Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly @jollyalice @unbounders @annecater #blogtour #bookexcerpt #BetweentheRegionsofKindness

 

Between The Regions Cover

Between the Regions of Kindness written by Alice Jolly, publisher Unbound, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link: https://amzn.to/2IUf1RV

Book Blurb

Coventry, 1941. The morning after one of the worst nights of the Blitz. Twenty-two-year-old Rose enters the remains of a bombed house to find her best friend dead. Shocked and confused, she makes a split-second decision that will reverberate for generations to come. More than fifty years later, in modern-day Brighton, Rose’s granddaughter Lara waits for the return of her eighteen-year-old son Jay. Reckless and idealistic, he has gone to Iraq to stand on a conflict line as an unarmed witness to peace. Lara holds her parents, Mollie and Rufus, partly responsible for Jay’s departure. But in her attempts to explain their thwarted passions, she finds all her assumptions about her own life are called into question. Then into this damaged family come two strangers – Oliver, a former faith healer, and Jemmy, a young woman devastated by the loss of a baby. Together they help to establish a partial peace – but at what cost?

Between The Regions of Kindness BT Poster

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Alice Jolly’s latest novel: Between the Regions of Kindness.  I have the pleasure of sharing an excerpt:

Before
Rose – Coventry, April 1941

The dawn must come – that’s all that Rose can be certain of now. Fumbling up the steps, pulling Mollie behind her, she sees its band of grey staining the blackness above a jagged line of roofs. She puts a hand against a wall to balance herself, heads for where the gates must be, stops when she gets there, steadies herself once more against their blistered metal. For a moment, the silence is absolute – the streets, the city, breathe out knowing that the night is ending. Rose gulps a deep breath but ash furs her throat, and she gasps, coughs, feels the sting of smoke in her eyes. She puts Mollie down and the child wobbles, clings to Rose’s leg, starts to howl. Rose bends down and buttons Mollie’s coat, then shakes her to keep her quiet.

The street is white with a frost of broken glass. Rose steps forward into the muffled light, her hand gripped around Mollie’s arm. Phantoms start to stumble from the shadows, caked in plaster dust, clinging to one another as though blind. An elderly man comes towards Rose, staggering over broken kerbstones. He has a colander on his head and his bare legs stick out from under his dressing gown. His knotted hands grip the colander and he sings – Nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be, when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

A water main has burst and damp seeps through the soles of Rose’s shoes. She reaches down and picks Mollie up, steps out of the spreading puddles. Ahead of her, through the smoke and drizzle, a fire engine is slanted against the jagged outline of a blackened wall. Above, tangled wires dangle from a drunken telegraph post. The sound of bombs still smashes through Rose’s head, pounds in her chest, and at every imagined blast the street buckles under her feet. Voices ricochet around her. God be praised. Where? Where? No All Clear this morning. Wires blown right out the ground.

People gather around a man standing by the gutter, filling a kettle from a drain and pouring water into glass bottles and mugs. The trouble with the shrapnel is that it does jam the lawn mower. Rose’s teeth chatter against the edge of a tin cup. The water is clouded and tastes of ash and soap but she gulps half of it down, then bends to hold the cup for Mollie. All the stories are at an end. So what now? Where can we go? The questions form in her mind but she considers them without concern. The mystery is that she and Mollie are alive. Of course, the house has gone, she knows that. It was the Bostocks’ house and she’d been staying in the sitting room. At least the Bostocks had left the city and Arthur was out at Division B First Aid. But she’d left her gas mask there, her ration book, her last ten-shilling note. And Frank will, would have…

She turns to a woman standing close by. Shackleton Street? Is this the end of Shackleton Street? Where’s the pub? The woman turns, her eyes vacant. She wears red wool socks and pieces of cardboard are tied under the soles of her shoes. Her head shakes, she turns away.

The end of Shackleton Street? The colander man catches hold of Rose and pulls her around, as though he wants to dance. Rose keeps Mollie gripped tightly against her. The end of the road? It certainly is. Except the end ain’t even here, is it? The bloody end and not even any end. A mountainous woman appears, upholstered into a tweed coat. Taking hold of the colander man, she pushes him away. As the man steps back, his dressing gown falls open, revealing long underpants, a furrow of purple ribs. He pulls the dressing gown back around himself, bursts into tears.

