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

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

Authentic, Brave, Emotional, Honest, Essential Reading.

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

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

Synopsis

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

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

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

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

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

How To Be A Gay Man

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links to Support and Mental Health Teams

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

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

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

#Review of the gritty Dance With the Reaper by Wes Markin @MarkinWes @CazVinBooks #NewBook #CrimeFiction #blogtour

Dance With The Reaper
By Wes Markin
Rated: 5 stars *****

I have been reading and reviewing Wes Markin’s books since the second one. This is now his 5th (discover after the review. They are gritty, gripping, fast-paced crime fiction/police procedural books that have readers follow DCI Michael Yorke. The suspects are very intriguing and attention grabbing.
I thought the previous one was his best yet, but perhaps it could even be this one. They are all so well-crafted and especially this one. It was again, a pleasure to be invited by Caroline Vincent to review, this time – Dance With The Reaper, so I thank her and Wes Markin for providing a copy of the book to review from.

Find the blurb and review and then Wes Markin’s social media links below.

About the Author

Wes Markin Author Image (2)Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

Having finished the fifth instalment in the DCI Yorke series, Dance with the Reaper, Wes is now working on the sixth instalment of DCI Yorke’s wild ride. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.

Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.

Blurb

How do you stop a perfect killer?

After the terrible events of the past year, DCI Yorke’s team are on the verge of finding peace. But after a terrifying act of violence shatters their equilibrium, they are forced to dance with a skilled assassin who knows no equal.

After it becomes clear that this hitman is connected to the most shadowy of criminal organisations, Yorke is forced to dive into his own past, and face a future in which he is either alone, or dead.

Can Yorke and those he holds dearest survive the Reaper? Or will this be one dance too many?

Dance with the Reaper - book cover

Review

This is the latest of the DCI Michael Yorke gritty and gripping series. There’s a mix of the literal and the non-literal within this book. Murder and music are mixed, all atuned together to create the essence of this story; there’s also the dance. The dance in the literal sense, relates to a ballet and Ukrainian and Russian syndicates.
The dance isn’t, however all in the literal sense. It’s the dance of life and death, the dance that the police are led on to follow and try and capture the victim’s murderer. In a sense, there’s the dance that readers are led on with all the different music that is ‘played’ that is weaved in and out of the story as you inadvertently also ‘Dance With The Reaper‘.

There’s some fun banter between him and his wife – Patricia as The Rolling Stones are on in the background on the radio – Radio Exodus. The lyrics that Wes Markin has picked out are cleverly apt for the book and its title. It always amazes me when people can do that.

The book shows the effects death can have on a 14 year old, even with all the support from Michael and Patricia Yorke who adopted him. It is however quite a small part of the story, but it nicely shows their life together when they aren’t at work. It’s a nice thing to see their lives at home too.

There is something else brewing as there’s obvious distress from the radio presenter Michael and Patricia are listening to and the action that ensues. The distress is for good reason. Anyone in her position would be as her life is in imminent danger. The book becomes suddenly tense.

There had been a question asked on the radio where the answer relates to the title of this book, almost…  The tension builds so well as this one question will determine on if she lives or dies.

Cozy Mystery writer – Matthew Peacock is a curious man, chancing his luck that the police will tell him everything. He may or may not be a suspect.

Herbert Wheelhouse (‘Reaper’ Wheelhouse)is in a downgraded prison now from a category A prison and is 70 years old. There’s a good insight as to what someone working in the police may feel about the different types of prisons, at least from DCI Yorke’s point of view. Herbert is definitely a most evil character. It’s written with believability about how both DCI Yorke, who keeps his professionalism and his colleague – Jake feel about seeing him and questioning him in prison about Janice Edwards, and also The Youngs, a particularly evil group who have mastered torture.

The book touches on things that have been reported on the news, such as County Lines. It’s added into the story very well and makes it so current, with the issues with drugs that are going on within the UK. It’s a gritty, contemporary book!

There are unexpected connections to Patricia with a criminal – Douglas Firth, who may or may not have something to do with a murder. It’s something that may make you sit up right! Both prisoners are also chilling down the spine. There is also Borya Turgenev who is wanted for crimes, who the police want to capture, who is a ballet dancer. An impressive one at that, by all accounts, but doesn’t act like your usual dancer at all. He has a secret that he has in his room. It’s one that wouldn’t be expected. It’s one that goes against the grace of his ballet steps.

Although this can be a somewhat gruesome series, it is incredibly well-conceived and written as crime and office politics and relationships all weave together, with their twists, so it is one that I recommend.

