#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

★★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 6th March 2021

Hello! Happy Saturday! I hope your week has been a good one and March seems to be behaving itself… so far! Long may that continue!
Another good bookish week for me, although I haven’t felt like I’ve read as much as I could have!  I still managed to get 4 books finished and there’s been one visit to Netgalley! That’s always a positive in my eyes!
Here’s my look back….


BOOKS FINISHED


THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT by WALTER TEVIS (audiobook) – 3 stars

BIRDSONG IN A TIME OF SILENCE by STEVEN LOVATT – 5 STARS

THE VIEW WAS EXHAUSTING by MIKAELLA CLEMENTS – 4 STARS

ROSIE SHADOW by LOUISE WORTHINGTON – 4 STARS

BOOKHAUL


What tempted me at Netgalley I hear you cry?!


A SECRET SCOTTISH ESCAPE by JULIE SHACKMAN

publication date – May 2021

When Scotland’s sleepiest hamlet becomes the centre of hot gossip, Layla Devlin finds herself caught in a mystery…

When Layla’s fiancée has an unexpected heart attack and dies – in another woman’s arms, no less – Layla is determined to pack up and leave Loch Harris, the village she’s always called home. But an unexpected inheritance and love for her quiet corner of Scotland send her down a new path.

Now Layla finds herself facing a whole new kind of drama. Rumours swirl that a celebrity has moved into Coorie Cottage and Layla is determined to have him headline her opening night at local music venue The Conch Club. But the reclusive star is equally determined to thwart Layla’s efforts. Rafe Buchanan is in hiding for a reason, and soon his past comes to Loch Harris to haunt him…

And I treated myself to this one for 99p…

RABBIT HOLE by JOHN RICHTER

How far would you go to solve a murder?

Elaine Napier, an investigative journalist who is made redundant from her job, decides to record a true-crime podcast. All she needs is a story.

When Elaine stumbles upon the five-year-old cold case of Katrin, she begins an investigation that will quickly become a fixation.

After an early breakthrough, Elaine’s investigation leads her to Hannibal Heights, an apartment building that Katrin helped to design. The building is home to a sinister taxidermy museum, a host of intriguing residents, and more than its share of secrets.

But despite the obvious danger, Elaine’s obsession continues to grow.

As her investigation threatens to spiral out of control, Napier receives threats and police pressure to shut the broadcast down.

Can Elaine solve the mystery and keep her own sense of right and wrong intact?

Or will the shocking truth distort everything Elaine holds dear?


And from Unbound, I received my copy of this one…


NOTEBOOK by TOM COX

out March 2021

Sure, sex is great, but have you ever cracked open a new notebook and written something on the first page with a really nice pen?

The story behind Notebook starts with a minor crime: the theft of Tom Cox’s rucksack from a Bristol pub in 2018. In that rucksack was a journal containing ten months worth of notes, one of the many Tom has used to record his thoughts and observations over the past twelve years. It wasn’t the best he had ever kept – his handwriting was messier than in his previous notebook, his entries more sporadic – but he still grieved for every one of the hundred or so lost pages.

This incident made Tom appreciate how much notebook-keeping means to him: the act of putting pen to paper has always led him to write with an unvarnished, spur-of-the-moment honesty that he wouldn’t achieve on-screen.

Here, Tom has assembled his favourite stories, fragments, moments and ideas from those notebooks, ranging from memories of his childhood to the revelation that ‘There are two types of people in the world. People who fucking love maps, and people who don’t.’

The result is a book redolent of the real stuff of life, shot through with Cox’s trademark warmth and wit.

CURRENTLY READING

THE CAT AND THE CITY by NICK BRADLEY

THE WONDER by EMMA DONOGHUE – Audiobook

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#BookReview THE UNWINDING by JACKIE MORRIS

ABOUT THE BOOK


This book is not meant to be read from cover to cover. It is a book for dreamers. Slight of word, rich of image, its purpose is to ease the soul. The paintings between these covers were worked in the between times, an unwinding of the soul, when the pressures of work were too much. Dreams and wishes are the inspiration at times like this. Threaded through the curious world of The Unwinding are words, slight and lyrical. Their aim is to set the reader’s mind adrift from the troubles of our times, into peaceful harbours where imagination can stretch, where quiet reflection can bring peace. The Unwinding is designed to be a companion, a talisman to be turned to again and again and a place of respite from an increasingly frantic and complex world.

