#BookReview of amazing 5 star book – The Things I Want To Say But Can’t By Carla Christian @Carla_C_Author @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t
By Carla Christian
Rated: 5 Stars *****

Not so long ago I revealed the cover for The Things I Want To Say But Can’t. Now I have the priviledge of sharing my review of its contents. Readers are in for a treat! This is a debut novel, but it feels like this author has been writing for years. This book seriously reads like there have been many books under her belt, even though there is not. It’s seriously impressive and hard to put down.

One emotional journey of life! That’s what this story is. It’ll grab you and hold you so you can’t let it go and will stay with you for a bit longer as you come to terms with what just happened. I don’t think readers will be disappointed. I certainly was not.
In the acknowledgements, Carla Christian credits being inspired by One Day by David Nicholls. It’s certainly almost as good as that, but with a bigger intensity. Both One Day and The Things I Want To Say But Can’t, hook you into characters lives, but different genres. Then there is “You” in the story…
I thank Love Books Tours for inviting me on the blogtour to review. I thank Carla Christian for signing the book and for Lets Get Booked for sending it. Please note this has no bearing on what I have rated or written in the review. I have based it on its own merits. 

Find out more below in the blurb and my review.

About The Author

CopenhaganMe (1) (2)Carla Christian lives in the Lake District in the North of England. A busy working mum of two teenagers, she has a passion for writing, art and travel, and these interests have been a part of her for as long as she can remember. 

Constantly inspired by both the good and the bad in the world around her, she spends much of her time creating in one way or another; be it painting canvases for the blank walls of her new home, sketching pictures to capture memories of the many travel adventures she’s been lucky enough to go on, baking fantastical cakes with her daughter, or writing endless beginnings to a million unfinished stories.

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t is her first novel.

Blurb

‘A lifetime of endings, a million goodbyes. None of them right. It’s funny what you remember when you’ve got nothing else to think about. All those things you should’ve said while you had the chance. You never learned, did you? You never, ever learned.’

Belle has a habit of losing things. Her friends. Her lovers. Her mind.

Everything ends eventually, or at least that’s what life has taught her. But what if everything she lost came back again? What if she got a chance to finally have her say? To face her past. To put things right.

Second chances aren’t easy when memories are all you have. So, when Belle invites the nightmares of her past back in, is she willing to deal with the consequences? Because maybe, just maybe, this time she’s getting what she deserves.

What I Want to Say Cover

Review

Sharp, cutting and moving from the start, this tells the story of Isobel’s life. It’s definitely one powerful story that Carla Christian has written. The pain is striking! The sense of real emotion is written with a light touch and yet so excellently observed. It starts at a funeral to a new love and beyond. The pain is physical, psychological, emotional. It’s uncanny how recognisable it is, right to every nuance. I, who rarely cries, wants to, but doesn’t, and instead, I carry on in amazement at the writing, wanting to know more as it’s off-set with some joyous moments before turning a deep, dark corner. It’s quite extraordinary and incredibly enthralling and good!

There’s a new potential lover who comes onto the scene in a bar. She can’t take her eyes off this person. I can’t take my eyes off the words leaping off the page as the intensity increases. This is clever. The writing remains taught, even when Isobel is recalling compliments. Everything becomes heightened. What if her lover – referred to as You, discovers too much about her?

Butterflies do come into it when Isobel comes across Amy. She has a jar full of caterpillars because she wants to see them turn into butterflies. It’s sweet and innocent, mostly. Do take note of the dates as there are some that go back to the time of childhood. It works incredibly well in telling a bit of back story, which eases off the tension a little, before ramping it up again in Isobel’s adult life, especially with “You”.

The contrast between the beauty and vividness of butterflies and the darker edges of human life is stark and paints a picture itself. One that twists to some dark places of human behaviour and the cruelty that can occur in life that can creep up and subtly build and build, before you know what’s going on. It makes for a fascinating read of cause and effect and how the past is often still there and how it can mould, shape and transform life.

Interestingly, readers can, in part 2 of the book, see what happened before “You”, when there was the relationship with Matthew, which is when life begins to slide. Then there is the third and part of what happens after “You” and things change again, with so much to face and overcome. The fourth part is The End that is shocking! Brilliantly written, but shocking, not for art’s sake of creating a crescendo, but because it is fitting with the story.

