#BlogTour THE NAME BENEATH THE STONE by ROBERT NEWCOME #UnknownSoldier #BookReview @NewcomeRobert @UnicornPubGroup @Bookollective

An honour to be the stop today on the Blog Tour for the wonderful THE NAME BENEATH THE STONE by Robert Newcome. My thanks to the author, publisher and Bookollective for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Three generations, one family, connected by an historic secret. 1917 Private Daniel Dawkins fights at Messines Ridge and Passchendaele. He writes home to his true-love Joyce, but reveals little of his extreme bravery, his kindness, his loyalty to his comrades and the horrors they experience on the Western Front.

 1920 Captain Peter Harding is tasked with a secret mission to assist in the selection of a body dug up from the battlefields of Flanders to be buried in Westminster Abbey as the ‘Unknown Warrior’. Events take place on that expedition that come to haunt him for the rest of his life.

 2011 Sarah Harding discovers Daniel s letters and Peter s diaries. Together with historian James Marchant she pieces together the hidden truth behind the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and must decide what to do with it. Values are challenged and characters are tested in this gripping novel which asks what if the identity of the Unknown Soldier was discovered – and should that secret ever be revealed? 

published by Unicorn Publishing Group

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon £10.11

whsmith  £10.11

hive.co.uk  £9.55

MY REVIEW

I think it’s books like these that show you just how important it is to keep the stories of the bravery and sacrifice that many made in times of war, and I found myself totally absorbed by this story and all the many layers and timelines it encompasses.  

Set over 3 timelines, each chapter of the story is brilliantly told as a work of fiction based on fact.  In the later timeline, 2011, we have Sarah Harding who is nursing her father has he approaches the end of his life and she uncovers many letters in his possession from his time in the war and they start a chain of research and discovery off as she wishes to find out more about the past and her family link to the story of the unknown soldier.

The timelines also go back to 1917 and 1920 – in 1917 Daniel Dawkins shares his thoughts on all he has seen on the front line and the tragedies he was close to.  The banter that the soldiers shared – men and boys who came from normal backgrounds who were thrown into extraordinary circumstances, and I really loved these moments in the story.  It took you right back to try and gain a little understanding of just how they made sense of what they were witnessing and what they were being expected to do by those in charge. How the different personalities amongst them all dealt with the many horrific sights they came face to face with, and how they tried to help those struggling.

And then the 1920 storyline was that of the Unknown Soldier. How it was thought that bringing home a body from France to bury at Westminster could unite the country and those grieving their lost loved ones.  So many different emotions spring to mind when you think of those lost, and those who are at home not knowing where their loved ones are buried. And to those involved in choosing and transporting this unknown soldier back to the UK as well.

As Sarah starts to put all the pieces together of this astonishing family drama, it became a book that I found it difficult to put down.  There were so many threads to follow that each had so much intrigue that you could easily have had a book written just about each timeline!

What I loved was the human aspect of the storyline.  When we read about history we see the numbers and the cold hard facts, but this kind of book gives you a glimpse behind the scenes – the kind of people involved, how those left at home dealt with not knowing or hearing reports on the radio or in papers, the decisions that had to be made on the frontline and just how they even managed to keep going when they were faced with impossible missions and they’re constantly losing their friends and colleagues but they had to keep on fighting.

This was an enthralling and emotional book and one I’m very glad to have had the pleasure of reading. Alongside the ‘fiction’ element, there’s also a clever use throughout the book of newspaper articles of the time, telegrams from the King and all the goings on behind the scene which helped give more depth and perspective to the news that was filtering back to those in the UK.  

Highly recommended!

★★★★★

YouTube footage of the 1920 funeral of the Unknown Soldier

#BlogTour FINDING BLOSSOMS IN THE DARKNESS by SIMIN SARIKHANI #GIVEAWAY @Bookollective

Thanks for joining me today for the latest stop on this very important Blog Tour for   FINDING BLOSSOMS IN THE DARKNESS by Simin Sarikhani.  My thanks to the wonderful Bookollective team for putting the tour together and letting me share a giveaway with you, as well as finding out more about the book

The tour is happening now to coincide with Suicide Prevention Month so we’re hoping to bring more awareness of the help that is out there.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A deeply moving memoir of a mother’s journey through deepest loss to hope. Beautifully designed and produced, featuring the gorgeous illustrations of Lesley Buckingham. Publication supported by imaginative marketing and publicity campaigns from Cultureshock and Bookseller Rising Stars Bookollective.