The books can be read as stand-alone books or as part of the series. There are: One Last Prayer for the Rays, The Repenting Serpent, The Silence of Severance, Rise of the Rays and the latest is – Dance With the Reaper

Wes Markin on Social Media

Twitter                                     twitter.com/MarkinWes
Facebook Author Page           http://www.facebook.com/WesMarkinAuthor
Goodreads Author Page         bit.ly/GRtoWesMarkin
Amazon Author Page             author.to/WesMarkin

Dance with the Reaper Blog Tour Poster

 

 

#BookReview of the mesmerising – Tell Me How It Ends @IsabelleGrey @ellapatel__ @QuercusBooks #Thriller

Tell Me How It Ends
By V.B.Grey
Rated: 5 stars *****

Tell Me How It Ends – Cleverly written as a song title and as a title that is so fitting for the mesmerising plot of this glamorous world, where all is not what it seems and us shrouded in mystery, lies and secrets that need uncovering. in this elegant tale of complex, changing times, that has some unexpected twists. It’s a book that I really did wonder how it would all end. It is definitely a book to pick up. Even the cover is evocative, mysterious and powerful.

Thank you very much Ella Patel at Quercus and V.B. Grey for sending me a physical copy of the book, upon enquiry. That was definitely some exciting book post to receive and I have enjoyed the book very much.

Below, discover a bit about the author, the blurb and my review.

About the Author

V.B. Grey is a pseudonym for Isabelle Grey, a novelist a television screenwriter whose credits include Jimmy McGovern’s BAFTA award-winning series – Accused: Tina’s Story as weall as over thirty-five episodes of Midsomer Murders, Casualty, The Bill, Rosemary & Thyme and Wycliffe. She is the  author of two novels of psychological suspense and four books of a contemporary crime series under her own name.  Her psuedonym marks a change in creative direction.  Isabelle grew up in Manchester and now lives in north London.

Blurb

Delia Maxwell is an international singing sensation, an icon of Fifties glamour who is riding high on the new Sixties scene.
Adored by millions, all men want to be with her, all women want to be her. But one woman wants it a little too much…

Lily Brooks has watched Delia all her life, studying her music and her on-stage mannerisms. Now she has a dream job as Delia’s assistant – but is there more to her attachment than the admiration of a fan?
Private investigator, Frank, is beginning to wonder.

As Lily steps into Delia’s spotlight, and Delia encourages her ambitious protegee, Frank’s suspicions of Lily’s ulterior motives increase. But are his own feelings for Delia clouding his judgement?

The truth is something far darker: the shocking result of years of pain and rage, rooted in Europe’s darkest hour. If Delia thought she had put the past behind her, she had better start watching her back.

Tell Me How It Ends cover

Review

From the first few pages, I am somehow hooked and mesmerised and I have a need to know more about the shrouded mystery that surrounds Delia Maxwell.
Right away the intrigue is set-up in this immersive story, told by Frank, Lily and Delia.

Delia Maxwell appears to have vanished off the face of the earth! Just disappeared, right when her career was going places. She had a big Hollywood contract to sign and had plans to move to Florida. Her future was all mapped out and it was all going looking exciting. For all the glamour and the people she entertained, she seems like there’s something down-to-earth. You’d expect something swanky, but no, she was renowned for making omlettes for her guests.
There were strange events from over-zealous fans at the BBC concert hall at BBC Broadcasting House. One of them being Lily Brooks. The fan who crossed the line and became unhealthily fixated. She had studied the singing sensation – Delia Maxwell all her life and became her assistant. Intriguingly, she gets some of the limelight and sings her song “Tell Me How It Ends”. It already has a slight uneasiness about it and then there’s a shock revelation…

There’s more to this story in subplots too, like what is happening in world affairs at this time. It gives it all a sense of time and place. It rather adds to the complexities of the characters and the strange disappearance of Delia, as more mysterious connections emerge as more connections to her life and secrets are unveiled.

The book has an astonishing unsettling quality to it, no more so than when it comes to Lily. No matter how atmospheric it becomes, the more that just needs to be read. It’s such an elegantly written book.

In amongst the secrets, there are themes of identity, rivalries and the marks left by war times, especially on Jews. There are also secrets surrounding Anna Kormocksy as her life unfolds and tells of what she had endured during war times. It’s fascinatingly interwoven and shows some of the human story as well as her link to Delia.

This is such a book of secrets and lies and unexpected twists and turns. In someways there are parts I wasn’t expecting at all, which makes this book quite unique. All just isn’t quite as it first appears in this well-plotted book that captures atmosphere and glamour so well, which is testament to V.B. Grey’s love of the 1940’s and 1950’s periods of time and  noir thrillers and ‘women’s pictures’ coming through in abundance, which shows the complexities of the world and the changing times in a compelling way.

Elly Girffiths describes it as “Mesmerising and powerful”
Louise Candlish describes it as “A spellbinding read”

I must say that they aren’t wrong and it is absolutely one to read with the uniqueness it encompasses.

