blog tour


Blog Tour: Wunderkids – Jacqueline Silvester

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15-year-old Nikka is invited to attend Wildwood Academy, a prestigious but secret boarding school for talented youth located deep in the Californian mountains. Once there, Nikka quickly falls in love with her bizarre classes, the jaw-dropping scenery and… two very different boys. 

However, Wildwood Academy has a dark and twisted secret, one that could cost Nikka the one thing she had never imagined she could lose, the one thing that money can’t buy. It is this very thing that Wildwood Academy was created to steal. 

Nikka can stay and lose everything, or she can risk death and run. 

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the fabulous Wunderkids by Jacqueline Silvester! With Wunderkids being set at a boarding school, Jacqueline has kindly written a post about her top boarding school settings in books and film. Take a look!

 

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1. Catcher in the Rye

Though Holden Caulfield’s boarding school only plays a small(ish) part in his story, it’s still and important one. This classic was my first experience with a coming-of-age narrative and a boarding school setting. Thus, it deserves a spot at the top of the list.

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2. Fallen by Lauren Kate

The Fallen series by Lauren Kate centers around two boarding schools, Sword and Cross Reform School in Savannah Georgia and Shoreline School in Northern California, both schools have one fabulous thing in common- they are both populated by angels.

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3. Wild child

A rich and spoilt Malibu teen is sent to a strict boarding school in England as punishment for her latest prank. Hilarity ensues. Featuring Juno Temple, great uniforms, and Alex Pettyfer behind the wheel of a 1958 Austin Healey Sprite.

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4. Little Princess

A young girl is left at a prestigious school in England when her father has to go off to fight in the war. When he is presumed dead, the young girl is forced into servitude. Based on the children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this film is beautiful and it will make you cry. I was absolutely in love with this film when I was little.

 

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5. A Great a Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A mysterious, gothic, and beautiful YA series that takes place in 1895 and tells the story of Gemma Doyle, a young girl whose I uprooted from her life in India and send to a boarding school in England. If you’ve read my novel Wunderkids you know that I have a weak spot for creepy, sinister academies.

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6. The Chorus

The Chorus is a gorgeous French film. It’s about a music teacher who starts a job at a boarding school for troubled boys. Once there, he founds a choir to help the boys channel their energy into something positive. It has been years since I’ve first saw the film but I still have the entire soundtrack on my phone and listen to it all the time.

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7. She’s The Man

Cheesy? Yes. But this film is also hilarious, and takes place at a boarding school, and it never once failed to cheer me up. Also, who wouldn’t want to be dorm mates with Channing Tatum?

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8. Never Let Me Go (film)

Based on the book by the Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro, this film has everything I love- dystopia, romance, and boarding school.

 

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9. Gallagher Girls by Aly Carter

Boarding school for spies? Yes, please! Paired with Ally Carter’s dynamic writing, great storytelling, and a cast of kickass schoolgirls who can hack into CIA databases and disable bombs. Perfection.

 

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10. Vampire Academy

The setting for this series is St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for Vampire royalty and their protectors. Enough said. Just do yourself a favor and skip the film.

 

Thank you so much to Jacqueline for her wonderful guest post! What are your favourite books/films that feature boarding schools? (Mine has definitely got to be Harry Potter!) Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out the other blog stops!

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Blog Tour: Herself Alone in Orange Rain – Tracy Iceton

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For those that haven’t heard about Herself Alone in Orange Rain yet, can you tell us a bit about it?

Herself Alone in Orange Rain is part two of my Celtic Colours trilogy which explores 100 years of conflict in Ireland. Part one, Green Dawn at St Enda’s, focuses on the 1916 Dublin Easter Rising and came out last year to coincide with the Rising’s centenary. Green Dawn’s main protagonist is a schoolboy, Finn, who becomes embroiled in the Easter week rebellion.

But this is not a typical trilogy where part two picks up shortly after wherever part one left off and Herself Alone in Orange Rain is mainly set in the 1980s. The novel is about a young woman who joins the IRA, becoming an active service volunteer for them and taking part in many of the high profile attacks of that period. Before the late 1970s women were not commonly ‘on the front line’ for the IRA but that’s what I wanted to explore so that meant setting the book about 70 years later than Green Dawn.

