turned down. Almost every fiction writer has a collection of novels, short stories, poems etc, that have been sent out into the world and returned unwanted. It’s hard to be thick-skinned enough to put that to one side and move on, but I tell myself that it’s not always the case that the writing fails to engage the reader. The story might not be polished enough, or might not fit with a publisher’s current priorities. I have found that submitting for prizes as well as for publication is a good way to find out if a story has merit. I took that route twice before I found a publisher. One of my novels was shortlisted for the Saga/HarperCollins children’s book award and another won the Kelpies Prize. It was enormously reassuring to discover that the judges rated the quality of my writing.

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

I don’t think I know how to answer this question! Every writer has their own style. Some are so strong you can recognise them from even a couple of paragraphs and I can’t imagine myself writing in someone else’s voice unless it was a parody. There are, of course, a huge number of writers I admire, both past and present. Contemporary ones include Frances Hardwicke, whose fantasies turn the idea of good and evil upside down, especially in ‘The Cuckoo Song’. Or Joanne Harris, who is so skilful at laying a false trail that you have trouble even identifying who is who until the last few pages of the story.

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

I am an avid reader. Apart from the demands of everyday life, I spend almost all my time with my nose in a book. I also like to walk and I am very grateful that I live in a part of the world where I am close to the sea and the countryside. Apart from anything else, walking is a great way to find time to think about writing! The process of creating a story goes on even when I’m not sitting down to write.

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

I don’t know if I would call them set rituals, but I like to work at the computer in the morning and go over what I’ve written in the evening or add to my day’s writing with pen and paper. I use a yellow pad for my notes and scribbles. I do have a specific pen that I use for book signings. My daughter bought it for me when I had my first book published and every time I use it, I am reminded of what a wonderful moment that was!

A huge thank you to Annemarie for taking part in the author feature and telling us a little about herself.   If you would like to know more about Annemarie and her writing, you can contact her via her website  http://annemarieallan.com/ or Twitter https://twitter.com/aldhammer

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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.

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Hello and happy Friday!  Welcome along to another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” and this week the book being featured is “Beware the Cuckoo” by Julie Newman, and the author in the spotlight is Simon Michael.

 


Book Feature:

Published: 18 May 2017

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“Lies, deceit and dark secrets – this is a wonderfully addictive read” – Sheree Murphy, actress and television presenter

They were reunited at his funeral, school friends with a shared past. A past that is anything but straightforward. A past that harbours secrets and untruths.

Karen has a seemingly perfect life. An adoring husband, two wonderful children and a beautiful home. She has all she has ever wanted, living the dream. She also has a secret.

Sandra’s once perfect life is rapidly unravelling. The man who meant everything to her had a dark side and her business is failing. To get her life back on track she needs to reclaim what is rightfully hers. She knows the secret.

As the past meets the present, truths are revealed – and both women understand the true cost of betrayal.

My Thoughts & Review:

It’s not often that a book leaves me genuinely stumped about how to review it.  On the one hand there was a very luring mystery aspect to the plot of this book, but there was also a plot line that I found very uncomfortable to read and if I’m honest I don’t think I would have picked this book up had I known about it.   Abuse of any sort makes for harrowing reading but when it features heavily in a book it puts a reader in a difficult position.  Do they continue reading and hope that this aspect of the plot is handled sensitively and remains utterly relevant to the story or do they stop reading there and then and forever wonder what happens in the other parts of the plot?  This was  a quandary I found myself in earlier this week.

I would urge caution to readers who may find the abuse detail too much.  The mystery element of the book is written well, the creeping darkness that looms as Karen and Sandra’s shared past is recounted gives the reader a gripping read and the prologue really does grab you.  The pace of this is quite brisk, and the number of secrets that are buried in the plot keep readers on their toes.
Sandra was a character that I struggled to connect with, she was very vain and spoiled as a youth and seemed not have changed much in adulthood.  Karen on the other hand, a vulnerable youth, that survives to adulthood but is troubled by her past and the memories associated with it.  Neither of these women were particularly likeable but I think this helped give a sense of detachment when reading this.

You can buy a copy of “Beware the Cuckoo” directly from directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository


Author Feature:

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Simon Michael is the author of the best-selling London 1960s noir gangster series featuring his antihero barrister, Charles Holborne.  Simon writes from personal experience: he was a barrister for 37 years and worked in the Old Bailey and other criminal courts defending and prosecuting a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy during what was often considered the “Wild West” of British justice.  The 1960s was a time when the Krays and the Richardsons and other violent gangs fought for control of London’s organised crime, and the corrupt Metropolitan Police beat up suspects, twisted the evidence and took their share of the criminal proceeds.   Simon weaves into his thrillers genuine court documents from cases on which he worked and the big stories of the 1960s.