#Review of Murder at the Music Factory by Lesley Kelly @lkauthor @sandstonepress #BookReview #Thriller #CrimeFiction #BlogTour

Murder at the Music Factory
By Lesley Kelly
Rated: 4 stars ****

Murder at the Music Factory is the latest Health of Strangers book by Lesley Kelly and I am just so pleased to have been asked to join the blog tour by Scottish publishers Sandstone Press, whom I also thank for sending my a physical print copy of the book to review. With its music, a gun man and all the intrigue, it makes for a great read. I can see why Ian Rankin rates Lesley Kelly.

About the Author

Lesley KellyLesley Kelly has worked in the public and voluntary sectors for the past 20 years, dabbling in poetry and stand-up comedy along the way. She has won several writing competitions, including the Scotsman’s Short Story Award in 2008. Her debut novel: A Fine House in Trinity, was long listed for the William McIlvanney award in 2016. She can be followed on Twitter @lkauthor where she tweets about writing, Edinburgh and whatever else takes her fancy.

Click for Social Media Link: 
Twitter Link

Blurb

The body of Paul Shore toppled onto him, a stream of blood pooling around them on the concrete. Bernard lay back and waited to see if he too was going to die.

An under cover agent gone rogue is threatening to shoot a civil servant a day. As panic reigns, the Health Enforcement Team race against time to track him down – before someone turns the gun on them.

Leley Kelly Murder at the music factory

Review

A pandemic, music and a gunman in Edinburgh, Scotland , well, this book certainly is a thriller to behold.

It’s quite something to read a book with a pandemic and live through one in real life and I am glad to say that there are bits of a normality to be found here and there and some wit in some of dialogue, that lifts it. Murder in the Music Factory is book 4 in The Health of Strangers series. It works as part of the series and as a standalone, so you can jump straight in.

The North Edinburgh Health Enforcement Team (HET) are back in this brand new book – Murder at the Music Factory, part of the Health of Strangers series, that once you’ve started, you see what a great series it is. It is worth joining a week in the life of this team (the book is split into days of the week).
The books were an alternative Edinburgh, where a virus is rampant, but now fiction and fact have somewhat collided (the books began way before this current virus pandemic). Foresight is perhaps a wonderful thing, or maybe it isn’t, who knows in this instance, but one thing I do know, is it is there and this is a very good book.
I know people are worried at this time, but this is still an excellent thriller of a book to read. It isn’t just about a virus. There’s a gunman at large who Mona and Bernard need to track down and a vulnerable witness needs to be protected.

More foresight, but perhaps not quite as it is in our new reality for this time. In the book, schools are closed, the NHS carries on, but electives are cancelled. A lot like now, except in the book it’s because of the gunman, all the same, it is in-escapable that this (minus the gunman thank goodness), has become a reality and thank goodness for the NHS.

There is some entertainment to be found in this book and I do like that Bernard has a need for chocolate. I’ve read that quite a bit around social media, that chocolate is a must for people right now too.

There’s a bit of familiar music mentioned within the book, that is carefully placed and works really well. This book, although was, at time of writing, like all of this series, set some time in the near future, and now sees a bit of fiction and realiy weaving together, actually has some lightness in parts of it. There’s life away from work, which gives the book a bit of humanity about it and a bit more insight into the characters.

To read a book about, not just a thriller, but one that has a global pandemic going through is surreal, no doubt about it and I’ve used a lot of my resilence to complete the book, so I could review for you. These are unusual and worrying times and I will say that I do hope that everyone is staying safe and are well. That being said, it is still a very well-written book and one that is still worth reading, whether it is your book of choice for now or later, because one day, whenever that may be, things will return to normal. Who knows if they will in this series of books or not, but they will in the real world.
Take care and keep safe and thank you in advance for reading my blog post on this blog tour.

The Influence of Music within books, writing and more

A Short Essay of The Influence of Music within Books, Writing and More

music notes    book clipart

I, these days find rooms can sometimes be too quiet, so I was listening to some music on Spotify that got me suddenly thinking of music, film and books. Not least because as I was randomly looking, up came an option called “Reading Soundtrack”. It is theme tunes and incidental music to listen to whilst reading. I have found it fills the room with nice music, but with no words, all just instrumental, which means writing and reading can still be concentrated on, and yet there’s now no complete silence. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I like complete and utter, blissful silence or I need it to concentrate at a different level on something. Other times, it is just good to have a music filled room and get on with things so the mind doesn’t wander onto a million other thoughts. I like music in general, we all have particular songs that generate different memories and emotions or can conjure something quite exquisite up in the imagination. Music is a powerful medium, whether it is instrumental or is in song. We all have favourite pieces and those pieces that just get on our nerves. Music can conjure up memories for some; sometimes bad, sometimes sad, sometimes deep joy, sometimes a brightness. We also have pieces that we know so well, that it can drift into the room and into our subconscious that we can work and have a music-filled room without it being a distraction.

