Nothing To Hide Blog Tour

Suspended from duty after her last case ended in the high-profile arrest of one of Britain’s wealthiest men, DC Constance Fairchild is trying to stay away from the limelight. Fate has other ideas . . .

Coming home to her London flat, Constance stumbles across a young man, bloodied, mutilated and barely alive. She calls it in and is quickly thrown into the middle of a nationwide investigation . . . It seems that the victim is just the latest in a string of similar ritualistic attacks.

No matter that she is off-duty, no matter that there are those in the Met who would gladly
see the back of her, Con can’t shake her innate determination to bring the monsters
responsible for this brutality to justice.

Trouble always seems to find her, and even if she has nothing to hide, perhaps she has
everything to lose . . .
The new book in the brilliant Constance Fairchild series, from one of Scotland’s foremost crime writers.

 

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‘THE NEW IAN RANKIN’ Daily Record

‘OSWALD’S WRITING IS A CLASS ABOVE’ Express

Constance Fairchild novels, James Oswald, No Time To Cry, Nothing to Hide

Having enjoyed No Time To Cry so much, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Nothing to Hide as I loved the main character – the whirlwind that is Constance Fairchild. I loved reading that when James Oswald had been thinking about this character he wanted to make her very different to her name – and he certainly has!

When Constance arrives back to her flat and is faced with the bloodied body of a young man, she is plunged headlong into another intriguing case – with a ritualistic angle that really proves to be very intriguing. It must be so difficult for crime writers to keep coming up with fresh and exciting ‘cases to crack’ and I think that this is one of the aspects of James Oswald’s writing that is gathering the most acclaim. You really feel like you get a deep dive into the case with Constance and her somewhat unorthodox way of proceeding with things really sets her apart as a protagonist.

I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to dwell too long on the plot of Nothing To Hide as I want you to be able to experience all the twists and turns for yourself – suffice to say that the skilful way that Oswald weaves the many and disparate elements of this case into the narrative is superbly done and remains convincing throughout. I know at times it can feel like the fictional world is saturated with male/ female detective teams with complicated back stories but the first novel in this series took a wholly  unexpected turn  as Constance’s partner in crime is wiped out leaving her to battle to solve the mystery whilst she herself might be in the frame for the actual crime…

James Oswald, Nothing to Lose, Constance Fairchild, hardback, ebook, audio

 

I loved the way that this novel wove many threads together – a convincing detective story, a nod towards the ritualistic side of the dark arts, an examination of what it is to serve as a police officer and the impact it has on those that take up this often thankless career and the impact it can have on our lives in a much wider way than we might have anticipated – and I also enjoyed the references to Scotland in this novel that definitely made me resolve to read more texts from Scottish writers that I might not have encountered before – with this article handily pointing the way

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Nothing To Hide 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 punch and never lets up in terms of keeping you second-guessing its ending right up until the final few pages.   I can’t wait to see what @SirBenfro does next. I’m a sucker for a fantastically written crime read and Constance is one of my favourite female creations. I can’t wait to see where this series goes and heartily recommend it for whiling away a long dreich winter afternoon by the fire.  Away and treat yourself – You’ll thank me for it.

Buy yourself a copy here

Writer On The Shelf

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James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries. The first two of these, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. Set in an Edinburgh not so different to the one we all know, Detective Inspector Tony McLean is the unlucky policeman who can see beneath the surface of ordinary criminal life to the dark, menacing evil that lurks beneath.

He has also introduced the world to Detective Constable Constance ‘Con’ Fairchild, whose first outing was in the acclaimed No Time To Cry.

As J D Oswald, James has also written a classic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro. Inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, it follows the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men. The whole series is now available in print, ebook and audio formats.

James has pursued a varied career – from Wine Merchant to International Carriage Driving Course Builder via Call Centre Operative and professional Sheep Shit Sampler (true). He moved out of the caravan when Storm Gertrude blew the Dutch barn down on top of it, and now lives in a proper house with three dogs, two cats and a long-suffering partner. He farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night

 

 

The Photographer of the Lost

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Until she knows her husband’s fate, she cannot decide her own…

An epic novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I1921. 

Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search.

Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

Every photograph has a story, every story needs an ending

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If you got the chance to have a read of my #SpringReads Column earlier this year, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, especially one that’s set during this period. I absolutely love books that have real historical characters and events woven through them and often go off on a mission to try and find out as much as possible about the people living at the time of characters that I’ve fallen in love with after finishing them as I get so caught up in the story. The Photographer of the Lost was right up my street and I loved having it arrive just before my recent holiday to Rhodes so that I could dedicate a whole day to this wonderful book and find myself totally caught up in the beauty and pathos of its story.

 

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This is the latest read from Caroline Scott who I came to know at first through her non-fiction writing – particularly her fantastic book about the Land Girls which I totally loved. This novel just proves that her range is exceptional– she can literally write about anything.  This is an emotional and harrowing read at times with every element of it absolutely pitch-perfect. I could not tear myself away from its fascinating insights into the lives of those whose loved ones ‘never made it home’ and I absolutely adored the way its characters stepped right off the page and spoke to me as real people who moved me so much! Perhaps the fact that I work at a military school that sent lots of its 17 year olds off to Flanders fields made it an extra poignant read for me but at times I could barely see to read the pages as it was so emotional…

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The Photographer of the Lost is a stunning historical read that undoubtedly allows Caroline Scott to deploy all of her historical research and use it to make this narrative feel utterly authentic and bring to life these experiences so vividly  that lots of the time I forgot that they were characters in a book as it felt like these were real people that I was getting to know.  I was fascinated to think about the effort and research that went into this novel – which  has ensured that you definitely feel like you are time-travelling into this post-war world and experiencing events alongside these families as they seek to find their loved ones’ final resting places.

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I absolutely love it when my own world and the world of a book that I am reading coincide – it always feels serendipitous!  It was amazing to read about these lost boys whilst investigating the stories of my own school’s fallen soldiers and  ‘meet’ them through the pages. Harry and Edie are such vivid creations that I felt like I was able to walk the ‘Western Front’right alongside them and reflect on the millions of boys, like my own school’s who never made it back.

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Through Harry & Edie’s experiences, we are allowed an insight into the way that the war affected the lives of those left behind – perhaps even more so as they had to struggle onward with unanswered questions and fears about the fate of their lost ones – often with no answers to be had.  The Photographer of the Lost is one of my reads of the year so far – you cannot fail to be drawn into this fully-realised historical world. If you adored Birdsong or The Nightingale,  you’ll absolutely love this book and I cannot wait to see what my fellow historical novel buffs think about it. It’s getting some amazing pres and it’s all absolutely deserved!

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The Photographer of the Lost is available now  – it would be an absolutely wonderful git for someone and in this season of Remembrance, I could think of no more fitting gift for someone close to you. I’m sure that they’ll love it just as much as I did. 

If I haven’t convinced you yet, take a look at what these other fantastic fellow bloggers think

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Writer On The Shelf

Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France.

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The Fortune Teller’s Promise Blog Tour

 

The Fortune Teller's Promise - Blog Tour Poster.jpgCounting things in threes usually calms Dell’s crippling anxiety—the passionflower vine along the shop wall, the jimsonweed by the roadside, the sleeping valley in the distance—until the day her baby daughter goes missing.

1979, Virginia. Growing up amongst the sprawling valleys and forests of Blyth, beautiful young Dell has always had a natural intuition for how to fix other people’s hurts, if not her own. She hopes for a better future, although thanks to her alcoholic father and narcissistic mother, happiness seems far out of her reach. She certainly could never have predicted holding her baby girl for the first time, and the life-changing, powerful love she would feel when she did.

Even as a heartbroken single mother in a small town riddled with gossips, she suddenly feels that she can do this. She can raise her daughter. But when she turns to her own mother for help, her mother convinces her that the child would be better off with another family. With nobody to fight her corner, Dell must watch the local church take the baby away, leaving her alone and completely devastated.

Dell feels there’s nothing left for her in her tiny hometown but heartache and shattered dreams, and so she flees, vowing never to go back. It finally seems like luck is on her side when she finds a small shop for rent, overlooking the peaceful Shenandoah Valley. This quiet corner of paradise feels like the perfect place to heal and use her gift to help others heal, too. Until Dell’s mother tracks her down to tell her that her baby girl is missing.

Dell knows she won’t find out where her child is in the stars or on her palms. Instead, she must do the one thing she promised she never would. She must return to Blyth.

Will what Dell finds there finally heal her fragile heart, or break it into a thousand irreparable pieces?

An unforgettable and heart-wrenching debut about the endurance of love, the power of forgiveness, and finding beauty in the world around us. Your must-read book of 2019.