Those caterpillars, earlier, in the jar, waiting to be beautiful, elegant butterflies becomes more and more nuanced in adult life. What seemed innocent in childhood, becomes less so later on, I realise as my mind casts back and then to the current pages, as it becomes more apparent that there’s a lot more than the lust of earlier, it turns into something ugly and would make anyone wonder if she’s always going to be trapped like those caterpillars or if there will she be able to fly away, like the butterflies?
Read this amazing book to find out if she, like the caterpillar, can transform?

Buy Link  Amazon

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

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

 

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

Whats Left of Me is Yours BT Poster.png

 

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

Blurb

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

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

What's Left Of Me - Cover

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Inspiration

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

Review of A Degree of Uncertainty by Nicola K. Smith @NicolaKSmith @rararesources #ADegreeofUncertainty #Review #Debut #fiction #BlogTour

A Degree of Uncertainty
By Nicola K. Smith
Rated: 5 stars *****

I am so pleased to present my review of this excellently conceived, brand new contemporary book called A Degree of Uncertainty by Nicola K. Smith on the blog tour. I thank the tour organiser and Nicola for the opportunity and for the paperback copy.

 

About the Author

A Degree on Uncertainty Author pic Nicola K SmithNicola K Smith is a freelance journalist contributing to a number of titles including the The Times, Guardian.co.uk, BBC.co.uk, BBC Countryfile and Sainsbury’s Magazine. She lives in Falmouth, Cornwall, a town which inspired A Degree of Uncertainty, although it is set in the fictional Cornish town of Poltowan.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @NicolaKSmith

Instagram: Nicolaksmith740

Facbook: @NicolaKSmith74

 

Blurb

A Cornish town is slowly fracturing under the weight of its growing university…

Prominent businessman, Harry Manchester will not stand by and see his beloved hometown turned into a student ghetto – and many residents and sturents are relying on him.

But Harry’s stance sets him on a collision course with Dawn Goldberg, formidable Vice Chancellor of Poltowen University, who is set on doubling its size and cementing her career legacy.

As Harry’s marriage falls apart, his business comes under threat, and fellow traders accuse him of halting progress, Dawn is battling her own demons, not least to live up to her late father’s expectations and erase the memory of his tragic death.

There can only be one victor in this battle for the soul of a close-knit community…

A Degree of Uncertainty front cover

 

Review

I loved reading this book. It’s a contemporary book that is original, is wonderfully written, perceptive and got characters to cheer on and some who you may not wish to, but who are well written all the same in this well constructed book. This is a book reflecting a lot of what happens (not just with the fight for creating legacies and student accommodation) up and down the UK as a whole. This is a book that is for the 21st reader to ponder over and to enjoy as they not only discover issues facing the fictional town of Poltowan, but also the characters that inhabit it, their personalities, their lives in both the public-eye and private lives.
I will also mention, I reckon the artwork on the cover is excellently conceived and illustrates the book so well.

Instantly on the first page I’ve met Harry Manchester and Jenny Trundle talking about houses in Poltowan, Cornwall being planned to be built for students and a debate between the transient nature of students and those that are permanent residents. Familiar territory wherever you stay within the UK.  The issues seem pretty accurate that are covered within this book. Ultimately the future lies in a vote and the council.
It is pretty much character driven. Readers will find out about the love, the betrayal and the ambition of characters that inhabit this fictional Cornish town. 

I like Harry Manchester, he’s an interesting character and one that I find I am quickly willing him on to win the cause of protecting a community from becoming mainly just a transient place where only students reside and from the greedy landlords. Life however isn’t easy either, he has a personal life to deal with. He seems an incredibly well-written character. He could easily sit back and listen to his beloved Queen music, but instead, even though he is an estate agent who has obvious business interests, he makes a stand to protect Poltowan. This anti-hero has a tough fight on his hands. There is Dawn Goldberg – Vice Chancellor to contend with. She  ambitious and wants to make her mark in a big way. This is the woman Harry Manchester has to face during these challenging times that present a  degree of uncertainty. Dawn Goldberg also has her own wranglings to deal with too, even though she seem pretty formidable.

