Attend – West Camel 

Firstly, I wanted to say I adored this book and just simply did not want it to end. 

During Attend we follow the story of three people, Deborah, a seamstress, Anne an ex-drug addict and Sam who was coming to terms and struggling with his own sexuality. Each and every one of these characters were going through real life issues and challenges and certainly have different approaches to try and deal with them. West has somehow worked magic and managed to get these three stories to entwine with one another like a complex spider web. At the beginning of the story West, picks you up and drops you in Deptford, London and the description of the location is so vivid that you can reach out and touch and you feel as if you are walking around, a front row seat and follow the characters around. It is not always a perfect picture and you certainly see a darker side of the location and there are uncomfortable, gritty moments. 

Attend is a unique, magical read, however, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you must read it and give it a go you never know  it may surprise you. Attend is an addictive read and just a compelling read. I simply could not put this book down and it left me breathless and blew my mind. When you break the story down, it is a simplistic story but West has put an overlay of complexity with some of the characters and the issues it covers. 

This book just simply ticks all of the boxes and a book I would highly recommend. 

About the Book 

Under their feet lies magic….. 

When Sam falls in love with South London thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah. 

Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenerian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, the mysterious world that lies beneath their feet and, ultimately, the solution to their crises. 

This book blog tour was arranged by Anne from Random Things Through My Letterbox 

Attend is published by Orenda Books 

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Louis & Louise – Julie Cohen 

I was very excited to have received Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen and due to be released on 24 January 2019 by Orion Publishers

In the moment of their birth, they are born as the same person in two different lives. They are separated only by the sex announced by the doctor and a final “e’. 

Louis and Louise are in many ways the same. They have the same parents, the same best friends, the same school, the same hometown in Maine that they dream of escaping, and the same ambition to become a writer. 

Until their late teens, their lives run along near-identical tracks. But their father owns the mill that provides most of their town’s employment, and the father of their best friend is a mill worker. When the workers go on strike, battle lines are drawn up in the town that they and their friends try to ignore. On the night of their high school graduation, however, both experience a life-changing, traumatic event that will cause both to leave their homes and send their lives in very different directions. 

A full review of this book will be available on my blog in January 2019.  

The Little Big Things – Henry Fraser 

The Little Big Things is written by the amazing Henry Fraser and we follow his story from the tragic accident which he had on his first holiday with his friends which left him with life changing injuries. 

Henry is brutally honest about the impact his injuries and recovery has had on his life and his family and friends. He reflects the guilt his friends and he has for these changes. You will find during reading this book, you will go through pretty much all of the emotions, but when I finished I was hopeful and inspired at the courage Henry had with making big changes in his life. He has gone from a rugby player to being an amazing artist a skill that he did not really know he had. Henry’s art work is spectacular and should not be missed. 

What I appreciated the most was Henry talking about the ongoing brutal rehabilitation and his determination to become as independent as he possibly can and not be so reliant of his family, friends or others involve in his care. I admired this quality about him his determination to keep things moving on, and respecting and being motivated by the smallest improvement. What I learned from reading this book, was the smallest improvement can have the most powerful impact on motivation and courage. 

This book I have passed on to others, as I believe that Henry’s strong self belief can be used by all. 

Bravo Henry!

About the Book 

Henry Fraser was 17 years old when a tragic accident severely crushed his spinal cord. Paralysed from the shoulders down, he has conquered unimaginable difficulty to embrace life and a new way of living. 

“Until now I hadn’t really been mentally or physically robust enough to take in what that all meant. But, as a fog lifted and the permanence of my disability hit home, I made up my mind to shake things up a bit, I didn’t tell anyone; instead, I sharpened my resolve and over the coming days working just that bit harder, pushing myself that bit further.” 

If you would like to find out more about Henry, or to purchase The Little Big Things, please click here. 

Start – Graham Morgan 

Start is an eye opening insight and brutal honest account of Graham’s history with mental health services in Scotland. Graham tells the good, the bad and the ugly about being detained and the deterioration in his mental health. 

