#CoverReveal! #ComingHomeToMerrimentBay by Emily Harvale (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources

Omg, omg, omg!!! Emily Harvale is back with a brand new series!!! If you cast your mind back a couple of months, you’ll no doubt remember her ‘Lilypond Lane’ series which I, alongside many others, went completely gaga for!

I am super excited to be helping to reveal the cover of part one in Emily’s new series, ‘Coming Home to Merriment Bay’, and I cannot WAIT to lose myself in this authors writing again.

So, without further ado, check this out!!

After eighteen years apart, reclusive Cat Devon still recognises her mum’s handwriting. Plucking up the courage to open the letter, its contents send Cat and her teenage daughter, Kyra racing to Merriment Bay, the seaside village where Cat grew up.

But Cat is shocked to find the situation is worse than expected. Despite everything, Cat considers herself to be an optimist at heart and Kyra takes after her. Looking on the bright side may not improve things, but it definitely can’t make them worse.

Clearing out the house that, even now, Cat fondly thinks of as home, she stumbles upon more than just memories in the battered leather trunk in Granny Viola’s bedroom. She discovers a faded photo of an RAF pilot, a pile of unopened letters, and a mystery waiting to be solved.

Who is the man in the – clearly treasured – photo? Cat and Kyra are intent on finding out. But that’s not all Cat’s determined to do. It’s time she came to terms with her past and made peace with her mum and her gran. All the while avoiding bumping into the one man she never quite got over … and keeping a few secrets of her own.

This is Part One of a new, four-part serial. The other three parts are:

Coming Home to Merriment Bay – Part Two: Sparks Fly
Coming Home to Merriment Bay – Part Three: Christmas
Coming Home to Merriment Bay – Part Four: Starry Skies

This is the start of Emily Harvale’s Merriment Bay series which is interconnected to her Wyntersleap series. Each series can be read alone, but several characters appear in both series.

If you fancy pre-ordering a copy, you can do so via Amazon UK or Amazon US
Advertisements

#BlogTour! #Review – #IfYouWereHere by Alice Peterson (@AlicePeterson1) @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC

Huge thanks to the wonderful Simon and Schuster team for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Alice Peterson and ‘If You Were Here. Also, many thanks for the ARC. Here is my review:

When her daughter Beth dies suddenly, Peggy Andrews is left to pick up the pieces and take care of her granddaughter Flo. But sorting through Beth’s things reveals a secret never told: Beth was sick, with the same genetic condition that claimed her father’s life, and now Peggy must decide whether to keep the secret or risk destroying her granddaughter’s world.

Five years later, Flo is engaged and moving to New York with her fiancé. Peggy never told her what she discovered, but with Flo looking towards her future, Peggy realises it’s time to come clean and reveal that her granddaughter’s life might also be at risk.

As Flo struggles to decide her own path, she is faced with the same life-altering questions her mother asked herself years before: if a test could decide your future, would you take it?

What does TWG think?

If you could look into the future to find out how your life would pan out, would you do it? Honestly, I don’t think I could even answer that. Life is full of surprises, however if you knew what lie ahead of you, would you feel more confident about dealing with the negative things if you had warning?

Flo is faced with that very decision. Should she take a medical test to find out whether she is likely to succumb to the very illness that took her parents away from her? Before reading Alice Peterson’s latest novel, I had heard of Huntington’s disease but I didn’t quite know how devastating it could be. Just like many illnesses, it isn’t a one size fits all as many sufferers react differently to the symptoms and challenges they face.

Told as a dual narrative, ‘If You Were Here’ tells the story of Peggy and her granddaughter, Flo. Peggy finds out something which could like a fuse under her granddaughters life and, instead of biting the bullet and being honest with her, Peggy keeps that information to herself because she doesn’t want to hurt someone she loves dearly.

I could see where Peggy was coming from to an extent, however I could also see where Flo was coming from because it wasn’t up to Peggy to withhold that vital information about Flo’s health, from Flo herself.

The family dynamics and secretive notions, are very emotional and intense. It was incredibly difficult to form a solid opinion on the characters actions, having not endured what they have, yet finding a way to be empathetic is such an important mindset to have whilst reading this.

Alice Peterson writes stories about characters who are dealing with things that no-one hardly ever talks about. If the subject is likely to be seen as taboo, Alice Peterson is straight in there, bringing her characters personalities to life with such dignity, courage, poise and realism.

