#LongHand

Malcolm George Galbraith is a large, somewhat clumsy, Scotsman. He’s being forced to leave the woman he loves behind and needs to explain why.

So he leaves her a handwritten note on the kitchen table (well, more a 300-page letter than a note). In it, Malcolm decides to start from the beginning and tell the whole story of his long life, something he’s never dared do before.

Because Malcolm isn’t what he seems: he’s had other names and lived in other places. A lot of other places. As it gathers pace, Malcolm’s story combines tragedy, comedy, mystery, a touch of leprosy, several murders, a massacre, a ritual sacrifice, an insane tyrant, two great romances, a landslide, a fire, and a talking fish.

First of all lets start with what an amazing achievement Andy Hamilton has made by is handwriting every page of this book in neat italics in a bid to save handwriting, It really added to my reading experience and was definitely worth the 43 pens it took him to do!

On to the story line, I have to say it was not at all what I was expecting at all but I was pleasantly surprised at the story that unfolded. From this synopsis I expected this to be a modern day murder mystery type trail but it was actually the story of Heracles, written in first person, as a goodbye/explanation letter to his wife. Had I been up on my historical references. like my friend Jes, then apparently its very obvious as each of the events in the synopsis denote an famous story about Heracles!

This was a humours look into the life of a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus, know for his strength and his numerous far-ranging adventures. I really liked the aspect of him writing this to his wife as you get little apologies and reasoning’s for his behaviour through out and particularly enjoyed the ‘nearest English equivalent translations’, my favourite being ‘penis-harbour’.

Overall I think this is a fun spin on the antics of Heracles and will hopefully encourage people to learn more and re-invoke the love of handwriting!

Thank you to @unbounders & @randomttours for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Andy Hamilton is a comedy writer, performer and director. He regularly appears on the BBC TV panel shows Have I Got News for You and on Radio 4’s News Quiz and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. His television writing credits include Outnumbered, Drop the Dead Donkey, Not the Nine O’Clock News, Trevor’s World of Sport, Ballot Monkeys, Power Monkeys and many others. He also cocreated the movie What We Did On Our Holiday. For twenty years he has played Satan in the Radio 4 comedy Old Harry’s Game, which he also writes.

#Spirited

A beautifully haunting and atmospheric historical novel about three brave women with unspeakable truths – perfect for fans of The Binding, Once Upon A River and The Familiars.

Three women carry unspeakable truths in their heart. At what cost will they find their freedom?

In Victorian England, Viola is an amateur photographer struggling with the grief of her father’s death and the sterile atmosphere of her marriage to her childhood friend, Jonah. When she discovers a talent for capturing ghostly images on camera, Viola comes to the attention of a spirit medium, and a powerful attraction between the two women is sparked… As each woman puts herself at risk, secrets are brought to light that will change their lives forever.

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters Cohen exploresthemes of sexuality, gender and prejudice, firmly establishing her as one of our best storytellers.

This story follows the lives of three individuals who are lonely and lost and takes us on a journey of finding love and acceptance.

Recently married, childhood sweethearts, Violet and Jonah have recently moved to the country to try and get over the loss of her father. Before they were married Jonah spent time in India and Violet feels he has come back changed and now feels lonelier than ever with her father gone and her husband acting like a stranger.

Then a well know spirit medium arrives in town and she sees that Jonah is hiding something from his new wife.

I was initially unsure about the spiritual element but I actually really enjoyed it and ended up flying through this book. The women in it were both strong and capable and so perfect for each other.

This is great piece of historical fiction that I really felt immersed in and I really liked the pieces of old text at the end of the chapters. If your a fan of historical fiction reads like the familiars then this is definitely one you are going to want to pick up!

Thank you to @orionbooks and @randomttours for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for the Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold over a million copies; DEAR THING and TOGETHER were Richard and Judy Book Club picks. Her most recent novel is the critically acclaimed LOUIS & LOUISE. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

You can find Julie on Twitter: @julie_cohen or you can visit her website: http://www.julie-cohen.com.

#TheStrangeAdventuresofH

Orphaned young, H is sent to live with her doting aunt in London. H s life is a happy one until her lecherous cousin robs her of her innocence, and the plague takes away the city and the people she loves. H is cast out friendless, pregnant and destitute into the rapidly emptying streets of London under quarantine.

Forced to fend for herself, she is determined to gain back the life she lost. H will face a villain out for revenge, find love in the most unexpected places, and overcome a betrayal that she never could have foreseen. Weathering it all, can H charm, or scheme, her way to the life of freedom and independence that she longs for?