I have worked within the mental health services in England, and always want to know first hand account, to allow me and others to learn about how care and how processes can be improved and be less traumatic, as this is the word I hear the most. 

What I admire the most, is how Graham has turned his detention in hospital into a positive and now uses this insight and works within services and with other service users. This is a must read for all, as it gives such an amazing insight into mental health first hand and insight into services as a whole, which as we all know is not perfect. I strongly believe this is a book that should be shared within the mental health services community as I felt empowered by Graham’s words and the fact that he acknowledges that his mental health continues to be an ongoing struggle but he takes it day to day. It also reflects brilliantly that all people at some point in their life struggle with mental health, we are only human. 

Thank you Graham, thank you for your honesty and you are a positive role model to the mental health community, keep up the good work. 

About the Book 

This biography does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead Graham highlights that people can, and do, live full and positive lives. 

We join Graham through his recollections of detention under the Mental Health Act, learning to live with a new family and coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness. He takes you through his preparation to address the United Nations in his role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland. 

Graham has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2008) Care and Treatment Act. 

This is the Act under which he is now detained. 

“A community where the actions of one person influence and shape the actions of another, where each thought, each hour, juggles the web we have in such a way that we all live a long complicated interdependent dance.”

A big thank you to Love Book Groups for organising Start Book Blog Tour, for more information, please click here

Start is published by Fledgling Press

Munich – Robert Harris 

I am a massive fan of Robert Harris, which means I may be biased to this book – just a warning. I do find it a little frustrating that authors like Robert are not praised more and some people get a bit “sniffy” about these types of books. In my view, does it matter is it not the point that someone is telling a great story the main issue. 

In Munich we follow the political ranglings to the lead up to World War II. Two former friends who are on opposite sides meet when they are aware the world is about to change with threats of war on the horizon. We trail behind Chamberlain and the “cat and mouse” political meetings being held between some of the great names of that time to negotiate peace. It is clear from the outset that each of these leaders have different ideas and wishes and beliefs which do not necessarily mean peace is on the horizon. 

You feel the tension and Chamberlain being out of his depth and in a crisis about how to lead his country. Chamberlain does not want the United Kingdom to enter into war again as it has barely recovered from the first war, but you get the sense from Chamberlain that talking is over and no other option, he has lost control and other leaders do not want to listen to him anymore. 

Robert pitched the story with tension and left you thinking whether negotiations and talks could have perhaps been conducted in a different manner which would have meant a different outcome. He also reflects how, despite being on the opposition people can still share the same outcome but it is just how can you both meet in the middle. 

I always find these stories fascinating and in hindsight you can see so many mistakes leaders made and what could have been done differently and Robert embraces these characters whole heartedly which means it could lead to an uncomfortable read. 

Another great story told by an amazing writer. 

About the Book 

Munich, September 1938 

Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace. 

They will meet in a city which forever afterwards will be known for what is about to take place. 

As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Fuhrer’s train steams south, two young men travel with their leaders. Former friends from a more peaceful time, they are now on opposting sides. 

As Europe’s darkest hour approaches, the fate of millions could depend on them – and the secrets they’re hiding. 

Munich is published by Arrow Books

“I would like you to hold yourselves in readiness to brief senior ministers later today. In the meantime, we should avoid doing or saying anything that contribbutes to a mood of public panic, or forces Hitler into a position from which he cannot backdown, even at the eleventh hour.”  

Normal People – Sally Rooney 

I am not usually one that gives in to hyped books, I am not sure why but it really puts me off. However, this book is just simply amazing. Initially, when I finished the book I was not sure about the hype, however, I cannot stop thinking about it and continue to think about it now – Sally’s writing has that kind of impact. 

We follow the friendship or Connell and Marianne, from school to university the ups and downs and changes good, bad and ugly. However, one thing that remains the same, they come back together again and there is an underlying bond that seems to be unbreakable. They both come from different backgrounds and have different back stories, but that seems to be irrelevant in their friendship or partnership. They both seem to be there for one another, but also you go through the times when they are cruel to each other which at times just left me wanting to shout at them. 