The woman steers Rose and Mollie away. Rose recognises her as Mrs Bartholomew, the butcher’s wife, the woman who sold her a steak as green as grass and called her Mrs Von Mayeford. But now Mrs Bartholomew’s grip is steady on Rose’s arm. You need to get to the Rest Centre, love. At Barkers Butts school. Can you hear me, love? The Rest Centre.

I need to get to the end.

No, Mrs Bartholomew says. No, love. No. Can you hear me? Mrs Bartholomew is pulling Rose and Mollie back towards the College. Here we are. Butt Street. Can you hear me? You know where you are now, love, don’t you? Butt Street. Just keep on going. She pushes Rose and Mollie on.

The morning is arriving now, listless and blank. From an upstairs window an elderly woman shouts at the sky, grips a singed cat. Seen the worst in November. Wasn’t it enough? On and on, not a bleeding brick standing. Outlined against the bruised sky, a school hat, a pair of field glasses and several pairs of smalls dangle from the blackened branches of a tree. A wooden mangle is hooked over a lamp post and a parachute bomb, like a vast iron coffin, is suspended between the gable ends of two houses. Small boys stand under it, leaping and throwing stones, until a warden drives them away.

About the Author

Alice Jolly Author pictureAlice Jolly is a novelist and playwright. Her memoir Dead Babies and Seaside Towns won the PEN Ackerley Prize 2016. She also won the V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize awarded by the Royal Society of Literature in 2014 for one of her short stories, `Ray the Rottweiler’. She has published three novels previously, What the Eye Doesn’t See, If Only You Knew and Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile. She has also written for the Guardian, Mail on Sunday and the Independent, and broadcast for Radio 4. She lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Twitter:  @jollyalice

Website: http://alicejolly.com/wp/

The Hourglass by Liz Heron #blogtour #bookreview

 

The Hour Glass Cover 1

The Hourglass written by Liz Heron, publisher Unbound, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link: https://amzn.to/2SznW1q

Book Blurb

Spring 2000. Paul Geddes visits Venice to research the fin-de-siècle opera singer, Esme Maguire, seeking out a cache of papers held by Eva Forrest, the widow of a collector. What he reads begins in the 1680s, moving through the city s later history of Enlightenment and Revolution, describing a life stretched beyond human possibilities.
She travels across Europe to sing in Regency London and Edinburgh, then Belle Epoque Paris, always returning to Venice, its shadows and its luminosity, its changes and its permanence.
What would it be like to live for nearly 300 years, as an exceptional being who must renew herself time after time, as those she has loved age and die? Could this story be grounded in reality or be merely the product of an ageing woman s delusion, as Paul suspects.
Warily, Eva and Paul fall in love, their tentative emotions bringing them closer until, on a trip to the Dolomites, Eva s past catches up with her.

The Hourglass Blog Tour Poster

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating Liz Heron’s latest novel: The Hourglass.

The Hourglass is quite an unusual, imaginative story that spanned centuries.  Our minds visit Venice and it’s opulence and we discover the world of operatic theatre.  The extravagant venetian masks proved a useful aid to hide oneself both physically and emotionally from the world beyond the mask.  It is a historical time-slip romance that has a paranormal feel to it.  You can sense an eerie chill whilst reading and learning about Eva.  The sand in an hourglass doesn’t stay still for long as something will disturb it’s balance and set if flowing again.

Paul Geddes research on the opera singer, Esme Maguire, takes him to Venice and to Eva Forrest who holds many papers on the subject.  The papers are very captivating and enlightening and you are soon swept away to the 1600’s and to a world that became that little bit more awe inspiring with the beautiful voice of a young girl, Esme Maguire.

It is quite a beautiful love story that has had so many highlights but the lows are debilitating and almost unbearable.  For our leading lady who has outlived all her loved ones and has to constantly flee in fear of her secret to be revealed.  At times we have thoughts of living forever but forever is such a long time without your loved ones by your side.  What appears as a gift of hope and wonder became a never ending emotional drain.

I love the cover of this novel it is very opulent with the stunning masks but also shows signs of darkness and mystery.

