Nothin’ But A Good Time by Justin Quirk – Extract from the book.

Today I’m sharing an extract from this fascinating new book. Thank you to Unbound for a copy of the paperback in return for an honest review – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. Thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour. I will also be sharing an extract from the book later today.

Thank you to Justin Quirk for supplying a Spotify playlist to listen to alongside the book at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3JG9tQCecG2iA25DD5Seax?si=PgT_eDGQSye1ZKEDiRzSSw. I’m listening to it whilst writing my review.

Synopsis:

From 1983 until 1991, Glam Metal was the sound of American culture. Big hair, massive amplifiers, drugs, alcohol, piles of money and life-threatening pyrotechnics. This was the world stalked by Bon Jovi, Kiss, W.A.S.P., Skid Row, Dokken, Motley Crue, Cinderella, Ratt and many more. Armed with hairspray, spandex and strangely shaped guitars, they marked the last great era of supersize bands.

Where did Glam Metal come from? How did it spread? What killed it off? And why does nobody admit to having been a Glam Metaller anymore?

Extract:

In the last week of August 2014, a Californian musician uploaded a six-minute long video to Youtube, showing himself taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge – not so unusual in itself, with 2.4million-and-counting of these charitable enterprises online around that time. However, this Ice Bucket Challenge was different: firstly, the man had bags of ice balanced on his head and in his crotch rather than being poured over him; secondly, rather than passing the challenge on to his friends and family, he called out (‘while my jewels freeze’) three of his high profile colleagues – Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth and John Meyer; and finally, he communicated each word of his speech in blinks, painstakingly spelling out one letter at a time via an interpreter, while he sat motionless in a wheelchair.

Once touted as potentially the best metal guitarist on earth, 45-year-old Jason Becker has spent the best part of the last 18 years completely paralysed, since being diagnosed with ALS when he was on the verge of rock megastardom. But in that time he has not only defied medical wisdom by staying healthy and alive, he has also continued to compose and create his own astonishing music, been the subject of an award-winning documentary and helped to invent a communication system which has revolutionised the lives of other patients like him worldwide.

Despite being confined to a chair and unable to physicall perform, his public existence largely limited to a Twitter profile and sporadic musical releases, his influence continues: in 2012, Guitar Player magazine named him as ‘the greatest shredder ever’; in 2014, Seymour Duncan released his signature model pickup with Carvin following up with a signature line of guitars in 2015. And both fundraising gigs and a documentary about Becker’s life have taken place under a title you could only hope to find in the blackly comic world of heavy metal: Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet.

Since 1995, Jason Becker has released four albums. Not exactly a punishing workrate for a regular artist, but Becker’s life, composing and recording techniques are very far from normal. Since ALS paralysed his body, he has continued to create music, moving away from the pyrotechnic, lightning-fast metal of his youth to more textured, complicated pieces, often instrumental, sometimes with layered, treated voices giving the work an ethereal, hypnotic feel. 

In the last week of August 2014, a Californian musician uploaded a six-minute long video to Youtube, showing himself taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge – not so unusual in itself, with 2.4million-and-counting of these charitable enterprises online around that time. However, this Ice Bucket Challenge was different: firstly, the man had bags of ice balanced on his head and in his crotch rather than being poured over him; secondly, rather than passing the challenge on to his friends and family, he called out (‘while my jewels freeze’) three of his high profile colleagues – Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth and John Meyer; and finally, he communicated each word of his speech in blinks, painstakingly spelling out one letter at a time via an interpreter, while he sat motionless in a wheelchair.

Once touted as potentially the best metal guitarist on earth, 45-year-old Jason Becker has spent the best part of the last 18 years completely paralysed, since being diagnosed with ALS when he was on the verge of rock megastardom. But in that time he has not only defied medical wisdom by staying healthy and alive, he has also continued to compose and create his own astonishing music, been the subject of an award-winning documentary and helped to invent a communication system which has revolutionised the lives of other patients like him worldwide.

