#BlogTour THE VISITORS by CAROLINE SCOTT #BookReview @RandomTTours @CScottBooks @simonschusterUK



Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful THE VISITORS by CAROLINE SCOTT. 
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


From the highly acclaimed author of The Photographer of the Lost, a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick, comes a tale of a young war widow and one life-changing, sun-drenched visit to Cornwall in the summer of 1923…

Esme Nicholls is to spend the summer in Cornwall. Her late husband Alec, who died fighting in the war, grew up in Penzance, and she’s hoping to learn more about the man she loved and lost.
 
While there, she will stay with Gilbert, in his rambling seaside house, where he lives with his former brothers in arms. Esme is fascinated by this community of eccentric artists and former soldiers, and as she gets to know the men and their stories, she begins to feel this summer might be exactly what she needs.
 
But everything is not as idyllic as it seems – a mysterious new arrival later in the summer will turn Esme’s world upside down, and make her question everything she thought she knew about her life, and the people in it.

Full of light, laughter and larger-than-life characters, The Visitors is a novel of one woman finally finding her voice and choosing her own path forwards.



Praise for Caroline Scott:

‘A page-turning literary gem’  The Times , Best Books of 2020

‘A touching novel of love and loss’  Sunday Times

‘A beautifully written must-read’  heat

‘A gripping, devastating novel’ Sarra Manning, RED

‘A powerful novel’  Good Housekeeping

‘A heartbreaking read’ Anita Frank

‘Breathtaking exploration of loss, love and precious memories’ My Weekly, Pick of the Month

‘Achingly moving and most beautifully written’ Rachel Hore

‘This beautiful book packs a huge emotional punch’  Fabulous

‘Drew me in from the first line and held me enthralled until the very end’ Fiona Valpy

‘Quietly devastating’  Daily Mail

‘A compulsive, heart-wrenching read’ Liz Trenow

‘Powerful’  Woman & Home

‘Page turning, mysterious, engrossing and compelling’ Lorna Cook

‘A carefully nuanced, complex story’  Woman’s Weekly

‘Caroline Scott evokes the damage and desolation of the Great War with aching authenticity’ Iona Grey

‘Poignant’  Best

‘Momentous, revelatory and astonishing historical fiction!’ Historical Novel Society

‘Wonderful and evocative’ Suzanne Goldring

‘Based on true events, this is a powerful story’  Bella

‘Immersive, poignant, intricately woven’ Judith Kinghorn

‘An evocative read’  heat

‘The story left me breathless’ Kate Furnivall

‘A poignant hymn to those who gave up their lives for their country and to those who were left behind’ Fanny Blake

‘I was utterly captivated by this novel’ Isabelle Broom

PUBLISHED BY SIMON & SCHUSTER

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 thelandscape 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.

MY REVIEW

Caroline Scott has done it again!! Created a storyline and characters that captivate and affect you emotionally as you connect with their plight and watch the drama unfold as they try to make sense of the world, and do their best to move on.

Set in 1923 Cornwall, this is the story of Esme who is looking to try and come to terms with the grief she feels after losing her husband in the Great War.  She comes to the area as that is where he grew up, and she wants to see if that will help her.   She stays amongst a group of artists/soldiers who are all dealing with their own pain and suffering, but the community brings them some peace and comfort.

What stuck me most about this book was the link with nature.  There are so many mentions that it just brings the surroundings to life and that healing feeling that only nature can bring to a soul.  

One of the soldiers she meets is Rory, and he deals with his past by writing about it and that not only helps him, but helps Esme too as she reads his experiences of the war to help her connect with her husband. 

The connection with nature is there again as you read about his experiences in the war – at times it feels like they’re on a birdwatching break, but it cleverly shows that by them noticing the nature around them, helps them to cope with the brutality of war that they are facing on a daily basis.  It makes them feel more human – they’re just young men who have been sent off to be part of something so horrific and totally alien to the normal side of human behaviour.  Watching the local wildlife helps them detach.