Getting to know Peggy and Flo was an absolute joy, however I was undeniably bereft when their story ended. I have a feeling that their emotional journey will stay with me for a long while to come, and I cannot wait to read another beautiful, uplifting novel from an author who knows, and understands, the power of empathy and emotion when it comes to hurdles involving illnesses.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheLibrarianOfAuschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (tr: Lilit Zekulin Thwaites) @Tonilturbe @EburyPublishing @PenguinUKBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

librarian_tourcard
Third tour of the day is for a book which I am humbled to be hosting on TWG today; ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ by Antonio Iturbe, translated by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites. Thank you to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invite, and thank you to Ebury, Penguin Books for the ARC. Here is my review:

515wafwBJ+L

‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

What does TWG think?

I really have no idea how to review this book to be honest. It’s not that I didn’t like it because, as weird as this sounds given the topic of the book, I did really enjoy it. I mean, this book is about the prisoners of Auschwitz and the Nazis. I don’t feel qualified enough to comment on the devastations of that time, does that make sense? Obviously I am going to, but I apologise in advance if I just ramble!

‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ is based on the true story of one of the prisoners in the camp, Dita Kraus, written in the book as ‘Dita Adler’. There are some parts of the storyline which have been fictionalised – good luck to those trying to work out which bits are which! Of course, if you googled every single thing in the book, I’m sure the fictional pieces will jump out at you! I did end up googling some things whilst I was reading the book, not because I wanted to double-check that it was factually correct, but more so because I wanted to see the faces of the imbeciles who led people towards their deaths. Not just a small handful of people, not that that would make it any easier to swallow, but an estimated 1 million people. ONE MILLION!

At times I struggled to believe what I was reading. The fact that the SS soldiers and the Kapo were so blasé about what they were doing, sent chills up my spine. What possessed them to get caught up in Hitlers dirty work? How could they live with themselves knowing that they had sent innocent people, including young children, to their deaths? At one point in the book, the story described just how one young child was sticking their tongue out at a solider as they were being put into the chamber. Heartbreaking.

I was in awe at Dita’s strength as, for such a young girl, she clearly had to grow up very quickly to be able to get through the things that she did. She saw people die right before her very eyes. She protected her mother from a situation which could have turned out a lot worse if she hadn’t. She made friends with children one day, only to hear that they have been removed from the camp and sent to a chamber. No way of saying goodbye. No way of protecting people who came to be like an extended family. Dita’s hands were tied, and at times that was quite literal.

Just like the title suggests, there was a library in Block 31. Hang on, let me correct that. There was a SECRET library because, if prisoners were found with books on them, it warranted a death sentence. Death. Because they read a book. I’m literally shaking my head here. And, seeing as Dita ended up being the librarian for Block 31, and responsible for the collection of the five books in the block, she had literally put herself in the firing line knowing full well what the outcome would be should she be caught. Yet her love for books, according to her, was worth playing with death for.

Alongside Dita’s journey, we also follow the lives of several other figures such as Fredy Hirsch, leader of Block 31, and Dr Mengele, a man who liked conducting inhumane experiments on the prisoners….just because he could. There are a lot of other historical names noted throughout this book, a lot of which don’t deserve their names in print, but unfortunately it’s an important part of our history.

Before reading ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’, I had obviously heard about the gas chambers and such, but I had never read a book with Auschwitz at the forefront of its storyline. I am glad that I finally decided to read about the devastation of those years, and finding out little details which helped the prisoners during that time, such as coming together and singing songs on the way to the chamber. Unity at such a dark time.

I don’t think I will ever understand the why’s and wherefores about this particular subject, but, thanks to Antonia Iturbe’s outstanding writing, I am determined to broaden my knowledge. It’s a shame that me doing that won’t change the situation for the thousands and thousands of people who lost their life, but it’s a small way of honouring the memory of the survivors.

‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ moved me, devastated me, and left me utterly broken. Nothing at all compared to what people endured at the hands of the Nazis I know. It goes without saying that Antonio Iturbe has written a heart wrenching novel, simple because you would need to be made of stone to not be moved by even a little detail in this book. I am blown away by the amount of research it must have taken in order to complete this book. I, like I said at the start, am blown away by Dita Kraus, especially as she retraced her steps many years later.

One of my top books of all time, ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ is an emotional, harrowing novel which details some of the heartbreaking events from Auschwitz. A book which I will never, ever forget.

Buy now from Amazon

Happy birthday, The Writing Garnet! #TWGTurnsThree #TheWritingGarnet #BlogBirthday #ThankYou

Happy 3rd birthday The Writing Garnet! #TWGTurnsThree
Happy birthday TWG,
Happy birthday TWG,
Happy birthday to TWGGGGGG,
Happy birthday TWG!!

I cannot believe my little blog turns THREE today! Never in a million years did I think, three years ago, that I would be sitting here celebrating my blogs third birthday. I started TWG one night because I wanted to say thank you to the authors who continue to allow me to escape by reading their books, and because I adore books!

