#Review By Lou of The Silent Brother By Simon Van Der Velde @SimonVdVwriter #BlogTour #Fiction #BookRecommendation #TheSilentBrother

The Silent Brother
By Simon Van Der Velde

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

From the award winning author of Backstories, comes another well observed book –
The Silent Brother.
If you like Shuggie Bain or Brighton Rock, you may The Silent Brother. It is intensely involving and quite the page-turner. Take a look at the blurb and my review below. Thanks first to Simon Van Der Velde for inviting me to review on his blog tour.

Blurb

The Silent BrotherThe Past Never Dies

When his beloved little brother is stolen away, five-year-old Tommy Farrier is left alone with his alcoholic mam, his violent step-dad and his guilt. Too young to understand what has really happened, Tommy is sure of only one thing. He is to blame.

Tommy tries to be good, to live-up to his brother’s increasingly hazy memory, but trapped in a world of shame and degradation he grows up with just two options; poverty or crime. And crime pays.

Or so he thinks.

A teenage drug-dealer for the vicious Burns gang, Tommy’s life is headed for disaster, until, in the place he least expects, Tommy sees a familiar face…

And then things get a whole lot worse.

Review

The Silent Brother is heartrendering, well observed, intense and involving, with its setting in Newcastle. It’s easy to really get into it from the start and places, you, the reader, into it so you see everything and feel every emotion. The writing is very skillful here.
Tommy’s life seems mapped out through hardship, with an alcholic mam (mum) and violence striking through by his stepdad. Tommy is the main protagonist and is the narrator in this story of his life. His story is told in first person, which adds realism and emotion in all its gritty rawness of a life in squalor.

The book takes readers into Tommy’s childhood and adulthood and it’s a journey that packs a punch!

There’s a brother who Tommy feels a huge amount of guilt about – Benji, his brother. who he writes to. He goes with his mam on the train to do this each year, but never sees him, which is interesting to explore. 
There is also Daryl, a very dark character from a less than salubrious part of town. He insists there is no brother.
There are many questions that do get resolved and makes for a gripping read.

There’s a strength and tenacity in the characters created as they try to survive their predicaments that life has thrown at them, in the underworld of criminality and the poverty that they find themselves in. There is however, pockets of friendship to be found, a little lightness from the bleakness, with Annie who is also in a bad way, taking wrong turns in life.
There is much to experience and live through in this book and quite a few characters to meet, however unscrupulous they are, they all add to the atmosphere and plot rather well.

The Silent Brother is all consuming and a page-turner right to the end. It’s intriguing to see if and how someone lives through such hardships and if Tommy can come through it all, even though he is far from unscathed by all the trauma.

 

Advertisement

#Interview By Lou with #Actor #Author Ronald Rand about his play #LetItBeArt and #Book #SoloTransformationOnStage #Stage #Theatre #Bookblog #BookTwitter #Theatreblog #TheArts #Arts #RonaldRand

Interview with Stage Actor/Author/Goodwill Ambassador – Ronald Rand

Today it gives me great pleasure to share an interview with you all, that I conducted with actor Ronald Rand. He is an actor, author and goodwill ambassador. Ronald Rand has appeared in many theatre plays, his latest is Let It Be Art about the life of Harold Clurman, which he tours worldwide. He is also the founder of newspaper – The Soul of The American Actor. His book is Solo Transformation On Stage is available now to purchase and includes a forward by Stephen Lang, most recently famous for playing/voicing the part of Miles Quaritch in the Avatar movies by James Cameron. The cover quote comes from the actor Christopher Plummer.
Thank you very much Ronald for allowing me to interview and for your fascinating answers about your author and stage life, as well as telling a bit about being a Goodwill Ambassador. Ronald Rand also interviews some acting greats. Discover a bit about this too, as well as some photographs Ronald Rand has kindly sent over and granted me permission to use.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Ronald Rand onto my blog. So, let’s begin…

cover SOLO TRANSFORMATION ON STAGE by Ronald Rand (1)

You wrote a book that enlightens audiences to the art of solo performance. I’ve seen some actors do this in the UK, such as Simon Callow and Julie Hesmondalgh. I always come away wondering “How do you learn all those lines and how does the way you feel going out on stage differ to that of having a full cast around you?”

