Round up of a bookish week in Edinburgh plus a Book Festival goodies #giveaway

 

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Well it’s been a busy old week in Edinburgh with the Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Book Festival all underway. I’ve been at several events and thought I’d give you a flavour of them. As usual, you’ll need to excuse my photos which are only from my phone so not the best. Grab yourself a cuppa and settle down, I’ve lots to tell you about!

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First off on Tuesday, I picked up my Press Pass for the book festival which is always very exciting and headed off to my first event where Louis de Bernieres was talking about his latest novel, So Much Life Left Over, chaired by Hannah Beckerman.

This is the second book in a planned trilogy and follows characters first introduced in The Dust Which Falls from Dreams. Louis de Bernieres explained that he likes to write about the many kinds of love which exist and the different versions of family. Since having his own children, he particularly enjoys writing about the love between parent and child which he sees as the greatest of all. 

I always enjoy listening to this author. He is rather self-deprecating and always drily witty.

So Much Life Left Over by [de Bernieres, Louis]

 

After this event, I had a lovely lunch with fellow bloggers Kelly (Love Books Group), Mary (Live and Deadly), Llainy (So Many Books So Little Time) and Katherine (Bibliomaniac) as well as writer Jane Anderson. As you can imagine, there was non-stop bookish chat. So much so, that we forgot to take a photo!

 

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On Wednesday, my first event saw Jenny Brown chairing a session between Joanna Cannon and Jess Kidd. On the way to the event, I read Three Things I’d Tell My Younger Self which is a selection of pieces of advice collected by Joanna Cannon. The title is a reference to her latest novel, the wonderful Three Things About Elsie, which she was discussing at this event. Jess Kidd was talking about her latest novel The Hoarder. Both novels have a few things in common as they explore memory loss, older characters and long held secrets. Both are also second novels and the authors spoke about how it felt to write with the knowledge that there was more pressure and expectation, having had successful first novels and knowing that people were actually waiting to read this one! Both spoke about how their characters were in some way trapped and that exploring loss of power makes for a interesting stories. Humour is something which both writers feel is vitally important to lighten the mood when dealing with dark issues.

                           Three Things About Elsie: A Richard and Judy Book Club Pick 2018 by [Cannon, Joanna]      The Hoarder by [Kidd, Jess]

 

 

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My next event was also in the beautiful Spiegeltent where a packed audience waited to hear Olga Wojtas and ES Thomson chat with Sally Magnusson about their novels Miss Blaine’s Prefect and The Golden Samovar and The Blood.

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This was a very entertaining session and you can actually listen to it this Sunday morning when it will be broadcast on Radio Scotland (Sunday Morning with Sally Magnusson). I have read Olga Wojtas’ book which is hilarious and it was wonderful to hear her read from it. Saying she was surprised to discover she had written a crime novel, Olga Wojtas explained she really just set out to write a romp to cheer herself up and provide an escape from the relentless bad news in the media. While E S Thomson’s books about Victorian anatomist Jem Flockhart aren’t intended to be humorous, humour does feature amidst the dark themes. It was interesting to hear that these authors are friends and are among the first to read each other’s work to get a writer’s perspective on what could be improved. I think everyone present would agree with one audience member who said that both ladies could have a career on the stage following their highly entertaining readings.

 

Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by [Wojtas, Olga]    The Blood: What secrets lie aboard? (Jem Flockhart Book 3) by [Thomson, E. S.]

 

On Thursday, I went to the launch of Barbara Henderson’s third novel, Wilderness Wars, at The Museum of Edinburgh. I have read all three of her books and although I very much enjoyed the previous two, I honestly think this is her best yet. It is so full of excitement, danger and drama and of course, children are at the heart of things, working hard to save the day. I’ll have a review of the book as well as a great guest post from Barbara on the blog on Sunday so do watch out for that.