I am completely overwhelmed (yes, still) by the response to my blog and I would like to thank each and every one of you for supporting me, being my friend, cheerleading the good things, and being there through the bad. I have met such wonderful people through blogging and the book community, and yes, there have been times where I have thought to myself ‘is it worth it?’ in amongst the blogger bashing and what not. I’m only human. But, I adore my books and my blog too much to disappear now. Sorry – you’re stuck with me!

So, the last 12 months have been insane! I have found myself being quoted on the FRONT cover of a book, quoted in paperbacks and e-books, and found myself in multiple acknowledgements. Thank you to the authors, publishers and publicists for making that happen!

I have had the pleasure of meeting authors and bloggers at various book events, with the most recent one being the Orenda Roadshow in Edinburgh. I am a very anxious person but I am so proud of myself for taking myself out of my comfort zone to meet up with some truly wonderful people. Thank you, Karen!

Last November TWG won an award, making the blog a multi-award WINNING blog! Now I didn’t blog about it at the time because I was at the receiving end of a few not so nice things, which meant that I chose to hide away. In hindsight I totally regret doing that – why shouldn’t I be proud?! I was amazed to win Media/Blog Star of the Year at the RNA (Romantics Novelist Association) Industry Awards, and I won a glass award with my name on it. I cried. I was in complete shock. I never expected to win as I was up against two of the biggest names in the blogging community, so when Mandy Baggot facetimed me with the news I just couldn’t believe it. Thank you to everyone at the RNA for nominating me, making your winner and for being utterly fabulous. Thank you to Sue Heath for picking up my award on my behalf. I still look at the award on the window sill and think that they’ve made a mistake. Such an honour!

What else has happened in the last 12 months? Well, TWG became a fully fledged published writer, courtesy of the online Honeymoon Book Club and Brides Magazine (again, pinch me!). You can check it out here!

Blogging aside, the last year has been a rollercoaster for me and my health. I have had bad news after bad news, scan after scan….and I have still got a long road ahead of me as I push for diagnosis’ for more things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware ‘it could be worse’, but contrary to popular belief – I don’t post ALL of my health things on Facebook! I am very self-conscious by the fact that I am losing my mobility even more thanks to more muscle wastage in my legs, but because I am such a stubborn ass, limping is my thang. It gets me down, which is exactly why I turned to blogging. Of course, back then, I was nowhere near as poorly as what I am now, which is why you’ll probably find me with my nose in multiple books at one time!

So yes, TWG has now turned three and once again I want to thank you all for helping me make TWG what it is. Without you reading my posts, sharing them, commenting, liking my Facebook page, giving me book recommendations and so on, there would be a high chance of me sitting here talking to myself. Thank you for believing in me!

It’s crazy to think that next year when the blog turns four, I would have just turned 30!

Here’s to another year of fabulous books, fabulous book events, and just being ourselves – Happy birthday TWG!!

#TWGPresents – How Sweet It Is To Be Loved by…Books! With author Lynne Shelby (@LynneB1) #letstalkbooks #thewritinggarnet

How sweet it is to be loved by.. Books!!
I am absolutely delighted to welcome you all to TWG’s brand NEW feature, ‘How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By….Books!’ Sometimes life can get so busy, we often forget about books which have stayed with us through thick and thin, which is exactly why I wanted to do this feature. Over the next few weeks (hopefully longer if anyone else wants to take part), both authors and bloggers will be sharing their top two reads from the past and the present, as well as two books they’re eager to read in the future, and two books that they would read again no questions asked.

Kicking off TWG’s new feature is contemporary fiction author, Lynne Shelby. Here is a little bit more about her and how she got into reading:

Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, ‘French Kissing’ won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition, and her latest novel, ‘The One That I Want,’ is the first of a series of stand-alone books set in the world of showbusiness. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city, with a writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.

How I Got Into Reading:

As a child, I only learnt to read fluently after I went to school, but once I could read, I always had my head in a book. My parents were great readers and my childhood home was lined with bookcases full of novels – as is my house now – and I read my way along the shelves. I also remember visits to the local library, and the thrill of choosing a new book. The books that captured my imagination as a child – I still have some of them – led to the love of reading that I still have today.

 

To keep up to date with Lynne on social media, you can follow her via the links below:

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Lynne Shelby’s Amazon

Top two favourite reads from the past:

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Top two favourite reads from the present:

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

Two Books I’m eager to read in the future:

Still Me by JoJo Moyes

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Two Books I’ll read more than once with no questions asked:

Second Nature by Alice Hoffman

Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand


Have you read any of the books Lynne has listed, or are you now venturing onto your favourite bookselling website to find a copy for yourself? Let me know in the comments! Huge thanks to Lynne for kicking off this feature, and thank you to you all for reading it!

