#Bookreview by Lou of A Deeper Song by Rebecca Bradley @RebeccaJBradley #CrimeFiction

A Deeper Song
By Rebecca Bradley
Rated: 4 stars ****

Mysterious characters and a very good paced plot makes for an intriguing plot for A Deeper Song by Rebecca Bradley, the latest DI Hannah Robbins Novel (6th in the series, but can be read as part of the series or as a standalone).
Thanks to Rebecca Bradley, for giving me a copy of A Deeper Song to review.
Follow onto the blurb and full review of this crime fiction procedural book.

Blurb

How do you fight someone you can’t see?

Detective Inspector Hannah Robbins finds herself on the most perilous case of her career when a young man darts in front of her car. He’s covered in someone else’s blood and has no memory of how he got there.

Digging up the man’s past puts Hannah on a collision course with a dangerous stranger who wants history to remain hidden and who will stop at nothing to keep his secret.

Hannah finds herself in the biggest fight of her life.

Is this finally a case too far?

Review

DI Hannah Robbins is the author Rebecca Bradley’s detective and there is added mystery for them to solve as there is a young man who was knocked over and has been left with no memory. He has been rendered with no real sense of place or sense of identity. Curiously, however, there are links that appear to his past and a historic missing person’s case as there is more to the case than meets the eye as things get deeper and more mysterious. DI Hannah Robbins finds herself right at the heart of trying to solve the case. There are intriguing characters and compelling plot that all builds with suspense and becomes increasingly gripping as the case moves along and builds into a deeper song of life.

The detail within the writing adds to the story and to the evidence and clues, without over-complicating things, making it easy to follow and absorbing. There is however more than just the case of the mysterious young man, there is DI Hannah Robbins estranged sister which all needs dealing with too. It’s often good to see family dynamics at play when there is a family, within crime fiction. What is also shown is the team dynamics and the pressures and strains they are under with the case that brings them so close to a breaking point. The thread between the different components runs smoothly at a very good pace.

Media Link

Website: http://www.Rebeccabradleycrime.com

#Bookreview by Lou of #ChildrensBook – The Day I Fell Into A Fairytale By Ben Miller @ActualBenMiller @simonschusterUK

The Day I Fell Into A Fairytale
By Ben Miller
Rated: 5 stars *****

Enchanting, mystical within a lot of fun mixed in with meaningful, relatable relationships between siblings that need a boost. There is also trepidation within several fairytales and the real world and all together it makes The Day I Fell Into A Fairytale so compelling for children.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for accepting my request to review.
Please read on to discover more about the author, the blurb and full review of The Day I Fell Into A Fairytale and a little about The Night I Met Father Christmas.

About the Author

Ben Miller is an actor, director, and comedian, best known for writing and starring in The Armstrong and Miller Show and his role as Rowan Atkinson’s sidekick, Bough, in Johnny English Strikes Back.  Other recent big screen roles include What We Did On Our Holiday with Billy Connolly, and the much-loved Paddington 2 with, well, Paddington. On television, he is best known for the crime comedy drama Death In Paradise which has been a big hit worldwide.

The Day I Fell Into A Fairytale

Blurb

Following the breakout successes of The Night I Met Father Christmas and The Boy Who Made the World Disappear, get ready for the brilliant NEW novel from actor, comedian and bestselling author Ben Miller. Featuring beautiful illustrations from Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.

Lana loves stories. Especially the ones she and her brother, Harrison, share in their make-believe games. But when Harrison decides he’s too grown-up to play with Lana she finds herself feeling lonely. Until something magical happens…
 
Hidden in the strange new supermarket in town, Lana discovers a portal to a fairytale world! But these aren’t the happy-ever-after fairytales that Lana knows, they are darker and more dangerous, and the characters need Lana’s help to defeat an evil witch. But she can’t do it alone. Can she convince Harrison to believe in stories again and journey to the world with her. . .  before it’s too late?

This is a story about stories, but it’s also about a brother and a sister finding their way back to each other through the power of imagination. 

The Day I Fell Into A Fairytale

Review

The Day I Fell into a Fairytale plunges you right into that world. What an incredibly good start it has with a possible molehill. I say possible because it isn’t just an ordinary molehill. There’s an energy within the words chosen and how they are written that builds faster and faster as the molehill grows and grows until you fall into a fantastic, enchanting fairytale land with Lana.