I have to confess that I have never been in The Museum of Edinburgh – at least not since I was in Primary School when it was called Huntly House. It’s a real warren of a place being in one of the historic buildings in the Royal Mile and I’m definitely going back for a proper look around. Once the Festivals are over…

The launch was as energetic and enjoyable as Barbara’s launches always are. Her enthusiasm for sharing her stories shines through. We heard about the inspiration behind the book – a cracked windscreen on holiday, Donald Trump’s controversial Aberdeenshire golf resort, volunteering with Wildlife Explorers and the TV series Castaway. She also talked about how she enjoyed writing this contemporary novel as there wasn’t so much research needed as in her historical fiction. Friendship is an important theme in Wilderness Wars as in both her previous novels.

There aren’t many book launches where you have to work on your bird squawks but this was one of them. Some of the children in the audience simulated a gull attack on some brave volunteers using inflatable gulls, with the audience providing the soundtrack. There were bird shaped biscuits as part of the refreshments afterwards which were delicious – as Anne Glennie from Cranachan publishers said, cupcakes at book launches are so over! With another first of being greeted by some beautiful and atmospheric live harp music on arrival, it was certainly a memorable book launch.

Wilderness Wars by [Henderson, Barbara]

 

 

Photo of Blackwell's - Edinburgh, United Kingdom

 

Finally for now, a quick mention for Blackwell’s Writers at the Fringe event. This is a fabulous event which the wonderful Blackwell’s bookshop on South Bridge runs every year. Every Thursday during the Fringe, five writers have the opportunity to talk about and read from their work. The event is completely free so this is a great way to hear a variety of authors talk about their inspiration and writing process. There is, of course, an opportunity afterwards to buy their books and get them signed. There is one more event still to come this year, next Thursday 23rd August, which will feature Johnathan Whitelaw, Sam McColl, Noelle Harrison, Robert J Harris and Helen McClory.

Last night the authors featured were Kirsty Logan reading from her latest novel The Gloaming, Margaret Cook talking about the mediaeval abbey hospital at Soutra, the place which inspired her novel Border Brothers, Sandra Ireland explaining how folklore was woven through her novel Bone Deep, Sarah Maine giving us the background to Women of the Dunes and finally Mallachy Tallack reading from his debut novel The Valley at the Centre of the Worldhaving previously written non-fiction.

The Gloaming by [Logan, Kirsty]   BORDER BROTHERS by [Cook, Margaret ]   Bone Deep by [Ireland, Sandra]   Women of the Dunes: a gorgeously sweeping novel of family secrets by [Maine, Sarah]   The Valley at the Centre of the World by [Tallack, Malachy]

 

If you have made it all the way to the end of this blogpost – phew, well done you! If it is still Friday 17th August when you are reading, you just have time to enter my giveaway to win a few Edinburgh Book Festival goodies. Pop over to Twitter, make sure you are following me and retweet this tweet. You should be able to click through to it from the link below. I’ll be picking a winner on Saturday. (UK only)

 

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#ThreeThings I’d Tell My Younger Self #review #free e-book short @joannacannon @boroughpress @harperfiction

Three Things I’d Tell My Younger Self (E-Story) by [Cannon, Joanna]

I’ve got a quick review of a free e-book released yesterday, full of inspiring words which may encourage those who received their exam results in Scotland last week and those getting A-Level results today, particularly if things haven’t gone as well as hoped. Although, as we know, what teen ever listens to well-intentioned advice! As I was going to see Joanna Cannon at the Edinburgh Book Festival yesterday, I downloaded it and read it on the bus on the way there.

The book has diverse pieces of advice of varying lengths from, among others, authors, publishers, journalists, medical staff – oh and Joanna Cannon’s mum! Some will make you laugh, some will move you and I expect many will have you nodding in recognition.

Just to highlight a few: I was quite surprised to read Hannah Beckerman’s piece to her younger self who had been rather unsure and depressed. One of her pieces of advice was that comparing yourself to other people will never make you happy. Just the day before I’d watched her calmly interview a successful author (Louis de Bernieres) in front of a huge crowd at the Edinburgh Book Festival. It was good to see that the insecure young Hannah had turned into someone with this kind of confidence.

The very first piece is by consultant psychiatrist Ignasi Agell and his final piece of advice is so simple yet can make such a difference in the world – “just be kind”.

Fern Britton’s final piece of advice really spoke to me and summed up what I think many of the contributors were saying:

Count your blessings. There will always be people better off or worse off than you. Recognise all the goodness in your life. These things are health, love and life.

