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.

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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

 

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft – Full of life, it is a perfect book for Christmas @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK @HarperCollinsUK #NewBook #Review #Readers #Christmas #music #bands #theatre

A Christmas Gift
by Sue Moorcroft
Rating: 5 Stars *****


About the Author

Sue Moorcroft A Christmas GiftSue Moorcroft writes award-winning contemporary fiction of life and love. The Little Village Christmas was a Sunday Times Bestseller and The Christmas Promise went to #1 in the Kindle chart. Her latest release, The Christmas Gift has also become The Sunday Times Bestseller this year (2018). She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing “how to” guides.

An army child, Sue was born in Germany, then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK, and still loves to travel. Her other loves include writing (the best job in the world), reading and hanging out with friends, dancing, yoga, wine and chocolate.

 

Links to Sue Moorcroft’s website and social media

Website: http://www.suemoorcroft.com 

Blurb

One Christmas can change everything…
Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.

To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there me more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft

Review

A Christmas Gift will put you into that festive spirit and give you that desire to stay warm and cosy with a good book. The cover deserves a mention here too. It’s bright, colourful, cosy and really draws the eye in. It is an excellent gift to give to someone, or indeed, treat yourself to. It’s warm and uplifting. Perfect for this time of year!

Just a few pages in and this book had already captured my attention. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a flimsy, syrupy book because of the title. This book is about life, right down to its deepest, darkest pockets, which is cleverly coupled with a lot of lightness throughout with Christmas joy and happiness. It has a lot of substance packed into what is an average sized, good paced book. It is emotive and with characters to really care about.
Sue Moorcroft has written a very enjoyable, entertaining, well-observed book that actually contains a lot of excellent, modern content; and yet all flows with consummate ease. There are twists and turns throughout with family relations, an ex-partner, bailiffs, a student theatre production, a band, a romance and of course a heartwarming Christmas atmosphere.

There are many characters due to the nature of the story, but don’t let that put you off, they are described well and you will get a good feel of their personalities very quickly and are easy for any reader to follow. They make the story more realistic due to the life and premise that weaves throughout this book so well. 

Georgine France is the Events Director at Acting Instrumental – a performing arts college in Middledip. The college is putting together a musical theatre piece to showcase the student’s work. There’s clearly been a good amount of research as it is all realistically written with the different attitudes of people and what it takes to put on a show, which as this book shows, it takes a lot to pull a show off, even if it is a student production. I can see the detail that’s put into this work as I, myself get involved in amateur theatre, albeit front of house or backstage, but I’ve seen a fair bit. So, the way Sue Moorcroft has handled the piece was joyous. It is a bit like being able to take a peek of what goes on behind the scenes, but whether you’re involved or an audience member ot just like reading about life, there’s something for everyone here that will be found to be relatable to.

Sue Moorcroft has even thought of the audience for the show. I love that a Girlguiding group gets a mention. Being a former Girlguiding leader myself I can definitely say that it is so typical to do a fun outing of seeing a live show at Christmas with the girls. The fact they are even briefly written about, shows the thought and attention to detail that has gone into creating this book.

Georgine thought, when she successfully gained the Events Director position, all would be different. Little did she think she would be having financial issues to deal with and having to support her family.
This is a great premise and is set in so much reality for many with the great sounding job, but with the backdrop of other things happening in people’s private lives. It immediately drew me into wanting to know more about her life. It also shows very well, that no matter what the job title is, people are still people and have very real life issues to deal with, just the same as anyone with say, a lesser title. I find this keeps the main protagonist grounded in a way that makes her very likeable and relatable to.

Norman Ogden (Oggie) is the head/Principle of Acting Instrumental and an instantly likeable character with his very nice sounding personality and drive for wanting people to do well. Like all the characters,  the impression of the type of man Oggie is understood very quickly.

One of the other main characters is Joe Blackthorn who is the new colleague at the college. He isn’t all who he first seems and as you read on, you will find out there’s much more to him. He leads a fascinating life, part of it is being part of a band, which readers will be treated to a very believable insight into. I enjoyed getting to know more about him, his life behind his work and his interactions with others. He wants a quieter life, but will he get it? He has a lot to contend with from the past to his present, including the very topical issues of the press, selfies and autographs. There is a small paragraph, which is thought-provoking and basically makes the point of seeking permission before taking a selfie with any celebrity and not to assume you will receive an autograph. It is a very current topic within this world. 

There’s a beautiful love story that also develops between two characters (I won’t say who because that would spoil the intrigue). Let’s just say, it is written so tenderly and beautifully but also realistically, that it becomes part of the story that any reader would want to see if it develops further. I also like the portrayal that basically other aspects of life happens, some good, others almost heartbreaking, even when you’re caught up in the romance of a particular moment. I ended up really rooting for these characters to get it together and wanted to read more to see what happens and hoping they would.

I was left more than satisfied by how this meticulous, well-crafted, uplifting festive book concluded and how it had many twists and turns along the way.
It is also worth reading the acknowledgements because they are so interesting. Whether you have read her books before or not, then I highly recommend giving this one a try and finding out more about the characters living in Middledip.

*With thanks to Sue Moorcroft for providing a profile photo and for kindly allowing me to review her latest book, as well as contacting her publisher. I also thank her publisher – Avon Books UK (division of Harper Collins) for sending me a copy of her book.

*Please note: this is an impartial review.

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Title: A Christmas Gift
Author: Sue Moorcroft
Publisher: Avon Books UK (Division of Harper Collins)

Pages: 370 pages
Main Purchase Points:  Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith, Foyles,
                                         Libraries to name but a few.
ISBN: 978–0-00926007-1