Anne Bonny #BookReview The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott @CScottBooks 4* #NewRelease #Historical #Fiction #Literary @simonschusterUK @WmMorrowBooks

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The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott
Review Copy
Synopsis ~

1921. The Great War is over and families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He was declared ‘missing, believed killed’ during the war, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph in the post, taken by Francis, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Francis’s brother, Harry, is also searching. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, he has returned to the Western Front. As Harry travels through battle-scarred France, gathering news for British wives and mothers, he longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last conversation they ever had.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they begin to get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history. The Photographer of the Lost is partially inspired by her family history.

My Review ~

As Previously stated on my blog, I am a huge fan of ww2 fiction and fiction around The Great War. My husband is a military veteran of 15yrs service (airborne Para) and I have various family members that have served. My great-grandfather committed suicide after The Great War and it is only know at 36yrs old I fully understand the horror of that conflict. There is also a monument in Belgium to my Great-Uncle my grandmother’s favourite uncle. Which I nor anyone in my family has visited (unfortunately).
So the moment I read the synopsis for this title, it grabbed my interest.

‘A small matter of a war rather got I n the way’ 

The prologue opens in Lancashire (my home town shire) May 1921 when Edie receives a letter from France. a photo of her husband Francis. Bu how can this be? Francis has been missing presumed dead for 4 yrs.

The novel then details Harry (Francis’s brother) in the years 1921 and the past since 1915. You have to pay attention to not muddle the timelines and brothers up.
Harry’s job is to visit the various special hospitals and locate the graves of the perished. It is his hope that providing the family members with images of the burial site or monuments it may bring them some peace/closure or heal there grief.

The novel also covers the spiritualists and psychics that are out to make a fast buck. spinning stories of the ‘souls of lost men’. I found this quite disturbing. But on the other hand you really feel for Edie and her sense of emptiness, mourning and emotional pain as she searches for her lost love. Are these scammers taking advantage or are they attempting to offer comfort to the grieving?

The relationship of the brother’s and the potential love triangle that it causes is first and foremost the running mystery. Does Harry want Edie for himself? Will Edie now turn to Harry, now all hope is lost with Francis? Is all hope lost with Francis? or is he alive?

The novel details the tortured minds of the soldiers of The Great War. It is a beautiful novel, with a stunning cover and exceptional writing. Slightly reminiscent of the writing of Patrick Gale in A Place Called Winter.
I highly recommend this title, it would make the perfect Christmas gift, also for book groups and simply to treat yourself. I only wish I had got round to writing this review earlier because it would have made a poignant gift to mark remembrance day. 4* 🌟🌟🌟🌟

CS
Caroline Scott
Twitter
*At time of posting the Hardback book was available at just £7 on Amazon*

Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author of, Tell Me Where You Are @moira_forsyth @sandstonepress #NewRelease #Fiction #FamilyLife #TellMe

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Tell Me Where You Are by Moira Forsyth

Synopsis ~

Frances is doing fine; she has her life sorted. Then comes the phone call from Alec, the husband who left her for her younger sister Susan, thirteen years ago. Susan has disappeared, and Alec wants her daughter Kate to come and stay with Frances, out of harm’s way. Meanwhile, Frances’s youngest sister, Gillian, finds that two months after ending her relationship with a married man, she is pregnant. While all this is going on another crisis is looming. It’s been a family full of secrets. Frances and Gillian haven’t even managed to tell their parents Susan is missing. After all, she’s left unacknowledged thirteen years of birthday and Christmas presents for Kate, the granddaughter they never saw. She was the one who made sure she could never be forgiven, and now there’s another secret. It’s not always the things you fear most, which matter in the end.

Q&A ~

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) This novel started with a dream about the turkey we were to have for Christmas dinner. The bizarre dream Frances has at the beginning of the novel is a more detailed version of one I woke from myself, slightly shaken and glad I no longer ate meat, though I was cooking it for everyone else! The dream was too good to waste – which is what I often think when something happens that quite quickly turns itself into fiction in my imagination.

