#BlogTour PARIS SAVAGES by KATHERINE JOHNSON #BookReview @AllisonandBusby @KJohnsonauthor #ParisSavages

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for PARIS SAVAGES by KATHERINE JOHNSON. My thanks to Lesley Crooks at Allison & Busby for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Fraser Island, 1882. The population of the Badtjala people is in sharp decline following a run of brutal massacres. When German scientist Louis Muller offers to sail three Badtjala people – Bonny, Jurano and Dorondera – to Europe to perform to huge crowds, the proud and headstrong Bonny agrees, hoping to bring his people’s plight to the Queen of England. Accompanied by Muller’s bright, grieving daughter, Hilda, the group begins their journey to belle-epoque Europe to perform in Hamburg, Berlin, Paris and eventually London. While crowds in Europe are enthusiastic to see the unique dances, singing, fights and pole climbing from the oldest culture in the world, the attention is relentless, and the fascination of scientists intrusive. When disaster strikes, Bonny must find a way to return home.

PUBLISHED BY ALLISON & BUSBY

PURCHASE LINKS

 Publisher Website  

hive.co.uk  £12.25

Blackwell’s  £12.73

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KATHERINE JOHNSON lives in Tasmania with her husband and two children. She is the author of three previous novels and her manuscripts have won Varuna Awards and the Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prizes.  

MY REVIEW

 I found this to be a book with a big impact on me as a reader.  I knew very little of the ‘human zoo’s’ that were all the rage in the late 1800’s, and to witness the impact on those signed up to take part was often very unsettling and uncomfortable – the cruelty of humans towards other humans in the pursuit of money seems not to have changed much over the years. Although this is fiction it is based on real historical events which makes it even more hard hitting.

Told from the viewpoint  of Hilda through her diary, we get to see the story of how she sees the world.  Her father is a scientist and is involved with travelling around the world a lot and it’s his work that brings the Badjtala people to his attention and to the attention of the world.  Those in Europe are desperate to see these different people so 3 of them travel with the scientist and his daughter to be ‘shown off’ and studied.

And that’s where it gets very uncomfortable as you read of their experiences.  From travelling by boat and their treatment by the crew on board, to their experiences in Europe and at the hands of the scientists they encounter – they become commodities and freaks to be prodded and poked.  The 3 who travel – Bonny, Jurano & Dorondera –  are such great characters who face appalling treatment.  And I loved Hilda too who was very wise beyond her years. You could see her battling with herself in wanting to be loyal to her father, but also seeing things from the other side of the coin and how her father changes when he’s in the company of others.  She deeply cares for her new ‘friends’ and for her to see how others treat them wherever they go is tough for her.  It really is shocking to witness for her.

This was a truly fascinating and enthralling book that really opened my eyes to a period of history I knew very little about.  Highly recommended!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour The Sewing Room Girl by Susanna Bavin #Giveaway #BookReview @AllisonandBusby #TheSewingRoomGirl

Hugely excited to be the next stop on the Blog Tour for this wonderful book – THE SEWING ROOM GIRL by SUSANNA BAVIN – and my thanks to Lesley at Allison & Busby for the copy of the book and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

 The third book from an exciting new voice in historical sagas

 A keen sense of the North West of England in the late nineteenth century, from working-class communities to more well-to-do suburbs, subtle characterisation and gripping plot

 Perfect for fans of Anna Jacobs, Lyn Andrews and Nadine Dorries

✄✄✄

1892. When her beloved father dies, Juliet and her mother, the difficult but vulnerable Agnes, are left to fend for themselves. When Agnes lands a job as a seamstress for a titled family, things appear to be looking up. But just as the pair begin to find their feet, Juliet finds herself defenceless and alone. Without her mother to protect her, Juliet becomes the victim of a traumatic incident and is left to face an impossible dilemma. She flees to Manchester seeking support from her estranged family but comes up against her formidable grandmother, who is determined to bend Juliet to her will. It will take all Juliet’s ingenuity to escape the clutches of her ruthless grandmother and make her own way in life.