Lana lives in Little Hilcot and has a brother – Harrison, whom she views as a bit too serious since being in senior school and hitting the books to study oxbow lakes, Archimedes and more, when all she wants to do is go on adventures. Later she needs to go to Grimms, a supermarket, with her family and buys a book of fairytales, which become a bedtime story. The fact that this becomes a peculiar version of fairytales where art is almost imitating life, like a character seeming to be a person she has seen before, makes this even more curious. It turns out that Lana hasn’t ever heard of the fairy tales, some of which you can read about within the book itself.

It is magical and mystical and a lot of fun as readers land into fairytales with banquets of the most delicious food and a tuneful robin, where the adventure really begins. It’s so easy to get lost in this book, as I put on my childhood brain. If you’ve been brought up on fairytales, they are all so recognisable within this story. It shows real thought and cleverness to bring them all together in a way that doesn’t rip them off or seem disingenuous. It’s impressive! You’ll meet the likes of Rumplestiltskin, Briar Rose, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel and more of the Grimm’s fairy tales all spun together in a compelling tale that sweeps between that land and also the reality of the real world.

Look out for all the lovely illustrations of climbing roses and all that you could ever want in a pick ‘n’ mix and more… It just all adds to the fun of this beautiful, curious book that is so well written and hits the spot! There are twists and danger and mild trepidation as some characters are put into danger as good and evil exists.
There are expressed emotions and brotherly and sisterly care that is shown with warmth that children will also be able to relate to. It also demonstrates through story-telling that books, especially fairytales can ignite imaginations and a lot of new fun and adventures can be explored, even from the most normal, everyday places as the story goes between home, supermarket and the realm of imagination, created from a book of Grimm fairytales.

The Night I Met Father Christmas

I had an extract of The Night I Met Father Christmas too. It takes place in the North Pole with entrepreneurial elf – Grimm Grimmsson in his shoe factory and goes onto tell the story of the main character – Torvil Christmas. He is not a kind elf, but something magical happens through various events, again drawing on timeless classics and fairytales, things change.

As well as written word books, they can be purchased as audiobooks too.

#Bookreview by Lou of The Winter Garden By Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain @simonschusterUK

The Winter Garden By Heidi Swain Rated: 5 stars *****

The Winter Garden is a gorgeous, uplifting book by Heidi Swain that covers amazing ground within a community of people in Nightengale Square. Follow the blurb and review below to find out more. Thank you very much to Simon & Schuster for accepting my request to review.

The Winter Garden cover

Blurb

***The sparkling new Christmas novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Heidi Swain!*** Will love bloom this winter?   Freya Fuller is living her dream, working as a live-in gardener on a beautiful Suffolk estate. But when the owner dies, Freya finds herself forced out of her job and her home with nowhere to go. However, with luck on her side, she’s soon moving to Nightingale Square and helping to create a beautiful winter garden that will be open to the public in time for Christmas.   There’s a warm welcome from all in Nightingale Square, except from local artist Finn. No matter how hard the pair try, they just can’t get along, and working together to bring the winter garden to life quickly becomes a struggle for them both.   Will Freya and Finn be able to put their differences aside in time for Christmas? Or will the arrival of a face from Freya’s past send them all spiralling? The Winter Garden is the perfect read this Christmas, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Cathy Bramley and Sarah Morgan.

The Winter Garden cover

Review

Eloise Thurlow-Forbes is an octogenarian estate owner in Broadmeadows, country estate, Suffolk and sad events kick start something new and positive in Freya Fuller’s life. It seems very apt at the moment with all that is going on in the world. Certain things in her life, she decides need to change, such as her job, where she isn’t entirely happy. There is a bit of strength of character shown in the way she works things out and speaks up about how things were. This starts off as a journey of self-discovery as Freya stumbles over local radio stations that guide her to Nightengale Square that has a community garden at Prosperous Place, a place with a history and one that is going to have a future in the fact that people have come together to do renovations. It’s a gentle way of guiding readers to where  the destination is going to be. There is then planning and plotting between Freya and Luke for turning the garden one fit for winter. Both she and Luke have some heartache in their lives and there seems to be a positivity in the book about them turning their lives around and there are elements of mental well-being within what is a gentle, cosy read as the colder months come in.

