I am I am I am – Maggie O’Farrell 

I am I am I am has been on my radar for a long time, but I have only just got round to reading it. I am not too sure why it has taken me so long, but, I now can say I have read it.

Firstly, I am a massive fan of Maggie’s and simply devour everything she writes and everything I can get my hands on and I was certainly not disappointed.

During this novel / memoir you follow all of the near death experiences Maggie experiences from a childhood illness to almost dying in childbirth. Maggie certainly allows you to reflect on incidents that may have happened in your life and she gives you permission almost to reflect on the what ifs and how fragile life can be. I also appreciated that Maggie was simply honest and simply acknowledged that she was not perfect. Its brutal, honest, heart warming and I adored every word that Maggie had written.

This book I read in an afternoon, as I simply did not want to put this book down and despite you thinking it may be morbid read, its not its an empowering read which will leaving you wiping your brow once your done.

About the Book 

A memoir with a difference, I am I am I am is novelist Maggie O’Farrell’s unforgettable account of a life in near-death experiences. A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanged labour in an understagged hospital. Insightful, inspirational, intelligent, it is a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.

About the Author 

Maggie  is the author of seven novels:

After You’d Gone

My Lover’s Lover

The Distance Between Us

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

The Hand That First Held Mine

Instructions For a Heatwave

This Must Be The Place

Her memoir I am I am I am was longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2018. She lives in Edinburgh.

My Brief History a Memoir – Stephen Hawking 

I am a massive Prof Stephen Hawking fan and just could not resist reading My Brief History . I found Professor Hawking passionate not just for his work, but a passionate advocate for protecting the NHS and ensuring others that maybe not as famous or have so much influence on govenment changes that he took this fight upon himself and I hope this continues. 

You follow Prof Hawking from his birth and how he achieved such brilliance within the world of physics. This is a truely inspirational read and encourages you to strive to reach your goals and inspirations. 

pg.48 

“My dreams at that time, however, were rather disturbed. Before my condition was diagnosed, I had been very bored with life. There had not seemed to be anything worth doing. But shortly after I came out of the hospital, I dreamed that I was going to be executed. I suddenly realised that there were a lot of worthwhile things I could do if I was reprieved. Another dream I had several times was that I would sacrifice my life to save others. After all, if I was going to die anyway. I might as well do some good.”

About the Book 

My Brief History recounts Stephen Hawking’s improbable journey, from his post-war London boyhood to his years of international acclaim and celebrity. This concise, witty and candid account introduces to a Hawking rarely glimpsed; the inquisitive school boy whose classmates nicknamed him ‘Einstein’; the jokester who once placed a bet with a colleague over the existence of a black hole; and the young husband and father struggling to gain a foothold in the world of academia. 

About the Author 

Stephen Hawking was a brillian theoretical physicist and is generally regarded as having been one of the world’s greatest thinkers. 

In 1963, aged twenty-one and a graduate student at Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live yet he went on to become an exceptional research and Professional Fellow at Genville and Calus College and for thirty years held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, the Chair held by Issac Newton 1669-1702. Most recently, Professor Hawking was the Director of Research at he Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. He had over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the Companion of Honour in 1989. He was a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science. 

Professor Hawking was the author of A Brief History of Time which was an international Bestseller. His other bestselling books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universes and other Essays, The Universe in a Nutshell, A Briefer History of Time, The Grand Design and Black Holes. 

Professor Hawking died in 2018 at the age of seventy six. 


Bookshop Girl – Chloe Coles 

Bookshop Girl was a must buy for me when I first heard about this novel a few months ago. I have been following Chloe on Twitter for a little while and I just adore her. I don’t just adore Chloe’s amazing style but the fact that she just loves books and currently not only writes but works at Foyles Bookshop. 

In Bookshop Girl you meet sixteen-year-old Paige Turner. Part time bookseller. Full-time glitter-glue enthusiast. 

Paige and her best friend Holly have four weeks to master the art of drawing dangly bits and persuade the people of Greysworth to save their one and only bookshop. 

Oh, and then there’s Blaine Henderson. Art-school anarchist heart throb. Could his wild ways make or break Paige’s campaign?

The Very White of Love – S C Worrall 

The Very White of Love covers so many emotions, love, sadness, frustration and anger. As a military wife, I have a little experience of my husband leaving me to go to war, however, this is on a very different level. 

Martin’s life goes from studying in Oxford, to falling in love to then going to war with Nancy his love of his life willing to wait for him. You follow the letters they write to one another during this time. I could feel them both hanging on every word that was written by one another and you can feel the love oozing through the letters. You can feel Martin’s dilemma with wanting to tell Nancy everything that is going on, however, also wanting to protect her from what is going on around him and following the restrictive censorship in place. 