Despite being confined to a chair and unable to physicall perform, his public existence largely limited to a Twitter profile and sporadic musical releases, his influence continues: in 2012, Guitar Player magazine named him as ‘the greatest shredder ever’; in 2014, Seymour Duncan released his signature model pickup with Carvin following up with a signature line of guitars in 2015. And both fundraising gigs and a documentary about Becker’s life have taken place under a title you could only hope to find in the blackly comic world of heavy metal: Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet.

Since 1995, Jason Becker has released four albums. Not exactly a punishing workrate for a regular artist, but Becker’s life, composing and recording techniques are very far from normal. Since ALS paralysed his body, he has continued to create music, moving away from the pyrotechnic, lightning-fast metal of his youth to more textured, complicated pieces, often instrumental, sometimes with layered, treated voices giving the work an ethereal, hypnotic feel. 

Soon after Becker’s paralysis, his friend Mike Bemesderfer devised a software programme connected to a visor-mounted sensor. Becker could click a virtual keyboard by moving his chin, altering the velocity of each note and gradually, painstakingly assembling them into entire pieces of music. His album Perspective was the result of this exhausting process, with his epic ten-minute composition, End of The Beginning going on to be performed by the Oakland Symphony Orchestra and the Diablo Ballet in 1999. On its release, Eddie Van Halen appeared on video with the immobilised Becker to describe him as having been ‘just one of the best rock and roll guitarists on the planet.’ The understandable sense among viewers was that in Becker they were watching a man who was living on borrowed time.

To view the other reviews on the blog tour this week, check out the following blogs:

Author Bio:

Justin Quirk is a writer and editor based in London. Since starting his career at the Guardian, he has written for titles including i-DDazed and Confused,Kerrang!QWord, the IndependentThe Sunday TimesArena and Esquire. He has also worked as a curator, DJ and creative director and regularly appears on the BBC World Service discussing culture and current affairs. He lives in London.

PAPERBACK

978-1-78965-135-5
320 pages
198 × 129 mm
3 September 2020 £10.99 / $14.99 / €11.66

EBOOK

978-1-78965-136-2 ePub
3 September 2020 £5.99 / $7.99 / €6.66

Nothin’ But A Good Time by Justin Quirk

Today I’m sharing my review for this fascinating new book, looking at the emergence and then rapid decline of Glam Metal. Thank you to Unbound for a copy of the paperback in return for an honest review – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. Thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour. I will also be sharing an extract from the book later today.

Thank you to Justin Quirk for supplying a Spotify playlist to listen to alongside the book at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3JG9tQCecG2iA25DD5Seax?si=PgT_eDGQSye1ZKEDiRzSSw. I’m listening to it whilst writing my review.

Synopsis:

From 1983 until 1991, Glam Metal was the sound of American culture. Big hair, massive amplifiers, drugs, alcohol, piles of money and life-threatening pyrotechnics. This was the world stalked by Bon Jovi, Kiss, W.A.S.P., Skid Row, Dokken, Motley Crue, Cinderella, Ratt and many more. Armed with hairspray, spandex and strangely shaped guitars, they marked the last great era of supersize bands.

Where did Glam Metal come from? How did it spread? What killed it off? And why does nobody admit to having been a Glam Metaller anymore?

My thoughts:

I must admit that I don’t remember the rise of Glam Metal – in 1983 I was too busy listening to Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Human League. However by the late Eighties my tastes in music had expanded, as friends recommended bands and albums, and I enjoyed listening to the Hysteria album by local band Def Leppard.

This book was a fascinating read – full of statistical information but also lots of ‘human interest’ stories – the highs and lows of the bands, the personalities and the problems they faced. The story is told in chronological date order and includes many quotes from the bands during the era (or more recently).

I must admit that I hadn’t heard of some of the bands, but the majority were familiar. The Spotify playlist is helping me find out more about the earlier tracks and bands, and to enjoy the music of the late Eighties again.

