The Birthday House – Blog Tour

 

 

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BLURB:

The 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?

Book Information:
Paperback: 150 pages
Publisher: Silverwood Books (24 Jun. 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 178132879X
ISBN-13: 978-1781328798

Purchase Link

Amazon UK

My Review

 

A quick but memorable read. It was a fascinating book, birthed out of the need to deal with grief through fiction, to try and provide answers not freely given in the tragedy that occurred in ‘The Birthday House.’ It’s commendable what Treseder has done in trying to find an explanation, writing a sort of novella in the process. The senseless tragedy that has happened will never have a satisfactory answer or even an answer at all but to try and explain it seems natural as this tragedy will continue to affect those touched by it for the rest of their lives.

I really enjoyed this, Treseder has a strong voice and an impressive style, given that she does it all in 150 pages and makes it end on a satisfying note.

The chapters are divided between the people involved in the story, the young best friends, the parents, and even the housekeeper who stumbled upon the horrible discovery, and this is part of the reason why the book felt so fleshed out and was able to feel complete in my opinion.

Four solid cups of coffee, a great and fast read that will make you stop and think at the end.

Thank you to Silverwood Books and Anne Cater for a copy in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the blog tour.

About the Author

I started writing in a red shiny exercise book when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’ activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt able to call myself ‘writer’.
But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of the above.
Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved, but left because I could no longer cope with the system.
This led to a freelance career as an independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.
All these experiences feed into the process of writing fiction, while my non-fiction book The Wise Woman Within resulted indirectly from the consultancy work and my subsequent PhD thesis,‘Bridging Incommensurable Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the University of Bath.
I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in my writing.
Writers’ groups and workshops are a further invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can. I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus and discipline achieved among others in a group.
I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing course to explore this genre in more depth.
I live with my husband in South Devon and enjoy being involved in a lively local community.

Author Links

Twitter | Website

 

The Rest of the Tour

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Winter of the Witch – Blog Tour

 

 

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Synopsis:
One girl can make a difference…
Moscow is in flames, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to blame. Vasilisa, a girl with extraordinary gifts, must flee for her life, pursued by those who blame their misfortune on her magic.
Then a vegeful demon returns, stronger than ever. Determined to engulf the world in chaos, he finds allies among men and spirits. Mankind and magical creatures alike find their fates resting on Vasya’s shoulders.
But she may not be able to save them all.

Book Information:
Written by: Katherine Arden
Published by: Penguing, Random House
Published on: October 3, 2019
Format: Paperback, eBook, Audio

 

My Review

I don’t know if I just have an affinity for heartbreaking trilogies or what but they seem to be my lot in life.

This now includes the Winternight Trilogy.

Arden weaves you into the folklore and history of Russia with a fantasy twist on it that I think raises up the culture of Russia in a rather brilliant way.

This though is the conclusion of the trilogy so I recommend looking away if you have not read the other two yet.

In this book, we’ve started off in the aftermath of the fire that temporarily plagued Moscow, started and quelled by Vasya. She is caught in a terrifying situation afterwards but it leaves her with no choice but than to travel through Midnight to change the outcomes of Moscow and what its future would mean for those she cares for back in Rus’.

There’s more of the Winter King himself but I am happy to say that as Arden has masterfully done in the other two books, he is not the focus. This is about our ‘witch,’ Vasya and it is about the choices and paths she takes.

Arden has this ability that the moment you read page one you are utterly transported to Vasya’s world. You forget that you’re in the present and it’s like the reader is lost to the world as much as Vasya.

The characters are all complex and brilliant. None are strictly good or evil, and some just exist with no inclination to pick a side of good or evil.

Vasya faces more heartache and trial than ever before and with my whole heart, I was hoping for an ending fitting for her and her story. Arden clearly delivered on this, the ending was perfect for this trilogy.

The pacing is intense. There is not one moment where I felt like I wanted to put the book down and come up for air, especially the last 150 pages.

I’m actually finding it hard to put into words just how much this book and the trilogy in its entirety mean to me. If I could buy copies for everyone interested in this trilogy just to give them a chance to read it, I would.

The story is also one that you could easily reread because now you know what to look for in terms of how early on and brilliantly Arden set up everything for this epic conclusion.

She broke my heart and put it back together again then put that cycle on repeat for the whole of the book.

I felt despair, joy, love, and determination. It was as if I were there with Vasya.