The main character in Orange Rain is a 19 year old art student called Caoilainn. A family connection runs through the whole trilogy so she’s related to Finn from part one (I’m not saying how– you’ll have to read to find out!). This way I can show how the Irish conflict impacts on one family down the generations. Caoilainn (and Finn) is entirely fictional but her experiences, attitudes, decisions and actions are based on the real life accounts of IRA women from this period. I think people who’ve read Green Dawn may be surprised because part two is very different, telling a more emotive and divisive story. But the one thing that both books have in common, and part three will develop this too, is the cost of conflict.

Where did the inspiration come from for the book?

Once I had the idea for Green Dawn and started doing the research I quickly realized I would be writing a trilogy; there was too much for one novel. I always felt part two would be set during the 1970/80s because, historically, that was a pivotal period in terms of IRA activity but originally I thought I’d be writing about a man because, probably like most people, I assumed the IRA was all male. Then a friend and fellow writer, Natalie Scott, said it would be interesting to tell the story from a female perspective. This was an intriguing proposition that raised lots of questions about the role of women in the IRA and about how that is portrayed in fiction so I started researching, discovered that women had indeed operated in combatant roles for the Provisional IRA and from the extensive research came the novel. In fact there was such a wealth of research to do that the novel actually became my creative writing PhD project.

What was the writing process like for the book, did it take you long to complete?

The whole process of researching, writing and editing took me three years because that’s how long I had to do the PhD. But of that the research and the editing took far more time than the initial drafting because doing a novel in an academic context for a PhD meant I

had to go much deeper with the research. Handily it has resulted in a much strong, more maturely written novel, I feel.

Now that the book is about to be released, what are you working on next?

I’m furiously tapping away at part three of the trilogy which currently has the working title White Leaves of Peace. This concluding part is focused on life in Ireland since the signing of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and will go up to 2016, looking at whether or not there truly is peace in the north of Ireland. Again there is a family tie the main protagonist, a young man called Cian, is related to Caoilainn from Orange Rain (but again, I’m not telling you how).

You’ve written in a whole range of areas, from non-fiction to flash fiction, do you find it difficult switching between them?

I don’t really find switching between types of writing difficult. After I’ve finished doing this feature I’ll be back later today to working on part three of the novel. I just take a short brain break in between, I’ll probably go to the gym. What also helps is thinking about what I’m writing before I sit down to do it. I write in my head constantly and if I know tomorrow I’m doing a short story I’ll be thinking about it when I get up, while I’m in the shower, eating breakfast, cleaning up etc. so that when I sit down I’m already in the ‘short story’ zone.

You’ve also been a writer in residence on several occasions, what was that experience like?

Being a writer in residence is, aside from writing, my favourite writer’s job because it gives you an extended opportunity to work with others on a particular project that really focuses creative energy and sees amazing results produced. When I was working on the Silent Voices project in Helmsley for an exhibit at nearby Rievaulx Abbey I got to work with an entire primary school of enthusiastic young writers who were all thrilled to be able to exercise their creativity.

More recently I’ve been writer in residence for the Crossing the Tees book festival, working with them on a brand new aspect to the festival: a short story competition. And I’ve been privileged to help emerging writers really develop their craft through a series of short story writing workshops and some one-to-one mentoring sessions, hopefully inspiring them to keep writing and one day seeing their work in print too.

Finally, can you recommend us a good book you’ve read recently?

I recently read what I think is one of the most brilliantly creative, experimental pieces of storytelling published in a long time. It’s called This is the End of the Story by Jan Fortune. She happens to be my editor so, admittedly, I read it because I was curious about her own writing, especially when I’ve had to read some harsh, but justified, criticisms of my writing from her. But, having read her novel, I hold my hands up and say my God, she can write and I consider myself lucky to have her as an editor, guiding my creative practice.

Big thanks to Tracy for answering my questions, and be sure to check out the other stops listed below!

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Blog Tour: The Dancing Girl and the Turtle – Karen Kao

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Release Date: April 1st 2017
Publisher: Linen Press
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon. LP Bookshop.
Source: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher to review.