Towards the end of the book, clearly their love was unbreakable despite a war breaking out and Martin miles away fighting. I cried, I willed them to remain together and see one another again. What I loved most about Martin was how protective he was towards his men that he was in charge of, he wanted them to return to their families as soon as possible, he seemed to put them first before himself which was just admirable despite his want to return to see Nancy. 

This book I would recommend to all this war love story is based on S C Worrall’s family story and genuine love letters that were found. Its a story that has remained embedded in my memory and one I will probably never forget. Thank you S C Worrall, thank you to Martin and Nancy it was an amazing love story that I feel privilaged to have read. 

About the Book 

Torn apart by war, their letters meant everything……

3 September 1938 – Martin Preston is in his second year of Oxford when his world is split in two by a beautiful redhead, Nancy Whelan. A whirlwind romance blossoms in the Buckinghamshire countryside as dark clouds begin to gather in Europe.

3 September 1939 – Britain declares war on Germany. Martin is sent to the battlefields of France, but as their letters cross the channel, he tells Nancy their love will keep him safe. Then, one day, his letters stop. 

3 September 1940 – It’s four months since Nancy last heard from Martin. She knows he is still alive. And she’ll do anything to find him. But what she discovers will change her life forever……

About the Author 

S C Worrall was born in Wellington, England and spent his childhood in Eritrea, Paris and Singapore. Since 1984, he has been a full-time, freelance journalist and book author. He has written for National Geographic, GQ, The London Times and The Guardian. He has also made frequent appearances on Radio and TV, including the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent; NPR and PBS. He speaks six languages and has lived in or visited more than 70 countries. The Very White of Love is his debut novel. 

I would like to say a big thank you to Joe Thomas for sending me this book (Wow, you really know a good book) from HarperCollins Publishers. 

A Place For Us – Fatima Farheen Murza 

This books is everywhere, and it has been sat on my bookshelf for a little while and I need to get around to reading this book asap. 

A Place For Us catches an Indian-Muslim family as they prepare for their eldest daughter’s wedding. But as Hadia’s marriage – one chosen of love, not tradition – gathers the family back together, there is only one thing on their minds; can Amar, the estranged younger brother of the bride, be trusted to behave himself after three years away?

A Place For Us tells the story of one family, but all family life is here. Rafiq and Layla must come to terms with the choices their children have made, while Hadia, Huda and Amar must reconcile their present culture with their parents’ world, treading a path between old and new. And they must all learn how the smallest decisions can lead to their deepest betrayals.   

Billionaires’ Banquet – Ron Butlin

When Lovebookgroup was organising the book blog tour for Ron Butlin’s new book, Billionaires’ Banquet I jumped at the chance. I adore Ron’s books and simply could not refuse this opportunity. 

Ron places you into Edinburgh in the 80s and society’s present day issues. There is a lot of dark humour, but Ron’s writing is both witty and believable. 

pg137

‘Good darkness, not like in the street at night. Keep quiet here and she’d be safe. Here, she’d survive. This darkness was hers. It was deep inside her and inside nobody else. She was her own company, the best.’

Ron has a way in his writing of drawing you into his book and not letting you go until the end of the book. 

I adored the characters evolving throughout the book and just simply could not put this novel down. This book is not only beautifully written but a compelling read. This is a book that I would highly recommend to all a must buy. 

About the Book 

1985 Edinburgh. Thatcher’s policies are biting deep – fat cats and street-kids, lovers, losers and the rest struggle to survive. Hume sets up a business catering for the rich and their ever growing appetites. But by the new millennium, these appetites have become too demanding…..

About the Author 

Before becoming a writer, Ron was a pop-song lyricist, a footman, barnacle-scraper on the Thames and a male model. Widely translated, his work has twice been awarded a ‘Best Foreign Novel’ prize. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, the writer Regi Claire. 

Ron’s book was published by Salt Publishing. 

Eyes Turned Skywards – Ken Lussey 

The beautiful LoveBookGroups has organised this amazing book blog tour for Ken Lussey’s new novel Eyes Turned Skywards and I have the privilage of sharing a sneaky extract from the book. I hope you enjoy. 

“There was something forbidding about this place. The old keep and the surviving walls were covered in dense ivy. At this time of the evening, even a summer’s evening, there was the sense of a weight of history here that was enough to send shivers down the spine.

Fight Sergeant Peter Jacobs checked his watch again. Gregory hadn’t seemed the sort of man who would be late. But late he was, by 45 minutes. They should have been gone from the castle at least half an hour ago, Gregory in possession of Jacobs’ verbal update, and Jacobs in possession of a forged travel warrant to Glasgow and then to London.