Almost everyone says to try to be more confident, something which is so hard in your younger years, and to try not to compare yourself with others. These are lessons which often only come with hindsight. Interestingly almost nobody says ‘don’t do this particular thing’ to their younger self. I think this recognises that all our experiences, good or bad, make us the person we are. 

At the end, you will find the opening chapter of the wonderful Three Things About Elsie to give you a flavour of the book if you haven’t already read it.

This is a lovely quick read which is entertaining, enjoyable and inspiring.  You can get your free copy of Three Things I’d Tell My Younger Self for Kindle from Amazon: by clicking this link:#ThreeThings

What are my three things?

1 – Not getting the grades you wanted at Highers was a good thing really. You wouldn’t have coped with or enjoyed the Uni course you originally wanted as much as the one you did.

2 – Have no regrets, all experiences good or bad will make you who you are. All the things you wish you might have done differently will make you the person you will become so do what seems right at the time

3 – Wear what you like, don’t worry about what everyone else is wearing. Have your own style and forget about the size on clothes. Wear what makes you feel good. Oh and as Janet Ellis says – don’t buy shoes that don’t fit!

You can get your free copy of Three Things I’d Tell My Younger Self for Kindle from Amazon: #ThreeThings

From the back of the book

A very special FREE collection of advice for our younger selves, compiled by Joanna Cannon – the author of THREE THINGS ABOUT ELSIE and THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP

If you could send a message to your younger self, what three things would you want to tell them? This inspiring, moving and frequently hilarious collection includes advice from – among others – authors, journalists, clergy, nurses and doctors; and their words will offer both solace and entertainment to readers at any milestone in life, from exam results and educational choices to love, health, friendship and careers. Here you will find the wise words of:

Ignasi Agell
Sue Armstrong
Hannah Beckerman
Ann Bissell
Dr Sue Black
Fern Britton
Wendy Burn
Joanna Cannon
Tracy Chevalier
Julie Cohen
Charlotte Cray
Dr John Crichton
Miranda Dickinson
Suzie Dooré
Janet Ellis
Nathan Filer
Patrick Gale
Sam Guglani
Dr Helen-Ann Hartley
Kerry Hudson
Mandy Huxley
Reverend Andrea Jones
Adam Kay
Erin Kelly
Mr Kipling
Dr Kate Lovett
Katy Mahood
Anna Mazzola
Lydia Elise Millen
Dame Helena Morrissey
Hannah O’Brien
Femi Oyebode
Lev Parikian
Nina Pottell
Jonathan and Angela Scott
Anita Sethi
Lionel Shriver
Graeme Simsion
Dr Laura Varnam
Kate Williams

**Cover Reveal** What Happened to Us by Faith Hogan @gerhogan @aria_fiction #ChristmasInAugust

Cover Reveal

If you are a regular follower of my blog you will know that I rarely do cover reveals. But I do make exceptions for some of my very favourite authors and Faith Hogan comes into that category. I have read and loved her previous three novels and they have featured in my top reads list the past couple of years. You can read my reviews if you’d like to by clicking on the titles: My Husband’s Wives, Secrets We Keep, The Girl I Used to Know These three books are available to order here: https://amzn.to/2vqXwRN

So I’m really excited to be helping reveal the cover of Faith’s latest novel, due to be published by Aria Fiction on Tuesday 2nd October. Without further ado, here you go. Isn’t it gorgeous?

faith hogan

 

Here’s what the book is about

A heart-warming story full of winter warmth and new beginnings. 

Carrie Nolan is devastated when she is dumped by Kevin Mulvey after more than a decade without even a backwards glance! On reflection, she has sacrificed her own long term happiness establishing their critically acclaimed Dublin restaurant and pandering to his excessive ego.

Meanwhile Kevin can’t believe his luck. Valentina, their new waitress is a stunner, the kind of girl that turns heads when she walks in a room and surprise, surprise she has chosen him! He is living the dream!