Ronald Rand: First, I would like to thank you for this special gift and privilege for this interview and to answer your questions. Congratulations on having such a very fine blog, Bookmarks and Stages.

Well, when I first began acting, I had to have been around six years old, and of course, I was worried like many actors are, about forgetting my lines. Thinking it was all about memorization. But as the years progressed and I’ve worked more and more as an actor, over time I’ve learned that the lines in a play are a natural extension of a person’s thoughts. And if they’re well written by an excellent playwright, they should roll, as The Bard said, “trippingly from the tongue,” because they’re connected to the action of what the person is doing. When I have had to learn lines to perform in a different play other than my solo play, I learn them through their connection to what the person is doing each moment to get what they need.

RONALD RAND as HAROLD CLURMAN in LET IT BE ART!
Ronald Rand as Harold Clurman

 In my solo play, LET IT BE ART! Harold Clurman   certainly has a   lot to say but the words he says   come as expressions of what   he needs to say at   the  moment as a natural action in his   storytelling.   Because I bring Harold Clurman to life after a   two-   hour transformation process in what I refer to as the ‘creation room,’ not a dressing room, when   Clurman  arrives, he’s not coming on a stage, he’s arriving at his apartment in New York City and very soon he encounters three of his students (who are actually the audience). And the things he says are a natural extension of him living his life, just the same as you do when you’re talking to others in your daily life. What you’re saying is certainly not lines in a play.

You see, in his reality he’s returning from having seen a play in Brooklyn and he’s merely going on with his life; he’s not coming on a stage. As the actor inside I’m aware that, of course, it’s a stage but Harold Clurman couldn’t care less, he’s in his apartment living his life. I still have to make sure that he’s where he’s supposed to be, and hopefully he will say the words that are in the play when they need to be said. Do I have any idea that he will? I never know for sure, since he’s living his life completely.

When you ask about having a full cast around me. Well, actually Harold Clurman is talking to  three acting students in his apartment (a part of the audience), and at another time in the play, he ‘breaks the fourth wall’ and talks to a group of actors who have come to the first get-together when the Group Theater was born in 1930, (which is also the audience.)

And throughout the play, through Clurman, you meet Lee Strasberg, Cheryl Crawford, Alfred Stieglitz, Stella Adler, Clifford Odets, Constantin Stanislavski, Aaron Copland, even Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. That’s a pretty amazing cast!  So there’s all these vibrant folks coming to life on his journey through his life. So, in a sense, you might say, there is a ‘full cast’ but they’re not around “me,” they’re with Clurman, and when he heads off to the theater at the end of the play, that’s when I return for the curtain call.

What prompted you to write a book about the transformation of an actor into the person who they are going to play? I must say it is absolutely fascinating as there is so much to explore and I’ve only ever seen this a little in the film and play – The Dresser.

Ronald Rand as Harold Clurman in LET IT BE ART! in Nakuru, Kenya
             Ronald Rand as Harold Clurman

Ronald Rand: Thank you so much for your kind words. SOLO TRANSFORMATION ON STAGE: A Journey into the Organic Process of the Art of Transformation came about because of the pandemic. I was in the middle of my 20th year touring in my solo play, and I had completed a performance of LET IT BE ART! at The Ritz Theatre in Sheffield, Alabama to a sold-out audience. They actually stayed almost as long as the performance for the question-and-answer period which I always have at the end of the show. This was in late February 2020, and after that my tour was shut down and I was sequestered like everyone else.

Well, one day I was sitting at my desk, and I thought there has to be some way that I can reach out to people since I can’t do it on stage, and it occurred to me that perhaps I could contribute by sharing the organic process I go through using the Art of Transformation, and share how Stanislavski’s acting chart, ‘The Method of Physical Actions’ makes it possible.

