The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – Blog Tour

The Stranger's Guide to Talliston Cover .jpg
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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

John Tarrow Author Pic .jpg

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

JSS Bach Cover Image
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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

Author Links

Website Twitter

 

The Rest of the Tour

JSS Bach Blog Tour Poster

 

 

Horizontal Collaboration Blog Tour

 

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Blurb:

“Horizontal Collaboration” is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic relationships that some French women had with members of the occupying German forces during World War II. In this poignant, female-centered graphic novel created by writer/artist duo Carole Maurel and Mademoiselle Navie, the taboo of “sleeping with the enemy” is explored through the story of a passionate, and forbidden, affair. In June 1942, married Rose (whose husband is a prisoner of war) intervenes in the detainment of her Jewish friend and then accidentally embarks on a secret relationship with the investigating German officer, Mark. There is only one step between heroism and treason, and it’s often a dangerous one. Inside an apartment building on Paris’s 11th arrondissement, little escapes the notice of the blind husband of the concierge. Through his sightless but all-knowing eyes, we learn of Rose and Mark’s hidden relationship, and also of the intertwined stories and problems of the other tenants, largely women and children, who face such complex issues as domestic violence, incest, and prostitution. This fascinating graphic novel tackles the still-sensitive topic of who it is acceptable to love, and how, and the story’s drama is brought vividly to life by intimate and atmospheric illustrations.

Book Information:
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Korero Press; None ed. edition (18 Jun. 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 191274001X
ISBN-13: 978-1912740017

 

My Review

The art in this was simply gorgeous and the stories combined with it made for a breath taking and well…quite frankly, hear breaking read. The emotion on the characters was so raw and powerful, it made the art flawless by making them so utterly believable. There is a large mix of characters, they all board in the same building and we’re given insight into all their toils and dreams. The pressure of WWII wears down on France, and on Parisians especially in this beautiful graphic novel. There is no one without strife or causing it, and in the darkness of war one woman has fallen in love with a German Soldier.

For those who don’t know their history, it was severely ‘frowned upon’ [and that’s putting it mildly] by the people of Paris for the French women to liaison with German Soldiers. Of course some women did it to survive, others because they were true to the German cause, and some, because they fell in love. Rose’s is not the only love story in the book, and everyone’s heartache and hopes really spilled through the pages. It’s an emotional read and one that left me a bit breathless. Things are believable, they’re palpable whether in the actions of the characters or in the setting of history itself and the author and artist have blended everything together beautifully.

I could not say enough good things about this graphic novel. If you are someone who likes history or graphic novels, or even someone who s intrigued by a devastatingly gorgeous story and art, I would definitely recommend this book to you all. By far the best graphic novel read of the year for me so far and I don’t see it slipping out of the top rank anytime soon.

Below you’ll find a couple of examples of the beautiful art and at the very bottom make sure to check out the rest of the tour.

Five huge cups of coffee from me.

 

The Art

 

 

About the Authors/Artists

 

Navie and Carol Maurel Author pic

 

Carole Maurel cut her teeth on animated films before devoting herself to illustration, in particular, graphic novels. Her 2017 book The Apocalypse According to Magda was awarded the Artémisia Avenir award, which celebrates women in comics. 
Navie is a screenwriter for press, cinema and television. She has a degree in history from The Sorbonne in Paris, where she specialized in the history of fascism – making Horizontal Collaboration an excellent fit for her first graphic novel.

Maruel’s Twitter

 

Rest of the Tour

Horizontal Collaboration BT Poster

The Disappeared Blog Tour

 

 

The Disappeared Cover
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Blurb:
Winner of a Northern Writers’ Award Longlisted in the Bath Novel Award
What if reading the wrong book could get you arrested?
In a decaying city controlled by the First General and his army, expressing the wrong opinion can have terrible consequences. Clara Winter knows this better than anyone. When she was a child, her father was taken by the Authorisation Bureau for the crime of teaching banned books to his students. She is still haunted by his disappearance.
Now Clara teaches at the same university, determined to rebel against the regime that cost her family so much – and her weapons are the banned books her father left behind. But she has started something dangerous, something that brings her to the attention of the Authorisation Bureau and its most feared interrogator, Major Jackson. The same man who arrested Clara’s father.
With her rights stripped away, in a country where democracy has been replaced with something more sinister, will she be the next one to disappear?

Book Information
Publishing Date: 2 MAY 2019
PRICE: £10.99
ISBN: 978-1-78965-027-3
ALTERNATIVE EDITION: 978-1-78965-028-0
FORMAT: Paperback and ebook
PUBLISHER: Unbound Digital GENRE: Speculative fiction, dystopian fiction

 

My Review

 

First off, I think we should all know by now that I’m super huge fan of Dystopia (note my many gushing times I’ve listed The Hunger Games under a fave book list in my posts as reference). Secondly, this was just a really great standard dystopia, it combines elements from the great classics and Lord [man I sound super religious] gives us a really enjoyable and engaging dystopia read for us in this day and age. She’s not afraid to count Brexit and other events that are currently happening as part of the world she’s weaving, this is no throw back to 1984 though the inspiration from it is clear and in fact the people of this society, if they’re old enough, remember reading it. This is one more case of how change can sneak up on a Dystopian society to create the sort of thing we think unimaginable when we read about it.