Simon was a successful author in the 1980s, published here and in the USA, and returned to writing when he retired from the Bar in 2016.  The first two books in the Charles Holborne series, The Brief published in September 2015 and An Honest Man published in July 2016, have both garnered rave reviews for their authenticity and excitement.  The theme of Simon’s books is alienation; Holborne, who dabbled in crime and in serious violence before becoming a barrister, is an outsider both in the East End where he grew up and in the Temples of the law where he now practices, where he faces daily class and religious prejudice.  He has been compared to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, honourable men surrounded by corruption and violence, trying to steer an honest course.

The third book in the series, THE LIGHTERMAN, will be published in June 2017 and looks set to be another bestseller.

Simon lives with his wife and youngest child in Bedfordshire. He is a founder member of the Ampthill Literary Festival and a former trustee and chairman of the Road Victims Trust, a charity devoted to supporting those bereaved or suffering life changing injury on the roads.

 

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

I can lose myself in a parallel world, one very similar to the one I inhabit, but where I control the outcomes.  I can present my characters, in particular Charles Holborne – who bears more than a passing resemblance to me – with the same life choices, the same moral dilemmas and the same dangers that I have faced and have him do better than I did.  It’s a mixture of escapism and self-therapy.

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

The inverse of the previous answer: the area where I have no control, i.e. the business side of things.  Like every author I feel that I’m writing something worth reading.  More than that, I also believe I have something to say about the darker side of human nature, how we are all a mix of good and evil, and how in the end good usually prevails.  But having spent months crafting, tweaking and polishing to produce work of the best possible quality I can manage, I have no control over whether the book is a bestseller or it sinks into the abyss with thousands of others.  There’s a huge market out there, and it’s so disheartening how authors of the highest quality (and I’m not talking about myself) just don’t get noticed; so often authors with distinctive voices don’t get the prominence or the sales they deserve.  On the other hand complete and utter copycat pap finds its way onto the best-seller lists because it happens to be the flavour of the month, or because the Amazon behemoth decides to put its marketing heft behind it.  It’s iniquitous, random and dispiriting.

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

There are too many to mention, but one book that I have returned to over and again during my life is The Adventures of Hiram Holliday by Paul Gallico.  I first read it in my late teens or perhaps early 20s when I was quite impressionable, and it had a lasting impact on me.  It is set in the late 1930s just as the Nazis are taking over Germany, against the backdrop of a Europe that was shortly to disappear forever.  It is the story of a mild-mannered rather portly old-fashioned American gent who turns out to have the heart and soul of a real hero, and some surprisingly useful talents.  He is not in the least brash and hides his light under a bushel.  He is the sort of gentleman (and hero) I have always aspired to be.

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

I do a lot of talks to book groups, clubs and associations (for example the WI), and really enjoy it.  Unlike most authors, I don’t talk directly about my writing but about my family’s unusual history, my journey from council labourer to barrister, some of the entertaining stories and personalities I have encountered at the Bar and the themes which inspire my books.  After 38 years of public speaking, I hadn’t realised the extent to which I would miss it when I retired from active practice.  Speaking to these groups allows me to continue performing.

I also spend a lot of time doing research (which I like – and which can be very seductive unless you force yourself eventually to get down to the actual writing); marketing (which I dislike) and social media (which I loathe, but see as a necessary evil).

Finally, I have bought a very old rambling farmhouse in Gascony, which I adore, and I go there for peace and tranquillity as often as I can.  My wife still works, so she and my adult children join me as often as their schedules permit.

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

I don’t have any routine for writing and I desperately need to create one!  My wife and family accuse me of having a “butterfly mind”, which flits from subject to subject and task to task.  If my wife is to be believed, it makes me extremely unproductive.  I point out that I had a very successful career at the Bar for over 30 years, and in less than three years since I took on my last case I have written four novels, not to mention creating the website, doing the marketing, social media, blogging, and so on.  Not bad for someone who is unproductive.

However, she is right to this extent: I need to work to a proper schedule and divide the day into sections for social media/marketing chores, actual writing, and domestic/childcare stuff.  At present it’s the writing time which gets squeezed and squeezed, moved further and further towards the end of the list, and sometimes never reached at all.  And, after all, that’s the bit I like the best.

I have no particular rituals.  When I do get to the writing I sit at my desk, wake up the computer and start.  Once there, four or five hours will pass without my even noticing.

A huge thank you to Simon for taking part and for sharing some more about himself, and I have to say that I did go and look up The Adventures of Hiram Holliday after it was mentioned as it sounds like a book I’d enjoy, and it’s currently at the top of my birthday wish list for next month along with The Lighterman .
If you would like to know more about Simon and his books check out his website or follow him on twitter @simonmichaeluk

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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.

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Published: 4 May 2017

Description:

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and Lie With Me.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Night Visitor” is the first book by Lucy Atkins that I’ve read, and if I’m honest I really had no idea what to expect when I picked this up.  I’d seen a fair bit of praise for this book and was curious to see if it lived up to the hype.

