The Secretary Blog Tour

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From her first day as Personal Assistant to the celebrated Mina Appleton, Christine Butcher understands what is expected of her.
Absolute loyalty. Absolute discretion. For twenty years, Christine has been a most devoted servant, a silent witness to everything in Mina’s life. So quiet, you would hardly know she is there.
Day after day, year after year, Christine has been there, invisible—watching, listening, absorbing all the secrets floating around her. Keeping them safe.
Christine is trusted. But those years of loyalty and discretion come with a high price. And eventually Christina will pay.
Yet, it would be a mistake to underestimate such a steadfast woman. Because as everyone is about to discover, there’s a dangerous line between obedience and obsession.
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Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me on the Blog Tour for #TheSecretary – I really loved Disclaimer so I was absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to read this new release by Renee Knight. I was intrigued by the premise and couldn’t wait to be pulled into another slice of psychological drama and twisty narrative.

The premise of this novel is as twisty and skilful as any you’ve read this year. I guarantee that you’ll need to free up some time once you’ve started this book as you’ll want to find out what happens with the minimum of disruption – so get ready for an unforgettable read.

If you love an unforgettable narrator who will really get under your skin and whose voice will stay with you for a long time after you’ve closed the final page – then look no further.

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Christine is the kind of character that really comes alive for you as you read. In her years of discretion and service to Mina Appleton, she has always sought to blend in and be the perfect employee. She has done her very damnedest to be indispensable. Whatever Mina needed, Christine obliged. She ensured that her every wish was anticipated and every task done to perfection – but this level of service comes with a price…

The fact that we hear this tale unfold through Christine’s eyes, seeing the indomitable Mina and her methods of working through Christine’s eyes makes for a great read. We can see things beginning to unravel around her and yet we are only drip-fed information which means the subtle atmosphere of menace just builds and builds as we read. It was definitely a dark and tantalising read and will keep you turning the pages, wanting to find out exactly what is going on behind the efficient smiles and glossy brochures.

Mina’s realisation that Christine knows way too much and the decisions that unfold as a result make for a gripping read and this is just the start as there’s never a dull moment in this book! Mina is a fantastic character, she’s totally lacking moral scruples but all the better a character for it! I loved the contrast between these two women – both pretty unlikable but both equally compelling in their own way.

This juxtaposition means that the plot zips along at a cracking pace and the darkness here makes you – if not quite admire Mina or Christine– certainly be impressed at their determination as each one of them seeks a way to make sure that she gets what she wants! But the moral of the story has to be that – just like Mina – we should never underestimate the quiet ones in the corner as who really knows WHAT they are capable of when the chips are down…

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I’m no fan of books being painted as ‘The next…’ and we’re all sick I’m sure, of seeing books compared with The Girl on the Train or The Woman in the Window –  This definitely isn’t ‘The Girl in The Office’ – it’s not trying to be anything else, it’s perfectly happy being its own dark delicious self.

I’d actually love to see it on screen and will be dragging people along with me to see Mina and Christine brought to life! If you like your characters flawed, dark and full of drive, then you’re going to LOVE this book. It will certainly keep you entertained as you make your way through its pages with bated breath – all too quickly, I might add.

Thanks so much to Anne Cater for sending me this book to review for the blog tour – I absolutely love taking part in Anne’s tours and look forward to seeing what the other bloggers on the tour think of the books too.

Writer On The Shelf

 

Renée Knight worked as a documentary-maker for the BBC before turning to writing. She is a graduate of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, and lives in London with her husband and two children. Her widely acclaimed debut novel, Disclaimer, was a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller.

The Secretary is her second novel.

 

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The Glass Woman – Blog Tour

 

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1686, Iceland.

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead, he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim.

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I love historical books with a strong sense of research and history underpinning the narrative and because of this, I was thrilled to be invited to take part in The Glass Woman blog tour.

I love the fact that this novel is set against the backdrop of the seventeenth-century Icelandic witch trials which is something that I didn’t really know that much about and I found myself totally immersed in its austere and beautiful portrait of such a fascinating episode in history. I feel honoured to close the tour for this book and I hope that you will check out the other fab bloggers on the tour that you might have missed in order to see what they all thought of this stunning read.

