#Spotlight and #Review for Joanne Harris @Joannechocolat @BloodyScotland Brownlee_Donald @alexxlayte @orionbooks @BloodyScotland

I am incredibly excited to be on the blog tour for Bloody Scotland 2022 to tell you about Will Carver and Joanne Harris. This post will be about Joanne Harris, a further one will inform you about Will Carver, but let me tell you a little about the festival first.

Bloody Scotland turns an stunning 10 years old this year and is more than established itself as a firm favourite of Crime Authors and Readers in Stirling. This year it is kicking off from Thursday 15th running to Sunday 18th September 2022. This amazing festival brings Stirling to life with fabulous venues at The Golden Lion Hotel, The Albert Halls and The Tolbooth, all on close proximity of each other.

Meet The Panel – Joanne Harris and Janice Hallett

Sunday 18th September
Albert Halls

11:30am – 12:30pm

Joanne Harris is the author of 22 novels, including Chocolat which was made into an Oscar-nominated movie. Her books have been published in over 50 countries and won a succession of British and international awards. Her latest novel is the compulsive A Narrow Door, the remains of a body unleash buried secrets in St Oswald’s School. Janice Hallett’s twisty debut The Appeal was the Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year and firmly established her as a writer to watch. Her bestselling new novel, The Twyford Code, is a fiendishly clever tale of a disgraced author, a missing schoolteacher and an ex-con desperate to solve a baffling, decades-old puzzle.
The event will be chaired by Dan Simpson of the Writer’s Routine podcast.

Buy Tickets Here

                                      Blurb

Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.

Review

I have read more Joanne Harris’s books for at least 20 years. Each one I hear of being published is cause for great excitement and joy! She is a admirable in what she crafts out of words, different places, different times, different people to create many stories and the imagery she places in reader’s minds, using many genres and themes; be the setting in France, the UK or the worlds created in Norse Mythology or those in The Child Ballads.  
When I first picked up one of her books, I knew this was an author I wanted to read more from. Under the guise of lovely settings are powerful themes that resonates universally. Each book is compulsive reading in many ways and allows readers to explore, not only the different characters and settings she creates, but also different parts of society. Each book, whether it is stand-alone or a series has themes that are identifiable and that people can relate to as she pulls back the curtain and sheds light on society, it’s attitudes, it’s strengths and weaknesses, communities coming together or being divided and so much more. I think, after so many years, it is safe to say that Joanne Harris and her books have longevity, each standing the test of time thus far and perhaps that and that they’re compulsive reading, is in part why.
 I cannot wait to read what comes next… For now, here is my review of A Narrow Door. Below this, find out more about some of the books I have reviewed.

Step through A Narrow Door with all its symbolism and connotations, and a lot awaits…
The book is split into 8 parts, plus a preface and epilogue. Each part is named after something in Greek Mythology and written in English underneath. It’s eyecatching, as you’d think it is, but even more so because of this as it’s different. The narrative here and throughout is strong and compulsive. Hours disappeared into the midst of time whilst reading this book.

No longer is St. Oswalds an all boys grammar school. It is now an academy with a female headmaster at the helm and females can now enter and be educated there with the boys.

This is an absolutely powerful book, even from the preface. Mr Straitley is still around as are a few other staff as are some of the group of boys known as “Brodie Boys”.
The future and the past merges together with old school ties and her new start and then a body is discovered adding an air of mystery to the changes in the school life with the rise of a Rebecca Buckfast.
Merged into the story, that has its mystery, there are also themes of strong females, how they are perceived and some of the myths. It does this very quickly and starkly in the preface, especially. It is written in the most fantastic, mature and knowledgeable way and also leads very well into the rest of, what turns out to be a twisty and compelling, involving complex thriller.

The writing; the air that it brings is powerful and absolutely all encompassing. It demands and captures attention from the beginning. It doesn’t let go. It seeps into your mind and all your senses in one way or another. It puts readers right back to the heart of St. Oswalds, an all boys school that exudes a certain stature and power, but one that wasn’t without its issues. Now the school is changing, catching up with the times.

This is absolutely marvellous writing throughout and the book is pretty hard to put down.
The years go between 1989 and 2006, showing what became tradition and what the school’s future holds as co-education begins as an academy with a female headmaster – Rebecca Buckfast (yes, headmaster and not headmistress. This isn’t a typo), at the helm and she is not to be underestimated. There’s a determination, a resilience in the school and the new headmaster is on a mission! Roy Straitley has a strong view on women and she is set to try and change that. She doesn’t want to let anything get in her way, not even the matter of a body.