Published by Legend Press on 1st May 2020, 272 Pages

The Strange Adventures of H is the rags-to-riches story of a sharp young woman who loses everything in the 1665 Great Plague of London and, fuelled by an indomitable will to thrive, must build herself back up from nothing. Armed with a ferocious intellect, a quick wit and unabashed ambition, H plots to conquer her foes, sidestep the restrictions of society, and forge a new life for herself and those she’s learned to love. The Strange Adventures of H is funny, shocking, tragic and emotionally captivating.

This book touches on lost of serious topics such as loss of loved ones, prostitution, survival, prejudice and each topic was written extremely well. From the topics covered this could have been a very serious and sad novel and whilst it was definitely sad in parts, the author had a wonderful way of writing H’s character with a sense of humour and hope which actually made it fun!⁣

I loved the writing about how the city of London was hit by not one but two tragedies and then ensuing descriptions of people building their lives back up afterwards.⁣

Thanks to @Legend_Press for my #gifted copy of such a brilliant book

#TheseLostAndBrokenThings

Maiden-Mother-Murderer

How dangerous is a woman with nothing left to lose?

The year is 1905. London is a playground for the rich and a death trap for the poor. When Sofia Logan’s husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her penniless with two young children, she knows she will do anything to keep them from the workhouse. But can she bring herself to murder? Even if she has done it before…

Emmet Vinsant, wealthy industrialist, offers Sofia a job in one of his gaming houses. He knows more about Sofia’s past than he has revealed. Brought up as part of a travelling fair, she’s an expert at counting cards and spotting cheats, and Vinsant puts her talents to good use. His demands on her grow until she finds herself with blood on her hands.

Set against the backdrop of the Suffragette protests, with industry changing the face of the city but disease still rampant, and poverty the greatest threat of all, every decision you make is life or death. Either yours or someone else’s. Read best-selling crime writer Helen Fields’ first explosive historical thriller.

I am a massive fan of this author and when the chance to review this came up I knew I wanted in!

I picked it up and was hooked with in pages, it was clear who the characters where and what was going on and I was immersed in Sofia’s world immediately. I like that it flipped from the current time to her childhood to explain her past and how she became the woman she was.

This is a great piece of historical fiction for those who like a gritty read with a interesting storyline. The descriptions are detailed and meaty and not for the faint hearted!!!

I recommend it as much as I recommend all her books and look forward to reading more historical fiction from her in the future.

Thank you to @lovebookstours for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Check out my review of some of Helen’s other work here

An international and Amazon #1 best-selling author, Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister. Every book in the Callanach series claimed an Amazon #1 bestseller flag. Her next book, the sixth in the series, ‘Perfect Kill’ is due out on 6 February 2020. Helen also writes as HS Chandler, and last year released legal thriller ‘Degrees of Guilt’. Her previous audio book ‘Perfect Crime’ knocked Michelle Obama off the #1 spot. Translated into 15 languages, and also selling in the USA, Canada & Australasia, Helen’s books have won global recognition. Her first historical thriller ‘These Lost & Broken Things’ comes out in May 2020. A further standalone thriller published by HarperColllins will come soon. She currently commutes between Hampshire, Scotland and California, where she lives with her husband and three children. Helen can be found on Twitter @Helen_Fields for up to date news and information or at www.helenfields.co.uk.

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/2vH4aX2

#Hamnet

A stunning new departure for Maggie O’Farrell’s fiction, Hamnet is the heart-stopping story behind Shakespeare’s most famous play.

On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; a flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

Published by Tinder Press on 31st March 2020, 352 Pages

This is the story of Shakespeare’s wife, her past, how she became his wife, the story of their children and how they contracted the plague.

This story shines a light on one of the many forgotten women in history and I love the way it flips history on its head to make Shakespeare the inconsequential character, so much so that he is never even named within the book, instead he is referred to as brother, husband, father etc.

It is the story of grief told in the most, raw, descriptive lyrical style steeped in copious period detail. The tale of passage of the flea that brought the disease to the family was utterly captivating. I will not be able to hear of Hamlet without thinking of this tale now.