 

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I found myself becoming absolutely obsessed with Iceland after reading this book and it’s definitely climbed to one of the top spots in my Travel Bucket list. Reading about Rosa’s story made me desperate to see these locations for myself an I was absolutely delighted to discover that the fabulous #TheBookTrail had worked hard to produce a wonderful guide to all of the locations in this unforgettable read. Make sure that you click the link below and find yourself transported there so that you can imagine Rosa’s landscape in all its majestic beauty.

The Book Trail – The Glass Woman’s Iceland

 

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Rosa herself was a fantastic character to travel backwards in time with through this immersive and beautiful novel. She is an unforgettable character and even though we are divided by centuries and many miles, I really connected with her and the difficult situations that she found herself in. The Glass Woman is a beautifully gothic tale featuring a landscape that’s as wild and unpredictable as some of the characters in it. This is a country where the people’s lives are dominated by suspicion and fear and Rosa’s perilous situation is vividly evoked by Caroline Lea as you travel with her to the remote and insular village of Stykkisholmur.

 

The section of the book where we travel with Rosa to meet her betrothed Jon Eriksson and see her come to terms with the life she has undertaken is absolutely superbly written and really brought this restrictive and blinkered worldview to life. Seeing their hypocrisies and double standards from an outsider’s perspective really throws these ideas into relief and Rosa’s experiences definitely makes you feel like you can feel her loneliness and trepidation as she enters into this bargain for the sake of her mother, even though the circumstances around Jon’s first wife’s death are vague and filled with rumour. The situation is barely imaginable and it is brought very vividly to life due to the skill of the storytelling here.

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I don’t like spoilers so I don’t want to spill too much about the secrets at the heart of this story. After arriving in this godforsaken place, Rosa’s unusual ability to read and write set her apart from other women around her and are no guarantee of her own safety as the dark Icelandic nights draw in.  You may well see things in the novel that Rosa cannot yet understand, which I feel strengthens our relationship with her as readers – I loved the fact that we are able to feel a permeable evil here through the narrative  which gives you a real insight into things that went on, in this part of history and I was totally captivated by this atmospheric wintry read.

I could not put it down once I’d started and I have recommended it to so many people since finishing it because it’s so unusual and hypnotic. I almost felt bewitched by it as I felt myself being pulled back into the darkness and  terrors of 17th century Iceland

I think the fact that Caroline Lea is also a poet really made this novel come to life for me – the imaginative and beautiful use of language never threatens to overwhelm the narrative but it’s wonderful to read. I knew very little about this fascinating and compelling country before I started reading this book – but as I’m sure you can tell, I’ve been totally bewitched by it. I’ve already ordered some Icelandic Sagas in translation and I can’t wait to read them for myself.

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Caroline Lea is a wonderful new voice – Rosa’s character is deftly conjured and the characters spring to life right off the page. I felt myself right there at several points in this novel – and had my heart in my mouth at times, wondering what on earth was going to happen next. I loved this book and I think that you will definitely love The Glass Woman just as much as I did. Treat yourself to a copy here

Thanks to Jenny Platt for inviting me on the tour; I thoroughly involved my visit to Rosa’s world and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys something a little bit different and loves immersing themselves in another time and place  – if you love something a little bit different, you’ll be intrigued by this melancholy and brooding world and will be just as sad as I was when you’ve turned the final page and have to re-engage with reality.

Doesn’t it look absolutely stunning in my #OnTheShelfie

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Writer On The Shelf

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Caroline Lea was born and raised in Jersey. She gained a First in English Literature and Creative Writing from Warwick University and has had poetry published in The Phoenix Anthology and An Aston Anthology, which she also co-edited.

Caroline on Twitter

Death Will Find Me Blog tour

 

 

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Scotland, 1920.


Meet Tessa Kilpatrick; heiress and war-time covert operations agent.

Finding her husband – the feckless James – with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.

Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love. 

Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer’s latest victim?

.Death Will Find Me (A Tessa Kilpatrick Mystery, Book 1) by [Robertson, Vanessa]

 

I absolutely loved this very readable debut from Vanessa Robertson and I am so excited to be kicking off the blogtour with my fabulous fellow #BookBloggingBelle Joanne – otherwise known as @portybelle.  Make sure you head over to her blog later on today to find out what she thought of Death Will Find Me too.

