Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Kate and Harriet are best friends growing up together on an isolated Australian cape. As the daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community.
When Kate witnesses the desire that flares between him and Harriet, she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing. An innocent moment in McPhail’s hut then occurs that threatens to tear their peaceful community apart.
Inspired by a true story, Skylarking is a spellbinding tale of friendship and desire, memory and truth, which questions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget.

My Review

Skylarking is a fictionalized account of a true event that occurred in the 1880s in Jervis Bay, a remote area in Australia. Kate and Harriet have been friends throughout childhood, their fathers both work at the lighthouse. There is two years between them and as they get older Kate feels like she is being left behind. Harriet is keen to find a husband and her mother wants her to go to Melbourne rather than stay on the cape. It is on her return that tragedy strikes.
The most powerful part of this novel was the description of the area. The isolation, the danger of the sea and what it must have been like for the people who lived there. The challenges faced by the men desperate to help stricken sailors and I could visualize the men who were desperate to get a beached whale back in the sea and the frustration felt by others who wanted to earn money from her.
Even though the tale of the friendship was fiction I still found it believable. Harriet was a little spoiled, the only child whose mother wanted better for her. Kate was aware of how much her family needed her but also wished for her own life. Their relationship showed devotion, jealousy, a need to protect and a need to be noticed. I would have liked to know and understand McPhail a bit more but his enigmatic demeanour and his brashness probably contributed to his appeal.
The attitude to the Aborigines left me feeling a little uncomfortable but I should imagine it was an accurate portrayal for the time in which it was set. And it did change slightly towards the end.
When I finished this novel, I was searching the internet for days trying to find out more information about the actual event. Apart from photos of the lighthouse and cottages in ruins I found nothing. Which for anybody who knows me will know how annoying I found this. I guess though that it would be a fascinating area to visit.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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The Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Since her daughter went missing four years earlier, celebrated photographer Kurtiz Ross has been a woman alone. Her only companion her camera. Since Lizzie disappeared, she has blamed and isolated herself, given up hope. Until, out of the blue, an unexpected sighting of Lizzie is made in Paris.
Could this lead to the reconciliation she has dreamed of?
Within hours of Kurtiz arriving in Paris, the City of Light is plunged into a night of hell when a series of terrorist attacks bring the city to a standstill. Amid the fear and chaos, a hand reaches out. A sympathetic stranger in a café offers to help Kurtiz find her daughter.
A stranger’s guiding light
Neither knows what this harrowing night will deliver, but the other woman’s kindness – and her stories of her own love and loss in post-war Provence – shine light into the shadows, restoring hope, bringing the unexpected. Out of darkness and despair, new life rises. New beginnings unfold.
Dare she believe in a miracle?
Set during a time of bloodshed and chaos in one of the most beautiful cities on earth and along the warm fragrant shores of the Mediterranean, Kurtiz discovers that miracles really can happen.

My Review

Kurtiz is in Paris on the night of the Bataclan attacks in November 2015. She is getting increasingly desperate, not knowing if her husband had found their daughter at the concert and whether they were both safe. The subject matter is a little upsetting at times, it’s a recent event and there have been numerous terrorist attacks since that dreadful night. But the flashbacks to Marguerite and Charlie’s life were welcome respite.
It was Marguerite’s story I preferred. I enjoyed reading about her desire to be an actress and the development of her relationship with Charlie. She was a character I wasn’t keen on at first. She seemed a little self- obsessed but by the end of the novel she was my favourite character. I would love to read more about her life in future novels.
The desperation felt by Kurtiz was convincing, not being able to get answers regarding her family’s safety. The things that she witnessed combined with the images I remember from the news at the time were all realistic. As convincing was how hard the emergency services found the situation in which they had been placed. Needing to treat the injured, yet keep worried family members away from the scene.
Some of the novel I felt a little unconvinced by, but this was a novel I enjoyed reading.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

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This Family Of Things by Alison Jameson – Review.

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About the Book

On his way back up from the yard Bird had seen something white and round – a girl who had curled herself into a ball. Lifting her was like retrieving a ball of newspaper from out of the grass or an empty crisp bag that someone had flung over the ditch. She seemed to lack the bones and meat and muscle of real people. She felt as if she was filled with feathers.

On the day Midge Connors comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know.

Taking in damaged, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family bonds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others?

A poignant and powerful study of the emotional lives of three siblings and the girl who breaks through their solitude.