The book has stories within it of other characters and how they came to be in Nightengale Square that make a community working towards the aim of transforming the garden. It is realistic and not all plain-sailing. There are ups and downs between people and much that I think readers will be able to relate to, as they get to know each other and try to work together to meet the same goal; but tempers fray at times and romance buds amongst them. In the story, it’s as people try to create Winterfest, but the same applies for any group of people coming together trying to do something new and also discover more about themselves and each other. The book doesn’t shy away from mental health conditions and it is shown in bursts as you get to know the characters as their backgrounds are revealed. The book, however, gives a sense of positivity as the “Grow Well” group develops and all feels authentic as the story moves along in its build up to Christmas, feel-good vibe that has a lot of compassion and community throughout.  

#BookReview by Lou of After The War – From Auschwitz to Ambleside by Tom Palmer @tompalmerauthor #ChildrensBook @_Reading_Rocks_ #WorldWar2 #QuickReview

After The War – From Auschwitz to Ambleside by Tom Palmer

Tom Palmer very kindly shared with me, the first chapter of his latest children’s book – After the War to take a look at, please find the blurb and a bit about chapter one and also links to Free Resources below.

After the War by Tom Palmer

About The Author

Tom Palmer was a reluctant reader as a child and credits articles about football with getting him into reading. He went on to become a bookseller and then worked in reader
development. He is now the multi-award-winning author of several books for young readers including the acclaimed reboot of the Roy of the Rovers series and the FCBG Children’s Book  Acquisition.
Award winner Armistice Runner. In 2019 Tom was awarded the National Literacy Trust’s
Ruth Rendell Award in recognition of his significant contribution to literacy work in the UK.
He lives in Halifax.

Blurb

Summer 1945. The Second World War is finally over and Yossi, Leo and Mordecai are among three hundred children who arrive in the English Lake District.

Having survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, they’ve finally reached a place of safety and peace, where they can hopefully begin to recover.

Will life by the beautiful Lake Windermere be enough to bring hope back into all their lives?

(Accelerated Reader Quiz No: 238677, Points 4.00, Book Level 4.80,
Middle Years – Key Stage 2)

After the War by Tom Palmer

Thoughts on Chapter One

Readers immediately meet Yossi on a Stirling Bomber in turbulent skies. He captures action and atmosphere in a way that children can instantly become immersed into and understand.  You get a quick glimpse into his life and why he loves aeroplanes so much and believes in the hope that they will bring. The enormity and excitement of them sits well with the sadness that his hometown in Poland had been bombed during the second world war and knows about the concentration camps.
Yossi then meets Mordecai and Leo, both whom are 15 and it brings about some admiration between them for what skills they possess. It adds the humanity of respect and a bonding of sorts.

They are on their way to England to escape war and have so many hopes of a different future ahead of them. There is a realistic anxiety and questioning that comes from Mordecai.

This is just from the first chapter, so imagine what children would gain from the rest of the book? I would think a lot and there are also classroom friendly resources.

Website/Resources Linkhttps://tompalmer.co.uk/free-stuff/

Twitter: @tompalmerauthor

#BookReview by Lou of The Postscript Murders By Elly Griffiths @ellygriffiths @Hannah_Robbo @QuercusBooks #CrimeFiction

The Postscript Murders
By Elly Griffiths
Rated: 5 stars *****

Enthralling and enchanting from beginning to end with curious characters. Postscript Murders is mesmerising and captivating.
Thank you to Hannah Robinson at Quercus who went to great lengths to get this book for me to review.

Please find the blurb and my review below.

The Postscript Murders

Blurb

The ultimate gripping murder mystery from the bestselling author of The Stranger Diaries and the Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries

PS: Thanks for the murders.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…

And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…

And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…

Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

From the sleepy seaside town of Shoreham to the granite streets of Aberdeen, The Postscript Murders is a literary mystery for fans of Anthony Horowitz, Agatha Christie and anyone who’s ever wondered just how authors think up such realistic crimes…

PS: Trust no one.