As soon as I received the email, describing it to me from the lovely Kelly at LoveBooksGroup,  I knew that I wanted to read it – it sounded perfect reading for a weekend break in Edinburgh and I couldn’t have chosen a better or more atmospheric novel to keep me company in my city hideaway…

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I love both a historical read and a book with a strong female lead that I can identify with and feel like I’ve time-travelled into their life for a few hours whilst reading it. When a historically based novel 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 a character who really feels ‘out of time’ or displays attitudes and ideas that are totally removed from that time period – or I’d feel unconvinced by their relationships and conversations as just feeling, well, way too modern…

Death Will Find Me is fortunately not one of those books: this first adventure of the indomitable Tessa Kilpatrick is fantastically realised slice of the 1920s– whether we are with Tessa at that fateful country house party or following the trail of a killer with the fantastically named Hamish Rasmussen  in the New Town of Edinburgh I found myself equally engaged and enjoyed the way that these two very different characters and settings complemented and chimed with one another. The fact that I was in Edinburgh whilst I was reading it added another layer of enjoyment for me as I imagined walking the same imposing streets as the characters in the novel as I strolled down Howe Street to Circus place, lost in the atmosphere of the fabulous 1920s.

Another part of the New Town that I love is our portrait gallery and in my research after finishing Vanessa Robertson’s book, I discovered that there is a matching portrait to the the Rupert Brooke poem that opens the book:

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Oh! Death will find me, long before I tire
Of watching you; and swing me suddenly
Into the shade and loneliness and mire

which you can admire right here

 

There are many ways to apply this snatch of poetry to the way that Tessa and Hamish find their lives unfolding in this novel. After the fateful night when James dies and Tess finds herself in the frame for his murder, she definitely finds herself in the shade and loneliness and mire where she feels compelled to start asking questions about what really happened that night, determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, and clear her name – whilst the idea of death finding her is also a pertinent one.

Tess feels alone and isolated in the early part of this novel, and her determination to get to the bottom of this mystery, whilst not falling a victim herself drives the narrative forward as we, just like Tess want to find out how all the strands of this story connect. The painting itself has both a melancholy and mysterious air and I found myself thinking about the shadowy figures in this novel that Tessa finds herself surrounded by as I looked at the painting and thought about how I could connect it with the feeling of this book.

Hamish Rasmussen is a compelling character too;  the parts of the novel that describe his sleuthing with Tess in 1920s Edinburgh were among my favourite parts of this book; I really found it such a satisfying  read. If you are a fan of the fantastic Sara Sheridan – which I definitely am, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere here. There is that same period detail with a compelling female lead that I really enjoy and I can see this series gathering  admirers as the doughty Mirabelle Bevan has.

You don’t have to be a fan of historical fiction to fall for with this book either, and I feel like the readability of Vanessa Robertson’s novel could convert the staunchest of contemporary fiction fans. I thoroughly recommend Death Will Find Me to anyone looking for a book that will allow them to drop right into a fictional world and feel what it might be like to live there.

Tessa is a fabulous character and I am conscious of not saying too much as I’d love you to meet her for yourself. Suffice to say her somewhat mysterious back-story as a covert operations agent means that she isn’t your average ‘Bright Young Thing’ and – perhaps because of this – does not always find it easy to navigate the restrictive social niceties of the time or restrict herself to the kind of activities or opinions that other ‘nice gels’ of her time might be expected to – and she is all the more compelling a character because of this. I found this fabulous  portrait online and it really made me wish I could go back in time and meet her

 

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Having spent so many years selling books in The Edinburgh Bookshop,  Vanessa Robertson clearly has a very real understanding of what readers look for in a great read and this comes across very clearly in her debut novel. Her story of winning Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect is a fantastic one and it must be wonderful to see everything coming together now the book is published. I really can’t wait for the second instalment in Tess Kilpatrick’s adventures and am delighted that I won’t have to wait too long in order to do so.  I’ve only got the ebook of this novel, but I’m looking forward to treating myself to a hard copy before too long!

