Attend Blog Tour – West Camel

 

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When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.

Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.

With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.

 

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of West Camel’s debut novel, Attend, and would like to thank Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater of Random Things for the tour invitation otherwise I might never have discovered this original, magical and unforgettable read.

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Deptford previously was only known to me as the place where Elizabethan playwright Marlowe was killed. This novel, by West Camel, has a very different take on history and mystery and I loved the way that it mixed gritty urban detail with magical realism to make a wholly unique blend that really appealed to me as a reader.

I love reading novels that confound my expectation – that turn out to be something totally different to the novel that I thought that I was going to be reading. Attend by West Camel is one of those novels. It transformed my preconceived ideas about a London novel that would take me to the heart of the inner mechanisms of organised crime and underground shady dealings and transformed in front of my eyes into a meditation on humanity and our need to connect with other people like a full-on Christmas miracle all to myself.

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This is an absolutely immersive read, it’s as rich in detail as a piece of the mysterious Deborah’s sewing,  weaving its disparate threads of the narrative together in a magical way that embroider on truths and snip away at your preconceived opinions about magical realism. I found myself re-reading certain parts of it – especially the parts featuring Deborah –  just to experience them again as I was so caught up in the feeling that I wanted to experience it all over again.

Attend blends together three very distinct narratives into a tale that is very much more than the sum of its parts.   Deborah who makes clothes for a living, Sam who is trying to wrestle with his emergent sexuality and Anne – an ex-drug addict who is struggling with her own demons as we meet her in the novel.  These three characters’ fates intertwine in the novel as their stories interweave a tale of Deptford and its characters with Deborah stitching their fates together as we find out more about their histories, their hopes and their dreams.

Deptford is almost a character in its own right and I felt like West Camel really brought this district to life – blending its darker side with the life and vitality of its inhabitants and making us think about the fact that even in the most violent and deprived areas, hope and humanity can bloom alongside  violence, abuse and addiction and that hope and compassion can live side by side alongside organised crime and racketeering.

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West Camel is a talented and original writer whose characters spring off the page and come to life for you as you read their stories.  Dorothy’s character is unforgettable – she is a sad and painfully isolated character who wanders through its pages like a ghost  -making us question her existence and wonder about the other unearthly encounters that we might have had ourselves.

As we discover more about Dorothy’s history, we begin to realise some of the reasons behind her melancholic air and understand her more as a character and those who encounter her. Her magical stories mingle together with the urban tales of Sam and Anne to provide you with a very unique reading experience – a cocktail of urban realism with magical undertones that is a hugely satisfying reading experience. If you’ve never had strong cheddar and Christmas cake – and feel like it shouldn’t go together – then I can liken it to this reading experience. Two things that when placed together yield something unexpectedly satisfying and unique that has to be tried and savoured to truly appreciate it.

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Attend is a character-driven novel that I’ll be recommending to everyone. It stands out to me due to its originality and its sense of atmosphere. Deptford springs to life as a stage for these characters’ lives to intersect and for you to think about your own life and the people who you meet with and connect with in unexpected ways. I often think of this as  I’m reading a book and this novel definitely made me wish that I could scroll through these pages alongside these characters and walk into the story to meet them for myself. West Camel is a new and exciting voice in fiction that I’ll definitely be looking out for in future, I loved his voice and the characters that he brought vividly to life in this book. You can read more about him here

He truly does deserve his nickname as the Dickens of Deptford! Buy yourself a copy of this fantastic and unique read here, you definitely won’t regret it.

‘A literary EastEnders, with precision language and beautifully interwoven storytelling … I couldn’t put it down’ Liz Loves Book

 

 

Writer On The Shelf

Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing.
He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch.
He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda Books with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghostwriting a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network.
He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, A highly anticipated debut, blending the magical realism of Angela Carter and the gritty authenticity of Eastenders and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.

Website | Twitter 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Chestnut Man Blog Tour

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THE DEBUT NOVEL FROM THE CREATOR AND WRITER OF THE KILLING

One blustery October morning in a quiet suburb of Copenhagen, the police make a terrible discovery. A young woman is found brutally murdered in a playground and one of her hands is missing. Above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts.

Ambitious young detective Naia Thulin is assigned the case. Her partner, Mark Hess, is a burned-out investigator who’s just been kicked out of Europol. They soon discover a mysterious piece of evidence on the chestnut man – evidence connecting it to a girl who went missing a year earlier and is presumed dead – the daughter of politician Rosa Hartung.

The man who confessed to her murder is behind bars and the case is long since closed.

Soon afterwards, another woman is found murdered, along with another chestnut man. Thulin and Hess suspect that there’s a connection between the Hartung case, the murdered women and a killer who is spreading fear throughout the country. But what is it?

