#Review of The Consequences of Love by Gavanndra Hodge Rated 5 stars @gavanndra @MichaelJBooks #BookReview #NonFiction

The Consequences of Love
By Gavanndra Hodge
Rated: 5 stars *****

This is a moving story of Gavanndra Hodges compelling, emotional, honest account of the strength and bonds that creates sisterly love and how love can devastate a person. The book goes between the 1980s, 1990’s and 2000’s. There is a lot that readers will be familiar with from music to locations to childhood toys. From the start you can almost feel the tender love between Gavanndra and her sister Candy. It is sweet and yet so devastatingly heart-breaking as Candy becomes so unwell from an airborne virus and slips away, the girl who is described as being loving, wilful, funny, curious and so much more.
The numbness of grief and the consequences of not giving time to grieve is layed bare within this brave story, that holds more than, certainly what I ever imagined in this must read book. It is definitely a book that will take readers through many emotions and yet does shed some light and hope and how powerful the psychological make up of our minds can be in this terrifically written book that is a great read.
Within my post here, you will find out more about the author, the blurb and my review.

I give thanks to the publishing company – Michael Joseph – an imprint of Penguin for allowing me to review such a heart-rendering, touching and tender book; and for supplying me with a physical print copy in-exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

About the Author

Gavanndra Hodge has worked in newspapers and magazines for over twenty years, at the Daily Mail, Independent, ES Magazine and Tatler, where she was deputy editor and acting editor. In 2018 she left Tatler and became a freelance writer, contributing to publications including the Sunday Times, The Times, Telegraph and ES Magazine. She writes a column for The Times LUXX Magazine about how to talk to children about difficult subjects, such as privilege, grief and fairness, and has interviewed many high profile people, most recently Michael Caine, Margot Robbie and Carey Mulligan.

The Conseequence of Love

Blurb

Seven-year-old Gavanndra Hodge’s life is a precarious place. Her father is a hairdresser and drug dealer to Chelsea’s most decadent inhabitants; her mother an alcoholic ex-model. So, it is up to Gavanndra to keep her little sister Candy safe.

But when Candy dies suddenly on holiday aged nine, Gavanndra’s family, already so fragile and damaged, implodes.

Now a mother herself, and with only memories of Candy’s awful final moments, Gavanndra embarks on a journey to write her way back to the little girl whose death tore her family apart.

The Consequences of Love is a story of loss and recovery, trauma and memory. It is a joyous and compelling account of the strength of the love between sisters and how nothing is ever truly lost if we are brave enough to return to where we began.

Review

Candy (Candida Meander Hodge) died 4th April 1989. This book is about love, loss, grief on a huge scale, dealing with the consequences of the magnitude of grief, identity, drugs and alcohol of dealing with memories and handling life when people fill in the gaps, that have been long since suppressed. This is an emotional read and also one that is perhaps important. As much as there are other people mentioned in the book, like a boyfriend and friends etc, it is ultimately one that focuses your mind on both Gavanndra and Candy Hodge.

It finally becomes about both preserving both sisters. One dead, the other alive and the beginnings a gradual recovery, decades later for the one who is alive. It shows the messiness of life and the need to give time to actually process emotions and to grieve. It’s a brave book that in no way could have been easy to write and to bare so much about life in the past and closer to present times as memories are retrieved about the people she associated with and the way her family was and the emotional pain, that she may have thought she dealt with at the time of the death, but had not as it states her own vices. It becomes apparent that, although there is hope and love as she now has a family of her own, with a husband who is different from her father, that it would have been a lot to deal with, enough to hope that some way, Gavanndra Hodge’s personal life gets that bit better as more time goes on.

It’s also about, perhaps not full recovery, but a merging of the past and present and finding a way to live with them both. There seems to be strings of pain that, like threads that intertwine to create it to run through something, the pain intertwines and feeds through this family and the profound effect Candy’s death had on her, into adulthood and the entire surviving family. There is some optimism and hope provided by Gavanndra Hodge as she tells this life story.

There are however, in 1982,  childhood memories of fun like Enid Blyton books, wobbly teeth and fun with her dad. The type of fun that would make any reader smile and may bring back their own childhood memories. There’s a cutting darkness of her dad being involved in drugs.