There is Ludo and Rockstr to follow too with their stories and emotions and views. There’s young talent within them and the story demonstrates what students think they need and their requirements in their accommodation challenges. This isn’t a one-sided story, it isn’t biased towards either side.

I really like the way this contemporary book reads so well. I feel that we get to know the characters and the issues facing Poltowan. It brings great sympathy. This is a book that is incredibly relevant and shows issues that rumble on for some time. Intertwined with this, is a well-crafted tale of the characters personal lives too, which show the complexities of life and are dealt with sensitively. In saying that, there are also light-hearted moments and a few twists and turns along the way. It is a book that is absorbing and provokes many emotions.
It is a pretty well paced, original book that will take readers into a community of conflicted interests and into the issues over-expansion can pose and the issues faced by small businesses. A town may seem small, but a lot can end up going on in it to survive and Harry Manchester is certainly trying to uphold a morality, which is impressive for someone in his business, but is still plausible. 

A Degree of Uncertainty is a debut novel I highly recommend reading. Nicola K. Smith is an author worth trying out. I was excited when it came through my letterbox and this well-constructed story did not disappoint. Although fictional, it feels quite an important book and one that will resonate with many.

*Many thanks for providing a paperback copy of the book.

 

A Degree of Uncertainty Full Tour Banner

*A review by Bookmarks and Stages

Bobby Girls by Johanna Bell @JoBellAuthor @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity @TeamBookends #TheBobbyGirls #strictlysagagirls #WW1 #HistoricalFiction #bookreview #readingforpleasure

Bobby Girls
By Johanna Bell
Rated:

About the Author

Johanna Bell cut her teeth on local newspapers in Essex, eventually branching ut into magazine journalism, with stints as a features editor and then commissioning editor at Full House magazine. She now has sixteen years’ experience in print media. Her freelance life has seen her working on juicy real-life stories for women’s weekly magazine market, as well as hard-hitting news stories for national newspapers and prepping her case studies for TV interviews. When she’s not writing, Johanna can be found walking her dog with her husband or playing peek-a-boo with her daughter.

Blurb

1914, while their men are fighting in France, at home in Britain, women are finally seizing the opportunity to make a difference.

Maggie and her new friends, Annie, Irene and Sarah come from very different backgrounds, but they’ve got one thing in common: They’ve all signed up for the Women Police Volunteers. They can’t wait to show the men just what they’re made of.

But soon Maggie realises she is in over her head. Hiding her involvement with the WPV from her tyrannous father is becoming ever more difficult, and when she bumps into an old acquaintance with a big chip on his shoulder, the dangers of her new life become all too clear…

As Maggie and the girls work together to find their feet on the beat, will their friendship get her through the darkest of times?

Bobby Girls cover

Review

A step back in time, when times were different, attitudes were different and there was the first world  war going on as well as a fight for the vote. Time to discover the Bobby Girls – the WPV – Women Police Volunteers.

First of all, make sure you read the letter to readers that Johanna has written. It provides a great insight as to why she wrote Bobby Girls and where her inspiration came from.

The prologue is ingeniously written to introduce the characters Maggie, Annie Sarah and Irene to readers and not only that, the characters to the advertisement from the police looking for female volunteers.

The author – Johanna Bell has certainly put in a lot of work and researched this period of time. Even with it being a fictional book, it is fascinating to read what the first female police volunteers (in the time before there were police officers), would have done.

I felt when Christmas came and there was hope that the war would be over, the emotions were wonderfully captured and the sympathy between friends was quite beautiful as loved ones were thought of.

I really like the characters and the way they interact throughout the story. Readers also will not only get an insight into the characters personal lives as they all come from different backgrounds and there are secrets and worries, but also as being bobby girls and their status within the force and their powers, or lack of to arrest. It is all very well written and flows well.

Make sure you keep reading past the acknowledgements as there is a fascinating insight given, complete with photos of the real Bobby Girls. I thought this added to the just read story and was lovely to acknowledge them in this way.