Synopsis:

A rape. A war. A society where women are bought and sold but no one can speak of shame. Shanghai 1937. Violence throbs at the heart of The Dancing Girl and the Turtle.

Song Anyi is on the road to Shanghai and freedom when she is raped and left for dead. The silence and shame that mark her courageous survival drive her to escalating self-harm and prostitution. From opium dens to high- class brothels, Anyi dances on the edge of destruction while China prepares for war with Japan. Hers is the voice of every woman who fights for independence against overwhelming odds.

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle is one of four interlocking novels set in Shanghai from 1929 to 1954. Through the eyes of the dancer, Song Anyi, and her brother Kang, the Shanghai Quartet spans a tumultuous time in Chinese history: war with the Japanese, the influx of stateless Jews into Shanghai, civil war and revolution. How does the love of a sister destroy her brother and all those around him.

Review:

 

This is a book that will stay with me for a long time. Haunting and beautifully written, The Dancing Girl BTThe Dancing Girl and the Turtle is the story of Song Anyi, a young woman who after the death of her parents, travels to Shanghai to stay with her Aunt and Uncle. On the way there she is attacked by three men, raped and left for dead. What follows is her descent into prostitution and self harm in an attempt to deal with this horrific event.

This book is a really powerful one, and the story of Song Anyi is incredibly compelling reading. At times it was uncomfortable, but throughout it was vivid and well portrayed. The book is broken up into short chapters, and each one features differing view points of characters – some from Anyi and her brother Kang, and other times her cousin Cho and their maid Blossom. I really loved these differing points of view, it offered a chance to see Anyi and the story from different perspectives and really served to highlight the way that the Song family attempt to deal with what happened to Anyi – with a sense of shame, pretending it never happened.

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle also has a really fascinating backdrop – China in the 1930s – a time when women had no voice and little say in their lives. This combined with the country preparing for war with Japan, makes for a very rich and compelling setting. Initially I thought The Dancing Girl and the Turtle might be a quick read – being only 280 pages – but there is so much history, so much detail about women fighting for their right to be heard, that I found myself really taking my time, in order to savour this beautiful novel. If you only read one book this autumn, make it the beautiful and atmospheric Dancing Girl and the Turtle.

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Blog Tour: The Cost of Living – Rachel Ward

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After a young woman is brutally attacked on her way home from the local supermarket, checkout girl Bea is determined to find out who’s responsible. She enlists the help of Ant, the seemingly gormless new trainee – but can she really trust him? Customers and colleagues become suspects, secrets are uncovered, and while fear stalks the town, Bea risks losing the people she loves most.

Now read an interview with author Rachel Ward!

1. For those that haven’t read The Cost of Living, can you tell us a bit about it?

The Cost of Living is a detective story with a difference. It is set in and around a fictional supermarket and my ‘detectives’ are Bea, a smart checkout girl, and Ant, a seemingly gormless new trainee. It’s at the cosy end of the crime spectrum, although there is still some darkness in there.

2. What inspired you to write the book?

I started with my main characters. Bea wandered into my head first. I knew what she looked like and where she worked and it occurred to me that all human life passes through a supermarket and it was rich material for a book. I’d wanted to try a detective story for ages and the two things just came together.

3. You’ve written books in several different genres, did you feel in any major differences writing The Cost of Living versus Numbers/The Drowning?

For some reason writing The Cost of Living was much easier than writing all my YA books, except Numbers. I think with both of these books I was writing without any expectations, just telling myself the story. With a crime book there are certain conventions (at the very least you need a crime near the beginning and some sort of resolution at the end), which I enjoyed playing with.

4. What was the writing process like for the book, did it take you long to complete?

This was a new process for me. For the first time I sent it chapter by chapter to my husband’s kindle. He gave me feedback on each chapter and was keen to receive the next instalment. This continued when he had to live in hospital waiting for a heart transplant. It was a rather wonderful thing, actually. The book took just under a year to write, with a few breaks for other writing and domestic upheaval. I’m continuing with the writing in instalments process for my next book. So far his feedback has been positive!