Perfect for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, Kristin Hannah and Kerry Lonsdale.

One of the reasons that I most love book blogging and blog tours is that no two books I’m ever invited to review are the same. When I was invited onto the tour for The Fortune Teller’s Promise I was really excited as I always like reading books that I’ve not got a preconception of before I  begin.  Discovering new favourite reads can be one of the best things about being a book blogger – e as well as hearing what all my other blogging friends thought too. It’s like a virtual book group where you are waiting every day to see what other people enjoyed about your book…

I was really intrigued to read The Fortune Teller’s Promise as  I love novels that deal with family relationships and how different generations interact and the complexities that lurk beneath the surfaces of most families’ lives.  As soon as this book arrived,  I wanted to open it up and find out how these family members’ lives would unfold and I loved the fact that it was set somewhere that clearly meant a lot to Kelly Heard as she grew up somewhere very very similar.   I loved the initial premise of family separation and the idea of returning somewhere from your part to try and resolve your future.  I found this book totally engrossing once I’d started: I really wanted to get to the heart of this story and discover what had happened to Dell’s baby and how she would respond to the shocking and unexpected news of her disappearance.

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I also enjoyed the way that Kelly Heard’s novel allows us to see the reality of families and the complexity of relationships, rather than just the ‘happy ever after’ that we are so often presented with in fiction and I think that this is one of the things that I enjoyed most about this book. The way that you can feel so connected to and distant from your own roots is exceptionally well-drawn and a testament to her skill as a writer that we really believe in the relationships and interactions with one another in the small-town setting of Blyth.  I’m sure that there are many people reading this novel and nodding their heads in recognition at the way this town works and some of its inhabitants.

The way that Kelly Heard builds in the uncertainties about what’s really going on beneath the surface and slowly develops our understanding of what is going on in the heads of these characters is convincingly done and leads to you feeling like you can really start to understand Dell as a character and empathise with the challenging situation she finds herself in and I’m looking forward to hearing what my sister thought of her over a long coffee date as soon as possible.

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The scenes where Dell is trying to deal with the ramifications of the disappearance and the impact of this on her emotionally have an incredibly realistic feel and the comparisons with Kristin Hannah are definitely well deserved. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to immerse myself in the intricacies of this world and found it really thought-provoking to think about what I might have done in Dell’s situation and admire her bravery and resilience in the way she dealy with such an impossible situation.

The Fortune Teller’s Promise is a moving and immersive read as it takes a genuine look at what we really mean by ‘family’ It allows us a glance into relationships where peoples’ needs are complex and real and dares us to ask ourselves what we might have lost along the way in our own lives. Its’ setting in Virginia is another aspect that I really enjoyed and it really made me feel like I was able to immerse myself in events where the beauty of the surroundings and the complexities of what is unfolding is deftly juxtaposed.

 

I always enjoy a book much more if I’m not hyping myself up before I read it and The Fortune Teller’s Promise was exactly that. It was definitely a grower and I found myself thinking about these characters and the repercussions of their choices whilst driving to work and marking my essays at school this week. I will definitely seek out more books by Kely Heard and am keen to keep pushing myself to choose more novels by writers that are new to me in the second half of 2019.

Treat yourself to a copy of The Fortune Teller’s Promise here

One of the things I always do if I’ve loved the setting of a book is to follow it on the fantastic site The Book Trail  – Follow the Book Trail here for The Fortune Teller’s Promise

Writer On The Shelf

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I’ve written to entertain myself since I learned how to write the alphabet, but sharing my work with others will always feel new to me.

I started writing novels in high school, but finally wrote one I loved enough to query in 2017. That book will release later this year with Bookouture, along with another to follow in 2020. 

I grew up in the mountains of Virginia, but currently live outside Richmond with my husband, our daughter, and the worst-natured house cat that has ever lived.

I prefer writing to most other pastimes, but you’ll occasionally find me in the garden, hiking, or exploring thrift shops (the spookier the better).

Twitter is the best way to keep up with me, though I’ll share news on releases here as well. 

 

The Glittering Hour Blog Tour

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1925. The war is over and a new generation is coming of age, keen to put the trauma of the previous one behind them. Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing whose life is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure; to parties and drinking and staying just the right side of scandal. Lawrence Weston is a struggling artist, desperate to escape the poverty of his upbringing and make something of himself. 

