Death at the Plague Museum by Lesley Kelly @lkauthor @sandstonepress #NewBook #Review #Crime #Scotland #Edinburgh

Death at the Plague Museum
A Health of Strangers Thriller
By Lesley Kelly
Rated: ****

About the Author

Lesley Kelly has worked in the public and voluntary sectors for the past 20 years, dabbling in poetry and stand-up comedy along the way. She has won several writing competitions, including the Scotsman’s Short Story Award in 2008. Her debut novel: A Fine House in Trinity, was long listed for the William McIlvanney award in 2016. She can be followed on Twitter @lkauthor where she tweets about writing, Edinburgh and whatever else takes her fancy.

Blurb

Lesley Kelly book“If word gets out they’re going crazy, there’s going to be bloodshed”
The pandemic is spreading.
On Friday three civil servants leading Virus policy hold a secret meeting at the Museum of Plagues and Pandemics. By Monday, two are dead and one is missing. It’s up to Mona and Bernard of the Health Enforcement Team to find the missing official before panic hits the streets.

 

 

 

I would, before I begin my review, to thank Lesley Kelly for the packet of sweets to go along with this book.

Review

The book is split into 5 parts for the days of the week, plus titles.
From the outset there’s a death being investigated in the Edinburgh Museum of Plagues and Pandemics. Think work might just about be okay to go to on a Monday? Think again… There’s an air of something mysterious going on and Nathan McVie is dead..

The book, even though there’s a death early on at the Plague Museum, has some humour within it. I happen to like books with a bit of humour, even if the subject matter may be dark. The humour is well-placed and is sensible enough.

The book is at a good pace and would draw any reader in. It’s also modern and very “up to the minute” with the way people using social media, especially Twitter seem to find and comment on things instantly, and the way details of events are up there quicker than one could possibly imagine. Other issues are also highlighted, such as the constant threat of library closures and how people need to use them. I like that Mona has to use the library to do some research and I like that there’s not some romaticised idea that they will be around forever, regardless of whether they are used or not. I speak from experience of a council giving up on a few libraries as I have been heavily involved in creating a community library and now also running it, using every librarian skill I have gained by working in several of them over many years. It is thanks to authors such as Lesley Kelly who have supplied us with new books too, that we have a great book stock.
Back to the rest of the book…

The story goes on, turning up the tension about what really happened to Mr McVie and wondering where Sopel as she is missing and also missed a health check all staff get. The modern real possibilities of Twitter mobs are warned of well, within this book. It reflects our modern times and perhaps in ways that may make people think about how they use online sharing platforms such as social media in all its current forms.

There’s a mysterious death, or was it murder? There’s also a bomb threat. Enter the Plague Museum at your own risk and enjoy!!!

*I thank Lesley Kelly for sending me a copy in advance of the publishing date of 18th April to review. I also thank her for sending me books of this series for a community library I have set up.
The review is my own views and by no way was I influenced by what I wrote by the author or any other person by my review.

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Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross #davidfross @OrendaBooks #Scotland #review #blogtour #newbook

Welcome to the Heady Heights
by David F. Ross
Rating: ****

About the Author

David F Ross PicDavid F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for
over thirty years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture
at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media
commentator, author and enabler by night. His most prized possession is a
signed Joe Strummer LP. Since the publication of his debut novel The Last
Days of Disco, he’s become something of a media celebrity in Scotland, with a
signed copy of his book going for £500 at auction, and the German edition has
not left the bestseller list since it was published.

Praise for other books:
‘Warm, funny and evocative’ Chris Brookmyre
‘Dark, hilarious and heartbreaking’ Muriel Gray

Blurb

Heady HeightsIt was the year punk rock was born, Concorde entering commercial service and a tiny Romanian gymnast changed the sport forever.

Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realised. In a bizarre brush with the light-entertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank ‘Heady’ Hedricks and now dreams of hitting the big time as a popular music impresario. Seizing the initiative, he creates a new singing group of five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. Together, they make the finals of a televised Saturday-night talent show, and before they know it, fame and fortune beckon for Archie and the High Five. But there’s a complication; a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC known as The Tank are all on his tail…

Review

A perfectly placed book with humour, nostalgia for some and curiosity for others of 1970’s Glasgow life in the East End and the desire to escape and for a celebrity, to become more famous than he already is. Whether you lived through the 1970’s or not, it’s a great read and is accurately written and it all feels like Glasgow of that time. Okay, I didn’t live through these times, I confess, but I’ve certainly seen many documentaries on it and plenty of folk over the years have told me about this decade.

