Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen @KtAllenWriting @OrendaBooks #RandomTTours #JubilantJune #EveryThingHappensForAReason #BlogTour

Everything Happens For A Reason
by Katie Allen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Everything Happens for a Reason cover

 

Firstly I would like to thank Orenda Books and Random Things Tours for the copy of this heart-rendering and moving book. Find out in the blurb and my review about what I actually thought about this pretty unique debut book for this great blog tour.

Blurb

A beautiful, poignant and enchantingly funny debut,
inspired by journalist Katie Allen’s own experience of stillbirth and grief

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong.
Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she’s now
certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
Both a heart-wrenching portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life-affirming and, quite simply, unforgettable read.

Review

Everything Happens for a Reason coverFairly uniquely, Everything Happens For A Reason, has no chapters as such and is instead, punctuated with emails from character to character. As much as it felt different to other books that do have chapters, the flow and movement through the book worked well, perhaps because of the timeline within the emails and instead of jarring, like it might do with chapters, in this rare instance, it gives it a stronger sense of a certain amount of reality. The book is a work of fiction but it is inspired by Katie Allen’s own experiences.

There is a  strong belief of “Everything Happens For A Reason” is an interesting concept, that is used in a way to justify and perhaps come to terms with everything, is a theme that is carried throughout the book. Rachel even believes that meeting Lola was for a reason and both are interesting characters and there is the gradual uncovering of Ben Palmer, a guy she saved at Oval, when she was pregnant, months before her baby was stillborn. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, there’s no two ways about it. The grief and the trying to live life feels authentic and pierces through to your heart. On the other-hand it also talks truthfully about how there isn’t always the time to grieve. Most of the characters have their issues they are living with.

There are also moments to smile about. It’s is full of bittersweet moments, such as some thought given to baby groups, such as baby and rhyme (if you’re in Scotland its a little bit like Bookbug), and baby yoga etc. 

I am glad that there are some funny moments. In some ways it lightens the book in a good way and in other ways, it is a brave decision to include it as some people don’t think you should find something funny, when grieving etc, but this shows life in every aspects from friendships to the politics of the day. There’s a particularly humorous analogy about a spider, for example. It shows life and grieving is not a straight line and life presents itself with unexpected moments and a web of people and situations. There’s some moments of pragmatism and others that has a bit of humour, but most of all it is emotional and an aura of it lingers round you after you’ve read it.

This is not a light read by any means, but it is some original storytelling, with a subject matter that is still almost taboo and uncomfortable for some people to talk about. It is a subject matter that is rare in books, if there at all. If you’re wanting something different and meaningful, this is your book.

 

ABOUT KATIE ALLEN

Katie AllenA beautiful, poignant and enchantingly funny debut, inspired by journalist Katie Allen’s own experience of stillbirth and grief.
Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character ’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her
‘Everything happens for a reason’.
Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband,
children, dog, cat and stick insects. When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels.

Everything Happens BT Poster

#Review by Lou – Tapestries of Life – Nature is all we have by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson @annesver @HarperNonFic @RandomTTours #TapestriesofLife #NonFiction #Nature

Tapestries of Life – Nature is all we have
by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Vibrant and interesting as the threads of life are all seemlessly stitched together to create a wider picture in the vast spectrum of nature we live in and the impact on our lives in an accessible fashion, by this expert in her field. Thanks to Harper Collins for gifting me the book and for Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour to review. Discover the beautiful cover that would brighten up anyone’s bookcase and the blurb and my review.

 

Blurb

The second book by the bestselling author of Extraordinary Insects.

Trees clean air and water; hoverflies and bees pollinate our crops; the kingfisher inspired the
construction of high-speed trains. In Tapestries of Life, bestselling author Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson
explains how closely we are all connected with the natural world, highlighting our indelible link with
nature’s finely knit system and our everyday lives.
In the heart of natural world is a life-support system like no other, a collective term that describes all
the goods and services we receive – food, fresh water, medicine, pollination, pollution control, carbon
sequestration, erosion prevention, recreation, spiritual health and so much more. In this utterly
captivating book, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson sets out to explore these wonderful, supportive elements
– taking the reader on a journey through the surprising characteristics of the natural world.