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If you want to read the blogposts of more bloggers who will be telling you what they think of this fabulous period treat then follow the blogtour below:

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Thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for my copy of the book.

Death Will Find Me is available now. Click here to order yourself a copy 

Writer On The Shelf

 

Being a writer was a dream from childhood but I gave up on the idea of writing when I was a teenager, not long after I abandoned other childhood ambitions of being a trapeze artist or a spy. After acquiring a couple of degrees and trying various ‘proper jobs’, I realised that I am fundamentally unsuited to office politics, bad coffee, and wearing tights.

My husband and I founded The Edinburgh Bookshop, winner of many awards. Bookselling is a wonderful profession and a good bookshop is a source of pure joy to me. I love independent bookshops and the amazing job they do in championing reading, supporting authors, and building communities. But, after a few years, it was time for a change and we sold the bookshop to make way for other projects.

I took the opportunity to start writing again and was a winner at Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect event for unpublished authors in 2015. It was a fantastic opportunity and getting such positive feedback about my ideas gave me the push I needed to take my writing seriously.

I live in Edinburgh with my husband, our teenage son and an unfeasibly large Leonberger dog. I can usually be found walking on windy Scottish beaches, browsing in bookshops, or tapping away on my laptop in one of the scores of cafes near my home.

 

Read Vanessa’s blog and find out more about her here

Blood Orange Blog Tour

 

 

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Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

 

Blood Orange by [Tyce, Harriet]

Blood Orange was my first read of 2019 and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this book is seriously going to take a lot of beating as my top read of the year. I was totally bowled over by this sparkling debut novel and have been telling absolutely everyone about it since the minute I finished it.

Blood Orange has been wowing readers since it burst onto the scene and once you’ve read it, you’ll definitely see why. Alison’s story combines all of the necessary ingredients for a compelling read: sex, crime, lust, betrayal, duplicity and murder – you can see why I read it in one breathless afternoon in the Christmas holidays, both desperate to finish it and never wanting it to end.

The fact that Harriet Tyce practised law herself means that I was even more caught up in this story as everyone who knows me is well aware of the lure of a gripping crime story and courtroom drama – Blood Orange successfully mingles this with the darkest of domestic noir stories and manages to keep it completely believable at the same time, which I’m sure you’ll agree is no mean feat. Ignore the imitators, this is the real thing and I guarantee that as soon as you open its first page, you’ll be inventing every excuse under the sun to shut yourself away until you’ve finished the final chapter.

Even though many people have been comparing it with The Girl on the Train or Apple Tree Yard, I got more of a vibe of classics by Ruth Rendell/ Barbara Vine as I read Blood Orange. It is very definitely debut from their very worthy successor and it enthralled me in the same way as many of their novels did – using the crime genre to explore the way that women are judged by society if their sexuality or conduct is viewed as unacceptable in the eyes of the people around them and making you think hard about parenting, gender roles and domestic abuse in a way that never interferes in the telling of a bloody good story.

Readers seem to have had a really fantastic response to the flawed, compelling main character, Alison who is so adept at the finer details of her legal cases and so adrift in her own domestic arrangements, and I think this pays testament to how fantastic Harriet Tyce’s writing is. People seem to be reacting to Alison’s character as if she is a real person;  drawn in by her chaotic and messy story, refracted through the eyes of those around her who all have their own opinions of her as a wife, a mother or as a legal force to be reckoned with. At times, I was so involved in what was going on that I did forget that this was a work of fiction – and don’t even get me started on her husband, Carl…

Harriet Tyce draws us into her Alison’s turbulent world whilst holding us at arms length too, which Alison does to everyone – having a double life as a respectable lawyer, wife and mother, alongside her illicit affair with the unobtainable and sexually magnetic Patrick takes a lot of juggling and self control and it is easy to see how difficult it is for Alison to keep all the strands of her life separate and keep her head clear for the complex murder case she has been waiting for her entire career.  The mystery at the heart of the case is cleverly handled and allows us to draw us closer to the truth whilst never really seeing what is creeping up on the perimeter of the story.

