10 Things To Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keefe @Bernard O’Keefe #AcornIndependentPress #RandomThingsTours #YA #Fiction #School #Education

10 Things To Do Before You Leave School

By Bernard O’Keefe

Rated: *****

I am pleased to be part of the Random Things blog tour today for the book –  10 Things to do Before You Leave School.

Blog tour poster

About the Author

Bernard OKeefe author picAfter graduating from Oxford, Bernard O’Keeffe worked in advertising before training as a teacher. He taught for many years, first in a North London comprehensive, then at Radley College, where he was Head of English, and most recently at St Paul’s School in London, where he was Head of Sixth Form. 

He has reviewed fiction for Literary Review and The Oxford Times and, as an editor of The English Review, has written over a hundred articles for A Level students on subjects ranging from Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle to Jane Austen and Shakespeare. In 2013 he published his first novel, ‘No Regrets’.

Blurb

10 things book picRuby has had a difficult year to say the least, Just before she started sixth form her father died from a heart attack. In the months that followed, Ruby became so depressed that she attempted suicide. She now missed a lot of school, but now she’s about to go back and she’s worried. Is she well enough to get through her final year? Will the depression return? Should she apply for university?

The night  before term begins, Ruby finds something that makes the prospect even more daunting: an envelope addressed to her in her father’s handwriting, 10 Things I Hope You Do Before You Leave School: it makes no sense. She can’t understand why he’d want her to do these things, let alone whether she’ll be able to do them.

As Ruby navigates her way through UCAS, parties, boyfriends and A-levels, she decides to give the list her best shot, but her efforts lead her into strange situations and to surprising discoveries.

Will Ruby survive her last year at school? Cand she do the ten things on The List? Will doing them make any difference?

Review

This is an excellent book of our times. It’s a must for Young Adults. It is relatable for what so many young adults face today. There’s the technology, the exams, the university forms and all that angst. Oh and then there’s the Talks. You know, those familiar parent to young adult talk of the sex, the alcohol. I love how they are listed within this book and in such a tone that so many young adult will be familiar with. Ruby however has more than this to deal with, she has to deal with the fact that her dad has recently died.

The book is wonderfully presented. The parts of the book and within the body of the book becomes the list. I love this ingenious idea of it saying to young adults to have a list, but perhaps that’s because when I was that age I began writing a bucket list and yes I gradually tick things off and sometimes add to it and later tick it off.

This book is fun and touching and relevant with believable characters to care about and live with throughout this book.

The author has thought carefully and knows how to handle the tougher times that Ruby doesn’t want to return to in her life, sensitively, but then this is also when the really ingenious part comes into play, he has thought of other literary characters and authors who have had bleak parts within their lives, especially Virginia Woolf. Here he has added more self-discovery and analysis as Ruby looks at what she copied one time from Virginia Woolf’s letter before she drowned herself, and compares this with where she, herself is now and ponders of if she really is that same person, or is she moving on in life? It’s not dealt with lightly. There’s a lot of good thought that’s clearly gone into how the main character is feeling and thinking.

There’s of course the boys and the parties too, again written well. All this book is written well and is written in a way that is recognisable to how a young adult would talk and relate to the world around them and their peers.

Does Ruby finish school and get into university? Well, that would be telling…
Go on and read it to find out for yourselves. It’s worth the time.

The things within the list is what any young adult can achieve and with little to no money. Most are life affirming and will teach young adult’s something valuable in life. This book is full of life and emotion. There’s also humour and enough to make it absorbing and uplifting. It’s meaningful and well-considered and written.

I absolutely recommend this book to every young adult about to leave school or got one more year to go. It’s a book for today and it will still remain relevant for many years to come I am sure.

____________________________________________________

Title: 10 Things To Do Before You Leave School
Author: Bernard O’Keefe
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Acorn Independent Press (5 Mar. 2019)
ISBN-10: 1913036707
ISBN-13: 978-1913036706

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Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami #harukimurakami @Penguinrandom @HarvillSecker #BirthdayGirl #Review #birthdaygift

Birthday Girl

By Haruki Murakami

Rating: *****

About the Author

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1949. He grew up in Kobe and then moved to Tokyo, where he attended Waseda University. After college, Murakami opened a small jazz bar, which he and his wife ran for seven years.

Murakami is also the author of many novels and 3 short story collections, as well as an illustrated novella and several works of non-fiction. Birthday Girl was published to coincide with his 70th birthday. 

Blurb

Birthday Girl bookShe waited on tables as usual that day, her twentieth birthday. She always worked Fridays, but if things had gone according to plan on that particular Friday, she would have taken the night off.

One rainy Tokyo night, a waitress’s uneventful twentieth birthday takes a strange and fateful turn when she’s asked to deliver dinner to the restaurant’s reclusive owner. Birthday Girl was published to celebrate Murakami’s 70th birthday.