Now I know there’s certainly several books written by actors, some who talk about their process and their life acting on the stage. However, there’s only a few about the art of solo performance, which is a world unto its own. But I think my book is the first to go through an organic process and the transformation necessary to create your own solo show. But more than that, it’s about how to make your dreams come true drawing upon the richness of who you are.

I believe it’s important for the actor today to realize that transformation is necessary. I see so many actors play elements of themselves acting like they’re somebody else, but transformation takes many years through learning about one’s craft and gaining a mastery to bring to life another human being on the stage.

It’s really a never-ending discovery process to sustain a performance for an hour or longer requiring great discipline, focus and a continual stream of storytelling. That’s why I wanted to go into this kind of process more deeply through SOLO TRANSFORMATION ON STAGE, and reveal how I use Stanislavski’s ‘Method of Physical Actions’ chart. The same chart he gave to my teacher, Stella Adler when she studied with him in Paris in 1934. She was only American to study for over five weeks with him, and she brought his chart back to the Group Theatre in America.

When I was fortunate to study with Stella Adler for over five years, I gleaned great insights from her teaching which helped me understand the chart in a deep way, and I have tried to bring forward many of the insights through my master acting workshops.

Still, there is always something mysterious about what takes place inside what I refer to as the creation room because for me that’s where creation begins to allow another person to come so that they can live their life through the playwright’s creation. Did I have any idea that this process would evolve this way when I began working on the role of Harold Clurman? Certainly not. At the very beginning, I looked at Clurman as a role or as a character. But I’ve come to believe there is no such thing as a character. There is only the person, a human being who must come and live their life. And I have to allow creation to occur by being an open and willing vessel.

You say that Harold Clurman chose you and you became passionate about his ideas. What were the ideas that then gave you the impulse and drive to bring his life to the stage?

Ronald Rand: I think I first became fascinated by the Group Theatre back in high school when I was studying acting with an excellent drama teacher, David Feldman, at Coral Gables High School in Florida where I was born and grew up. Feldman was a dedicated and unusual high school drama teacher, giving us exercises by Boleslavsky and Michael Chekhov, talking about the Moscow Art Theatre and Vakhtangov, showing us films by Elia Kazan and Sidney Lumet, talking about the impact of the Group Theatre and what they did that changed the course of the American Theater.

The productions we would act in had to have been on the same level as those Off-Broadway. All of this had a great impact on my life at the time. When I completed high school and travelled to New York City and studied with Stella Adler, of course, her great impact was to show us the size an actor must rise to inhabit the great roles. I had to throw out pretty much everything I had been doing before since so much of had to with imitation and indicating, now it had to be based on creation and truth. Through her great art of script interpretation, we’d learn how to dissect a play and be an instrument and be in service to the playwright’s work. This is what the actor is responsible for.

And at the same time, I was fortunate to study with Harold Clurman. Every moment transformed my very being through his overpowering passion, his pulsating vibrating thoughts, revealing all the possibilities of how to see life, and acting and what the theater is capable of.

Did I have any idea at the time that I would write a play and bring to life Harold Clurman? Of course not. But later when I read in the introduction to Clurman’s book, The Fervent Years, Stella Adler wrote that she feared that the legacy of Harold Clurman might be lost, and I thought that would be a great tragedy.

That’s what led me to consider writing a play about Clurman. But I actually began a play about the Group Theatre instead and ended up playing Clurman in many staged readings across New York City for several years trying to get it produced. It was finally produced at Northern Illinois University. After that, maybe it was a voice inside that directed me to now write a play about Clurman. But even after reading and re-reading everything he wrote, looking at my notes from my classes with him, watching videos of him, I had to sit down, put everything aside and ask him: “What do you want to say?”

All of a sudden, the floodgates opened and the words that needed to be said came.

So, this is one of the secrets of writing your own show, tapping into the subconscious, and listening. I have to believe that’s why I was chosen to bring his passion and humanity alive, not only for audiences in America but across many different countries. Because what he has to say to us is universal and necessary to hear, especially today.

You talk about the person you are portraying being almost like an extension of yourself and you transform into the character you become, do you ever feel that this influences or affects parts of your own life and how do you separate the two as the psychology, Affective Memory, and molecules that you talk about in your book come into play?