I found myself turning back to the start of the book to see the clues that were there all along in this delightfully twisted tale. Harriet Tyce skilfully leaves us with enough crumbs to navigate our way through the story whilst at the same time, leaving us as vulnerable to manipulation and deceit as some of the novel’s characters. You definitely need to work a little for yourself in the reading of this novel and the scattering of the clues is done so very skilfully that it is incredible that this is her first novel. It deserves every single word of the praise it has been garnering since its launch and is definitely going to be one of those books that you start seeing absolutely everywhere.

Harriet Tyce is incredibly talented. She draws the reader into Alison’s disturbing and disorientating world and forces you to experience these events with her. Whether you can retain sympathy for her flawed and imperfect character will be a very personal response and this is one of the novel’s key strengths: Blood Orange forces you to respond to complex moral issues in a complex way – and once you’re drawn into Alison’s story, it won’t let you go without a fight.

Thank you so much to the lovely Anne Cater for inviting me on the Blog Tour for this absolutely unforgettable read.  It’s such a gorgeous looking book that I took immense pleasure in displaying it in my #OnTheShelfie and I’m sure you’ll agree it looks absolutely gorgeous there

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I loved discovering that Harriet Tyce is a fellow Scot and I am desperate to attend her event in The Edinburgh Bookshop later this month although it’s totally sold out. I’m on the waiting list and have everything crossed that a miracle occurs and I get a last-minute ticket – If you’re going, I’m really jealous!

If you don’t manage to get hold of a ticket, you can comfort yourself with treating yourself to a copy of Blood Orange here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I think you will

 

Writer On The Shelf

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Harriet Tyce grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University before practising as a criminal barrister for the next decade.

After having children she left the Bar and has recently completed with distinction an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia.

Blood Orange is her first novel.

You can follow Harriet on Twitter @harriet_tyce and visit Harriet’s website here.

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Belle Hotel Blogtour

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13 October 2008. Welcome to the worst day of Chef Charlie Sheridan’s life, the day he’s about to lose his two great loves: his childhood sweetheart, Lulu, and the legendary Brighton hotel his grandfather, Franco Sheridan, opened in 1973.

This is the story of the Belle Hotel, one that spans the course of four decades – from the training of a young chef in the 1970s and 80s, through the hedonistic 90s, up to the credit crunch of the noughties – and leads us right back to Charlie’s present-day suffering.

In this bittersweet and salty tale, our two Michelin star-crossed lovers navigate their seaside hangout for actors, artists and rock stars; the lure of the great restaurants of London; and the devastating effects of three generations of family secrets.

When Anne Cater invited me on The Belle Hotel blog tour, I was delighted as it combined two things I absolutely love – cooking and the seaside! I absolutely love Brighton and its atmosphere of fun and nostalgia and the setting was a huge aspect of why I loved this book.

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The hotel in this novel is almost a character in its own right as we follow it through history across the decades – We see it in the 70’s when I was growing up, right through until its demise around ten years ago and this was one of the things that I also really loved. Books that span various decades are always a real nostalgia-fest for me and I loved being taken back in time to my own family’s seaside holidays in the 1970s and 80s – from Punch and Judy shows to seeing Keith Harris and Orville and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Franco and Charlie’s adventures in running the Belle Hotel across the years was really enjoyable to lose yourself in. The eclectic style of the book, interspersed with recipes such as Omelette Arnold Bennett Lobster Belle Hotel also added to my enjoyment of this read as did the snippets of letters, memos and receipts. It felt like we were fully immersed in the ‘memory’ of the Hotel itself and exploring all these fragments really added to my reading experience.

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I loved the idea that we time travel through the book and see the ups and downs of the Hotel’s history from the other side of the front desk. The fact that Craig Melvin has worked in this industry himself for so long means that this novel has a totally authentic feel to it and I really wondered exactly how much of it was based on his own experiences in the hotel industry across the years.

Having been a waitress in the holiday hotel industry myself as a student I found much to connect with and laugh about in these pages –  I read it aloud to my sister at times to see how much she’d agree with how realistic it was. It sparked so many memories and laughs about our own experiences, through reading about some of the funny moments in the hotel’s long and frequently hilarious history and I definitely felt that the book’s eclectic structure made it easy to keep picking up and indulging in another slice of the hotel’s interesting history.

