#BlogTour THE PRINCE OF THE SKIES by ANTONIO ITURBE #BookReview #ThePrinceoftheSkies @panmacmillan @RandomTTours

Delighted to be with you today on this wonderful Blog Tour for THE PRINCE OF THE SKIES by ANTONIO ITURBE. 
My thanks to the author,publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it to share my thoughts!


ABOUT THE BOOK

WRITER. ROMANTIC. PILOT. HERO. 

From the bestselling author of The Librarian of Auschwitz comes another captivating historical novel based on a true story – the extraordinary life and mysterious death of. 

Only the best pilots are given jobs at Latécoère – the company destined to become Aéropostale. The successful candidates include Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. A man whose desire to fly will put him at odds with his aristocratic family and the girl who loves him – but who wants to keep him grounded. Together with his friends Jean and Henri, they will change the history of aviation and pioneer new mail routes across the world. But Antoine is also destined to touch the lives of millions of readers with his story The Little Prince. 

But as war begins to threaten Europe, is Antoine’s greatest adventure yet to come . . .?

 Translated by Lilit Žekulin Thwaites, this is a novel about love and friendship, war and heroism and the power of the written word. 

PUBLISHED BY MACMILLAN

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ANTONIO ITURBE was born in 1967 and grew up in the dock-side neighbourhood of Barceloneta, in Barcelona. His first novel The Librarian of Auschwitz was the number one selling book in translation in the UK last year. It has been translated into 30 languages and has sold over 600K copies internationally.

 Having grown up reading Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s books, Iturbe was inspired to write about the author’s extraordinary life. He conducted extensive research and, despite suffering from vertigo, even flew in a biplane so he would understand how it felt to fly. Iturbe hopes to translate not only the facts but also the poetry of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s writing in The Prince of the Skies.

MY REVIEW

Epic. Emotional. Thrilling!  Wow! What a read this has been!! I loved The Librarian of Auschwitz so have been so eager to read this book and it has not disappointed!  

This is the story of the author of The Little Prince (another favourite read of mine!) and his story has all the elements needed for an astonishing story.  This is a man who was born to fly!  And his dreams came true but didn’t run smoothly, and that adds to the drama throughout.

The author does a brilliant job of capturing the essence of a man who was completely driven in his quest to be in the skies.  He also showed how much writing meant to him, but flying was his true passion.  It charts his exploits from the beginning of his flying career – the good and bad! – alongside his personal life which was never the easiest.

Alongside his story, we also get the story of his 2 closest friends, Henri and Jean, and I loved how they were all such different characters but bonded over their love of flying. That’s when they were all at their happiest!  It charts some very distressing, dark times for them all but there was always that hope in them that things would come right.  They flew all over the world, facing new challenges along the way but never being disheartened when all went wrong.

I got totally caught up with the lives of these men! It is one of those books that is full of adventure and action, but showed their real characters too when their feet were on the ground and the issues they faced both professionally and personally.  Their lives were anything but dull!!

A true delight to read! It is exhilarating, magical and an incredible story! A must read and one of my books of 2021!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour DEEPER INTO THE WOOD by RUTH PAVEY #DeeperIntoTheWood #RuthPavey @Duckbooks @RandomTTours #BookReview



Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful DEEPER INTO THE WOOD by RUTH PAVEY.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all and sharing my review with you today!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Following the success of Ruth Pavey’s debut, A Wood of One’s Own, which introduced readers to her four acres of verdant land in the Somerset Levels, Ruth reflects on the fate of her wood. Beneath the canopy of trees she spent 20 years planting, she sees nature’s forces changing rapidly with the diversity of species dwindling. When the rabbits suddenly vanish, she knew it was time to take a closer look at the undergrowth and what she could do to preserve the legacy of the wood for generations to come.

Interwoven with Ruth’s candid descriptions of the practical challenges of land management are forays into the Levels’ local history, as well as thoughtful portraits of its inhabitants both past and present. Accompanied throughout by the author’s evocative hand-drawn illustrations, Deeper into the Wood is a lyrical and inspiring story; a potent reminder of nature’s delicate balance and our responsibility toward its preservation.

