The Outrageous Fortune of Abel Morgan – Blog Tour

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Synopsis: 1660, England. War is at an end, yet for Christopher Morgan his personal conflict rages on. Haunted by the tragic death of his wife, Christopher is desperate to escape the pain her memory brings, although looking into the eyes of his young son, Abel, he cannot help but be reminded of what he has lost. Over time, father and son develop a strong bond until they are callously torn apart when Abel is snatched by smugglers and sold overseas. From the shores of Constantinople to the coast of Jamaica, time and tide keep them apart. Christopher will sail across oceans to find Abel, never losing faith that one day they will be reunited, and, as the years pass, Abel will learn that fortune favours the brave.

Book Information:
ISBN: 9780749023348
CATEGORY: Fiction
BIC: FV
FORMAT: B format
PB PAGES: 384
RIGHTS: World English
PRICE: £8.99
Turnaround Publisher Services Pubeasy E:
orders@turnaround-uk.com
EBOOK EDITION ISBN: 9780749023294
DISTRIBUTION: Faber Factory

My Review

Going to start off by saying that this was a really well-drawn out and plotted book, the pacing didn’t drag and the characters are so unique from each other. The plot and subsequent sea adventuring had a very Stevenson feel to it, I was transported back to Treasure Island in the whimsical and realistic writing style and I enjoyed that more than anything else.

While this is more about Abel when he gets older, it’s certainly just as much about his father and I have to say that Christopher was my favorite character in the novel. He had an array of emotions, prone to bouts of melancholy, and yet, there is a true kindness to him a lot of the times. He’s also proven to do whatever it takes to save his son, trying to track him down all the way to Constantinople! He finds himself along the way and redemption, never daring to seek forgiveness for past actions that haunt him but forced to face some of them along the way.

He is a man with certain morals and values and in my opinion the true hero of this story.

Another aspect I absolutely loved about Christopher was that he was bisexual, having an eternal love for his wife and well, I won’t spoil it for you, but also keeping another in his memory, a man yes, and a man that he often recalled on in his thoughts.

Abel doesn’t share as many as his father’s qualities, but he’s not to blame considering he was ripped away from his father and grew up under very different circumstances. Unfortunately, I didn’t really find him sympathetic after he gave up his seafaring ways. He does not have the same gentleness, again he grew up differently and at the end, I suspect I was ‘team’ Turlough rather than team Abel. This doesn’t take away from the journey of Abel and the subsequent journey of his father and they both have such fascinating lives because of this tragedy set in motion when Abel was taken.

I give this four cups of coffee just for Christopher and seafaring adventures alone, and the love of a father and son ❤

Content/Trigger Warnings: Slavery, abuse, marital rape, violent deaths

Highlight for Marital Rape explanation/spoilers: I really didn’t like Abel after a scene of Marital rape, I’m not sure it added anything to the story which is why I did not give this five stars. My sympathy lay with Marie after that and after another certain tragedy and from then on I couldn’t find Abel to be sympathetic. I do understand that his wife was supposed to be viewed as manipulative but it just didn’t seem to fit the rest of this really wonderful story.

 

About the Author

Cynthia Jefferies

Cynthia Jefferies is a long-established writer for children, whose work has been
translated into more than a dozen languages. She was born in Gloucestershire
and her love of history was encouraged by regular family outings to anything of
interest, from great cathedrals to small museums. Having moved to Scotland
and back to Stroud, she has always made time to write and her abiding interest
in Restoration England has never left her. The Outrageous Fortune of Abel
Morgan is her first historical novel for adults.

Author Website

 

The Rest of the Tour Schedule

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Ed Book Fest Day 3

Hey everyone!

So last night was my final day attending the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I’m now poor and more than that, I hate going around Edinburgh when it’s full-blown festival season.  [Road rage while walking is REAL for August in that city, folks]

Who did I go see?

The lovely Samantha Shannon again

AND

Holly Black!! [I have loved her books since I was like 15, which is half my life guys!]

Kirsty Logan did a great job panelling, asking questions and making sure that they were the sort of questions that could apply to both authors.

Also, I’m pretty sure there’s some conspiracy that makes all authors really super at reading out loud.

[In general, I sound like a really unimpressed chipmunk, so like, obviously my author dreams are out the window, but I digress.]

The authors were asked about how they do their worldbuilding to introduce the readers to their worlds.