If you wish to take part please send an email to kaishajayneh@gmail.com with the subject ‘Feature’, along with:

Your bio, including how you started reading and any links you wish to include.
Your top two favourite reads from the past.
Your top two favourite reads from the present.
Your top two books you’re eager to read in the future.
And lastly, two books you’ll read more than once with no questions asked.

I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

Until next time,

TWG
X

#BlogTour! #Review – #RelightMyFire by Joanna Bolouri (@scribbles78) @QuercusBooks @AnaBooks

Relight My Fire Blog tour poster
The fourth and final blog tour of the day is for an author who has me in stitches every time I read one of her books, Miss Joanna Bolouri and ‘Relight My Fire’! I had the honour of receiving a very early proof copy of the book, so I would like to say a massive thank you to Quercus Books for that! Here is my review:

51BklsfUxWL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

When Phoebe and Oliver had their happy ending, they thought the hard part was over. And now, with a five year old daughter, they are far from the blissful hedonistic lifestyle of when they first started dating.

Not one for giving up, Phoebe creates a sexy wishlist: a jar where they can ask the other for anything they’ve ever wanted in bed – or out of it. But with distractions aplenty, will they be able to relight the fire in the bedroom?

From mix tapes to ‘sex jars’, this is the naughtiest rom com you will ever read. From the bestselling author of The List.

What does TWG think?

RELIGHT MY FIREEEEEEE, YOUR LOVE IS MY ONLY DESIREEEEEEE, RELIGHT MY FIREEEEEEEE, CAUSE I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED YOUR LOVE

I am 100% positive that I am not the only one who has sung the title of the book – how could you not?

‘Relight my Fire’ is the sequel to ‘The List’, so whilst there will be definite character overlap, I think that you could get away with reading this book as a standalone. However, it might be beneficial for you to read ‘The List’ first, just so you can get a better idea of the characters backstories.

I really have no idea how she does it, but Joanna Bolouri had me snorting tea out of my nose in a matter of minutes, writing the types of things that you would really need to ‘be there’ for. You know, the ones where someone laughs so hard over something HILARIOUS, whilst other people look on like you’re growing a second head.

Although, judging by what Phoebe and Oliver put in their ‘sex jars’, I’m waiting for people to look at them like they’ve grown a second head. Well, if Phoebe has her wish then Oliver will but y’know!!!

If you’re a prude then this book would probably be the ‘naughtiest book you’ve ever read’, but for people who can turn any sentence into filth, I would say that the level of naughtiest isn’t as riskay as one would hope for. Don’t get me wrong, the contents of the ‘sex jar’ are raunchy enough and utterly bonkers, but I know the author has it in her to take those characters way beyond than what she did here. Not complaining by the way, I just thought that it was perhaps a little tame for Joanna Bolouri haha.

If you’re a parent with a young child, you’re probably going to relate to ‘Relight my fire’ a lot more than others will. I thought that the issues which Oliver and Phoebe faced along the way, were relatable and very black and white. I loved how Joanna Bolouri didn’t sugar coat any of the hurdles couples can face, especially those with young children.

Bolouri kept her entire story honest and real, and for that I applaud her because those types of situations aren’t easy, yet she wrote them in a laugh-out-loud and bonkers manner, catering for a wide range of readers.

Phoebe and Oliver are a brilliant couple to read about, and I loved how they seem to have gotten funnier since ‘The List’ – their sarcasm is brilliant!

I devoured ‘Relight My Fire’ in one sitting, making it the fastest book I have read of Joanna Bolouri’s. Whilst I do feel that the storyline had a lot more room for a lot more raunchiness, I still absolutely adored reading this book – I don’t think I have laughed this much in ages.

‘Relight My Fire’ is such a feel good and uplifting read which will make you laugh when the going gets tough, instead of holding your head in your hands and crying. Either that or it’ll give you the urge to create your own ‘sex jar’ – single or not!

Joanna Bolouri has delivered once again! Such a laugh out loud, bonkers, and enjoyable read from an author who says it like it is. I eagerly await her next novel!

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #WBP2018 #Extract – Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ @midaspr @wellcomebkprize

Shortlist Blog Tour Banner
It is an honour to be taking part in the blog tour for the WellComeBookPrize. For those  that aren’t aware of this, here is some more information about the book prize and the collection featured in the long list:

About the Wellcome Book Prize

Worth £30,000, the Wellcome Book Prize celebrates the best new books that engage with an aspect of medicine, health or illness, showcasing the breadth and depth of our encounters with medicine through exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction.

Previous winners of the Prize include Maylis de Kerangal (author) and Jessica Moore (translator) for Mend the Living in 2017, Suzanne O’Sullivan for It’s All in Your Head in 2016, Marion Coutts for The Iceberg in 2015, Andrew Solomon for Far from the Tree in 2014, Thomas Wright for Circulation in 2012, Alice LaPlante for Turn of Mind in 2011, Rebecca Skloot for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in 2010 and Andrea Gillies for Keeper: Living with Nancy – a journey into Alzheimer’s in 2009.