Thulin and Hess are racing against the clock, because it’s clear that the murderer is on a mission that is far from over . . .

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I was absolutely beside myself when Jenny Platt from Penguin got in touch with me and asked me if I wanted to take part in the blog tour for this book – it sounded amazing, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I lived and breathed ‘The Killing’ when it was released and felt just as excited to hear his voice on the page, rather than on the screen…

Søren Sveistrup is a world-class scriptwriter – and it shows – I could not put this book down! This gripping, fascinating and harrowing read never feels like a script in waiting or  a series of facts in search of a story – it makes you think deeply about a wide range of topical issues whilst keeping you absolutely wrapped in its narrative and it is definitely one of  Sveistrup’s strengths as a writer that we never feel as if his background in screenwriting has merely found its way into a novel.

Having enjoyed The Killing so much, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of The Chestnut Man as I  knew I was going to love the setting and the main character Naia Thulin – sounded both credible and intriguing and I couldn’t wait to meet her on the page.

When we hear that a young woman has been brutally slain, it’s intriguing to wonder what has led to this barbaric act and why her hand is missing from the crime scene. It’s no surprise that there is a political connection, for any fans of The Killing – and I could not wait to dive into this intriguing murder investigation in order to try and find out more about the mysterious death and possibly get to the bottom of the connection to Rosa Hartung’s missing daughter and let me tell you the scattered clues, dead ends and clever plotting is every bit as satisfying as his best episode!

I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to dwell too long on the plot of The Chestnut Man – suffice to say that the skilful way that Sveistrup weaves the murder clues and our growing involvement with the detective team of Thulin and Hess is superbly done and remains convincing throughout. I know at times it can feel like the fictional world is saturated with Scandi detective teams but this is a pleasing alliance with two very different points of view which collide pleasingly and create plenty of room for subsequent adventures and complicated Scandi crimes

 

I loved the way that this novel wove many threads together – a convincing detective story, a consideration of what makes a good detective team and the political angle too – which made a satisfying combination. Reading a book in translation made me resolve to read more texts in translation this year and expose myself to writing from other cultures and countries on a more regular basis. It really is something that we should all do far more regularly and this is a classic example of the quality of writing that we are missing out on if we don’t…

The tension in this novel truly is palpable and the skill of the writing never allows you to forget is that that crimes like this actually happen all the time Although this is a novel, the events that you are reading about have such a credible feel to them that it reads like the highest quality true crime at times – and I think that Sveistrup balances this fine tissue of truth and fiction perfectly. No one reading this book could possibly come away unscathed by it and it’s been a hard book to follow as I find myself continuously thinking back to it and thinking about the way that politics can be used to distance us from other people rather than join us more closely together in mutual understanding and I think that this novel really promotes the idea that there is far more that connects us than separates us.

The Chestnut Man is definitely one of those novels that stays with you long after closing its final page and one that I will definitely be recommending to my friends – it packs a powerful emotional punch; educates just as much as it entertains and makes you wish that you could step into the world of Naia Thulin and experience this disturbing and unforgettable crime being solved for ourselves. If you enjoy an immersive and intelligent read that will ask you to think about your own attitudes and examine the way that you think about your own culture then you will love this book as much as I did.

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I can’t wait to see if it appears on our screens in the near future – and consider it a real privilege to be invited to be one of its early readers. I’m a sucker for a great detective pairing and the relationship between these two characters will undoubtedly make you feel like they’ve stepped right off the page and you’re following the trail right alongside them.

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Buy yourself a copy of this exciting, immersive and darkly thrilling read as soon as you can – it’s out on the 10th January and is definitely going to be one of my Reads of the Year 2019

 

Thank you so much to Jenny Platt for inviting me onto the tour and hope you enjoy the reviews from some more of the fantastic bloggers who are posting their reviews later in the month and through January too.

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‘As in The Killing television series, Sveistrup offers lessons to seasoned practitioners of the serial-killer whodunit in how to inject new energy into this near-exhausted subgenre, and a reminder (via his portrayal of the families, homes and workplaces that his cops visit) that crimewriting has the potential to be eye-opening, panoramic social realism’ Sunday Times

Writer On The Shelf

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Søren Sveistrup is an internationally acclaimed scriptwriter of the Danish television phenomenon ‘The Killing’ which won various international awards and sold in more than a hundred countries.

Søren Sveistrup (born 1968) holds a master of Literature and History from the University of Copenhagen and has graduated as a scriptwriter from the Danish Film School.

Read this fascinating article about him here

Once Upon A River Blog Tour

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A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can it be explained by science?

An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

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Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to review Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield. I absolutely adored the Thirteenth Tale and  I am so delighted to share my review here as I absolutely loved this fascinating portrayal of the way that stories work and the way that the dawn of science changed the way that we think for ever. Anne messaged me with this tour details when I was marking exam scripts and I was so excited, I almost bit her hand off with a definite yes!