Samantha starts us off with the answers, talking about it’s a balance as you have to avoid info-dumping but you still need to give a way for the readers to submerge into the world. There’s also the difference with Fantasy in that a lot of times you don’t need to understand the beginning of it, so as she read the book to her family who did not read a lot of the genre they had so many questions on the first page alone. This part cracked me up as she said they kept interrupting asking who the stranger in the sea was, why was he in the sea, and so forth. Seriously, my sides hurt from that panel.

Holly agreed on the info-dumping and that you have to try and not bring the story to a halt while explaining things to readers. The plot must go on!

When asked about their writings of female characters in the Fantasy genre, I mean we know that it’s still pretty male-dominated but the women are slowly taking over but Kirsty had them speaking about what it was like, did they make the conscious choice to have their female protagonists or did it come naturally.

Also as they discussed the fantasy genre and talked about the dominating protagonists of it, Kirsty Logan gave us this gem:

Pale, Male, and Stale.”

Such an accurate description of the genre.

Samantha Shannon wrote a book she wanted after watching Lord of the Rings, as we know Arwen is more prevalent and gets to be a badass in the movie versus in the books so when she read the books and was so disappointed, it spurred her to write the book she wanted to read.

Holly, on the other hand, said it was obviously a conscious choice to make female protagonists but it wasn’t one she did for any reasons other than…

I’m a lady, writing about ladies.”

And honestly, that’s fair enough, because that’s why I write female characters in my own hobby writing.

Holly then goes on to say she was about halfway through the book when she realized that the characters were almost all girls when reading The Priory of the Orange Tree. And her reaction was brilliant haha as was Samantha’s response of,

It’s because I tricked you by adding some men.”

They talk veered toward their discussion of characters, we went into the ‘strong female’ archetype and dissection of it with Samantha while Holly said she loved characters who make mistakes but of course for women characters, as they discuss ‘strong female character,’

Women [are] often punished for making mistakes.”

And it’s true, many times male characters do not face the same scrutiny and backlash that women characters do.

I won’t give you a rundown of everything but suffice to say we also covered retellings, their purposes depending on their reason of writing the retelling and their story origin ideas and processes. This includes writing a standalone compared to writing series books and diversity in characters.

And I think I’ll leave you all with these thoughts and end it here, for now, I will go into a post of my own about ‘strong female characters’ and diversity of characters and worlds another time built off this discussion!

Here are some pics of the books I had signed!

I was SO excited to have Holly Black sign these, and I LOVED that she was happy to see these editions and even complimented me on my upkeep of them despite having moved about 14x with them.

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This was my second time getting a book signed by Samantha Shannon so I brought along my charity shop find of The Bone Season and talked with her a little, mostly telling her I already had Priory signed and I accidentally dropped it on my foot and almost died. I wanted to be way more …normal while talking to her but it was like 10:15PM, I was barely coherent.

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Ike & Kay – Blog Tour

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Acclaimed author and managing director of The Times Literary Supplement, James MacManus, creates a compelling historical novel that brings to life an unbelievable but true love story set during the Second World War. In 1942, Cork-born Kay Summersby’s life is changed forever when she is tasked with driving General Eisenhower on his fact-finding visit to wartime London. Despite Eisenhower’s marriage to Mamie, the pair takes an immediate liking to one another and he gifts Kay a rare wartime luxury: a box of chocolates. So begins a tumultuous relationship that against all military regulation sees Kay travelling with Eisenhower on missions to far flung places before the final assault on Nazi Germany. She becomes known as “Ike’s shadow” and in letters Mamie bemoans his new obsession with ‘Ireland’. That does not stop him from using his influence to grant Kay US citizenship and rank in the US army, drawing her closer when he returns to America. When the US authorities discover Eisenhower’s plans to divorce from his wife they threaten the fragile but passionate affair and Kay is forced to take desperate measures to hold onto the man she loves…

My Review

MacManus has an effortless flow to his storytelling and you’re transported back to the 1940s. He doesn’t get overly flowery in details and yet he gives great descriptions. Like the title implies this is a story about Ike and Kay, his driver, there are a couple of other chapters that are from the POV of others but they are part of history and their story in a way so it does work.

Kay was an interesting character and you could have a good bit of sympathy for her for the choices she makes, knowing she does things usually with the best intentions/out of love.