Esme is then rocked by a mystery visitor arriving in the area and you get the sense that maybe the past will never leave her, despite her desire to try and move on with her life.

This was a beautifully written story set over a few different timelines that blend seamlessly.  The connection between characters was wonderfully touching and I adored it!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE LION AND THE UNICORN by TOM WARD @RandomTTours #BookReview



Delighted to be with you today to start off the Blog Tour for the fantastic THE LION AND THE UNICORN by TOM WARD.
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 to share my thoughts!!


ABOUT THE BOOK


London, 2054. After a devastating global pandemic and a bloody revolution, Britain’s new government imposes peace by stringently dictating the nation’s cultural intake. In the quest to create better citizens, everything from the television we watch to the clothes we wear is strictly policed. As part of the unit tasked with upholding these so-called ‘Bad Taste Laws’, H. and his partner, Bagby, have their work cut out. When former reality TV star Caleb Jennings is found murdered, some suspect it could be a simple vigilante slaying. But, as H. digs deeper into the killing, Bagby’s association with old revolutionary figureheads is called into question. With the help of Caleb’s estranged sister, the museum curator Kate Faron, H. must navigate a Britain in which paranoia and suspicion of the unknown are rife, all the while dealing with the mysterious tech behemoth Vangelis, new revolutionary murmurings, and the legacy of Kate’s biologist parents. Compelled by what he uncovers, H. begins to question his loyalty to the state at a time when national stability couldn’t be more precarious. 


PUBLISHED BY UNBOUND


PURCHASE LINK


AMAZON


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Tom Ward is an author and features writer, writing for publications including Wired, Esquire and National Geographic. He has won the GQ Norman Mailer Award, the PPA New Consumer Magazine Journalist of the Year Award, and has been shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize. He is also a graduate of the Faber Academy. 


MY REVIEW



Remember when we thought dystopian books were so far fetched that we couldn’t imagine living in a world like that?!  Weirdly, after the past 18 months, I think we can believe anything can happen in this world we live in, and that’s what made this story work so well for me!! It was plausible!! However insane it may seem, I’m sure there are people out there who would welcome the world that Tom Ward has created, where the government impose strict rules on how people live their lives.   From the clothes they wear, to the music they listen to… and this is a chilling look at such a world where the wishes of those in power are imposed on everyone else – all in the name of increasing the intellect of people and keeping them more engaged!

When a former reality TV star is found murdered, H and his partner Bagby are brought in to delve a little deeper, and what they find shocks them and makes them question who they’re working for and why!

There was something more sinister behind the murder, than just a vigilante killing, and as they look into the past of Caleb and the truth is uncovered it becomes a race against time to find out who is involved, and who could be next.

I loved H as a character as he had a healthy cynicism about him! He did as he was told for work but would always go a little further to do his own research for his own peace of mind.  And with a partner like Bagby working with him, his job is never straight forward!  And the more he delves into the case, the more he is shocked by what he finds!

The story zips along at a fair old pace and I loved the subterfuge, the manipulation and the general feeling of fear of living in this world where you can be in danger for listening to the wrong kind of music, and wondering just who you can trust!!  It’s a really thought provoking book and I really look forward to reading more from the author in the future

★★★★★

#BlogTour CLOTHES by ALEXANDRA SHULMAN #BookReview #Clothes @AShulman2 @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours



Delighted to be sharing my review today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous CLOTHES.AND OTHER THINGS THAT MATTER by ALEXANDRA SHULMAN.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  RandomThingsTours for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!


ABOUT THE BOOK

In Clothes… and other things that matter, Alexandra Shulman delves into her own life to look at the emotions, ambitions, expectations and meanings behind the way we dress. From the bra to the bikini, the trench coat to trainers, the slip dress to the suit, she explores their meaning in women’s lives and how our wardrobes intersect with the larger world – the career ladder, motherhood, romance, sexual identity, ambition, failure, body image and celebrity. By turns funny, refreshingly self-deprecating and often very moving, this startlingly honest memoir from the ex Editor of British Vogue will encourage women of all ages to consider what their own clothes mean to them, the life they live in them and the stories they tell. Shulman explores the person our clothes allow us to be – and sometimes the person they turn us into.