 A refugee from revolutionary Iran, Simin Sarikhani had fled her home, leaving all that she had to make a new life on the other side of the world. Although no stranger to life’s challenges, she would face none so great as the death of her only child, Zhubin, at the age of 21. This heartfelt account describes one mother’s journey through the unbearable pain of a child’s death to find what had seemed forever lost: hope, meaning, love and even joy. 

Guided by the letters her son wrote to her to be read after his death, and his other insightful writings, Simin was able to find light in the darkness. In this book, she shares not only her own story but also Zhubin’s simple words, with the wish that they may also bring some comfort to other bereaved parents. Simin Sarikhani was born in Iran, and now divides her time between London and Montreal. Finding Blossoms in the Darkness is her first book.

Published by CultureShock Media

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

whsmith

book depository

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

About the author: A refugee from revolutionary Iran, Simin had fled her home, leaving all she had to make a new life on the other side of the world. Although no stranger to life’s challenges, she would face none so great as the death of her only child, Zhubin, at age 21.

This heartfelt account describes one mother’s journey through the unbearable pain of a child’s death to find what had seemed forever lost: hope, meaning, love and even joy.

Guided by the letters her son wrote to her to be read after his death, and his other insightful writings, she was able to find light in the darkness. In this book she shares, not only her own story, but also Zhubin’s simple words, with the wish that they may also bring some comfort to other bereaved parents.

GIVEAWAY

It’s my pleasure today to be involved in the giveaway which is to win a copy of this extraordinary paperback book.   Entries only from the UK and EU ONLY please.

 Please go over to my Twitter page @bookkaz and retweet the pinned FINDING BLOSSOMS tweet on my page and follow @Bookollective .  Entries allowed until midnight Friday 27th September 2019, and I will pick a winner on  Saturday 28th.

GOOD LUCK!!

💮💮💮

To find out more about this book and the author, please visit the FINDING BLOSSOMS IN THE DARKNESS website

#BlogTour Death on the Ocean by Martha Fischer #BookReview @Bookollective

Delighted to be the stop today for the DEATH ON THE OCEAN blog tour! My thanks to the author, publisher and Bookollective for letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

A story where romance meets crime. Amanda Lipton leads a fairly uneventful life as a teacher. The most she has to worry about is staff room politics and petty quarrels among pupils and colleagues. But everything changes as she wins a million in a TV show! 

To escape the stuffy atmosphere at school, Amanda decides to change her life and take a luxury cruise, no expense spared. Expecting a life of luxury aboard the Belgravia, she is dismayed to find events rapidly spiraling out of control. Her fellow passengers are not as they seem and eventually she’s drawn to two men – but can she trust them? And… whom to choose? 

When she witnesses what looks like a cold blooded murder, Amanda realises that her own life could be in danger. 

A delightful romantic comedy with a twist of suspense and murder to it.

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This was a fun read for me – real escapism and  a nice cosy mystery added to the mix along with the romance side of things, so there was always that element of what was going to happen next, and wondering just who to trust! Just like the main character, Amanda, who found herself getting paranoid about people while she was supposed to be having the time of her life!

Amanda has a normal life as a teacher, dealing with the politics of school life, but when she finds herself winning a million on a TV quiz show, she soon finds life changing around her but not for the best! People she thought were her friends are soon after her money, so she decides to throw caution to the wind and get away from it all by going on a luxury cruise! Surely life will be happier and simpler on holiday?! Wrong!!!

On the cruise she finds a variety of people from different walks of life, even a Nobel Prize Winner, but things start to get very wrong quite soon when she appears to witness someone being thrown overboard – or did she?! Maybe the victim had been drinking and fallen – the whispers amongst the other passengers and the theories start to stack up as to what did happen that night.

She seems the type of person not to let things lie so sets out to find out more about people – but someone doesn’t like her interfering as she gets a threatening message under her door. And then there’s another victim….

This had lots to keep you guessing and loved how she also managed to attract romantic attention while getting to know more of the passengers!  You really don’t know who to trust amongst the characters involved as there’s definitely more to some than meets the eye and I had great fun trying to work out who was most likely to be the killer!!

Good fun and very quick and easy to read!

★★★

#BlogTour If Trees Could Talk by Holly Worton @Bookollective #BookReview

Delighted to be  part of this wonderful Blog Tour – my thanks to the author and Bookollective for letting me be part of it all  and sharing my thoughts!

ABOUT THE BOOK

All trees have a story.

Holly Worton has spent the last few years talking to trees – the birches, the oaks, the beeches and the sycamores.

