#QuickReads #BookReview SAVING THE DAY by KATIE FFORDE @midaspr @readingagency @KatieFforde


Delighted to be part of the celebrations today for QUICK READS! If you don’t know what they’re all about, then here’s some info to get you up to speed!

CELEBRATING THE 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF QUICK READS:

SHORT BOOKS AND GREAT STORIES TACKLING THE ADULT LITERACY CRISIS

OYINKAN BRAITHWAITE: The Baby is Mine (Atlantic)

LOUISE CANDLISH: The Skylight (Simon & Schuster)

KATIE FFORDE: Saving the Day (Arrow)

PETER JAMES: Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan)

CAITLIN MORAN: How to Be a Woman, abridged (Ebury)

KHURRUM RAHMAN: The Motive (HQ)

27 May 2021 | £1 | #QuickReads @readingagency

www.readingagency.org.uk | Images

“Buy one, gift one: Buy a Quick Read this summer and we’ll gift a copy to help someone discover the joy of reading.”

One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – find reading difficult, and one in three people do not regularly read for pleasure. Quick Reads, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, plays a vital role in addressing these shocking statistics by inspiring emergent readers, as well as those with little time or who have fallen out of the reading habit, with entertaining and accessible writing from the very best contemporary authors.

This year’s short books include:

a dark domestic thriller from British Book Award winner Louise Candlish (The Skylight), who thanks reading for setting her on the right path when she was ‘young and adrift’

an uplifting romance by the much-loved Katie Fforde (Saving the Day), who never thought she would be able to be an author because of her struggle with dyslexia

the holiday from hell for Detective Roy Grace courtesy of long-time literacy campaigner and crime fiction maestro Peter James (Wish You Were Dead)

a specially abridged version of the feminist manifesto (How to Be a Woman) by Caitlin Moran: ‘everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend.’

an introduction to Khurrum Rahman’s dope dealer Javid Qasim (The Motive), who previously found the idea of reading a book overwhelming and so started reading late in life, to find ‘joy, comfort and an escape’ 

Oyinkan Braithwaite’s follow-up to her Booker nominated debut sensation My Sister, the Serial Killer – a family drama set in lockdown Lagos (The Baby is Mine)

Over 5 million Quick Reads have been distributed since the life-changing programme launched in 2006. From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes. This year, for every book bought until 31 July 2021, another copy will be gifted to help someone discover the joy of reading. ‘Buy one, gift one’ will see thousands of free books given to organisations across the UK to reach less confident readers and those with limited access to books – bring the joy and transformative benefits of reading to new audiences.

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About Quick Reads 2021 Titles (27 May 2021)

Oyinkan Braithwaite, The Baby is Mine (Atlantic)

When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They are fighting because both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib. At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?

Oyinkan Braithwaite gained a degree in Creative Writing and Law at Kingston University. Her first book, My Sister, the Serial Killer, was a number one bestseller. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize and was on the long list for the 2019 Booker Prize.

Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of The Baby is Mine (Atlantic) said: “When I am writing, I don’t know what my readers will look like or what challenges they may be facing. So it was an interesting experience creating work with the understanding that the reader might need a story that was easy to digest, and who might not have more than a few hours in a week to commit to reading. It was daunting – simpler does not necessarily mean easier – I may have pulled out a couple of my hairs; but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Quick Reads tapped into my desire to create fiction that would be an avenue for relief and escape for all who came across it.”

Louise Candlish, The Skylight (Simon & Schuster)

They can’t see her, but she can see them… Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they’ve got over for dinner. She knows what mood they’re in before they even step out the door. There’s nothing wrong with looking, is there? Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime…

Louise Candlish is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Other Passenger and thirteen other novels. Our House won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. It is now in development for a major TV series. Louise lives in London with her husband and daughter.

Louise Candlish, author of The Skylight (Simon & Schuster) said: It’s an honour to be involved in this [next] year’s Quick Reads. Reading set me on the right path when I was young and adrift and it means such a lot to me to be a part of literacy campaign that really does change lives.”