I do think MacManus did a commendable job with Ike, we’re not meant to idolize him in this and in fact he does a lot to show him as someone who achieved quite a bit but didn’t go unscathed by making mistakes in his personal life. I really didn’t like Ike, but not because of MacManus’s lack of competency, rather, because he did so well writing him. He is not the hero of this story.

The historical aspects of this were hands down my favorite parts, and the romance was as grey and confusing as I think it was meant to be.

Overall it was an intriguing read and I really enjoyed learning more about Ike through this as it definitely led me to look into him more after being fascinated by this book!

Thank you to Duckworth Publishing for a free eBook of this in exchange for my honest review as part of the blog tour.

 

About the Author

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James MacManus is the managing director of The Times Literary Supplement. After studying at St Andrews University he began his career in journalism at the Daily Express in Manchester. Joining The Guardian in 1972, he later became Paris, and then Africa and Middle East Correspondent. He is the author of several novels including On the Broken Shore, Black Venus, Sleep in Peace Tonight and Midnight in Berlin. James MacManus has three children and lives in Dulwich, London.

 

The Rest of the Tour Schedule

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The Last Concerto – Blog Tour

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Synopsis: 
Famed for its natural beauty and rich history, Sardinia in 1968 is notorious, too, for the bandits who kidnap wealthy landowners for ransom. Eleven-year-old Alba Fresu’s brother, and her father, Bruno, are abducted by criminals who mistake Bruno for a rich man. After a grueling journey through the countryside, the two are eventually released—but the experience leaves Alba shaken and unable to readjust to normal life, or to give voice to her inner turmoil.
Accompanying her mother to cleaning jobs, Alba visits the villa of an eccentric Signora and touches the keys of a piano for the first time. The instrument’s spell is immediate. During secret lessons, forbidden by her mother, Alba is at last able to express emotions too powerful for words alone. Ignoring her parents’ insistence that she work in the family’s car dealership and marry a local boy, Alba accepts a scholarship to the Rome conservatoire. There she immerses herself in a vibrant world of art and a passionate affair.
But her path will lead her to a crossroads, and Alba will have to decide how to reconcile her talent with her longing for love and family, and convey the music of her heart…

Book Information:
Written by: Sara Alexander
Published by: HQ
Publication date: 22/08/2019
Format: Paperback Original £7.99 [Available in eBook & audio]

My Review

I know I’ve said it probably about fifty times by now but as a musician, I tend to be drawn toward books that have music in them. The fact this one had a different musical term each chapter and sections divided into movements, well, I’m completely biased in loving that part of them. But, I’m here to talk about the content of this book, which took me on an extraordinarily emotional rollercoaster. This is a story about a woman having the courage to go after what makes her passionate, music.

The first chapter was a bit of a hesitant introduction for me, but the moment I got past it, it was like something just clicked in me. I could recognize a love of music and the difficulty of perhaps wanting different things than are expected of you. And I’m sure a lot can relate to one or the other if not both. Alba is quiet, the power of her voice is put into her music, and even then, due to her past, she would restrict it and the power of finding her voice.

Seriously, watching her deal with her childhood as being the odd one out, and a girl in her household to experience life in Rome and as a concert pianist, it’s all wonderful and you just want the best for her but Alexander gives us a healthy dose of realism in that she gives both highs and lows. Some things are so soul-crushing, I just want to hug Alba but you know that she is going through this route because she’s chosen music. And to be fair this ending won’t have you crying like a baby in sorrow, so, it’s got a satisfying ending.

Alexander enthrals with her descriptions of music and food, and for me, well, I delighted in the musical descriptions but I do think that if you’re not a fan of heavy descriptions you may not appreciate this paint brushing of each scene before you.

Alba deals with issues from the past that follow her, whether they arise from family or past lovers and I loved watching her handle things differently as she grows up and oh, that ending. ❤

If you are interested in reading a book about a woman following her dream against the odds, that has believable romance subplots, and a healthy dose of humanity, I definitely recommend reading The Last Concerto. Four cups of coffee from me!

 

About the Author

HarperCollins Author Page
Sara Alexander attended Hampstead School, London, and went on to graduate from the University of Bristol, with a BA hons in Theatre, Film & TV. She followed on to complete her postgraduate diploma in acting from Drama Studio London. She has worked extensively in the theatre, film and television industries, including roles in much loved production such as Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Doctor Who, and Franco Zeffirelli’s Sparrow. She is based in London.