The novel is about three sisters and what happens when the middle one, who has always been trouble, disappears, leaving Frances, her older sister, with her teenage daughter Kate. Kate is in trouble, but no one realises that until it’s too late… The novel is set mainly in the Highlands, where Frances now lives, with significant scenes in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Newcastle. I can’t get on with a new novel until I’ve decided where the characters live. I know authors who can write vividly about places they’ve never been, but I’d find that difficult. For me, the sense of place is bound up closely with the people, and I want to be sure I can make that convincing.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) This novel has had a longer journey than most. When Waiting for Lindsay, my first novel, was accepted, Sceptre gave me a two-book deal, which I fulfilled with my second, David’s Sisters. After that, my agent turned down my next novel, which I suspect he had discussed with Sceptre. My sales weren’t high enough for them to offer on that one. I wrote another, but by then the agent had thrown in the towel. That novel, an earlier version of Tell Me Where You Are, went to the back of the drawer with my other unpublished work. (A much larger drawer than the published one!)

My life was then taken up with developing Sandstone Press, of which I’m a founding director. For several years Sandstone published only non-fiction, then in 2010 it was decided we’d try fiction. Tell Me Where You Are was one of the early novels published, because Robert thought it merited that. He carried out a stern edit on it – and when I’d stopped sulking I made all the changes he had suggested – he was right. However, though we were very good editors at Sandstone, we were still learning to be publishers, and the novel pretty well sank without trace. We do better for our authors now!

It’s worth new authors noting that larger publishers often drop authors in this way. I know a number of superb writers who have been ‘let go’ by corporate publishers.
Because of the success of my two subsequent novels, The Treacle Well and A Message from the Other Side, Robert decided my previous novels should all be reissued, starting with Tell Me Where You Are. So here it is, with a beautiful new cover.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Being an editor, and to some extent, being a writer, wrecks your private reading. For bedtime I have crime thrillers on my kindle, for holidays and other times I love literary biographies (I’m reading the first biography of Scott Fitzgerald just now, by Andrew Turnbull, who knew him well), and also re-reading authors I’ve always loved and return to every few years, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Bowen, EM Forster, Alice Munro and George Eliot – Middlemarch is still, for me, the quintessential novel, the best.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) As a child I read everything I could get my hands on. Not allowed to ‘read at the table’ I read everywhere else, though at mealtimes I was restricted to the back of the Shreddies packet and the HP sauce bottle (some of which, in French, I can still quote Cette sauce de haute qualité est un melange d’épices….). I read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass over and over, as a little girl, and later devoured all of Enid Blyton’s school stories. My parents often gave me their library tickets to supplement my own, I read so fast and so voraciously. The first time I really understood what writing can do, to draw you into another world, was when I happened on Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden, which I still think one of the finest children’s novels ever written. As a teenager I read all Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, but also the Brontes, Thackery, George Eliot and other classics. As a student I read John Fowles’s The Magus with the same absorption and utter belief in its world. That one hasn’t stood the test of time quite as much!

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) It’s a magical moment when you open the parcel and see your new novel for the first time. When my first, Waiting for Lindsay, was published by Sceptre in 1999, I sat in my little upstairs living-room, in the first house I’d ever had of my own, holding it and unable to believe that at last, this had really happened. I’d had a bad few years, with my marriage breaking up and having to find a new job and manage on my own, but that was a moment of pure happiness.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My partner in life and at work, Robert Davidson, has supported me all the way through. He’s my editor and critic, and takes a huge pride in my achievements. My children have also been wonderful. Sadly my mother had become ill by the time my first novel was published, and was unable to enjoy it as she would have done in earlier years. My father though, who died in 2012, was an indefatigable supporter and would get my books off the library shelves and hand them to other readers, telling them, ‘My daughter wrote this – it’s very good’. He also rearranged books in bookshops, facing mine out so that they were more easily seen. After his death, I discovered he had kept a full and detailed folder with cuttings of my reviews and every bit of publicity I’d ever had.

Moira_Forsyth_2
Moira Forsyth
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Link to the book available via Sandstone Press

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
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#Review 4* Hag-Seed by @MargaretAtwood @PenguinRHUK #LiteraryFiction #HogarthShakespeare

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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Synopsis:
LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017

Selected as a Book of the Year – Observer, Sunday Times, Times, Guardian, i magazine

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other. It will boost his reputation. It will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. Also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

My review:

Before I write this review, I have a little confession to make. Well actually two confessions. Firstly, this is my first book read, by Margaret Atwood. I know, I am ashamed of myself! But to be fair, I didn’t discover Steven King until my 20s! Secondly, I have not read The Tempest by William Shakespeare, of which the novel is largely based. The only Shakespeare, I have read is Romeo And Juliet & Macbeth. These being from my school days! There we go, Abby leaves confessional!