Ronald Rand: Certainly, there’s no question bringing Harold Clurman to life through my play, LET IT BE ART! for over twenty years has had a great influence on my being. It’s also an enormous responsibility to allow his vibrancy and dynamic passion, his great humour, and humanity to come alive in every single moment.

When I decided to dedicate my life to sharing Clurman’s great being, it was after I had worked in numerous films and television shows, but now I made a deeper commitment that I couldn’t work on any production that reflected any kind of negativity, evil or destruction. I have to allow myself to be in a state of affirming the best in our humanity in order to embody Clurman.

Every decision we make in our life, our choices every day is a reflection of our moral values, and we should strive to bring forth love, beauty, and art in all its richness.

And at the same time, we’re always surrounded by invisible molecules moving around us. When I wave my hand through the air, or communicate Clurman’s great passion on stage, everything’s traveling across a sea of molecules. Everything we see, all inanimate objects are made up of invisible molecules, even though they look solid. So, we have to understand and appreciate how it’s all a flow we’re a part of and allow for the greatest energy to come forth, a willingness to affirm our deepest humanity to help others on this planet through the talents we’ve been given. That’s our responsibility, and why transformation becomes all the more necessary to be a vessel in service so that another human being can live and breathe and come and tell their story.

You have advice to always take time and stop between performances, how does this aid your next performance? How do you keep performances feeling fresh for you and the audiences?

Ronald Rand: Sometimes as a performer we’re called upon to do eight performances a week. At other times it so happens that there may be a larger break between one performance to the next. When that occurs, one has to find ways to constantly refresh and refuel one’s persona and keep one prepared, ready for the next performance; it’s always like being ready to run a marathon. Being in a state of readiness is the way I exist because this is my life’s calling which I will be doing to the end of my time. Especially today when as Clurman put it, “We live in an age of amnesia and for the most part, nobody remembers anything that happened the day before yesterday, so you naturally have to say it all over again.”

When audiences all over the world no matter what country I perform in, no matter what language they speak or their background or culture, once they come in contact with Harold Clurman, it’s as if they’re transformed and become excited because what he’s telling them is about something eternal and necessary to be heard today.

When I’m called upon to bring Harold Clurman to life in a performance, it’s never been done before in this particular setting, at this particular moment so everything is completely fresh, and the theatres are always different. Whether I’m performing in the courtyard of a palace or outside on a grassy knoll at a university, or in a tribal hut or a cave theater or inside a thousand seat auditorium.

You mention so many actors, directors from theatre and film in the past and present, such as Charlie Chaplin, Simon Callow, Lin Manuel Miranda and many more… How does studying such a wide range of people and their creations influence you and how important do you think it is for actors, whether they are new or established to know the heritage of theatre and the stories they tell?

Ronald Rand: Well, when I began as an actor, I slowly became aware of my heritage, or as we’re called, being a part of a ‘tribe.’ In high school I read everything actor biography and autobiography I could get my hands on, from Edwin Booth, Ira Aldridge, Salvini, Eleanora Duse, Sarah Bernhardt, Edmund Kean, Michael Chekhov, Vakhtangov to Stanislavski but it’s not only the theater I familiarized myself with. During college, I read countless books on philosophy, psychology, anthropology, the great religions of the world. I read every great novel, poem, and play written by the greatest writers of all time from the Greeks to the present. One particular book, Actors on Acting brought me further in contact with actors from different cultures taking me all over the world

It’s a personal decision to decide to learn about one’s history but I consider it a responsibility. If you’re a baseball player, you certainly want to know about Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson. Why shouldn’t you if you’re an actor know about your heritage? That’s why I’ve included in my book a rich diversity of some of the greatest performers who have inhabited the stage from Ira Aldridge to Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones. There is a great ‘well’ I talk about in my book, SOLO TRANSFORMATION ON STAGE, that each of us can draw from, and it will only greatly fuel the ‘leap across the footlights’ and touch the very souls and hearts of the audience.