Carrie seeks solace from a circle of mismatched friends who need her as much as she needs them. Jane, who struggles to run the pub on the opposite side of the street, Luke, who has stopped drifting while his father settles in a nearby nursing home and Teddy, a dog who asks for nothing more than the chance to stay by Carrie’s side.

With Christmas just around the corner, all is not quite as it seems and a catastrophic sequence of events leads to the unthinkable…

How far do you need to fall before you learn the true value of family and friends? And is it ever too late to start again…

If you like the sound of the book, you can pre-order it here for only £2.39 (at the time of writing): What Happened to Us?

 

 

About the author

Faith Hogan

 

Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has an Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

Follow Faith

Website: http://www.faithhogan.com/

Twitter: @GerHogan

Facebook: @FaithHoganAuthor

Follow Aria Fiction

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

#BoneDeep by Sandra Ireland #review and #excerpt @22_Ireland @polygonbooks #lovebooksgrouptours

Bone Deep by [Ireland, Sandra]

I’m delighted to be one of three blogs kicking off the blogtour for Sandra Ireland’s latest novel, Bone Deep. I’ll be sharing an extract from the novel but first of all, here are my thoughts on the book.

The story is told in alternating chapters by Mac, an author writing stories based on local folklore and Lucie her ‘Girl Friday’. Both characters were very intriguing. Lucie has been keeping secrets from her sister. Mac has her own secrets from the past she doesn’t want her only son Arthur, a baker, to find out.

The old mill, where Mac’s late husband was the miller, is a central character too and plays an important part in the lives of the characters, and of the local community past and present. There are echoes there of sisters who feature in Mac’s book but are they truly myth or perhaps reality? Their story seems to be an uncomfortable reflection of Lucie’s situation with her own sister.

This is a book I was keen to keep reading as I was curious to find out more. It is a captivating read with the characters’ emotions so well written, as well as that vivid setting. It becomes darker the further you are into the book. Bone Deep is a haunting, evocative story.

Now read on for an extract from the book

Lucie

In the night, a baby’s cry wakes me. At least, that’s what it sounds like to me – a thin wail, out there in the black night – and I come out of sleep shaking inside, my heart hammering. I lie in the narrow bed, cold but sweating, eyes straining, trying to place myself in the dark. I see the loom of a strange wardrobe. The air smells unfamiliar. I make out a thin strip of yellow light where the curtains don’t meet, and recognition comes slowly. The security light is on. That’s it, that yellow sliver of light. I lie still, soaking up the heat under the duvet. The noise has stopped, but I can’t settle. I’ll have to get up, investigate. Security lights don’t just come on by themselves.

The rug is cold beneath my feet. I can feel the hard ridges of the stone tiles beneath. I root around for my slippers and wish I’d taken the time to unpack my fleecy dressing gown. I’d dug out an oversize T-shirt for sleeping in, and I hug that more tightly around my chest. Flicking on the lamp, the room comes into sharp relief. Not familiar, yet, but normal. The furniture has its own new landscape, and the only thing I’m sure of is my suitcase, now gaping open, with my clothes spilling out. I should have unpacked, but I’d been so tired. Maybe I could do it now? Sleep already feels pretty distant. I might make a cup of tea.

The baby starts crying again. It’s outside. Wrenching open my bedroom door, I run down cold passages, skidding to a halt in the kitchen. I can still hear it, a soft sobbing that scrapes at my insides like nails. It’s coming from the back door. Carefully I make my way through the maze of wellies and baskets and boxes, searching for light switches, snapping them on. My breathing is beginning to calm. I’m trying to listen to the rational part of my brain. It isn’t a baby crying. It isn’t a sob. It’s a whine. I find the back-door key and poke it into the lock.

‘This had better be good,’ I mutter, turning the handle. The whining stops. I can hear excited snuffling. ‘You’d better have a bloody good excuse.’

I open the door and Floss, Mac’s spaniel, bounces in, wagging her tail like it’s morning and everyone should be up. I make tea. We go back to bed. Floss leaps onto the duvet before I even take my slippers off. I’m too tired to argue. I turn off the light and squeeze myself into the space that’s left. We find a kind of shape; I bend my knees, she spirals into the back of them. Within seconds she starts to snore softly. It’s oddly comforting.

