Annual Bloggers Bash Awards – second place: Services to Bloggers

I’m delighted to say that I came second at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards in the category I was nominated in – Services to Bloggers. I’m particularly pleased as I know that many of the other people I was nominated alongside do a lot to help other bloggers. It was a lovely category to be nominated in as it recognises bloggers who go out of their way to help others, shares other bloggers’ posts and is happy to offer advice. I know the internet can often be an unpleasant place but I find the bookish community to be friendly and I always try to make sure that I am helpful and welcoming to new and established bloggers.

It means a lot to me that I was nominated and also that people voted for me. So I’d like to say a huge thank you to anyone who voted for me. I’m really very grateful. I’m also dead chuffed to be able to display this badge.

Blogger Services (2nd)Huge congratulations to everyone who was nominated and those who were placed. It was lovely to see so many of my blogging pals being recognised for their achievements. You can read a full list of all the nominees and winners on this link.

Annual Bloggers Bash Awards – results

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Absent by Emma Salisbury #review @emmasauthor #lovebooksgrouptours

ABSENT (DS Coupland Book 4) by [Salisbury, Emma]

It seems like it’s been a long time since I read the last DS Coupland book but within a few pages it was like he’d never been away. For DS Alex Moreton, it must feel like she’s never been away either on maternity leave as she’s no sooner back than she and Coupland are investigating a gruesome discovery. A young couple moving into a flat find a sports bag left behind by a previous occupant. When they move it, they discover it contains not old sports kit but the decomposing body of a young child.

DS Coupland is exactly the kind of dedicated detective that I hope, and am sure, is out there in the real world. A compassionate man, it’s not just about solving cases for him, it’s about getting justice for victims and closure for families. Despite his tough image, he does allow himself to get emotionally involved in some of the cases. I suppose it must be difficult not to, but it must also be difficult to switch off and leave the cases at the office as it were.

Coupland’s homelife is not exactly going smoothly either with something happening within his family which he is finding very difficult to deal with. I’m not going to say what in case you haven’t read the third book yet, as it will give something away. Suffice to say, it brings back memories of his own childhood and he wonders how he is going to be able to cope.

Coupland, for all his faults, is a fantastic central character though there is plenty of involvement for the rest of the team too in this book. I must admit a soft spot for young and eager DC Timmons, otherwise known as Krispy due to his fondness for a certain company’s doughnuts!

Various themes are explored in the book, including human trafficking. It was sobering to read in the notes at the end that Europol believe that 10,000 children who entered Europe in 2015 have disappeared. Emma Salisbury has put a very human face to those who enter the country often illegally, on false promises, hoping for a better life for their families. The reality of what they face is something very different and brought vividly to life. Another thought provoking part of the book was when the team had to follow up on missing children or children on the social work radar for being at risk. There were so many, and with so many different but heart-breaking stories.

Absent is a solid police procedural which has the perfect balance for me between the actual investigation, the personal lives of the detectives and the workplace interaction between the team, with tensions clear and humour absolutely necessary. It’s a tense and well-paced book which I thoroughly enjoyed and I am looking forward to catching up with Coupland again in the next book.

My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to take part in the blogtour and to the author for my copy of the book. Absent is available now and you can order a copy from Amazon here: Absent

From the back of the book

The worst things happen in plain sight.

When he stopped a serial killer in his tracks earlier in the year he thought that would be the end of it, but for DS Kevin Coupland his nightmare has just begun.

A child’s body is discovered hidden in a bag, kicking off a major investigation for Salford Precinct’s murder squad. Soon the National Crime Agency roll into town and Coupland is under strict instructions to play nice.

He’s got enough on his plate to worry about politics. A shock discovery in his personal life is starting to take its toll, causing him to make decisions that bring him to the attention of the powers that be for all the wrong reasons.

DS Alex Moreton returns from maternity leave to find her partner deeply troubled, but with a cold case to review she’s in no position to prevent him hitting the self-destruct button.

As he hunts down the child’s killer Coupland is forced to reflect upon his own life and find an answer to the question he’s been avoiding. Is it possible to accept the things you cannot change?

Emma Salisbury-45

I write gritty, crime fiction that focuses on the ‘why’dunnit as well as the ‘who’. I worked for a housing association supporting socially excluded men and women with their return into society, which provided me with a lot of inspiration. If you like hard-boiled crime writers Stuart MacBride, Denise Mina AND Ed James then my Scottish crime series is for you. Fans of Ian Rankin or Mark Billingham-style police procedurals should try my Salford detective series. Like living on the edge? Why not try both…

Most evenings I can be found walking the family dog on the beach near our home in East Lothian, Scotland. You can find out more on my website http://www.emmasalisbury.com and I can be found on twitter @emmasauthor.