The world-building of the realms of Midnight and Winter are amazing and breathtaking and I’m so glad we got to see the realm of Midnight in this book.

It’s brilliant, start to finish. I love it, completely and entirely.

Five cups of coffee from me for this and the entire trilogy. Thank you to Anne Cater and Penguin Random House for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion on the tour. [Sorry for a delay in posting today, it took me a while to work up the nerve to say goodbye to this book]

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death of animal(s), War/Violence, general heartache.

 

About the Author

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Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent her junior year of high school in Rennes, France.
Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrolment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature.
After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crepes to serving as a personal tour guide. After a year on the island, she moved to Briancon, France, and spent nine months teaching. She then returned to Maui, stayed for nearly a year, then left again to wander. Currently she lives in Vermont, but really you never know.
She is the author of The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower. These novels make up the first two parts of The Winternight Trilogy.

Author Links

Twitter | Website

 

The Rest of the Tour

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In The Absence Of Miracles – Blog Tour

 

 

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Synopsis:
In this powerful new thriller, Michael J Malone returns to A Suitable Lie territory, movingly and perceptively addressing a shocking social issue. Chilling, perceptive and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets. 
John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home. Following a massive stroke, she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again. With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood. 
In a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. 
And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence… 
Book Information:
PUBLICATION DATE: 19 SEPTEMBER 2019
Published By: ORENDA BOOKS
Format: PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
Price: £8.99

 

My Review

This book threw me through a few loops, in all the best ways. Sometimes with thrillers I always try and guess what’s going on, or sometimes I become disinterested if they put too many twists. But Malone does a perfect balance of unexpected twists and reveals against the logical conclusions you expect and perhaps sometimes need in a book to further the suspension of disbelief.

John is a rather heartbreaking character, you can tell he wants to be better, that he’s struggled his whole life trying to be a guy he’s not ashamed of but there’s still something haunting him. The problem is that not even John knows what’s haunting him.

His mother has suffered a horrible stroke, his father had passed away a few years before that, and though he has a brother, Chris, he’s left to deal with selling the family house to pay for their Mother’s care.

But, John makes a chilling discovery while trying to clear out the house and it’s leading him down a path where the truth may cause more damage than the lies he’s accepted. However, he feels a powerful urge to find out more about the secret older brother he had. Is it just the familial connection that drives John, or is he hoping the truth will set him free?

This is a dark and powerful story and one that I enjoyed reading from start to finish.

You watch John in his self-destructive behaviour, you find out more about his family, and everything just weaves into a tragic form of truth.

Really, such a great story, and one that focuses on an important message, the predators aren’t always the ones that we assume, and money often speaks louder than words to a lot of people who do things that seem monstrous.

Definitely, a four cups of coffee read for me, I actually plan to reread this one soon, it was too good not to, and if you enjoy thrillers then I highly recommend this.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Orenda books for a copy of this to read and review honestly as part of the tour.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, Drugs and Alcohol Abuse, and Child Abuse. This includes abuse of a sexual nature.

*Apologies on a late post, suffering my third day in a row of migraines!*

 

About the Author

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Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr. 

 

About the Publisher
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Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been short- or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.

Publisher Links

Website | Twitter

 

The Rest of the Tour

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Second Skin – Blog Tour

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Blurb:
The moon was being devoured.

Estranged from birth and raised on tales of the great mountain castle of Idrith-Core, where her distant father serves as Lord Commander and confidante of the King, Aledra Jewel-Wing was now going there to court.

As one of the Drakkoni, a race of powerful shape-shifters and conquerors of a wild land, she joins her stepmother at the festival for all peoples. But when in attempting to save a life, Aledra shifts into her Drakkoni Secondskin – her beautiful second soul: a giant flighted lizard with flaming breath – she breaks an ancient oath, and the tremulous peace between the Drakkoni and Esrans is shattered.

Branded a fugitive, hunted by her father, and aided in escape by the master-mancer who raised her, Aledra begins a journey for survival across a war-torn continent.

Book Information:
Format: Kindle Edition
Publisher: Endeavour Venture (18 July 2019)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Language: English
ASIN: B07SLLJMW4

Where to Buy

Amazon UK

 

My Review

I was really excited to read this. I mean, come on, dragons. Who doesn’t love dragons/fire breathing lizards/fire breathing anything [let’s be real]?

This is also the start of the Bridge of Fire books, so it’s great when you get to start off with a new series.