When their worlds collide one summer night, neither can resist the thrill of the forbidden, the lure of a love affair that they know cannot possibly last. But there is a dark side to pleasure and a price to be paid for breaking the rules. By the end of that summer, everything has changed. A decade later, nine-year-old Alice is staying at Blackwood Hall with her distant grandparents, piecing together clues from her mother’s letters to discover the secrets of the past, the truth about the present, and hope for the future.

 

As so many of my blogposts will testify, I absolutely adore a period read and this has to be my favourite of this year. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and giving me the chance to be transported back in time and getting the chance to meet Selina and Lawrence, who again have to be one of my favourite romantic pairings of 2019.

I loved the fact that this pair of star-crossed lovers, from totally different backgrounds, were brought together by what feels like fate one hot summer evening.  A Summer evening that ends up having enormous repercussions for Alice 10 years later, and I  was totally engrossed in her story that we uncover and the chance to hear more about the cache of letters that she uncovered.

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Its the roaring 20s when the Bright Young Things were at the peak of their decadent denial of the war years. We first meet Selina when she’s caught up in a rackety and decadent world of parties, afternoon cocktails and midnight high jinks.  Her only fears are wearing the wrong thing or being seated next to a frightful bore at dinner.

The party on the night in question takes the guise of a treasure hunt where the guests must rove around in packs deciphering the clues. Instead of cocktails and flirting, this party takes an unexpected turn when’s Selina finds herself taking care of a wounded animal and this is where Laurence enters her world.

Lawrence is from a wholly different social stratosphere- he’s  a struggling artist who is Totally different to the young well bred society chaps that Selina is accustomed to, and pretty bored of meeting. As the summer unfolds, they rub shoulders at many summer entertainments and seek each other out at society exhibitions and parties – finding a strong connection in each other despite their social divide. As you can imagine, this relationship is very much frowned upon and has to be carried out with a bit of ingenuity as Lawrence is definitely not what most well-bred mamas were expecting their daughter to ‘catch’ in a successful Summer season. Selina Is definitely not one to obey social rules and throws caution and etiquette to the wind as she falls deeply in love with someone who she cares for far more than society’s expectations…

 

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Alice plays the role of narrator in this novel and we fall absolutely in love with her story as this novel draws us skilfully in. She’s 10 years old when we meet her at Blackwood Hall, the home of her grandparents. She reminded me a bit of Mary in The Secret Garden as her life is quite a lonely one, in a world where she’s cared for by servants and governessses and misses her mother dreadfully. In order to assuage the pain of their separation, her mother challenges her to a treasure hunt – using her old letters like riddles to give her clues about her history and her past. This allows Alice to ‘meet’ her mother across the years, giving us an insight into the events of 1925 from a very personal perspective which really worked for me. I felt like this book held me in its spell and took me backwards in time so that I was experiencing these events right alongside them.

The fact that we are experiencing the narrative through two very distinct timelines is something else that I really love in a novel and I found myself equally captivated by both aspects of the novel.  I found Alice to be an intriguing and captivating character  and very much enjoyed the agile and intelligent way that she dealt with the mysteries in her mother’s letters and found myself rooting for her to be reunited with her mother soon after all her ingenuity.

 

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This is the perfect read for a cosy afternoon on the sofa and it feels weird to be posting this from sunny Rhodes in the Dodecanese on my October break. Today is my blogging anniversary – it’s been 3 years since I wrote my very first blogpost and I can’t think of a better book to be celebrating my blogsversary with.

Make sure that you follow the rest of the fabulous bloggers on this RandomThings Tour and see how much they loved it too.

Treat yourself to a copy here

Amazon UK

 

Writer On The Shelf

Iona Grey Author Picture

Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters.

Follow her on Twitter: @iona_grey.

 ‘An epic story of joyous hedonism and desperate heartache. Just beautiful’ CATHERINE ISAAC 

‘Stunning’ VERONICA HENRY 

‘Gorgeously written … I loved it’ JILL MANSELL

 ‘An enchanting, evocative read  ‘THE SUN 

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Brandos Bride – Blog Tour

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In October 1957 Marlon Brando married a young studio actress called Anna Kashfi. He was thirty-three and at the pinnacle of his beautiful fame having recently won an Oscar for ‘On the Waterfront’.

The wedding was front-page news around the world. His new bride was twenty-three, claimed to be an Indian princess and was pregnant.