Don’t miss the rest of the blogtour

Absent

The Bookshop of New Beginnings by Jen Mouat #review @JenMouat_author @HQDigitalUK

The Bookshop of New Beginnings: Heart-warming, uplifting – a perfect feel good read! by [Mouat, Jen]

The Bookshop of New Beginnings was originally published as Summer at Bluebell Bank. The title and cover have recently been changed but I think this is a much more substantial story than even the new cover suggests. Rather than being cosy chick-lit – and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, who doesn’t love a bit chick-lit? – I feel this is contemporary women’s fiction.

Emily Cotton has always wanted to have her own bookshop and has finally bought an old run-down building in Wigtown, which is officially Scotland’s National Book Town. (Incidentally, you can read the rather excellent guest post Jen Mouat wrote about her road to publication and how Wigtown inspired her by clicking here.) Feeling rather overwhelmed at the task ahead of her, Emily emails her friend Kate who lives in New York. Kate immediately quits her job and heads back to Bluebell Bank where she spent many happy summers as a child. She had had an unhappy childhood living with her alcoholic mother and for her the Cottons were a large welcoming family who were “her sanctuary, her solidity in this world.” They fulfilled her need for something she never really had, a place she felt she belonged.

So many questions filled my mind as I was reading. Why did Kate immediately decide to go to help Emily? Why had the once inseparable friends all but lost touch. Why did Kate split up with childhood sweetheart Luke and flee? What did Emily feel she should confess to Kate? There were so many mysteries at the heart of the women’s relationship. There were secrets, guilt, lies of omission and a perceived betrayal. I was completely absorbed in the story from beginning to end.

I actually felt quite emotionally drained by the time I had finished this book. To me it’s a sign of a really great book if it can evoke such an emotional response to the characters and their situations and The Bookshop of New Beginnings did that for me. It is an excellent read about taking second chances and being open to new opportunities and I highly recommend it.

My thanks to the publishers HQ Digital for my copy of the book from Netgalley. The Bookshop of New Beginnings is available now as an ebook. You can order a Kindle copy online here.

From the back of the book

It’s never too late to rewrite your story…

It’s always been Emily Cotton’s dream to own her own bookshop. But sitting among shelves of haphazardly stacked books in a damp old barn, the reality feels a little different.

Kate Vincent hasn’t been back home in six years. But when she receives a desperate email from her childhood best friend begging for her help she doesn’t stop to think. Scenes of idyllic holidays with the Cotton family dance in her mind and she books a one-way ticket home to Wigtown.

But life for the Cottons isn’t all as she remembers and the secrets which once drove Kate and Emily apart are finally threatening to come to the surface. Now as the pair work together to save Emily’s failing bookshop – can they too begin a new chapter of their friendship?

Previously published as Summer at Bluebell Bank

Elementum Journal Edition 3: Roots #review @elementumjournl

Reading doesn’t always have to be about a book and today I’d like to introduce you to a journal I was recently made aware of. I’d like to thank Jay Armstrong for sending me a copy.

Elementum, as you may guess from the name, looks at our connection with the natural world through writing, illustrations and photographs. It is a stunningly gorgeous publication to look at and the writing inside is also beautiful and evocative, with this edition featuring work from Scots poet Kathleen Jamie, Man Booker longlisted author Wyl Menmuir and renowned nature writer Jim Crumley among others.

Elementum is published twice a year and I have been reading the third edition, Roots, which was published last November.

About Edition Three: Roots

In this edition we travel to the islands of Haida Gwaii, thought to be where the first humans settled in what is now Canada, and we consider the species that once roamed our lands but now exist only in song, story or bone. We go deep underground, and into the ‘dark wilderness’ of caves, and we reflect on the complicated and elusive history of the Green Man. We consider the fragile ecologies of islands, join a poet and an artist in pursuit of the spirit of Edward Thomas, and tell the story of abandoned mines through extraordinary three-dimensional maps. These and other stories are accompanied by breathtaking images from printmakers, illustrators and photographers.

With contributions from Kathleen Jamie, Jim Crumley and Wyl Menmuir, and featuring commissioned illustrations from Catherine Hyde and Jackie Morris.