 About Wellcome Collection

Wellcome Collection is the free museum and library for the incurably curious. Inspired by the medical objects and curiosities collected by Henry Wellcome, it connects science, medicine, life and art. Through its exhibitions, live programming, and digital and publishing activity, it makes thought-provoking content which aims to challenge how we think and feel about health.

Wellcome Collection is part of Wellcome, a global charitable foundation that exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. Both politically and financially independent, it supports scientists and researchers, takes on big problems, fuels imaginations and sparks debate.

The book I am featuring for the blog tour is ‘Stay With Me’ by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀. Here is an extract, as well as more information about the book itself:

51E3T0mwX3L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 INTERNATIONAL DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE

Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear.

Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me is a story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the power of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about the desperate attempts we make to save ourselves, and those we love, from heartbreak.

Buy now from Amazon

About the author.

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (30, Nigeria) stories have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, and one was highly commended in the 2009 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She holds BA and MA degrees in Literature in English from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. She also has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she was awarded an international bursary for creative writing. She has been the recipient of fellowships and residencies from Ledig House, Hedgebrook, Sinthian Cultural Institute, Ebedi Hills, Ox-Bow School of Arts and Siena Art Institute. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria. In 2017 ‘Stay With Me’, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Extract

My parents-in-law lived in Ayeso, an old section of town that still had a few mud houses. Their house was a brick building, with a front yard partially enclosed by a low cement fence. When I arrived at the house, Moomi was sitting on a low stool in the front yard shelling groundnuts into a rusty tray that sat on her lap. She looked up as I approached and looked down again. I swallowed and my steps slowed. There was something wrong.

Moomi always greeted me by shouting Yejide, my wife. The words were as warm as the embrace that usually followed them.

‘Good evening, Moomi.’ My knees trembled as they touched the concrete floor.

‘Are you pregnant now?’ She said without looking up from the tray of groundnuts.

I scratched my head.

‘Are you barren and deaf too? I say, are you pregnant? The answer is either, yes, I am pregnant or no, I still haven’t been pregnant for a single day in my life.’

‘I don’t know.’ I stood up and backed away until she was not within the reach of my clenched fist.

‘Why won’t you allow my son to have a child?’ She slapped the tray of groundnuts on the floor and stood up.

‘I don’t manufacture children. God does.’

She marched towards me and spoke when her toes were touching the tips of my shoes.

‘Have you ever seen God in a labour room giving birth to a child? Tell me, Yejide, have you ever seen God in the labour ward? Women manufacture children and if you can’t you are just a man. Nobody should call you a woman.’ She gripped my wrists and lowered her voice to a whisper. ‘This life is not diffi­cult, Yejide. If you cannot have children, allow my son to have some with Funmi. See, we are not asking you to stand up from

your place in his life, we are just saying you should shift so that someone else can sit down.’

‘I am not stopping him, Moomi,’ I said. ‘I have accepted her. She even spends the weekends in our house now.’

She held her thick waist and laughed. ‘I am a woman too. Do you think I was born last night? Tell me, why has Akin never touched Funmi? He has been married to her for over two months. Tell me why he has not removed her wrapper once. Tell me, Yejide.’

I stifled a smile. ‘It is not my business what Akin does with his wife.’

Moomi lifted my blouse and laid a wrinkled palm on my stomach.

‘Flat as the side of a wall,’ she said. ‘You have had my son between your legs for two more months and still your stomach is flat. Close your thighs to him, I beg you. We all know how he feels about you. If you don’t chase him away, he won’t touch Funmi. If you don’t, he will die childless. I beg you, don’t spoil my life. He is my first son, Yejide. I beg you in the name of God.’

 

Are e-books stupid? Should e-books be classed as ‘real books’? Director of @BloodHoundBook @BetsyReavley is in the hot seat with #TWG

E-book or not to e-book?
Last month, the head of one of the world’s biggest publishers, spoke to the media about e-books. Whilst I would usually celebrate anything from the book world making the media, I remember being quite flabbergasted by what I had read in said article. I am sure a lot of people read the article in question – it had quite a lot of shares on social media at the time! The comment which left a lot of people, including myself, reeling, was the quote ‘e-books are stupid’. Pardon? I am fully aware that people prefer one format over another, after all, we cannot all like the same things. Some readers may prefer to read hardbacks or paperbacks instead of reading e-books, or visa versa. Personally, I don’t see the problem with that, I am just thankful that we actually have a choice. Think about it – many years ago, the only type of book which could be purchased was a tree book. Digital books weren’t around then, nor were a lot of authors many people have come to love. Fast forward to now, there are a lot of authors being published by digital only publishers,  giving readers a lot more choice when it comes to choosing their next book. There are also a lot of books being published in multiple formats, sometimes all three (hardback, paperback and e-book)!