Katie Fforde, Saving the Day (Arrow, Penguin Random House)

Allie is bored with her job and starting to wonder whether she even likes her boyfriend, Ryan. The high point in her day is passing a café on her walk home from work. It is the sort of place where she’d really like to work. Then one day she sees as advert on the door: assistant wanted. But before she can land her dream job, Allie knows she must achieve two things: 1. Learn to cook; 2. End her relationship with Ryan, especially as through the window of the café, she spies a waiter who looks much more like her type of man. And when she learns that the café is in danger of closing, Allie knows she must do her very best to save the day …

Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a differentjoband her research has helped her bring these to life. To find out more about Katie Fforde step into her world at www.katiefforde.com, visit her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KatieFforde.

Katie Fforde, author of Saving the Day (Arrow, Penguin Random House) said: “As a dyslexic person who even now can remember the struggle to read, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the scheme. Anything that might help someone who doesn’t find reading easy is such a worthwhile thing to do.”

Peter James, Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan)

Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back…

Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his crime and thriller novels. He is the creator of the much-loved detective Roy Grace. His books have been translated into thirty-seven languages. He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award. Many of his books have been adapted for film, TV and stage.

Peter James, author of Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan) said: “The most treasured moments of my career have been when someone tells me they hadn’t read anything for years, often since their school days, but are back into reading via my books. What more could an author hope for? Reading helps us tackle big challenges, transports us into new worlds, takes us on adventures, allows us to experience many different lives and open us up to aspects of our world we never knew existed. So I’m delighted to be supporting Quick Reads again – I hope it will help more people get started on their reading journeys and be the beginning of a life-long love of books.”

Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury)

It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727.  But a few nagging questions remain… Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part protest, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.

Caitlin Moran became a columnist at The Times at eighteen and has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. She is the author of many award-winning books and her bestseller How to Be a Woman has been published in 28 countries and won the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year 2011. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, is now a major feature film. Find out more at her website www.caitlinmoran.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @caitlinmoran

Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury) said: “I wrote How To Be A Woman because I felt that feminism is such a beautiful, brilliant, urgent and necessary invention that it should not be hidden away in academic debates, or in books which most women and men found dull, and unreadable. Having a Quick Reads edition of it, therefore, makes me happier than I can begin to describe – everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend, on hand to help them through the often bewildering ass-hattery of Being A Woman. There’s no such thing as a book being too quick, too easy, or too fun. A book is a treat – a delicious pudding for your brain. I’m so happy Quick Reads have allowed me to pour extra cream and cherries on How To Be A Woman.”

Khurrum Rahman, The Motive (HQ)

Business has been slow for Hounslow’s small time dope-dealer, Jay Qasim. A student house party means quick easy cash, but it also means breaking his own rules. But desperate times lead him there – and Jay finds himself in the middle of a crime scene. Idris Zaidi, a police constable and Jay’s best friend, is having a quiet night when he gets a call out following a noise complaint at a house party. Fed up with the lack of excitement in his job, he visits the scene and quickly realises that people are in danger after a stabbing. Someone will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1975, Khurrum moved to England when he was one. He is a west London boy and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons. Khurrum is currently working as a Senior IT Officer but his real love is writing. His first two books in the Jay Qasim series, East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger.

Khurrum Rahman, author of The Motive (HQ) said: “I started reading late in life, as the idea of reading a book always seemed overwhelming. I hesitantly began a book a friend had recommended and quickly became totally immersed in the story. I found joy and comfort and most importantly, an escape. It’s for this very reason that I am so proud to be involved with Quick Reads. This initiative is so important for people, like I once was, to engage in stories that may mirror their own lives or to read experiences far beyond their imagination. Just like a friend once did for me, I hope I am able to play a small part in encouraging somebody to pick up a book.”