 

Review

Tapestries GraphicThis isn’t as heavy as it sounds. It’s very good for the inquisitive and those who have a care for the natural world. It reads quite biographical in tone, with a mix of accessible science, and at the heart of Anne’s adventure is an abundance of the surface and what’s underneath nature and its purposes. The book will increase understanding of planet earth and all that it has to offer. It isn’t written in a way that forces people to believe in this or that, but rather in a way that may well enhance the appreciation of the natural world and all that it has to offer, from the animals right down to the water it holds.

As well as animals and plants, it goes into studying DNA, organisms and bacteria ie all the parts that can’t always be seen to the naked eye and yet are just as important to the surface of nature that we can see. It goes onto why nature is essential to earth and humans and talks about how it is used for the prescription medicines/prescription drugs that people consume. There are also great analogies to help with the understanding.

Planted like seeds, throughout the book are some poems and diagrams that makes the book brighter and easily digestible and relatable and alive, for this is a livelier and interesting book than what you may first presume. The poems also seem to serve as a reminder as to how the great outdoors, influences and inspires creatives and has done throughout the centuries.

There’s a lot to learn, in particular in the USA, about what is there and certain astonishing legislation was passed, not the what, but the when; but it all reads easy as each bit of earth is stitched together and her travels weave in and around green spaces and more…
The book also delves into what earth still has and extinction and conflicting ideas that people have about earth and 

The book is beautfully crafted as it weaves threads of a tapestry of life that only survives with nature at its heart.

About the Author

Anne Sverdrup Author Pic (1)Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson  is the bestselling author of Extraordinary Insects. A professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås, Norway, she is also a scientific advisor for The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research NINA. She has a Doctorate degree in conservation biology and lectures on nature management and forest
biodiversity.

Anne is an absolute expert in the subject. She has done and is still doing countless events for all the editions of her books all over the world, and festivals love her.

Tapestries of Life BT Poster

Happy Publication Day for The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams @laurajaneauthor @AvonBooks @ElliePilcher95

The Lucky Escape
By Laura Jane Williams

Happy Publication Day to Laura Jane Williams for her book The Lucky Escape. It is available in paperback, e-book and audio book. Discover more in the blurb below and you can purchase this feel-good summer read from today. Thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Avon Books for giving me the opportunity to share this with you all.

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Blurb

The wedding? Cancelled. 
The bride? Heartbroken.
The honeymoon? Try and stop her…

 
The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams is OUT TODAY in ebook, paperback and audiobook. Escape to Australia this summer in this hilarious feel-good read!       

Purchase Link –  Waterstones

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#Interview by Lou of White Eye of the Needle author/Poet – Chris Campbell @Citizen_Chris @Choir_Press @kenyon_isabelle #Poetry #ContemporaryPoet

Today I am very excited to present to you an interview with Chris Campbell, who, in contemporary poetry, explores human connections, both passing and intimate. The collection was put together in Nottingham and also includes pieces from the former journalist’s time in Bristol, London, Swansea, Glasgow and Gloucestershire, plus visits abroad including a honeymoon in Madagascar and trips to Tignes, France.
In his interview he talks about music, inspiration for writing, wildlife, his former career and more…
With greatest thanks to Chris Campbell for his time and to Isabelle Kenyon for presenting me with the opportunity to interview.