The Postscript Murders

Review

Peggy is a peculiar old lady with her diary as she meticulously takes notes of what she sees along a sea front. She is particularly suspicious of a couple of men and is later found by Natalika in her home and the contents tell a story within itself as Natalika starts to go through her belongings and tries to unravel exactly who she was and what she did and why her name appeared in so many books as it becomes curiouser and curiouser. It makes me think of tv series, Through the Keyhole in a way as the deeper you get into the book, the more you wonder “who lives in a house like this” and try to guess just who Peggy really was in Seaview Court, although it takes a more sinister turn. The book in someways, circulates around the many books within what was her flat as the mystery delves deeper. Throughout the book  are many crime fiction titles, but listed to become ingeniously part of the story. There are also other references from other mediums of entertainment too.

Harbinder Kaur is 36, unmarried and still living with her parents, which may be relatable to so many around this age and suits her. She is a detective sergeant, which her parents seem very pleased about. She does have one drawback and that is, she hasn’t yet told them that she is gay and it all becomes a bit complicated when the family have guests around and that eternal question that single women get faced with, whether you are gay or not, of if there is a boyfriend on the horizon type of thing is asked. Elly has captured Harbinder’s reaction very well.

Benedict Cole is also looking for love, since leaving St. Bedes and has some romantic idea in his head that you actually meet someone whilst walking by the sea or in a library and not online and has his eyes set on someone.

Just as the mystery is something readers can enjoy delving deeper into, so are the characters lives as time passes by. Author, Dex Challoner is also one of those intriguing characters within Shoreham to get a look inside his life and a glimpse into Millionaire’s Row.

There are twists and turns as more deaths occur, throwing up more into the mystery in what becomes a book that delves into not just the mysterious character of Peggy, but also the world of authors, publishers and literary festivals, such as the one in Aberdeen. Then there’s also Natalika from Ukraine, who is also embroilled in crypto-currency from when she lived there and there may be Ukranian mafia after her. All this is enough to wonder even more what the connections are to Peggy and to keep the pages turning.

Letters are found between Peggy and Joan, which seem poignant and particularly pertinent to their life stories, at least in part, going between many topics and reading letters is often fascinating.

It is an absolutely enthralling book acknowledges a lot, from books to tv creations to cities to festivals, all weaved in and out of a mystery of very intriguing characters.

 

 

 

 

#Bookreview by Lou of To Be A Gay Man By Will Young @willyoung @penguinrandom @EburyPublishing

To Be A Gay Man
By Will Young
Rated: 5 stars *****

Authentic, Brave, Emotional, Honest, Essential Reading.

Will Young broke into mass public consiousness on Pop Idol. Since then I have seen his blossoming career in, not just pop music, but on stage in many shows like Cabaret, Strictly Ballroom and more and in films like Mrs Henderson Presents. where he also shines and in some pretty brave and frank interviews. He’s taken this braveness to a whole new level and gone much further and delved much more into the his inner feelings on life. Whether you are within the LGBTQ community, which is of course the primary reach of this book to raise awareness of mental health, or not, this is inspiring, informative and there is something that anyone can grasp onto and take away with them.
He also has a new album out called – Lexicon.

Thank you to Penguin Random House and E-bury Publishing publicists for accepting my request to review.
Follow down for the synopsis, review and essential links to mental health charities, as noted within this book.

Synopsis

In To Be a Gay Man, Will Young speaks out about gay shame, revealing the impact it had on his own life, how he learned to deal with it, and how he can now truthfully say he is gay and happy.

We know Will as a multi-platinum recording artist, Olivier-nominee, and the first winner of the Idol franchise. But his story began long before his first audition. Looking back on a world where growing up being called gay was the ultimate insult and coming out after a lifetime of hiding his sexuality, Will explores the long-lasting impact repressing his true self has had.

As Will’s own story demonstrates, internalised shame in childhood increases the risk of developing low self-worth, and even self-disgust, leading to destructive behaviours in adult life.

Will revisits the darkest extremes he has been to, sharing his vulnerabilities, his regrets, tracing his own navigation through it all and showing the way for others who might have felt alone in the same experience.