Time moves on to 2014 and Gavanndra naturally grows up and has her own children – Hebe and Minna, with an age gap not far from herself and Candy. It is evident that the memories hits hard when her children are playing gleefully around. At this time Gavanndra works for Tatler magazine as a successful Deputy Editor as she tries to work through the past and yet separate it from her present at times. The writing is powerful, it grabs you from the beginning to the end.
The book covers quite a lot and her mother also becomes terribly unwell with cellulitis and sepsis, both that are challenging to deal with and are thankfully becoming more prominent in certain narratives in the news in recent years. Time moves also to 2015 and there is a sentence, that, for me anyway, hits home even more and that is about how every time a phone rings, you wonder if someone else has died. It will feel so uniquely different for everyone, but at the same time, I know how that feels for me, as Gavanndra will for her.

The book highlights some of the great work of Julia Samuel – a psychotherapist who consoled Princes William and Harry after their mother died and is a founder of Child Bereavement UK. This, apart from being nice, fits in with Gavanndra’s personal as well as her ambitious professional life. It is also very interesting to read about the social circles she moves/moved in. 

In 1991 there is a mix of drugs and GCSEs, quite a comparison to later in 2015 when she finally goes for therapy and to try to remember Candy more, the sister who she lost and to release the profoundness and pain of the grief a bit so it becomes more manageable. Reading onwards I hold hope for Gavanndra Hodge that she gets what she is seeking and that her personal life improves as more of what happened to Candy almost tumbles out in some interesting therapies and therapists, except I doubt in reality it did tumble out completely and took time.

There’s a really interesting interview in the last quarter of the book that shines a light on Jan Hodge about the family and tragedies.

The book does ultimately take readers up to 2018 and 2019, where we really get a glimpse into Candy, who seemed vibrant, knew her own mind – bordering on stubborn with and arty flair and friendly and the school reports are fascinating.

This is ultimately a book that is emotional and moving and is very interesting indeed. As much as the years move around a bit from chapter to chapter, it reads very well and does make sense to do this in this instance. It reads like there is a lot of honesty and in the end you cannot but help that there’s some more light in the author’s life to come. There is in a sense, perhaps more to be told, but the focus is excellent. It deals well with what “The Consequences of Love” can be, and yet we all need love and to be loved.

 

Escape To The French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas @jo_thomas01 @TransWorldBooks #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour #Fiction #BookReview #EscapeToTheFrenchFarmhouse

Escape To The French Farmhouse
By Jo Thomas
Rated: 4 Stars ****

Today I present my review of a book that is a treat for the senses and a great French escape that has its twists and warmth.
Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the Random Things Blog Tour and publisher Transworld Books for sending me a PDF copy of the book. My review is unbiased.
The book is published 9th July 2020.

About the Author

Jo Thomas Author Pic (1)Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first for BBC Radio 5, before moving on to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show. In 2013 Jo won the RNA Katie Fforde Bursary. Her debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the 2014 RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the 2014 Festival of Romance Best Ebook Award. Jo lives in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband and three children.

Blurb

Escape To The French Farmhouse CoverCan she find her recipe for happiness?
Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier… a new life in France – without Ollie.
Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? Discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?
A heart-warming tale about reclaiming your life, set amongst the lavender fields of Provence.
Perfect escapism from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and The Honey Farm on the Hill.

Review

I felt to get me in the mood for my adventure to France, I would surround myself with French classical music, just for fun as I immerse myself in France amongst lovely patisseries, market places, coffee shops, lavender and the French Farmhouse, Del has escaped to. This is far from a whimsical story. It is one of courage, hope, sadness, happiness and moving onwards with life. It makes for a great escape to Provence, France. It is a very pleasant read indeed and one that I enjoyed.

Rifts appear in relationships as other things happen in life and just mount up. This is what is portrayed with great emotion and tenderness at the start of Del and Ollie’s tale. This is a tale about entering into a new era of life. For Del and Ollie it will be apart.
France however sounds idyllic with its market stalls selling anything from chandelier’s to lavender and then there are the patisseries with their lovely baking. For the bakers out there, there’s plenty of inspiration from macaroons to using lavender as a herb for tulles.
The contrast is stark between this and the other realities of life that Ollie and Del have to deal with. A place can look nice, but there can still be so much going on, including the challenges that being expats can impose and the decisions that have to be made, whether to stay or leave. It casts a story of how being an expat takes some getting used to as there is a whole new way of living with so many differences, even small ones, to get used to and it isn’t that you wake up in another country and can or should expect it to be like that one you left.