The book has been described as a ‘Foodie One Day’ by The Big Book Group and I loved that idea – the story of Charlie’s romance with his childhood sweetheart Lulu is one of the most satisfying aspects of The Belle Hotel and there are some bittersweet moments where you’ll definitely be wondering what on earth he is doing as well as plenty of times where you’ll be rooting for him.

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This is a departure from the gothic reads that I’ve been immersed in over the winter and I found it a real palate cleanser to be beside the seaside enjoying the ups and downs of hotel life over the last week, reading The Belle Hotel. If you are after something totally different and feel intrigued to find out more about the fascinating history of The Belle Hotel, then grab yourself a copy right here

Thank you so much to Anne Cater and Unbound for inviting me on the tour and introducing me to another memorable and thought-provoking read that I might never have discovered otherwise. Another reason why I love #Bookblogging so very much

Follow the tour and see what the other Bookbloggers have enjoyed about it too!

Writer on the Shelf

Craig Melvin

Craig Melvin holds an MA in Creative Writing from Sussex University and works as restaurant consultant in London and Brighton.

He was mentored by Albert Roux at catering college and has worked in the restaurant and hotel business ever since.

He also runs http://www.lunarlemonproductions.com with his wife Mel.

The Belle Hotel is his first book.

 

 

The Sewing Machine Blog Tour

 

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents.  His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

‘A tapestry of strong characters and accomplished writing’ Herald Scotland
‘A hopeful and poignant debut that lingers long after the final page’ Helen Sedgwick, author of The Comet Seekers
‘An extraordinarily accomplished and beautiful debut novel woven with historical detail’
Rachel Lucas, author of Wildflower Bay

The Sewing Machine is the kind of novel that I absolutely love. Three stories connected across time with lives and experiences that you are equally drawn to and whose stories you can move between effortlessly.  Natalie Fergie writes Jean, Connie & Fred so convincingly that you really feel that you’ve spent time in their worlds, making it very hard to pull yourself away. It’s a novel made for long winter afternoons and I got lost in it in my winter break in gorgeous Ayrshire this year.

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The three characters’ stories are all very different and their connections with the sewing machine itself are for very different reasons – what they have in common, however, is a very real feeling of authenticity. It feels like time travel in the very best way. It gives you a chance to experience three very different worlds and get a glimpse through the keyhole in a way that so very few writers are able to conjure for their readers.

 

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Jean and Donald’s involvement in the strike – where 10,000 workers walked out after an incident in the Singer factory made me go off and explore this fascinating episode of history that I’d never previously known about and talk about it with my mum. It is amazing to see how workers were treated by large companies not even that long ago and I loved the way that Jean and Donald’s personal story was brought to life beautifully against the historical background surrounding their romance

 

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Connie and Alf’s story moves us forward in time to a time that many of us will be able to connect with through the tales forged in our own childhoods and told to us by our parents and grandparents. Both my nana and my mum were talented at sewing and my little sister and I spent many happy hours playing with the button boxes, rick rack braid and pinking shears in our childhood. One of the things that I loved best about this book was how much I connected with it personally and the fact that 10,000 other people have loved it too means that Natalie Fergie’s book is clearly allowing lots of people to time-travel seamlessly back into their family’s past.

I often find that multiple narratives can result in you feeling drawn to one that you found more engaging at the expense of the others. Not so here. There was a pleasing balance of all of these stories through their connection with the sewing machine. All of the threads of these stories were so cleverly stitched together that the patchwork take of these lives has stayed with me long after finishing it.  Her characters were so well-drawn that I felt like I knew them and wanted to dedicate my attention to the way their stories interconnected, rather than feeling that one overwhelmed the other.

 

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Natalie Fergie is such a talented voice. She draws the reader into her characters’ worlds and makes them live for us as we read.  Jean and Connie’s tales are all the more powerful due to their connections with real-life events.

The way that Fred’s modern-day story is linked to the past through the discovery of the notebooks was a wonderful device to connect the present and the past seamlessly and allowed us to see that sometimes a book can be so well-written that being brought to tears by its characters seems just as natural as being moved by episodes of your own family history. I cannot recommend it warmly enough and am so delighted that it’s had such success. If you haven’t already put it on your 2019 TBR list, then you absolutely should now.