I was particularly taken with the article Illuminating Lost Words. I had heard the story on the radio a while back that some nature-related words once familiar to everyone, are becoming unknown to many children. There was quite an outcry when words such as bluebell, acorn, catkin and clover were left out of the Oxford Junior Dictionary in favour of  words such as broadband, analogue and celebrity. As a family we have always spent a lot of time outdoors and teaching our children about the value of nature so I found this rather sad. 

In the article, Jay Armstrong interviewed artist Jackie Morris about a book she worked on with Robert Macfarlane. In this book, which Morris describes as a ‘wild dictionary’, she created the most stunning paintings to illustrate twenty of these words and each is accompanied by an acrostic poem, a ‘word-spell’ by Macfarlane. They are beautiful in their simplicity with each poem and illustration bringing the words vividly to life. [The resulting book is called The Lost Words and was the joint winner of the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year 2017]

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Also included in this edition is a fascinating piece by Wyl Menmuir about caves and their place in folklore and literature, an article about conservation work in Mauritius by Colin Taylor, beautifully illustrated by Lucy Eldridge,  an article about the history of ‘The Green Man’ by stonemason Alex Woodcock, accompanied by atmospheric photographs by Nicholas Hughes and a piece about the genetics and mythology of red hair by Catherine Mitchell. This latter article was something I was especially interested in having a red headed daughter! But there is so much more to discover and savour in Elementum and I urge you to get a copy and see for yourself.

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Elementum is published twice yearly as I mentioned above and can be purchased from the Elementum website. The next edition called Shape will be published in June and will focus on ‘the forces that sculpt our landscape and pattern the stories we tell’. You can buy each edition separately for £15 or buy an annual subscription for £27. You will find details on the website: Elementum

I Will Find You by Daniela Sacerdoti #review @danisacerdoti @headlinepg

I Will Find You (Seal Island 2): The Love Story of the Year that will steal your heart away by [Sacerdoti, Daniela]

I Will Find You is the second in the Seal Island series but the story stands perfectly well on its own. If you have read the first book, Keep Me Safe, you will spot pleasing references to that story. There is also more than a passing reference to Glen Avich, the setting for many of this author’s other books.

There are two stories running in parallel throughout this book and often mirroring each other. In the present Cora, grieving the death of her mother, discovers a key to an box containing an old photograph of her mother, laughing with a friend in front of an unknown house. She is a very intrigued to learn that her mother owned this isolated cottage on the beautiful Seal Island, off the west coast of Scotland. Cora doesn’t know why, but the photo stirs strong emotions in herself and she feels an emotional connection to the island. When she goes there to investigate more, she finds herself drawn to Innes, the bad boy of the island, badly damaged by his childhood experiences. In the historical strand of the story, Margaret is a servant to Lady Dolina and, despite the difference in their social standings, becomes involved with the Laird’s son, Duncan Innes.

There’s something magical about islands and the author conveys this beautifully again in this book. There is the idea of escape as in many of her books, a simpler way of living, away from the rat race of a busy city. There is also the draw, the pull of and connection to the past. Through the stories, the author suggest we are all more strongly linked to our ancestors than we realise, that the past can shape us in the present. Her characters are drawn to places, to people, to their soulmates who keep meeting and parting. There is a call throughout the years.

This author never disappoints, never fails to provide a book to get completely lost in and usually to emerge from with a satisfied and glad heart. However, this time, I couldn’t help but have a bit of melancholy feeling too, as the history of the lovers, the soulmates, kept repeating itself down through the years. You’ll understand what I mean when you read it but I can’t say too much more without giving things away.  Despite this, it’s a book I recommend for its beautiful island imagery, its love stories and its haunting and atmospheric  writing.

My thanks to the publishers for my review copy from Netgalley and to Jenni Leech for inviting me to be part of the tour. I Will Find You is published by Headline and available as an ebook now, currently only 99p. The paperback will be available later this year. You can order a copy online here: I Will Find You

From the back of the book

Two different women, divided by time, bound by fate….

After her beloved mother dies, Cora is heartbroken. When she discovers her mother has left her a cottage – a crumbling shelter on a remote and beautiful Scottish island – Cora hopes that travelling there will help her feel closer to the person she has lost. The moment she arrives on the wild, windswept island of Seal, Cora instantly falls under its spell. She is drawn to Innes, recently returned to the island to confront his past.