About The Reading Agency & Quick Reads

The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council England.  www.readingagency.org.uk

Quick Reads, a programme by The Reading Agency,aims to bring the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, including the one in three adults in the UK who do not regularly read for pleasure, and the one in six adults in the UK who find reading difficult. The scheme changes lives and plays a vital role in addressing the national crisis around adult literacy in the UK. Each year, Quick Reads commissioning editor Fanny Blake works with UK publishers to commission high profile authors to write short, engaging books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. Since 2006, over 5 million books have been distributed through the initiative, 5 million library loans (PLR) have been registered and through outreach work hundreds of thousands of new readers each year have been introduced to the joys and benefits of reading. From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes.

I was very lucky to receive a copy of SAVING THE DAY by KATIE FFORDE as my Quick Read to review….

MY REVIEW

What a perfect little treat of a book! It’s a story that will leave you smiling and having all the feels as you follow Allie on her journey in claiming back and life and doing what makes her happy!  Ooh and there are recipes!!!  It’s  a book that is good for your soul – and your stomach!!!

Allie is bored with her job, and her boyfriend!  When she sees a vacancy advertised at her favourite cafe she takes the plunge and applies – despite being a very novice cook!!  But with the help of a very lovely neighbour, she gets a crash course in the basics and suddenly her life starts to make her smile again.

What I loved was seeing Allie taking control of her life! She knew it wasn’t working for her, so she grabbed an opportunity to change it!  A lesson for us all!!  And with her changing the course of her life, it sets changes up for others around her too.  But with good news comes bad, and it starts to worry Allie that her happiness may be shortlived!

I loved this little glimpse into the life of Allie!  And it was also a wonderful little break from life with a Quick Reads – being able to sit down, read a book, escape the world for a short while, and then get back to reality.  We all need that break more than ever, so these bite sized books are the perfect way for us all to jump into another world!

★★★★★

#BookReview MY DARK VANESSA by KATE ELIZABETH RUSSELL @dylanthomprize #SUDTP21

So excited to be sharing my review with you today, ahead of the announcement tomorrow of the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2021 – https://www.swansea.ac.uk/dylan-thomas-prize/  Click the link to see the other books in the running and for more details!  And if you want to watch the ceremony live, Thursday 13th May at 7pm then click here…https://www.swansea.ac.uk/dylan-thomas-prize/award-ceremony-2021/


My thanks to the team at Midas PR for letting me be part of it all!


Of the books shortlisted, I was lucky to review My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell so here’s my thoughts on such an explosive and shocking story!

ABOUT THE BOOK

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher

ALL HE DID WAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND THE WORLD TURNED HIM INTO A MONSTER

Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, and as riveting as it is disturbing, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age is grappling with.

PUBLISHED BY FOURTH ESTATE

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

Wow! Where to start?! If you are looking for a book that’s a nice easy read, then this is NOT that book!! But it is a book that fits perfectly with the times we live in and despite the uncomfortable subject that will leave you feeling shocked and creeped out, it’s a story that you can’t help but become involved in as I found myself shouting out in despair at Vanessa with the situations she put herself in……

At the heart of the story is a teacher abusing the trust of his student – in this case, it’s 15 year old Vanessa.  She’s completely taken in with her teacher as he shows her attention, he notices her! And in a world where she feels invisible that’s a very powerful thing for a young girl.  He plays on her insecurities and she’s too young to understand the inappropriate way he’s behaving.  For her it’s her first real encounter with ‘love’ – there’s nothing inappropriate about finding someone you connect with….. age is just a number…. he’s her soul mate…..  he makes her feel special……

The story is told over 2 different times – back at school when this relationship begins and how it makes Vanessa feel, and the emotional abuse that we witness her teacher, Jacob, use to justify his comments and the time they spend together.  And then we see Vanessa in her 30’s, and how the past has affected her and what happens when the past catches up with her as he gets back in touch as there are rumours threatening him as another girl makes claims against his behaviour.

When a journalist gets in touch with the older Vanessa, she starts to think back over the relationship she shared with Jacob back then and I found it fascinating to see how she begins to see things a little differently as she looks back over things, and listens to others who may have shared similar experiences with the sleazy teacher! But there’s always that part of her that finds ways to justify his behaviour and makes excuses for it.