In this book, Bentley gives us a pretty awesome take on dragons. They’re shapeshifters, their flying fiery forms are called their ‘second skins’ and they have two hearts, essentially they are two souls, their two-legged human-looking forms and their dragon forms. These shapeshifters had to leave their homeland and make a new land home, crossing a land bridge that is now gone, they made it to the lands where human tribes have ruled. These tribes all have their own cultures and leaders and ways of life, but they’re quickly conquered with a peace treaty put in place.

No second-skins will be used not even in a ‘peaceful’ manner in this new land.

This all recalls the invasion of the Americas to me and I loved that she took something like that and gave it a huge fantasy spin, a new land, new world, new people, and all of it steeped in heavy world building.

You all know me, I love world building, this did cause the pacing for Aledra and her story to slump a bit in the middle but I would say that the ending more than made up for it.

That’s another thing, it took me a while to appreciate Aledra after sh leaves the comforts of her people, but, I really enjoyed her as she developed, especially in the last four chapters. I love the choices she makes and how Bentley steers her toward something that allows her room to grow.

Penda was absolutely one of my favorite characters and I can only hope that there’s more of her to come. I mean, I fangirl her, she’s amazing.

Aledra’s father is complex and so layered that it made me happy to get to the parts with him. I really think there’s so much more to him than Aledra sees and I love the complexity of their relationship.

There is love, there is war, there are dragons and tribes, and a girl who wants nothing more than to have the freedom to choose. So pretty much a guaranteed like in my books when I read it.

Jubal is Aledra’s companion during a good chunk of the novel and he was an interesting character but I would say he paled in comparison to Aledra, her Father, and Penda.

Overall a great solid start to an intriguing fantasy series, and you can bet I will be happy to read book two and see where Aledra goes next.

Three cups of coffee!!

Thanks to Anne Cater, Sue Bently, and Endeavour Venture for a chance to read and honestly review this as part of the Random Things Blog Tour!

 

About the Author

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Sue lives in a house surrounded by a wildlife hedge so she can pretend she lives in the countryside. She enjoys reading, walking, cinema, researching her books, and painting and printmaking, when she’s not writing – which isn’t very often!

Author Links

Website Twitter

 

The Rest of the Tour!

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The Closer I Get – Blog Tour

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Tom is a successful author, but for the first time in his life, he has writer ’s block. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone. Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her sick father and her social media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has. When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world collapses, whilst Tom is free to live his life again, and to concentrate on writing.
But things aren’t adding up. For Tom is also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he’s powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.
PRAISE FOR THE CLOSER I GET
‘A terrifying portrayal of the online world and the blurred lines into real life, the characters are top notch, the writing sublime, and the storyline chillingly plausible. This is dark twisty fiction at its very best.’ -Susi Holliday, author of The Lingering

‘The kind of book you read in one breathless gulp.’ – Cass Green, author of Don’t You Cry

Danger is just a like away…

Book Information:
PUBLICATION DATE:
11 JULY 2019
PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
| £8.99 | ORENDA BOOKS

 

My Review

This was certainly a solid read as far as thrillers go. Fatal Attraction meets social media, haha, I loved it. A little too plausible and creepy which is what made it such a good read. Tom is a man who likes flattery, it’s a vice of his and it leads to him indulging an online friendship with Evie. [Please note that though I mentioned Fatal Attraction there is no romantic relations/relationship between Tom and Evie] It starts out innocently enough, but when Tom realizes he’s in over his head, it’s a bit too late.

In enters Tom going to the police to file for harassment and eventually to Evie being found guilty and slapped with a restraining order. It’s clear that Evie’s mind is different, her logic not that of what you would assume of a ‘normal’ person, but, does all the blame rest on Evie?

Tom finds out the hard way what keeping secrets can mean.

All the while trying to escape Evie, Tom’s thoughts keep leading him back to her, he’s a writer, he has writer’s block and possibly a source of inspiration now. But what happens when secrets unravel and the truth works against the author?

I loved how Tom was not just a clearly innocent character, he didn’t deserve harassment and I do respect his decision to go to the police in a world where we sometimes judge men for not being able to ‘handle’ women on their own or are seen as weak for going to authorities. What made Burston’s tale so creepy was that it was just that believable.

Tom used people, and when called out upon it, it doesn’t seem to phase him. He’s not here to be the innocent victim, in fact despite being a victim of harassment, Tom strongly hates being labelled as such.