PUBLISHED BY DUCKWORTH

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruth Pavey is the Gardening Correspondent for the Ham & High ( Hampstead and Highgate Express). She attended Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art , and a selection if her illustrated works appear in her books. Pavey has reviewed books and written features for publications including the Observer, Guardian, NewStatestman, and even enjoyed forty plus years of teaching in Inner London, she still live there surrounded by plants, books, friend, a cello and three cats, whilst making frequent trips to the wood in Somerset.


MY REVIEW


It would be a dream of mine to own my own little woodland – a little piece of paradise! – and Ruth Pavey made it happen in Somerset.  And what you gain from this book is an insight to the love affair that she shares with this patch of land that she has watched over and tended and looks deeper into the changes she has noticed over the years and the constant battles she is facing in a world that doesn’t seem to value caring for the land, and the wildlife that lives on it and how she is doing her bit to do all she can to welcome wildlife back.


I loved the simplicity of this book in the message her writing shares – we can all do our bit to help the planet, but we just have to care and I love how switched on the author is to the slightest change in the goings on in her wood.  The disappearance of the rabbits, the impact that changes in the nearby farms and towns have on the area and how important these patches of woodland are in the bigger scheme of things. How we need more custodians of woodland areas to take the time out and proactive in reversing negative changes.


This was such a lovely escape of a read – you could almost hear the birds singing and smell the fresh air as each aspect – the good and bad! –  of her woodland journey is looked into.  I know I’ve become so thankful to local woodland areas for an escape, especially over the past 18 months, and reading this book has helped me become even more aware of the positive impact they have on both the environment and the people using them.


★★★★ 

#BlogTour TAPESTRIES OF LIFE by ANNE SVERDRUP-THYGESON #TapestriesOfLife @annesver @HarperNonFic @RandomTTours #BookReview



Delighted to be joining you today as part of the blog tour for the wonderful TAPESTRIES OF LIFE.   My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all and sharing my thoughts!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The second book by the bestselling author of Extraordinary Insects

Trees clean air and water; hoverflies and bees pollinate our crops; the kingfisher inspired the construction of high-speed trains. In Tapestries of Life, bestselling author Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson explains how closely we are all connected with the natural world, highlighting our indelible link with nature’s finely knit system and our everyday lives.

In the heart of natural world is a life-support system like no other, a collective term that describes all the goods and services we receive – food, fresh water, medicine, pollination, pollution control, carbon sequestration, erosion prevention, recreation, spiritual health and so much more. In this utterly captivating book, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson sets out to explore these wonderful, supportive elements – taking the reader on a journey through the surprising characteristics of the natural world.


PUBLISHED BY MUDLARK


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson is the bestselling author of Extraordinary Insects. A professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås, Norway, she is also a scientific advisor for The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research NINA. She has a Doctorate degree in conservation biology and lectures on nature management and forest biodiversity. 

MY REVIEW


This is one of those books that makes you go ‘wow’!  It highlights the world and all we take for granted, and until you see it written down you just forget how all this stuff around us works to help us live!  And how do we repay the natural world?! By destroying it!! Maybe if more people read this book, then there’d be more understanding  and appreciation for the wonders of this planet we live on!


We are 1 species of 10 million on the planet! That puts things into perspective doesn’t it?!  And what the author does brilliantly in this book is explore in great detail all that is around us and how every aspect of our daily life is there because of nature.  From the clothes on our back, the remedies we take and the food we eat…. we can’t survive without it!


It explores our relationship with nature and how we’re losing touch with  the simple things in life – how we’re spending less time outdoors and we’re poorer for it.  How we’re encouraged to have neat and tidy gardens – I don’t! – and how that impacts wildlife, and how the ‘simple’ aspects of water, grass, pollination all work together to create harmony.  And how we as humans have forgotten how much we have changed nature for our own convenience – and then wonder why things go wrong!