So, what is the problem? That’s a good question. In the article published by the Guardian, the head of a publishing company stated that he wasn’t against e-books, but believes that publishers and editors aren’t making the most of 3D and digitalisation, despite claiming that ‘ebooks are stupid’. The article rubbed several people up the wrong way, including Publishing Director of BloodHound Books, Betsy Reavley. I sat down with Betsy to find out why the article left a horrible taste in her mouth;

TWG – Hi Betsy! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. I understand you’re exceptionally busy! Before we get to the nitty gritty reason as to why you’re joining me today, could you please introduce yourself, what it is you do, as well as how long you’ve been involved in the sector for?
I started my journey as a writer. Twelve years ago I began writing my first novel. Six years later, when I finally completed it, I was lucky enough to have picked up by an Independent publisher. At the time I had an eighteen-month- old daughter. I knew then that I wanted to be involved with the industry. In 2013 eBooks were still quite a new phenomenon and my husband and I saw an opportunity to start a business we both felt passionate about.

TWG – If I said the word, ‘e-book’ to you, what does that word mean for you on a personal level, not on a professional level?
EBook to me means career. Without eBooks, and the independent publisher who signed my first novel, I would never have ended up on this path. I love my job and the people I work with. I am grateful for this every single day.

TWG – It has been very well documented that a chief executive from one of the world’s largest publishing companies, has stated; ’e-books are stupid’. In his discussion that has recently been published on The Guardian website, the chief executive also states that ‘e-books have no creativity’ and ‘no real digital experience’. As the head of a publishing company, which focuses on e-book sales, could you tell me what you thought of those comments? What would you respond to the claims which he has made?
Having read the article you are referring to, I can just about see the point he was trying to make. Yes, eBooks could be more interactive but I personally don’t see the benefit or need for this. An eBook is just the same as a print book but in digital form. My feeling is that there is room in this world for both and it is no bad thing that they are similar.

The ease of access and pricing of eBooks has made reading much more accessible for many readers who, otherwise, might not be reading at all. This is something that should be celebrated. I get sick and tired of the ‘us and them’ attitude that exists between traditional and indie publishers. As far as I am concerned, neither of these formats undermines the other, so I cannot see where the issue lies. Not only that, but Independent publishers, such as Bloodhound, have sprung up as a result of this revolution, which means more authors are getting published and writers have the opportunity to publish themselves if they wish.

TWG – Further down the discussion with The Guardian, said chief executive goes on to explain how publishing companies don’t have the skills to create 3D, digital content regarding manuscripts. On a professional level, how important is ‘3D’ content when it comes to the e-books you publish?
At the moment, 3D content is not a priority for us but as a young company that has benefited from new technology, we will certainly try and keep up with the trends as and when they change.

TWG – If books became more enhanced and digital on e-readers, do you think the format may end up suffering overall?
It is difficult to say. As a business, if Bloodhound Books wants to survive, we will need to keep up with the latest in technology. There is no point fighting progress. It makes far more sense to embrace it. In my opinion, this is something some traditional publishers are failing to do.

TWG – More often than none, I see a lot of discussions on social media regarding e-books versus paperback, with some readers feeling as though ‘e-books are not real books’. Even though everyone is entitled to their opinion, what is your response to those beliefs? Are e-books any less real compared to a ‘tree book’?
I am going to answer this question as a writer, rather than a publisher, if that’s ok! As a writer I wanted nothing more than to hold a copy of my book in my hands. However, I also wanted to make a living and put food on the table. EBooks have allowed me to do this. The money that goes into my bank account is the same currency whether I sell a paperback or an eBook and I make far more from eBook sales than paper books. If someone gave you ten pounds cash or transferred ten pounds into your bank account, what is the difference? I apply this logic to the argument that eBooks are not real. They are as real as the money that shows up in your bank account. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with people having a preference of one over the other. Each to their own.

TWG – Could you give us a bit more information regarding e-books and how they’re published, in comparison to tree books? For example, the costs involved in producing both, the time frame, how it is done, and so on.
With print on demand it is as easy to produce paperbacks, as it is eBooks, especially for Indie publishers. Not having to pay out for large print runs means that as a company we are taking less risk with our spending and have extra cash to inject into marketing, which is vital to our growth and survival.

TWG – Another big issue regarding e-books and paperbacks is the price. Whilst I personally appreciate that cost is a big issue for a lot of readers, do you feel that e-books and paperbacks are vastly overpriced?
This is a tricky one. Big name authors, who have publishing deals with one of the big five
publishers, will always be able to sell their books at a higher price because they know the fans will pay. Having said that I do think most eBook readers have an issue with expensive eBooks, no matter who the author is. At the same time, unknown authors stand a chance of being read because they charge less for their books, which means readers are more likely to give them a shot. Readers feel less cheated if
they have tried a new author and paid only 99p. It is common sense.