When I was reading this novel I quickly wrote this note:  an author can take you to the unimaginable, they will break down the barriers in your mind.  Liz Heron has done this and more with The Hourglass her words have bewitched me and were quite thought provoking.  Liz Heron brought Venice alive with her atmospheric prose and I was moved and captivated by this imaginative tale.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liz Heron Author PictureLiz Heron grew up in Scotland and studied at Glasgow University. After living in Paris, Madrid and Venice, she embarked on freelance life in London, contributing arts and literary journalism to Spare Rib, The New Statesman, The Listener, The Village Voice, New Society, The Guardian and many other publications. Her literary translations from French and Italian range from Georges Bataille and Giorgio Agamben to the novels of Paola Capriolo. Her own books include Truth, Dare or Promise, a compilation of essays on childhood, and Streets of Desire, an anthology of women’s 20th-century writing on the world’s great cities, both published by Virago, as was her short-story collection, A Red River (1996).
Liz began researching her novel, The Hourglass, during her second spell of life in Venice.
Her website is lizheron.co.uk
She writes a blog, mainly on film: lizheron.wordpress.com

Apple Island Wife: Slow Living in Tasmania by Fiona Stocker #blogtour #bookexcerpt

 

Apple Island Wife cover design final

Apple Island Wife: Slow Living in Tasmania written by Fiona Stocker, publisher Unbound, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link: https://amzn.to/2E6EFQI

Book blurb

What happens when you leave city life and move to five acres on a hunch, with a husband who s an aspiring alpaca-whisperer, and a feral cockerel for company? Can you eat the cockerel for dinner? Or has it got rigor mortis?
In search of a good life and a slower pace, Fiona Stocker upped-sticks and moved to Tasmania, a land of promise, wilderness, and family homes of uncertain build quality. It was the lifestyle change that many dream of and most are too sensible to attempt.
Wife, mother and now reluctant alpaca owner, Fiona jumped in at the deep end. Gradually Tasmania got under her skin as she learned to stack wood, round up the kids with a retired lady sheepdog, and stand on a scorpion without getting stung.
This charming tale captures the tussles and euphoria of living on the land in a place of untrammelled beauty, raising your family where you want to and seeing your husband in a whole new light. Not just a memoir but an everywoman s story, and a paean to a new, slower age.

Apple Island Wife Blog Tour Poster

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating Fiona Stocker’s travel memoir: Apple Island Wife.  Fiona Stocker has kindly chosen a great excerpt from her book:

I developed a repertoire of mood-enhancing substances to help me raise a family thousands of miles away from my own. A small white tablet upon rising. Coffee at ten or eleven. Dark chocolate mid-afternoon, often taken in the private space of the pantry. I did more research and added omega three with boiled eggs and salmon for breakfast. With dinner, I had a glass of chilled white wine.

Most of all, I made sure the children and I stayed connected to the outside world, every day. Part of the daily routine for Daisy, Kit and myself was a walk along the road. It was a slow affair, sometimes bordering on torturous, with every blade of grass and wildflower having to be admired along the way. A toddler’s concept of a walk is a very different thing from an adult’s, and doesn’t necessarily involve walking at all. It could take half an hour to get out of the house, being dependent upon the stars of sleep and feeding aligning for Kit, and the pram, scooter, helmets and sunhats being located for the rest of us.

But once out in the fresh air and making our way incrementally along the verges, everything took on a different hue. There is much to be said for allowing the cobwebs of the mind to be swept away by a spring breeze, for the kiss of the sun upon the skin. Whether we were wrapped up warm against the winter cold, or in hats and shorts in the early morning or late afternoon summer sun, allowing our bodies and souls exposure to the elements was restorative and joyful. It was something I knew in theory to be important, but I had to make a conscious effort and remind myself to get out there.

In Brisbane, our walks with Daisy around the neighbourhood had been an inquisitive peek into other people’s gardens and lives. We once spent a day watching a backyard swimming pool being craned into place over the house behind ours.

In country Tasmania, a whole new repertoire of neighbourhood sights was rolled out before us, of nature, farming and the weather. We came to understand our neighbours’ endeavours better by the season. In early springtime there would be calves in Jacko and Barb’s sweeping paddocks, hovering by their mothers’ sides, their coats glossy and black. Later they would be replaced by lambs, woolly and frisky, bleating and scampering away from us. The children loved to spend time by the fence watching them all.