You’re probably wondering:  How is it that trees can talk?  Is this for real?

Trees are living, breathing organisms which humans are able to connect and talk to on a deeper level through silent, telepathic communication.

Trees have a much broader perspective on life compared to humans.  Trees can live hundreds and even thousands of years.

This means Trees have thousands of years of wisdom that we’re able to tap into.  Talking to the trees can bring us back to our true selves and can reflect back to us the things we need to see in ourselves.  It can also be a space for deep healing.

Living in the technology age, however, we spend our lives connected to computers, mobile phones, and video games. Consequently, we’ve become increasingly disconnected from ourselves and from Nature.

This book is meant to gently encourage you to get back to Nature and turn to the magic and the wisdom of the trees. By reconnecting to Nature, you can improve your relationship with yourself, which will help you make better, more aligned choices in your life.

This book is for you if:

You love Nature and the outdoors. You feel like there’s something more to life, but you don’t know what that is. You’re feeling disconnected from yourself, like your life has somehow gotten off track. You feel like you don’t really know who you are anymore… or maybe you’ve never truly known yourself at all. Life is going just fine, but you have the notion things could be much better.

Throughout this book, you’ll follow the author, Holly Worton on a journey of connecting on a deeper level with the wisdom of the trees. You’ll hear their stories, and you’ll be given a series of experiments to carry out, should you choose to do so. These will help you to connect with yourself through connecting with Nature, and they’ll open you up to the deep wisdom and healing that the trees can offer.

The trees will help you to get out of your head and into your body, so you can feel more deeply and truly experience all the JOY that life has to offer. They’ll add a new level of richness to your life that you have never thought possible.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

GoodReads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Holly Worton is a podcaster and author of nine books who helps people get to know themselves better through connecting with Nature, so they can feel happier and more fulfilled. Holly enjoys spending time outdoors, walking long-distance trails and exploring Britain’s sacred sites. She’s originally from California and now lives in the Surrey Hills, but has also lived in Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. Holly is a member of the Druid order OBOD.

Holly ran her first business for ten years, building it up to become a multi-million-dollar enterprise. When she went into the coaching world she was confident that she had the business and marketing skills she needed to set up a new company. And she did – but she struggled to grow her new venture quickly because she encountered fears, blocks, and limiting beliefs that she didn’t even know she had. 

She discovered that pushing forward and taking action just wasn’t enough. She needed to transform her mindset and release her blocks, as this was the only way to take the right actions to move her new business forward. Thus began her journey of intense personal development through deep mindset work, which transformed her existing coaching business into a focus on helping people with their business mindset. 

Eventually, she realized that she wanted to devote her time to helping people through her writing, and she let go of her mindset business to focus on her books. Now, Holly continues to write about mindset, long-distance walking, and connecting to Nature. 

AUTHOR WEBSITE

MY REVIEW

We are supposed to talk to plants to help make them grow better, but what if the plants could talk back and tell us things?! Well, that’s the message behind this book as the author has a special gift that means that she can  hear the stories that trees are trying to share with us, and I found this to be such a fascinating and illuminating book that really makes you take time to think about yourself and the world we live in, especially relevant in these times when many parts of the world seem set on destroying as much of the natural landscape as possible.  The trees have been around for a lot longer than us!! They notice things!

I’ve always loved trees and have driven my family mad with my ‘hippy’ outlook and feeling so sad whenever I hear or see a chainsaw destroying a magnificent old tree.  In this book, Holly shares the time that she spends out walking and the fact that certain trees stand out to you – I’ve noticed this too when I’m out and about that you often feel drawn to a certain tree – and Holly has similar feelings wherever she is out exploring and the more time she spends outdoors, the more she hears.

This book is split into  3 parts and is set out in a way that you can dip in and out of it, as and when you need to! It’s such a peaceful, calming book that I think it’s one of those that is a pleasure to escape into.  It gives you prompts of how you can use the information she shares which is a great way of interacting with the book and ideas that it throws up.

There are 28 trees and their stories featured and it’s a wealth of information about the tree, the area they are in and folklore surrounding them and I found some of the stories that the trees shared with her to be very poignant and telling.  Many of their messages to humans are similar and it’s very wise advice in a world where we’re rushing around and not noticing the little things that can bring such joy on a daily basis.

It is such a fascinating subject and I found it brilliantly told and explained and it’s made me quite eager to spend more time amongst trees and also found the questions that Holly poses at the end of each story to be extremely helpful and thought provoking that it really struck a chord with me and I’ll definitely be out hugging more trees in future!