5. When coming up with new characters how do you go about it? Are they based around people in your life or completely creative?

I try not to base characters on people that I know, although occasionally they sneak in. Sometimes I go shopping for characters by deliberately observing people when I am out and about, noting down appearances, clothes, etc. on my phone if I think they might be useful. I also get inspiration from tv programmes, especially reality and talent shows, the news and films.

6. Now that The Cost of Living is about to be released, what are you working on next?

I’m about halfway through a sequel. I’ve got quite a few plots in mind for Ant and Bea and I hope I get the chance to write them.

7. The cover for The Cost of Living is really striking! Did you have any input into the overall cover design?

I love the cover! It really sums up the book for me, both the content and the tone. It was designed by the very talented David Wardle, commissioned by Sandstone Press, my lovely publisher. They did show me an early design and asked for my feedback. All I could really do was gasp and go ‘Wow, I love it!’

8. Finally can you recommend us a good book you’ve read recently?

Oooh, I mostly read crime these days and the series I’ve enjoyed recently is by Jorn Lier Horst, a Norwegian writer and former police investigator. I’ve rattled through all his William Wisting books that have been translated so far and am eagerly waiting for more. Taking a break from crime, I read Ready Player One. I had bought it for my son, who is a gamer, and he loved it and insisted that I read it. I can see why – it’s a cracking story, believable, authentic and exciting.

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Blog Tour: Fire Lines – Cara Thurbourn

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Release Date: September 26th 2017
Publisher: Bewick Press
Pages: 294
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon. 

Synopsis:

When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?

Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.

Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?

Review:

Welcome to my stop on the Fire Lines blog tour, run by the lovely A Daydreamer’s Thoughts. Fire Lines is a lush story in a fantastic magical setting, and one of the things I most enjoyed about this book was the excellent world building. The magick and history were all very well laid out, and really helped to centre the reader in the midst of the story.

Emi and the rest of the cast are also really likeable characters, and it wasn’t hard to become completely absorbed by their story. They are well rounded and developed – you root for Emi almost from the get go, and there’s plenty of exciting moments to keep you reading along the way. I also think that cover is fantastic, it’s really eye-catching and I can’t wait to buy a physical copy to have on my shelves.

I did feel some parts of the story were a little slow, particularly in the early chapters of the book, but once everything kicks off towards the latter half of the book, I definitely found the book hard to put down. It was engaging, well written and had plenty of the magic and mystery that YA fantasy fans will love.

I really enjoyed Fire Lines and really enjoyed seeing the different cultures and groups that live outside the wall. It’s a really exciting read and if you’re looking for a new YA fantasy series, this is definitely not going to be one to miss. I for one am now desperately waiting for book two!

Thanks for checking out my stop on the Fire Lines blog tour, be sure to check out the other stops below!

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Blog Tour: Prisoner of Ice and Snow – Ruth Lauren

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Release Date: September 7th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 288
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads. 
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the book for this blog tour.

Synopsis:

 

Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.

Review:

This is a beautifully written story about the friendship between two sisters. It’s an engaging, enjoyable story, and one I think a lot of people will really love. The plot is full of twists and turns and has that perfect blend of action and plot that fantasy fans will just love.

The main character Valor is a brave, determined young lady, and she’ll do anything to help her sister – even commit a crime. I admired her strength and courage, she’s a wonderful leading lady and I think she would be a fantastic role model for younger children reading A Prisoner of Ice and Snow. There are a few smaller characters that I would like to get to know as well as Valor, but perhaps that will come along later in the series.

The prison that Valor and her sister end up in is certainly a horrible one, and they depictions of the different settings – most notably the prison – is certainly vivid and well laid out. At only two hundred and eighty eight pages the book is quite a quick read, but there is plenty to keep you guessing and  wanting more. If you’re looking for a fun enjoyable MG fantasy, Prisoner of Ice and Snow is definitely a book to pick up. I for one am particularly looking forward to seeing what’s next in store for the series!

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Blog Tour: House of Spines – Michael J Malone


Release Date: August 16th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Pages: 276
Source: I was kindly sent a copy of this book by the publisher for this blog tour.
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon.