Towards the end of the book, you had the great opportunity to interview other actors, such as Adrienne Barbeau, Christopher Plummer, Spalding Gray, to name but a few about their own transformations. What did you learn and come away with for your own thoughts or performances from them?

Ronald Rand: I’ve been very fortunate over the past nearly twenty-five years to do over fifteen hundred interviews through my newspaper, The Soul of the American Actor, and it’s brought me in touch with these particular performers that I’ve included in my book. Some of whom have become good friends. By sharing the more than twenty interviews in the book, and their journey as a solo performer, the choices they’ve made and how their particular shows came to life has been extremely inspiring for me, and I hope will also be for the reader.

Eve Ensler talks about how she created The Vagina Monologues, Ben Vereen shows how the world around him deeply affected his choices as a young performer, Christopher Plummer plumbs the depth of his rich being, Stephen Lang (who wrote the Foreword to my book) and Laurence Luckinbill, both highly seasoned performers offer great insights into the extraordinary courage it takes to come on a stage alone and become someone else.

Through the ages up to today, when you see someone like Ralph Fiennes or Simon Callow, Ruben Santiago Hudson, Anna Deavere Smith, or Ian McKellan, you’re experiencing a great thread of our humanity in the stories being revealed. Every time I experience a solo performance, it further awakens my own understanding about what it means to be alive and how much more there is to know about this world.

It’s interesting that you say that in your masterclasses people such as lawyers, therapists, teachers, taxicab drivers and those from other professions come and are a part of your workshops, as if there is a common thread to be realised. What would you say is the common thread and why are so many wide-ranging people attracted to your masterclasses?

Ronald Rand, Goodwill Culltural Ambassador, Fulbright Specialist Scholar teaching his Master Workshop in Mostar, Bosnia
Masterclass in Bosnia

Ronald Rand, Goodwill Cultural Ambassador teaching his Master Workshop at Festival of Fame in Johannesburg, South Africa
Masterclass in Johannesburg

Ronald Rand: It has been a special gift and privilege being able to teach my
‘Art of Transformation’ master acting workshops around the world for the past twenty-five years in over twenty-five countries, and across twenty states at over seventy-five theaters, universities, colleges, and acting schools. And yes, several times a diverse array of those who have attended my workshops come from many different backgrounds and professions. Why do they come? I think it’s because of transformation. We’re all constantly changing every single day, and every choice we make literally transforms us.

When I have individuals from many different backgrounds in my workshops, they’re excited to dip into some of the exercises and learn about Stanislavski’s ‘Method of Physical Actions,’ because for some, they may have thought “What would it take to become an actor?” and they find it fascinating and some realize that they have it within themselves to let their imagination loose, and in one of the exercises, I literally ‘take them off and they all fly like a bird.’ I want to give them a chance to feel this kind of freedom which is not something that always happens in their daily lives.

We have to allow ourselves to dream the biggest dreams we can dream. To achieve everything, we’re born to achieve and enjoy every moment we’re alive. And the more we understand about what moves us forward, perhaps we can be in even greater service to others, especially at a time like this.

Your book is more thought-provoking than I imagined, in a good way. You talk about the late Chadwick Boseman and basically about empowering others. How important do you think theatre is for telling the stories and making the most of what you have to say in this medium, since no one knows what is going to happen in our future?

Ronald Rand: Yes, we live in an age of great uncertainty and there are forces at work constantly trying to upset the balance and harmony of life. However, we know, deep in our beings, the most powerful forces on earth like love, truth, peace, and justice, to name a few, represent the highest ideals of who we are as human beings on this planet.

I mention Chadwick Boseman in my book because he understood the responsibility he was given as an actor and when he became a ‘star,’ he recognized it was part of his responsibility to help empower others. This is certainly what we can do as artists. To help others find their path, and that’s why for me, because the theater is ‘alive in the moment’, through our storytelling we can literally transform others to reach a place where a revelation may come, or the experience may propel them to take a good look at their lives.

Well, while we may not know the future, we actually have the power to shape its potential, and bring a deeper awareness to the others through art. and I’ve personally experienced how a solo performance can touch people in a very deep place.