PUBLISHED BY CASSELL


PRAISE FOR CLOTHES… AND OTHER THINGS THAT MATTER


Book of the Week – OBSERVER

‘A must-read memoir for even those beyond the fashion set.’ — EVENING STANDARD

 Best books of the year – FINANCIAL TIMES

 Best memoirs of the year – DAILY MAIL 

‘Self-deprecating and stylish, this is sure to become a classic.’ — VANITY FAIR 

‘Warm, thought-provoking and honest.’ – VICTORIA HISLOP 

‘What do clothes really mean? If there’s anyone who can answer that question, it’s former British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman. The little black dress, the white shirt, the bikini – they all get their moment in the spotlight, as Shulman considers their role in her life and in ours – prompting funny, forceful meditations on topics ranging from celebrity and body image to love and failure. When we choose what to wear, she says, we’re not only revealing our personal histories, we’re also shaping our futures. Because, while they might not exactly make us, clothes do help determine where life takes us. Revealing and self-deprecating, the book glints with shrewd social observation and intriguing snippets of fashion history.’ – PORTER 

‘Such a great read – so open and honest and funny. I devoured it in one sitting.’ — KIRSTY WARK

‘Clever, emotionally intelligent, revelling in style without making us yearn to shop.’ — THE TIMES

‘Scintillating reading.’ — THE SPECTATOR 

‘Thoughtful, wry and candid.’ — MAIL ON SUNDAY‘

In three dozen tidy, perceptive essays, the former editor-in-chief of British Vogue explores the semiotics of clothes and her relationship with bikinis and boiler suits,white shirts and Chanel jackets (“the epitome of status dress for the successful magazine executive,” she writes). A handy read for those wanting a deeper understanding of modern dress.’ – FINANCIAL TIMES

 ‘Alexandra Shulman’s style is unaffected, immediate and hilariously dry. She’s brilliant at observing everyday feelings in a joy-sparking turn of phrase – but better still she has made me feel so much better about owning too many clothes. Instead of doing a ruthless edit I find myself curating my own private exhibition – inside my wardrobe hang not just clothes, not just stories but my own autobiography.’ – HELENA BONHAM CARTER 

‘Shulman weaves memory, history and anecdote with observations about working life. An early mentor tells her that no matter how few the words “you have to tell a story”, and this advice makes for compelling reading.’ – TLS

 Best summer reading – GUARDIAN

 ‘Shulman’s wardrobe might be larger than many of our own, but it holds the same mix of memories, online splurges, the hits and misses as well as the vortex we all get sucked into while shopping for a new life-changing item. I’m also with her on the quest to find the right pink lipstick, which thus far has proved elusive.’ – THE GLOSS 

‘Beautiful, nostalgic, wry, clever company.’ – SOPHIE DAHL

 ‘It’s funny, honest and in typical Shulman style mixes high and low effortlessly. We don’t know many people who can write about bras, Donald Tusk and Madeleine Albright all in the same sentence.’ — A LITTLE BIRD

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Shulman is a journalist, consultant and commentator. She was Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue from 1992–2017, the magazine’s longest serving editor. She has been Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and is an honorary fellow of the University of the Arts. She won 2017 Periodical Publisher’s Association Editor’s Editor Award and The Drapers Award 2017 for Outstanding Contribution to Fashion. She is Vice President of The London Library and was awarded the CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List. She has a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday, is a contributor to other national newspapers and has written two novels: Can We Still Be Friends? (2012) and The Parrots (2015). Inside Vogue: The Diary of My 100th Year was published by Fig Tree in October 2016 and sold more than 30,000 copies in hardback and paperback (Nielsen TCM). Alexandra was featured in a three-part primetime BBC series on Vogue’s centenary year in 2016.

