The Reading Party – Blog Tour

The Reading Party Blog Tour poster.jpg

It is the 1970s and Oxford’s male institutions are finally opening their doors to women. Sarah Addleshaw – young, spirited and keen to prove her worth – begins the term as the first female academic at her college. She is, in fact, its only female ‘Fellow’.

Impulsive love affairs – with people, places and the ideas in her head – beset Sarah throughout her first exhilarating year as a don, but it is the Reading Party that has the most dramatic impact.

Asked to accompany the first mixed group of students on the annual retreat in Cornwall, Sarah finds herself illicitly drawn to one of them, the suave American Tyler. Torn between professional integrity and personal feelings, she faces her biggest challenge to date.

A fresh view of Oxford, seen through the eyes of a young woman historian appointed to a male college in 1976, who tells her own story with wit and feeling in this original and charming novel.

In 1992 I went on a Reading Retreat to a beautiful house in Glenesk called The Burn a  stunning Mansion House used by the English Dept of St Andrews University where I was an undergraduate student. This was an absolutely unforgettable four days for many reasons – and this was one of the reasons that I was so excited when Anne Cater invited me to participate in this blog tour for Fenella Gentleman’s new novel.

home-01

Visit The Burn Website here

I was totally intrigued by the premise of this novel and keen to immerse myself in this intense world by reading about it after experiencing this situation for myself so many years ago. It was interesting to read about the experiences of a woman being appointed as a  new Tutor in the very male-dominated world of academia in the 1970s; there are so many issues of equality and female experiences of closed worlds that still remain relevant so many years later. It’s tempting to see the 50’s as ancient history for young people today, but it’s quite alarming how little had altered by my experiences in the 90’s – and how much young women today might find resonant.

I enjoy books in ‘closed’ settings and this book is closed in both senses – it’s a single week
and a closed group of people, all thrown together in the week during which this reading party takes place: I also enjoyed the sense that this is a momentous week for so many of them – a week that alters things for nearly all of the people who take part in this academic retreat.

The Reading Party is set in gorgeous Cornwall, rather than rural Aberdeenshire like the retreat I went on – but there were so many things that really struck a chord. Both weeks allocated specific time for study but also time to enjoy the countryside and group tasks to bring people together, so what you get out of the experience is so much more than academic.  This was like my experience as being away from the structured environment of the university changed everything. It was interesting to see this experience from the other side of the table: witnessing the experience from the perspective of an academic rather than a student. Fenella Gentleman is a sensitive and articulate writer who has created a cast of characters that are wholly believable and interact very naturally with one another. I loved the character of Sarah, who has to evolve in front of our eyes as she tries to survive her first year in a job where being a woman is definitely more of a setback than a perk…

I really liked Sarah. She is able to be herself despite being presented with an alien social group that she has to navigate carefully if she wants to ‘survive’ – I loved hearing her internal deliberations and I think that this is one of the ways that Gentleman allows us to connect with Sarah so successfully. Who wouldn’t sympathise with that feeling of hesitation about ‘…how to pass the various decanters’ without looking like you just don’t fit in? It’s not just a question of gender, there are allegiances, social class and group dynamics to carefully navigate – it’s quite the tightrope act and Gentleman’s deft characterisation ensures that we are walking alongside Sarah every step of the way.

Sarah was easy for me to connect with – I liked all of her character traits as she is clever, compassionate and also determined to succeed which made her a much more interesting person, in my opinion. You will be intrigued to see how she copes and adapts to this ‘brave new world’ as the novel progresses and I think you’ll feel that she deserves to succeed as she does not let the setbacks she encounters deter her from feeling like being there is her right as a faculty member and hoping that her quietly dignified approach wins the day.

Even though I really connected with the precise situation that Sarah found herself in, I definitely think that you don’t have to have been on an academic retreat to enjoy this book.  It is still possible for readers to feel a genuine connection with the situation that Sarah found herself in, regardless of your own profession or set of circumstances. Who hasn’t felt like a fish out of water? Who hasn’t understood the right way to fit in – or felt judged for things that are totally outwith their control? For all of these reasons, Sarah’s situation is a very easy one to identify with and I know that many readers will engage with her refreshing take on being an ‘outsider’ in a very close-knit and well-established group. I didn’t want it to end – I wanted to relive my reading retreat experience forever…

I recommend this book to anyone who likes a compelling read with well-drawn characters where the historical period is lovingly recreated and the first-person narration lets you totally immerse yourself in that time and place. I loved reading about Sarah’s experience and it provoked a fabulous trip down memory lane for me as well as a fantastic and thought-provoking read.