There is strength of character depicted through Del, it’s realistically written though, from the heartache and difficult decisions to make, to the moving onwards with her life. She does however make a friend in Carine and her dog – Ralph as you follow their lives and follow the scent of lavender throughout.

Taking second chances and giving second chances also features as does romance and emotional challenges to overcome when people move on. There are however some really nice feel-good factors and warmth to be found throughout this book.

Although occasionally rushed near the beginning, the book is a very good read and I recommend it. So, escape to the French Farmhouse and explore a new life in this vibrantly bound book.

Escape to French Farmhouse BT Poster

 

Write up of a Virtual Book Launch for two highly successful authors – William Shaw and Elly Griffiths @william1shaw @QuercusBooks @ellygriffiths @HatchetteKids @HGCFiction #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Adventure #GravesEnd #AGirlCalledJustice #VirtualEvent #BookLaunch

Virtual Event with: William Shaw and Elly Griffiths

Happy Publication Day (yesterday) to both William Shaw and Elly Griffiths, first of all on the new books, published Thursday 14th May. William Shaw’s latest book is – Graves End (for adults) is available now on Kindle and audio and later in phyical book copy.
Elly Griffiths book for children is Justice – To the Smuggler’s Secret.

Elly Griffiths, who has written many crime fiction books for adults, such as The Stone Circle and The Lantern Men with her detective – Ruth Galloway, has now written a book for children, which is also now available to buy and was published yesterday… More about that below. First, I will present William Shaw’s new book, which is highly rated by Val McDermid and Peter May and The Financial Times.

                                                            

William Shaw has written 8 crime books, such as Salt Lane and Deadland, the 8th being Grave’s End. This is actually book 3 in the Cupidi series. He has written 2 different series to date – The DS Alex Cupidi series, The Breen and Tozer series and a stand-alone called The Birdwatcher.

There was a reading from it, cleverly put together by many people reading a bit, giving a lovely sense of comaraderie amongst crime writers, . It sounds atmospheric.

It was discussed that the crime book, set in Dungeness, has environmental themes and issues within Dungeness. It is written from the badger’s point of view, in the third person. He knew right away that underground was a great place to write from. It starts really well and powerful and is such an original point of view. It was talked about it is a plot with twists. This is absolutely an adults fictional book.

William Shaw likes that we know so little about badgers and yet have been living for such a long time, which makes them good for writing about. It is tense and also deals with issues surrounding badgers.

It was also mentioned that it is a book interspersed with emotions of love and loss. William Shaw, interestingly, also talked about how crime fiction investigates more than just the murder.

Gravesend picThe Blurb is:

A BIZARRE DISCOVERY

An unidentified cadaver is found in a freezer in an unoccupied luxury house. No-one seems to know or care who it is or who placed it there. When DS Alexandra Cupidi is handed the case, she can have no idea it will lead her to a series of murderous cover-ups and buried secrets. Namely the discovery of the skeleton of public-school boy, Trevor Wood, beneath a housing development.

A HISTORIC CRIME

His disappearance twenty five years earlier had almost passed unnoticed. But as evidence surfaces that his fate was linked to long suppressed rumours of sexual abuse, Cupidi, her teenage daughter Zoe and her friend Bill South find themselves up against powerful forces who will try to silence them.

A BURIED LIFE

Digging deep into the secrets that are held underground leads to Cupidi’s realisation that crime and power are seldom far apart. There are dangerous connections between the two cases, which are complicated by Constable Jill Ferriter’s dating habits, a secret liaison and the underground life of Trevor Grey’s only friend.

A Girl Called Justice – To The Smuggler’s Secret by award winning author Elly Griffiths. This is the second in the series for children about a girl called Justice Jones and sounds like it is full of mystery and crime and perfect for those enjoying Enid Blyton.
Elly has written many books for adults and now has also crossed into writing for children, which is available to buy now as it is launched today too. Justice is a corageous girl. It includes issues of the time and is set in 1937. It is based a bit on her mum who went to a boarding school.
She talked a bit about how in the 1930’s, people of course called it The Great War because they didn’t know it was just the first one of course.

It is available in paperback, e-book and audiobook now.

The blurb is

Justice Jones, super-smart super-sleuth, is back for her second spine-tingling adventure! For fans of Robin Stevens, Katherine Woodfine and Enid Blyton.