Front Cover White Eye of the Needle

  1. What and/or who inspired you to write poetry?

I wrote one of my first poems as a child in a hotel room. I suddenly thought it was Mother’s Day and that my younger brother and I had forgotten to get anything, so I wrote a poem to my mum on hotel paper. It turned out Mother’s Day wasn’t until the week after. But she still has it framed on her bedside table! I continued to write through my teens and contributed to various anthologies. I enjoyed the process of writing and editing, the downtime and being able to formulate my thoughts and reflect. This also helped me through university, when faced with a lot of life changes. I used to carry around Bob Dylan’s ‘Chronicles: Volume One’, my dad’s ‘The Essential Spike Milligan’ and enjoyed Leonard Cohen’s work. My dad also encouraged me to study the back of record sleeves – lyrics from musicians like Frank Zappa and Eric Clapton. As I got older, I enjoyed the works of Dylan Thomas, ee cummings, WH Auden, and DH Lawrence – who inspired me a lot in my latest collection.

  1. Your title – ‘White Eye of the Needle’ is intriguing, what inspired this title?

The ‘Eye of the Needle’ is a rock formation in Tignes, France. My wife and I met on a ski trip to Tignes and almost had our first kiss inside the landmark; which has a hole through the centre and we had climbed up to. It will always mean a lot to us and we went back a few years later to take more photos and, this time, have a kiss! White refers to the snow – fortunately there was a lot of it that year!

  1. Your poems focus on the natural world intertwined with human emotions, what inspired you to use these as your topics and together and was this a very conscious decision, or was it more organic than that?

Having started as a journalist in my early 20s, I’ve always enjoyed writing about people. I also find nature a wonderful thing to write about, that feeds into a lot of our feelings and actions. The poems in White Eye of the Needle cover a six-year period, and a few different locations during that time, both in terms of where I’ve lived and visited. It has been an organic process, but I often write what I see around me, and this intertwining was perhaps enhanced by lockdown. Whether it’s a walk along the canal by our home, in poem ‘Chimney snorkels’; cardboard sheets being blown across our garden, in ‘Hurdles’; or describing a garden party, in ‘Catch light’, which I wrote while I was enjoying a break in the garden. In the absence of seeing people it can be easier to attribute human emotion to nature, of which I’m lucky to have lots around me despite living in a city centre.

  1. How important is it to you that humans connect with the natural world, since the two meet quite powerfully in your poems?

Countryside
photo by Lou

One thing I noticed during lockdown is how nature seemed to be reclaiming our garden and other outdoor spaces. I’ve been appreciating the wildlife here while spending more time at home. We’ve been in Nottingham for a few years, and before lockdown I spent a lot of time commuting. I grew up near and in the countryside, so have always valued it. As well as writing about my current surroundings, White Eye of the Needle includes poems I wrote when living in other parts of the country, including Bristol, Swansea, London and Gloucestershire, as well as trips abroad. They capture certain moments, whether skiing, away for long weekends, on honeymoon, or in the garden. While I’m not an advocate for needless travel, I do feel it’s important to enjoy new experiences, forming and deepening connections with people and landscapes, whether ones you see every day or for the first time.

  1. When and how did you decide to concentrate your time to writing poetry as opposed to your journalistic career?

pen and paper picI left a national newspaper to move to Bristol with my now wife and to work as a freelance journalist, writing news stories and features mainly covering politics, business and property. I then went into PR a few years ago and still work full-time in the industry. Thanks to less commuting and more hours at home, I felt I was able to dedicate more time to my writing, including editing and putting poems together to form this collection. I was always hoping to release a second collection, but lockdown helped speed up the process. Journalism tended to involve very long hours and it could be difficult to switch off from it. I released my first collection, Bread Rolls and Dresden, in 2013, while a section editor at the Gloucestershire Echo and Gloucester Citizen. PR still involves long hours, but I am now working more of a Monday to Friday job, and I’m able to write first-thing in the morning, in the evening and most weekends.

  1. In a few words, how would you describe your poetry style and your latest book?

Front Cover White Eye of the Needle

White Eye of the Needle is written in free verse and captures moments over a six-year period, both everyday and intimate. It touches on romance, marriage, the birth of a# nephew, passing of a grandad, and recent experiences through lockdown and restrictions, as it seeks to find meaning in places, at a time when we’ve all been forced to slow down and reflect.