I have learnt so much from this book and just wish my brain could hold on to all the amazing facts I discovered while reading it! It’s one of those books you can dip in and out of anytime and take away a new discovery and appreciation every time you open up a chapter.


The author does a wonderful job of not being too preachy or OTT in her examinations of the different aspects of the natural world – she gets to the point and puts it in terms that’s so easy to relate to and it has definitely made me look at the world outside my window with fresh eyes and to stop taking everything for granted. 


We need the trees to clean the air, we need the insects to pollinate our plants – and this awe inspiring book allows the reader to see just how we both need each other to keep surviving!


★★★★★

#BlogTour EMPIRE OF ANTS by SUZANNE FOITZIK & OLAF FRITSCHE #BookReview #EmpireOfAnts @SusanneFoitzik @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours

Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful EMPIRE OF ANTS by SUZANNE FOITZIK & OLAF FRITSCHE.  My thanks to the publisher, authors and Anne of  Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

 ‘Thrilling, compellingly readable and paradigm-shattering’ – Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast


Ants have been walking the Earth since the age of the dinosaurs. Today there are one million ants for every one of us. The closer you get to ants, the more human they look: they build megacities, grow crops, raise livestock, tend their young and infirm, and even make vaccines. They also have a darker side: they wage war, enslave rivals and rebel against their oppressors. From fearsome army ants, who stage twelve-hour hunting raids where they devour thousands, to gentle leafcutters gardening in their peaceful underground kingdoms, every ant is engineered by nature to fulfil their particular role.

 Acclaimed biologist Susanne Foitzik has travelled the globe to study these master architects of Earth. Joined by journalist Olaf Fritsche, Foitzik invites readers deep into her world – in the field and in the lab – and will inspire new respect for ants as a global superpower. Fascinating and action-packed, Empire of Ants will open your eyes to the secret societies thriving right beneath your feet

PUBLISHED BY  OCTOPUS BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susanne Foitzik (Author) Susanne Foitzik is an evolutionary biologist, behavioral scientist and international authority on ants. After completing her PhD in ant evolution and behavior and conducting postdoctoral work in the US, she became a professor at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Currently, she teaches at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, where she studies the behaviors of slaveholding ants and different work roles in insect colonies. Her findings have been published in over 100 scientific papers to date.

 Olaf Fritsche (Author)

Olaf Fritsche is a science journalist and biophysicist with a PhD in biology. He was previously an editor at the German-language edition of Scientific American, is the author and coauthor


MY REVIEW

As a gardener myself, I’m very aware of ants!  But I have to be honest in not really knowing much about them, other than they’re very good at crawling over you when you sit on the grass! But consider me now an ant convert! I’m seriously impressed by these little creatures after reading this book, and you will be too! Who knew something so little could be so powerful and so complex!  


For every one of us, there’s a million of them!  And within their communities there are so many similarities to humans  and the way we live our lives – they even wage wars like us!  And this book tracks the different varieties around the world, noting their differences, their similarities, their quirks and their unique traits and I was utterly captivated by these insects.
The work put in by the team behind this book is exhaustive and you really get a good glimpse into the hard work and the less than glamorous research trips they find themselves on to investigate ants a little closer.


There’s always a danger with these kind of books that it goes a little OTT with detail and feeling quite clinical with the facts, but this book does a great job of balancing out the facts with the intriguing aspects of ‘ant culture’!  The queen system is fascinating, as well as looking at how they deal with ant illnesses, their use of sound and scent, how they defend themselves, and just the sheer amount of work it takes to be part of an ant colony!  There’s even ant zombies!! How could you not want to learn more about them?!


This was a truly fascinating, extensive and informative book all about the world of ants and I found myself totally in awe of ants after reading it!

