Interview By Lou with Puppily Ever After author – Tani Hanes @TaniHanes @CherryPublishi2 #Interview #QA #ReadingCommunity #WritingCommunity #Blogger

Interview by Louise with Tani Hanes
about Puppily Ever After.

Puppily Ever After, which I reviewed and awarded it with 4 stars, is a coming of age story, set around a pet shop, with romance and strong values within the themes. At the end of the interview, there is a link to my full review.

Thank you very much Tani for the opportunity to interview you about Puppily Ever After. Thanks also to Cherry Publishing for setting up the interview.

I have 5 questions in total, covering the book, being an author and drawing a little about Tani’s teaching career.

Puppily Ever After

  1. Puppily Ever After is a coming of age story, what inspired you to write within that age group, what are the positives and the challenges you encountered?

I wanted to write about a woman who didn’t end up subjugating herself to a man, even if he was a good man. So many coming of age stories these days are about young women who find true love by compromising on something in themselves and believing they’re happy to do so. I’m not saying they’re not, but I wanted to write a story where she comes out the other side whole, even without the possibility of being with a man.

  1. Puppily Ever After is essentially set in a pet shop. Do you have any pets? If so, can you tell us a bit about them, if not would you like any?

I’ve always had pets, and adopting animals is very important to me; it’s something I put in nearly everything I write. I’m horrified by the lives some of these innocent creatures lead, and always want to do by part to help out. I currently have two cats, both feral rescues (one of them was actually born in my backyard!) [I can provide photos if you want]

  1. There are strong themes that weave through the book, such as staying true to yourself, your values and dreams. How important do you think these values are for people in the real world, do you stand by them yourself, if so, can you give some examples how you do that?

I think these values are crucial to today’s youth, especially to today’s young women. Too many subjugate themselves to men, believing that’s what they’re supposed to do. I don’t know that I necessarily have taken my own advice, but I always knew I wanted to be a parent and a writer, and I never let anything deter me from those things.

  1. What drew you to writing romance as opposed to any other genre?

I’m a girl lol, even if I am a middle-aged woman. I love romance, I love HEAs, and I love exploring the themes in the dynamics between people who are falling in love, because of certain things or in spite of them.

  1. You were a substitute teacher for 15 years, do you still teach and has your experiences working in education inspired any parts in particular in your books?

Unfortunately, I no longer teach, and I really miss it. The first series I ever wrote was based on a certain boy band going on hiatus and my students really flipping their s*** about it. They wanted me to write a wish fulfilment story about a girl and a boyband and have the love story, at least at first, be perfect. And the main thing they wanted was that the band would never, ever, go on hiatus lol. So that’s what I wrote.

Here is the link to the full review: Puppily Ever After

#Review By Lou of The Syrian Heart By Les Rowley #TheSyrianHeart #Blogger #Bookblog #BookTwt

The Syrian Heart
By Les Rowley

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Syrian Heart is a book that I came across one day on social media. I had a gut feeling it was going to be a fascinating read, and I wasn’t wrong, when I made a comment about it. Les Rowley kindly then sent me a review e-copy after asking if I would like to review it, which of course I accepted. Discover more in the blurb and my review of this thought-provoking and revealing book.

Blurb

The Syrian Heart cover

Wealthy philanthropist needs a heart transplant but with his rare blood type, he knows the wait will be long. When his search finds a match there is one problem – the donor is a migrant from Syria and she’s still alive. AA Roxan must dupe the NHS into bringing the heart to the UK and use his family and friends to commit the biggest sin in order to save a more worthy life. Is his life worth more than that of a poor migrant woman? Can money gloss over the ethics of the NHS? AA Roxan is not a man to be stopped and his villainous past pushing everyone to the edge of illegality and death. The is set in London.

 

Review

James Roxan is a rich philanthropist, whilst Dr. Catherine Morgan is his chief medical officer, who readers meet in a chauffeur-driven car on the way to NHS hospital – St. Thomas in London for an event, a bit of a tour and to persuade them to take on a new Organ Care System (OCS). Readers also get to know Dr. Hain.

The book takes readers into the world of rare blood types, hospitals, foundations, philanthropy. It’s all interesting and written in a compelling way. It all sounds good at the beginning, but then the atmosphere of the book changes, becoming frostier between Dr. Hain and James. The book also notches up in becoming even more compelling, and more truth about James Roxan and his heart health is revealed too, which makes James even more determined to do whatever it takes for a transplant, no matter what the cost and no matter what lengths of travelling for a blood match there needs to be, and to entice people onto a programme, studying rare blood, but with an expectation money can buy anything… Bit by bit, crimes and questionable ethics are revealed. It’s affecting and emotional at times. This is a good thing that the heart isn’t stone cold.

The book questions, challenges and the deeper you get in, the more compelling it becomes in its originality and depth. It is perhaps not the fastest paced book, but it most certainly grips from the start and grips even more, with a strong desire to know what happens next as it twists and turns in unexpected ways.