Synopsis:

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman … A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

Review:

What a wonderful creepy psychological thriller this book is! This book was another one of those sitting in the same spot for hours on end because I just couldn’t seem to put it down. This book is a fantastic Gothic novel that on several occasions definitely had me looking over my shoulder. It was a gripping read from start to finish, and it constantly kept me guessing (and terrified.)

One of the things I loved about this book is the setting. Newton Hall is this vast old mansion, exploring this big empty house that seems to be full to the brim with secrets. I also love that the book is set in Glasgow, as I grew up just outside there and it’s nice to read books set in a familiar place. The book is well paced, and as the story continues on, that tense feeling of unease definitely racks up more and more. The family history is also plotted really carefully and makes the book feel all the more realistic for the preciseness of the history and knowledge of the characters.

It reminded me a lot of the old Gothic novels I studied at University, with Rand as the unreliable narrator. Is it real or is he imagining it? The writing is really superb, and I definitely have plenty of vivid images in my head while I read House of Spines. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but I am now very eager to read some of his other works too.

House of Spines really is a fantastic read. It keeps you hooked from the get go, and definitely makes you question what you know is real. The detail in the book is beautiful and I am going to be recommending this book to everyone I know.


Guest Post: Claire McFall

What Inspires Me

I talk a lot about finding inspiration for stories when I go out to schools and libraries and Ferryman_RGBtalk to you readers. The key thing I tell them is that inspiration can come from anywhere. Ferryman was inspired by a strange dream and the landscape I had to drive through on my long commute to school every day. Bombmaker was sparked by a Clive Owen film I saw called Children of Men. And Black Cairn Point was inspired by a camping trip my husband took me on. (What about Trespassers? Well… it was inspired by Ferryman! ) My point is, you can get that jolt of inspiration from anywhere and anything and anyone.

Other stories and other writers are definitely a source of inspiration.

One of the writers I admire the most is Malorie Blackman. I’ve talked before about how much I love Noughts & Crosses (Oh Callum, sigh), but that book is actually the start of a four-book series. Across the four books, Malorie Blackman manages to weave in a seamless development in the society the book is set in – where white people are the underclass and black people hold all the wealth and power – until, by the end of the fourth book, you can see real progress towards equality. This theme runs beautifully under four really exciting stories. It’s so clever.

A question I’m asked quite frequently whenever I do writer interviews is what book do you wish you’d written? The answer to that is Crossing the Line by Gillian Philip. It was a finalist in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards in 2010/2011 and I read it when I was taking part in the awards with one of my classes. It didn’t win in the end, but I loved it. The main character is a boy called Nick Geddes and he’s a bit of a bad lad. Not underneath, but no one really gets to see that. Male leads in YA fiction are much less Trespassers_RGBcommon, but what struck me was just how real the main character was – I could see echoes of lots of the boys I taught in his supposed hard-man manner. He was a thug with a heart and I loved him. I wish I’d created him.

Lastly, writers I really admire are those who can create a whole new world for me to enter. I read a lot of fantasy because I like escaping somewhere completely different. The best writers create not just people and places, but rich cultures that make the story seems so believable, I can imagine this world really does exist. The most famous example is J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, but more recently George R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has come to the fore. I also love The Iron Seas books by Meljean Brooks (adult content alert!) which are steampunk and so cool. Graceling by Kristin Cashore is another good (much more YA!) example. I’d love to have a go at high fantasy – creating my own world – someday, but I worry that I’ll struggle to think outside the box, that our world will be too ingrained in my head. I’m waiting for a really cool idea to strike, then I’m going to have a bash. Because you should always attempt something that scares you – otherwise how would you grow?

ClaireMcFallClaire McFall is a writer and a teacher who lives and works in the Scottish Borders. She is the author of paranormal thriller Black Cairn Point, winner of the inaugural Scottish Teenage Book Prize 2017. Her debut novel Ferryman won a Scottish Children’s Book Award, and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Branford Boase award. Her other books include dystopian thriller Bombmaker. Trespassers, the much-anticipated sequel to Ferryman, will be published on 14th September 2017.

 

Thanks so much to Claire for her fabulous guest post, and check back next week for a review of the stunning Ferryman!