 

GIVEAWAY ALERT

I happen to have an extra copy, thank you HQ Stories, so you know that means? GIVEAWAY TIME! [UK Only this round guys] Comment on here for an extra chance to win a copy, follow/RT on twitter for the ‘first’ chance!

The Rest of the Tour

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Ed BookFest Day 2

Hey guys, so here I am to talk about my second day of attendance to Edinburgh Book Festival.

Yesterday I got to hear AL Kennedy speak, the author of The Little Snake. Which I reviewed here.

It’s a call/response to The Little Prince and an amazing read that packs so much power in so few pages.

I’m also partially in love with AL Kennedy now haha, I mean, talk about WHAT a speaker!

Kennedy starts off with the readings and picked some great ones as they were some of my favorite scenes, and the quality of the readings really hit home of the impact and message of her novel. This is about a snake who is the personification of death, it’s about a little girl, and it’s about what they can learn from each other as well as what we can learn from them and their friendship.

And, I mean, it’s a snake that’s a harbinger of death and gets to end a politician’s life, so I mean, that was just an extra awesome moment lol.

Kennedy speaks of how Lanmo our dear snakey snake has some days off now as people are efficient at killing each other at this point in time [in the story and well to be fair in my opinion in real life as well].

This is more than talking about The Little Snake though and I loved where Kennedy was coming from with the discussion in general.

Kennedy also goes into depth about how today there are people/companies out there whose sole objective is to keep humans from being kind to one another but that, in the end, they will always fail and man do I think that is SUCH an important message to promote because there are times we can lose sight of that, that hopefully more often than not when someone is in need, others provide.

Of course in a more digital age, it can be way too easy to ignore what others might need or to lend a helping hand, and yet we still manage to have gofundme and petitions, so, Kennedy provides this glimmer of hope that I think we all need right now;

The Proper purpose of being human is to help.”

Also, a good point is brought up, the sliding scale of annoyance is drastically cut down now, it’s more like ‘I’m annoyed, I wish you were dead’ instead of like ‘Eh, I’m annoyed, but I don’t want you dead.’

And, well, I was SUPER awkward, yet again, I can’t help it, there’s something about authors that bring out the most awkward of turtles in me, BUT I was happy because this was the first time I got the courage to ask a question during the question time of the panel.

I asked Kennedy why she chose the snake versus other aspects of The Little Prince to adapt, and well, it’s a love of reptiles and feeling that maybe there was more of a connection to the animals than people when reading the story. Kennedy also bears a hatred to the rose that I really could identify with, inner child me and me now both detested the rose, and I think that the imagery Kennedy provided with the rose being eaten by a million sheep and then found in the remanents of their waste is pretty much the best ending for the rose.

Then I got to talk to some great people in the queue and Kennedy signed my copy that Canongate Books gifted me, and it was like such an awesome end to my first week at the book festival and I can’t wait for my last event on Tuesday which is with Samantha Shannon and Holly Black.

Okay, this turned more into a gushing fan rant and discussion of the panel rather than a little summary but I have no regrets.

And I mean….Look how close I was! [This picture is before the panel started as they don’t allow photos during, whoops, didn’t know that until then!]

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Oooh AND AND Here are some pictures of my signed books if you all want a glance!

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The one in the middle is my notebook for the Fesitval lol I just wanted it in the picture too

 

The Return of King Lillian Review


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GoodReads:
The Return of King Lillian is a mythic journey tale – a metaphysical fantasy for dreamers and nonconformists of all ages.
So, why the manly moniker in tandem with the womanly name?
“The Firstborn Child of The Emperor-King Inherits the Ruling Crown, the Title of Emperor-King and All Powers Thereof.” (Item 37, The Royal Manual)
Enter Lillian, the firstborn child of said Emperor-King. Cast out of her Kingdom by malevolent forces, mysteriously waylaid by Destiny, the spirited, self-reliant Lillian sets off on an exuberant journey to find her way home and claim her birthright. As she travels through marvelous and mystical lands in search of her origins, Lillian encounters and befriends a kaleidoscopic cast of characters. Most of the tale is told by Lillian herself, as she chronicles her extraordinary adventures.
The audiobook of The Return of King Lillian is performed by the author, Suzie Plakson.
This is probably one of my favorite retellings ever now. I do have a soft spot for retellings in general but Plakson just knocks it out of the park for creativity. Lillian is such a bright, enigmatic, and innocent character with a heart so full and pure that I cheered her on from page one. This has a bit of a ‘Princess Bride’ meets ‘Wizard of Oz’/’Alice in Wonderland’ feel. It’s whimsical in all the best ways and though beautiful and lush with some darker moments it can fit a wide range of ages as far as reader audience goes.