PUBLISHED BY UNBOUND PUBLISHING

MY REVIEW

A stunningly beautiful book!

From the sublime artwork, to the magical words, this is just one of those books that you can dip in and out of and feel a comforting hug from every page! I was lucky enough to be one of those pledging to have this book published via Unbound, and it hasn’t disappointed!!

It’s an exploration of the magical and mystical, in nature and dreams and just makes you feel extremely calm and peaceful reading it. Love it!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour FUCK YEAH VIDEO GAMES by DANIEL HARDCASTLE #bookreview #FuckYeahVideoGames #RandomThingsTours @DanNerdCubes @unbounders

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for FUCK YEAH VIDEO GAMES by DANIEL HARDCASTLE! As a keen gamer myself, especially in the past, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this book and look forward to sharing more about it along with my thoughts!

My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the copy of the book and letting me be part of this epic tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK

 As Daniel Hardcastle careers towards thirty, he looks back on what has really made him happy in life: the friends, the romances… the video games. Told through encounters with the most remarkable – and the most mind-boggling – games of the last thirty-odd years, Fuck Yeah, Video Games is also a love letter to the greatest hobby in the world. 

From God of War to Tomb Raider, Pokémon to The Sims, Daniel relives each game with countless in-jokes, obscure references and his signature wit, as well as intricate, original illustrations by Rebecca Maughan. Alongside this march of merriment are chapters dedicated to the hardware behind the games: a veritable history of Sony, Nintendo, Sega and Atari consoles.

 Joyous, absurd, personal and at times sweary, Daniel’s memoir is a celebration of the sheer brilliance of video games. 

PUBLISHED BY UNBOUND

This is the most successful book in UK crowdfunding history: it funded in a mere 42 minutes, and has so far been backed by over 9,000 supporters. If these pledges were counted as sales, the book would have been a Sunday Times bestseller in the week of its launch

. Dan’s OfficialNerdCubed YouTube channel has over 2.6 million subscribers. The book features a foreword by legendary game designer Tim Schafer, and a guest chapter from fellow YouTuber Stuart Ashen (aka Ashens), who has 1.4 million subscribers.

 Dan will be undertaking an extensive UK tour.

 For fans of Terrible Old Games You’ve Never Heard Of by Stuart Ashen, Hey! Listen!: A journey through the golden era of video games by Steve McNeil, The Nostalgia Nerd’s Retro Tech by Peter Leigh, Speccy Nation by Dan Whitehead.

A U T H O R 

Daniel Hardcastle, aka DanNerdCubed, is a YouTube gamer who has accumulated more than 2.6 million subscribers over the course of his 4000 videos. He lives with his partner, Rebecca Maughan.

Social Media  

@DanNerdCubed

 youtube.com/user/officialnerdcubed

MY REVIEW

As a huge fan of computer games – I still have my Atari, Commodore 64 and countless Nintendo consoles – I knew this was going to be my kind of book! And I wasn’t wrong! Although the author mainly features games from the 90’s, it’s still written in a way that I connected with and has now left me itching to go and buy a new console or two and try out some more of the games he has recommended!

This is a love letter to computer games!  The moments in our lives where we remember a certain game that coincided with a memory and how it made us feel.  The fact that you could be cool at school if you were good at playing certain games!  The different lives you could pretend to have through playing these games and how you could see a whole new side to a person by the way they reacted during their time playing a game!

 It also highlights the changes that there’s been over the years in playing games and what video games meant – it used to be for fun but now it all seems to be about how much money can be made.  Something that I struggle to get my head around at times to be fair and I just wonder if that takes away that element of escapism that games used to offer me, as nowadays they have to be taken so seriously.