As Cora begins to unravel her mother’s connection to Seal, she learns the island has a dark, turbulent history. She is not the first lonely traveller to have sought refuge at Gealach Cottage. And there may be far more to her attraction to Innes than she could have ever imagined…

Daniela Sacerdoti
Picture credit: Josephine Tunney

Daniela Sacerdoti is a phenomenon. Over one million copies of her novels have been sold in eBook, her debut novel Watch Over Me was the eighth bestselling Kindle book of all time in 2015 and she was also ranked as the eleventh top-selling Kindle author.

Daniela writes beautiful, haunting and bestselling fiction for adults (the Glen Avich series), young adults (the Sarah Midnight trilogy) and children. Her novels have been translated in twelve languages.
Daniela was born and raised in Italy. She studied Classics, then lived in Scotland for fourteen years, where she married and taught in a primary school. Daniela’s children’s book Really WeirdRemovals.Com was shortlisted for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards. She has also written for the BBC.
Daniela, her husband and their two sons make their home in a tiny village in the Alps. To discover more about Daniela and her world, visit http://www.danielasacerdoti.com.

Don’t miss the rest of the blogtour

I Will Find You Blog Tour Poster

BookwormJen #BloggerInTheSpotlight @jen_wales

Today I’m featuring another blogger who has answered my Blogger In the Spotlight questions. Jen blogs as BookwormJen and you might recognise the picture above as the header from her blog, complete with a cute knitted bookworm!

Thanks for joining me Jen. First of all can you tell me what books/authors did you enjoy as a child?

I loved books by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. I used to reread The Willow Farm series over and over, I loved reading books about animals. Then when I got older, in my preteens, my reading habits completely changed and I started to read anything supernatural, usually with vampires, or scary books. I loved going to the library every Saturday morning and coming back with a stack of books, I could never leave with just one.

What do you enjoy most about blogging?

For me it’s all about connecting with others and sharing a love of books and reading.

I’ve always loved writing but never thought about starting my own blog. It’s only after I was part of a review panel and then discovered Netgalley that I decided to start a blog and now I’m hooked.

Tell me about your blog – sell yourself!

My blog features reviews of new, upcoming books and old favourites. I often read books outside my comfort zone so it’s not really featuring one specific genre. Once a week I feature a post about writing, which can be my thoughts or advice or just how I’m doing with my writing goals.

What’s your favourite book you’ve reviewed in the past year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose.

The Stranger by Kate Riordan (ARC)- I’ve read all her other books and I love the way that she writes and how riveting her books are. You get so sucked into the characters heads and their world it’s hard to let go when you close the book.

The Stranger: A gripping story of secrets and lies for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and Dear Mrs Bird by [Riordan, Kate]

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs – I love the peculiar world and the story was fast paced and entertaining- I could not put it down. There’s photos in the book that match the story and it’s an intriguing addition.

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by [Riggs, Ransom]

Thin Air by Michelle Paver – This was a tense read, short and quick to read, but it’s one of those books that makes you feel like you’re there and it’s breathtaking and chilling!

Thin Air: The most chilling and compelling ghost story of the year by [Paver, Michelle]

What are you reading just now? 

Too many books, as usual (April 2018)

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, Dead of Winter by Gerri Brightwell and an ARC of A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

                   Shadow of Night: (All Souls 2) (All Souls Trilogy) by [Harkness, Deborah]     A Secret History of Witches by [Morgan, Louisa]

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

The Lord Of The Rings, it’s cheating really because I’d buy the complete three books in one! I always discover something new or something I’d forgotten with each reread and it’s always a delight to read them again.

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

I always worry when they adapt my favourite books, some of them have already been made into films or tv series or they’re in production. I’ve learnt to enjoy the books separate from the film because they don’t always do the books justice, or change too much. It’d be great if someone did a good adaptation of a James Herbert book because I feel that he was and is underrated, when his writing is amazing and his books delightfully scary, and a film would bring his works into the spotlight. Sadly, he’s not around anymore.

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

Blog link: https://bookwormjenblog.wordpress.com/

Twitter handle: @jen_wales

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

Diana Bishop from The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness because she is a strong woman who goes through a lot on her journey. She’s a powerful witch but also relatable and cares a lot about her family. She is an intelligent woman who knows a lot about history and she’s also a professor. I can never remember historical facts although I’ve always had an interest in history, so I’m envious. And I admire her strength and her knowledge of magic and alchemy.

The Book of Life: (All Souls 3) (All Souls Trilogy) by [Harkness, Deborah]

 

Guest post from Rebecca Bradley #DeadBlind #blogtour @rebeccajbradley

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I’m joined by author Rebecca Bradley today. Her latest novel is Dead Blind and is available now. More about that later. She has written a guest post which has links to one of the subjects of her book. You might not want to read it if you are eating your breakfast though!