 

Yes, I Killed Her By Harry Fisher @HFwritesCrime @HobeckBooks #CrimeFiction #ReadingCommunity #BlogTour

Yes, I Killed Her
By Harry Fisher

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

High on intrigue and chilling to the bone, I am delighted to share all my thoughts on the police procedural with a difference – Yes, I Killed Her By Harry Fisher on the blog tour. See more below…
Thanks, firstly to Hobeck Books for inviting me to review and for the book.

Yes, I Killed Her cover

Blurb

In the 21st century, is the perfect murder remotely possible?

Edwin Fuller is convinced it is. He’s cunning, calculating and chilling. He makes a plan. He carries it out. And he kills his wife.

His plan has worked; he’s got away with murder. Case closed.

Until he makes a big mistake.

Review

Set in Leith, Scotland, DI Mel Cooper and her team have their work cut out. They are a likeable workforce, with a bit of dark humour and prepared to do a lot of legwork to crack a case.

Yes, I Killed Her has suspense and becomes quite the page-turner as the unravelling of his master plan begins…So, you know the whom for the who committed the crime, there’s the confession right there in the title, but it’s interesting watching how Edwin Fuller is so chilling, so calculated and so convinced that he committed the perfect murder, he has the audacity to feel highly confident about this; as well as each piece of the deconstructed puzzle come together.

The sharp-writing keeps you hooked until the end. It’s certainly different already knowing who the murderer is in advance, but the how and direction and mindset is what makes this a fascinating 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.

#Review By Lou of Meet The Grubblers By Sarah Louise, Illustrated By Amy Ashworth @sarahlouise_novels @thegrubblers @Random T Tours #BlogTour #ChildrensBooks #MeetTheGrubblers

Meet The Grubblers
By Sarah Louise
Illustrated By Amy Ashworth 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Meet The Grubblers Cover

 

Meet the Grubblers has cake, creatures and a magical world to explore in this positive adventure. 
Discover more in the blurb and my review below.
Thanks to Random T. Tours for inviting me to review as part of the blog tour.

Meet The Grubblers Back Cover

Review

Meet the Grubblers 3D ImageMeet the Grubblers is set against the pandemic, but also delves into a fantastic adventure. Emily is fed up of Ipad’s and calls over the internet and opens her curtains one day and is magically whisked on an adventure with a mysterious girl called Lucy, who in turn introduces her to The Grubblers, who are up to all sorts of antics… They are curious characters who bring humour and take readers further into a fantastical land, which is brilliant for escapism. Amongst the humour and cake, that features in the book, is mild trepidation as someone has captured Ada and it is up to Emily and Lucy, in this different land, to find her.
This is a positive story with an excellent ending.

You may never open your curtains in the same way after reading this story… There are perhaps more adventures than meets the eye for the imaginative readers…

On, perhaps an even more serious note, I think this is great, considering at the time of writing, Covid-19 has not totally disappeared and for the future as things move onwards, it’s an important reminder of its existence. The book, although set in a magical world for the most part, is also very relatable for children for what had happened in the world, as well as managing to be highly entertaining.

I highly recommend this very fun, entertaining book.

Meet The Grubblers BT Poster

#Interview By Lou With #RobertGraham of The Former Boy Wonder @LendalPress @kenyon_isabelle #TheFormerBoyWonder #Readers #ReadingCommunity #MusicInBooks

Robert GrahamI am delighted to present an interview I conducted with Robert Graham
author of The Former Boy Wonder.
Robert Graham has published novels and short stories as well as having a play performed by Contact. He also teaches creative writing in Liverpool.

The Former Boy Wonder coverThe Former Boy Wonder is a compelling book that covers first love, mid-life crisis and the challenges of the relationship between fathers and sons. It also features lots of music as the main protagonist was a music editor.

I have 4 questions about the book itself, covering  the eras it goes through, the father/son relationship, the fascinating inspiration and of course the music.
Thank you to Robert Graham for agreeing to be interviewed and thank you to Isabelle Kenyon for being instrumental in setting it up.
Now onto the interview…

the-former-boy-wonder-front

What inspired you to set your novel in the 1970s, 1980s and 2010s?

The novel has two narrative strands, one of which takes place in the early 2010s, when the protagonist, Peter Duffy, is about to turn 50. This landmark birthday makes him look at the dying of the light and wonder if his life – which in any case is falling apart – is as good as it gets. He’s contemplating his own mortality. I chose the early 2010s simply because I began writing the novel in 2012 and looking around me for details of the place and time was all I had to do to make the setting convincing to the reader. The second narrative strand is set when Peter’s a student. If he turns 50 in 2012, that will mean that his student days will have been the early ’80s. Even though I’m a few years older than Peter, setting that strand then meant I was familiar with all the cultural references, the signifiers of the era. Given these dates, he would have been a teenager in the 70s, which I was, too. All of which is to say, I didn’t have to research any of the eras in which the book takes place. This was helpful, as I did have to research quite a few other things, including being an Art student at Manchester Poly (I studied American Literature in Norwich), working in television in the ’70s (Peter’s father is a TV star at that time) and London, specifically Notting Hill, in the ’80s.