Jacobs flicked the still burning butt of his cigarette over the edge of the long drop. It fell towards the undergrowth at the foot of the cliff, though he lost sight of it well before it came to rest. He cursed the need to be up here. As far as he was concerned, it would have been much safer to meet in plain sight in the town, perhaps a brief encounter on the esplanade or in the railway station. But no, Gregory was the boss and Gregory had said they should meet in the same godforsaken spot as they had on Monday evening, almost exactly three days earlier. Jacob felt he stuck out like a sore thumb here. For that matter, he thought that anyone at all would have stuck out like a sore thumb here.

The location had its compensations. As the sun sank towards the western horizon, it painted that whole side of the sky in a complex pattern of reds and oranges. From here the view was dominated by the Isle of Mull in the distance, with the sun still glinting off the side of Ben More, the island’s highest point.

Closer at hand was the much smaller island of Kerrera, somewhere he had come to know only too well over the past two weeks. In the shelter of the island, to the left as he looked, were a series of large shapes, now in deepening shadow, each tethered to a buoy. Jacobs knew that even when moored and apparently at peace, each flying boat had to be manned, in case the weather changed overnight. It wasn’t a job the men relished. Oban might not have the world’s most exciting nightlife, even without the blackout, but a night in a bobbing aeroplane was much less attractive than a night tucked up in your own bed, or someone else’s.

The sight of the last of the sun’s disk dropping below the horizon reminded Jacobs he still had to descend the steep and narrow path to the road below and then walk back into Oban before it got totally dark. Finding his way in the blackout was not an attractive prospect. He looked at his watch again and tutted. An hour was later than anyone in this game should ever be, unless something had gone badly wrong.
With a last look at the glorious array of coloured clouds in the west, Jacobs made his way across the overgrown courtyard to the narrow gateway. This provided the only way into and out of the ruined castle. Jacobs had to duck a little to protect his head as he passed through, and, as he had when entering, he removed his side cap. The last thing he needed was to have to explain how he’d got moss or pigeon droppings on his only uniform cap. 

As it turned out, the last thing Jacobs really needed was the pineapple-sized piece of rock that was brought down hard on the back of his skull as he emerged, head still bowed, from the gateway. He never heard the person who wielded the stone, and certainly never saw them. More surprisingly, despite his musings about the possible reasons for Gregory’s failure to make the meeting, he had no premonition of danger, still less any inkling that his world was about to come to a sudden end. And he certainly never felt the hands that then searched his pockets and under his clothing.
Nothing of interest was found and nothing was taken. There was, after all, no reason to give anyone cause to think that this was anything more than an unfortunate accident. Everyone knew that Dunollie Castle was old and overgrown and that its stonework was highly unstable. Accidents happened, even in wartime, or perhaps especially in wartime. 

The man who had killed Jacobs stood up and looked around to see if he had been observed before making his way cautiously back down to the road. Ferdi hadn’t really believed that Jacobs would still show up for the planned meeting, thinking instead that he’d have bolted for cover after what had happened to Gregory. But then perhaps Jacobs hadn’t heard? Ferdi still didn’t know what the two had intended to do, but at least his information about the meeting had proved accurate, and Jacobs’ death tidied up an important loose end. Now he just needed to deal with Captain Gubkin.

About The Book 

This novel reflects on the rumours and theories surrounding a number of real-life events, including the death of the Duke of Kent and the aircraft crashes of Short Sunderland W4032 and Avro Anson DJ106. 

Wing Commander Robert Sutherland has left his days as a pre-war detective far behind him. Or so he thinks. On 25 August 1942, the Duke of Kent, brother of King George VI is killed in northern Scotland in an unexplained air crash; a second crash soon after suggests a shared, possible sinister, cause. Bob Sutherland is tasked with visiting the aircraft’s base in Oban and the first crash site in Caithness to gather clues as to who might have had reason to sabotage one or both of the aircraft. 

Set against the background of a country that is far from united behind Winston Churchill, and the ever-present threat from the enemy, we follow Bob as he unravels layers of deceit and intrigue far beyind anything he expects. 

About the Author 

Ken Lussey spent his first 17 years following his family – his father was a Royal Air Force navigator- around the world, a process that involved seven schools and a dozen different postal addresses. He went to Hull University in 1975, spending his time there meeting his wife, Maureen, hitch-hiking around Great Britain, and doing just enough actual work to gain a reasonable degree in the most useful of subjects, philosophy. The next step seemed obvious. He researched and wrote A Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to Great Britain, which was published by Penguin Books in 1983. 

An inexplicable regression into conformity saw him become a civil servant for the next couple of decades, during which time he fulfilled the long-held ambition of moving to Scotland. 