The setting is the East End of Glasgow and the book is set mainly in 1976 and begins in July 1976. The hottest summer on record since records began and still is. The year, even if, like me, weren’t even born then, that is so well documented and televised with pavements and roads cracking in the sheer heat that lasted a very long time, as I am sure those of you who were born then, will remember. It’s a good place I think for this book to start and it proves Scotland can get hot and even in the present day it can too, perhaps not quite like in 1976, but hot all the same at certain times of the year.

Archie dreams of a different and better life for himself than only living in the East End of Glasgow, which is described well for the times of the gangs, the toil of heavy work and shortned life expectancy. There’s a real sense of poverty that is captured within these pages. It’s a part of the area’s history, captured well in what is a fictional novel, but also is thought provoking, as is the political parts, that some things never quite change, hence politcal circles being a phrase…. This isn’t however a political story. It’s a book that really captures the 70’s within Glasgow. Even the 3 titles of the 3 parts are recognisably 70s and would bring a certain nostalgia to people and a curiosity perhaps to others. They’re cleverly thought out.

All the places mentioned are real and recognisable and even today Tulliallan is where the people are trained for the police. There’s a political and social element that really stands out when it is mentioned how single female officers like Barbara don’t really get considered for leave. I don’t know if that is the case within the force now, but certainly there’s still a thing within society about single females being treated differently. She is a strong woman who stands on her own two feet and was a successful activist in getting a law to protect women.

There’s a feeling of wanting hope for Archie, hope that the strives of life change for him. He’s got hope and optimism within his character that fits in rather well into the story. It isn’t overdone by any means.

This is a book with plenty of  humour weaving through it as Glaswegian life goes on in both the East End and the more celebrity world.

The author has great strands of a story in this book as we learn of character’s stories, that are then cleverly pulled together.

All in all, this is a very original book with humour, but there is also a rawness of reality through its narritive. It’s worth picking up a copy and giving it a read.

I was pleased to be part of this blog tour for Orenda Books.

Heady Heights tour pic

Review of The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris @Joannechocolat @BHHillustration @gollancz @orionbooks @TheWrite_Reads #JoanneHarris #YA #Fiction #Review

The Blue Salt Road
By Joanne M. Harris
Rating: *****


About the Author

Joanne Harris MBE, writes under both this name and Joanne M. Harris and lives in Yorkshire. Her books have been published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. This year she celebrates  20 years since Chocolat was first published in the UK. As well as writing books, she also writes stories that she performs to music with her band – Storytime. She plays a bass guitar and studies Old Norse. She also campaigns for libraries and author’s rights.

The Blue Salt Road Joanne Harris

Blurb

Passion drew him into a new world and trickery has kept him there.

But as he finds his path in a dangerous life, he will learn his notions of home, and of his people, might not be quite as he believed.

Illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is an original modern fairytale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas and drama on the land.

Review

I was fortunate enough to recieve this book as a Christmas present this year. The person who bought it for me knew I was interested in this book and that I have long enjoyed books by Joanne Harris. This book is rather different from my usual reads, but then that’s the beauty of books, they are easily accessible to try something new and to further expand the repertoire and discover something new. Even if a bit of fantasy is not your usual type of book, this book is relatable to and is worth exploring and in my review, you will see why and also you can see what else Joanne Harris writes, as she has written about every genre there is, which is impressive! Over the years I have come to admire her for many different reasons.

A modern fairytale that is nicely split into 7 parts, each beginning with appropriate verse from the Child Ballads. I had not heard of the Child Ballads before, but that’s the thing with even fiction books, there’s always something to take away with you or there’s some new nugget that readers have learnt about. This is a tale for young adults and adults alike, after all, fairytales were originally meant for adults. It is beautifully illustrated in black and white by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, who also illustrated A Pocket Full of Crows. The detailing is exquisite to say the least with each drawing matching the text very well. Be sure to look just inside the cover too.