Things to do with your body when you die

My new novel, Dead Blind, deals with, as well as the main subject of prosopagnosia (face blindness) it also covers the rather difficult subject of organ donation and how few organs there are available for the patients waiting. Because of this situation a black market in the organ trade has sprung up to attempt to fill this void. And desperate people are willing to go to extremes in order to live and other desperate people are willing to donate parts of their own body for a little bit of cash.

So, as this is a blog post and not a dark crime read, let us look at some of the more interesting things you can do with your body, rather than illegally donate parts of it to a black market organ ring – but the caveat is that you have to be dead. There’s no doing any of this while you are alive. Though most of the donation of organs has to happen in death, the kidney for example can come from a live donor.

Back to death and your body…

Some of these will depend on whereabouts in the world you live so if you are interested you will have to Google it to see if your country of origin offers it. But, I assure you, these are all real options.

  1. Donate your body to a medical school.

You will become an important resource for training the medical professionals of the future, or for research purposes. There are strict guidelines around disposal once your body has finished its purpose. In the UK these guidelines can be found on the website of the Human Tissue Authority.

  1. Donate your body to a body farm.

So far this is something that can be done in countries such as the US and Australia but the UK are behind the times as far as forensics are concerned in this area, but last year one university started to lobby to create a body farm here in the UK stating that we face different problems because our ground is not the same as US or Australia. That certain real murders would have been helped if we had had forensic evidence from body farms on body decomposition. So, watch this space to see if the UK will have its very own body farm in the future!

  1. Body plastination.

Yes, you read that correctly. You can have your body plastinated. Water and fat are replaced by certain plastics. BodyWorlds has exhibitions around the world, in the US and Germany to name two, where real people (dead plastinated people) are displayed. They do them on specific themes. For instance, one is on the story of your heart. To check them out, you can go here > https://bodyworlds.com/exhibitions/ (Be aware, I did tell you what this is)

  1. Green burials.

These are most definitely now a thing. The burial and cremation process is highly ecologically unfriendly. So, if you love the planet you can choose to have a very green burial. You can do this partially by going with a green casket in woven willow, or go even greener which isn’t a casket but is just a wrap, blanket or shroud. If you want to go the full green eco-friendly burial trip there are now natural burial sites in most countries reserved for this. Some ground is dug, you are placed in, no box, I’m not sure about the shroud, but then you are covered in dirt. There is no plaque, no headstone, you are left to rot and go back to the earth as natural as it is possible to be. There are small pathways through these fields for families to visit, but no markers. The key word in all of this is natural.

  1. A sea burial.

This one speaks for itself. You may not be aware, but you can do this in the UK and you don’t need to have a connection to maritime life. Though there are only three specific places it can be conducted and a special coffin is required. It is recommended that you scatter your ashes at sea though rather than be buried, it lessens the chance of your body being washed up.

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  1. Cryogenically frozen.

If you believe there is a chance you will come back from the dead with the advancement of medical science you can always choose to be frozen.

  1. Tibetan Sky Burial.

In Tibet, you are placed on the top of a large hill and left for the birds to pick over you.

  1. Diamonds last forever.

Now your ashes can be made into a host of objects. One is a diamond. Maybe your loved ones want to wear you close or have you displayed over the fireplace.

 

9. Fireworks

Go out with a bang!

  1. Mixed into tattoo ink.

You never have to leave your loved one. Ever.

So, anyone changed their minds on what they want to do when they die now they’ve read this? 

It’s certainly given me food for thought Rebecca – who knew there was so much you could do after you’ve gone?!

 

Dead Blind by [Bradley, Rebecca]
How do you identify a ruthless killer when you can’t even recognise your own face in a mirror? Returning to work following an accident, Detective Inspector Ray Patrick refuses to disclose he now lives with face blindness – an inability to recognise faces.As Ray deceives his team he is pulled into a police operation that targets an international trade in human organs. And when he attempts to bring the organisation down, Ray is witness to a savage murder. But it’s a killer he will never remember.The pressure mounts as Ray attempts to keep his secret and solve the case alone. With only his ex-wife as a confidant, he feels progressively isolated.Can he escape with his career and his life intact?

Order your copy online here:  mybook.to/DeadBlind  – this is a geo link and will take you to the Amazon site of the country you live in. 

Catch up with Rebecca on social media and her website.