Much like Fahrenheit 451 reading the wrong books can get you into a world of trouble. After trouble with violence, and political terrorism, modern day U.K. decides to close itself off after a time, there is a new regime, and a new government dubbed the ‘Junta’ and Amy Lord isn’t afraid to take inspiration from the Russian Revolution when you read about what this new government has done.

Clara was traumatized by the abrupt end of her Father in her life as he’s taken away one night for reading the wrong books, the real twist will be who she ends up growing up with as a ‘Father figure’ and I won’t spoil it for you but I did enjoy that. Not only that but we get more than just Clara’s POV we get the main antagonist’s POV as well, well main antagonist to Clara, the Major. The book divides into parts, switching times and POVs but never getting too muddled and all of it builds up to clearly tell the story of Clara in the now. Any ‘backtracking’/looking into the past is for the benefit of the reader and I loved getting the backstory honestly.

This was not a story with particularly new elements to Dystopia but it is the first one I have personally read in a while that wasn’t specifically YA oriented. That being said, this could easily be read by a huge age range, including YA. I flew through this book in a day, I was so engrossed and I think that Lord really just has this groove, she gives you details and she gives you such an element of reality. I think that she’s yet another author I’ll be keeping my eye out for.

If you want a bit of a classic dystopia with a modern day feel and style, I would strongly recommend The Disappeared by Amy Lord, it was a treat to be part of this tour! Thanks to Anne, Amy Lord, and the publisher for the copy and being part of the tour!!

 

About the Author

Amy Lord Author Pic 2

Amy Lord is a writer, blogger and digital marketer from north-east England. She won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2015 for The Disappeared and was also longlisted in the inaugural Bath Novel Award. An earlier manuscript saw her shortlisted for Route Publishing’s Next Great Novelist Award. Amy is currently working on a new novel, which was developed as part of a year-long mentoring scheme with Writers’ Block NE.

 

Rest of the Tour Schedule

The Disappeared BT Poster

The Missing Years Blog Tour

 

 

The Missing Years Cover
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BLURB
She thought she would never go back…
Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.
Leaving London behind to settle her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by the half-sister she’s never taken the time to get to know.
With the past threatening to swallow her whole, she can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her. And when Ailsa confronts the first nighttime intruder, she sees that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything…

Book Information
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Corvus; Main edition (6 Jun. 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1786495570
ISBN-13: 978-1786495570
Amazon

 

My Review

This book was like the perfect read for me given that I was reading this beauty while actually in the Highlands as I was on a little tour with my friend who is visiting. But aside from the context being perfect, The Missing Years is a GREAT mystery thriller. With Ailsa’s father missing, there’s already mystery and intrigue wrapped around our protagonist, but my favorite part about this book was actually the theories that Aisla had between each chapter about what happened to her father. I thought that was just so creative and loved getting to the end of a chapter to see what her next theory was for her father. Was he dead this time, was he hiding in a tropical climate, did he have a new family?

Aisla wears the years of her father’s disappearance internally and even to an extent an outsider as another character or even as us the reader can see how this has left a mark on her. With her mother recently passed and what happened to her Father still unanswered, she’s a woman who has seemed to keep many people at arm’s length, including her half sister Carrie. Trying to redeem that relationship, Aisla asks her sister to join her at the house she’s halfway inherited. The other half still technically belonging to her father.

With a life keeping people at a safe distance, Aisla is temporarily stuck in a small community, one that knows each other and all the goings on, and that includes knowing about her, and her family. People who were friends with them, people that had run-ins for better or worse with them, and Aisla is faced with the fact she can no longer hide.

There was such a great chilling and supernatural undertone to this and this is just another book I could sing praises for repeatedly. I loved the Manse itself and I loved the setting. [I’m not totally biased at all living in Scotland.]

Another aspect that really made this book enjoyable was the reconnecting of Aisla and Carrie, it felt really organic and natural. They have a big age gap, Aisla has been absent, and they don’t immediately become close as ever and I love that they struggled but obviously cared deeply for each other.

Elliott does a good job of keeping you guessing for a good chunk of the book. You may have inklings but you’re just not quite sure for a while and she just makes everything feel so natural as if Aisla is this real person and I find it hard to believe she wasn’t and this is just a story! Elliott also does a good job with giving us some LGBTQIA rep. She also doesn’t tie up everything too neatly at the end though she does give you a satisfying ending which is a huge bonus in this genre.