A Girl Called JusticeWhen Justice returns for spring term at Highbury House, it’s not long before murder is back on her mind. Assigned to look after the elderly Mr Arthur in Smugglers’ Lodge on the other side of the marshes from school, Justice is initially dismayed. But dismay quickly gives way to intrigue as she finds herself drawn to Mr Arthur and his stories of piloting in the First World War – and especially when Dorothy, who lives nearby, tells her that the lodge is haunted.

But when Mr Arthur dies in mysterious circumstances, Justice soon has a list of questions in her journal: why hasn’t he been given a proper military funeral? Why does the new Matron not seem to know much about First Aid? And what secrets does Smugglers’ Lodge really hold?

Justice sets out to uncover the deadly truth in this brilliant follow-up to A GIRL CALLED JUSTICE.

This is the last broadcast that William Shaw wil be doing for the time being as he has been doing them over many weeks, but may do some more occasionally. They have been great interviews. I couldn’t watch them all, due to time, but what I have seen have been good and creative.

The Bobby Girls Secrets By Johanna Bell @JoBellAuthor @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity @TeamBookends #TheBobbyGirls #strictlysagagirls #WW1 #HistoricalFiction #bookreview #readingforpleasure #NewBook

I just thought I would write to let you know that The Bobby Girls Secrets by Johanna Bell, that I reviewed awhile ago now, is published today. If you haven’t already tried this wonderful series about the first volunteer police women during World War 1, then do take a look, you may be pleasantly surprised; even if this isn’t your usual genre. This is a sequel to The Bobby Girls. I have provided links to both books, which include my usual bit about the author, the blurb and my review.

Click Here for The Bobby Girls

Click Here for The Bobby Girls Secrets

 

 

Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber @OfficialALW #BenElton #LoveNeverDies #AndrewLLoydWebber #FrederickForsyth #GlennSlater #Theatre #Review #VirtualTheatre #Musicals #Books

Love Never Dies
By Andrew Lloyd Webber
Rated 5 stars *****

Love Never Dies

Today I present a review of the sensational follow up to Phantom of the Opera – Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This was a virtual event. Like most musicals, there was also a book produced too. This is however primarily a theatre review, but would give you an idea too as music, lyrics and the written words in a book collide for both art forms.

Composer – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics – Glenn Slater

Book written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton and Frederick Forsyth.

Synopsis

The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris Opera House and the Phantom has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak-shows of Coney Island. In this new electrically-charged world, he has finally found a place for his music to soar. All that is missing is his love – Christine Daaé.

Christine is struggling in an ailing marriage to Raoul. She accepts an invitation to travel to New York and perform at a renowned opera house. In a final bid to win back her love, the Phantom lures Christine, her husband, and their young son Gustave from Manhattan; to the glittering and glorious world of Coney Island, not knowing what is in store for them…

Review

A couple of weeks ago I watched Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber on You Tube. It is the sequel of Phantom of the Opera and is every bit as stunning and attention grabbing as The Phantom of the Opera. It got some bad press, but certainly would not from me. It is set on Coney Island. For those who do not know – Coney Island is near New York and was a place that gained a reputation for fun fairs, circuses, and freak shows. Today, this doesn’t really exist quite in that form, but there does seem to be a fun fair and eateries.

The Phantom has moved from Paris to Coney Island and seems to be controlling it with all its glitz and mystique, but still has an obsession with Christine. The singing is beautiful, the music and lyrics works so well for the story that is being told. There are bits of music and song reminiscent of the times in the opera house in Paris in the first musical about the phantom, but there are plenty of terrific original songs to whet your appetite and really get into as well. The musical is full of life when showing the circus. The set is always sumptuous and at times has an element of fun to it, although always dark. The atmosphere that is created fits every mood and absolutely fits with the storytelling.

There’s shocks and surprises and some almost edge of your seat scenes. This is a musical that swept me away with it and grabbed me and took me into every dark corner, every bit of romance and every bit of emotion. If this is ever on stage, when things return to normal (which they will someday), it would be absolutely be quite the spectacle to see.

I was slow off the mark writing about this. Other life things took over, so it is not available on YouTube anymore, but there are previews and it is available on DVD. So, not all is lost. That is the positive, that you can indeed still watch this spectacular musical.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, every Friday for 48 hours has got creative and kind and is putting on You Tube many of his musicals and concerts under The Show Must Goes On. Pay or do not pay into the actors’ fund, that is up to you. It looks like Cats is the next musical to be streamed.