You have a very accomplished CV, including being a US Goodwill Cultural Ambassador and US State Department Fulbright Specialist Scholar. How did you come to have these positions, how long have you done this for and what are some of the things do they entail?

Ronald Rand: On my first world tour with LET IT BE ART! I was invited to Tbilisi, Georgia to perform at The GIFT Festival. I was welcomed as a Goodwill Cultural Ambassador as a representative from my country to theirs bringing goodwill and as a ‘bridge of understanding.’ And over the years it has happened many times, which is especially meaningful to me.

This coming summer, I have been invited to Iceland’s Act Alone Festival to bring Clurman’s great passion and ideas as the “Elder Statesman of the American Theater.” So, it continues been an enormous responsibility bringing him alive to audiences in several many countries.

When I was first chosen as a US State Department Fulbright Specialist Scholar during my five first five years, I was able to spend six weeks at the University of Sarajevo’s Academy of Dramatic Arts teaching their wonderful students, and at the same time, I was invited to direct a production of Murray Schisgal’s hit comedy, LUV, at one of their most prestigious theatre’s, Chamber Theatre 55 in Sarajevo. The production was in Bosnian, which was an extraordinary learning experience, and I directed three of Bosnia’s finest young actors.

During my second tour as a Fulbright Specialist Scholar, I taught and performed in my solo play for six weeks at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, and then the Malaysian Cultural Ministry invited me as the first American master to bring Stanislavski’s ‘Method of Physical Actions’ across Malaysia to hundreds of students at their State Theatre and schools. Truly a most amazing experience!

On my third tour as a Fulbright Specialist Scholar, I travelled to Uruguay to teach actors and actors and students for five weeks at the Paysandu Theater Group and also ended up directing a workshop production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Our Town in Spanish with several of the actors of the company.

Being a Goodwill Cultural Ambassador and a Fulbright Specialist Scholar has allowed me to share what we have in common and to learn from one another. It’s up to us to feel empathy for others – this is what makes us human. We must care about others with the greatest of compassion and love, giving our best towards the betterment of all.

It’s always been my goal to inspire and empower people to learn and grow in the most truthful and compassionate way by sharing our creativity and transformation. And it’s about collaboration. I encourage those I’m teaching to feel the rhythm of life, to listen with their heart and soul, to become as expansive as possible, to give more of themselves to others through their craft which I believe adds to the healing which needs to take place between peoples.

When I taught students in Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina, I learned the young student actors are constantly faced with pressures on a daily basis in a very difficult environment divided along ethnic and religious lines. I told them: “Art teaches us we each carry the tools to transform, not only our own lives but to share truths about how to live with those around us. Storytelling can help you shape your frustrations into creative expressions through transformation, finding ways to teach each other a way towards peace, through love, through the power of art, you can inspire others to come together to live in harmony.”

If history has taught us anything, it takes a willingness to build trust, and by coming together in person a dialogue can take place, transforming into an entirely new dynamic of understanding, of empathy – sharing what is basic in all of humanity.

Through SOLO TRANSFORMATION ON STAGE, I talk about that through solo performance, we can go further than we ever thought possible. There are no barriers of language or cultural misunderstandings when our performing is done with an open heart, vision, a willingness to share knowledge, and to learn from one another honestly.

cover SOLO TRANSFORMATION ON STAGE by Ronald Rand (1)

To Love and Be Loved By Amanda Prowse @mrsamandaprowse #ToLoveAndBeLoved @igbooktours @lovebookstours #BlogTour #BookRecommendations #BookTwitter

To Love and To Be Loved
By Amanda Prowse

To love and be loved Twitter OUT NOW

Today I am excited to let you all know that To Love and Be Loved By Amanda Prowse is now available in all good bookshops (physical and online) and in libraries. Discover more about it in the very compelling blurb, that may well have you racing to find out all about Merrin and the village she is from.

Blurb 

To Love and To Be Loved coverIn this life-affirming tale from bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one woman built a new life to escape her humiliation. Now, can she put the shame behind her and finally find happiness?