The second book in the series – The Bobby Girls’ Secrets is available for pre-order in both paperback and e-book. I recommend you treat yourselves to these. The first book in the series – The Bobby Girls gets the series off to a great start and it is pleasing it doesn’t end there.

With thanks to Johanna Bell and Hodder & Stoughton for agreeing I could review the book – Bobby Girls

Bloody Scotland – Mark Billingham and Richard Osman – 2 Entertaining, Warm Authors – 5 Star Review @MarkBillingham @Richardosman #TheirLittleSecret #BloodyScotland #Pointless

Bloody Scotland
Mark Billingham in Conversation with Richard Osman
Rated: 5 Stars *****

The weather was warm and sunny on Saturday 21st September 2019 when I attended Bloody Scotland in Stirling. One of the greatest crime festivals, which also showcases new authors as well as the well-known ones. I was in for an amazing night and as my blog turned 1 year old, it was lovely to be able to be back at Bloody Scotland, where I wrote my first blog post.

I went to see Richard Osman and Mark Billingham in conversation. First up was Daniel James for the spotlight section, which gives new authors a chance to talk about their books and read an excerpt. First impressions were that his book – The unauthorised biography of Ezra Mass sounds intriguing and dark.

The main event was Richard Osman and Mark Billingham in conversation with each other. If you ever get a chance to see these two, go for it. You’ll be in for a highly entertaining time and they are both warm and very kind. What I liked too was the way they both seemed to have genuine respect for each other, even when they were ribbing each other about things, but it all seemed to be in good humour,the way that could only be done if someone knew each other well. It was a lovely atmosphere.

Richard Osman, who has produced many popular tv shows, such as 8 out of 10 Cats etc, presents quizzes and been a panelist on shows such as Have I Got News For You etc and can currently be seen presenting Pointless alongside Alexander Armstrong. He has a new fictional book called The Thursday Murder Club. Be aware that it amazingly isn’t published until September 2020. I felt very privileged to be part of an audience to hear so much about it, so far in advance. It is set in an enclosed retirement type of place with the main characters being in a gang of 4 in their 70s and because they are of an age they can get away with practically anything.  It was described  as having a cosy setting but very funny, moving and razor-sharp. Mark Billingham praised Richard Osman about how readers will get to know the characters quickly and of them being likeable. They talked about how there isn’t much police procedural but lots of cakes feature. I quickly decided that this is a book that I would like very much to read and would be happy to review. It seems to have an interesting premise and good “ingredients” to it.

It was so interesting hearing about how Richard Osman has always been a fan of crime fiction and how he always wanted to write and how he and Mark Billingham got together and about a lunch. It sounded like a great lunch, full of amazing opportunity.

It was fascinating to hear about the huge gap between writing and having a book published and on shelves and the public reading it and how with tv, the reaction is more instant. It wasn’t anything I’d ever heard authors talk about at events. There seemed to be great honesty spoken of. Other authors of course talk honestly too, but sometimes of different things. They spoke well and so openly about how authors, whether they are new or been writing for a while have some self-doubt and how so many wonder if their work is actually un-publishable. This wasn’t spoken of in a negative light as people may have expected, rather in a more positive one in some ways.

As for books, Richard Osman admitted that he didn’t read a book until 21. Just shows that no one is too old to pick up a book and start reading. He also talked about how contemporary fiction led to crime fiction and about writing something that is commercial.

Mark Billingham’s latest book is Their Little Secret. Already, it’s an intriguing title.

Tom Thorne is the award-winning Mark Billingham’s main  character and this is the 17th in the series. He has also written short stories, stand alone stories and a non-fiction book. He, alongside crime authors such as Val McDermid, is a member of the singing group – Fun Lovin Writers.

Richard Osman said of it that it was extraordinary how he moves the characters on and also praised about how it was detailed and modern. The interesting thing here was that Mark Billingham talked about the twists and all the other tricks and armour up crime writer’s sleeves, but reckoned the quieter moments were exciting too.

How they plan was discussed. The fact is they don’t really plan, compared to other authors. Everyone is different, which is exciting. It was interesting to hear of the challenges posed when that debut novel is out there and the second novel is being created and the differences between that and furthering a series, as well as reflecting what is going on in the world, especially if something major happens.