PURCHASE LINKS

HIVE.CO.UK  £7.49

AMAZON UK  £8.99

WHSMITH  £6.49

AUTHOR:

Susanna Bavin has variously been a librarian, an infant school teacher, a carer and a cook. She lives in Llandudno in North Wales with her husband and two rescue cats, but her writing is inspired by her Mancunian roots.

susannabavin.co.uk @SusannaBavin


GIVEAWAY

Also delighted to be able to share this giveaway today for you to win a set of books from Susanna Bavin – 3 paperbacks and 1 hardback! A prize well worth winning! Click the link below to add your entry!! GOOD LUCK!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

MY REVIEW 

This is the 3rd book from Susanna Bavin, and my 1st read of one of hers and I’m now excited to go back and read her other titles as I found this to be captivating, heartbreaking  and such a wonderful read following the story of Juliet – and my heart broke for her many times throughout!!  She is one of those characters who has a heart of gold but life seems to have such a downer on her – but she’s full of determination and such a hard worker that you find yourself cheering on every success and happy moment she gets to encounter.

Juliet has a tough life ahead of her, especially after losing her father so she and her mother have to move and fend for themselves.  Agnes finds work as a seamstress for a titled family and Juliet begins to work too, but life doesn’t seem to be getting any easier for them, Juliet especially and she soon finds herself alone, picked on by other girls in the sewing room and working for the most loathsome character.  But she does find an ally in Hal, who is working in the garden and builds up quite the friendship to the displeasure of others, who want to put as much distance as they can between the two.

Whatever Juliet faces, she never crumbles!  And for that she is a total heroine!  She has so much responsibility on her shoulders from the start and  a heart of gold but people who come into her life seem to just treat her like dirt and take advantage of her.  Even members of her own family aren’t the most pleasant characters in the way they treat her, but she finds solace in her work and is remarkably tough and I think the creative side of dress making gives her an escape from the misery she has endured.

Set in the 1890’s, I found this to be such a gratifying read and a main character who is difficult to be forgotten! She endures such horrific actions throughout, but her spirit is never broken and that is something to be admired!

★★★★★

#BookReview A Vintage Year by Rosie Howard #ebookpromotion

Delighted to be sharing my review today of book two in the Havenbury series – but it’s one of those books that can easily be read as a standalone if you missed out on book one The Homecoming . 

There’s also a very special deal at the moment from the 28th February to the 7th March, so you can get yourself a copy for just 99p!!!! A deal not to be missed!!

About the book

It started with ‘happily ever after’… But just three years after Bella’s fairy-tale wedding to fun-loving Charlie Wellbeloved, while her best friend, Maddy, is expecting a baby, her own weight gain is purely from comfort eating. Only her little Labrador Dolly can boost her spirits as she gloomily surveys her failing marriage and fledgling interior design business.

Dovecot Farm is just a rainstorm away from ruin, but Charlie is hoping against hope his family vineyard will produce a vintage year, saving his business, his childhood home and – most of all – his marriage …

When handsome and glamorous Rufus appears in the tight-knit Havenbury community, he quickly charms Bella and makes himself indispensable to Charlie, but he is guarding a secret. But is he really too good to be true…

Published by Allison & Busby

About the Author

After obtaining a degree in music Rosie Howard pursued a career in public relations, campaigning, political lobbying and freelance journalism but realised her preference for making things up and switched to writing novels instead. She lives in a West Sussex village with her husband and two children in a cottage with roses around the door.

rosiehoward.com

MY REVIEW

Having enjoyed The Homecoming so  much, I’ve been eagerly awaiting book two in this series, and I haven’t been left disappointed!! It was lovely going back to see how the characters were getting on – and it has proved to be a tough time for both Bella and Charlie in both their personal and professional lives and we get to follow their story in this book.

This book does a wonderful job of letting you see characters not at their best – the fact that they can make bad decisions and facing the consequences of keeping things to themselves and not being honest with one another. There were many times I just wanted to bang their heads together!!

Bella is obviously struggling with her self confidence which causes her to over-eat, and Charlie is having similar issues but with drink.  Their lives are clear for all to see that they’re drifting apart from one another but they don’t seem able to face up to their problems – and only do when it seems it might be too late to save themselves.

Alongside their struggles, we also get to follow a couple of other stories featuring characters around them – her friend Maddy (whose story was the focus for The Homecoming) with her pregnancy and also Charlie’s mum showing that honesty and being bad with money may have been a family trait as she’s left to deal with an upsetting encounter. The character of Rufus is also an interesting addition to the cast – his approach to life is just to throw money at problems and that seems to get him what he wants, but at what cost? He was rather brash and controlling for my liking but it’s always good to have someone to dislike and shout at in a book!