‘What is dat thing on the cow’s tummy, Mummy?’ asked Daisy one day, of a creature with a calf at foot.
‘That’s its udder,’ I replied. ‘That’s how it can feed its calf lovely milk and help it grow.’
‘So it will grow into a big girl, Mummy? Like me?’ Daisy was sorting a lot of things out in her mind at this point. And she liked milk.
‘Yes, and then into a lady with a calf of its own,’ I continued, not sure about this mixing of species.
‘I am growing into a lady too. I have just got flat boobies, dat is de problem.’ She patted her tiny chest through her fleecy jacket.

It was the first inkling I had that living in the country was going to be marvellous for teaching my children how life worked. It was playing out in the paddocks all around us. As I listened to their thoughts, and stood at the fence line, breathing in the summer air with its salty tang from the Bass Strait, or bracing against the winter winds from the central mountains, I had a strong sense of how this place would nourish our lives. Being out in the midst of it made me feel I was in a place closer to where we were intended to be.

Late one afternoon at the end of winter, a white-bellied sea eagle crossed our paths, clearing the treetops beside the road suddenly, circling slowly, its wings outstretched. Unbidden, the children stopped in their tracks. We all watched soundlessly as it landed on a fence post at the side of the road metres away from us. Suddenly it looked back towards us and we regarded each other, equally astonished. Its white head and chest were pristine, its wings buff brown, its eyes keen, although not that keen as it had failed to see us even from its vantage point in the sky. It was in its prime, a picture of strength and agility, every feather in place, the ultimate example of what the environment around us could support. For that brief moment it made all our hearts beat a little faster, and inspired us.

Over the years, I continued to walk daily along my piece of ribbon through the landscape, with the children, with Oliver, with a dog or alone. The sights and sounds, and all the other sensory experiences of the outdoors, never fail to galvanise me.

Thank you so much to the author for sharing this excerpt it sounds a fascinating read and such a comparison to urban life.

About the Author

Fiona Stocker Author PictureFiona Stocker is the author of travel memoir Apple Island Wife – Slow Living in Tasmania, published by Unbound in 2018.

Raised in England, Fiona Stocker now lives in Tasmania where she writes freelance for magazines, newspapers and online publications, and runs a niche farm, food and tourism business in partnership with her husband.

She occasionally works as a ghost writer and editor, and was a judge in the Tasmanian Short Story Competition in 2016. Her first book, A Place in the Stockyard, a history of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture featuring its members, was published in 2016.

Read more and subscribe for a quarterly newsletter at http://www.fionastocker.com/ or read Fiona Stocker’s blog at http://www.appleislandwife.com/

Fiona Stocker lives in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania, with her husband, two children and around forty-five pigs.

Apple Island Wife is her first travel memoir.

Twitter @FionaCStocker

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie blogtour book review @NatalieSFergie @unbounders

The Sewing Machine New Cover

The Sewing Machine written by Natalie Fergie, publisher Unbound, is available NOW in ebook, paperback, audiobook and audio CD format.

With over 100k ebooks sold to date this family saga is now available as a trade paperback for the first time with a stunning new cover.

The paperback is available from WaterstonesWHSmith and amazon (link below).

To buy link: https://amzn.to/2SGO4qk

Book Blurb

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.

Sewing Machine Blog Tour Poster

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the trade paperback release of Natalie Fergie’s debut novel:  The Sewing Machine.

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie was first published in April 2017 and has sold over 100k ebooks and has consistently been placed in the Top 20 Women’s Historical Fiction charts.  This is such an outstanding achievement for a debut novel and after reading The Sewing Machine I can totally understand why as I believe it’s an epic read.

Natalie Fergie’s writing flowed perfectly and her words took you back to the lives of working class families from Scotland.  The lives of Jean, Connie, Fred and Ruth are reminiscent to coloured threads on a knitting machine that once woven together make the perfect cosy wrap.  This novel was so well researched you could feel the love and time that Natalie Fergie undertook seeping out from the words on the pages.  The Sewing Machine is one of the best debuts I’ve read and the author should be so proud of her book baby.

This book ticked lots of boxes for me, it captivated me into the lives of workers at The Singer Sewing Machine factory in Clydebank.  It takes you back to industrialism in 1911 and we experience a monumental event in history when thousands of workers went on strike.  This strike was to change the course of Jean’s journey but she didn’t want to leave her first place of employment without leaving a little something behind.