  1. If you could pick 3 poems that you would say were your ‘must reads’, what would they be?

I’m particularly interested in Imagism and regularly read the work of DH Lawrence, who has been a big source of inspiration. But I also enjoy a range of styles and admire Dylan Thomas, ee cummings and WH Auden. Lawrence’s ‘Green’ and ‘Snake’ are among my favourite poems, I love his personal and nature pieces. Also, cummings’ ‘now is a ship’, Thomas’ ‘In My Craft or Sullen Art’ and ‘Clown in the Moon’, as well as Auden’s ‘If I Could Tell You’.

  1. Can readers expect further works from you? If so, can you tell us a bit more about this?

I’ve continued to write during lockdown and have started to focus on sonnets. I will be aiming to release a third collection in the future.

Cover White Eye of the Needle

Buy Link: Waterstones 

An Extract/Excerpt of White Eye of The Needle by Chris Campbell @Citizen_Chris @Choir_Press @kenyon_isabelle #Poetry #ContemporaryPoetryExtract

Today I am excited to present you with an extract of the latest poems by Chris Campbell.
Thanks to Isabelle Kenyon for this opportunity. I also have a bit about the author for now, but then look out tomorrow (Wednesday) for a very insightful and highly interesting interview I had with Chris Campbell.

Cover White Eye of the Needle

About the Poetry Collection

White Eye of the Needle, the second book of poems by Chris Campbell, explores human connections, both passing and intimate. The collection was put together in Nottingham and also includes pieces from the former  Journalist’s time in Bristol, London, Swansea, Glasgow and Gloucestershire, plus visits abroad including a honeymoon in Madagascar and trips to Tignes, France.

Extract/Excerpt

Dawn

When exhausted birds have flown away and tweeted their last breath
that’s when i’ll close my eyes and say there’s more to life than death.

For when they call, they call with heart through feathered chest
and as they go, they fly with hope that after song they’ll rest.

and i in bed as next day looms and dawn begins to stir,

think back before this sombre place to sunlit gardens far.

a silent bird that sings no more may have no song to make,

but as i lie in deepened thought, my bitten nails, break.

as once it sang, brought the day and closed it with a verse,

now every time i think of it, my anxiety gets worse.

Take my clothes, my pillow too and place me by the tree

where these poor birds once posed and sang and breathed relief to me.

Trainers

in fields of yellow daffodils

and grass as fine as hair,

that’s where my chest beside you once

grew under torn trainers.

like cats that toy with life,

we chance, pounce and play,

i count the years, and ‘til we stroll again,

all blue skies will feel grey.

Praise for White Eye of the Needle

‘These poems are sparkling with affection. Campbell finds beauty in the everyday, in the
connections to each other and to the land. in a world when we are feeling cut off, these poems
are like a bridge back to some sense of balance. They are celebrations of relationships, places
and of being alive. some of them feel like a home i’ve never been to.’
– David Linklater

‘At a time when the world feels a little darker, White Eye of the Needle invites the reader
to gaze upon a world where “houses rub shoulders”, “the taps of shoes are circling” and
dawn spreads its welcome light “like the oranges brightening seville”. in this tender, wistful
collection, Campbell observes humanity with a sharp eye – where the lockdown poems offer a
relatable and searingly honest depiction of our days transfixed on blinking screens, there is
always the human touch to offer relief in a lemon dress, the notes of ‘Für Elise’, tumbling
hedgerows and the tender simplicity of a shared meal with a loved one. like the flowers that
push through its city gardens, this is a collection that reminds us that it’s the human
connection and the power of the natural world that keep hope alive in a world gone dark.’
– Natalie Ann Holborow

Buy Link: Waterstones 

Front Cover White Eye of the Needle

About the Author

Chris Campbell, born in Dublin, is a former national and regional journalist who worked for newspaper titles in London, Bristol, bath, south Wales and Gloucestershire. Chris has a passion for poetry, writing and travel and has judged young writer competitions in Swansea. he graduated with an MA in Journalism from Kingston University and a BA (hons) in Economic and political Development from the University of Exeter, with a year’s study in Uppsala, Sweden. he currently lives in Nottingham.