I really enjoyed going back to Havenbury – it’s not as light and humorous as book one but there are still many funny moments, and some sad moments too! – but it was a fascinating glimpse at marriage not being it’s all cracked up to be if you’re not open and honest with one another and how the characters deal – or don’t! – with the problems that life throws their way.   Life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns (unfortunately!) and Bella is a character who finds this out the hard way but she’s never one to give up and her determination to get her life back on track is one to be applauded!

Highly recommended!

🍷🍷🍷🍷

#BookReview Mr Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

About the book

Charles Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas. But when his latest book, Martin Chuzzlewit, is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. Dickens has no choice but to grudgingly accept…

Published by Allison & Busby

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

book depository

MY REVIEW

There’s no better time of year to read this and I found it very easy to read and enjoyable with a rather clever twist at the end to keep you engaged!

It’s the story of Charles Dickens and his struggles with having to come up with a quick Christmas story as his last novel, Chuzzlewit, has bombed sales wise and the publishers aren’t happy. With his wife just giving birth to their 6th child he begins to crack under the pressure and when his family move away, he is left to search for inspiration and try to avoid the threat of the poorhouse!

There are short and snappy chapters in this book which really help with the pace and it’s lots of fun to see the characters we all know from his other books being bought to life in this story and to see where he could have got some of his ideas from in his quest to write the perfect Christmas story. Using his own experiences, good and bad, he begins to see Christmas through different eyes and helps bring to life the story we know and love today! A fun and interesting read!

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

#bookreview Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

THE BLURB

1909, Seattle. At the World’s Fair a half-Chinese boy called Ernest Young is raffled off as a prize. He ends up working as a servant in a brothel in Seattle’s famed Red Light District and falls in love with Maisie, the daughter of a flamboyant madam, and Fahn, a karayuki-san, a Japanese maid sold into servitude.

On the eve of the new World’s Fair in 1962, Ernest looks back on the past, the memories he made with his beloved wife while his daughter, a reporter, begins to unravel their tragic past.

Publication Date – 12th September 2017

Publishers Allison & Busby

Amazon UK  – £14.99 hardback

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore  –  £10.95 hardback

Book Depository  –  £12.24 hardback

MY REVIEW

Time to admit that I have the previous work from the author – Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and Songs of Willow Frost – sat on my bookshelves waiting for me to dive into!  And that time has never come around for whatever reason. But after just finishing this wonderful tale, I WILL be getting to the other books sooner rather than later as I really enjoyed the way the author told this story and can’t wait to read more from him!

This follows the story of a little boy who has a tragic start to his life in China, and who ends up in America for a new start.  That new start ends up as being the raffle prize in the 1909 World’s Fair! To him any new life was going to be an amazing opportunity, but where he ends up he gets the family he craves and the owner of the Tenderloin gives him an education he life he never could have expected!

The story runs over 2 timelines – back in 1909 when he is finding his way in the world, to 1962 where he is struggling to cope with the memory loss and illness that has affected his beloved wife Gracie.  It is clear that he is completely devoted to her and will do all he can to protect her past – even her own daughters know nothing of it.  But as Gracie’s memories from the past become more clearer it is obvious he can’t hide the past for too long.

Throughout the story it is clear that Ernest yearns for the safety of family, which is why he blossomed during his time at the Tenderloin where he felt part of the family, and why in his later years he was so devoted to his wife and worried what his daughters would think if they found out about their past.

I loved the setting of this book and the characters were all amazingly portrayed – especially Ernest as we watch him grow up in such a different world from where he came.  He’s had so much to overcome but always rolls his sleeves up and gets on with things.  It is an absorbing and captivating story over both timelines, full of heartbreaking moments and shows of strength of character.

It really opened my eyes to the struggles that women faced in 1909 in America where you had the emergence of the Suffragete movement, alongside the ‘slave trade’ that many were still being forced into and shows off different sides to a city and how women had such different lives.

A fascinating book that made it difficult to put down and shows off storytelling at its’ best!  Highly recommended!!

Thankyou to the publishers for the advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview The Lustre of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller

In this story for readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Man Called Ove, when all seems lost, he finds what matters most.

Walter Lavender Jr. is a master of finding. A wearer of high-tops. A maker of croissants. A son keeping vigil, twelve years counting.