 

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If you read my blog at all, you’ll know that I love a bit of a tale where it sends me diving off into a tailspin of reading around the subject of my novels as I’m blogging and Once Upon a River was definitely one of the most fascinating in terms of what I found. It’s so interesting to uncover tales of the River for yourself and I found myself exploring takes of mudlarks, of foundlings and of smuggling that all enhanced my enjoyment of this read and added richness to it after I’d finished reading it too.

Diane Setterfield is a really talented writer who really transports you to another place and time – if you love an immersive read,  you’re in for a real treat: this is top-class  fiction with strongly realised characters and an emotional punch – If you haven’t read it yet, you definitely should. It’s one of the most human and engrossing novels I’ve ever read and I really found it hard to ‘decompress’ from the world that he recreates for us after finishing it.

I love the way that there is a skilful balance of beautifully evoked settings and sweeping ideas to contemplate – I really felt that I was being spoiled as both were there in abundance in this book. Rita is someone who you will follow keenly as you uncover more about her fabulously realised character and her choices will make you think closely about what you might have done in similar circumstances in this world if you’d also been born into it.

 

I hate giving spoilers about such an engrossing read; instead, I’ll praise Diane Setterfield’s deft characterisation that has us pulled into this narrative and experience these gripping stories in the making.  This is storytelling at its finest – making us see the narrative not as a list of events but a succession of relationships, decisions and human frailties that accumulated in change, loss and upheaval for these people. I learned a lot about exactly how human decisions affect the lives of so many people

Diane Setterfield is equally impressive in conjuring up the riverside setting as she is in recreating the complexities of the characters and relationships in the novel and I feel like this gives this novel an epic feel – I kept wondering who I’d cast if I was making a film of Once Upon a River and imagining it coming to life on the big screen was hugely satisfying. I loved the intriguing tale of Robert Armstrong and can’t wait for you to uncover his story for yourself.  If you love an epic tale with fascinating characters and a real insight into a period you might not know much about you’ll absolutely love the setting of this book and if you love the human side of history you’ll definitely be caught up in this very human tale of truth and  consequences just as much as I was.

I absolutely loved the evocative description and lyrical language in this novel and got swept up in the story so much so that I didn’t want to leave. The portrayal of human relationships and their consequences in Once Upon a River another aspect of this novel that really stood out for me and I loved the way that I could envisage The Swan and the way that these characters’ lives intersect inside its walls. This is a uniquely beautiful book that will make you ask yourself probing questions about the reasons we make decisions and if we are being as honest with ourselves as we think we are at some of the critical times in our lives…

I can’t recommend this book highly enough – it’s an intelligent, immersive and atmospheric read that really draws you in and holds you tight until you’ve turned the final page. Treat yourself to a copy 

Isn’t the cover absolutely gorgeous, by the way?

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Writer On The Shelf

Diane Setterfield Author Picture
Diane Setterfield’s bestselling novel, The Thirteenth Tale, was published in 38 countries, sold more than three million copies, and was made into a television drama scripted by Christopher Hampton, starring Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave. Her second novel was Bellman & Black, and her new novel is Once Upon a River. Born in rural Berkshire, she now lives near Oxford, by the Thames.

Connect with Diane here. 

 

Start Blog Tour

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Thank you so much to Kelly from @LoveBooksGroupTours for inviting me onto this tour for @FledglingPress

I really love supporting Fledgling Press Books as I really support their ethos & love working with Kelly too!

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Start by Graham Morgan is a book that’ll make you think. It’s really different and I think it’s good to expose yourself to books outwith your reading ‘comfort zone’ from time to time. This inner world that we are guided through gives an all too rare insight into mental health and its impact on your life – whatever your situation.

The fact that so many people are struggling with their wellbeing at the moment makes for a timely and involving read – and I think that lots of the issues raised here are really resonant just now when we are faced with so many happy images of perfect lives and instagrammably enviable social circles. This book dares us to look beyond that and ask ourselves about the times we might ourselves have been struggling a bit…

This isn’t a cosy read with easy solutions and neat and tidy little answers. It really tries to present all faces of living with a mental illness – even the brutal, shameful and frightening ones –  At times he writes about feeling a sort of “evil” inside of him and his fear of transmitting this dark feeling to those around him – like a sort of mental health infection.  This was sad to read about but most of all so impressively honest it really did not shy away from some of these hard questions and tries not to view living with a mental illness through rose-tinted spectacles so that you can see this life in all its shame, fear and glory.

Graham’s story is so honest that at times you really feel like he is talking right to you – the mood is very confessional and intimate. I thought that his bravery in doing this was so striking and important as many people feel secretive or ashamed of their ‘irrational’ or ’embarrassing’ behaviour and I feel like Graham shows these readers that to own up to yourself truthfully about your feelings is one of the most important steps in a journey like this – and is something that we should never be too ashamed to do.