O’Farrell has a magical way with words, she completely transported me in the time and life of her characters and the way she writes maternal love (in this and in her memoir, I am Iam I am) is incredible! ⁣This was a fantastic piece of historical fiction and I would be very surprised if it didn’t make the women’s prize short list.⁣

Thanks to @annecater and @TinderPress for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Maggie O’Farrell is the author of seven novels, AFTER YOU’D GONE, MY LOVER’S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award, and THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award. Maggie has also written a memoir, I AM, I AM, I AM. She lives in Edinburgh.

#ThePhilosophersDaughter

4th April 2020

A tale of two very different sisters whose 1890s voyage from London into remote outback Australia becomes a journey of self-discovery, set against a landscape of wild beauty and savage dispossession. 

London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. 

After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters’ lives are changed forever. 

Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. 

Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life’s work or to devote herself to painting. 

When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. 

Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life. 

Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. 

But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand who is seeking revenge.

This is a fantastic piece of historical fiction infused with family drama. The Australian setting is beautifully described and really drew me into the story.

I really liked that this was based around the lives of woman as so often books from this time period focus on men. It was brilliant to see each of the woman’s lives and how they dealt with the issues life hit them with and also to see their bond as sisters.

The book covers many topics such as the appalling treatment of the indigenous people and the lack of rights for women really well and encourages the reader to think.

Looking forward to reading more of the authors work!

Thank you to @annecater and @reddoorbooks for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Her ancestors came to Australia from England and Scotland at the end of the 1800s, before Federation in 1901. Indeed, in 1891, when the novel starts, 32% of the Australian population were born overseas, mostly in the UK. Alison grew up fascinated by the thought that Australia once comprised small colonies, teetering on the edge of the vast continent, and wanted in this new novel to travel back in time to view it through the eyes of two strong young women. The tales of Alison’s late father, Norman Booth, about his years in the Northern Territory also awakened her interest in the Northern Territory.
Her debut novel, Stillwater Creek, was Highly Commended in the 2011 ACT Book of the Year Award, and afterwards published in Reader’s Digest Select Editions in Asia and in Europe. Alison’s other novels are The Indigo
Sky (2011), A Distant Land (2012), and A Perfect Marriage (2018).
Alison is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Australian National University (https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/booth-al). In November 2019, Alison was made Fellow of the Econometric Society, a prestigious international society for the advancement of economic theory in its relation to statistics and mathematics.

#OnWilderSeas

Monday 30th March 2020

THE WOMAN ON THE GOLDEN HIND

April 1579: When two ships meet off the Pacific coast of New Spain, an enslaved woman seizes the chance to escape.

But Maria has unwittingly joined Francis Drake’s circumnavigation voyage and he’s about to set sail on a secret detour to find the fabled Anian Straits in the far north.


Sailing into danger, fog and ice on the Golden Hind, a lone woman among eighty men, Maria will be tested to the very limits of her endurance. It will take all her wits to survive – and courage to cut the ties that bind her to Drake to pursue her own journey. How far will Maria go to be truly free? Inspired by a true story, this is the tale of one woman’s uncharted voyage of survival.

On Wilder Seas is a speculative historical novel inspired by the true story of Maria, the only woman aboard the Golden Hind during Francis Drake’s circumnavigation voyage. As Drake’s secret mission takes the ship into the Arctic north, Maria’s world opens up and she makes a bid for true freedom.

Published by Legend Press on 16th March 2020, 308 pages

Based on the true story of Maria, a woman erased from the history books. Nikki has spent 10 years researching the novel which really shows in this fantastically descriptive book. If you enjoy historical fiction and tales of strong woman that history forgot then this is for you.

Thanks to Legend Press for my copy in exchange for review

Nikki has been shortlisted for Myriad Editions First Draft Competition and the Historical Novel Society’s New Novel Award. Nikki lives in Amersham with her husband and three children. She previously worked as a journalist at Incisive Media.

Twitter @nikkimarmery

#ChildrenOfWar

29th March 2020

Hassanakis is a young Muslim boy of Turkish descent growing up on Crete during WWI. 

Fifteen generations of his family have lived on the island and until now he has never had any reason not to think he is a Cretan. 

But with the Great Powers tussling over the collapsing Ottoman Empire and the island’s Christians in rebellion, an outbreak of ethnic violence forces his family to flee to the Cretan City of Chania. 

He begins to lay down roots and his snappy dress earns him the nickname of Hassan ‘the mirror’. As WWI draws to a close and the Turkish War of Independence rages, he begins a heady romance with the elegant Hüsniye. 

There are rumours that the Cretan Muslims will be sent to Turkey but Hassanakis can’t believe he will be sent to a country whose language he barely knows and where he knows no-one. 