A must read book for anyone who enjoyed listening to this genre of music – maybe to be given for Christmas 2020 with a can of extra strong hairspray, spandex and a denim jacket. The only thing missing from the book, in my humble opinion, was some photographs of the bands so that younger readers could appreciate the ‘look’.

To view the other reviews on the blog tour this week, check out the following blogs:

Author Bio:

Justin Quirk is a writer and editor based in London. Since starting his career at the Guardian, he has written for titles including i-DDazed and Confused,Kerrang!QWord, the IndependentThe Sunday TimesArena and Esquire. He has also worked as a curator, DJ and creative director and regularly appears on the BBC World Service discussing culture and current affairs. He lives in London.

PAPERBACK

978-1-78965-135-5
320 pages
198 × 129 mm
3 September 2020 £10.99 / $14.99 / €11.66

EBOOK

978-1-78965-136-2 ePub
3 September 2020 £5.99 / $7.99 / €6.66

365 Days of Gratitude by Mariëlle S. Smith

Today I’m sharing a review of a new non fiction resource/book as part of the publication day push organised by Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources.

Synopsis:

‘Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.’ Rumi

Being grateful is easy…

…when everything goes according to plan.

But how do you keep at it no matter what life throws at you?

Enter 365 Days of Gratitude, the undated daily journal that will help you stay on track.

After years of barely surviving her own emotional minefield, writing coach Mariëlle S. Smith discovered the transformative power of practising gratitude. But, like no one else, she knows that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is easier said than done.

Complete with inspiring quotes, daily prompts, and recurring check-ins, the 365 Days of Gratitude Journal encourages you to create a sustainable gratitude practice too.

Ready to commit to the life-changing power of gratitude? Order your copy of the 365 Days of Gratitude Journal now.

Purchase Links

Get 50% off the printable PDF until 6 September 2020 with the following discount code: HAPPYLAUNCH. Go to https://mswordsmith.nl/365daysofgratitude or https://payhip.com/b/Hld2 to claim your copy. 

My thoughts:

Thank you to Mariëlle for a PDF copy of her publication, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Across the world, 2020 has been a challenge for many people, with a global pandemic, extreme weather conditions and anxiety about the future. Through chatting to friends (mostly online) and seeing social media posts, many people are feeling anxious and/or depressed.

This book cannot remove what you are worried about, but it could give you the small steps you need to move forward. After the author introduction, you have 365 pages to fill in, one for every day. By identifying 3 things you are grateful for (e.g. the sun dried the washing), you can then give the day a rating out of 5 or 10 (or any number you choose). Amongst the sections to complete, is ‘Intention for tomorrow’ which can help you plan for the future.

This seems like a useful resource for many people and is easy to use. There are recaps at the end of each month, and the end of each quarter too. A modern day diary of positivity if used properly.

Author Bio:

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, and a (ghost) writer. Early 2019, she moved to Cyprus, and island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count. 

Social Media Links – 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/mswordsmith

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mariellessmith/

YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtnYOpjmj83mvMM2L348F1w

Under a Siena Sun by T A Williams

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my review for Under a Siena Sun by T A Williams. Thanks to the publisher Canelo for a review copy via NetGalley and to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the blog tour. This is the first book I’ve read by T A Williams and I will be looking out for the previous books.

Synopsis:

Lucy needed a change of scene. She didn’t expect the change of a lifetime.

Doctors Without Borders has been Lucy Young’s life for the past four years. After being rescued from a conflict zone, she’s making a change from saving lives under gunfire to practising medicine in safe, serene Siena.

Now treating wealthy patients at a private clinic, she’s never felt less comfortable. She’s used to helping those in dire need – not those in need of a nip and tuck. Her turmoil grows when she encounters injured tennis star David Lorenzo, whose smiles make Lucy forget her aversion to the rich.

She’s soon falling for the sportsman but is she losing herself in this world of excess? All she’s ever wanted was to help the underprivileged, so can her future lie in Siena at the clinic – with David?