MY REVIEW

I expected this to be a stylish read, and I haven’t been disappointed!  It’s a wonderful mix of looking back over a life devoted to fashion, and all those memories that just a single item of clothing can evoke in us all!

 I found myself smiling so many times as Alexandra looks back at different items of clothing over the years that have meant so much to her, and the world of fashion from the humble little black dress, to the white shirt, t-shirts, handbags and bras!  There’s so much that made me think back to my own life through clothes I’ve worn – the successes and failures! – and I loved just how relatable her style of writing was!  

She uses items of clothing to represent how different items define us at different stages in our lives, and the emotional bonds we build up over an item that carries memories of our own, and that of those closest to us.    And how 2020 has made us look at clothing and fashion so differently!!  Will we ever be able to break out of our comfort clothing style now?!

I loved the glimpses into her working life and found that part really interesting to see her journey progressed and how clothes became even more important to her to make a statement and the responsibility she had when working in fashion.  She shares many stories of famous people she has worked with and met, and how even she finds clothes shopping can be a wonderful experience or a completely deflating one!!

This is one of those books that I think will connect with so many of us! It has brought back so many memories to me while reading and how styles have changed over the years – some good, some bad!! – and I just found it to be such a treat to read and highly recommend it!

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE LADY OF THE RAVENS by JOANNA HICKSON #BookReview #LadyOfTheRavens @HarperFiction @joannahickson

Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the wonderful Blog Tour for THE LADY OF THE RAVENS by JOANNA HICKSON.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for allowing me to be part of it all and sharing my thoughts!

JOANNA HICKSON 

9th January 2020 | Hardback | Ebook | Audio | £14.99 

Praise for Joanna Hickson: 

‘A great tale… the golden thread that led to the crown of England’  

Conn Iggulden 

‘An intriguing tale, told with confidence’ The Times 

‘Rich and warm’ Sunday Express 

 ‘Bewitching…alive with historical detail’ Good Housekeeping 

My baptismal name may be Giovanna but here in my mother’s adopted country I have become plain Joan; I am not pink-cheeked and golden-haired like the beauties they admire. I have olive skin and dark features – black brows over ebony eyes and hair the colour of a raven’s wing… 

When Joan Vaux is sent to live in the shadow of the Tower of London, she must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of this new England under the Tudors. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, if Henry and his new dynasty are to prosper and thrive … 

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON

hive.co.uk

Goldsboro Books – signed first edition

About the author: 

Joanna Hickson spent twenty-five years presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for the BBC. Her first published book was a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but more recently she has turned to adult fiction, concentrating on bringing fifteenth century English history and some of its fascinating principal characters to life. She is married with a large family and gets inspiration from her Wiltshire farmhouse home, which dates back to her chosen period.  

MY REVIEW

This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I’m already itching to read her other historical offerings, as I found this to be both absorbing and informative and loved finding out even more about the Tudor period and the characters surrounding the court of King Henry VII’s.   And with the story of Joan being so captivating and full of material, I was instantly transported back as this story takes us chronologically through the goings on at a very interesting period of history.

Joan becomes a lady in waiting to Elizabeth, Henry’s Queen, and seeing the world at that time through both their eyes was fascinating.  Joan is adamant she wants more from life than just to be a mother, where that is all that Elizabeth expects her role to be! Her King needs heirs.  Seeing the expectations placed on women at that time is really brought home in an easy and accessible way through this storyline, and with all the royal goings on in the news at the moment, it is still shocking to see that in the past it was all decided  politically and by others – where does love get you anyway?!

I loved how the characters around the royals related the story – the gossiping while they worked, the clothing they wore and how much work went into preparing the clothing for the big events such as the wedding.  

The expectations on Joan to marry were difficult for her and it seemed in the end that she married to stay close to the Tower and the ravens who she had such a fascination and respect for.  The way she dealt with being a stepmother means she’s thrown in at the deep end, but she seemed to be one of those women who were wise beyond her years and could cope with pretty much anything that was thrown her way. Her one big fear though was pregnancy and it was enlightening to see the ways she tried to avoid that event happening to her!