 

The Reading Party was published by Muswell Press in  June 2018.

Thanks to the publishers and  Anne Cater for asking me to join the blog tour and for the advance copy.

DdKQJc9XUAAq-tb.jpg

Writer On The Shelf

Fenella Gentleman studied PPE at Wadham College, Oxford, when it went mixed. She participated in two reading parties in Cornwall. After graduating she worked in publishing, before moving into marketing and communications in the professions. She lives in London and North Norfolk.

 

You can find Fenella on Twitter here!

She is great company on Twitter and very supportive of her fellow authors too.

Fenella Author picture.jpg

Advertisements

Deep Blue – Blog Tour Extract

Absolutely delighted to share this extract with you from Kristy McCaffrey from her novel Deep Blue.

If you are heading for the sun this summer, it’d be a great each read – just don’t pack a yellow lilo – Jaws fans will KNOW 🙂

 

In the deep blue ocean lives an ancient predator…

Dr. Grace Mann knows great white sharks. As the daughter of an obsessed shark researcher based at the Farallon Islands, Grace spent her childhood in the company of these elegant and massive creatures. When a photo of her freediving with a great white goes viral, the institute where she works seeks to capitalize on her new-found fame by producing a documentary about her work.

Underwater filmmaker Alec Galloway admires Dr. Mann and jumps at the opportunity to create a film showcasing the pretty biologist. As he heads to Guadalupe Island in Baja California Sur for a three-week expedition, it’s clear that his fan-boy crush on Grace is turning into something more serious. But even more pressing—Grace’s passionate focus on the sharks just might get her killed.

deep blue.jpgToo much food made diving difficult, so she’d get the majority of her calories at the end of the day. She gazed out the window of the salon at the flaming yellow ball cresting the horizon, biding her time until they could deploy the buoys or until a shark showed up. As she booted up her computer, her eyes kept landing on Guadalupe Island, sitting right at their front doorstep.

The ever-present grin took control of her mouth once again.

Someone let out a whoop. Grace sipped her coffee, her belly somewhat filled from half a bagel slathered with a thin layer of cream cheeseGrace slammed her coffee down and dashed out of the salon.

Tony stood on the upper deck with Missy and Stephie, leaning over the railing and pointing. “We’ve got a shark!”

Grace spun around and smacked into Alec. “Sorry.” His hands steadied her, but she ducked around him, leaning into the salon and grabbing the binoculars on the desk. She looped them around her neck and bolted outside, running down a set of stairs and to the fore of the boat. Alec was already on the pulpit that jutted over the water, a small handheld video camera capturing the ruckus. Grace came up behind him, scanning the water.

“There!” Tony yelled.

Grace concentrated on where Tony was pointing. A dark mass swam just under the surface, creating a sizable wake. The nearly black torpedo-shaped fish rose higher, and its skin revealed cobalt and turquoise hues against the blue sea. Grace’s heart pounded. She laughed aloud, shaking with giddiness. All her imaginings didn’t compare to that first moment when she spied these formidable and extraordinary creatures.

She brought the binoculars to her eyes. The dorsal fin—an object of terror for an entire generation raised on Jaws—broke the surface as the shark moved parallel to the boat and toward her and Alec’s position.

She squealed with delight.

“Old friend?” Alec said.

“I’m checking.”

“It’s the Professor,” Tony bellowed.

Grace studied the jagged edges of the dorsal fin, but it wasn’t until she saw a notch missing in his caudal fin that she agreed with her graduate student.

“We first saw him last year,” she said for Alec’s benefit.

“He looks to be about fifteen feet.”

She nodded. “He’s a beauty. We frequently caught him in the company of two females. We called them Mary Ann and Ginger, but they usually chased him off.”

“From what I hear, the females do seem to dominate around here.”

The Professor glided beneath the narrow walkway that held them. They both whirled to the other side.

Grace kept the shark dead-center in the binocular eyepiece as it swam away, awe swelling her chest, increasing the pounding of her heart. “They’re so powerful. It’s breathtaking really.”

“So, did you ever find out?” he asked.

“What’s that?” She strained to keep the Professor in her sights as he glided farther away from the boat, finally disappearing.

“Who he preferred—Ginger or Mary Ann.”

She let the binoculars dangle around her neck and looked at him, taking a deep breath as the excitement of the moment dissipated. “It was hard to tell. Maybe we’ll solve that puzzle this time.”