The novel opens with Felix, the artistic director of the Makeshiweg festival, being betrayed and uprooted from his position. I would like to say this is the only emotional pain in Felix’s life, but sadly it is not. Having lost his wife in childbirth and daughter 3 years later to meningitis. Felix is in deep emotional pain.
He vows revenge upon Tony, whom has betrayed him!

“Tony and Sal must suffer”

Felix packs up his belongings and retreats to a shanty cottage in the woods. Where he remains in exile for quite sometime…. Whilst in exile he begins to have delusions of his daughter. They empower him to seek vengeance and Felix becomes an internet stalker, of the men who have wronged him. On year nine of exile, he applies for a job at the Fletcher Correctional facility. Under the secret identity of Mr Duke, he applies for the role of running the literacy program delivered to the inmates.

Felix is accepted for the position and his role involved assignments and producing a play. Of which he chooses The Tempest, guiding and aiding the inmates to fully understand the play. I found Felix to be charismatic yet troubled and charming and likable. I began to root for Felix on his journey towards revenge. By running the program Felix meets new people, who improve his life and help him heal.
But not before he has, had his revenge……

I really enjoyed this novel and can see the huge appeal of the book to book groups. There is room for the debate of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and also the character is Felix and what guides his vendetta. I really enjoyed how cleverly written the novel is and I look forward to The Handmaids tale, which is also on my book shelves! 4*

MA
Margaret Atwood
Authors Links:
Twitter: @MargaretAtwood
Website: http://margaretatwood.ca/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3472.Margaret_Atwood
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargaretAtwoodAuthor/

 

#Review #TheBookOfMemory by @VascoDaGappah Petina Gappah @FaberBooks

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The Book Of Memory by Petina Gappah
Synopsis:

The story you have asked me to tell begins not with the ignominious ugliness of Lloyd’s death but on a long-ago day in April when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man. I say my father and my mother, but really it was just my mother.

Memory, the narrator of The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

My Review:

I have just devoured this novel, in 2hrs on a lazy Sunday morning! I keep day dreaming with thoughts on the themes and mostly my ability to assume the worst within the narrative. I rarely jump to conclusions in novels, I simply let the author tell the story. But with this novel I made false assumptions time and time again!
Which meant when I finally turned the last page, I was left stunned with so much to contemplate.

The novel opens with the protagonist Memory, narrating her life in Chikurubi jail. We hear the life stories of her fellow prisoners and the day to day struggle of like in prison. When we finally get to memory’s life story, it is one that will leave you shocked and saddened. Memory was sold by her parents to a wealthy white man, at just 9yrs old. After a childhood marred by evil spirits, curses and the family shame of being born albino. Memory carries the social stigma of being albino her entire life and even in jail, she is whispered about and mocked. I had so many questions, why did her parents sell her? Was there motivation, purely financially based? What are the intentions of a man whom buys a child? Would this lead to more misery and pain for Memory?

“In the years that followed, my feelings for Lloyd went through a complex spectrum that took in fear, affection, anger and revulsion, gratitude and, ultimately, pity”

All I can say, as I refuse to leave spoilers, is my initial assumptions were completely and utterly wrong! But to understand the full extent of the rich/poor divide.
The cultural aspects that make such a situation occur and the why Memory is languishing on death row.
You simply have to read her story……

Memory deals with her childhood loss of identity, her new life in jail and the painful relationships of her past, throughout her story. It is incredibly powerful, moving and emotive novel. From the final 30/40 pages I didn’t move a single muscle.
Highly recommended 4*

PG
Petina Gappah
Authors links:
Via Faber Books: https://www.faber.co.uk/author/petina-gappah/
Twitter: @VascoDaGappah

 

Q&A with @morningstaruk Christopher Byford #DenOfShadows @HQDigitalUK

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Den Of Shadows by Christopher Byford
Synopsis:

The Gambler’s Den weaves its away across the desert… But will it stop at your station?

While fighting off poverty in the blistering desert heat a travelling casino offers one night of solace. One chance to change your fortunes. But once on board there is more to the show than meets the eye: enter Franco, the elaborate ringleader, Wyld the stowaway thief and Misu the fire breathing showgirl.