Thanks to Kelly of Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to be part of the tour and to Kristian at Polygon Books for my copy of the book. It is available now in paperback or as an ebook. You can order a copy online here: Bone Deep

From the back of the book

What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?

The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. It is a dual narrative, told in alternative chapters by Mac, a woman bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose own past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.

Watch the book trailer

About the author

Sandra Ireland (1)

Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Scotland. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. She returned to higher education her 40s, to study for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Dundee University. In 2016 she won Creative Scotland funding for a residency at Barry Mill, a National Trust for Scotland property. Her debut novel was Beneath the Skin (Polygon, 2016).

Don’t miss the rest of the tour

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All The Hidden Truths by Claire Askew 5* #review @onenightstanzas @hodderbooks

All the Hidden Truths (Three Rivers) by [Askew, Claire]

I am hugely excited to be reviewing this incredible book on publication day. It’s a really gripping page-turner about a college shooting with multiple fatalities, all young women apart from the attacker, who then also killed himself. Rather than this taking place in America as we so often tragically see on the news, this takes place right here in Edinburgh at the fictional Three Rivers College.

When I first started reading the book I was really taken by the Edinburgh setting which the author captured so brilliantly. All the little details were just perfect and added so much to the story for me, particularly when describing my own area. But this story isn’t really about the where – it’s about the why.

“When the crime is so huge, but we already know who did it? We know how he did it. I guess we’ll never really know why he did it.”

The story is told through three main characters’ points of view. DCI Helen Birch, lives in Portobello, just down the hill from me actually. She has only just been promoted and moved to a new station. Before she’s even had time to settle in and get to know her new colleagues, she finds herself in charge at the scene and of the investigation.

Ishbel is the mother of the first victim, Abigail, who attends the college and had been at school with the gunman. Their mother-daughter relationship had been rather fraught and as well as grief she feels huge guilt.

Moira Summers is the mother of gunman, Ryan, and my heart just went out to her. How could you possibly come to terms with your child, a child you have loved, nurtured and cherished, being a cold blooded killer? The way she was demonised by the media, and one journalist in particular, was just awful as were the comments on news articles online etc.

There is a sense of disbelief that such a thing could happen in Scotland, in Edinburgh. It’s one of these things that only happens somewhere else – usually America if the media is to be believed. And yet this felt so plausible that it was totally terrifying. My own daughter is at Edinburgh Uni and I can only imagine how I’d feel if suddenly it was all over Twitter that there had been such a horrific incident. I should mention the inclusion throughout the book of articles from newspapers, conversations from online forums, Wikipedia extracts and Twitter conversations. They really felt very authentic and were a reflection of the way news and misinformation spreads so quickly these days.

I read All The Hidden Truths voraciously and genuinely could not put it down until I had read the final, devastating chapter. Another book to add to the top reads list for 2018!

Huge thanks to the publisher Hodder & Stoughton for my copy of the book. All The Hidden Truths is published today in hardback and ebook formats with the paperback due to follow in April next year. It will be available from your usual book retailer or you can order a Kindle copy online here: All The Hidden Truths

From the back of the book

This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself.

But no one can say why.

The question is one that cries out to be answered – by Ryan’s mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families’ secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame… the truth seems to vanish.

A stunningly moving novel from an exciting new voice in crime, ALL THE HIDDEN TRUTHS will cause you to question your assumptions about the people you love, and reconsider how the world reacts to tragedy.

About the Author

Claire Askew is a poet, novelist and the current Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh. Her debut novel in progress was the winner of the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and longlisted for the 2014 Peggy Chapman-Andrews (Bridport) Novel Award. Claire holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and has won a variety of accolades for her work, including the Jessie Kesson Fellowship and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award.

Her debut poetry collection, This changes things, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016 and shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and a Saltire First Book Award. In 2016 Claire was selected as a Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion, and she works as the Scotland tutor for women’s writing initiatives Write Like A Grrrl! and #GrrrlCon.

#AuthorInTheSpotlight JR Rogers @authorjrrogers #TheItalianCouple

JR Rogers

I’m pleased to welcome John Rogers today. Thanks for joining me John. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?