“My money’s on Mary Ann,” Alec said.

“Nah,” Double D said from behind them. He’d obviously heard their conversation. “If the Professor is the stud I think he is, then he’ll definitely go for the flashier woman.”

Amusement danced in Alec’s eyes. “Too much work. A man prefers his woman to be more down-to-earth.”

“Depends what you want that woman for.”

 

Copyright © 2018 K. McCaffrey LLC

 

Writer on the Shelf

KristyMcCaffrey.CostaRica2.jpg

When I was a little girl growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona, I would frequently narrate my life to myself inside my head. I enjoyed this shift into a third person point-of-view. Perhaps it was the feeling of control it instilled, but it also helped my young mind process the daily grind of my life. I also had an overwhelming compulsion to write. I have boxes of diaries from my youth as evidence.

My mother was a voracious reader, so I spent my teenage years snatching books from her nightstand. During that time, her tastes ran to science fiction and fantasy. I had a steady diet of Anne McCaffrey (no relation), Marion Zimmer Bradley, Piers Anthony, and Roger Zelazney. I was also deeply enamored of King Arthur. I fell in love with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and was fascinated by the twists and turns of Wuthering Heights, but I really didn’t read romances until I was a young married woman living a few thousand miles from home. My husband and I didn’t have much money back then, so I would walk to the nearby library and read whatever bodice-rippers happened to be on the shelf. Despite some of the cheesy covers, I quickly fell in love with the rich storylines and surprisingly well-drawn characters. It became obvious, later, that these were the kind of stories I wanted to write.

I studied engineering in college. There are no engineers in my family (my dad is an accountant and my mom a glass artist/teacher) but I was drawn to it for two reasons. One, I liked math and my high school calculus teacher always spoke so excitedly about the relationship between math and the world around us. Two, I wanted to make my dad proud by being an independent woman with a good job. Starting salaries for engineers aren’t too shabby. Funny thing is, I’ve never worked as an engineer except for a few summer internships at Motorola. My most intense engineering endeavor was my thesis while earning a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. I designed a computer model that tracked heat damage inflicted when removing orthodontic brackets from dinosaur teeth. No, not really dinosaur teeth. One of my coefficients was incorrect and I inadvertently designed giant teeth instead of small, human ones. When I discovered my error, I was quite embarrassed and processed it by sobbing and eating an entire box of chocolate doughnuts. The debacle cost me an extra semester at school, but I did finally graduate.

When my husband and I began our family, we both agreed that it was important to have a parent at home, and I jumped at the chance to spend all my days with my children. It was a real blessing. However, I soon felt the urge to stretch myself, to work my brain a bit, and it wasn’t engineering I desired to do but writing. So, with four children under the age of five underfoot, I penned my first manuscript. Suffice it to say, there were many stops and starts, and many a rewrite, but that story eventually became The Wren, which was published in 2003.

I’ve written a few more books since, and have learned, and continue to learn, the art of writing, the way my own process unfolds, and the fun and hair-pulling aspects of marketing and promotion. I credit the unwavering support of my husband for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream, because it took me ten years to support my writing career.

And now, a few random and fun facts about me:

My favorite movie of all time is Star Wars. I’ve seen it well over 60 times.

When I was young, I wanted to be (in no particular order): a theoretical physicist, a meteorologist, or a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader.

My dream job after college was to work for Lucasfilm and do sound design for movies (but I opted for children instead).

In college, I was President of the local chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at Arizona State University.

I had a huge love of “Flash Gordon” starring Sam J. Jones. (The movie “Ted” and the homage to Jones really cracked me up.)

During college, I fought a bull while in Mexico for Spring Break. (I survived unscathed, but scared out of my wits. The girl after me didn’t fare so well and had to be taken to the hospital with a broken ankle.)

I met my husband in German class at ASU when I was 18.

I’m not very fluent in German. (Maybe because I was distracted by that cute boy sitting behind me?)

As a child, I had over 20 pen pals from all over the world. I’m still in touch with one—we’re Facebook friends.

I bummed through Europe with my boyfriend (who later became my husband). We slept on boat decks and train station floors, lugging packs from England to Belgium to Germany to Italy and finally to the Greek Isles. Do this while you’re young.

I’m still gripped with wanderlust and have also traveled to Argentina, Peru, China, Turkey, Scotland, Ireland, and my favorite trip to date—interacting with gray whales in Baja, Mexico.