The prologue is definitely very interesting and informative as it’s where it is learnt where the story comes from and are invited to take what we need from it and pass the story on. The way it is written is the beginning of being of  the enchantment of this book. It is about a Selkie. For those who don’t know a Selkie is a mythical creature that resembles a seal in the water but assumes human form on land.

Right from the first chapter the tale sweeps you along in its imagery of the islands as we meet the Grey Seal Clan, more precisely a young man of the clan who likes to hear tales of the Folk, who they live alongside, but there are warnings within those tales he is told to heed about the Folk. Despite warnings to take caution, he likes to observe the Folk. The Folk represent humans and are seen as only being concerned about their boats and harpoons. It is so thought-provoking and with such emotion and with such powerful beauty of the setting, there’s much to take in, but it is far from arduous. It’s a book that fits so well for today’s reading audience and is so relevant and it strikes a chord.

Mostly there are no named characters, except for Flora McCraiceann – one of the Folk, a determined young woman who wants to find a man of her own, and not necessarily one from the island. Down by the sea, there lies a bit of a love story. What love, but what pain can accompany it for both a Folk and a Selkie and what choices they must make, that impacts on their lives and the heart and the dreams don’t always match up and there are lost memories of a past life. It’s all beautifully and tenderly written with vast emotion and even though it is a fairytale, there is a grounding of realism within the book, which is relatable to.

We see the contrast between the Selkies and the Folk. The folk and all their weaponry, shows a darker side of this book, a more predatory, realism way that they had, compared to the magical power the Selkie has for readers and far different from the romanticism of them. The dark turn brings a sadness to this book as there’s a realisation of betrayal. It is all such a rivetting read and I found myself almost mesmerised and being pulled along like the waves of the sea. It’s so incredibly well written, it’s such a joy to read.

Throughout the book there is a Kraken, which is so well depicted to tell this story and is great for the imagination, but is written in a way that will be familiar to readers.

This fairytale, twists and turns as it begins to plunge into a tale of revenge later in the book. There is much that will keep readers wanting to turn the pages to see how it all concludes.

This book, although, not my usual genre, is a mythical masterpiece and really took me by surprise. So, I highly recommend this book, even to those who don’t normally read this genre.

Joanne Harris has been enjoying success and working hard on her writing for decades now. There are so many series and all of which I recommend. I have been reading her books for all those years and intend on continuing to do so.

I would like to thank Joanne for all the times I have met her, mostly at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and once at Aye Write in Glasgow and the other in Harrogate at the Raworth’s Literature Festival there. Each time has been a joy. Joanne Harris was the first author I met, when I came to know that authors could be met and signed books. No longer was it a bucket list dream, it became a lovely reality.

Gothic Novels: Sleep Pale Sister, The Evil Seed

Chocolat Series: Chocolat (adapted into an Oscar nominated film),
The Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure  The Strawberry Thief will be released 4th April 2019.

 Novels Set in France: Blackberry Wine, Coastliners,
Five Quarters of the Orange, Holy Fools

Malbry Novels: Gentlemen and Players, BlueEyedBoy, Different Class

Short Stories: Jigs and Reels, A Cat, A Hat and A Piece of String

Cookery: The French Kitchen, The French Market, The Little Book of Chocolate

Books written as Joanne M. Harris:
Norse Books: Runemarks, Runelight, The Gospel of Loki, The Testament of Loki
Folklore- inspired novellas: A Pocket Full of Crows, The Blue Salt Road

She has featured in many books such as Doctor Who, Dead Letters,
Fearie Tales, Paris to name but a few.

 

Joanne Harris pile of books

*Please note: This is an impartial review.

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Title: The Blue Salt Road
Author: Joanne M. Harris
Illustrator: Bonnie Helen Hawkins
Publisher: Gollancz – an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group LTD
ISBN: Hardback: 978 1 473 22221 2    E-Book: 978 1 473 22223 6
Main Points of Purchase: Available widely in bookshops, libraries and Amazon.

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler – A Fascinating Insight into What Happened to 99 Authors @Peculiar @riverrunbooks @QuercusBooks #nonfiction #facts #authors #newbook #review

The Book of Forgotten Authors
By Christopher Fowler
Rating: *****


About the Author

Christopher Fowler was born in a less attractive part of Greenwich, London in 1953, the son of a scientist and legal secretary. He went to a London Guild school, Colfe’s, where, avoiding rugby by hiding in the school library, he was able to begin plagiarising in earnest.