TWG – As an executive of a publishing company yourself, how does the pricing affect your company? I know that sounds like an extremely simple question, but do you find that 99p books sell easier than say, an e-book, which is priced at 1.99? Which do you sell more of?
The vast majority of our books are launched at 99p, whether the author is a debut or has had previous titles published. In our experience, this allows the book to climb the charts and gain exposure as a result. The majority of our profit is made when the price of the book goes up to £1.99, even though the novel may sell fewer copies at this price.

TWG – Do you believe, on a personal AND a professional level, that the book industry is moving with the times, accommodating all different types of readers and their needs? Or do you feel, just like said chief executive on The Guardian, that e-books are limited and lacking?
If eBooks are lacking in some way then so are their predecessors, paper books. Since eBooks are digital copies of paper books it seems ludicrous to suggest one is a lesser version. I think the introduction of eBooks has proved that the industry is able to change and move with the times, even though some may disagree. The Internet has revolutionized how we do so much, from watching films to looking at maps. No doubt the industry will change again at some stage and we will all need to adapt when that happens. I believe the key is to go with the tide and not against it if you have the best intentions for your authors and want to sustain a successful business.

I would like to thank owner of BloodHound Books, Betsy Reavley, for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions from a digital publisher point of view. The e-book VS paperback debate will no doubt continue, with a lot of readers being adamant that e-books are not ‘real books’. Yes, people have a preference over the format of books they read, but should we be insulting other people over the format which they choose to read? No, we shouldn’t. In my eyes, as long as people are reading, I couldn’t give a monkeys which format it is in. Would I say that one format is stupid? No, no I wouldn’t.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the above, so please do get in touch.

You can find BloodHound Books on Twitter here.
You can also get in touch with Betsy and the BloodHound Books team via their website here

#BlogTour! #Review – #OnlyChild by Rhiannon Navin (@RhiannonNavin) @JessDuffyy @Panmacmillan

Only_Child_Blog_Tour_v4
Today on TWG I am reviewing Rhiannon Navin’s heart-wrenching novel, ‘Only Child’. Big thank you to Jess Duffy from PanMacmillan for the blog tour invite, as well as the ARC of the book. Here is my review:

9781509855582

We went to school that Tuesday like normal.
Not all of us came home . . .

Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice — while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing.

Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward — as, sometimes, only a child can.

What does TWG think?

Reading ‘Only Child’ was like opening a book with the latest news bulletins in it. No, I don’t mean that the book was written in the style of a newspaper or the ‘News at 10’ program. I simply mean that the theme of Rhiannon Navin’s book is one that is so close to real life, you would expect to see it on the news.

Oh wait. We already have…

Whilst some readers may find this book too close to the bone due to recent events covered in the news over in America, I silently applaud the author for being brave enough to write a book about something which just should not be happening in everyday life. But it is. I know that people choose to read books to escape the harsh reality of day-to-day life, and don’t wish to lose themselves in a book which highlights devastating events across the globe as they could have watched the news. I appreciate that, I really do. But when something happens which makes national news, breaking families in two with the reality of having to plan funerals for their own CHILDREN, why should we hide away from the truth? I’m not saying that this book is easy to read, because it isn’t. In fact, it’s far from easy to read – it is actually heart-breaking. Families like Zach’s, have had to live through the worst news of their life and, whilst I cannot even begin to imagine what they went through, nor can I rectify the situation for them, the least that I can do is read a book which is inspired by every day events. A book which has the chance to open my eyes to what actually happened to multiple families, and will no doubt happen again.

Told via six-year-old, Zach’s, point of view, ‘Only Child’ tells the story of a day which changed lives forever. A gunman has taken over the school. Children and teachers are staying as quiet as a mouse in their hideaway, ensuring that the gunman doesn’t hear them and come for them. Lives have been lost – nineteen lives in fact. Zach is afraid – he just wants to go home. But, when the children are escorted from the school building after the gunman had been detained, Zach’s nightmare is only just beginning…

Zach is a mere six-year-old boy. Six! Even though he can understand a lot of things, he can’t quite seem to understand why his mummy isn’t with him, or why his daddy is telling him to go and play on his own, or why somebody else is taking him to bed without singing the song he usually sings with his mummy….every single night.

Zach’s parent’s are going through a nightmare, working out how to cope with their life which now has a missing piece. I might sound incredibly harsh here, especially as I haven’t been in Zach’s parent’s situation, but the way they treated Zach was heart-breaking. I understand what they have lost and that they need to deal with their emotions, but I found it hard to watch their reactions to the son they have right next to them. It really was no wonder that little Zach went off the rails. How can a six-year-old understand anything if their parents aren’t giving them the time of day?