Rebecca Buckfast isn’t, however, without her own personal things to deal with. Conrad, her brother, went missing years ago, there’s also the heartbreak and the hope of her parents that she still needs to contend with. There’s some great twists and turns where Conrad is concerned. He had gone to King Henry’s Grammar School for Boys, not St. Oswalds. So, now Rebecca has ties with both and a fight on her hands with both schools.

A Narrow Door is thought-provoking as it takes readers through to a school where nothing is as expected as it tightly twists and turns, holding readers captive in its grasp until its fantastic and fitting end.

Click on the Links of a few reviews of some of her other books to also whet your appetite.

The Strawberry Thief       Blue Salt Road        Orfeia            Honeycomb 

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#Review By Lou of – All This Could Be Different By Sarah Thankam Mathews #SarahThankhamMathews @orionbooks #ContemporaryFiction #AllThisCouldBeDifferent

All This Could Be Different
By Sarah Thankam
 

Rating: 4 out of 5.


A coming of age story in a way, as the main protagonist reaches that age where life is changing again with being in the working world, trying to figure out, now properly adult, where you fit in, told in a very contemporary style. Thanks to Orion Books for a review copy. Find out more in my review and then my review below.

This is not a story about work or precarity. I am trying, late in the evening, to say something about love, which for many of us is not separable from the other shit.’

This is a novel about being young in the 21st century.
About being called a ‘rockstar’ by your boss because of your Excel skills.
About staying up too late buying furniture online, despite the threat of eviction hanging over you.
About feeling like all your choices are mortgaged to the parents that made your life possible.
About the excitement of moving to a new city: about gay bars, house parties and new romances.
About a group of friends – about Sneha, Tig and Thom – and how that can become a family.
About love and sex and hope.
About knowing that all this could be different.

Review

Everyone remembers being young and full of aspirations. Some things never change, even though technology does. There’s the desire to move out of the parental home, becoming even more independent, finding a job, cultivating new or more friendships and romantic relationships. At the heart of this book is finding your way in and growing into young adulthood now Sneha has hit twenty. It’s very much written in the first person for the narrative, so the narrator is telling you, much like a narrator on tv does when looking down the camera lens.

Sneha moves to Milwaukee and restarts life and has to make new friends, but also has work to contend with, especially the property manager.

There’s a bit of a political element at times, featuring Barack Obama, which adds a different element and angle to showing life.

It was an interesting take on a young adult’s life, trying to find her way in the world and in one way or another. Where this book excels is relatability to everyone at that age and passed that age, as there are elements of life that never changes, whenever readers hit their 20’s. For that, it is an entertaining, well observed/experienced read.

Review By Lou of The Way From Here By Jane Turner @jane_turner9 @orionbooks @RandomTTours #BookReview #ContemporaryFiction #BlogTour #ReadingCommunity

The Way From Here
By Jane Turner

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today is my turn on the blog tour with my review for The Way From Here, a book of parenthood, life’s transitions and friendship. Find out more in the blurb and my thoughts in my review below.
Thanks to Random T Tours and the publisher Orion for inviting me to review and for a copy of the book.

F The Way From Here Cover

Blurb

Four friends. A lifetime of choices. What comes next?

Kate had been so busy making a place in the world for her daughters, she had somehow forgotten to take care of herself. The life she’d ended up with was not the life she’d planned. Everything was…a compromise.

When Kate’s younger daughter Ella goes off to university, she realises her life has become consumed by the minutiae of family life. In her ’empty nest’, Kate starts to wonder: what now?

Decades after abandoning her university hobby of rowing, Kate gingerly joins a local ladies rowing team and rediscovers her passion for the pleasing rhythmic sensation of paddle slicing through water.

More than anything, though, Kate finds that the team of strong women bring new adventures and unlikely friendships she hadn’t even realised she missed having…

A life-affirming, uplifting story about eight fifty-something women who are all asking the same question about what is next in life for them – and starting to discover the answer together.

Review

The Way From here is told primarily from Kate and Beth’s perspectives, with interjections from Lesley. It begins with Kate taking her daughter, Ella to university. It has all the ingredients in the story that so many parents would be able to relate to when their children get to a certain stage and age in life.