He published his first novel Roofworld, described as “unclassifiable”, while working as an advertising copywriter. He left to form The Creative Partnership, a company that changed the face of film marketing, and spent many years working in film, creating movie posters, tag lines, trailers and documentaries, using his friendship with Jude Law to get into nightclubs.

He achieved many schoolboy fantasies including releasing a Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, posing as a villan in a Batman comic, writing in Hollywood, creating a stage show, running a nightclub, appearing in the Pan Books of Horror and standing in for James Bond.

Now the author of over forty novels and short story collections, including his award -winning memoir Paperboy and its sequel Film Freak, he writes the Bryant and May mystery novels, recording the adventures of two Golden Age detectives in modern-day London.

In 2015 he won the CWA Dagger in the Library award for his detective series, once described by his former publisher as ‘unsaleable’.

Fowler is still alive and one day plans to realise his ambition to become a Forgotten Author himself.

 

Blurb

Forgotten Authors closed99 forgotten authors, their forgotten books, and their unforgettable stories.

“Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead.

So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and back stories of 99 authors, who once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.

Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega seller or prize-winner – no author it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye: stories often stranger than fiction many of them wrote.

These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.

Forgotten Authors open

Review

I was given this book as a “Secret Santa” present, so quite some time ago now and I am so pleased that I have finally found some time to be reading it. I announced some time ago that I was going to include a book by Christopher Fowler in my blog. Ok, it took me longer than I had anticipated because other life events that were unexpected happened. I do however always remember and do what I say I will do, even if it takes a bit of time to get round to what is also such a pleasurable book to read. It was worth the wait for me.

The book begins by posing the most interesting question: “Why are good authors forgotten? ” The question is answered in a considered manner, as well as explaining the process a bit of how the authors you will find within the rest of the pages came to be included.

As I glance down the content pages, I can already see that this book is going to be an education of interest and wonderment. There are certainly plenty of names I have never heard of before, but now feel I ought to know and delve deeper into the book to find out more. There are also however names that interest me in the very fact that they are becoming forgotten by so many people and yet I remember them, such as Virgina Andrews,  Forgotten nonsense writers such as Edward Lear and Lewis Caroll, Keith Waterhouse, but I know full-well that they are becoming forgotten by different generations, even my own, relatively young generation didn’t all know who they were.

There are also fascinating sections such as: Forgotten rivals of Holmes, Bond and Miss Marple, The Forgotten Disney Connection. Who would have ever thought there were forgotten books by Charles Dickens?  Well there are. Some authors are not remembered, but their work has been adapted into a film, so that is what people remember, but not who created the original work in the first place. So, it’s interesting nuggets like that, which are highlighted or well-known authors who have created a larger body of work that what is actually remembered because the focus may be on their most well-known. Take Charles Dickens for example, the only other person I know to have talked (or rather acted) Doctor Marigold and some other relatively unknown stories in an amazing 1 man play was Simon Callow at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival many years ago. If it weren’t for that, then I would never have heard of this story.

There are, as I mentioned before, many authors who I had not heard of, perhaps some readers of my blog may have done such as Charlotte Armstrong, Kyril Bonfiglioli, Barbara Comyns Carr, Charles Hamilton to name but a few. These completely unknown authors to me also have their own interesting stories and it is fascinating how some authors have connections in some way or another to some authors, some generations do have memories of or are still on some library bookshelves.

These discoveries caused much intrigue within itself, so I had to find out more. I won’t of course spoil it for readers of my blog by writing what I discovered. Let’s just say it is very fascinating indeed.

With just 2-3 pages devoted to each author, it is tightly written and an excellent read. It’s such an interesting read. It’s non-fiction and yet the way the facts are presented, there’s still some twists and turns within them as there are new discoveries to be made and each has a great narrative. We get to know a little about the authors themselves and the books they wrote as well as what happened and how they became so forgotten about in the midst of time. It got me thinking about whether they were deserving to be so forgotten about. I would say, not necessarily so from reading this book that also gives a glimpse into what the authors wrote, the impact they made at the time and how perhaps some people may like to read some of the books today, but perhaps may never get the chance to.

The book flows so easily as it glides from one author to another. This is far from reading a text-book or anything of that ilk. This book is written in a way that would interest many people and is very accessible to all through its lightness and fast pace.