My Review

This Family Of Things is a novel that focuses mainly on two families in a small town in Ireland. Midge comes from an abusive family, all her brothers and sisters have left home and are not in touch. Bird, Margaret and Olive are siblings who run a farm nearby. When Bird finds Midge late at night all their lives change.
I haven’t read much Irish fiction but the books that I have read I have enjoyed. I like the humour and the approach to life that you never seem to see in novels set elsewhere. I found though, that I didn’t get into this immediately. I think this was mainly because I was only reading a bit at a time. Once I could read it in bigger chunks I enjoyed it a lot more.
All the characters were different, even Bird and his sisters had little in common. All coped with their various problems in different ways and none could be judged with how they chose to live their lives. I did struggle though with the way I felt about Midge until the second half of the novel.
Set in Ireland and Oregon, I preferred the Irish setting. The way the villagers communicated with each other was magical, if not always likeable. A combination of compassion, ridicule, denial, fear and sarcasm that all felt natural.
A different type of novel from my usual crime fiction but it was a welcome one. Recommended.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

Our Publication Day – Michael Stanley

Today it is my pleasure to bring to you a new series of post where my guest will discuss what publication day means to them. My guests today are Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, who between them write the wonderful Detective Kubu series which is published by Orenda. The blog tour for Dying to Live starts tomorrow and will run through July.

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How will you spend the day?

 

Michael: Usually there’s a launch for the new book, and that is a really enjoyable occasion since ones friends come to support one. Afterwards champagne is essential!

Stanley: It varies. The best is to have a launch party to celebrate with friends, fans, and hopefully new readers. Then to go to dinner with Michael and close friends. If there’s no launch, I like to raise a glass of bubbly to the end of a long, arduous, enjoyable project.

 

Will you be following reviews from early readers or do prefer not to know? (Excluding blog tours)

 

Michael: I admit I read them all. I like to see what people think, how they compare the new book with previous ones in the series and with others that are close in the genre. Mostly the reviews are pretty good, but the critical ones often have useful lessons for us.

Stanley: For a few weeks after a launch, I do read reviews, hopefully in the main-street press, but also online at various destinations. Of course, it is satisfying to read good reviews, but the ones I like the most, whether positive or negative, are those where the reviewer has understood how the book fits into the context of (in our case) Botswana. That is because we try to make our stories relevant, even if they are hopefully entertaining stories.

After that, I take an occasional look at online sites.

 

Is it emotional, getting the novel you have worked on for months into the public eye?

 

Michael: It is! And there is the sinking feeling when you wonder if it couldn’t have been better or different or something. But it’s out there, and that’s that. No going back.

Stanley: Yes! I always feel very vulnerable. After all, you have put out for all to judge something that has been more than a year in the making. There’s no one else to blame (except for Michael!!), so you have to take the responsibility for the quality.

 

If you have had books published before, does the feeling change?

 

Michael: Yes, I think so. One is less nervous, more realistic. But the feeling we have about our collaborative achievement stays the same.

Stanley: I don’t think you can ever repeat the feelings you have when your first book is released. Excitement, pride, nervousness, vulnerability, happiness, joy – all in the extreme.

 

I often wonder and imagine that when your novel is published and you have been working on at least one novel since, is the book that is published less important? And is it a distraction, welcome or otherwise, having to focus on what is for you old material?

 

Michael: One does move on, but it’s appealing to go back to the previous book and see how it feels in retrospect. I’m about to start reading A Carrion Death—our first book—for the first time in ten years, and it will be very interesting to see how it strikes me now

Stanley: Writers of series are always writing a new book before the previous one comes out. Obviously, I can’t forget the previous book for several reasons: the new one has to fit into the arc of the series; there are edits and copy edits to deal with; and you are trying to prepare the launch and associated events. However from an intellectual perspective, the new book has precedence.

 

Do blog tours make you more nervous or do you see them as beneficial?

 

Michael: Blog tours are excellent. Few reviewers are more serious than the people who love reading crime fiction enough to write up the books they read. Sometimes the blogger is a bit surprised by the book—maybe not what they would have chosen cold off the shelf—but that makes their opinion even more worthwhile.

Stanley: Blog tours are very beneficial, and so they make me nervous. Very nervous. That’s because bloggers are influential and their readers listen to what they have to say.

 

What is your publication day treat? Champagne, cream cake, 10km run?

 

Champagne (and sushi, if possible)! (And that goes for both of us!)

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