But he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Silenced by his motor speech disorder, Walter’s life gets lonely. Fortunately, he has The Lavenders—his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, where marzipan dragons breathe actual fire. He also has a knack for tracking down any missing thing—except for his lost father.

So when the Book at the root of the bakery’s magic vanishes, Walter, accompanied by his overweight golden retriever, journeys through New York City to find it—along the way encountering an unforgettable cast of lost souls.

Steeped in nostalgic wonder, The Luster of Lost Things explores the depths of our capacity for kindness and our ability to heal. A lyrical meditation on why we become lost and how we are found, from the bright, broken heart of a boy who knows where to look for everyone but himself.

Publisher;  Allison & Busby

Publication Date; August 2017

Amazon UK     £12.99

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore   £8.49

Author GoodReads page

MY REVIEW

I found this to be an entrancing, magical read of a boy who finds meaning in the world by finding lost things. He suffers with a speech disorder which stops him from communicating with the world in the normal way, but his silent life allows him to listen and helps him witness more than the rest of us normally see. He lives with his mother in a bakery that they’ve turned into a magical world that is thriving, until the special copy of a book that came into their possession goes missing. Then their luck seems to change. That really puts his finding skills to the test and as he travels across New York on the trail of the missing book and pages, he uncovers some amazing characters and finds out things about himself that he never knew possible.

It really is a feel good read that has you looking for all the good in the world. It isn’t about how much you have or what you’re doing, but what you notice and the meaning and memories behind treasured possessions, however big or small. His journey is enlightening both for him as a character, and for the reader as well and it all comes down to life being a surprising journey for us all.

The characters he meets along the way all add their own special take on the world and Walter Jr is such a special soul that he learns so much and becomes braver and more confident and transforms.

Walter Jr is a very methodical thinker and is completely charming and it doesn’t take long before you fall in love with him as he goes on his finding quests! You also see that while he’s searching for things for others, he’s searching for answers for things that have happened in his life.

Highly recommended for those searching for a book full of hope and warmth

Thank you to Nudge Books for the copy in return for a fair and honest review

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter – book review

THE BLURB

‘Like being swung heart first into history . . . A brave and mesmerising debut’ Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
From the jazz clubs of Paris and Kraków’s most brutal prison, to the ports of Northern Africa and the farthest reaches of the Siberian gulag, We Were the Lucky Ones expresses how in the darkest of times the human spirit can find a way to survive, and even triumph.

‘By the end of the Holocaust, 90 per cent of Poland’s three million Jews were annihilated; of the more than 30,000 Jews who lived in Radom, fewer than 300 survived.

The Kurc family shouldn’t have survived the Holocaust.  In the spring of 1939 three generations are living relatively normal lives in Poland, despite the hardships that Jews face.  When war breaks out and the family is cast to the wind, the five Kurc siblings do everything they can to find their way through  a devastated continent to freedom.

 

Publication:  February 14th 2017 by Allison & Busby

Hive.co.uk – support your local bookstore online   £9.59

Amazon UK  £12.99

MY REVIEW

Wow! Feel extremely privileged after reading this extraordinary story of the Kurc family – 3 generations of Jews – and their experiences of life as a Jewish family leading up to and during the Second World War. The author has based the characters on the real life story of her own family and that just makes this an even more powerful book of the horrendous chapter of history and how those living through it find the strength to keep living.

The family involved are full of amazing stories and characters and each journey you follow with them brings home the fear, the despair, the brutality and the slight glimmers of hope and bravery that keep the human spirit fighting to survive.

In between certain chapters too you also get a glimpse of ‘reality’ with inserts of the history timeline as to what was happening and where and I found that such a clever and poignant way of bringing the story even more to life, and to give background as to what different areas were facing at the time.

The parallel of people trying to carry on with life as normally as they could, and the horrors of what was happening around them in neighbouring districts was heartbreaking to read at times and brought home the fine line between life and death.

There are many horrific scenes that were difficult to read but there were also odd moments of humour as the family seemingly sought out to block out all the bad. The lengths that many non-Jews went to in helping those fleeing persecution was also heartwarming when you realised the danger they were putting themselves in if they got caught.

This was an absolutely stunning read that really needs to be read for yourself to fully appreciate and it was also wonderful to read the Author’s note too explaining all about her family that she based these characters on. A must read!!

Thankyou to the publishers and author for an advanced reading copy