By the end of the book, I found that I learnt a lot in a relaxed, casual manner through new discoveries and reading about old favourites.

If you have ever wondered why authors can be forgotten or certain genres that they have written are less well-known to perhaps what they wrote most of, or what happened to certain authors and why they stopped writing, then this is one of the most enlightening, most interesting books for you. It is very much worth investing the time to read this unique book, which seems to be well-considered, excellently paced and well-researched. The enthusiasm of the author – Christopher Fowler to be dedicated to write such a book really shows through all he has written as he takes readers on his exploration to uncover what may have been hidden secrets of the forgotten authors if it weren’t for such dedication to discover the lost treasures in the writing world.

So I whole-heartedly recommend this book, even if non-fiction is not your usual book. The book is unique and I reckon will add insight to any reader’s knowledge about some fictional writers, well, 99 of them. It is an excellent book to either read all in one go or dip in and out of as you please.

Christopher Fowler will be appearing at the Aye Write Festival 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland where he will be talking about The Book of Forgotten Authors.

 

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Title: The Book of Forgotten Authors

Author: Christopher Fowler

Publisher: Riverrun an imprint of Quercus Editions Ltd – A Hatchette UK Company

ISBN: 978-1-78648-489-5
Ebook ISBN:
978-1-78648-491-8

Main Purchase Points: Waterstones, WH Smith, Amazon

Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan – A family drama with a murder and emotion, including some humour. @UrbaneBooks @EvaJordanWriter #LoveBooksGroupTours #amreading #newbook #Romance #Crime #BookReview #BlogTour

Time Will Tell
By Eva Jordan
Rating:****

I am pleased to say that it is my turn to be on the Blog Tour with an advanced copy of Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan. The book is published and released to the public on the 25th April. So it’s one you may like to look out for then or pre-order.

time will tell poster


Blurb

Time will tell bookWriter, Lizzie Lemalf, and her loving but somewhat dysfunctional family are still grieving over the loss of a much-loved family member. Lizzie is doing her best to keep her family together but why does the recent death of a well-known celebrity have them all in a spin? The police suspect foul play; Lizzie and other family members suspect one another. Lizzie begins searching for answers only to find herself being dragged back to the past, to 1960’s London to be exact, and to the former life of her father, that up until now she has never been privy to. Every family has its secrets but how can the past hold the key to a present day celebrity death?

They say the past comes back to haunt you. Surely the truth will out? Maybe, but only time will tell…

Review

This book spans across the years of 1945, 1965 and 1971 to present day. I find my attention grabbed in an instant on that first page. I wasn’t expecting it, but it is a great opener. Already there are questions forming in my head. Who is the protagonist and why has the person ended up in a certain place? Then, enter chapter one, which takes readers right to the present day. It begins with a death announcement on the news and social media. Already I want to know more about this person. So, already there’s a bit of a mystery as to who killed this celebrity character.
There are themes of family bonds and ties throughout that are strong, so the book isn’t all just about the death of a celebrity. There’s romance and poignancy within this book as well as some humour and a look into family dynamics.

There is much going on and a lot of substance and depth and many emotions within this book as a lot happens to the characters between the ages that it goes between. It is well written and although it flicks through a number of different times, it works rather well and creates an interesting story, although, unusually for me, I had to really concentrate on the time changes, especially at the very beginning. The eras themselves were captured well and there was certainly plenty going on in the 60’s.

There are three books featuring Lizzie and her family, this was the first one I read and it was indeed enjoyable and is well plotted and it felt like the author was invested in the characters, which I felt were thought out in a good way. I would however say that, from my point of view anyway, that they are possibly best read from the beginning to get more of the gist of this family, although to read it as a stand-alone works not too shabbily.

About the Author

 

Eva jordan picEva Jordan is a published writer of several short stories and Time Will Tell is her third novel. Eva lives in a small town in Cambridgeshire with partner Steve and three of our four children, who are a constant source of inspiration – they are all teenagers, need I say more! Eva’s career has been varied, including working in a Women’s Refuge and more recently at the city library. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her true passion.

 

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Title: Time Will Tell
Author: Eva Jordan
Publisher: Urbane Publications
ISBN:  9781911583943
Category: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Pages: 288