★★★★

#BlogTour CROW COURT by ANDY CHARMAN #BookReview #CrowCourt @AndyCWriter @unbounders @RandomTTours

Delighted to be sharing my thoughts on CROW COURT today on the fabulous Blog Tour! My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

‘Debut novels shouldn’t be this perfectly formed. Its subject is historic, yet its exploration of morality feels utterly modern. A rarity in historical fiction: it truly places you in the here and now of a world once removed. Crow Court already looks, feels and smells like a classic’ – Ben Myers, author of The Gallows Pole and The Offing 

‘Inventive, original and deeply moving. There is a warmth and humanity, an acceptance of the vagaries and challenges of life’ – Alice Jolly, author of Mary Anne Sate, Imbecile

Unbound’s lead fiction title for 2021: a stunning debut from a breathtakingly assured new voice in fiction Spring, 1840. In the Dorset market town of Wimborne Minster, a young choirboy drowns himself. Soon after, the choirmaster—a belligerent man with a vicious reputation—is found murdered, in a discovery tainted as much by relief as it is by suspicion. The gaze of the magistrates falls on four local men, whose decisions will reverberate through the community for years to come.

 So begins the chronicle of Crow Court, unravelling over fourteen delicately interwoven episodes, the town of Wimborne their backdrop: a young gentleman and his groom run off to join the army; a sleepwalking cordwainer wakes on his wife’s grave; desperate farmhands emigrate. We meet the composer with writer’s block; the smuggler; a troupe of actors down from London; and old Art Pugh, whose impoverished life has made him hard to amuse. Meanwhile, justice waits… 

‘A confident and exciting debut: exactly observed, densely textured and richly flavoured, Crow Court is throbbing with life’ – Rick Gekoski, author of Darke 

‘This clever narrative is both page-turning and original – an innovative and beautifully-written historical novel that features an array of diverse characters and voices from its vividly-realised Dorset setting’ – Jane Harris, author of Sugar Money

 ‘A gripping mystery, beautifully teased out over several decades, full of intrigue and ambiguity’ – Andy Hamilton, author of Longhand

 Published by UNBOUND

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk
blackwell’s

About the author: 


Andy Charman was born in Dorset and grew up near Wimborne Minster, where Crow Court is set. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Pangea and Cadenza. Crow Court is his first novel, which he worked on at the Arvon course at The Hurst in Shropshire in 2018. Andy lives in Surrey and is available for interview, comment and events

.MY REVIEW


I was drawn to this book because of the links to Wimbourne, a place where I spent many happy holidays as a child, and it was brilliant to be transported back in time for this ‘history mystery’ that had me anxiously turning the pages to see how things would pan out for all the characters.  And it was a novel experience not to be having much sympathy for the choirmaster victim!! His death shook the local community albeit tinged with relief, but as the story evolves and widens you see behind the facade and the beliefs, and get the reality of someone abusing their power but people keeping quiet about it.  


When a choirboy drowns in Wimbourne, nobody has any idea of the chain of events that  his death will lead to.  But the whispers begin and we get to see various stories of local characters who are linked with the tragedy and how the gossip affects them and their behaviour. 

The story is told in such a way that you get a real feel for the history of the times – the goings on, the way of life and the local dialect used, which has a handy glossary at the back of the book so you can understand phrase used a little more!


There are many secrets being kept and many ‘naysayers’ who won’t even entertain the idea that the claims about the choirmaster and his ‘indiscretions’ – even as a reader, you are really left doubting the rumours at times, and struggle to pin down the accused as they all have seemingly good stories behind them!  So what really did happen that night?!  There’s always more to the story than meets the eye!


I really loved the pace of this story.  The language did take some getting used to, but once I was accustomed to it I really felt that I was on the fly on the wall watching the crime being solved in front of me.  The different storylines are woven together very carefully and link brilliantly together! An impressive debut!
★★★★★

#BlogTour THE SMALLEST MAN by FRANCES QUINN #BookReview #TheSmallestMan @franquinn @RandomTTours @simonschusteruk

Hugely delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour today for THE SMALLEST MAN by FRANCES QUIN.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all!!


ABOUT THE BOOK

The smallest man. The biggest heart. The mightiest story. A compelling story, perfect for fans of The Doll Factory and The Familiars.