What’s on my bucket list? Swimming with humpbacks in either the Dominican Republic or Tonga; great white shark cage-diving at Guadalupe Island (Baja, Mexico); visiting an obscure collection of islands in the Central Pacific called Kiribati; Kathmandu; and gorgeous and remote Mongolia.

My overall dream? Grow old with my husband, try my best to release my children into the world (it’s hard to disengage those mommy tentacles), and keep writing the next damned book that won’t let me alone.

If you have any questions regarding this website, you may contact me using the information below.

Kristy McCaffrey
c/o K. McCaffrey LLC
P.O. Box 25293
Scottsdale, AZ  85255
United States

kristy@kristymccaffrey.com

Mine by Susi Fox Blog Tour

@Deaco89

Mine Blog Tour.jpg

You wake up alone after an emergency caesarean, desperate to see your child. And when you are shown the small infant in the nursery, a terrible thought takes root: this baby is not your baby.

No one believes you. Not the nurses, your father or even your own husband. They say you’re confused and delusional. Dangerous.

But you’re a doctor – you know how easily mistakes can be made. It’s up to you to find your real child, your miracle baby, before it’s too late.

With everyone against you, is it safe to trust your instincts? Or are memories from your past clouding your judgement? This can’t all be in your head . . . can it?

It’s anyone’s worst nightmare, isn’t it? Knowing the truth and being unable to make other people believe what you’re telling them. It’s one of those dreams that haunts you the whole of the next day and I think that’s why I got so engrossed in this book. A good read often works because it taps into something in your psyche and scares you because you recognise that feeling –  and Susi Fox has definitely pulled this off with aplomb in Mine 

I loved the name of this novel and I felt that it really managed to convey something of the darkness at its heart. As well as a plaintive cry of possession for her tiny daughter that she is now told doesn’t exist, a mine is a dark and lonely space, below ground level where you are cut off from the rest of humanity – and this is very much how it feels for Sasha as this novel progresses.

800px-Sleeping_newborn_infant-340x227

This is a deft and captivating debut novel that knows how to play on our primal fears and exploits them very skilfully indeed. Sasha’s years of trying unsuccessfully to have a baby make her plight all the more devastating as she is left with a son she feels has usurped her daughter’s place and feeling like nobody believes her. Sasha’s medical background means that she is all too aware that your mind can do strange things once you’ve given birth, nevertheless she is adamant that this is not her baby and all the more determined to be heard.

Sasha and Dan’s relationship is also convincingly drawn and their long journey towards parenthood sympathetically described by Susi Fox. The narrative structure of this novel means that you are constantly questioning the information you’ve been given. Is the narrator telling you the truth – or merely the truth as they see it? Switching from the present day, within the confines of the hospital to their past and fertility treatment is a very effective method for making us question Sasha, even as we sympathise with her because of the situation she believes herself to be in.

I found myself wondering who was behind this elaborate switch and how it would all unravel as the book sped towards its conclusion – and then switching to thinking that maybe they were all right and it was all in Sasha’s head. Still, no spoilers, so you’ll just have to read Mine for yourself in order to find out the truth…

Mine is a dark, unsettling and gripping read that keeps you guessing right up until the end. It poses interesting questions about what we call ‘instinct’ and how much we should trust it, even when all of the evidence would point to the contrary. I enjoyed its strong narrative voice and the fact that it definitely held my interest throughout a sunny May afternoon. I devoured it in one sitting in my refurbished garden and think you’ll definitely love it too if you pack it in your case as one of your summer reads over the next few months.

19149140_10207758118224643_7547070818763164443_n

 

To learn more about the author of Mine, Susi Fox visit her website here

Writer on the Shelf

328x328.jpeg

Susi is a GP and writer of medical thrillers.

Her short stories have been published in Farrago, Visible Ink, The Medical Journal of Australia, page seventeen and Star Observer and have received various awards and shortlistings.​

She lives in the Macedon Ranges with her family and is completing an Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT while writing her next novel and working part-time as a GP.

The Old You – A new read!

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together.

Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words.

As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble. 
But is it Ed s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

unnamed (2).jpg

There is nothing better than having a brand new Orenda book land on your doormat, particularly on a hot weekend when you know that you’ll be able to lie on a lounger and dedicate serious hours of sunny reading to it. This was my very fortunate position when the newest Louise Voss novel, The Old You arrived in the post and it made me feel doubly lucky to be able to kick back and enjoy it in the middle of the hottest May since weather records began…

 

It had been a while since I’d fully immersed myself in a stunning slice of domestic noir and I felt like I enjoyed this novel all the more as my palate had been cleansed and I was so in the mood for it. I’m not sure whether other people get like this or not – I definitely go on genre sprees and can get saturated in one particular type of writing. I’ve been a fan of Louise Voss since reading Catch your Death where she performed a stunning literary duet with Mark Edwards and The Old You was the perfect way to reconnect with her skilful characterisation and deft plotting.