You have a very informative website about your writing and inspirations. You talk about studying a handful of novels but it sounds like you particularly studied The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain Fournier. Why these authors in particular and what impact did this have on your writing in The Former Boy Wonder?

Because of the crisis Peter is experiencing as he approaches his 50th birthday, he begins to remember his student days and long for his first love, Sanchia Page. I studied The Great Gatsby and Le Grand Meaulnes because both share this theme with TFBW: lost love. Both feature a romanticised account of a young man falling in love for the first time and both hang on an older man longing for that first love.

In Le Grand Meaulnes, the debut of Yvonne de Galais, the woman the hero of the book falls in love with, is delayed. To help me give Sanchia’s entrance maximum effect, I studied the build-up to her first appearance. The journey that will eventually bring us to Meaulnes’ coup de foudre is stretched out over twenty-two pages, when it could easily have been covered in two. Fournier withholds the key moment of the novel’s first act for as long as he does to generate tension, engage readers and, with specific details at the party, prime them for the arrival of a magical creature. Details such as a treasure chest of children’s trinkets, a Pierrot, coloured lights, and plangent music give the party a fairy tale quality. With this steadily delayed entrance, we have the sense that Meaulnes is passing through a dream-like setting and being drawn inexorably towards something mysterious. When Isabelle finally appears, Meaulnes’ great moment arrives, and he falls headlong in love.

In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, the narrator, meets Gatsby at a party where, although it isn’t phrased in that way, he falls in love with him. The dramatic beginning of this love story is equally delayed, as Fitzgerald takes his time building up to Gatsby’s first appearance and keeps him offstage long enough to intensify the reader’s desire to meet this romantic character. Just as Fournier delays Meaulnes’ first encounter with Yvonne for twenty-two pages, Fitzgerald builds up to the arrival of Gatsby over the course of forty pages.

I tried to apply what I had learned from Fournier and Fitzgerald about delaying the debut of the object of affection. The first suggestion of Sanchia Page is on p 13 of TFBW. She’s next mentioned on p 27 and then on p 46 and doesn’t make her first appearance until p 51. At the end of their first scene together, she introduces herself: “My name’s Sanchia.” This is a direct steal from Fitzgerald’s novel, where, when Nick meets him, the eponymous hero says, ‘I’m Gatsby’. In my defence, I would quote the novelist John Updike who said, “My purpose in reading has ever secretly been not to come and judge but to come and steal.” I steal and I almost always have. I’ve learned that all artists do – and that it isn’t cheating. Halfway through the writing of TFBW, an article by the novelist Julian Barnes appeared in The Guardian. In it, he said evidence had emerged that, while writing The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald had carefully studied Le Grand Meaulnes. The article then went on to examine some of the ways in which he used Fournier’s novel as a model for his own – which encouraged me to keep on doing what writers have always done: steal.

What inspired you to write about the relationship between a father and son?

I particularly wanted to write about my experience of losing my father when I was a child. My father passed on when I was 8. In the novel, Peter’s father abandons the family to go to London and seek his fortune when Peter is 9. I wanted to write about the experience of growing up without a father and longing for the one I lost. Freud said that a 16-yar-old boy’s desire to be affirmed by his father is stronger than his sex drive. So, I knew I had a subject matter with dramatic potential. I wrote about the experience of being a father of a teenaged son because I have a son and he once was a teenager – and the experience of being a father is one of the most important relationships of your life. With Peter’s relationship with Jack, his son, I mainly wanted to get a few laughs, so any time Jack appears, my aim was to make the things he says to his Dad funny.

Lastly, for a bit of fun and because music is huge in The Former Boy Wonder: What music do you like and why and do you remember the first piece of music you bought?

~ۓ

As you say, music looms large in this novel, but I always tried to avoid Peter having an opinion about any of it. I don’t think a novelist’s opinions about music are of much interest to a reader. (In fact, a novelist’s opinions about anything aren’t of much interest to a reader.) On Spotify, there’s a TFBW playlist and it gives an indication of my tastes. Some of the tracks on it I played to get me in the mood to write a particular scene (Roxy Music’s “All I Want Is You”, for instance); some are there because their theme coincided with one in the book (for example, Leonard Cohen’s “I Can’t Forget”); and some because they had a particular function in the book: the morning after he loses his virginity, Peter puts on Devo’s “Uncontrollable Urge”.

It’d be great to able to say that that the first record I ever bought was the Velvet Underground’s first album or The Fall’s only hit single, but the truth is it was Sandie Shaw’s “Monsieur Dupont”. Not so cool.