Posts Tagged ‘Ebury Publising’



** My thanks to Josie at Ebury for my copy of this book **



Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

My Thoughts & Review:

I’m sure we can agree that I’m a sucker for a pretty book cover by now, I have no problem admitting that a snazzy or interesting cover will grab my eye and so when I saw The Toymakers I was instantly wowed.  The colouring and images were eye-catching, beautiful and screamed “READ ME”.  Although this book isn’t out until February 2018, I was delighted to receive an early copy to fall in love with.

The early 1900s setting of this book adds to the magic of the tale for me, it’s a time when innocence and wonder still exist in the minds of children, when families would make the trip to a toyshop for Christmas gifts and be awed by the magic within the store, and that’s just what happens at Papa Jack’s Emporium in London.   But to offset this wonderland of toys, there’s the tale of young Cathy Wray, a pregnant fifteen year old girl who sees a seasonal add in the local paper for Papa Jack’s Emporium.

With narration through Cathy’s eyes, we truly experience the Emporium at it’s best.  The wonder and excitement she experiences seeing the displays and the toys really sparked something within me, reminding me of toys from childhood, the innocence and happiness Christmases past.
The way that the toys are described conjured such crisp and vivid images in my head, such amazing creations that I wish I could physically see – they alone make me wish that this would be turned into a Christmas film!

The real story however, really begins when the Emporium closes with the flowering of the first snowdrops.  From here we get to see a different side of the characters in this book, we see a different side to Kaspar Godman, we learn more about Emil Godman, and more importantly we learn the true meaning of the toys made for the Emporium by the man behind it all, Papa Jack.

As the plot moves on in time, the characters mature and in turn their perspectives do too, we begin seeing events through the eyes of an adult Cathy, the troubles of adult responsibility lying heavy on her shoulders as the years have advanced towards WWI.  The change in tone from the childlike innocence at the beginning of the book is superb and really gives the reader the impression of character growth, facing reality of the world around them and how events outwith their control have impacted upon them.
Seeing the way that war played a part in the lives of these characters was so well written, the stark contrast with the childhood innocence was powerful and almost painful to read in places.

Whilst there are undoubtedly moments of pure joy woven expertly throughout the plot, there are also moments of heartbreaking sadness.  Whilst reading I was aware of a lump in my throat, hoping that the inevitable could somehow be crafted into a magical event to change the outcome.  I think it’s a sign of a well written novel that it can pull so many emotions from the reader, and this one certainly did.

A superbly written novel which is in equal parts enjoyable as it intelligent.  The themes throughout make this a book that you can take so much from, there are snippets into the minds characters who survive great sadness, loss, wars.  There are characters who evolve and become shadows, and there are ones who remind you to never forget the magic of being a child.

Now to find somewhere that will make a wind-up patchwork dog……..

You can pre order a copy via Amazon UK



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Copy provided by Ebury Publishing in return for an honest review



How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes.

One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love.

Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Thoughts & Review:

Ashamedly, this is the first book that I have read by John Marrs, quite how I’ve managed to miss his books previously is beyond me, perhaps it’s because there are so many good books out there at the moment that as a reader I am spoiled for choice?  Yes, that’s why, we shall use that as my excuse, but thanks to a very interesting description and some recommendations from wonderful fellow bloggers in TBC I thought I would check this one out.

The idea that there is a genetically perfect match out there for each of us is an intriguing one, but I can’t help but feel it’s a little scary too.  How many people if faced with the chance would take the test?  And of those who took the test, who would open the results?  Would you still take the test if you were in a committed relationship?  What would you do if the person you are with turns out not to be your perfect match (genetically)?
The concept of this is explored so fully by Marrs in this novel, cleverly he writes from the perspective of more than one character allowing the reader to experience the quandary at hand.

At first I had my reservations when I saw that there were numerous different characters all narrating, each telling their story about how this genetic test plays a part in their life and how it’s far reaching repercussions impact on those around them.  But I quickly changed my mind as I was hypnotised by the enchanting charm of the writing.  The pace of this is relentless in the sense that you cannot stop reading, you don’t want to stop reading.  You want to know what each character will do about the situation they have found themselves in.  The revelations that are unveiled are wholeheartedly shocking in places, and each is bigger than the previous one.  The twists that are cleverly woven into this are the work of sheer genius – not once did I suspect what lay ahead and found myself staring at the book in awe but also slightly terrified at what I was reading.  I should add “terrified” was more in the sense of how intricately well the plot worked, how characters played out certain scenes etc.

There are so many things I would love to say about this book, but that would really be doing you a disservice.  This is definitely a book that deserves to be read and enjoyed, it’s evocative, it’s clever, it’s heart wrenchingly oppressive in places and takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of human behaviour.

I shall be hunting out other books by this author, his style of writing was a joy to read and even when the subject was of a more sensitive nature he handled it carefully and respectfully.

You can buy a copy of The One here.


About the Author:

John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, England, who has spent the last 20 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.
He has written for publications including The Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World’s Sunday Magazine.
His debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, he released his second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.
In July 2016 came his third novel A Thousand Small Explosions.

For more information about John’s books follow him on Twitter @johnmarrs1


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