The day after the wedding a factory worker living in Wales, William O’Callaghan, revealed that Brando’s bride was, in fact, his daughter, Joan O’Callaghan. He said she had been a butcher’s assistant in Cardiff.

Who was telling the truth and who was lying? And, perhaps most importantly, why?

It’s no secret to anyone who regularly reads my blog that I love a true story and go off down rabbit holes after reading books as I’ve got so caught up in the lives that have unfolded before me.  I think that Hollywood’s thin veneer of glamour and the grit behind the greasepaint particularly fascinating and so I was dying to read this book when Anne Cater invited me onto the blog tour.

On 11 October 1957, Hollywood actor Marlon Brando married Anna Kashfi (pictured), 'a 23-year-old actress from Darjeeling.'

 

Anna Kashfi, the first wife of Hollywood icon Marlon Brando, is someone who I’d never even heard of – but the blurb was absolutely intriguing.  Although her troubled life has largely been forgotten in the annals of Hollywood legends, I was delighted to discover Sarah Broughton’s vivid and fascinating research and literally could not put this book down.

Strikingly ‘exotic’ Anna Kashfi was born to Indian parents Devi Kashfi and Selma Ghose. and actually grew up in India, relocating to Wales when her mother met William Patrick O’Callaghan. Anna first hit the bright lights when she was cast in  The Mountain (1955), with Hollywood icons Robert Wagner and Spencer Tracy. and the rest, as they say, was history…

The truth – if you prefer to believe Patrick O’Callaghan – was that all this was absolute balderdash:  his daughter was actually called plain old Joan and didn’t have a drop of Indian blood running through her veins at all. The myth behind the legend was absolutely that – total myth. So who do you believe? This novel will let you have a look at the full story, warts and all.

Anna Kashfi was really Joan Mary O'Callaghan from Cardiff, a former cashier in a butcher's shop (Pictured: Anna/Joan and Marlon)

 

This book allows us to go ‘behind the stage’ and get a closer view of the story from all perspectives. Looking at the way Hollywood operated and the lure of the bright lights and how it encouraged young starlets to have a ‘story’ and stick to it whatever the cost.

Anna’s story would still be absolutely fascinating in its own right, even if she had never even met Marlon Brando. But the fact that her life collided with genuine Hollywood royalty added another layer of intrigue and fascination to the story for me.  I

Brando’s Bride is an intriguing and exceptionally clear portrait of the inner workings of  Hollywood at this time and the dense and impenetrable logic of the fabled studio system. These studios maintained an absolute iron grip over their budding starlets – and the psychological impact of this intense scrutiny and pressure is abundantly clear to see as we look at Anna’s trajectory and of the fellow starlets she was surrounded by on these lots.

The couple remained locked in combat, as, on her wedding day, Anna was pregnant

Broughton’s writing is clear and reads well, it never comes across as research shoehorned into a story and I feel that we are allowed to see Anna as a real person rather than an incidental starlet who intersected with Brando the legend.

After finishing it, I went off happily to pore over old photographs and read more about Anna and her foray into the bright lights and stardust of Hollywood and came away curious about the other British actresses that made their way across the pond and the personal cost that comes with this level of fame and the levels of scrutiny you are living your life under.

Buy yourself a copy of the book here. I read it last Sunday and got totally lost in it – the way I used to over old black and white movies on my grandmother’s settee on a cold wintry afternoon.

This article came up in my research and was a fascinating companion piece to the book itself

 

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Writer On The Shelf

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Sarah Broughton has worked in the television industry for the last two decades. Her company, Martha Stone Productions, made the recent BBC 4 documentary Andrew Davies: Rewriting the Classics – and has various other film and television projects in development. Parthian Books published Sarah’s first novel, Other Useful Numbers. She is currently completing a part-time PhD in Creative Writing at the University of South Wales.

Brando’s Bride by Sarah Broughton is published by Parthian 

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest review, as well as to the lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blog tour.

The tour continues until 20 October 2019 so do check out the other fab bloggers on the tour…

Museum of Lost Love Blog Tour

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In Zagreb, a couple discovers a museum that displays mementos of broken relationships. A whirlwind summer of reconnecting with lost pasts follows.

Tyler is in therapy. Katia and Goran are in love. On a summer trip to Zagreb, the couple discover an unusual museum that displays mementos of broken relationships. Inside, Goran stumbles upon an exhibit that seems to be addressed to him, from a girl he met in a Sarajevo refugee camp at age fourteen.