Here you will find a friend, champion and mentor, breaking taboos with frank honesty, and offering invaluable practical advice on overcoming the difficult issues too often faced within the LGBTQ+ community.

How To Be A Gay Man

Review

The book opens, practically with a smile. Who can resist reading about a crisp autumnal morning, even if there is a rude awakening by Nellie, Will Young’s daschund who wakes him up and goes on to the podcast he and Chris Sweeney have founded, called the Homo-Sapien’s Podcast.

Will Young talks candidly about the online communities that go about Gay-Shaming. I’m heterosexual myself, but accept everyone and it’s absolutely emotional and shocking to the core. I am impressed that Will Young has got the courage to tell the world about what he found. In this book there’s definitely a certain amount of strength of character.

He then goes onto talk very personally about his family and relationship with his dad and the bullying within the education system and how he reckons LGBTQ is still not addressed properly. What is good, is he backs it up with facts, using The Trevor Project in the USA and Stonewall in the UK for examples and for research into his basis. It makes this a stronger book for it. It’s a real mix of facts, figures, his personal experiences and opinions.

He also addresses the layers of being gay, which may be evident if you have a friend who is in the LGBTQ community or are within it yourself. He also backtracks in time and talks about what it was like in the 1980’s, drawing upon Freddie Mercury and also the detrimental effect parts of religion has had. He also talks of the effects of AIDS in-relation to some of the “public notices” put out and the effects and then even further in time on the government’s “Section 28”, which is more in the present times.
He does touch on theatre and film, but more in-terms of role models, or rather lack of role models who are gay and what that would mean to him and also how the stereotyping when writing a role for a gay character and talks of some actors at a particular time.

You can practically feel the pain leaping off the page as he talks about his prep-school years. He’s also honest about the growing-up and the sexuality side of that time of life and the opening up to a friend.
There are also moments I’m pretty sure some people would bury, never to be repeated again, but this is enlightening and courageous as he talks about regrets and also the shame he has felt and what he has had to deal with.

He touches on Pop Idol and gaining confidence and although he talks a bit about sex, it isn’t in any crude way at all and has a point, but then do does absolutely everything that is written. Everyone can take something away from this book, learn something new or have something clarified or relate to it on all sorts of levels.

He also touches upon the sense of community he does feel and also a bit about volunteer charitable works he is involved in, which, again shows another slice of his life.

Don’t get this wrong. This isn’t a “poor me” type of book. I’ve seen those and this definitely is not one of them. This is very different to those. It’s inspiring and raising awareness and is thought-provoking in a non-pretentious way, which is impressive. He also doesn’t appear to shy away from anything, but tells it how it is for him and it feels honest.

Later, the book moves into his mental health and having a breakdown and PTSD and how it came about and how he seeked help and how he felt. It goes further than that and on closer inspection, there are more parts that are thought-provoking and perhaps some people will also be able to gain, not just knowledge about Will Young, but also certain things that could apply to their lives and that could just assist someone that little bit, but it isn’t a self-help book as such though. He delves into the conditions of drealisation and depersonalisation that he has and going into therapy.

He details what he found in another book, other elements that, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, your sexual orientation, that could be beneficial to people as he describes Perfectionism etc and how that is for him, but really you can transplant your own life, if you are a perfectionist etc. At the end, head to the Appendix. It is very responsibly and thoughtfully got CBT Techniques  and then in the second Appendix there is Help and Support contacts.

Will Young writes about how he wanted to connect with himself. The book, I think has enough within it that there will be people who could potentially find it so helpful not to feel alone. The fact that is an extensive list of charities too that specialise in LGBTQ is fabulous. No one should be alone and please, if you are having any issues with mental health or anything, please know that there is support out there. I have listed just a couple from the list Will Young has in his book. They are there for the LGBTQ community and this includes families too.

Links to Support and Mental Health Teams

LGBTQ Foundation
Provides as wide range of services to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-people.
https://lgbt.foundation/          Tel: 03453 303030

Mermaids
Charity Supporting young trans people as well as their families.
https://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk    Tel: 0808 801 0400

Mind Out
LGBTQ+ mental health service
https://www.mindout.org.uk    Tel: 01273 234839