Illustrated brilliantly by his wife, this book was such a blast to read.  So many funny footnotes alongside fascinating facts, I think it’s a book that will appeal to so many different people.  And not only does he focus on the great games, he mentions the stinkers too – the hits and the misses, the classics and the clunks!  How some games worked because of their simplicity and how others were just complete madness! It also looks at the main players behind the games – Sony, Sega, Atari, Nintendo along with many of the top games such as Sims, Mario, Sonic, Fortnite and Tomb Raider and the impact each of these games had at the time.

 It brought back so many fun memories for me and has made me learn a lot more about the video game industry and history too and I can’t wait to start my homework now of playing some of the games he mentions in his top list!! Fabulous fun!

★★★★★

#BookReview Effin’ Birds by Aaron Reynolds

ABOUT THE BOOK

Have you ever looked a bird dead in the eye and wondered what it was thinking?

With Effin Birds, the most eagerly anticipated new volume in the noble avocation of bird identification, you can venture into nature with confidence. This farcical field guide will help you identify over 200 birds, but more importantly, for the first time in history, it will also help you understand what these birds are thinking:

  • The vainglorious grebe is acutely aware of its own magnificence.
  • The hipster pelican thinks the world is a sh*tbarge.
  • The overbearing heron wishes you better luck next time, f*cknuts.
  • The counsellor swallow wants you to maybe try not being a d*ckhead.


Alongside beautiful, scientifically accurate illustrations and a whole lot of swearing is incisive commentary on modern life and the world we, as humans, must navigate. Or maybe it s just some pictures of effin birds, okay?

published by UNBOUND

publication date – 17th October 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

hive.co.uk  £10.99

whsmith  £10.49

MY REVIEW

I may be a little biased as I was one of the 1,800 who pledged to get this book made via Unbound, but I loved this book! It’s flipping funny, very sweary, beautifully illustrated and not for those who are easily offended!

But if you’re looking for a book to escape the misery of the world we live in nowadays , it’s a total blast! And I won’t ever listen to birds chattering away in the garden in the same way again, knowing they are probably saying many of the phrases in this book! Rude birds!!

From the wise and insightful to the downright rude, it’s perfect escapism, hilarious and I loved every single effin’ page of it! More please!!!

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#BlogTour Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton #RandomThingsTours #BookReview #JohnnyRuin @wordsbydan @unbounders

Delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog tour for JOHNNY RUIND by DAN DALTON.  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

Depression can be hell. Heartbroken and lonely, the narrator has made an attempt on his own life. Whether he meant to or not he can’t say. But now he’s stuck in his own head, and time is running out. To save himself, he embarks on a journey across an imagined America, one haunted by his doomed relationship and the memory of a road trip that ended in tragedy. Help arrives in the guise of Jon Bon Jovi, rock star and childhood hero. An unlikely spirit guide, perhaps, but he’s going to give it a shot...

P R A I S E

 ‘If you found yourself in a dark wood in the middle of your life, who would you want to lead you out of it? Virgil or Jon Bon Jovi? Dan Dalton chose the latter for a guide and the result is this marvellously strange and sad novel, shot through with a dark gleaming wit’ Jenny Offill

 ‘Strange, intense, brilliant’ S. J. Watson

 ‘A great big howl from the abyss of a broken heart. Incredible’ Richard Skinner

 ‘I read Johnny Ruin with a lump in my throat. It’s raw and beautiful and odd and brokenhearted’ Ali Land

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £8.46

hive.co.uk  £7.49

whsmith  £6.47

Author Website

MY REVIEW

Sometimes life gets tough and you need Jon Bon Jovi to see you through the darker times, and that is exactly what happens in Johnny Ruin as he’s left to mourn a relationship and all the depression and misery that may bring with it.  It’s a brilliant example of how twisted a mind can become as it processes changes and how replaying moments from the past can either clarify the situation or just muddy the waters.

I loved the way this story is told – the voice of the narrator is clearly struggling with his mental wellbeing and you’re taken along for the ride – it’s very dark, often explicit but it’s a process he needs to go through and he uses the ‘help’ of Jon Bon Jovi as that takes  him back to a happier time of his life and remembers how hearing his songs made him feel.  