What follows is a whirlwind summer of reconnecting with lost pasts: Goran confronts the youth he lost during the Yugoslav Wars, Katia heads to Brazil to find her roots, and Afghanistan veteran Tyler pours out his soul. Set against alternating backdrops of violent circumstances, this novel is a soulful testament to the resilience of the human heart.

Every once in a while you read a book that really speaks to you – that might be in its structure, its subject matter, its tone – or in the case of this book – all three at once! I was delighted to be asked to join the Blog Tour on Anne Cater’s birthday and I’d like to take this chance to wish her a very happy birthday from all the bloggers she works with through #RandomThingsTours 

I love a book that confounds all my expectations, but this unusual and creative novel certainly does. It really appealed to me even before reading it as I loved the concept behind it. The fact that I’ve always wanted to go to Zagreb also helped me fall in love with this complex and inspirational tale.

You can only imagine how excited I was when I found out that this place actually exists ad it was all I could do to stop myself packing my bags for Zagreb when I discovered that it would be possible to experience this for myself.

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We all have experienced relationships that just haven’t worked. Whether you are sentimental or not, experiencing the breakdown of a relationship and feeling some of those emotions can definitely be an  overwhelming feeling. I’ve never been to such a personalised museum but I really felt like we were able to access some of its atmosphere filtered through these experiences and it was  described so evocatively I really felt like I was experiencing it through Goran’s eyes. From first love that ended badly through sad separations,  we are drawn through these reminisces and re-live so many memorable moments with the objects of the museum – and what could be more unexpected than finding an exhibit from your own life.

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This novel allows us to follow the life of Goran through his past and discover all the complex events that led us here.  I was really intrigued to find out more about his life and those he intersects with. From the Balkan wars to Afghanistan and then to far away Brazil, we join characters on personal journeys into their own hearts and find out that our experiences do not have to define us – which certainly added an extra dimension for me as I read.  I became engrossed in all of the overlaying stories and the unspoken motivations behind them and often found myself lost in thought about the other stories that ‘might have been’

Barker is such a skilled writer that he does ask us to consider why these characters might behave the way they have with a light touch, and this allows us to build our empathy for them the more we read on and find out their stories – whilst  learning that everyone does ‘walk their own path’ on this life’s journey.

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Even though I am not a true romantic myself, the description of  Goran’s past love story and those of the others was skilfully conveyed. You could absolutely believe in their stories of loss, love and redemption in  this complex and fascinating novel. It was the kind of story that you will return to because of the depth of emotoions conveyed by the characters and the way it prompts you to think about your own wrong paths and broken dreams along the way…

I would like to thank  Anne Cater for a copy of The Museum Of Lost Love to read and review and for inviting me on the tour. It makes me so happy to encounter books through my blogging that I might otherwise never have encountered and I love sharing my views with others so that they might get the chance to pick up something different and love it too.

Buy yourself a copy here

Writer On The Shelf

Gary Barker

Gary Barker, PhD is a leading researcher on men’s use of violence and pathways to non-violence in both conflict and non-conflict settings, and a global voice for engaging men in healthy masculinities and gender equality.

He holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Duke University and PhD in Developmental Psychology from Loyola University-Chicago. He is the founder of Promundo, an international organization that works in post-conflict Africa, Latin America and in the Middle East to prevent violence. Gary Barker has led global action to engage men as fathers, including co-authoring the first ever State of the World’s Fathers (2015) and the first ever State of America’s Fathers.

He has been awarded an Ashoka Fellowship and an Open Society Fellowship for his research and activism. In 2019 he was named by Apolitical as one of the 100 most influential persons in gender equality globally. He has also been a Weissberg Scholar at New York University and holds a Senior Researcher position at the University of Coimbra, Portugal.

His four novels — Luisa’s Last Words, The Afghan Vampires Book Club, Mary of Kivu and Museum of Lost Love – draw on these experiences and have been praised for creating stories of “grace and passion” out some of the world’s most violent places.