This sunny romance is the perfect summer escape for fans of Lucy Coleman and Alex Brown.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, following Lucy, an experienced surgeon, as she escaped war torn Africa and started working in a private hospital in Tuscany, an area she had visited many times before.

This is primarily a romance story, set in the stunning surroundings of Siena in Tuscany. The book is full of colourful descriptions of the area and the food (do not read whilst on a diet!). Lucy needs to decide whether she can justify working in such a beautiful part of the world for wealthy patients after working for a medical charity in Africa, where the patients had no money.

I must admit that my favourite characters were of the four legged variety, all the black labradors beginning with B. This book was a pleasant escape from the global pandemic and I enjoyed my virtual visit to Tuscany.

Purchase Links 

http://mybook.to/SienaSun

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/under-a-siena-sun

Author Bio:

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Social Media Links – 

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tawilliamsbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks/

V for Victory by Lissa Evans

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts (and no spoilers) on the latest novel by Lissa Evans, V for Victory, which will be published in the UK tomorrow. Thank you to Doubleday for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour.

Synopsis:

It’s late 1944. Allied victory is on its way, but it’s ruddy well dragging its feet. Hitler’s rockets are slamming down on London with vicious regularity and it’s the coldest winter in living memory.

In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vera Sedge is just about scraping by, with a household of lodgers to feed, and her young ward Noel (almost fifteen) to clothe and educate. When she witnesses a road accident and finds herself in court, the effects are both unexpectedly marvellous, and potentially deadly, because Vee is not actually the person she’s pretending to be, and neither is Noel.

The end of the war won’t just mean peace, but discovery, and not in the way any of them could ever expect.

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Lissa Evans and it won’t be the last. I hadn’t realised that there are two more books in this series, Old Baggage and Crooked Heart. I was able to read this as a standalone novel but I do now plan to go back and read other two books.

The book starts in late 1944 with Noel growing up in Hampstead, being tutored by the paying guests in his house, whilst being looked after by his ‘aunt’ Mrs Margery Overs, aka Vee. Early on in the story, he meets a ARP warden called Winnie, and the stories of Noel, Vee and Winnie become interwoven through the book.

I loved the mixture of characters, from the guests at the boarding house to the American GI’s. Some of the story is harrowing – how quickly the V2 bombs could destroy a road, but this is interspersed with humour so doesn’t feel as dark as some of the historical fiction I’ve read recently.

Noel is a very intelligent young man, who loves to find out more about everything and tries to make meals out of their very limited rations. He reminded me of the young Gerald Durrell from the TV series and books, a young person who was better educated than many of the adults around him.

Winnie was one of my favourite characters, I loved the scene in the posh restaurant when she is given a copy of Avril’s book. It was good to see the work of these brave people recognised, helping those injured and made homeless by the bombings.

An enjoyable well written novel set in wartime London.

Author Bio:

Lissa Evans has written books for both adults and children, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, longlisted for the Orange (now Women’s) Prize, Small Change for Stuart, shortlisted for many awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Book Awards and Crooked Heart, longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

OLD BAGGAGE was a sell-out Waterstone’s Book of the Month; THEIR FINEST HOUR AND A HALF was adapted into a star-studded film with Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy.

Lissa is available for press pieces and interview.

For further information please contact Alison Barrow: abarrow@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk | 020 8231 6654

Love on the Rocks – Elsie McArthur

I’m thrilled to be sharing my spoiler free review for the latest book by Elsie McArthur on my blog today. I enjoyed reading Elsie’s debut novel The Back Up Plan earlier this year (review can be found at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/21/the-back-up-plan-by-elsie-mcarthur/ ) so I was thrilled to be invited to join the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources and read the new book before publication.

Synopsis:

Escaping a difficult childhood, unhappy marriage and dead-end job, Rachel McIntyre has escaped to the tiny Hebridean island of Inniscreag in search of a new beginning.

Taking a job as the manager of the local distillery, she’s just settling into her new life when the elderly, eccentric owner dies, unexpectedly leaving her two hundred year old family legacy in Rachel’s inexperienced hands.