Following two characters, Olivia Sweetman and Vivian Tester, the author expertly weaves an intricate plot that will leave readers stunned, the story makes for uncomfortable reading in places but it is also spectacularly clever.  The way in which this book has been written is magnificent, each word, each phrase, each nuance is used for maximum effect and is perfectly placed to ensure that readers are entranced under Atkins spell.
Olivia Sweetman is an interesting character who on the surface appears to have the quintessential perfect life.  She is a highly successful academic, a minor celebrity, has a happy marriage and three children.  But below the surface there is tension bubbling, from the very beginning it is clear there is something bothering her, and the relationships around her are not as stable as they might seem.
Vivian Tester, well there’s a character that I found incredibly difficult to work out.  A true hat tip to Atkins here, as this must have been a character that took time and work to get just right on paper.  Vivian Tester is cold, distant, blunt and for want of a better word, strange.  She likes routine, and does not like anyone upsetting it.  She clearly has a secret or two to hide, but what could be behind her sinister aura.
Both of these women make for unreliable narrators, but it’s up to the reader to decide which is the most unreliable……

At times there is a claustrophobic feel to reading this book, suspicion runs rife throughout the plot, there are secrets being kept that could potentially ruin the lives of many and there is an underlying menace that presents in many forms – the book perfectly titled when you consider the events in the tower in France and Vivian’s terrifying nightmares.  All of this combines to form an incredibly rich and atmospheric read, and one that is filled with intrigue.

The attention to detail in the writing absolutely blew me away, Lucy Atkins has clearly spent a lot of time researching her subject matter, intricate details given about dung beetles, the publishing world and academia add a real feeling of authenticity as well as providing fascinating in-depth reading.

A wonderfully gripping thriller, that haunts the reader long after they’ve turned the final pages.

My thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou and Quercus Books for the opportunity to read this book and take part in the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “The Night Visitor” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, guest posts and extracts!

 

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Published: 17 April 2017

 

Description:

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

My Thoughts & Review:

Every so often you read a book that speaks directly to your heart and that book becomes a very special one indeed.  “The Sewing Machine” has become a very special book to me, one that I loved reading and will no doubt be reading again before the year is out.

The uniqueness of this book comes in the form that the reader follows the tale of a Singer Sewing machine from it’s “birth” on the production line in Clydebank, Glasgow in the early 1900s.  It is at the Singer factory that we meet the first of the wonderfully rich characters, Jean.  A young woman, who believes in doing the right thing and following her heart, Jean takes part in a strike at the factory which in turn leads to a change of life for her.

The inheritance of the sewing machine by Fred brings the reader to current times and a different world from when the sewing machine first appeared.  It is through Fred that the reader finds out about the history of this particular machine, he unearths notebooks kept by his grandmother and great grandmother detailing all of the projects sewn on this machine.  The author expertly crafts together an intensely rich tale that flows over several time periods from different perspectives but all the while keeps everything linked, you could say her anchor stitching is perfect.

The exploration of each of the main characters in this book is so well thought out and detailed, it is evident that numerous hours of research has been done in planning of this story, including the small details of nursing uniforms and practices in the set time period add a real authenticity.
The lives of Connie and Alfred stuck out for me reading this, perhaps there was something about them that reminded me of my grandparents, certainly some of Fred’s younger memories of his grandparents did strike a chord with me, hours spent pottering in the garden with my grandfather, or creating things with my grandmother like little play dens etc.  theirs is a wonderful example of loving relationship, one filled with respect, care and genuine concern for others.
Fred is another character that found his way into my heart, through his blog entries the reader finds out more about him, how his life has changed following the death of his beloved grandfather and his decisions to remain in Edinburgh.
Kathleen’s story was one that I found troubling at times, not quite knowing how to take her, but I think that some of this has to be credited to Natalie Fergie.  In her writing of this character she invokes a very good representation of a woman who has faced troubling times but still remains vulnerable.  Hers was a tale that I found saddening but empowering, her notebooks proving just how strong she was.

This is a wonderfully charming read, a story that has numerous threads running through it, and like a patchwork quilt, each part is dovetailed seamlessly to form a beautiful creation.  I absolutely loved reading this book, it made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me weep but at the end I felt such a great satisfaction at how things worked out.

My heartfelt thanks to Natalie Fergie for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to participate in her blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “The Sewing Machine” via
Amazon

Natalie has advised that paperback has sold out at the wholesalers, however Blackwell’s bookshop in Edinburgh will do a special Free Postage deal if people ring the shop and order on the phone 0131 622 8222.  And in London, The Big Green Bookshop have copies (and Free Postage) if people ring 0208 881 6767 – please note that there may be no guarantees how long they will have copies for, this book is absolutely brilliant and flying off the shelves!

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, guest posts and fantastic features with the author of The Sewing Machine.

Yesterday’s host was the lovely Joanne over at Portobello Book Blog why not pop over and read her review.  Tomorrow’s host is Abby, a smashing lass that writes amazing reviews over on Anne Bonny Book Reviews

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