We share Lyn’s utter shock when the love of her life, Ed is suddenly diagnosed with Pick’s disease which is a very rare form of dementia. The distress and confusion which affected her after his diagnosis is fabulously drawn and really gives an insight into the way that dementia can turn life as you know it totally upside down. The skilful way that Voss has structured this novel means that we are just as unsettled as Lyn is when, as well as the changes that happen as a result of Ed’s condition odd and unsettling things begin to happen and we are never really sure whether to blame Ed’s actions  or Lyn’s paranoia for the situation which slowly unfolds.

So many books nowadays are labelled as pageturners that it’s such an amazing feeling when you’re presented with a book that is the genuine article. The Old You definitely keeps its readers on their toes and we are constantly forced to consider who exactly we can trust in Voss’ intriguing and compelling novel. Is the ‘real’ Ed the man Lyn fell in love with, a man whose personality and character is being eroded daily by this dreadful illness or is the angry and aggressive man who she now finds herself married to the real Ed, who is being slowly unmasked as his illness becomes more pronounced?

Ed’s memory is a fabulous vehicle to explore the changes in the dynamics of a marriage faced with a serious health condition. Lyn is constantly wrestling with a deep-seated feeling of unease about Ed’s actions – she can’t square the circle of whether it is Ed or her own suspicious mind that is causing her to feel so on edge and this is a fabulous way of keeping the readers on their toes. We are constantly drip-fed new information, but not enough to totally un-muddy the waters in this fiendishly clever tale. I enjoyed the feeling of disorientation which ensued and was delighted to be able to sun myself in the garden wondering exactly how far I could trust Lyn’s perception of events and trying to work out where Voss would end up taking us.

Lynn and Ed’s past only reveals itself to us slowly and this is one of the main reasons that this plot was so satisfying for me. I liked the ‘spaces in between’ where we are left wondering about aspects of their relationship and joint history and there were plenty of opportunities to be wrong about something and then flick back through the pages and see that the clues were there all along, scattered so cleverly by Voss.

I hate spoilers so I’m keeping my cards close to my chest with this one. The plot never feels contrived or ‘twist for the sake of it’ and this was why it was such a satisfying read for me. I’ve heard lots of readers complaining about the way that they’ve felt a bit cheated by the end of some of the inferior domestic noir offerings out at the moment. With The Old You there’s no need to worry; you’re in very safe hands. The characterisation is spot on and you too will be swept along, wondering whether your suspicions are correct as Lyn’s life changes beyond all recognition.

The Old You is my favourite mystery of the year. I know that Karen can pick them, but here I feel like she really has excelled herself. This is the perfect holiday read –  it will virtually make you a prisoner on your sunbed as you will be so loath to tear yourself way for any length of time because you’ll be too desperate to find out the truth about Ed and Lyn’s unravelling marriage.

The Old You is published by Orenda Books and is currently available on Amazon Kindle for a bargain price. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour with such fabulous company. If you get the chance, be sure to check out the reviews from my fabulous fellow bloggers

Follow Louise on Twitter

Purchase The Old You

 

Writer on the Shelf

download (1).jpeg

Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had eleven novels published – five solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books.

If you haven’t read her backlist, you’re in for a treat, have a look here

Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at http://www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crime writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

Tubing – Going Underground…

unnamed

Polly, 28, lives in London with her ‘perfect-on-paper’ boyfriend. She works a dead-end job on a free London paper. . . life as she knows it is dull. But her banal existence is turned upside down late one drunken night on her way home, after a chance encounter with a man on a packed tube train. The chemistry between them is electric and on impulse, they kiss, giving in to their carnal desires. But it’s over in an instant, and Polly is left shell-shocked as he walks away without even telling her his name.

Now obsessed with this beautiful stranger, Polly begins a frantic online search, and finally discovers more about tubing, an underground phenomenon in which total strangers set up illicit, silent, sexual meetings on busy commuter tube trains. In the process, she manages to track him down and he slowly lures her into his murky world, setting up encounters with different men via Twitter.

At first she thinks she can keep it separate from the rest of her life, but things soon spiral out of control.