Young and desperately in love, Merrin had the whole world ahead of her. But just as her new life was about to start, the ground beneath her feet was cruelly swept away. Devastated by the humiliation, she ran far away from the beloved fishing village she had always called home to lick her wounds and escape her gossiping friends and neighbours.

It hasn’t been easy, but six years later Merrin has forged a new life for herself far from the sea, burying the impulsive girl she once was. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to return to the village she swore she’d never set foot in again.

Reluctantly back in the arms of her community, Merrin begins to realise what she’s been missing out on all these years. As she begins to remember the person she used to be, she is forced to make choices about her future, and to question the past. What does she want from her life? Who is important to her? Who is to blame for everything that went wrong? And can she forgive them, let old wounds heal and finally be her true self again?

To love and be loved Twitter OUT NOW

#BookReview By Lou – Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez #JenniferLynnAlvarez #YA #Mystery @penguinrandom #BookTwitter #BookRecommendations

Lies Like Wildfire
by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A compulsive, intensive read for 12-17 year olds that will have their noses stuck in a book until the end. Thanks to publisher – Penguin Random House Children’s UK for gifting me the book to review. Discover more in the blurb and scroll on down to the rest of my review.

Lies LIke Wildfire

Blurb

Secrets and lies are everywhere in this compulsive page-turner, perfect for fans of TikTok favourites One of Us is Lying, We Were Liars and This Lie Will Kill You.

An intense high-stakes story about five friends and the deadly secret that could send their lives up in flames, perfect for fans of Karen McManus and E. Lockhart.

In Gap Mountain, California, everyone knows about fire season. And no one is more vigilant than 18-year-old Hannah Warner, the sheriff’s daughter and aspiring FBI agent. That is until this summer. When Hannah and her best friends accidentally spark an enormous and deadly wildfire, their instinct is to lie to the police and the fire investigators.

But as the blaze roars through their rural town and towards Yosemite National Park, Hannah’s friends begin to crack and she finds herself going to extreme lengths to protect their secret. Because sometimes good people do bad things. And if there’s one thing people hate, it’s liars.

Review

The gang, the teenagers make up – 2 boys, 3 girls, are called The Monsters, are also out to protect each other and themselves when a huge, catastrophic, very destructive fire breaks out in a town, with the wild flames heading towards Yosemite National Park. It’s pretty graphic in some places, especially with the fire, which really highlights the seriousness of the situation.

It’s a dark, twisty young adult book which highlights unhealty, toxicity in some relationships between the characters. There’s also the chase of future life dreams, such as teenagers wanting to become a nurse, work in criminology and more… Each is far, far from perfect. They tried to be good, but they are also far from this too as secrets are kept and many lies are told. Older teenagers and early 20 somethings will find this a gripping read as the story builds as the flames and realisation of the fire does too and there’s nothing much that can be done to fan them as the gang begins to crack here and there, but Hannah tries to hold tight and keep the gang close. As the net closes in on them, one of the gang disappears, creating further speculation and intrigue.

Lies Like Wildfire is about teens, who have their whole lives ahead of them, falling apart and readers can find out how far they are willing to go in their lies, even to the most powerful of authorities in law to try and coverup their terrible secret. There’s the intrigue as to whether they will eventually come good or not and what will happen to them.

#BookReview of The Call of the Penguins By Hazel Prior @HazelPriorBooks @TransworldBooks #Christmasread #CallOfThePenguins #Fiction #Wildlife #UpliftingFiction #ContemporaryFiction #GeneralFiction

The Call of the Penguins
By Hazel Prior

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From the author of Away with the Penguins - Call of the Penguins is out this Autumn

The Call of the Penguins will have you wanting to whisk yourself to them in a heartbeat!
Thanks to publisher – Transworld Books for gifting me a copy to review. Find out more in the blurb and my full review below.

Call of the PenguinsA delightfully feel-good new novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Away With the Penguins – sure to become a firm favourite with readers!