Can she keep the small, community business alive in the face of a takeover attempt from a major multinational corporation? And can she resist the charms of the flirtatious, attractive company lawyer who arrives on the island to persuade her to sell up?

Join Rachel and the quirky inhabitants of Inniscreag – along with a couple of unexpected arrivals – in this funny, heartwarming tale about love, loss and having the courage to start over.

My thoughts:

This is another lovely book by Elsie McArthur. I enjoyed her debut novel, The Back Up Plan, but this one appealed to me even more.

Rachel is a great character, she has had more than her fair share of bad luck but still looks for the best in her friends and the workforce of the brewery. Inniscreag sounds like a lovely community – if only it were real!

I enjoyed Elsie’s storytelling immensely in this book of friendships, community spirit, secrets, romance and new beginnings. Rachel finds herself battling to protect the brewery from being taken over by a large company and also fighting to free herself from her selfish ex-husband. The arrival of the handsome, city boy Duncan Fraser adds the possibility of some romance into the mix too.

A 4.5 star read for me, a much needed escape from the global pandemic.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B089G71S4N

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089G71S4N

Elsie McArthur:

Elsie McArthur is an independent author of women’s fiction. After studying law at university, and then re-training as a primary school teacher, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, two kids, a couple of badly behaved dogs and a cat with a superiority complex. As well as continuing to work part time as a teacher, she is now indulging in her first love of writing. Her first book, ‘The Back Up Plan’, was released in January 2020. Her second novel, ‘Love, on the Rocks’ – a tale of love, loss and starting over, set on the remote Scottish island of Inniscreag – is due for release in Summer 2020.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter – @ElsieMcarthur

Instagram – @elsiemcarthur.author

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElsieMcArthurAuthor/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19961166.Elsie_McArthur

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop – Audio Blog Tour



Thank you to Headline Review for a copy of this historical fiction novel. I first read, enjoyed and reviewed a digital copy in 2019, and the story has stayed with me ever since.

This week I’m part of the audio blog tour promoting the paperback publication today. I’m sharing part 4 of the audio book read by Juliet Stevenson (I’ve had a sneaky listen and it is wonderful). If you have missed the previous parts, please see the list below to be able to visit the other blogs and to find out where to listen to the later parts too – there are six in total.

https://soundcloud.com/headline-books/those-who-are-loved-by-victoria-hislop-read-by-juliet-stevenson-part-4/s-5A8fF

The paperback of Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop is being published by Headline Review today in the UK, £8.99

Synopsis:

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade. 
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

My thoughts:

I gave this book a 5 star rating. As an avid reader of Victoria Hislop’s books, this is as well written and descriptive of life as her previous books are. It is the story of Themis and her family and her friends in Greece starting in 1930 to the present day.

Despite having visited Greece four times, I was unaware of how life changed for the Greek people after the German and Italian troops left in 1945. The battles the family face, both within the family and from the deep divisions in Greece after 1945, are immense.

This book brings Themis and her family to life and the reader is left wanting more – I was saddened when I suddenly reached the end of the book.

A must read book for the summer of 2020 – now available in paperback from all good bookshops.

Author Bio:

Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island in 2005. It became an international bestseller and a 26-part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra. Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, and in the number one bestseller The Return she wrote about the painful secrets of its civil war.

In The Thread, Victoria returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki and its people across the twentieth century. Shortlisted for a British Book Award, it confirmed her reputation as an inspirational storyteller. Her fourth novel, The Sunrise, about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the enduring ghost town of Famagusta, was a Sunday Times number one bestseller. Cartes Postales from Greece, fiction illustrated with photographs, was a Sunday Times bestseller in hardback and one of the biggest selling books of 2016.

Victoria’s most recent novel, the poignant and powerful Those Who Are Loved, was a Sunday Times number one hardback bestseller in 2019 and explores a tempestuous period of modern Greek history through the eyes of a complex and compelling heroine. Her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. Victoria divides her time between England and Greece. In 2020, Victoria was granted Honorary Greek Citizenship by the President of Greece.