Blog Tour: The Final Correction – Alec Birri

 

Release Date: July 28th 2017
Publisher: Troubadour Publishing
Pages: 273
Find it On: Amazon. Goodreads
Source: I was kindly sent a copy of this book by Bookollective for this blog tour.

Synopsis:

What if all brain disorders were treatable? No one would lament the passing of dementia or autism, but what if the twisted mind of a sex-offender or murderer could be cured too? Or how about a terrorist or maybe a political extremist? What if we could all be ‘corrected’?

So, Professor Savage has been unmasked as the monster Alex Salib always knew he was. But what was their agreement and why is she still determined to see it through? The war on terror appears to be back on track but why does President Kalten seem hell bent on ramping it up – are the Americans seriously intent on starting World War Three?

And what of the treatment itself? Despite Savage’s arrest, the ‘corrections’ go on but to what end? The laws of unintended consequences are about to cause a seismic shift in the very nature of our existence. But then our new masters know that and won’t let it happen until we’re ready…
…Ready to accept the unacceptable.

Review:

Welcome to my stop on The Final Correction blog tour, run by the lovely folks over at Bookollective! The Final Correction is the third book in the Condition series, ending a trilogy of mysterious medical thrillers. I really loved the premise, the idea that brain disorders were treatable. But it’s so much more than just treating brain disorders, those with thoughts that are not what society wants them to be – murderers, those with extreme views, their ‘brain disorders’ can also be treated. I think with the advancement of technology and how rapidly medicine is advancing this is quite a realistic premise, and as a result that made the book even more enjoyable because it felt infinitely possible.

As stated this is the third book in the series. I haven’t personally read the other two books, and this one can be read as a stand alone. After having read the book I do feel like I’d like to go back and read books one and two, because although I enjoyed the story I felt there were some things I had missed out on in the first parts of the series.

The one thing about this book is that it constantly surprised me. Just when I thought I knew where things were headed, they twisted off in another direction. It’s a really enjoyable story, and the more you read the more intrigued you get – as the reader you definitely want to know more. The book is well written and paced excellently, giving the reader time to comprehend the multi-layered plot that is going on. Although there aren’t too many characters, they are very well portrayed, showing plenty of depth and emotion.

After finishing the book I went to do a little research before I wrote my blog post and was stunned to find that this series is actually based on the authors own experience in command of a top secret government organisation. For me this made the book all the more frightening and realistic. If that doesn’t give you food for thought, I don’t know what will!

Thanks for checking out my stop on The Final Correction blog tour, be sure to check out the other stops listed on the banner above! 


Blog Tour: The Woman in the Shadows – Carol McGrath

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Release Date: 4th August 2017
Pages: 400
Publisher: Accent Press
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.

Synopsis:

The powerful, evocative new novel by the critically acclaimed author of The Handfasted Wife, The Woman in the Shadows presents the rise of Thomas Cromwell, Tudor England’s most powerful statesman, through the eyes of his wife Elizabeth.

When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father. But there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realises she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband…

Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to kindly, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage is one based on mutual love and respect…but it isn’t always easy being the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London. The city is filled with ruthless people and strange delights – and Elizabeth realises she must adjust to the life she has chosen…or risk losing everything.

Guest Post: My Favourite Historical Novels

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Thank you Nicole for hosting me on this my fourth hop on The Woman in the Shadows Blog Tour. Today I am delighted to write about historical novels I love, many of which I find inspirational for my own writing. 

My all-time favourite historical novel is Katherine by Anya Seton. This novel is about Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt. It tells the true story of a love affair that lasted for decades. I read it when I was studying Chaucer for A level. Katherine’s sister, Philippa, was married to the poet. I adored this novel and knew after I had read it that one day I wanted to write Historical Fiction. Many years on, I have realised that dream. Katherine also inspired my interest in The Middle Ages which I studied at University. I have never lost my passion for The High Medieval Period. 