By chance she spots him on a packed tube train with a young, pretty blonde. Seething with jealousy, she watches them together. But something isn’t right and a horrific turn of events makes Polly realise not only how foolish she has been, but how much danger she is in…

Can she get out before it’s too late?

I read Tubing on a hot afternoon and I guarantee that if you enjoy a hot and steamy summer read, you’ll be in for a treat if you give Tubing a go. By that, I mean the book, Tubing of course – taking it any further after you’ve read all about it in K.A McKeagney’s dark and erotic novel is entirely up to you…

If you’ve ever travelled on a packed tube carriage and locked eyes with a handsome and mysterious stranger, you’ll definitely be able to identify with Polly’s initial introduction to this underground scene in London. This hookup mechanism is both literally and metaphorically underground, allowing complete strangers to set up intimate encounters via Twitter where they can indulge in their ultimate fantasy of anonymous and risky sex in a public place. I’d never heard of this phenomenon before and I’m not sure if it is a real ‘thing’ or not but I’m sure that stranger things have happened.

Polly was a difficult character to grapple with, I was intrigued by her behaviour without being drawn to her personality. She acted very selfishly for this first part of the book and it’s only as the book continues and we can see her backstory and begin to appreciate the difficulties in her past that we can have a bit more sympathy for her as a person. Her actions are quite hard to understand at times as it feels like her obsession with the world of Tubing and her relationship with her boyfriend Ollie was a little bit like she was trying to ‘have her cake and eat it’ in terms of safety with a dash of sexual excitement.

Ollie’s sister was a stand-out character for me and without giving any spoilers, she’ll intrigue you too with her interfering as the book progresses. I do think there were a couple of times during this book that my suspension of disbelief hit a few rough patches, but it was a fast and racy read so I wasn’t too bothered about how probable Polly’s shenanigans might be in real life.

If you are heading for the beach this summer and enjoy a saucy read and a page-turning finalè, then you should definitely pack Tubing in your holiday suitcase. It’s not for the faint-hearted though and if you think you might have trouble with raunchy frolics on public transport then this is possibly not the summer read for you. It’s been pitched as Girl on the Train meets Fifty Shades so that might help you decide whether the ‘Sound of the Underground’ would be too much for you as a reader. If you like a bit of spice in your sunlounger read, then I’ve just found you the perfect holiday book. Enjoy!

unnamed (1).jpg

Writer On The Shelf

Kerry-McKeagney-169x300.jpg

K.A. McKeagney studied psychology in Bristol before completing a Masters degree in creative writing at Brunel. She won the Curtis Brown prize for her dissertation, which formed the basis of her first novel Tubing. She has worked in London as a health editor writing consumer information as well as for medical journals. Her writing has been commended by the British Medical Association (BMA) patient information awards.

She is currently working on her second novel.

 

Gravity of Love – Blog Tour

 The Gravity of Love blog tour banner.jpg

In love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence … 

Scottsville, Arizona, 1989

In small-town America, Joy Sheldon loves the plants that bloom in the desert but longs too for the sea’s elemental wildness. It’s a dream never realised – and now, facing the brutal truth that her husband is a cheat, Joy learns of unimaginable secrets in her early life. Riven by betrayal and loss, a chance encounter with the enigmatic Lewis, Joy embarks on a journey to seek her true identity – and to discover why the sea pulls so strongly at her heart.

Soho, London, 1967

Lewis Bell, abandoned by his mother and responsible for his wayward sister, is now living the dream. An ambitious young graphic designer, he’s aiming for the big time – if only he can keep his creative spark. His talented girlfriend Marnie adds pressures of her own and, as Lewis’s troubles intensify, sixties London fast shows its darker side.

Ballycastle, Ireland, Easter, 1989

Unexpectedly drawn together, Joy and Lewis fly across the Atlantic to the Irish coast. She’s in search of a lost mother; he’s looking for a lost love. They need to make peace with the past, with themselves and others. But the truths they encounter and connections they create will transform everyone’s lives forever.

Bold, intimate and joyful, this glorious novel deftly interweaves decades, continents and lives to tell a story of the irresistible gravity of love.

51gyudV8RSL.jpg

Love is a many-splendoured thing and I absolutely loved this immersive and enjoyable read. As soon as I opened the package and saw The Gravity of Love wrapped in thick emerald green ribbon, I was in love. It looked so enticing and made me want to tug it loose and dive right in.