Here is the link to treat yourself to a copy right away

 

I loved this gorgeous book so much that I devoured it in a single day. Thank you so much to Anne Cater at RandomThingsTours for inviting me to take part in this very special tour

I absolutely loved Fictionophile’s blogpost -and the accompanying picture was just perfect

 

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Now, I’m just waiting on her next one…

 

Writer On The Shelf

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Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast and has spent the last ten years running a one-woman dyeing business, sending parcels of colourful and unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this, she had a 27-year career as a nurse and latterly, as a Health Visitor.

Natalie lives near Edinburgh with her husband, and a dog called Boris. Her sons have flown the nest.

The Singer 99k which was the inspiration for the novel has had at least four previous owners, possibly more. It was bought for £20 from someone who lived in Clydebank, just a stone’s throw from the site of the factory where it was made a hundred years earlier.

It’s quite possible that there are another eight sewing machines in her house.

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Material Remains Blog Tour

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A small world fractured in the wake of an untimely death

On a hungover Friday morning, Mike McEwan’s life of tea, pints, late mornings and the occasional essay comes to an abrupt halt. Consumed with guilt, grief and confusion, Mike haunts the ruins of St Andrews, rebuilding them in his mind and obsessing about the loss of someone he barely knew, unsure of his place in her life, or her death.

The discovery of an ancient plague burial site drags Mike back into contact with those around him. But life has changed, both for himself and others, and the burial ground holds more than the bones of those long dead.

Mike peels back the layers of earth and the darkness of its history and tries desperately to connect the victims of the past to the tumult of his present.

Student life around him continues at its own bizarre and drunken pace. Late-night parties, stolen golf carts and ridiculous drinking games go on for most as always. But others have been dragged in as well, and look on Mike with suspicion and rage.

 

 

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As someone who studied in St Andrews, I was intrigued by the premise of a book set somewhere so familiar to me – so when Anne Cater invited me onto this blog tour, I couldn’t have said yes fast enough. Add that to the fact that I love books with a mystery at their heart and ones that draw me in from the very start with an intriguing premise – and it’s safe to say that I was really looking forward to Material Remains…

 

This book grabbed me and pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the way that Mike dealt with Charlie going missing and the journey that he went on in exploring his reaction to her disappearance. At times, I felt like I was right back in St Andrews in the pub with Mike and his friends and I feel that this book has really captured that experience perfectly.

Richard Bray is an excellent writer – it’s hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by the disappearance and want to know more about what is being hinted at beneath the surface and the mysterious connections with the burial grounds.  You’ll definitely want to read on and find out exactly what has led to Charlie’s vanishing and how Mike will deal with this situation as student life continues around him despite his loss. It is an evocative read that will make you feel like you are there, walking up the scores and popping in for a pint with Mike and his fellow students.

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I really liked the way that Material Remains asks us to look at events from an unusual perspective and re-see them, once we have a greater understanding of everything that Mike been through in order for us to reevaluate our understanding of what ‘the truth’ actually is. This was a much more intriguing read than I expected – I started off just being drawn in by the St Andrews link and even though it was great to reminisce about Raisin Weekend and high jinks on the beach, I really did begin to immerse myself in the story and enjoy the ideas that emerged through the many ‘deep and meaningful’ stories that these students were exchanging.

 

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This isn’t just a straightforward thriller or mystery. Material Remains goes a little deeper than that and asks us to think about the way that time resonates with the present and the past and how our experiences of grief and loss will affect each and every one of us differently. The end of the novel makes us rethink again everything that we’ve discovered earlier and will leave you deep in thought at the end, for sure.

 

Anyone interested in history, Scotland and human emotions will love this novel. I  had really high hopes for Material Remains and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. Even though this book touched on dark and difficult subject matters at times, it was dealt with very sensitively and Charlie’s disappearance wasn’t sensationalised or dealt with in a brutal or dismissive way.

 

 

Get yourself a copy here

Writer On The Shelf

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Richard W H Bray is an award-winning author (and is a touch smug about this). When not making wine in south-west France he writes books and tries to work out how to move back to Scotland. His first book, Salt & Old Vines, was published by Unbound and you should buy that too.