★★★★★

#BlogTour The Duke and the Imposter by Michael Stolle #BookReview @Bookollective

Delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for THE DUKE AND THE IMPOSTER by MICHAEL STOLLE – and my thanks to the author, publisher and Bookollective for putting it all together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s a beautiful day in the seventeenth century. Pierre, Marquis de Beauvoir, Duke of Hertford and his small family arrive for a picnic on the banks of the River Loire in the grounds of his castle of Montrésor. It is a garden Eden – beautiful and peaceful. But fate strikes and, taken by surprise, the lunch party is ambushed.

Pierre is found later by his faithful valet, barely clinging to life, but his wife and only son have vanished without a trace. Beyond consolation, Pierre is convinced that his family has been annihilated. Luckily his friends François and Armand rush to the castle from Paris to his aid – and to investigate.

The quest leads to the coast of France and then on to the shores of England, a country torn apart by old loyalties to the Stuart king and the rise of the new Puritan gentry.

As the friends come closer and closer to the viper’s nest they must find out the truth, and track down the mastermind behind the ambush, who is prepared to stop at nothing until he has taken Pierre’s place and styled himself the next Duke of Hertford. A man not known to take prisoners. Soon Pierre and his friends are not only fighting against an enemy who’s ruthless and vile, they’re racing against time, the biggest enemy of all. 

Published by Amazon

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This is the 5th book in this series, but my 1st so don’t worry about not having read any of the others! It’s really easy to get in to and is a great mix of history and mystery, so plenty to keep you engaged and entertained from page one to the last!

Set in 17th Century England and France, you follow the story of Pierre who is in pain and struggling to remember what happened to his family while they were out having a picnic. With no sign of his wife and child he fears the worst, but calls in his friends Francois and Armand to help try and figure out what happened and how to find out if his family are alright.

As Francois and Armand start to question those around, they soon uncover sinister goings on and then have a race against time to track Marie and her son down before it is too late.

I enjoyed the duo of Francois and Armand as they would often bicker and were very funny together but they had great detective skills between them! They used their contacts in London well and it was quite good fun trying to work out who they should trust. I also like the way the story was switched too from Marie’s point of view as it showed her being so brave for her son despite not knowing what was really going on.  It soon becomes clear why they wanted the young son so badly and why they went to the lengths they did to grab him and a lot is uncovered in clandestine meetings back in London that really get to the bottom of the plot against the family.  

Set in the time of Cromwell and King Charles I, England was in turmoil so there’s always plenty going on and lots to explore in how people were behaving at that time,  and I just enjoyed the quick pace of the story, the engaging characters and a fascinating period of history!

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#BlogTour The Eyes That Look by Julia Grigg #bookreview @Bookollective

Extremely delighted to be the next stop on the Blog Tour for this stunning book. My thanks to the author, publisher and team at Bookollective for inviting me to be part of the fun!

About the book

Yes, we may have eyes that look, but how clearly do we see? Julia Grigg’s compelling novel, The Eyes That Look, set amidst the feverish creativity and competition of mid-sixteenth-century Italy, tells the story of Francesco Bassano, a young man who questions why an extraordinary painting was made and sets off to find out. His journey takes him across the Veneto and to Florence, where he learns about loyalty and the unbreakable bond between a master and his dogs, about the determination it takes to innovate, and about the sacrifices needed to turn ambitions into reality. Witness to astonishing achievements in art and architecture, Francesco is enthralled and uplifted but also exposed to human frailty and inhumanity. Thinking anew about truth and beauty, he also experiences bitter betrayal.

A novel steeped in the visual and tactile power of art, The Eyes that Look entertains as it informs, inviting readers to revel in a Renaissance world of unrivalled artistic richness.

Published by Unicorn Publishing

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £10.75

waterstones  £13.00

foyles  £13.00

About the Author

Julia Grigg started out in fashion journalism, her first job on Vogue, also writing on the arts, food and travel. She retains an abiding interest in all these subjects but soon moved into a career with UNICEF as a writer and advocate for children’s issues and over many years was deployed to some of the world’s most demanding and complex countries. 

Julia began The Eyes that Look – the secret story of Bassano’s Hunting Dogs while studying for the Bath Spa University Masters in Creative Writing from which she graduated with Distinction. Early drafts of the novel were longlisted for the Exeter First Novel Prize and for the Aurora Metro Virginia Prize for New Writing by Women in English. 