A singer sewing machine was a tool of employment, it was a tool for women at home to help clothe the household and also bring in extra money, it was also a tool for creativity and a tool of love.

One machine was to bring joy during sadness and hardship and it was also the catalyst of a romancing of the soul and heart.  This machine would watch families grow, it would see them face their first job interviews, see them wed and rejoice in the birth of little ones.  The symbolism of the sewing machine was like a beacon of hope to all.

Natalie Fergie has written a story of life, of love, of hardships and of hope.  I feel almost honoured to have had the opportunity to read this novel as it was just brilliant!

About the Author (taken from amazon)

Natalie Fergie Author PicNatalie Fergie lives near Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city.
Her debut novel, The Sewing Machine, was published in April 2017 and is set in Clydebank and in Edinburgh. You can walk to many of the real life Edinburgh locations in the book, browse the shelves in the library the characters visited, and stand in the grounds of the Royal Infirmary looking up at the windows, as they did.

Natalie writes mostly from home, in a room overlooking the Forth Valley, with the Ochil Hills in the distance. When she isn’t writing, she is plotting her next book while she makes soup, or walks the family labrador.

Her website is at http://www.nataliefergie.com and you’ll find her chatting about anything and everything on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/NatalieSFergie and on Instagram at http://www.instagram/NatalieSFergie

 

 

The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson blogtour book review

 

The Glorious Dead Cover

The Glorious Dead written by Tim Atkinson, publisher Unbound, is available NOW in ebook and hardcover format.

To buy link:  Waterstones – https://bit.ly/2yWylID

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2SK1E9H

Product Details

What happened when the Great War ended and the guns stopped firing? Who cleared the battlefields and buried the dead? It’s 1918 and the war may be over but Lance-Corporal Jack Patterson and the men of his platoon are still knee-deep in Flanders mud, searching the battlefields for the remains of comrades killed in action. But duty isn’t all that’s keeping Jack in Flanders. For one there is Katia, the daughter of a local publican, with whom he has struck up a romance. And then there is something else, a secret that lies buried in Jack’s past, one he hopes isn’t about to be dug up…

The Glorious Dead Blog Tour Poster

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Tim Atkinson’s novel: The Glorious Dead.

In August this year I felt very privileged to go on a visit to Flanders Field, near Ypres, Belgium.  Flanders Field was a major battle site during the First World War 1914-1918 and now it is home to many WWI War Cemeteries, Commemorative monuments and historical areas of interest.  I visited many of the war grave cemeteries including Essex Farm and Tyne Cot and the whole visit completely moved me.  When I was invited to read and review this novel by Tim Atkinson I had no hesitation in accepting.

The author, Tim Atkinson, has undertaken vast research with this book which is based on fact surrounding the men who had been employed by the War Graves Commission.  Men that had witnessed the daily grind of war, a war that had taken the lives of so many of their comrades but had spared them to now search the land to find the remains of the men who had lost their lives, to identify them in order for them to be reburied with dignity at one of the many war graves in an around Ypres.

Reading through the pages of The Glorious Dead I felt like I was reliving my visit to the cemeteries but this time I was visiting back in 1918.  Tim Atkinson has written a raw, honest interpretation of a time back in 1918 and 1919 to a task that was so brutally painful and gritty and was also very dangerous with the debris of ammunitions still lying around.  Interspersed between the horrors of the remains of the war Tim Atkinson has woven humour, camaraderie and romance within the storyline.  At times the story is very difficult to read and you are wracked with emotion but these glimpses of humanity and life still going on give the story hints of warmth.

I was completely enthralled by this novel, it was very poignant with it’s raw account of events, it had touches of mystery and of unjust.  You could feel a sense of belonging to the time and to the place and you could also understand why so many men and women found life very difficult after the war.  A story of war that is not always told.

I’d like to share a quote from the novel which particularly resonated with me:

lives made heavy by the weight of Flanders mud that still sticks to them like clay.

About the Author

Tim Atkinson Author PictureTim Atkinson is a teacher, author and award-winning blogger. He studied philosophy at the University of Hull and has worked variously as a filing clerk, lay-clerk, chain-man and school teacher. He was born in Colchester, brought up in Yorkshire and now lives in Lincolnshire.

 

Website:  https://www.timatkinson.info/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/dotterel

I’d also like to share a few of the photos I took during my visit to Flanders Fields in the summer.