At around three-quarters of the book, I was sitting in bed wondering why I wasn’t crying. I know I am an ice queen but I didn’t realise I was THAT much of an ice queen. Why wasn’t I crying? Other people did. Then it hit me. Sometimes something can be far too emotional for tears. Sometimes a storyline can devastate you beyond belief, and tears just wouldn’t be enough to convey your emotion. That was exactly how I felt whilst reading ‘Only Child’. My heart was breaking over and over again for the parents, the families, Zach, loved ones – AND for those this had actually happened to in real life.

But then, nearing the end of the book, the flood gates opened due to a comment which Zach had said. The innocence of that comment, broke my heart all over again and I still can’t explain why..

‘Only Child’ is devastating. It’s heart-breaking, it’s emotional, it’s realistic, it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. But, it is also beautiful. It’s also heart-warming. It’s also incredibly eye-opening. Yes, I had issues with Zach’s parents, and yes I did become angry on behalf of that little boy as he had no-one in his corner. It hurt me greatly, but I truly think that whilst ‘Only Child’ is destined to be a marmite read, it’s a story which has to be told to educate people all over the world.

‘Only Child’ is real life. ‘Only Child’ is raw. ‘Only Child’ is devastatingly beautiful and I am in awe at the authors strength and determination when it came to writing this book.

Buy now from Amazon
Buy now from Amazon US

#BlogTour! #Review – The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (@HollyACave) @QuercusBooks #MemoryChamber

BLOG TOUR-3
I am thrilled to be today’s stop on Holly Cave’s blog tour for ‘The Memory Chamber’. I really wasn’t sure about this book at first, but I am so glad I persevered! Huge thanks to Quercus Books for the blog tour invite, as well as the ARC of the book. Here is my review:

51s0ouz86FL
YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.
YOU CAN PRESERVE A HANDFUL OF SPECIAL MEMORIES FOR EVER.
WHICH ONES WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…

What does TWG think?

‘The Memory Chamber’ is a read which was so far out of my comfort zone, I honestly felt like I was on a different planet at times! Whilst I am all for psychological thrillers and crime, I have never really been a fan of science fiction, finding them far too outlandish for my tastes. However, Holly Cave’s new novel not only includes themes of a thrilling nature, it also includes themes which had a hint of Matrix versus Men in Black running through them. Like I said right at the beginning of this review, I wasn’t sure about ‘The Memory Chamber’ to start with because of the science involved. But, let me just say that I am so, SO glad that I decided to persevere with the book, stepping outside of my comfort zone to read something totally different. I would definitely recommend reading something you would never have picked up before – you might end up liking it!

I didn’t just LIKE ‘The Memory Chamber’, no. I absolutely loved it! Yes, I know, I surprised myself!! First of all, you have a main character who is a ‘Heaven Architect’, creating an afterlife for people with their memories and a good use of technology. You want a yellow, Bumblebee type Transformer car in your memories? Call Isobel. You want a selected few people to join you in your afterlife? No problem – Isobel can do that! Of course there are a lot of rules and permissions need to be granted, making the entire thing of a personally created afterlife, seem the norm. For the characters of this book, it is the norm. But that isn’t the be all end all of this book!

‘The Memory Chamber’ has such a jam-packed storyline, exploring clients personally built heavens, as well as finding out the true meaning of hell. Well, Isobel does anyway. As the storyline progresses, Isobel’s life becomes extremely difficult. If she thought her job was a matter of life and death before, she has absolutely no idea what she is about to be faced with.

I loved how the storyline was able to switch between the fluffy heaven, and the ever so dark ‘hell’, as it took me on a rollercoaster ride which was so unique, I couldn’t help but be addicted to every single page I was reading.

Yes this book is highly unusual, and yes, the storyline has a lot of themes which, written anywhere else, would seem incredibly outlandish and utterly bonkers – but it works, it really does. If you were to ask me what I disliked about this book, I would answer you with ‘absolutely nothing’, and I’m being completely honest. I could not put this book down, reading it in one sitting and feeling like I had lost my right arm when I had finished reading it.

Holly Cave turned my world upside down with her highly compelling, addictive and brilliant story telling. Reading ‘The Memory Chamber’ made me feel as though I was looking down on the Earth and everyone in it – a feeling which I have never experienced before whilst reading a book. This book blew my mind and left me wanting a truck load more, I honestly cannot recommend this enough.

Such a unique, thrilling, eye-opening, and brilliant book which will test your perseverance like never before. Bloomin’ brilliant!

Buy now from Amazon UK
Buy now from Amazon US