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I love both a historical read and a book with two distinct timelines that we read concurrently. When this is well done, it’s my favourite kind of book – but it can be notoriously difficult to pull off effectively. Often, I’ve been left disappointed by an uneven narrative where I’d race through one of the alternating words as I’d feel unconvinced by one of the storylines and be desperate to be back in the other story.

The Gravity of Love is fortunately not one of those books: the stories of Lewis and Joy are both totally engrossing and balanced beautifully throughout the novel – whether we are with Joy in the parched desert landscape or Lewis in the wilds of Ireland I found myself equally engaged with both narratives and enjoyed the way that they complemented and chimed with one another. The gorgeous postcard that arrived alongside my copy of the book was another intriguing detail that ensured that it never lasted long on my TBR pile

DdYasfQX4AA5GGo.jpg

My postcard read ‘Eventually the truth will come out’ and there are many ways to apply this to the way that Joy and Lewis find their lives unfolding as The Gravity of Love. After losing her father, Joy finds herself in a position where she feels compelled to ask questions about her true origins and is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, regardless of her mother and husband being fairly resistant to her making an effort to find out who she really is.  Joy feels adrift in the early part of this novel, and her curiosity about her birth mother drives the narrative forward as we, just like Joy, want to find out how all the strands of this story connect.

Lewis has a fantastic back story too: the parts of the novel that describe his love affair with Marnie in 1960s swinging London were among my favourite parts of this book; I really found this section of the book really engrossing and it made me have a strong connection with Lewis in the present day. When he and Joy meet, we feel them both struggling with lives that haven’t quite turned out like they expected and their deep connection is convincingly drawn without feeling too contrived or far-fetched.

d16cfd1d7ab80e706547eb1d9330aefe--jean-shrimpton-s-fashion

You don’t have to be a romantic to fall in love with this beautifully written, surprising and captivating read and I feel like the quality of Noelle Harrison’s storytelling could melt the hardest heart. I thoroughly recommend The Gravity of Love to anyone looking for a book that will make you reexamine your own life and think about the way that choices you’ve made, missed chances and serendipitous connections can make your life turn out differently than you might ever have imagined.

I was gutted to be on duty and miss out on attending the launch of The Gravity of Love especially as it took place in one of the most gorgeous bookshops ever 

 

DdT5aoVW4AE3Y8r

If you want to read the blogposts of two of my favourite bloggers who did make it along to the launch @portybelle  Joanne and the lovely Kelly   @LoveBooksGroup.

If you follow the links, you’ll be able to see what they think too.

Thanks to Lina at Black & White Publishing for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for my copy of the book.

The Gravity of Love is available now. Click here to order yourself a copy The Gravity of Love

 

Writer on the Shelf

Born in London, I moved to Ireland in 1991, shortly afterwards setting up the theatre company Aurora. I have written four stage plays, Northern Landscapes, Black Virgin, Runaway Wife and The Good Sister, and one short film, Blue Void. I have also written extensively on visual art in Ireland, contributing to various journals and artists’ catalogues over the years.

Noelle Harrison 4 (c) Chloe Martina Salvi low res.jpg

In August 2004 my first novel Beatrice was published by Tivoli/ Pan Macmillan. My second novel, A Small Part Of Me, was published by Tivoli / Pan Macmillan in September 2005. My third novel I Remember was published by Pan Macmillan in September 2008. The Adulteress was published by Pan Macmillan in September 2009, and The Secret Loves of Julia Caesar, an illustrated limited edition novella was published in 2012.

Having lived in Bergen in Norway for several years, in September 2012 Beatrice was published by Juritzen Forlag in Norwegian. My Noelle Harrison novels have also been translated and published in Italy, Germany, Holland, and Hungary.
I am also published under the pen name Evie Blake and my Valentina Trilogy has been published in over 13 countries worldwide.

In 2014 I was one of 56 Irish Writers included in the anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision Irish Writers on Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and published by Thames & Hudson.

I currently live in Edinburgh in Scotland, and I am one of the founders of Aurora Writers’ Retreats

You, Me, Everything – This Summer’s must read!

You and me, we have history
We have a child together.
We have kept secrets from each other for far too long.
This summer, in the beautiful hills of the Dordogne, it is time for everything to change.

twitter_book_tour.jpg

It’s such a privilege this sunny May evening, to be closing the blog tour of one of the best books I’ve read this year – and that is no mean feat, as 2018 has just been an amazing year for books.  You, Me Everything is a book that you’ll be seeing everywhere this Summer and if you’ve not got your holiday book-bag packed already, you should definitely make a space for this charming, touching and unforgettable read.