#Review of What’s Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott @stephaniewscott @wnbooks #WhatsLeftOfMeIsYours #RandomThingsTours #PsychologicalThriller #BlogTour #Debut #CrimeFiction #Fiction #Mustread

What’s Left of Me is Yours
By Stephanie Scott
Rated: 4 Stars ****

 

This is a blog tour I was particularly interested in joining because it is a fictional piece, absolutely based on fact, on a newspaper article seen in the Times in 2010. It’s a story with a humanity about it, but is also a wonderfully presented psychological as it builds up the picture of what happened to Rina. With thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto her blog tour, and for the publisher for supplying a print/physical copy of this book, that I must say, has a beautiful, elegant cover that draws the eye in.
So today I present my review of the newly published book What’s Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott. Please also find below, a short piece, that goes further into what inspired her to write this story. I’ve given it 4 stars, but it is so close to being 5 for me in my opinion.

Whats Left of Me is Yours BT Poster.png

 

stephanie scott is a Singaporean-British writer who was born and raised in South East Asia. She read English Literature at the Universities of York and Cambridge and holds an M.St in Creative Writing from Oxford University.
She was awarded a British Association of Japanese Studies Toshiba Studentship for her anthropological work on WHAT’S LEFT OF ME IS YOURS and has been made a member of the British Japanese Law Association as a result of her research.
She has won the A.M. Heath Prize, the Jerwood Arvon Prize for Prose Fiction, and runner up in the Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award for an early draft of the manuscript.

Blurb

A gripping debut set in the Japanese marriage break-up industry and inspired by a true crime, from award-winning debut novelist Stephanie Scott.
Within the Tokyo underworld there is an industry which exists to break up marriages. It is known today as wakaresaseya – agents who, for a fee, can be hired by one spouse to seduce the other and provide grounds for divorce on favourable terms.
When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life.
As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.

“A Beautiful Debut” says Louise Doughty on the cover (author of the very successful Apple Tree Yard and other novels).

What's Left Of Me - Cover

Review

Firstly, let’s start with that cover, so beautiful, so full of curiosities and elegant. This book is eloquently written as it takes readers into the landscape of Japan and sensitively forms a story that inspired by reality, but is a work of fiction. 

This a psychological that asks just where is the line drawn between healthy love and unhealthy possession. It shows the blurring of those lines through a few points of views and how this can lead up to such tragic consequences. It’s also a story of an actual, shocking industry that exists to break up marriages. It’s quite a hidden underworld I had no knowledge of, until I read this. The book sometimes also reads like it could be real with police incident reports also included, throughout as the story unfolds. I feel they play an important part to the narrative.

Kaitaro wants Rina (Sarashima’s mother) to return to photography and even buys her an expensive camera and already, near the beginning you can see a little bit of tension. Then readers will meet Shamiko, entering a legal career at the bar in Tokyo.
This is essentially a book in search of truth. The truth of what happened to Ms Sarashima’s mother and her determination to seek it as she speaks to people who may have worked on the original case within the justice system in the courthouse.

Some of what occurs is especially chilling within this mysterious story, that looks like has been well researched as it shows off some, perhaps lesser known parts of Japanese culture.

The book is a rich tapestry as it shows through a few characters eyes what happened. Within that, it also shows Rina’s life first hand and how she met Kaitaro and the seeming, romance of it all and how she sadly met her demise. 

There is mostly a satisfying enough conclusion as facts are discovered and lives move onwards. It is definitely one I am pleased is at least as interesting and good as I had hoped. It was a book that had a premise that captured my attention as soon as I had heard about it and on the whole, it held my attention. All in all, this is a very good debut novel, that is worth investing time in.

 

The Inspiration

‘In 2010 I read an article in The Times on a murder case in Tokyo where a marriage break-up agent had strangled his lover when she discovered his true profession and threatened to leave him. The agent was arrested at the scene and swiftly confessed, but as he was speaking to police detectives he said “I loved her. I love her still.” And it was this, the humanity of the original story which drew me. The agent claimed that he had felt trapped by all the lies he had told his target over the course of their relationship, but that he had truly come to love her, that he could not live without her. I was just newly married at the time and I wondered if what he had said was true – could you truly love someone and kill them?’