In more recent times he has helped Maureen established the website Undiscovered Scotland as the ultimate online guide to Scotland. Eyes Turned Skywards is his first novel. 

You can follow Ken via Twitter @KenLussey @ETSkywards

Eyes Turned Skywards is published by @Fledglingpress. 

The Tales of Beedle The Bard – J.K Rowling 

As many people are, I am a massive fan of J.K Rowling. I have not read any of the Harry Potter books since they first came out and I am currently re-reading them at the moment. 

What I love about these small novels, it helps to fill in the gaps or just gives you an extra Harry Potter boost if you are having Harry Potter withdrawals. The Tales of Beedle The Bard has five short stories about individual characters within the main Harry Potter story. This book helped elaborate on other characters, even the minor ones and leaves you thinking whether further stories could be written about these characters. You can really get the feel for the genuine love for magic and the Harry Potter world from J.K. I have since purchase the rest of the collection and cannot wait to read these. The Tales of Beedle The Bard is one book that I would recommend. 

About the Book 

Five enchanting fairy tales full of magic and trickery. The Tales of Beedle The Bard have been favourite bedtime reading in wizarding households for centuries. 

Translated from the original runes by Hermione Granger, with accompanying notes by Professor Dumbledore, including by kind permission of the Hogwards Archive. 

About the Author 

J.K Rowling is the author of the record-breaking multi-award winning Harry Potter novels. Loved by fans around the world, the series has sld over 450 million copies, been translated into 79 languages, and made into 8 blockbuster films. She has written three companion volumes in aid for charity. The are as follows:

Quidditch Through The Ages 

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them 

In 2012, J.K Rowling’s digital company Pottermore was launched, where fans can enjoy news, features and articles as well as original content from J.K Rowling. 

Clean – Juno Dawson 

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom. 

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility. 

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady. 

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all…..

About the Author 

Juno has authored the bestselling World Book Day title Spot the Difference, a non-fiction guide to life for young LGBT people, This Book is Gay, and several young adult novels. 

A regular writer for Attitude, Glamour and the Guardian, Juno has also contributed to news items concerning sexuality, identity, literature and education on BBC Woman’s Hour, Front Row, ITV News, Channel 5 News, This Morning and Newnight. 

You can catch up with Juno via Twitter @junodawson. 

During the book, you follow the story of Lexi, who is a seventeen year old struggling with drug abuse. Well, if you have a conversation with Lexi she would completely deny this. 

Lexi lives in a very privilaged world and has so you think no care in the world. However, things come to a head when she is found overdosed and nearly dead. Enough is enough her brother steps in and takes action and takes her to get help. Initially, as you all can guess, this does not go too well and she is unimpressed at her brother’s interference. 

Lexi meets many many different characters with different addictions, different backgrounds, different outcomes, but what they all have in common is they are all addicts and they are all young people with issues. 

What I found whilst reading this book that these young people were not only addicts, but I felt there incredible lonliness – almost as if the world has given up on them apart from the staff within the facility who are desperate to help them get through this difficult stage and hope to get them out of the otherside and back into the real world. 

I loved Lexi, I found her a real likable character. Clearly, no matter how much money you may have she was craving to have her family love her, spend quality time with her and just be there. This is the one quality missing out of her life and one that she could not buy.

I just loved this book so much and just love Juno what an inspirational lady. 

A must buy book and a must read, if you want to purchase this book, please click here. 

Big Sister – Gunnar Staalesen 

I am a massive fan of Gunnar’s so was very pleased to have recieved this book to review. 

You follow the story of private investigator Varg Veum who is investigating the disappearance of his half-sister’s god-daughter, Emma. The book is full of twist and turns and Gunnar leads you into all sorts of murky criminal gangs.You constantly question whether Emma is dead or alive. 

I found Varg Veum a real likeable character, he was passionate about his role as a private investigator and wanted to ensure all the cases he had reached a conclusion of some sort. He also had no judgement towards his clients, he just wanted to get the job done. 

Big Sister is an addictive read and one that I did not want to put down as I just wanted to know what happened to Emma. It’s yet another book by Gunnar that I loved and will be waiting for his next novel to be released. 

About the Book 

PI Varg Veum receives a surprise visit from a woman who introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a nineteen-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously. 

Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers and to a shadowy group, whose dark intent is hidden by the anonymity of the internet. And then things get personal…..

About the Author 

Gunnar was born in Bergen, Norway. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over give million copies. 

Gunnar’s book has been translated by Don Bartlett. 

If you would like to purchase this book or to find out more about Orenda books, please click here. 

This blog tour was arranged by Anne, if you require author/blog tour services please click here for further information.