An American, I was born and raised abroad the son of a diplomat, first, and later a businessman. I lived for the first 18 years of my life in Antwerpen, Paris for 10 years, and later Kinshasa, DRC, where I graduated from high school. I hold a B.A. degree in French literature and my plan was to teach French at the university level, a language in which I am fluent. But my plan went awry, as many do. After a stint with the U.S. Government after university I went on to a career in government relations and later productivity consulting. I moved from the East Coast (Washington, DC) to the West Coast (greater Los Angeles area) where I worked for a major aerospace defense contractor and employed my writing skills across many different departments. I also spent a year studying the craft of short story writing at the University of California, Irvine, Division of Continuing Education. I am now retired and have devoted the last 11 years to writing novels of which I have self-published seven along with a collection of short stories, of which six have been published. I live in Orange County, California with my partner and our basset hound.

What inspired you to start writing?

Always an avid reader going as far back as I can remember—my parents were both obsessive readers—I can only imagine that their interest and my international upbringing fuelled my imagination to write. I began initially with short stories written during my university years and unsurprisingly most of them were set in the countries I had lived in. I remember being awed by the craftsmanship in the stories of William Trevor and the fiction of Hemingway, William Maxwell and Irwin Shaw. In later years I began to dabble with writing novels. Far away settings and exotic locales that seemed to draw me, and have been the settings of my novels, have included Cayenne, former French Guiana; Montevideo, Uruguay; Dinard, France; Famagusta, Northern Cyprus; Novorossiysk, Russia and Asmara, former Italian Eritrea, the setting for my latest novel.

Tell me about your journey to publication

By “publication” I mean self-publishing a novel. Publishing with Amazon and Smashwords has become ridiculously simple and, though I send out many dozens of queries to literary agents with every novel I write, I have struggled to become published. Like many novelists who have yet to secure representation I continue to believe I will succeed eventually. The key is to keep writing and not give up.

In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?

The Italian Couple by [Rogers, J.R.]

It is an atmospheric historical thriller of subterfuge and illicit love with a menacing plot set in Mussolini’s 1939 Asmara, Italian Eritrea.

[The Italian Couple is available now as an ebook – you can order a copy online here.]

How did you come up with the title for your book?

I don’t know to be honest. I was writing and about three-quarters of the way through when the title suddenly came to me and I liked it at once though I thought about it for a few months. In the end I decided it stated rather succinctly the theme of the novel without being obscure.

Do you have a work in progress just now?

I am currently at work on an untitled novel set initially in 1940 Paris as the Germans occupy France. The story then moves to Lisbon that same year and evolves, over an as yet undefined period, in Lourenço Marques, Portuguese Mozambique. It is the story of Rudolf and Aleece Bamberger, a young German-French Jewish couple fleeing the Nazis who move to Africa and become embroiled in espionage. Lourenço Marques in the early 1940s had gained a reputation as the most alluring city in Africa; it was an intelligence listening-post and a hotbed of secret agents and spies.

What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!

Jennifer McVeigh’s novel Leopard at the Door set in Kenya in the 1950s, which I greatly enjoyed (May ’18)

Leopard at the Door by [McVeigh, Jennifer]

What are you reading just now? 

I just finished Paula McClain’s novel Love and Ruin about Hemingway’s passionate and stormy second marriage to the war correspondent Martha Gellhorn set in the 1930s (June ’18). Currently reading Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (July ’18) set in 1940s New York.

                          Love and Ruin by [McLain, Paula]   Manhattan Beach by [Egan, Jennifer]

Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?

There are many but I’ll begin with my own The Italian Couple and maybe Leopard at the Door.

How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

On Twitter (@authorjrrogers) and Pinterest (authorjrrogers)

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

This goes back many years to a rather famous 1949 novel set in Morocco that not many have read today: The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles. I would want to have been Port Moresby (married to wife Kit) because he is richly unconventional, listless and an adventurer.