We go on their life lesson and their life changing experiences and at times you are left uncomfortable and dissatisfied, which I felt was amazing about Sally’s writing she overwhelms you with all types of emotions and feelings to ‘real life’ issues. It is simply a breathtaking book and one I am glad I did not miss. 

About the Book 

People know that Marianne lives in the white mansion with the driveway and that Connell’s mother is a cleaner, but no one knows of the special relationship between these facts. 

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner who has learnt from painful experiences to stay away from her classmates. When the two strike up a conversation in Marianne’s kitchen – awkward but electrifying – something life changing begins. 

Normal People is published by Faber & Faber

“He’s started drafting them on his phone in idle moments, while waiting for his clothes in a launderette, or lying in the hostel at night when he can’t sleep for the heat. He reads over these drafts repeatedly, reviewing all the elements of prose, moving clauses around to make the sentence fit together correctly. Time soften out while he types, feeling slow and dilated while actually passing very rapidly, and more than once he’s looked up to find the hours have gone by. He couldn’t explain aloud what he finds so absorbing about his emails to Marianne, but he doesn’t feel that it’s trivial. The experience of writing them feels like an expression of a broader and more fundamental principle, something in his identity or something even more abstract, to do with life itself.” 

Fierce Fairytales – Nikita Gill 

Initially, when I saw this book I was not convinced I would like it as I am always wary about changes to fairytales and with the feminist twist I was just not convinced. 

However, this book is an amazing twist to fairytales and it is not to in your face when it comes to the feminist twist. Nikita has used a gentle approach when it comes to the changes which did not overwhelm or unsettle me and it just flowed beautifully and I was so engaged with this little wonderful book that I simply did not want it to end. Nikita’s writing was personal, enchanting and addictive and I adored the fairytales and how it was presented. 

If you have concerns about significant changes or a little sceptical about the feminist twist, dont just give it a go, you may be a little surprised. 

About the Book 

Feminist fairytales for young and old…..

Await no princes to save you through their lips touching yours whilst you are in unwilling slumber. Wake each other up instead. 

Step into this world of empowering reimagined fairytales where the stereotypes of obliging lovers, violent men and girls that need rescuing are transformed into brace princesses, blurred lines between herds and villains and a courageous Gretel who can bring down monsters of her own. 

“It always begins when we are children

with imaginations so big we put 

whole universes to shame.” 

Fierce Fairytales is published by Trapeze 

A big thank you to Tracy (Compulsive Readers) for organising this tour. For more information, please click here 

Sadie’s Wars – Rosemary Noble 

With my impending move to Australia, I am reading everything and anything about Australia or novels by Australian authors. So, this was a perfect book for me. 

Sadie’s war is the third book in the ‘Currency Girls’ series. 

Although I have never read any of the previous novels I managed to get sucked into the story very quickly. There are a lot of characters within the novel, however, once you are introduced to them you can see they are all an integral part of the story telling process. We are transported to two different locations and timelines, Grimbsy and Cleethorpes during World War II and Australia during the twentieth century.

We follow Sadie’s childhood whilst she was in Australia and her father’s career. We get a glimpse of her first marriage which does not end well. The descriptions of the landscape and environment just transports you directly there with her. You can feel, touch and smell where she is and you are overwhelmed by both the beauty and harshness of the remoteness of the outback. 

You are transported to Cleethorpes during World War II, Rosemary does an amazing job of again describing the landscape and the contrast between Cleethorpes and Australia are fascinating. Here we follow Sadie and her two sons and the impact war has on families and communities. We live through the emotional impact war has on Sadie when her sons are serveing in the military. I could feel empathy with my own husband serving in the Royal Air Force. We experience Sadie’s inner emotional wars and the guilt and her choices whether positive or negative she has made. 

What I admire about Sadie is her independence especially during a male dominated world and her fiesty character, without being harsh as you experience her emotions and inner monologue. 