This is a challenging read at times – but it is so worth it for the level of understanding and compassion that it arouses in you. I really feel that I’ve been forced to appreciate the little things in life more myself as I read this book and thinking about your own wellbeing should not be delayed until there is a problem – this book asks us to think more deeply about mental health as something that everyone has and think more compassionately about our own.

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Buy yourself a copy here

About the Book

Graham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained.

Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.

Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.

About the Author

Graham was born in 1963 in York. He went to university as an angst- ridden student and was quickly admitted to one of the old mental asylums, prompting the work he has done for most of his life: helping people with mental illness speak up about their lives and their rights. He has mainly worked in Scotland, where he has lived for the last thirty years, twenty of them in the Highlands.

In the course of this work he has been awarded an MBE, made Joint Service User Contributor of the Year by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and, lately, has spoken at the UN about his and other peoples’ experiences of detention.

He has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and has been compulsorily treated under a CTO for the last ten years. He currently lives in Argyll with his partner and her young twins. Start is his first book.

One law for the Rest of Us – Blog Tour

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When Audrey Marshall sends her daughter Emily to the religious boarding school where she herself was educated a generation before, memories return – memories of a culture of child sexual abuse presided over by a highly-regarded priest. Audrey turns to barrister Ben Schroeder in search of justice for Emily and herself. But there are powerful men involved, men determined to protect themselves at all costs. Will they succeed? Is there indeed one law for the rich and powerful, and one law for…?

I was so excited to be invited onto the Blog Tour for One Law For The Rest Of Us, the newest Ben Schroeder thriller by Peter Murphy.  Thank you so much to the lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part on the tour and for introducing me to a completely new writer that I might not have discovered otherwise.

I was really intrigued by the premise of this book and I was totally drawn in, both by the captivating storyline and the well drawn characters of this shocking and compelling read.  It will make you think hard about how just our justice system actually is and how the laws are enforced and for whose benefit too…

I was delighted after finishing this book to discover that it was the sixth book in a series featuring the sharp mind of  barrister Ben Schroeder. Don’t be put off by the fact that it has 5 predecessors though – because although this is the sixth book featuring Ben and his talents,  it also works as a stand alone read  and I did not feel that my reading experience was affected by my lack of awareness of what had gone before. I’m actually excited to ‘travel back in time’ with Ben and treat myself to some of his other cases over the Christmas Break…

 

 

The case in question, in this sixth book concerns the awful news that Audrey Marshall discovers – that her daughter has been abused at the boarding school she went to years before. This discovery sets a whole chain of events in motion as she is determined to find out who has done this to her daughter. Her efforts, herculean though they are, are increasingly thwarted by people working from within – who seem determined to cover up the truth at any cost.

This novel is so compelling because you can absolutely believe in it – it’s all too real at times that sometimes people in power can work together to suppress information or keep secrets hidden so that crimes can continue undetected. Audrey’s situation is fictional – but Audrey clearly represents so many people who feel like they have been battling to get recognition and justice for things that happened to them and were ignored and silenced for far too long.

If this is a sensitive subject for you, then you might find certain aspects of the plot quite difficult – although the topic is dealt with compassionately and with sensitivity in this novel. It really allows you an inside seat at the investigation of these matters and you might rethink your attitudes to some things that you might never have thought about before reading this thought provoking read.

If you like being drawn into a story and feeling really immersed in it, you will find much to admire here. I feel like Peter Murphy’s own professional background gives a real feeling of plausibility to this book and that’s maybe why I’m so keen to go on and read the rest of the series. It’s far more Silks than LA Law and its attention to detail and slow build of information and burden of proof evidence is extremely well done and will make you think harder about the hard work and dedication that goes into putting people behind bars every single day of the year in the law courts of our land. .

 

One Law For The Rest Of Us is out 13 December and you can pre-order a copy here.

If you enjoyed this insight and would like yto hear what thew other bloggers had to say about One Law For The Rest Of Us, then you can follow the rest of the tour at these sites

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Writer On The Shelf

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Peter Murphy graduated from Cambridge University and spent a career in the law, as an advocate, teacher, and judge. He has worked both in England and the United States, and served for several years as counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

He has written seven novels: two political thrillers about the US presidency, Removal and Test of Resolve; five historical/ legal thrillers featuring Ben Schroeder, A Higher Duty, A Matter For The Jury, And Is There Honey Still For Tea?, The Heirs of Owain Glyndwr and Calling Down the Storm.

He is also the author of Walden of Bermondsey and Judge Walden: Back in Session and Judge Walden: Call The Next Case, which is due to be published in 2019.

 Peter’s own Website

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