It’s one of those books that stops you in your tracks as you just can’t stop thinking about the characters, and knowing that there are people like in reality just makes your skin shudder. It was also fascinating to see how Jacob would play the ‘victim’ role himself… he gets clingy, gets her to say really creepy things – thus transferring the issue to Vanessa making it seem like it was her making him behave this way.

An outstanding story that isn’t afraid to confront the darker side of life and relationships – brilliant!

★★★★★

#BlogTour #BookExtract THE THUNDER GIRLS by MELANIE BLAKE @MelanieBlakeUK @MidasPR @panmacmillan #ThunderGirls

A huge delight to be able to share an extract today for THE THUNDER GIRLS by MELANIE BLAKE, as part of the Blog Tour. My thanks to the author, publisher and Martina at Midas PR for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Jackie Collins for a new generation. The Thunder Girls is a blockbuster novel, filled with obsession, addiction, betrayal and revenge, that charts the rise and fall of an 80s girl band from Melanie Blake, a true insider of the music business.

Perfect for fans of Tasmina Perry and Daisy Jones and The SixSoon to be a nationwide play with an all star cast.

THE

Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita, an eighties pop sensation outselling and out-classing their competition. Until it all comes to an abrupt end and three of their careers are over, and so is their friendship.

THUNDER

Thirty years later, their old record label wants the band back together for a huge money-making concert. But the wounds are deep and some need this gig more than others.

In those decades apart life was far from the dream they were living as members of The Thunder Girls. Breakdowns, bankruptcy, addiction and divorce have been a constant part of their lives. They’ve been to hell and back, and some are still there.

GIRLS

Can the past be laid to rest for a price, or is there more to this reunion than any of them could possibly know? Whilst they all hunger for a taste of success a second time around, someone is plotting their downfall in the deadliest way possible . . .

 PUBLISHED BY PAN

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

Blackwell’s

Author Website

EXTRACT

Prologue 

November 1989 

Carly Hughes stepped from the back of the limousine at the entrance to Shine Records. She was wearing a short kilt and leather jacket. Lacy tights with biker boots; big hair, kooky-looking shades and an oversized designer bag worth thousands.

 Every inch the pop star.

 Her driver, Dale, threw a protective arm around her as he steered her past thousands of screaming Thunder Girls fans, Carly stopping to scribble her name on the autograph books and tour programmes being thrust at her. Some of the fans were hysterical. A young girl clung to her, sobbing, burying her tear-streaked face in her idol’s new jacket. 

Without taking his eyes off her, a handsome lad was snapping endless pictures on a battered Instamatic whilst staring at Carly intently. Dale let Carly know it was time to move. She detached herself from the crying girl and escaped into the building. 

 As they waited for the lift she inspected her jacket. ‘I think I’ve got snot on my sleeve. First time I’ve worn this, as well.’ 

Dale frowned and handed her a crisp white hanky. She dabbed at the damp leather.

 ‘I keep telling you not to be so touchy-feely,’ he said. ‘You don’t know where they’ve been.’

 ‘Harsh, Dale. They’re just kids—’ 

‘Bunking off school, most of them,’ he grumbled. ‘

—hanging about in the cold for hours, hoping for a word.’ ‘You’re way too trusting. They could pull a knife, anything.’

 Dale was ex-military. Special Forces. Decorated for bravery. Secretly hoping someone would step out of line one day so he could show what he was made of.

 ‘They’re our fans, they’d never hurt us.’ Carly gave him a dazzling smile.

 ‘Anyway, that’s why you’re here.’ He shook his head. ‘That weird one taking pictures . . . I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him – his eyes don’t look right.’ 

She giggled. ‘Don’t be mean. He’s the Mad Fan – goes everywhere we do, just likes to look at us and take his pics, bless him.’

 ‘Yeah, well that’s odd as well, the quiet ones are always the worst.’ 

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