I adored this book, Rosemary covered many topics that are close to my heart and some of the inner emotional issues that I myself experience, it felt relevant and I admired this book. Rosemary took a story that obviously had a great impact on her and shared this with us all, thank you Rosemary what a great book, an amazing story and one that should be read. 

About The Book 

An astonishing tale, spanning continents, where truth is stranger than fiction. This historical saga of an extraordinary Australian pioneer family continues into a new generation. 

Sadie is brought-up amongst the vineyards of the Yarra Valley while her work-obsessed father reaps riches from the boom years before the Great War. 

With post-war depression looming, Sadie’s only option is to flee from her disatrous marriage, seeking refuge in Cleethorpes, a small seaside town in northern England. 

Years later, when her sons are in RAF Bomber Command, she receives a letter from her long-lost brother which forces her to confront the past and her part in her family’s downfall. 

Can old wounds be healed?

Will she find new love?

Will this second war destroy everyone she saved? 

About the Author 

Rosemary worked as a librarian, mostly with young people, so books have been her life, ever since she first stepped into a libraray and found a magical treasure trove. Her other love is social history. Retirement gave Rosemary the opportunity to travel to Australia where she discovered stories that deserved to be written. She found a new career as an author which gave her immense pleasure.

If you would like to find out more about Rosemary or her books, please click here

Big thanks to Rachel for arranging this book tour, if you would like to know about the services offered, please click here

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me – Malcolm Duffy 

This novel is a fascinating read and covers a topic that does not really get discussed, domestic violence. The story comes from the perspective of a young person, Danny witnessing violence and abuse and trying desperately to get his mother out of the situation. 

We follow Danny and his worry and concerns around his mothers relationship with her new partner. Initially, it seemed that Danny and his mother had an amazing new life with money and material things he could only dream of, however, things are not all that they seem. 

Danny seems to recognise early on the issues arising in his mothers relationship and despite his age, is incredibly mature and researches domestic violence and desperately shows his mother and vocally raises concerns with her – this of course is ignored and he is treated like a child who knows nothing. 

Danny is desperate to get support from an adult, his extended family know a lot more is going on behind close doors but keep their distance. This means Danny has to take matters into his own hands and goes in search for his mystery father for help. 

I found this story just fascinating in that Danny has such maturity and tries desperately to protect his mother from harm and to try and seek a resolution (his idea may not be a great one). Malcolm’s story telling just opens your eyes to the issues surrounding domestic violence and the impact it can have on the family. I believe this book should be given to secondary school children to give them an insight into domestic violence and it should be a topic that is openly discussed and not shyed away. 

Bravo Malcolm a great debut and I cannot wait to read more.

About the Book 

Things I learned when I was fourteen: 

Never keep secrets from your girlfriend. 

Never get into a scrap with a bigger lad. 

Never play football with a black ball when it’s dark. 

And never let anyone hurt your mam. 

Ever. 

About the Author    

Malcolm is Geordie born and bred. This is his first novel which was inspired by his time at Comic Relief, visiting projects that support women and children who have suffered as a result of domestic abuse. Malcolm lives in Surrey with his wife and two daughters. Malcolm works as an advertising copywriter. 

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me is published by Zephyr 

“I wasn’t a hundred per cent sure what to make of me Mam’s new bloke. Think he wanted us to be mates, what with the money, and the hair rubbing, and the car ride and calling me General, like he really wanted me to like him.” 

James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl 

I am currently going through a Roald Dahl phase, I love him always have and always will and my little ones love his books. Even though they are quite small, they laugh and love the language that he has used. This book is published by Puffin Books

James Henry Trotter lives with two ghastly hags. Aunt Sponge is enormously fat with a face that looks boiled, and Aunt Spiker is bony and screeching. 

He’s very lonely until one day something peculiar happens. At the end of the garden a peach starts to grow and grow and grow. Inside that peach are seven very unusal insects – all waiting to take James on a magical adventure.