 

An epic novel that has influenced my writing is Dr Zhivago by Boris7831611 Pasternak. I studied the novel at University where I read Russian Studies as well as History and English. I have read this book at least four times. It is set during The Russian Revolution which is also on my list of historical events to write about. The Betrothed Sister, my third novel is set in Medieval Russia. Zhivago is beautiful with a wide political scope, personalising these dramatic events through a famous love triangle: Yuri, Lara and Tonya. I love its emotional pulse. It is possibly the most moving Historical novel I have ever read. 

6101138I was, without doubt, influenced by Hilary Mantel’s eloquent Wolf Hall when I decided to write a novel about Elizabeth Cromwell. I wrote about Wolf Hall on my MPhil thesis, analysing the touches of romance that tempered realism in the novel. By this I mean the Gothic touches, the romance structure, many descriptions, rather than a romance between two individuals. The parts in Wolf Hall that I was interested in were those concerning Thomas Cromwell’s family and I wanted to know more. I wanted to imagine more too. My research journey began then and I think that The Woman in the Shadows is very different to Hilary Mantel’s work. It is the portrait of an early Tudor woman who was a cloth merchant and a housewife. Through Elizabeth I examine Cromwell’s early career before the fall of Thomas Wolsey and I examine what I suspect their marriage might have been. I take a further glimpse at their family life. 

I love The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn. It is told by and is about two women, 625678Anne Boleyn, and Lucy Cornwallis, the King’s confectioner. Lucy made the centrepieces for all the King’s feasts. Mark Smeaton is another link between Anne and Lucy. It is a wonderful novel with superb characterisation and brilliant witty dialogue. It is a very unusual take on an old story. I thought it unique, though I would have liked to see more praise for this fabulous story. Moreover, I was honoured when Suzannah both read and gave me comment for The Woman in the Shadows. I also love The Confessions of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn. This is an exceptionally poignant and beautiful novel, delicately told. 

18362312The Visitors by Sally Beauman is a recent find. It is an intriguing novel filled with secrets, the tale of intertwined lives, set in Egypt in 1922 and is about one of the twentieth century’s most famous archaeological events, the amazing search for King Tut’s tomb. It looks at these events through a child’s eyes, one as precocious as Masie in Henry James’s excellent What Masie Knew. It is also about growing up through major events during the twentieth century. I loved it for its masterful narrative tension. I learned much about layered characterisation and the building up of narrative that covers large swaths of time from reading this book. I shall re read it. 

Finally a mention for a few other books that I have enjoyed reading and re reading this 35289167year. Jane Johnson’s Court of Lions about the fall of Granada to Isabella and Ferdinand has captivated me as do her previous novels set in Morocco. She is a mistress of the two time narrative in a novel with two interrelated stories, always beautifully told. I love Karen Maitland’s The Vanishing Witch and her book Company of Liars set during the Plague of the fourteenth century. I highly recommend The World is Not Enough by Zoe Oldenbourg, an intricate picture of twelfth century France, at the time of the third Crusade. It is another classic Historical Novel.  

A writer of Historical Fiction can hone her craft by reading other writers widely. I am grateful to all the fine writers I have read this year and in the past for their treasury of great stories. The best of these are always inspiring and illuminating.

About Carol:

Carol McGrath has an MA in Creative Writing from The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in Creative Writing from University of London. The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAs in 2014. The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister complete this best-selling trilogy. The Woman in the Shadows, a novel that considers Henry VIII’s statesman, Thomas Cromwell, through the eyes of Elizabeth his wife, will be published on August 4th, 2017. Carol is working on a new medieval Trilogy, The Rose Trilogy, set in the High Middle Ages. It subject matter is three linked medieval queens, sometimes considered ‘She Wolves’.

She speaks at events and conferences on the subject of medieval women, writing Historical Fiction, The Bayeux Tapestry, and Fabrics, Tapestry and Embroidery as incorporated into fiction. Carol was the co-ordinator of the Historical Novels Association Conference, Oxford in September 2016 and reviews for the HNS. Find Carol on her website: www.carolcmcgrath.co.uk.

Many thanks to Carol for this fabulous guest post. I absolutely loved Court of Lions myself and I now have more than a few new books to add to my wishlist. Thanks everyone for checking out my stop on The Woman in the Shadows blog tour, and be sure to check back in a few days for a review of this gorgeous book!

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