 Nat Davy longs to grow tall and strong and be like other boys, but at the age of ten, he’s confronted with the truth; he’s different, and the day when the stares and whispers stop is never going to come. 


Narrowly escaping life in a freak show, he’s plucked from his family and presented as a gift to the new young queen of England – a human pet to add to her menagerie of dogs and monkeys. But when Nat realises she’s as lost and lonely as he is, the two misfits begin an unlikely friendship – one that takes him on an unforgettable journey, as England slides into the civil war that will tear it apart and ultimately lead the people to kill their king. 


Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is narrated by an irrepressible hero with his own unique perspective on life. His story is about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together. 


PUBLISHED BY SIMON & SCHUSTER


PURCHASE LINKS


Amazon
hive.co.uk

THE AUTHOR 


Frances Quinn read English at King’s College, Cambridge, and is a journalist and copywriter. She has written for magazines including Prima, Good Housekeeping, She, Woman’s Weekly and Ideal Home. She lives in Brighton with her husband and who Tonkinese cats. The Smallest Man is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @franquinn.

 
‘An enchanting tale about a small man with a big heart. Nat Davy is so charming that I couldn’t bear to put this book down. I loved it’ Louise Hare, author of This Lovely City

MY REVIEW

I always love to learn about different characters in history, and this book has introduced me to such a character! The story of ‘Nat’ is based on the real life character Jeffrey Hudson, who found himself close to the royal action during the very turbulent times of the 17th Century.  Using this character gave a really fascinating insight into that period of history and to get his perspective of the goings on at Court, obviously with some artistic licence!

But in creating the character of Nat, it also allowed the story to develop as seeing life through the eyes of someone who was ‘different’ from everyone else and was stared at from a very young age.  This bought him to the attention of those with money, and coming from a very poor family, his father used this to his advantage to sell Nat to a wealthy family, who would then gift him to the new Queen as her ‘toy’.  

The Queen herself was very young and very new to society, so in Nat she found an ally and someone who could understand her feeling out of place.  I think the story gives a really good lesson in how to love yourself just as you are and not to try and be someone else. 

As the  reign of  King Charles I is show to be more and more rocky, I loved how the story showed the darker times for the Royal Family building up to ‘that’ moment in history that still shocks to this day.

I really enjoyed the way the story was written and allowed a different perspective to a momentous time in British history and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

★★★★

#BLOGTOUR WHEN I COME HOME AGAIN by CAROLINE SCOTT #BookReview @RandomTTours @CScottBooks @simonschusterUK #WhenIComeHomeAgain

A huge delight today to be part of the start of the Blog Tour for the wonderful WHEN I COME HOME AGAIN by CAROLINE SCOTT. My thanks to the author, publsher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK


**From the highly acclaimed author of The Photographer of the Lost, a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick** 


They need him to remember. He wants to forget. 
1918.


 In the last week of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. When questioned, it becomes clear he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. 


The soldier is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home where his doctor James is determined to recover who this man once was. But Adam doesn’t want to remember. Unwilling to relive the trauma of war, Adam has locked his memory away, seemingly for good. 


When a newspaper publishes a feature about Adam, three women come forward, each claiming that he is someone she lost in the war. But does he believe any of these women? Or is there another family out there waiting for him to come home? 


Based on true events, When I Come Home Again is a deeply moving and powerful story of a nation’s outpouring of grief, and the search for hope in the aftermath of war. 

Praise for The Photographer of the Lost ‘[An] impressive debut… a touching novel of love and loss’ – Sunday Times


PURCHASE LINKS


AMAZON UK

HIVE.CO.UK

BLACKWELL’S

WHSMITH

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



 Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France. The Photographer of the Lost was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

   Further praise for The Photographer Of The Lost 
‘This excellent debut is a melancholic reminder of the rippling after-effects of war’ – The Times

‘There’s only one word for this novel… and that’s epic… A beautifully written must-read’ – heat 

‘A gripping, devastating novel about the lost and the ones they left behind’ – Sarra Manning, RED


MY REVIEW


Wow Wow Wow!! After being blown away by the release last year of The Photographer of the Lost (if you’ve not read it yet, go buy it now!!), I was equally excited and nervous for the release of When I Come Home Again, not knowing what to expect! But my fears were quashed within the first page as I was instantly grabbed by the opening scene and stayed gripped throughout as the story of ‘Adam’ unfolds.