I found it fascinating to hear the thoughts of a bloke going through depression and grieving the loss of loved ones – it’s not all rainbows and unicorns and seeing how dark the mind can turn when you feel there’s no hope was quite disturbing. I keep remembering the phrase ‘life is consequences’ which features and that becomes very apparent as he looks back over his life and past relationships.  It brings him comfort to remember happier times.

This was a gritty, angry, reflective book full of dark humour and I loved the raw honesty of the character throughout.

★★★★

#BookReview Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew

ABOUT THE BOOK

Over the course of almost half a century, puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew has worked with the greats – from David Bowie in Labyrinth to Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol. But the role that defined his career was Rainbow’s Zippy, who he operated for more than twenty years.

Zippy and Me is the first time a Rainbow insider has told the true story of what went on under the counter and inside the suits: the petty squabbles between performers, wrangling with TV executives, and scandals such as the ‘love triangle’ between musicians Rod, Jane and Freddy. Not to mention the now infamous X-rated episode shot for an ITV Christmas party, which subsequently found its way to the Sun.

Interweaved with the dirt on what really went on behind the scenes is the story of Rainbow’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s, when its stars found themselves catapulted into an exciting showbiz world – scooping a BAFTA award and even performing for the queen – and the story of a young lad from a south London council estate who defied his parents’ protests to became one of the most respected puppeteers of all time.

Published by Unbound

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

I really love the way the UNBOUND site works – a crowd funding site to get books off the ground – and this is how Zippy and Me came to be, and I’m so pleased to have been part of it and now have my name in the book as one of the supporters!

Any excuse to walk down memory lane is fine by me, and this was a perfect example of an entertaining and enjoyable read which has me pining for the past and fun kids TV shows that I grew up with!!

Ronnie Le Drew is the puppeteer behind Zippy, one of the most loved UK puppets, and in his memoir he talks about his time on Rainbow – the good and the bad! – as well as how he got into the world of puppets, his childhood and the other work he used to do in TV, theatre and film. I loved how funny his stories are alongside some pretty tragic ones too that really affected him and those around him.

It was also fascinating to hear his stories about his time working on the Muppet films too and I’m now just itching to re-watch all of those alongside old episodes of Rainbow to see Zippy, Bungle and George again! A lovely memoir and one that was so much fun to read!

★★★★★

#BookReview Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness @unbounders

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Joe Harkness suffered a breakdown in 2013, he tried all the things his doctor recommended: medication helped, counselling was enlightening, and mindfulness grounded him. But nothing came close to nature, particularly birds. How had he never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter took him one step closer to accepting who he is.

The positive change in Joe’s wellbeing was so profound that he started a blog to record his experience. Three years later he has become a spokesperson for the benefits of birdwatching, spreading the word everywhere from Radio 4 to Downing Street.

In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves

Published by Unbound

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £10.25

hive.co.uk £10.99

whsmith  £10.49

MY REVIEW

An inspiring book that shows just what you can learn about yourself when you hit rock bottom. And with Joe, his discovery was the calming and restorative hobby of birdwatching and in this illuminating book he shares his journey and a wide range of practical tips of how you can also embrace the power of nature to help your mental health and wellbeing and to enjoy the little things that life can bring.

The story starts with the state of his mind at his lowest point and it doesn’t make for pleasant reading – but it made him reach out for help and to try and find a way of distracting his mind and he recalls how much enjoyment being outdoors brought him as a young child so started to walk locally. And on these walks he began to notice the wildlife around him and how the joy of spotting a new bird gave him so much joy! It also made him much calmer – it gave his mind a chance to escape daily life and to notice different things.

He documents his experiences along his birdwatching journey – setting up bird feeders in the garden to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch for example, and I was so pleased to read that he gives the birds that visit his garden names too! He has a coal tit that visits that he names ‘Colin’ – I have a robin that visits who I call ‘Robbie’!! It’s the little things in life that often give the greatest pleasures haha!