Summer Reading mini reviews

Summer holiday Reading

Over the past six weeks or so, as well as reading review books, I’ve been catching up on some of my own books which have been languishing too long on the pile at the side of my bed! A couple I wasn’t so keen on and since I only blog about books I’ve enjoyed, I won’t be reviewing them here. But below are a few mini-reviews of books I do recommend. If you click the titles, you will go to the Amazon page where you can read the official blurb and can order them if you fancy the sound of the book. Or, of course, you should be able to buy any of them at your usual book retailer.

The Stranger: A gripping story of secrets and lies for fans of Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce by [Riordan, Kate]

The Stranger

I really enjoyed this story of three young women working as landgirls in Penhallow Hall in Cornwall during WW2. The story starts with death of Diana, sent to be Land Girl by her mother who wants her far from London. The story then goes back six weeks and works towards her death where and we hear her thoughts through her diary. Rose is married but still longs for Sam, her childhood sweetheart. Jane is really too young to be Land Girl and is actually a member of the family who own the hall but this is her first time at Penhallow Hall in years.

Eleanor is one of the owners of the hall but hasn’t left grounds in years. The house are clearly holds some bad memories for her. Her mother was a very unpleasant character who is not afraid to speak her mind but obviously has issues with the house and past secrets too.

I was very intrigued throughout and although I guessed one of the central secrets it certainly didn’t spoil the book for me. This is a very mysterious, very atmospheric read and put me in mind of a Daphne du Maurier novel. I devoured this book in a day and could not put it down.

The Great Alone: A Compelling Story of Love, Heartbreak and Survival, From the Multi-million Copy Bestselling Author of The Nightingale by [Hannah, Kristin]

The Great Alone

This is a story about a family moving to live at the edge of the world in Alaska. It’s a wild, remote place with a very simple way of living. There’s no electricity, no running water and an outside toilet. It’s a very hard life, especially in the harsh Alaskan winter. However, there is strong community support including from the memorable ‘Large Marge’! Teenage Leni is the main character and her father, Ernt, is a Vietnam vet who is clearly suffering from PTSD and is often violent towards his wife. She always forgives him though but she and Leni are effectively trapped. Leni feels a responsibility to mother and that she can’t leave her. Her only escape is school where she meets Matthew who becomes her great love. Ernt grows steadily more crazy leading to a dramatic situation. I have to say the last 25% seemed almost like a different book and I felt it was overly dramatic. However, there was a very satisfying ending and overall, would say I enjoyed it.

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I’ll Keep You Safe

I do love to read ‘on location’ as it were and I enjoyed reading this book while I was on holiday in Lewis last week. I love that I know so many of the locations now having visited Lewis a few times. My photos above show Dalmore beach and the cemetery above it, both of which feature in the book. The book is about Ruaridh and Niamh who work in the tweed industry. I actually learned quite a lot about the island and island life too. It’s really two stories: the story of investigation into Ruaridh’s death in Paris (not a spoiler, you know that from page 1) and the story of his and Niamh’s lives from when they first met as children living on the island, throughout their married life and the building up of their Ranish Tweed business. It’s a terrific thriller with plenty of twists and turns and quite the surprising ending!

Origin: (Robert Langdon Book 5) by [Brown, Dan]

Origin

You know what you’re getting with a Dan Brown book – an action packed thriller. This latest Robert Langdon adventure didn’t disappoint. A genius scientist is about to reveal huge discovery which will explain the origin and future of human life and throw all religion into turmoil. However, dramatic events at the launch event leave Langdon in mortal danger (again), working with an intelligent and stunningly beautiful woman (again) and racing against time to uncover what has happened (again). And I loved it – again!

Little Liar: From No. 1 bestselling author of The Guilty One by [Ballantyne, Lisa]

Little Liar

This is a classic tale of he said/she said so who can you believe? A drama teacher is accused of sexual assault by young pupil. The book follows the repercussions for Nick, a married father of two who is adamant he is innocent and Angela, the unhappy almost teenager who accused him. We see the way both families are hugely affected. My sympathies for both characters changed several times throughout as more was revealed. I didn’t particularly like either of the main characters and I’m not sure I can say I enjoyed the book, given the subject matter. It’s an uncomfortable read but it’s certainly compelling. 3.5*

So there you have it, a few of the books I’ve enjoyed over the summer. What have you been reading? I’d love to know so do comment below.