You join the story in 1918, with this soldier who has no memory, not even knowing his name.  You can only begin to imagine the horrors that he has faced over the previous years.  Step forward Dr Haworth who is brought in to try and help unlock his memories.  Adam is plagued by nightmares and you can just feel the despair that he feels in not knowing who he is, what he’s been through and why he can’t remember. Does he want to remember?


The despair is shared by his Dr and his wife who live at the rehab facility.  They can see that Adam is an intelligent man, but there’s something that holding him back from unlocking that part of his mind that has shut down.


Putting his photograph in  a newspaper to see if anybody can recognise him opens up yet more heartache – this time for those desperate back home for loved ones who have  gone missing.  I loved the way these different characters were introduced and just brought home to me how the war had affected everybody – they waved off their love ones at the start and never heard from them again.  So to have this mystery man, they could see a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel and convinced themselves that Adam really was their missing loved ones.  They just need to convince Adam of the same….


I found myself so drawn into the mystery of Adam, and the role he played in bringing comfort or closure to the women he met claiming that he was known to them.  The way he got on with his life and sought solace in gardening and drawing.  And it wasn’t only Adam who was seeking help in the end, as the Doctor was dealing with his own issues and you get the impression that he found the Adam ‘project’ an initial distraction from facing up to problems he was having.


A beautifully written and crafted book.  It’s a book that made me think more of the impact the war had on everybody, not just those who had been on the frontline, and it is a story that will stay with me for a very long time!!  Stunning!!


★★★★★

#BlogTour A YEAR OF LIVING SIMPLY by KATE HUMBLE #BookReview #PublicationDay @RandomTTours

Delighted to be on the Blog Tour today for  A YEAR OF LIVING SIMPLY by KATE HUMBLE. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all and sharing my thoughts on this new release on publication day!

‘Simply wonderful.’ – BEN FOGLE

‘Kate’s book has the warmth and calming effect of a log fire and a glass of wine. Unknit your brow and let go. It’s a treat.’ – GARETH MALONE

‘Kate Humble pours her enviable knowledge into attainable goals. It’s a winning combination and the prize – a life in balance with nature – is definitely worth claiming.’ – LUCY SIEGLE

‘As ever, where Kate leads, I follow. She has made me reassess and reset.’ – DAN SNOW

If there is one thing that most of us aspire to, it is, simply, to be happy.  And yet attaining happiness has become, it appears, anything but simple.  Having stuff – The Latest, The Newest, The Best Yet – is all too often peddled as the sure fire route to happiness.  So why then, in our consumer-driven society, is depression, stress and anxiety ever more common, affecting every strata of society and every age, even, worryingly, the very young?  Why is it, when we have so much, that many of us still feel we are missing something and the rush of pleasure when we buy something new turns so quickly into a feeling of emptiness, or purposelessness, or guilt?

So what is the route to real, deep, long lasting happiness?  Could it be that our lives have just become overly crowded, that we’ve lost sight of the things – the simple things – that give a sense of achievement, a feeling of joy or excitement? That make us happy.  Do we need to take a step back, reprioritise?  Do we need to make our lives more simple?

Kate Humble’s fresh and frank exploration of a stripped-back approach to life is uplifting, engaging and inspiring – and will help us all find balance and happiness every day.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

blackwell’s

waterstones – signed edition

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Humble is a farmer, writer, activist, entrepreneur and one of the UK’s best-known TV presenters. She started her television career as a researcher, later presenting programmes such as ‘Animal Park’, ‘Springwatch & Autumnwatch’, ‘Lambing Live’, ‘Living with Nomads’, ‘Extreme Wives’ and ‘Back to the Land’. Her last book, Thinking On My Feet, was shortlisted for The Wainwright Prize and The Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award. Find out more about Kate on Twitter @katehumble and @farmerhumble, on Instagram @kmhumble and at http://www.katehumble.com and http://www.humblebynature.com.