Overall definitely a 4 star read and one I plan on giving a reread someday!

 

About the Author

Lexie Elliott Author picture

Lexie Elliott has been writing for as long as she can remember, but she began to focus on it more seriously after she lost her banking job in 2009 due to the Global Financial Crisis. After some success in short story competitions, she began planning a novel. With two kids and a (new) job, it took some time for that novel to move from her head to the page, but the result was The French Girl, which will be published by Berkley in February 2018 – available to pre-order on Amazon now!

When she’s not writing, Lexie can be found running, swimming or cycling whilst thinking about writing. In 2007 she swam the English Channel solo. She won’t be doing that again. In 2015 she ran 100km, raising money for Alzheimer Scotland. She won’t be doing that again either. But the odd triathlon or marathon isn’t out of the question.

www.lexieelliott.com
Facebook
Twitter

 

Rest of the Tour Schedule

The Missing Years BT Poster

The Seventh Train Blog Tour

FINAL The Seventh Train Cover .jpg

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“Ingenious, great fun, and wholly original” – Fay Weldon CBE, on The Seventh Train

Moving from stage to page, The Seventh Train has taken the scenic route from Jackie Carreira’s award-winning play to a second novel that promises to be as well-received as the first (Sleeping Through War, 9781788038539)

The Seventh Train is a ride – a ‘road movie’ on the railways. It’s a journey that Elizabeth invented; the only original thought she has ever had in her previously uneventful life. Unbeknown to her, she is not travelling alone. If only she’d pretended that the spare seat was taken.

Although, by turns, hilarious and life-affirming, part of the story tackles serious issues of suicide and mental health, specifically the alarmingly high incidents on public transport. As Jackie says: “This is something that’s been in the news a lot recently, especially as suicide rates on the UK rail system increased by 9.1% last year. It’s a hugely important issue. Having said that, it’s not a gloomy novel at all, but actually full of hope and a good dose of wit!”

It’s a project that has been part of Jackie’s life for years. Originally conceived as a stage play, it was her theatrical debut and went on to become one of the winners of The Kenneth Branagh 10th Anniversary Award for New Drama at the Windsor Fringe Festival. From there, it just kept chugging along until it became the novel Jackie is releasing now.

With a wonderfully eclectic cast of characters, The Seventh Train takes its passengers on a journey from the tragic to the strange, arriving finally at hope. By turns heart-breaking, thought-provoking and hilarious, this tale is a life- affirming exploration of the human spirit via the British railway timetable!

Book Information:
RELEASE DATE: 28 June 2019
ISBN: 9781789018936 Price: £8.99
GoodReads Link

 

My Review

So when you read the words above, you’re intrigued but you’re still not totally sure what you’re getting into! I’m a big lover of theatre and not just musically inclined ones but I live and breathe plays when I get to them, they transport you and just utterly captivate you if they do their job right, so hearing this was a play first really got me to say ‘yes please!’

As for what this book is about, it’s about whatever you make it to be, it reminds me in its essence of Waiting for Godot where you could spend your time dissecting it or you could simply enjoy it.

Our main character who starts the journey with us is Elizabeth and she’s a woman who wants to be on her own, she’s realized her unhappiness in life and decides that something has to change. Her solution? Well, you’ll have to read and find out but just know it heavily involves numerous seventh trains.

Elizabeth is joined by a wonderful cast of characters, three others who are going through their own journeys, and all connected by a/the seventh train. It’s a great look into the human psyche and going in a little blind, I can only say that this book was the ultimate pleasant surprise in that it was such a journey to take on its own and the story so relatable that I was left with such a satisfying feeling as I finished it.

Not to mention the ending was brilliant, a hail to the start and I loved it.

If you’re looking to go on a train ride that will leave you looking at what it means to be human and what it means to feel lost and then found, I suggest reading this. Carreira’s writing is fluid and the transition from play to book seems effortless on her part, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone who is intrigued and/or loves the theatre. It was a joy to read this and I want to thank Anne Cater and Jackie Carreira for my copy and the chance to be in this blog tour!

 

Content Warning: Suicide mentioned, discussed, and described. It is not the point of the book but it does play heavy in the journey for some. It is not ideation, however.

 

About the Author

Jackie Carreira Author Pic.png

Jackie Carreira is a writer, designer, musician and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. British-born of Portuguese parents, she grew up in East London and lived for a while in Lisbon as a child. After travelling the world playing music for 12 years, she hung up her bass guitar and picked up a pen. She’s been writing ever since and twice been a winner of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama. Some of her plays are available online via lazybeescripts.co.uk. If Jackie could have another life, she would be a full-time philosopher and get paid to ask questions all day.

http://jackiecarreira.co.uk/

 

The Rest of the Tour

 

Seventh Train FINAL BT Poster