I had no sympathy for most of the characters, which was refreshing, sometimes you just want to dislike people [or maybe that’s just the Slytherin in me] and this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so.

He wrote with a talent for giving you characters you just weren’t sure were right or wrong and with a pacing that left you wondering just when everything would ‘hit the fan.’ I really didn’t want to put the book down once I started it, and that ending! Oh, that ending!! Brilliant and so unexpected!!!

I would say more, but, spoilers. If you enjoy thrillers and are looking for a creepy and fun summer read I would strongly suggest Paul Burston’s The Closer I Get.

PS: You may be afraid to use Twitter after reading this.

Thanks to Anne Cater, Orenda Books, and Paul Burston for a chance to read this chilling thriller and to honestly review it!

 

About the Author

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Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel The Black Path, was a WHSmith bestseller. His first novel, Shameless, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, Lovers & Losers was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, The Gay Divorcee, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including Guardian, Independent, Time Out, The Times and Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world.” He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing and the newly announced Polari Prize.

 

About Orenda Books

Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been short- or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.

Orenda Books Twitter

 

The Rest Of The Tour

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The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – Blog Tour

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Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’s land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs? 
Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

Book Information:
PRICE: £14.99
ISBN: 978-1-78352-724-3
FORMAT: Hardback
BINDING: Royal HB
EXTENT: 384 pages
SIZE: 240 × 159 mm
CATEGORY BIC: FM

 

My Review

Starting this novel, I wasn’t sure what I was in for, and I’m glad of that. This book had so much to offer and I was really pleased with Tarrow’s take on this YA fantasy.

In Joe we find a young boy who is alone and struggling to follow the rules his parents made to keep him safe. With his parents not around and the hiding place no longer safe, Joe finds himself starting an adventure that he never imagined could even exist as he tries to locate his parents and get ‘home.’ Wherever home is.

There’s so much depth and research put into this and the creativity was fun to watch unravel if not a bit anxiety fueled as I kept wondering what’s in store, when is it, and where in the labyrinth is he in regards to Joe and his journey.

This is a classic Fantasy in a lot of ways, we have a child who has had greatness thrust upon him in a sense. Joe must travel through Talliston to get home, but as he ventures to each new room and time, there’s the sinking realization of just how much is at stake. There’s betrayal, young love [though not too much and it’s not the focus], kinship, family found, family lost, and magic, and of course the battle between those both good and evil [and in between]. It’s a recipe for a tale that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

The guardians of Talliston’s rooms that Joe encounters are some of my favorite parts of the book not to mention getting to go through so many different times, future, current, and past! You can go from 1950s New Orleans to futuristic Japan!

Where Joe starts off afraid and just wanting to go home, he has great character growth thanks to the people he meets along the way both good and bad, he becomes stronger and realizes that he must make his own decisions in regards to Talliston. The question at the end of the day for him isn’t how can get he get home, but, how can I help -where Talliston is concerned- and he finds his answer. Joe also learns that though rules are in place to protect, some rules, are meant to restrict and are made to be broken.

I adored every side character both good and bad and Tarrow does a great job fleshing them out and I think the way Joe progressed through the story was one my favorite aspects to the book.

I actually look forward to my daughter reading this in a couple of years when her reading level is more advanced. I good 4/5 cups of coffee read for me.

It also doesn’t hurt that this book is absolutely drop dead gorgeous/stunning. Honestly, it’s like holding a magical tome in your hands.

A few other neat notes:

The house and gardens featured in the story are real. The author spent twenty-five years transforming an ordinary house in an ordinary street into what the Sunday Times called ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’. The project is internationally famous. 
Talliston House is featured in the Netflix-commissioned programme Amazing Interiors, which will reach an audience close to 100 million in 120 countries. 
The ‘Stranger’s Guide’ journal mentioned in the novel is a real entity; a leather-bound, hand- calligraphed volume that could appear as a companion publication (like The Spiderwick Field Guide).

Thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour and thank you to John Tarrow and Unbound for sending me a copy and allowing me to honestly review this!

 

About the Author

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John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex- council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens. 

Author Links

Website [Includes Purchase Links]

 

The Rest of the Tour Schedule

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JSS Bach- Blog Tour

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Blurb:

J

SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do. Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog. The author’s writing is a wonderland, captivating and drawing the reader in to the presented world. Time becomes no object as a literary universe unfolds and carries the reader through eighty years, where emotions are real and raw and beautifully given.