Mark Billingham spoke of where he got his inspiration from and so did Richard Osman and I won’t say what it is as the material that could be used in many talks, but there was a moment when Mark was telling of something extraordinary happening that really made me shudder and I am sure I wasn’t the only one to in the audience.

They both spoke of their love of creating books and it became clear that this was genuine by the way they spoke. Richard Osman talked about how he loves being a sidekick on the likes of Pointless but also loves the solitude of writing and of being part of the crime writing community and how lovely people are. I have to say that I too have found that authors are lovely and it was at Bloody Scotland a year ago when I started my blog and then went to another crime festival from there and even though they write about murder etc, the authors, I have found to be generous and very nice indeed.

It was interesting seeing their personalities being totally shown and hearing how hard they work and how pressures often come from themselves. Something I too can relate to. I often think that if you’re going to do something, you might as well try to do it to the best of your ability. Richard Osman also spoke candidly of being an introvert. I think he does amazingly well and it is inspiring how he still puts himself out there to do something, like being on the stage to do this talk or on tv. Sometimes it is just something that has to be done to acheive something, again something else relatable. 

Richard Osman is now working on his second novel, which he spoke a little of and I am already interested in what may happen to his characters and the first book isn’t even available yet. A whole year to wait! I’ll just need to try and be patient. Mark Billingham is working on a prequel to his series. At least there’s already one of his to be getting on with.

There was much fun to be had with a game of guessing author’s ages and it was Mark Billingham v the audience. All the way through the event there was much fun to be had as these men are sharp and are great at the humour as well as the serious and mix it up so well.

All in all I am looking forward to reading Mark Billingham’s book, who I thank for signing and writing such an encouraging message. I look forward to Richard Osman’s book being released and I hope he returns to Bloody Scotland when it is. I also thank Richard Osman for allowing me to talk to him briefly. I thank the two of them for such an excellent evening.

So, I will conclude in saying thanks and that I highly recommend to anyone to see these kind, talented and warm gentlemen and I hope that I get the opportunity to see them again. I also hope Bloody Scotland invites Richard Osman back when his book is actually published.

Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian – All is Not as it Seems in this Unique Book @Jsmithauthor @matadorbooks #fantasy #mentalhealth #kidslit #fiction #crossover @twylie68 @litlemonbooks @EmmabBooks @SueWeedon #Review

Review of Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian
Author – J.M. Smith

Rating – 4 Stars ****


About the Author

J.M. Smith is a retired psychotherapist who worked within the NHS mental health department for many years.

 

Tony Plumb book


Blurb

If Your Mind Housed a Spy, What Secrets Would it Spill?

Harbouring troubled memories of time in care, Tony Plumb struggles to keep his mind on track.

Prone to episodes in ‘Madsville’ and bombarded by thought chariots carrying unwanted baggage from the past, he’s smuggled to Ellodian by the rule dodging social worker, Ms Bendy Legget.

At this spooky, underground facility, Tony’s history intertwines with the present and the task of answering three crucial life-changing questions cannot be avoided.

With help from good friends and therapy, Tony challenges authority, rights and wrongs and makes enemies, until he finally comes to understand the nature of his conundrums, the meaning of the word family and the darkest secret of all:
What really happened at the waterfall

Tony Plumb card

Review

Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian is a fictional book that is perfect for Christmas, but it is also one that can be read all year round. It does mention Christmas, but that’s not the main crux of the story.

There are strong themes of mental health, family relationships, separation, loss, being from the care system, dealing with issues, self discovery, throughout this book. They are all written in a sensitive, tangible and realistic way. There is however some humour to be found within this book too, which really lifts it and adds to the life of the tale.
The story is complex, but not overly so, since it is well plotted. It would hit its target audience of 9-12 year olds who are good readers very well. It is age appropriate for this age group in the way the themes and language used are handled.

This book is firmly in the crossover market because it would suit any child from 9, teenager/YA and adult. It would easily suit people who enjoy either fantasy and/or tales that take you on a journey through life and of mental health.  I would recommend for its target “crossover” audience.