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View all my reviews

The Tears of Monterini by Amanda Weinberg

I’m pleased to share my review for The Tears of Monterini today, published by Red Door Press earlier this month. Thank you to Lizzie and Red Door Press for a review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Monterini, Italy. 1921. Yacobo Levi, an intellectual dreamer, works in the family bookshop. Angelo Ghione, a contadino, makes good wine by singing to the grapes. Lifetime best friends, their Jewish and Catholic families live side by side amidst a backdrop of village communal life, Etruscan tales and the growth of Benito Mussolini. Born on the same day, their children grow up and fall in love. When the 1938 racial laws are passed, the love between Bella and Rico thrives amidst and perhaps because of the fear and uncertainty. When Angelo discovers their liaison he suggests they marry but life is complicated and tensions simmer beneath the surface of love and friendship. When war is declared on the day of Bella’s wedding to Michele a fellow Jew, the peaceful village they live in is torn apart, and the Levis find themselves displaced and fighting for their lives. Will life ever be the same again? 

The Tears of Monterini is a story of love and betrayal, loyalty and friendship. Inspired by true events in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, this beautifully written debut will appeal to readers interested in history, Italy, romance, family dynamics and conflict.

My thoughts:

This stunning debut historical novel is one of my five star reads of 2020. By the end of chapter one, I had already shed a few tears after being drawn quickly into caring for the residents of Monterini due to the sublime storytelling by Amanda Weinberg.

This is a story of two children, Bella and Rico, born on the same day but from families following different religions, growing up whilst Mussolini and then Hitler took charge of Italy. This is the story of two men, Jacobo and Angelo, who grew up as neighbours, watching their children fall in love and having different opinions about whether the children should marry. This is the story of Monterini, a community that has enabled people of different religions to live happily side by side for generations, trying to help those who now fear for their lives.

I have read and enjoyed many historical fiction books over the past few years, and this is one of the best. I had never heard of Monterini before but now I would love to visit the area, to try the food and to drink Angelo’s wine. The last few chapters are heartbreaking but compelling – so many lives changed in a few short years. A five star read for me.

Author Bio:

Amanda Weinberg is a London based author and lover of all things Italian. She spends as much time as she can in a village in Tuscany, the inspiration for her fictional debut novel The Tears of Monterini. She is a qualified language teacher and spent many years working in publishing. She was the co director of an Advertising and Sales company, A -Z International Sales. She now spends her time writing, tutoring and volunteering on a programme for a local community website. She is an education appeal panel member for Brent Council. Amanda is a graduate of the UEA and Guardian Course in Creative Writing and has representation with the literary agency Curtis Brown. She lives with her husband Julian and has two grown up children.

Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin @Julietconlin @bwpublishing @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Today. I’m pleased to share my review for the Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin. Thank you to Black and White Publishing for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Berlin 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and the city is gearing up for

a celebration of unity and liberation. But, beneath the surface, are those for whom the

divisions and allegiances of the past remain close to home.

In her hushed and leafy corner of Berlin, Nina’s life is a comfortable, conventional one

– until her younger sister Marie, a free-spirited writer, is attacked and left for dead.

For Nina, Marie’s brutal demise – and that of her unborn child – tips her own carefully

controlled life into a nightmare. Stonewalled by official incompetence and subterfuge,

Nina begins to realise that her sister’s past and the secrets of the once-divided city

are connected in unimaginable ways. As she seeks out justice for Marie, Nina becomes

caught in a tangle of obsessions, lies and hidden truths that threatens to destroy her

marriage, her livelihood and all that she holds dear.

My thoughts:

I remember the Berlin Wall falling – I had just started University and it seemed amazing that after all the recent worries about the USSR and the USA starting a nuclear war, that suddenly Communism was being swept away and the people of Berlin were now free to travel across their city.