Book Information:
Hardcover: 200 pages
Publisher: Wrecking Ball Press; Hardcover edition (4 Mar. 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1903110629
ISBN-13: 978-1903110621

Where to Buy

Amazon UK

 

My Review

 

Where do I start? This holds all the horrors and beauty of mankind. The fact that even when someone isn’t good they can still do good. It’s a book that shows how the past echoes on in the future, how it really affects people rather than the imprint it just leaves in history books.

Goodman immediately drops you into the story, he doesn’t waste time on flowery prose and shows you the heart of the matter, the journey he wants to take you on. It’s one that’s not for the faint hearted. He also is brilliant at describing history in such a modern and stark way. He shows how ugly things were, how brutal it was, and yet his words are elegant, poignant, guiding you through brutal honesty and lyricism of music.

Three generations of women from the same family have been entangled in Otto’s life, whether they know it or not. Katja is the origins of it all and her character is not an easy one to appreciate, but, Goodman does a good job showing you enough about her to at least have some understanding on certain parts of her workings. I can appreciate the struggles she went through though they are justified in many ways.

Her daughter Uwe broke my heart, if there was ever a character that I wanted to reach out and cherish, it’s her. The child of two Nazis, and yet just an innocent life herself. She bears the burden of the shame brought on to her by her parents, hated by others for simply being born to them. It’s a hard life to live, and really it was a heartbreaking read overall but especially for her, Otto, and Greta. In fact the reason I rated this 4.5 instead of 5 is simply because I wish there would have been more to Uwe’s story, and the women in general but this story in reality is about Otto more than anyone else in my opinion.

Otto himself is a character full of turmoil, tragedy, and isolation. Goodman breathes him to life, there’s not one moment where his actions are believable, the way he lives his life, the choices he’s made. The only thing I struggled to believe was a certain moment that occurs in the book once it’s back to 1994, but I won’t say it and spoil it, it was quite a small issue, and one though I don’t agree with, it makes sense why Goodman put it in. In fact the rest of the story is pretty flawless, I just wanted more because I think it needed more about the women but it’s hard to argue with the choices Goodman has made. Otto though, he is the true main character in my humble opinion, and your heart will be gripped by him.

Rosa is Katja’s Granddaughter and Uwe’s daughter, raised by Katja, she’s grown up in a world knowing the stark truth about her grandparents but never knowing her own past entirely, told that her father had died, and not at all knowing who he was. She is tugged by the past onto a path that will eventually lead her to Otto.

And at the heart of everything, the main reason I wanted to read this, is music.

Otto is a brilliant cellist and composer, Katja was a musician until she went deaf (not a spoiler as you find out within the first few pages she is indeed unable to hear), and Rosa is a musicologist. Fun fact, My postgrad is in Musicology, so I was a bit critical of the musical aspects of this, and Goodman certainly did his research, I was pretty impressed and he didn’t overreach, it was a perfect balance. Music connects Otto to his family and to Katja, to Rosa later on, and it draws people in and strips them down to the bare bones of their pain and joy, its something that can’t be quantified or explained but I loved the way Goodman wrote about it, the sensations it brings in emotions and to our bodies.

As I stated earlier, this book is not for the faint hearted. This shows the brutality and violence of WWII, there are Nazis before and after the war, there are people who are cruel, but it’s never needless cruelty or violence in Goodman’s writing, it all adds purposefully to the story.

4.5/5 Cups of coffee and I tip my hat to Goodman. This was a brilliant novel that broke my heart in the best ways. Thanks to Anne for letting me be part of this tour and thanks to Goodman for the copy of his book. [I don’t typically write this in blog tours but of course my honest opinion was given in exchange]

 

About the Author

Martin Goodman Author Picture

Martin Goodman was born in Leicester, and has lived and worked in China, Qatar, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and France. Travel forms a large part of his writing: both for strictly travel-related books and also for novels and biographies. His first novel ON BENDED KNEES was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize, and his most recent biography SUFFER AND SURVIVE won 1st Prize, Basis of Medicine in the BMA Book Awards 2008. He is the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull. He lives in Hull, London and the French Pyrenees. ‘Such narrow, narrow confines we live in. Every so often, one of us primates escapes these dimensions, as Martin Goodman did. All we can do is rattle the bars and look after him as he runs into the hills. We wait for his letters home.’
– The Los Angeles Times

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The Rest of the Tour

JSS Bach Blog Tour Poster