It was so fascinating to read the different parts of his journey – the lists he made, the amount he was learning about wildlife and himself, noticing the different patterns of bird behaviour through the seasons and as a keen birdwatcher myself I found myself nodding along in agreement with so much!

What comes across most though is his passion for the subject! The enjoyment it brings him is clear to see and he really does a great job of explaining how having this hobby gave him a new outlook on all that he faced in his life. The perfect read for those looking to improve their mental health and to find out more about birdwatching and how nature is such a great healer.

Blooming marvellous!!

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my thanks to the publishers, Unbound, for my copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BlogTour Take Me To The Edge by Katya Boirand #BookReview #Poetry #TakeMeToTheEdge #RandomThingsTours @Katyahazel @unbounders

A delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for TAKE ME TO THE EDGE by KATYA BOIRAND today.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for putting everything together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

 A beautifully presented collection of poems accompanied by striking photographs of the people who inspired them 

 FIVE WORDS IS ALL IT TAKES TO PROVOKE A CHAIN OF CREATION.

 That is what Katya Boirand discovered the first time she asked a friend for five words and then turned them into a poem, using the words and the subject as her inspiration. This spark started a movement, and soon Katya was asking friends and strangers alike for their five words of choice. Take Me to the Edge is a selection of these poems, sitting alongside a portrait of each subject, in this stunning and joyous celebration of language, connection and art.

Published by UNBOUND

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK £20.00

hive.co.uk £13.89

waterstones  £20.00

MY REVIEW

Sometimes you can make the biggest impact by using the fewest words and that is how I often felt whilst reading this stunning poetry and photography collection from Katya Boirand.  It’s amazing to me how just a few words can convey such a powerful message or idea and with this collection of poems, created from random words, does that with bells on! I loved it!!  

I think it’s the simplicity of the concept that intrigued me the most about wanting to pick this up – the fact that different people around the world were asked to choose some random words for her to use in each poem – and alongside some beautifully shot photographs of those people, these poems have been excellently portrayed and put together and I’ve gone back to read them over and over!

The images are stunning throughout and just add that extra dimension to the words on each page, and I also loved the little potted bios of those photographed and the 5 words that inspired each poem as it helped give each more meaning.   It perfectly demonstrated how different words from different worlds show us all how connected we all are and can be and it’s a collection I highly recommend getting hold of!

★★★★★

#BookReview Domini Mortum by Paul Holbrook

About the book

Paddington, London 1883

Samuel Weaver is a tabloid illustrator and reporter for The Illustrated Police News, whose sensationalist style makes him both popular with the public and hated by the authorities. Obsessed with an infamous murderer, Sibelius Darke, he will let nothing get in the way of finding the truth behind the stories.

Meanwhile another set of ghastly murders has begun, linked to Darke’s reign of terror six years earlier.

Perhaps Darke was not the terrifying killer that he was made out to be? Perhaps the real murderers are still at large in London society? And perhaps, in order to prove this, Samuel Weaver will pay the ultimate price for his obsession

Published by Unbound

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

waterstones

unbound – ebook edition

MY REVIEW

I read this via The Pigeonhole app which made the reading experience even more interesting as you got to share your immediate thoughts daily with other readers and the author himself – and he seemed to enjoy the range of responses – mostly shock and horror! -that Domini Mortum brought out in us all!

I haven’t read Memento Mori – but will be rectifying that as soon as I can! – but I found the darkness of this story so instantly entrancing! There were many times I found myself not knowing where the story was going to lead to, a cast of characters who one minute you’re on their side, the next they betray you, and full of darkness in a grizzly murderous kind of way!

Sam Weaver is at the centre of the story. His talent is for drawing and he uses it to portray crime scenes for the local press. And the scenes he gets to witness never seem to turn his stomach, although they turned mine as a reader when described in this book! He becomes obsessed by these crimes that all seem to be linked, but is constantly met with people at the top trying to hush things up.

He meets some very interesting characters along the way – some help, many hinder his investigations – and you also get to find out more about Sam and his past proving that darkness can be found everywhere!!

I loved the ride that this book too me on and the shocking ending has left things nicely poised for more!

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