Another aspect of the story I loved was discovering different palaces that are now long gone – when they were mentioned by name I found myself researching them online and it opened up more interest for me on this time of history. Why was it never this fascinating to me when I was at school?!

Seeing the story from both Joan and Elizabeth’s point of view, made this for such an entertaining historical read and I’m glad to have found a new author to me who does a wonderful job of sharing her passion for history through relatable and fascinating characters. Highly recommended.

★★★★

#BlogTour FOXFIRE, WOLFSKIN & other stories of shapeshifting women by Sharon Blackie #BookReview #RandomThingsTours #FoxfireWolfskin @septemberbooks

Hugely excited to be taking part in this Blog Tour so thank you for stopping by today! My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the copy of the book and letting me be part of the Tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘Part rally cry, part warning, part manifesto and all parts enchanting, Sharon Blackie’s Foxfire, Wolfskin is a deeply evocative and haunting collection. Humming with the strength of our immutable voices, each story sings with the transformation that is possible when women take agency of our lives. I want to press this powerful book into the hands of everyone I know and say, listen.’ Holly Ringland, author, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

‘Sharon Blackie has wrought a new-old magic for our times: glorious, beautiful, passionate myths written for this critical moment in time. They show who we could have been, and they give us a glimpse of a world-that-could-be. There’s still time to make it happen.’ Manda Scott, author of the Boudicca series, and A Treachery of Spies

Charged with drama and beauty, this memorable collection by a master storyteller weaves a magical world of possibility and power from female myths of physical renewal, creation and change. It is an extraordinary immersion into the bodies and voices, mindscapes and landscapes, of the shape-shifting women of our native folklore. We meet the Water Horse of the Isle of Lewis, the huldra, the Scandinavian supernatural forest-dweller, and Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore (but will she help you or kill you?) Here too is the Snow Queen; the wild bird-woman of the Sliabh Mis Mountains; Blodeuedd, the Welsh ‘flower-faced’ woman.

Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe – from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia – Sharon Blackie brings to life women’s remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with the natural world, and uncovering the wildness – and wilderness – within.

Published by September Publishing

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon   

hive.co.uk

whsmith

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Sharon Blackie is a writer, mythologist and psychologist, and an internationally recognised teacher of the mythic imagination. Her bestselling book, If Women Rose Rooted, won a 2016 Nautilus award, and laid out a haunting heroine’s journey for every woman who finds power, inspiration and solace in the natural world. She has an international following through her online communities, and the courses and workshops she offers through ‘The Hedge School’. Her first novel, The Long Delirious Blue, was described by the Independent on Sunday as ‘hugely potent’. She lives in Connemara, Ireland.

 www.sharonblackie.net.

The Enchanted Life

If Women Rose Rooted

MY REVIEW

This is a stunning collection of magical stories that are based on myth and fairy tales across Europe, and I was totally captivated by the messages portrayed and the style of writing.  I’ve often found with short story collections that they can be a little hit and miss with the impact each story has on me, but with this collection I found something positive to say about all of them – some are short and sweet, others are a little more complex and involved but they all had the effect of just making me want to read more of the lesser known fairy tales and folklore from different places,  and that’s exactly what I will be doing!

Accompanied by many striking illustrations, each story features a theme – growing old, changes in the world we live in, grief, temptation – from the point of view of the women involved and I loved how that made you look at each story so differently.  The role of a woman and how that changes over time and how others see her, and it really gives you so much to think about. 

There are also notes at the back of the book which give the outline of the original folklore story which helps give extra meaning to the story if you’ve not heard of it before, and that was invaluable! I think fairy stories have a special place in all our hearts and as we get older we end up discovering the different layers to each story that we may have missed while reading as a child which helps give them that longevity, along with the memories they also bring back and that is always a wonderful part of reading – to rediscover and learn!  Having stories re-written like these brings about a new audience and new meaning to stories, and I’m glad to have spent time reading this and look forward to reading more from this author!

★★★★★