This book is a murder mystery and historical fiction story rolled into one. Nina has recently lost her sister (murder), is struggling to keep her medical practice solvent and to look after her mental health (eating disorder).

This well written story looks at family relationships, the difficulties of being a working mum, dealing with grief and how the past can change the future. It is not an easy read due to the topics covered but was interesting and thought provoking. A stark reminder that no one knows what secrets people hold and what goes on behind closed doors.

Author bio:

Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).

Buy Link

http://blackandwhitepublishing.com/shop.html

Publisher

Black & White Publishing was founded in 1999 by Managing Director Campbell Brown and Publishing Director Alison McBride. Since then, the business has grown into one of Scotland’s leading independent publishers with over 300 books in print across a variety of genres. Committed to publishing the best books from the most talented writers in the UK and beyond, some of our bestselling authors include Daniela Sacerdoti,  James Robertson,  Estelle Maskame,  Nick Alexander,  Richard Gordon,  Alex Norton,  Millie Gray,  Sally Magnusson and Tony Black.  We produce an extensive range of titles, including general non-fiction,  biography,  sport and humour,  as well as selected fiction,  young adult and children’s books.

This year, we’ve started an exciting new alliance with PGUK who now provide sales representation for our titles, and GBS continues to distribute our books. Our eBooks are distributed by Faber Factory. Over recent years, our range of fiction has grown following recent eBook successes such as Daniela Sacerdoti’s Glen Avich series, which has sold nearly a million copies to date. These new alliances and our e-book successes are helping us shape and develop the list in new ways to bring more exciting new titles to both local and global markets.

the Eliza Doll by Tracey Scott – Townsend @Wildpressed @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

I’m pleased to share my review for the Eliza Doll by a new author to me, Tracey Scott-Townsend being republished by Wild Pressed Books this summer. Thank you to the publisher for a paperback copy and to Love Books Group for inviting me to join the book tour.

Synopsis:

Ellie can’t work out whether she’s running away from the past or towards a future she always felt she should have had. She left university and had baby after baby without even meaning to. But it was her third child she blamed for ruining her life.

Now her children have grown and Ellie is on her own. She shocks everybody by selling her home and moving into a converted van to travel the country selling handmade dolls at craft fairs.

It can be lonely on the road. Ellie has two companions: her dog, Jack, and the mysterious
Eliza who turns up in the most unexpected places. At every encounter with Eliza, Ellie feels as if she’s standing again in the aching cold of a waterfall in Iceland, the sound of crashing water filling her with dread.

Ellie can’t change the past. But is it really too late to rectify the bad thing she did when Eliza was a baby?

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Tracey Scott-Townsend and it is being republished four years on from the original publication date.

We meet Ellie as she turns 50, hiding away from her family and friends, living in a converted van with Jack, her dog. The story travels back and forwards in time as we discover what happened to Ellie to cause her to travel the country in her van, selling handmade dolls at craft fairs and why she doesn’t want to sell the Eliza doll. We also travel to Iceland and Ireland, as Ellie looks for peace and forgiveness.

This was an interesting and thought provoking read, covering some difficult topics including child abuse. My favourite part of the book is when Ellie first joins Running Hare House and starts to work with the local community. A 4 star read for me.

Author bio:

Tracey-Scott-Townsend is the author of six novels — the most recent The Vagabond Mother (January 2020) and Sea Babies (May 2019) — all published by Wild Pressed Books and Inspired Quill Publishing. Reviews often describe her novels as poetic or painterly.

She is also a poet and a visual artist. She has a Fine Art MA and a BA (Hons) Visual Studies. She has exhibited paintings throughout the UK (as Tracey Scott). She has a long career as a workshop facilitator with community groups and in schools.

Tracey is co-director of an up-and-coming small independent publisher, Wild Pressed Books, which has a growing roster of authors and poets.

Mother of four grown-up children, Tracey spends as much time as possible travelling the UK and Europe in a camper van with her husband and two dogs, writing and editing while on the road. 

Buy Link 

http://www.wildpressedbooks.com/the-eliza-doll.html