Honestly, this was an incredible read.

Lillian writes in her book, and to her book, so as you read it’s as if she’s writing to you. She writes as she speaks so that makes from some creative spelling and word choice and it’s a lot of fun in that way. Also, this has a feel of the old fantasies and tales, there’s a character going on a long quest with a bunch of adventures along the way and a great slew of companions and character interactions.I’ll expand on this more when I write up a review on my blog but needless to say I completely love this book.

^ This was my GoodReads review, and to expand on it, this book really stuck with me. I mean I think about it randomly when someone asks about retellings. Obviously, there are some great ones out there but I just felt this was one of the more creative ones and it left me yearning in a pretty nostalgic manner. This harkened me back to again The Princess Bride [in terms of style, not content] where I chuckled, but more than that fleeting style comparison, it reminded me of the older books such as The Wizard of Oz, or Alice in Wonderland as I stated in the GoodReads review. There’s this sense of exploration of new lands and adventures, and a hero travelling through a world but instead of focusing on the world, we see bits of it as we go, piecing it together and focus on the adventures.

Lillian is a great protagonist and I loved her, and it’s not completely without heartache but it was little enough to be almost refreshing in that sense. She overcame quite a few things, and there was sadness, but that wasn’t the main focus of Lillian’s thoughts, she was carrying forward most of the time, toward a goal.

Not to mention, how many times can we recount a retelling or adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes and Plakson just completely blows me away. [I’m a HUGE Andersen fan so I can be picky]

I was also lucky enough to be gifted an audiobook copy from the Maestro herself, and I’ve delighted in listening to it with my daughter. In fact, this was an audiobook first and the fact that she has turned it into an equally beautiful novel on paper, that there’s no difference and they both flow flawlessly says a lot about her talent with words.

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for a chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

Ed Bookfest Day 1

Hey guys!

So I’ve been busy the past couple of days. Saying that I’ll be catching up on blog hopping today with my blessed day off from running to Edinburgh for the Book Festival…which…has been amazing!

**That featured image belongs to EdBookFest definitely not meeeeee, please no one sue, I am poor*

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I saw Joanne Harris, and she signed my copies of Chocolat and The Gospel of Loki and she was just the sweetest person ever, I felt so star shocked meeting her and then Alexander McCall Smith.

Harris mostly discussed her newest novel The Strawberry Thief her writing process and how it feels to come a bit full circle with the world of Chocolat  and how her works aren’t different genres but rather more like same ideas from a different perspective. < I loved that so much I wrote it down.

Rosette is also such a different child than Anuk in these books and I loved the reading Joanne Harris did of her chapter. A girl considered different but she has a voice and Harris does her justice in bringing that voice to light.

She also discussed so much else about evil and more on Rosette that I’m going to leave for another blog post. Suffice to say I am an even bigger fan now after hearing her speak.

It was a bit of a crammed day because right after her book signing I have to turn tail toward the tent I had just left before it to Smith’s event. He was hilarious and just like this spark of life that I aim to be now let alone like five years from now lol.

He discusses his writing process, and it was so interesting to hear the differences described between him and Harris, both wonderful writers, two completely different processes [I mean that’st o be expected but it really hit home after hearing both in one day].

Smith is a man who loves what he writes, he finds the humor in it and doesn’t mind having a laugh at what he’s writing, but he also provides such warmth to most of his stories as well.

Meeting him, I only own Dream Angus [Thank you Canongate!] and the rest are more library reads for me when it comes to his works. And let me tell you, this man is a genuine sweetheart. He shook every single person’s hand, he sat to the side of the table so people could take better pictures with him and he stopped to chat with everyone, he didn’t care how long the line was, everyone was given his time.

I also had a fangirl moment and gave him a thumbs up instead of saying bye as I got flustered. I’ll probably never live that down.

Today I went, just to take my daughter to look around while the hubs was in a talk, we get to do a bit of coloring and of course, I broke down and bought her a book, and even got one for the hubby.

Anyway, I’ll be talking more about what both authors spoke about in different posts.

I leave you with my parting gift which I’ve also put on Instagram and Twitter because I find it pretty funny

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