This powerful novel drawn from the diary of a refugee family evokes the beauty, complexity and trauma of Crete’s past and weaves it into a moving tale of an ordinary man living through extraordinary times.

Published by Neem Tree Press on 26th March 2020, 140 pages

Children of War Giveaway
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Thanks to @annecater and @NeemTreePress

Ahmet Yorulmaz was a Turkish a journalist, author and translator. He was born in Ayvalik to a family of Cretan Turks deported to mainland Turkey as part of the Greek-Turkish population exchange decreed in the Treaty of Lausanne. He was fluent in modern Greek and translated novels and poems from contemporary Greek literature to Turkish. Most of his original works were written with the aim of making people learn about Ayvalık, the city where he grew up. He dedicated himself to Greek-Turkish friendship and rapprochement.

#ThisLovelyCity

The drinks are flowing. The music is playing. But the party can’t last.

With the Blitz over and London reeling from war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Fresh off the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door.

Touring Soho’s music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home – and it’s alive with possibility. Until, one morning, he makes a terrible discovery.

As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And, before long, the newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart.

Published by on the Harper Collins on the 12th March 2020, 400 pages, approx 14 Hours

Laurie has come over to England from Jamaica thinking he would be able to make his fortune only to find that the county that claimed to be so desperate for workers, in fact, only wanted white men. Evie, who has been the only person of colour in her area for as long as she can remember, is excited by the arrival of windrush as ‘she was no longer the odd one out’. The two meet and fall in love but as always things are never straight forward…

I found this utterly captivating, moving and thought provoking. In essence it is a post war murder mystery with a romantic element. The setting was described in such vivid detail that I could really picture it and I found the dual perspective engaging. Some parts were hard to listen to as it was upsetting think of how badly people were treated when they had just come here in the hope of making a better life for themselves.

The audio was brilliantly done and I would listen to more books narrated by Theo SolomonKarise Yansen and there was beautiful jazz music played between each chapter which really added to the time.

This author is definitely one to watch and one I will be adding to my auto-buy list.

Thanks to @LouRHare, @Joe_thomas25 and @HQStories

Louise Hare is a London-based writer and has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University of London. Originally from Warrington, the capital is the inspiration for much of her work, including this lovely city, which began after a trip to the deep level shelter below Clapham Common.

#TheOperator

10th March 2020

It’s 1952. The switchboard operators in Wooster, Ohio, love nothing more than to eavesdrop on their neighbours’ conversations, and gossip about what they learn.

Vivian Dalton is no different (despite her teenage daughter’s disapproval), and always longs to hear something scandalous. But on the night of December 15th, she wishes she hadn’t. The secret that’s shared by a stranger on the line threatens to rip the rug of Vivian’s life from under her.

Vivian may be mortified, but she’s not going to take this lying down. She wants the truth, no matter how painful it may be. But one secret tends to lead to another . . .

This moving, heart-felt and ultimately uplifting novel brilliantly weaves together an irresistible portrayal of a town buzzing with scandal, and an unforgettable story of marriage, motherhood and the unbreakable ties of family.

Published by Headline on 10 March 2020, Contemporary Fiction, 352 pages

This is the story of Vivian, her family and some of the other people in her small town, where everyone knows everyone’s business especially since the women that work on the switch board listen into other peoples telephone conversations!

I enjoyed that there were lots of little stories woven in to the main characters tale and that these all connected in someway throughout.

This book really reminded me of an episode of revenge (you all remember that TV show from 2011 right, with Emily Thorne in?) just without the murders. I kept thinking I had it all figured out and then what I thought was going to happen over 100+ pages was revealed over the next 5 or 6 pages which then had me mystified as to where it was going and this happened several times throughout the book!

I did find this rather slow but by no means was it less enjoyable, it just wasn’t one that I wanted to sit and devour in one go.

Thanks to Random Things Blog Tours – Anne Carter & Headline

Gretchen Berg grew up in the US Midwest and now lives in Oregon. She has always been curious about history and family dynamics, and has a personal family tree of over 16,000 people. Her family research started with her own grandmother’s little brown notebook full of details, and it was the story of her grandmother – herself a switchboard operator in Wooster, Ohio, in the 1950’s – that inspired this book and partly provides an authenticity to the narrative.

THE OPERATOR is her astonishingly accomplished first novel with a vibrant narrative full of brilliantly portrayed characters, surprise plot twists, and a deftly handled exploration of the issues of class and race relations in 1950’s America.