The Eyes that Look was years in the making before a single word was put on the page. Writing it meant Julia could delve deep into the Italian High Renaissance, indulging a lifelong fascination with its art, music and poetry. In the research process she embraced online study, attended the Courtauld Institute summer school and the British Institute in Florence, and spent much time in Italian archives, galleries and churches as well as in trying to master the language. 

Julia is working on the second novel of a planned Renaissance trilogy, involving mid 1500s Rome, Florence and Venice settings and some of the same cast of characters as The Eyes that Look. 

Cornish in origin, Julia divides her time between the UK and Nairobi, Kenya, spending as much time as she can in the West Country, always thrilled to be once again crossing the Tamar. Dogs are another passion; she and her husband share their home with a pair of black and tan dachshunds. 

Author on Twitter

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a beautifully written book that transports you back to Italy in the Mid 16th Century and brings the sights and sounds to life with such astonishing attention to detail.  The colours literally ping off the pages as you read!

I’m often a little sceptical of books about the art world and paintings – how much can be written about a particular painting?! But with this story we go beyond the art, and to the story behind this famous painting mixed with historical facts that blend so well.

It did take me a while to get into the flow of the story as I was a little unsure of what to expect, but once I’d got my head around the characters I found this so easy to read and so captivating as you follow a young man on his quest to discover more about his father, and more of the artwork he created.  There are so many mentions of artists we’ve all heard of, and the way they are used adds such flavour to the story.  It’s also told from a number of different Points of View so you’re always getting different sides to stories, varying glimpses of life and seeing young  Francesco have his opinions changed as he discovers more about the story of this painting that was very unusual for the time.

There is no better setting for a historical mystery than Venice, and the way this is written is stunning.  I couldn’t get over how much colour plays a part in setting the story – it was so vivid!  It left me wanting to read more about the artists and period of history. The author obviously has a clear love of Art as her devotion to the story and understanding of that world makes you connect with the characters so much more.

The lessons he learns on his journey teach him so much and you can’t help embrace the same message as you read.  It explores the relationship between father and son and how we often see people differently because they are family and that it takes others perceptions to allow you to see them as they really are.

A stunning read and one I can highly recommend to others who are looking for something a little different.

🎨🎨🎨🎨🎨

#BlogTour That Summer In Puglia by Valeria Vescina #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

Fiction. Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts? THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA is a tale of love, loss, the perils of self-deception and the power of compassion. Puglia offers an ideal setting: its layers of history are integral to the story, itself an excavation of a man’s past; Tommaso’s increasingly vivid memories of its sensuous colours, aromas and tastes, and of how it felt to love and be loved, eventually transform the discomforting tone with which he at first tries to keep Will and painful truths at a distance. This remarkable debut combines a gripping plot and perceptive insights into human nature with delicate lyricism.

“Very beautiful, surprising and evocative.”–Simonetta Agnello Hornby

“This is an enchanting slow burn of a novel; a notable debut. Vescina’s voice is admirably clear, her descriptions lucid, and her characters are human to the core.”–Rachel Seiffert

“THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA is rich in insights into human emotions. It’s the tale of the disastrous course even a great love can take if bitterness is allowed to prevail and chances of forgiveness are rejected, but also of the miracles it can work if profoundly experienced and expressed. Valeria Vescina’s style has the fluidity of the great European novelists. Her characterisations are at once vivid and poetic, and the plot ever-surprising. Finally, here is the discovery through literature of Puglia, with its remarkable synthesis of Mediterranean history and cultures–and how appropriate, as this is, deep down, Greek tragedy.”–Edoardo Winspeare

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  

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

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a totally absorbing debut and loved spending time with the character Tommaso as he recounted the story of his life and loves to a PI who has tracked him down 30 years later. Tommaso has done all he can to distance himself from his past and as he explains the reasons why throughout this intriguing story.

It is a story full of great character studies – we learn of young love, family jealousies and secrets and the way it’s told was also fascinating as it feels like Tommaso is having the conversation with you the reader as he looks back. It isn’t difficult to feel yourself back in Puglia during his youth, growing up idolising his father and the impact that losing him had on him as a young man. And how the death affected his mother who became a different person to him and he always resented the way she treated him from that point. There’s plenty of heartbreak but also determination from Tommaso to move on with his life and explains how he ended up in London and how his life had changed so much.

The bright light in his life was Anna and their story is a beautiful one despite their differences in lifestyles and religion. 

The attention to detail was exquisite and the sights and sounds are brought vividly to life through the pages. It had a lovely gentle feel to it throughout and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future.

My thanks to the author, publisher and the team at Bookollective for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for the copy of the book.