So, the Spotify Reading Soundtrack has 54 (at time of writing) relaxing tunes on it. To name a few books that became films and have music on this soundtrack – it begins with The Boy Who Flew Away, there’s also Mocking Jay, Jane Eyre, Christopher Robin, Spiderman, A Testament of Youth, Lord of the Rings, The Maze Runner, Game of Thrones, Schindler’s List, Band of Brothers, Geisha, Cinderella, The Imitation Game, Cloud Atlas and many others. All are peaceful enough to use whilst reading or writing. It really is worth a listen to. I cannot claim to reading all the books, nor to have seen all the films that are mentioned in this soundtrack, but they are all peaceful and have an air of calm about them. There’s no need to concentrate on the music, instead concentrate on the work you do and the music does the rest as it penetrates through the mind, but without piercing into it and envelopes you in a peaceful embrace of music notes without you having to think of it. All you have to do is think about the real task in hand. I have written short stories (3 got published), all with music on at various points in the process, I have written a few blogs with music on and done the more mundane things such as ironing with it on. You just find what is right for you and the tunes and songs that you most enjoy.

music notes

In September 2018 I wrote a blog about Music within Books and Music to Die For off the back of a panel I had watched at the Morecambe and Vice Festival. It shown that musical influences are being used more in books. More than what I had really thought about. 

Alan Parks uses 70s music such as Small Faces and David Bowie for the cultural scene in 1970’s Glasgow.

Joe Thomas has music references that are used to categorise different parts of his book in some ways, for themes of political, joy and melancholy that are infused into his first novel, “Paradise City”, which is set in Sao Paolo.

Hugh Fraser has music in Stealth that is set in the 1960’s that create the right atmosphere for the time period of the club, especially, that features within his book.

Joanne Harris has music in BlueEyedBoy, which gets mentioned at the beginnings of each chapter, which sets a certain tone.
book clipart
The above list just names a few. There is music mentioned in children’s books, young adult books, adult books. There are numerous non-fiction books about music as a genre or about its creators, whether it is the artist, the composer, singer etc.

Music can play a vital part within some books, in setting the scene and/or atmosphere. There are many films that are written from books. Within many of the films there is music throughout, it creates a sense of time and place sometimes. Take a period piece, say, any of Jane Austen’s books for example, there are many dances within the season. Music gets mentioned and watching the tv dramatisation or film versions and there it is as it would have been. So, sometimes music can be very deliberate, would be a bit odd to read about a dance or watch one without hearing the music (since this was before the era of silent disco of course). Other music can be used as incidental music or to create a certain mood or to build up tension. Done well in film/tv or written well in books, it can have a good desired effect and can fill the imagination even more as the mind’s eye for the written word creates the scene or when watching, can tense up the body and have you on the edge of your seat or make you think how lovely a scene is. This can also be true of the stage. Of course in a musical, there’s music and song to convey the story, it’s obvious, but take plays for example too, okay there’s not often song, but sometimes there can be music, to create the atmosphere and/or a scene or give even more of the sense of a time era, whether it is past or present. Often, but not always, music is used in the form of characters listening to a radio, so it can also be used as an activity within that character’s day. The music however always appears to be carefully selected, so it fits and that’s the same for film and tv.

In both the written and the spoken word, music can create different emotions, when done well. When it isn’t done well, however, it can become too much or so grinding that the viewer no longer feels the flow of the music and acting working in harmony, or reader can either become too bogged down in the music that the atmosphere is lost.

The thing is however, that music spans into everything. Music is a universal language. For decades there have been music festivals showcasing all sorts of genres, from pop to rock and classical to folk and can be read about and listened to on so many platforms. Whatever the genre, the art form, it has this innate ability to partnership with it all to enhance a story or be a medium inwhich the story itself is told in. It has become such an important part of global culture within everything we watch or read or do. Music is many things to many people and has so many topics within it, that it can present itself on the stage and within books as part of the story that is being told. Music itself is a story being told. Music itself is subjective, but then, so are the books you read, the tv and films you watch and the stage musicals and plays you see, which also assists its ability to be within every other art form too.

I will digress slightly for a moment, take a painting or a photograph of an orchestra or just a solo piano or a guitar. We may not actually be able to hear the music being played – it’s a painting after all, but the majority of us know what these instruments sound like, so can imagine it, so even in something like a painting, music can sometimes still be part of the story being told.

When I think about it, all music tells a story within itself too, no matter the genre. Some time in the not too distant future I am going to return to music and tales and have an interview published with a particular musician and songwriter who’s style of music definitely tells a story, owing especially to the genre she composes within. I am not intending, not at the moment anyway, in branching out into music reviews, but it is a medium that crosses all art forms, including those I concentrate on within this blog.