At eighty-seven, Veronica McCreedy thinks her days of travelling the world are behind her. But when she’s invited to take part in a TV nature documentary that will take her across the globe filming her beloved penguins, she leaps at the prospect of a new adventure . . .

 

Review

'Penguins represent bravery, determination and resilience'

Set, initially in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland, The Call of the Penguins has charm and warmth and that call for a new adventure for Veronica McCreedy. The book is warm but tackles worldly issues within its cosyness of the penguins. There’s a new colony of penguins being introduced as well as updates on the penguins in the Antarctic. This brings a fresh and brings a new slant to human and animal stories.

The chapters are split between Veronica, Patrick and Terry. Readers get to know their trials and tribulations of life, such as family, health, relationship issues and more… It makes for an interesting read as they take you into the heart of the animal or at least penguin kingdom, as well as their own lives that have their ups and downs as do the penguins. In saying that, it does have a feel-good factor that will give you a cuddly warming feel, without being sappy as it deals with some of what can be found in hard-hitting headlines about the environment and conservation. Veronica McCreedy, although is trying to do something good in conserving penguins, isn’t without attracting her own headlines of controversy to a point.

This is a rather enjoyable book with all the adventures you’ll go on and the characters you’ll meet along the way as you cosy up from the cold winter days.

'The perfect fireside read' Trisha Ashley, 2021

 

#Review By Lou of Adventures on Trains – Danger At Deadman’s Pass By M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman for 9 years to 11 years @MGLnrd @samuelsedgman @MacmillanKidsUK #MiddleGrade #ChildrensBooks #AdventuresOnTrains

Danger At Deadman’s Pass
By M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Danger at Dead Man's Pass, M. G. Leonard , Sam Sedgman, Macmillan Children's Books, Elisa Paganelli

A high speed train journey of a series, this is book 4. Check out the blurb and my review as well as other praise from prominent and famous children’s authors and press. This book is great for 9 year olds to 11 year olds.

Danger At Deadmans Pass Cover

Blurb

Embark on a thrilling fourth adventure in the bestselling, prize-winning Adventures on Trains series – Danger at Dead Man’s Pass, from M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, as Harrison Beck investigates an ancient family curse high in the German mountains. Illustrated in black-and-white throughout by Elisa Paganelli.


A mysterious letter from an old friend asks Hal and Uncle Nat to help investigate a spooky supernatural mystery. Legend has it the Kratzensteins, a family of rich and powerful railway tycoons, are cursed, but there is no such thing as a curse, is there . . .?

Hal and Nat take the night train to Berlin and go undercover. From a creaking spooky old house at the foot of the Harz mountains, they take the Kratzenstein family’s funeral train to the peak of the Brocken Mountain. Can Hal uncover the secrets of the Brocken railway and the family curse before disaster strikes?

Review

Danger at Dead Man's Pass, M. G. Leonard , Sam Sedgman, Macmillan Children's Books, Elisa PaganelliAll Aboard For Your Journey To Germany! It Will Be An Unexpected Journey Of A Life Time!

Firstly, that exciting cover is totally attention grabbing. There is much to enthrall within the book too. It is packed full of characters and mysterious things going on, including a curse. The mysteries don’t stop there, with such sensational intrigue at a creaky house, that has just the right amount of spookiness, with its private train line. The thought of a private line to a rather unusual large house is sure to capture children’s imaginations and thrill them. It’s just so cool!

Danger at Dead Man's Pass, M. G. Leonard , Sam Sedgman, Macmillan Children's Books, Elisa PaganelliThere’s lots to unravel within the book that will entertain 9 years to 11 year old children, which it is pitched at perfectly for.
There’s a family which is out of the ordinary – the Kratzensteins to get to know, including working out their curse, which sends readers on a thrilling action-packed mystery to get their teeth into and solve.

Reach the end of your journey and find some facts about where you’ve been.
So, I highly recommend this thrilling train journey that chuffs on with speed and much excitement that will get the adrenaline pumping so much, children will be so curious as to how it can all possibly end and then want some more!

Danger at Dead Man's Pass, M. G. Leonard , Sam Sedgman, Macmillan Children's Books, Elisa Paganelli