In a kingdom ruled by the law Franco ensures his den remains in line. But when he’s faced with saving the fate of the train, and those on board, he may be forced to break his own rules. Life on the den isn’t just a job but a way of life and once you’re in you’ll never be able to leave.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Den of Shadows is an adventure following those aboard the Gambler’s Den, a casino train that travels a desert region bringing entertainment to the downtrodden masses. The accompanying shows are grand affairs, extravagant, causing word of mouth and rumour to fuel excitement about its arrival. Ran by the enigmatic Franco Del Monaire, he trusts those under his roof, a legion of showgirls, to exhibit the upmost professionalism and, more importantly, obey his every word. With costs rising and an already dangerous region becoming increasingly lawless, Franco accommodates a travelling thief who dutifully pays her way. Things soon spiral out of control as the local lawmen begin to particular attention to the owner of the Gambler’s Den and the shady company he keeps. To complicate matters, the criminal element have taken notice of the Gambler’s Den too…

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

 

A) Den of Shadows started off as a daydream. I was 18, in a college class and found my mind wandering when working away with my headphones on. The Spencer Davis Groups’ hit “Gimmie Some Lovin’” was nestled away on some obscure compilation album. As soon as it started playing, I had the striking image of a roguish individual hanging from the boiler of a moving steam train, wearing a cheeky smile like an expensive suit as he focused on a sand soaked horizon. Thunderstruck, I immediately wrote the first chapter, and emailed it to myself, but never really found time to develop the concept. After being hospitalised and diagnosed with an aggressive form of UC, my priorities shifted and the idea of writing took a back seat. With health and life getting in the way I wouldn’t pick it back up until my mid 20’s, when I moved across the country and found the freedom to pursue my ambition of being an author. I spent six months completing it, a good chunk done whilst working on nightshifts before self-publishing the title on Amazon under the name of the train itself, “Gambler’s Den”. Despite moving onto other projects, I was so affectionate about the concept that I approached agents and publishers to see if anybody wanted to pick it up. I received the usual swathe of rejection letters but I stubbornly persisted, most of the query letters being sent out after a glass or two of whiskey. At this point I was working full time, coming home and sinking another five hours a night writing whilst waiting for my wife and I’s first child to be born. To top things off, I found out I was to be made redundant soon after the baby arrived, bad timing one would think, but an unusual silver lining was starting to appear. I decided to seriously make a go of things, using the redundancy money to finance the following year. I had a number of titles on Amazon but could never really crack the market given the constraints of working full time. Being able to devote myself to the role would allow me to be significantly more successful than what I was, at least that was the plan. I committed myself and during one of the queries, I was contacted by HQ Digital, an imprint of HarperCollins and agreed on a phone call to talk about it. During the call they asked me how I would feel about them publishing the entire series, being that I was working on the third at the time. After coming to terms with the fact that yes, this was actually happening, I agreed.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I’m a sucker for anything by HP Lovecraft. I still find things I had never noticed before in rereading, plus the concept of cosmic horror fascinates me. Neil Gaiman has a special place in my heart simply because I found that he can jump from subject to subject almost effortlessly, Neverwhere, Stardust and Sandman: Dream Hunters in particular I found to be standouts of his. Gaston La Rouxs’ Phantom of the Opera was my first exposure to something utterly alien and I still give it a go through every year. Philip K Dick scratches my sci-fi itch whenever I get the bug for that. I’m reading a lot of George Borrow at the moment, who was a guy who walked around England and wrote about his experiences with the people he mingled with.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I consumed anything I could when I was younger. James Herbert was a staple in our household and I usually ended up flicking through a well dog-eared copy of one of the books from his Rats series when it became available. Shakespeare was a favourite, being that I enjoyed the prose more so than most my age would admit to, especially in As You Like It. Flowers for Algernon stayed with me after reading it in school and still remains one of my favourite books of all time given the subject and use of diary entries for the narrative. Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park ignited my imagination at an impressionable time and Douglas Adams with the Red Dwarf series is still my go to when it comes to comedy. I went through every single Fighting Fantasy book by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone that my local library had in stock. I also became fond of Byron’s works and even now I find myself picking up a collection of his and devouring it.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) Seeing your work thrown about and spoken about with passion is still quite astonishing to me. It’ll never get old. I suppose if I had to pick just one, it’s that I can say that I’m managed to achieve the one thing in my life I always aspired to. That’s not a bad thing to be proud of at all.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) I’ll win no points for originality for this, but it’ll have to be my wife, Emma. One of the first things she did when we first met was encourage me to pursue writing. She’s been my muse from the start and I honestly believe that I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for her. We co-write a series together which results in a lot of discussions regarding refinement and critique. Admittedly there are times it can be brutal, harsh even, but I would rather suffer that than be aimlessly nodded at. After all, it’s how you improve.

CB
Christopher Byford
Authors Links:
Website: http://www.thetenwings.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopherbyfordbooks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Morningstaruk