MY REVIEW

Hands up who needs help in stripping back their life and finding joy in the smallest of things?! ✋ And this is the book that is going to help  you reconsider, reflect and reprioritize what is going on in your day to day life and it was such a refreshing read that I raced through it and am now eager to put into action just a few simple changes to stop me feeling overwhelmed by what life throws my way – 2020 sure has been excessive on that front!! – and to look for more positives than negatives! Easier said than done I know, especially at the moment!, but I’m definitely feeling more equipped to put changes into action after reading this book.

Kate Humble has such a lovely personable way of speaking to you through her words.  She recollects personal memories, her own difficulties she has with letting go and switching off and in this book takes a look at why everyone seems so much unhappier even though we’re surrounded by more stuff than ever before.

Using a variety of different methods from death cleaning, to gardening and to meeting people who have changed their whole way of life to live a more simple existence, I found so much to relate to within this book.  I often find myself at my happiest when I’m in my garden pottering, or with my nose in a book, and it looks at those simple pleasures and those distractions that help take you away from all the negatives and shift your mind into a happier state.

She shares her own experiences with decluttering especially how we can throw ourselves into a task like this to soon be followed by being surrounded by a big pile of mess and wondering what have I got myself into! But by breaking things down into a drawer or room at a time, it can make sorting out so much more achievable and less overwhelming.

I also loved how she shared her own personal memories of happy times with friends and family, and how things have changed over the years that people seem to value things differently now.

There are a few recipes included, some great little ‘simple pleasures’ thrown in for a good measure (yes to soup on a dank day and handwritten letters!) and was just a wonderfully comforting and thoughtful book to help the reader on the road to living a less complicated and less angst ridden life!

★★★★★

#BlogTour ORFEIA by JOANNE M.HARRIS #BookReview #Orfeia @Joannechocolat @gollancz @RandomTTours

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour today for ORFEIA by JOANNE HARRIS. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all and sharing my review!


ABOUT THE BOOK


The stunning new novella from No 1 bestselling author Joanne Harris:

 Orfeia is a gender-flipped retelling of the Orpheus Myth, beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins When you can find me an acre of land, Every sage grows merry in time, Between the ocean and the sand Then will you be united again. So begins a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even into the underworld itself. But determination alone is not enough. For to save something precious, she must give up something precious, be it a song, a memory, or her freedom itself . . .

Praise for Joanne’s previous novellas: 

“It may be a little book, but it has considerable power to enchant” – METRO on A Pocketful of Crows 

“Love, treachery, the call of the ocean: this wintry modern fairy tale features all three… perfect for anyone who loves a good story.” MAIL ON SUNDAY on The Blue Salt Road

PUBLISHED BY GOLLANCZ

PURCHASE LINKS

Goldsboro Books  – signed first edition

hive.co.uk

Blackwell’s

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French writer, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. 
CHOCOLAT has sold over a million copies in the UK alone and was a global bestseller. She is an Honorary Fellow of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen. Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as ‘mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion’. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16 and runs the musical storytelling show Storytime. Joanne lives with her husband in Yorkshire, about 15 miles from the place she was born. Find out more at http://www.joanne-harris.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @Joannechocolat

MY REVIEW

A truly magical retelling of the Orpheus myth that draws deeply on the emotions of loss and grief and the journey that your state of mind may take you on in those darkest times.

Fay is struggling to cope with the loss of her daugher Daisy.  She is drifting along, feeling out of place and without purpose.  She has turned to a counsellor to try and help her make sense of where she finds herself  but she finds herself going through the motions of life and just telling the counsellor what she thinks she wants to hear without really acknowledging the pain she is feeling.

She takes to running at night and feels more at home amongst the darkness and is led on a journey by those she meets to a place where she is led to believe she can save her daughter.  