#BookReview by Lou – What’s Mine And Yours by Naima Coster @zafatista @eturns_112 @TrapezeBooks #FamilySaga #ContemporaryFiction

What’s Mine And Yours
By Naima Costner

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Powerfully absorbing, moving and full of family ties, love and loss,  in many ways and much more. This is a better book than I expected and is one I recommend to everyone. Discover more in the blurb and my review below.
With thanks to Ellen Turner at Trapeze Books for gifting me a copy to review.

About the Author

Naima Coster is the author of two novels. Her debut, Halsey Street, was a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Fiction and recommended as a must-read by People, Essence, Well-Read Black Girl, The Skimm, and the Brooklyn Public Library among others. Naima’s forthcoming novel, What’s Mine and Yours, will be published in March 2021.

Naima’s stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Kweli, The Paris Review Daily, The Cut, The Sunday Times, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. In 2020, she received the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honor. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Whats Mine And Yours

Blurb

When a county initiative in the Piedmont of North Carolina forces the students at a mostly black public school on the east side to move across town to a nearly all-white high school on the west, the community rises in outrage. For two students, quiet and aloof Gee and headstrong Noelle, these divisions will extend far beyond their schooling. As their paths collide and overlap over the course of thirty years, their two seemingly disconnected families begin to form deeply knotted, messy ties that shape the trajectory of their lives.

On one side of the school integration debate is Jade, Gee’s steely, single, black mother, grieving for her murdered partner, and determined for her son to have the best chance at a better life. On the other, is Noelle’s enterprising mother, Lacey May, who refuses to see her half-Latina daughters as anything but white. The choices these mothers make will resound for years to come. And twenty years later, when Lacey’s daughters return home to visit her in hospital, they’re forced to confront the ways their parents’ decisions continue to affect the life they live and the people they love.

WHAT’S MINE AND YOURS is a sweeping, rich tapestry of familial bond and identity, and a sharp, poignant look at the ways race affects even the closest of relationships. With gorgeous prose, Naima Coster explores the unique organism that is every family: what breaks them apart and how they come back together.

Review

Whats Mine And YoursStarting from 1992 and spanning to 2020, this is an intergenerational fictional book with race and family in America at its heart. The families end up in North Carolina and a story that tells of family, loss, gun crime, romance, love, divorce, race and opportunity and lack of, ensues through the years that pass by with many characters. This isn’t just a book for Americans, this is a book for everyone in the world, no matter what race you are.
It would be identifiable to everyone.

It begins with Ray going to a bakery and what a delicious sounding bakery it is. He has fun plans for his son, Gee. This is quite a sad tale as everyone knows about the gun crime in the USA and this is what occurs. A family with their whole amazing plans that anyone on earth would want to be part of, broken because of a gun. The emotion is as heartbreaking as it gets, in the tenderness and the rawness of what it has done to this family, that is then forever haunted and left devastated.

There’s Lacey May and her family and she wants to get back into the workplace and finds it challenging and people show their attitudes that are at times negative, towards this by some employers who don’t realise she has had a good education. She has also got money problems and issues to deal with, with Robbie. She also her other daughter.

This is also a story of Noelle and Gee, growing up and trying to find their way in the world and discovering themselves as they age. It’s interesting to see Noelle’s attitude to the change in school system is very different to her mother’s and it being far removed from what one may expect, which is refreshing in the way some mother’s etc will recognise some of the attitude Lacey has in how she goes about doing certain things. The issues surrounding race is also not quite what one may assume either, when it comes to potential for romance.

It’s a book that delves right into the nucleus and the inner workings of families in a way that, whether they represent how your family is or not, will touch your heart and be relatable in one way or another, through the love and grief displayed as readers watch the families grow up through the years.

Buy Links

Amazon                       Waterstones                      Bookshop.org