The gorgeous setting of this book in the beautiful Dordogne took me miles away from marking all these exam scripts this week and made me lose myself in daydreams of creamy stone buildings, fields full of lavender and sipping delicious French coffee on a terrace.

441851-chateau-nineyrol.jpg

I really lost myself in the story of  Jess and her son William as they head over to spend the summer with William’s absentee dad, Adam at Château de Roussignol, a grand castle that he has restored into a glamorous holiday resort. I felt like I could really transport myself to Adam’s chateau and wished that I was spending the summer there myself as we hear about its gorgeous grounds, splendid accommodation and mouthwatering breakfasts. Come to mention it, Adam himself sounded very tasty too…

DauhDkvW0AAMBjiAs we read on, we discover that Adam has never been a dad to William, sending him baby toys when he’s far too old for them and seeming much more interested in his latest girlfriend than being really involved in his son’s life. Jess travels to France determined to nurture the father-son relationship without falling for handsome, carefree Adam herself – as she knows how that one ended last time.

Jess is a fabulous character, she definitely felt very real to me as she wrestled with the internal conflict of being pleased to see William and Adam’s relationship develop but being mightily pissed off that after years of being the only parent that’s been there for William, Adam has strolled in and is being hero-worshipped for a very minimal effort on his part. Jess struggles to be honest about the jealousy she is feeling – both of their developing relationship and of Adam’s latest trophy girlfriend who is years younger, effortlessly gorgeous and baggage-free. 

This novel is perfect for readers who enjoy characters we can really connect with in emotional dilemmas that have us rooting for them. Jess is such a fabulous creation and we definitely feel for her as she struggles with these conflicting emotions as William grows closer to his dad after having him all to herself for all these years. William was also one of my absolute favourite child characters as he just springs off the page. He is a real joy to get to know as the book develops which makes the situation looming over him all the more compelling to read about.

Their long summer in France is sure to send you reaching for Tripadvisor to browse your next holiday destination as it sounds so lovely, but beware –  there’s more to this trip than meets the eye and you’ll be up late turning the pages as soon as you realise that this trip to France might have more complex motives than Jess is initially prepared to admit. I won’t include any spoilers, but the fact that Jess and Adam are both hiding the truth from one another about very significant things makes this novel zip along at a cracking pace. The cast of ‘supporting characters’ are also very credible and definitely make the atmosphere at the chateau seem like a real-life holiday that we are watching unfold in front of our eyes

I think that this will definitely bring Jane Costello a whole new audience who are looking for a novel that will not only entertain them but make them think more deeply about their own relationships. Catherine Isaac has brought us a novel that asks us to consider the way that we talk to ourselves about the ‘truth’ when we might be hiding more than we are prepared to admit. I read this book in a single day in gorgeous Cettia and I’m so glad that I actually got the time to unwind and lose myself in this emotionally rewarding and thought-provoking read.

DauhDkuXkAEs3Ez

You, Me Everything is a moving and emotional story about how far we will go for love.  Rights have sold in over twenty-two countries so make sure you read this one before the movie is released! I am so grateful to the lovely Jess Barratt &  SJV aka BookMinx for inviting me on the tour, it’s been an absolute pleasure and I can’t stop recommending You, Me Everything to EVERYONE.

Here’s my sister upon my return from hols, clutching her book haul from me in total delight. You, Me Everything in pride of place and ready to rave about it to all her friends too.  It’s definitely this summer’s must-read list so what are you waiting for?

Buy yourself a copy right now and be Summer-ready when it’s time to get a book in your case! It’s only Five Pounds for a gorgeous hardback right now – treat yourself! 

DbJ-4GxW0AIi9hO

Writer on the Shelf

Catherine Isaac was born in Liverpool, England. She studied History at the University of Liverpool, then Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University, before beginning her career as trainee reporter at the Liverpool Echo.

2.jpg

She rose to the position of Editor of the Liverpool Daily Post and wrote her first book, Bridesmaids, while on maternity leave, under the pseudonym Jane Costello. Her nine subsequent novels were all Sunday Times best-sellers in the UK.

You Me Everything is her first book writing as Catherine Isaac.

She lives in Liverpool with her husband Mark and three sons. In her spare time, she likes to run, walk up mountains in the Lake District and win at pub quizzes, though the latter rarely happens.

You can visit Catherine’s website for more information about all of her books and follow her on Twitter @CatherineIsaac_

You can also find Catherine here,  on Facebook