The book quickly gets into the next stage, with Kate getting into a rowing club. The book gets right into the details of rowing, quite cinematically and for the uninitated in rowing, the author has thoughtfully written brief descriptions outwith the main body of the story, of rowing techniques.
This isn’t soley about rowing, so it’s still okay if that isn’t your thing. This is also about reaching a certain stage and age in life and being overlooked. It also shows how groups, even such as a rowing group, has its cliques. On the flipside, it is also about friendship and rediscovering what seemed lost and truly living again and navigating through the maze of another stage of life.
Readers are let into Kate’s psyche, moods and mental health state, really well in a way that you can totally sympathise with her and perhaps even empathise with her if you’re a reader of a similar sort of age. You really get into her head and her thoughts about her life and how she is feeling.
Kate, especially, is a character that truly pops off the page.
All in all though, readers can follow friends through ups and downs of a new phase of life as their nests become empty and they need to work out how to fill the void and find their place in the world again.

It’s a book, perhaps really aimed at an audience slightly older than I, but it is important to read books with strong characters who are that bit older, giving inspiration and a story of how life can be as we enter different stages in life. It’s told well and is both compelling and absorbing. It provides physical energy through the rowing and also through the pathways of life, that you go through with the characters, leading to a very realistic, mature and satisfying ending.

#BookReview by Lou A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris @Joannechocolat @alexxlayt @orionbooks #JoanneHarris #Thriller #Fiction #BookRecommendation

A Narrow Door
By Joanne Harris

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are huge changes at St. Oswalds and I am priveleged to be able to read and review it. There’s the anticipation of reading it, but also wondering, after reading so many books by her, even pre-blog, would I like it? Would I think other readers would like it? It’s a resounding yes from me. Even after however long it has been since the last book in this series – A Different Class, it is great to be back at St. Oswalds to see how this thriller continues in this latest book –
A Narrow Door
.
Thanks very much to Alex Layt at Orion Books for allowing me to review and for gifting me a proof copy and a bag of Liquorice Allsorts.
Please find out more in the blurb and the rest of my review below…
*My review is unbiased.

A Narrow Door

Blurb

Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.

Review

A Narrow DoorStep through A Narrow Door with all its symbolism and connotations, and a lot awaits…
The book is split into 8 parts, plus a preface and epilogue. Each part is named after something in Greek Mythology and written in English underneath. It’s eyecatching, as you’d think it is, but even more so because of this as it’s different. The narrative here and throughout is strong and compulsive. Hours disappeared into the midst of time whilst reading this book.

No longer is St. Oswalds an all boys grammar school. It is now an academy with a female headmaster at the helm and females can now enter and be educated there with the boys.

This is an absolutely powerful book, even from the preface. Mr Straitley is still around as are a few other staff as are some of the group of boys known as “Brodie Boys”.
The future and the past merges together with old school ties and her new start and then a body is discovered adding an air of mystery to the changes in the school life with the rise of a Rebecca Buckfast.
Merged into the story, that has its mystery, there are also themes of strong females, how they are perceived and some of the myths. It does this very quickly and starkly in the preface, especially. It is written in the most fantastic, mature and knowledgeable way and also leads very well into the rest of, what turns out to be a twisty and compelling, involving complex thriller.

The writing; the air that it brings is powerful and absolutely all encompassing. It demands and captures attention from the beginning. It doesn’t let go. It seeps into your mind and all your senses in one way or another. It puts readers right back to the heart of St. Oswalds, an all boys school that exudes a certain stature and power, but one that wasn’t without its issues. Now the school is changing, catching up with the times.

This is absolutely marvellous writing throughout and the book is pretty hard to put down.
The years go between 1989 and 2006, showing what became tradition and what the school’s future holds as co-education begins as an academy with a female headmaster – Rebecca Buckfast (yes, headmaster and not headmistress. This isn’t a typo), at the helm and she is not to be underestimated. There’s a determination, a resilience in the school and the new headmaster is on a mission! Roy Straitley has a strong view on women and she is set to try and change that. She doesn’t want to let anything get in her way, not even the matter of a body.

Rebecca Buckfast isn’t, however, without her own personal things to deal with. Conrad, her brother, went missing years ago, there’s also the heartbreak and the hope of her parents that she still needs to contend with. There’s some great twists and turns where Conrad is concerned. He had gone to King Henry’s Grammar School for Boys, not St. Oswalds. So, now Rebecca has ties with both and a fight on her hands with both schools.
Roy Straitley has also further troubles with a past friendship involving Eric Scoones.

There are also licquorice Allsorts. Those of you who have read the other books in this series will know what I am talking about. They are now all duly eaten. They aren’t just a sweet, according to the story, they are a way to tell people’s personalities. Aside from that, and including this, it is a very thought-provoking right to the fantastic and very fitting end.

I highly recommend A Narrow Door.