Review

This is a beautiful, intriging read and at only 42 pages, there’s great content and plot through it. It’s short and sweet as well as thought provoking and wonderfully observed. It is worth reading. It’s also lovely for a present. I actually received this from a good friend of mine for my birthday, which was very apt.

The highly reputable restaurant where the waitress works is as it should be and she’s called in at short notice due to another member being unwell, so nothing unusual until you read a little further and there’s a sinister feel about the owner. The owner who nearly everyone has not seen. This provides a source of curiosity and the pure need to know who the owner is. There is a day the newly turned 20 year old waitress has to deliver dinner to the owner. Perhaps because there are no names and the secretiveness of the owner, there’s a bit of an underlying sinister quality about the piece of writing and keeps you wondering just who is this mysterious character and how will he react to the waitress delivering his meal instead of the usual manager.

Everyone is allowed to make a wish on their birthday right??? The waitress in this tale is granted a wish by the owner. Strictly only one!

There’s an excellent observation made that at 20, although fully an adult, people suddenly realise that they still have a lot to learn and are still working out life and what life as a grown-up really entails as well as self discovery. I like the way it is put in the book and is such a true statement that is made by the waitress. Have a read to find out what the statement actually is, but it alludes to the above.

It’s such a fabulous book. It captures the attention from start to end, it toys with your senses and captivates and mystifies all the way through to what is an exquisite ending. It’s a book that will withstand more than one reading. For a book that is only 42 pages long, the quality and the content that is within it is mesmerising and is atmospheric with the added rain that falls. There’s an intensity within the book, which builds as the curiosity increases, well, mine did anyway.

This book is great for someone’s birthday or just to read, even if it isn’t.

 

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.

Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick – A Review @Neelmullick @Rup_Books #DarkBlossom @CameronPMtweets #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour #Review #Psychological #Relationships #Suspense

Dark Blossom
By Neel Mullick
Rating: ****

Today I am pleased to be on the Random Things Blog Tour for the book Dark Blossom to write a review. I thank them for sending me a book to review.

Dark Blossom Blog Tour Poster
About the Author

Neel Mullick Author PictureWith degrees in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, USA, and Business Administration from INSEAD, France, Neel is the Head of Product and Information Security at a Belgian family-office technology company.

​He mentors women entrepreneurs through the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, is involved in raising a generation of digital and socially-aware leaders with the Steering for Greatness Foundation (Nigeria), supports improvement in the quality of life of domestic workers at Emprendedoras del Hogar (Peru), and is helping IIMPACT (India) break the cycle of illiteracy plaguing young girls from socially and economically impoverished communities.

​He lives on three continents, spending his time between New York, Brussels, and New Delhi, has survived ten days (and nights!) at an airport, and a free fall five-hundred metres from the sky.

Concerned with the inverse correlation that seems to exist between society’s progress and the empathy with which it interacts with the universe around it, he firmly believes the solution to a rapidly fracturing world lies in peeling enough layers to discover the similarities, rather than judging on mere superficialities.

 

Blurb

Dark Blossom Front CoverSam returns home from a business trip a day before his son’s thirteenth birthday and is looking forward to being with his family, when his world is cruelly shattered in one fell swoop. Initially he thinks he can cope with the loss, but finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist, to regain his equipoise. What he does not know is that Cynthia herself is trying to cope with a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband over her daughter…
What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat? Moreover, when they are rowing in opposite directions–one clinging to the past, and the other unable to get rid of it! In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia’s daughter, who harbours a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.
Taut with tension and intensity, Dark Blossom is a glimpse of what lies under the surface of apparently ‘normal’ people.

Dark Blossom Back Cover

Review

 

Dark Blossom follows Sam who goes to therapy because he loses his family in an accident and Cynthia helps him to cope with his huge loss. She is not just a therapist, so is also the mother of punk-inspired teenager.

This is an emotional book of romance and suspense as life is just not that simple and even when trying to deal with everything that is going on in involved lives, life still doesn’t go in a straight line. I feel it is a good read that will keep readers captivated. It is quite a dark read, as the title almost suggests it would be, but, surprisingly, well paced. The chapters are short and don’t linger too long, which is some ways, makes it a bit easier to read for such an emotional, intense, psychological story as we follow the character’s lives and the shape the therapy sessions take between Sam and his therapist Cynthia. She has also had her own issues to deal with.

Lives become intertwined, hearts become full of hurt and life itself is not easy to live.

The Sweet Williams that are on the front cover are striking and also relevant to the story and like the flowers that have just come into bloom, there is hope and some positivity within the story.

So, delve into the human minds of the characters and their relationships and discover their lives in what is a well-written book. It may take a little while for the suspense to build, but it is worth giving a chance because it does happen.

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