We immediately meet Tony Plumb who is not just thirteen, but thirteen and a half years old to be precise. He is at Evensham Social Services to see Ms Bendy Legget (whose name I just love for its humour). We get to know that he was in a children’s care home in Daisy Bank. I like that there is no hanging around to meet the main protagonist and to get to begin to know and understand him. The story has instantly begun and starts at a good pace, which remains constant throughout the book.

Before long, Tony has entered the mysterious place of Ellodian. The story goes between this world and the world of the therapy he receives.

The thought processes of Tony and the moles are in a different font and style. This is an ingenious idea because it doesn’t detract from the narrative of the story and flows very smoothly. It also looks effective and fun on the pages, making the story easy to read and follow. We actually get to know that Tony has what he calls “thought chariots”. I love this description, already it depicts what is going on and gives a real insight into the state of his mind. It gave a sense of true feeling about what he was going through.

Enter the unique world of Ellodian

The mysterious, dark place of Ellodian is where Tony is sent to, with his parrot – McGurney. It’s an adventure like no other! As a reader I found myself being immersed into this world very easily. We meet new characters, more authoritative adults for Tony to contend with – Miss Frankly and Mrs Sherbet and Prospect . Again, I just love the humour of the names.

The entire world of Ellodian that readers are thrust into is well described and mysterious, with odd uniforms which makes you question: Who or What are The Moles?
As you read on, I am sure you too will find yourself totally immersed because you want to know more and you will discover the significance of the moles. This is a world that I found myself not being able to help myself wanting to know what more curiosities it had to offer.

Tony finds himself on a mission to discover the answers of 3 questions. These aren’t any ordinary questions. They are exploratory questions about himself. Let’s just say, not the types of questions you would normally be asked in everyday conversation. I think this just adds to the mystery of the main character of Tony Plumb and who he truly is as a person. The questions are effectively set out, easy to understand and moves the story onwards very well and is created in such a way that feeds into the curiosity of the imagination. It becomes even more thought-provoking. By this time, I had already invested in the main protagonist, so I needed to know if all the questions were answered, how and what the actual answers are and the truth of Tony Plumb. I also wanted to know by this stage, what Ellodian actually was.

I enjoyed meeting Mrs Heapy – a psychotherapist by profession. In amongst the talk about mole friends, there is a real emotion that comes through from Tony. It is sensitively and realistically written, when we learn a bit more about the relationship between him and his parents. Quickly, I was captured and I think even our younger readers will be too. Tony also at this point, becomes even more likeable than what he ever was to begin with. We begin to get much more of a sense of his life. This isn’t just an adventure/fantasy book with some character or other leading you through many paths. It’s more than that. The main protagonist is 3 dimensional with real issues, real emotions and is a character to invest fully into.

Perfax is an intriguing character with major issues, which we see quickly and get the understanding of his temperament. He is a character that, although comes very much later in the book, is so well written.

Evensham Social Worker Department is returned to in the book. It gives it some grounding and shows the depth of Tony. The story, as it goes between Evensham and the world of Ellodian is written in a way that any reader will be able to follow.

The book concludes very well, it left me satisfied and I am sure it will leave anyone else reading this well written, well paced book, feeling the same. All in all it is a thought-provoking story and the balance between the issues and the fantasy elements are well-balanced. There are also the most unexpected twists and turns that are written in an inspired way of creating more drama. This also develops the story further and adds to the intrigue into how the story can possibly end. I would say –  take a chance on this debut child/YA/adult cross-over novelist and discover what is real and what is not in Tony Plumb’s life. Discover the world of Ellodian and allow yourself to be taken on a journey. You won’t be disappointed!

With thanks for J.M. Smith for writing to me with extra information about herself, for sending me a message/request to review her book and for sending me a copy of her book and an accompanying card/bookplate.

*Please Note – This is an impartial review.

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Title: Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian

Author: J.M. Smith

Publisher: Toubador/Matador – Juvenile/YA Fiction

Pages: 273

Main Purchase Points:  Amazon, WH Smith, The Telegraph Bookshop

ISBN 978 – 1 – 78901 – 503 – 4