 

#CoverReveal plus Blurb of Violets By Kyung-Sook Shin #Violets @orionbooks @wnbooks

violets cover reveal graphic copy (1)

Today I am excited to announce that I have a cover reveal for Violets, set to be published in 2022.
VIOLETS is a powerful story of desire, violence and isolation in contemporary Korean society.
Check out the blurb and the beautiful cover below…

violets cover reveal graphic SHARLENE TEO

Blurb

We join San in 1970s rural South Korea, a young girl ostracised from her community. She meets a girl called Namae, and they become friends until one afternoon changes everything. Following a moment of physical intimacy in a minari field, Namae violently rejects San, setting her on a troubling path of quashed desire and isolation.

We next meet San, aged twenty-two, as she starts a job in a flower shop. There, we are introduced to a colourful cast of characters, including the shop’s mute owner, the other florist Su-ae, and the customers that include a sexually aggressive businessman and a photographer, who San develops an obsession for. Throughout, San’s moment with Namae lingers in the back of her mind.

A story of desire and violence about a young woman who everyone forgot, VIOLETS is a captivating and sensual read, full of tragedy and beauty.

violets cover reveal graphic.- insta sq copy

 

#BookReview by Lou A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris @Joannechocolat @alexxlayt @orionbooks #JoanneHarris #Thriller #Fiction #BookRecommendation

A Narrow Door
By Joanne Harris

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are huge changes at St. Oswalds and I am priveleged to be able to read and review it. There’s the anticipation of reading it, but also wondering, after reading so many books by her, even pre-blog, would I like it? Would I think other readers would like it? It’s a resounding yes from me. Even after however long it has been since the last book in this series – A Different Class, it is great to be back at St. Oswalds to see how this thriller continues in this latest book – A Narrow Door.
Thanks very much to Alex Layt at Orion Books for allowing me to review and for gifting me a proof copy and a bag of Liquorice Allsorts.
Please find out more in the blurb and the rest of my review below…
*My review is unbiased.

A Narrow Door

Blurb

Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.

Review

A Narrow DoorStep through A Narrow Door with all its symbolism and connotations, and a lot awaits…
The book is split into 8 parts, plus a preface and epilogue. Each part is named after something in Greek Mythology and written in English underneath. It’s eyecatching, as you’d think it is, but even more so because of this as it’s different. The narrative here and throughout is strong and compulsive. Hours disappeared into the midst of time whilst reading this book.

No longer is St. Oswalds an all boys grammar school. It is now an academy with a female headmaster at the helm and females can now enter and be educated there with the boys.

This is an absolutely powerful book, even from the preface. Mr Straitley is still around as are a few other staff as are some of the group of boys known as “Brodie Boys”.
The future and the past merges together with old school ties and her new start and then a body is discovered adding an air of mystery to the changes in the school life with the rise of a Rebecca Buckfast.
Merged into the story, that has its mystery, there are also themes of strong females, how they are perceived and some of the myths. It does this very quickly and starkly in the preface, especially. It is written in the most fantastic, mature and knowledgeable way and also leads very well into the rest of, what turns out to be a twisty and compelling, involving complex thriller.

The writing; the air that it brings is powerful and absolutely all encompassing. It demands and captures attention from the beginning. It doesn’t let go. It seeps into your mind and all your senses in one way or another. It puts readers right back to the heart of St. Oswalds, an all boys school that exudes a certain stature and power, but one that wasn’t without its issues. Now the school is changing, catching up with the times.

This is absolutely marvellous writing throughout and the book is pretty hard to put down.
The years go between 1989 and 2006, showing what became tradition and what the school’s future holds as co-education begins as an academy with a female headmaster – Rebecca Buckfast (yes, headmaster and not headmistress. This isn’t a typo), at the helm and she is not to be underestimated. There’s a determination, a resilience in the school and the new headmaster is on a mission! Roy Straitley has a strong view on women and she is set to try and change that. She doesn’t want to let anything get in her way, not even the matter of a body.

Rebecca Buckfast isn’t, however, without her own personal things to deal with. Conrad, her brother, went missing years ago, there’s also the heartbreak and the hope of her parents that she still needs to contend with. There’s some great twists and turns where Conrad is concerned. He had gone to King Henry’s Grammar School for Boys, not St. Oswalds. So, now Rebecca has ties with both and a fight on her hands with both schools.
Roy Straitley has also further troubles with a past friendship involving Eric Scoones.

There are also licquorice Allsorts. Those of you who have read the other books in this series will know what I am talking about. They are now all duly eaten. They aren’t just a sweet, according to the story, they are a way to tell people’s personalities. Aside from that, and including this, it is a very thought-provoking right to the fantastic and very fitting end.

I highly recommend A Narrow Door.