 

“…these interconnected stories are both achingly affecting and archly realistic…A moving book about young survivors of armed―and especially unarmed―conflict.” ―KIRKUS

“Gary Barker writes as beautifully and efficiently as any writer I’ve read―not an unnecessary sentence in the entire book. He is Hemingway without the false macho energy, and The Museum of Lost Love is an extraordinary testament to the enduring power of our pasts.” ―RICHARD REYES-GAVILAN, Executive Director, Washington DC Public Libraries

“Inspired by an actual museum in Croatia, in his Museum of Lost Love Gary Barker brings to life an ensemble of characters striving to express love, kindness, bravery and integrity in a world where war, genocide, rape, torture and trauma prevail. At a time when ugliness and despair threaten the most resolute faith, Barker brings us a moral tale that contrasts the high and the low roads. In the end, as he follows several men and women to stirring resolutions, we are, somehow, both gripped by their tragedies and uplifted by their humanity.” ―Michael Reichert, PhD, author of How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men

“War and love are eternal subjects of literature. Therefore, writing about it requires not only a brave, but also skillful writer . Using The Museum of Lost Love as his frame an mixing documents and stories, Gary Barker found an interesting way to connect his lovers over time and continents, telling about their moving, hopeless, tragic but also fulfilling struggle for love.” ―Slavenka Drakulic

“The emotional heft of The Museum of Lost Love is obvious from the first page and never lets up. The characters breathe, they love, they mourn. They stay with you.” ―JENNIFER FOX, Writer/Director/Producer of the award-winning film The Tale

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The Birthday House – Blog Tour

unnamedThe year is 1955, the location picturesque Devon.

In a house by the River Dart, schoolgirl Josephine Kennedy posts invitations to her twelfth birthday party – a party that never takes place.

Horrific violence is committed that night in the family home, leaving all of its occupants dead.

Based on a disturbing real-life crime, this compelling story explores Josephine’s fate through the prism of friends and family – the victims and survivors who unwittingly influenced the events that led up to the tragedy.

Josephine’s best friend, Susan, is haunted by the secrets of the birthday house. Can she ever find a way of making peace with the past?

As a dyed-in-the-wool fan of True Crime  I was intrigued by the premise of this book which is based on real life events.  I was delighted to be  part of the blog tour organised by the fab #RandomThings Queen,  @AnneCater and couldn’t wait to dive in and find out more about this intriguing tale.

This book definitely did not disappoint, it definitely pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book: that this is something that really took place and this really added to the story for me. The way that perfectly ordinary front doors can hold dark secrets behind them was something that really intrigued me and something that I couldn’t stop thinking about as as the novel unfolded.

I absolutely loved the unique feel of this novel and definitely found it really engrossing. I felt that it perfectly encapsulated the tiny minutiae of everyday life in Dartmouth and how that can all be shattered in a split second – which is portrayed most skilfully by Jill Treseder.

Even though The Birthday House deals with domestic issues and village life, it does it in an original way which makes the story linger at the edges of our consciousness even when we aren’t reading it. The characters all  feel very much like real people – rather than mechanisms to explore an  issue – which I’ve often found in novels which want to look at the way we respond to trauma or tragedy.

Jill Treseder is an intriguing  writer – and not just because we share a name –  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 drawn into this story and feel transported back to the 1950s with  Josephine and her family – feeling as caught up in the story as Susan before you finish. It’s not one of these ‘keep looking for the big twist’ stories that people are getting a little bored of now. It’s one of those books that stays with you after you finish reading it though as you’ll think hard about the banality of murder and how it could literally happen anywhere – even in your street.

 

Anyone interested in family relationships, the effect of trauma and mental illness will love this novel. I  was really intrigued by The Birthday House  and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. Even though this book touched on dark and bleak  subject matters at times, it was dealt with very competently and originally and never felt derivative or ‘same old’ same old

The Birthday House was a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally immersed in its characters, its pace and the way it really made me think. I can’t wait to see what Jill Treseder does next. I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion…

 

Buy yourself a copy here and see what you think

 

Writer On The Shelf

Jill Treseder was born in Hampshire and lived all her childhood in sight of the sea on the Solent and in Devon, Cornwall and West Wales. She now lives with her husband in Devon overlooking the River Dart.

After graduating from Bristol with a degree in German, Jill followed careers in social work, management development and social research, obtaining a PhD from the School of Management at the University of Bath along the way. Since 2006 she has focused on writing fiction.

“An engaging, accomplished, structurally-bold examination of a Fifties family tragedy told from the points of view of all involved, The Birthday House is also a profound meditation on grief and trauma and how it can shape us for the whole of our lives.” – Peter Stanford

“As always, Jill Treseder paints pictures in the air and brings her characters vividly to life. A beautifully written and captivating story of love and loss.” – Ian Hobbs, Devon Book Club

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