Abandoned London is the place she finds herself, a place that has been taken over by nature, a wild place and somewhere she feels more at peace than anywhere else of late. There are those there to help her but some want to lead her on the wrong path and get her to make the wrong choices – who does she believe?

What i loved about this book was the emotion and the despair that Fay felt was so believable.  When grief has you alive but not living.  Her world had been shrunk by the darkness around her and she was struggling to see any light.

I really love these re-tellings! And the beautiful illustrations work so well alongside the story.  

A magical, emotional and captivating tale.

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE by HAZEL GAYNOR #BookReview #TheBirdintheBambooCage @HazelGaynor @HarperFiction @RandomTTours

An absolute delight to be here with you today for the Blog Tour for THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE by HAZEL GAYNOR. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours  for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all

ABOUT THE BOOK

 ‘Beautiful … warm, loveable characters who had me rooting for them all the way’ Tracy Rees

 ‘An absolute treat’ Liz Nugent

 China, 1941. With Japan’s declaration of war on the Allies, Elspeth Kent’s future changes forever. When soldiers take control of the missionary school where she teaches, comfortable security is replaced by rationing, uncertainty and fear.

 Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School. Now the enemy, separated indefinitely from anxious parents, the children must turn to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – for help. But worse is to come when the pupils and teachers are sent to a distant internment camp. Unimaginable hardship, impossible choices and danger lie ahead. 

Inspired by true events, this is the unforgettable story of the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher, in a remote corner of a terrible war.

 ‘Moving and authentic’ Dinah Jefferies 

‘Vivid, heart-rending and so, so beautiful’ Jenny Ashcroft

PUBLISHED BY HARPER COLLINS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Hive.co.uk

Blackwell’s

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, and Irish Times, bestselling author of historical fiction, including her debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown award. She is published in thirteen languages and nineteen countries. Hazel is co-founder of creative writing events, The Inspiration Project, and currently lives in Ireland with her family, though originally from Yorkshire.

MY REVIEW

Wow!! This is a book that I find myself unable to stop thinking about since finishing it. 

It’s a historical story told from 2 viewpoints – one of a child, one of a teacher – living through extraordinary times in China during the Second World War and the impact that has on their school when it is taken over by the Japanese. Seeing how it impacts  on people of different ages was a fascinating insight on how we all deal with traumatic events differently – how our thought processes work when faced with an extreme situation and how we can often appear to put on a brave face but when we’re alone it’s a different story. And that dilemma is what faces Elspeth, the teacher, as she tries to remain stoic in front of the children she is in charge of, whilst facing her own heartache and despair at the situation unfolding around her.

Elspeth works at a missionary school in China, where Nancy is a pupil.  The girls and teachers become family as they spend so much time together, and the teachers become surrogate parents to the girls who are away from their own families for such a long time. But their calm and secure little school is soon to become a scary place when Japanese soldiers come in and take over, and they all soon find themselves sent off to camp, fearful of what conditions and treatment they are all to face.

What I loved about the different viewpoints was how they had different ways of looking at their experiences – the teachers would be very cynical and see things for how they actually were, whilst the children would block out the worst and come up with nicknames for the soldiers. They would just be kids! But what brought them all together is their shared hope in the smallest things around them – the sight of a sunflower seed growing amidst the chaos would begin to mean so much to them all.

Despite the awful conditions they often found themselves facing, what I admired most was their resilience. The fact that they never gave up hope that things would get better for all of them.  And the fact that life carried on whilst they were there – the teachers would hope to distract the girls with different lessons, whilst also helping them through changing times both in the world and in their own bodies.

The treatment  by the soldiers was often horrific and graphic and just shows what kind of things everyone had to endure and really brought home how brave these prisoners were.  It was the little moments of hope, friendship and determination that made them stronger and united them all in a way that few of us could imagine. They say the worst of times brings out the best in some people and that is so true for these teachers and pupils.

An emotional and stunning story.  Highly recommended!!

★★★★★