Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Pinocchio Brief by Abi Silver #BlogTour @abisilver16 @RKbookpublicist @eyebooks





A schoolboy accused of a brutal murder. A retired lawyer with secrets to hide...
A 15-year-old schoolboy is accused of the murder of one of his teachers. His lawyers, the guarded veteran, Judith, and the energetic young solicitor, Constance, begin a desperate pursuit of the truth, revealing uncomfortable secrets about the teacher and the school. But Judith has her own secrets which she risks exposing when it is announced that a new lie-detecting device, nicknamed Pinocchio, will be used during the trial. And is the accused, a troubled boy who loves challenges, trying to help them or not?
The Pinocchio Brief is a gripping, very human thriller which confronts our assumptions about truth and reliance on technology.





The Pinocchio Brief by Abi Silver was published by Lightning Books in paperback on 23 July 2017 and is the author's debut novel. I'm delighted to host the Blog Tour here on Random Things today.


There can be no doubt that currently, the book market is swamped with psychological thrillers, tales of domestic noir and police and crime thrillers. Some are great, some struggle to compete in the market. The Pinocchio Brief is a thrilling and complex thriller, quite different to anything else that I've read recently and really gives the reader food for thought.

Raymond is fifteen years old and is accused of the murder of a teacher at his private school. Raymond himself is an intriguing, quite bizarre and intriguing character who is a marvellous creation. For me though, it was his legal team who are the star players in this compelling drama. His young solicitor Constance and out-of-retirement Judith; two extremely well written characters; like chalk and cheese. Old school and modern, yet both have the same beliefs and convictions.



Abi Silver introduces the idea of 'Pinocchio' to the story; a machine that will be used to 'judge' Raymond's testimony. This could appear to be outrageous, but the concept is so well explained, it feels entirely plausible, and in fact, it's probably not far from our future truth.

There is a refreshing authenticity to this story, and it is clear that the author's legal background adds depth to the story.

Extremely well written, this keeps the reader on their toes and is a fine debut. I look forward to reading more from this author.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.



Abi Silver talks about The Pinocchio Brief





About Abi Silver (in her words, from www.abisilver.co.uk)
I cannot remember a time when I was not writing stories.  Growing up with a house full of books (my parents were teachers), I was inspired from an early age to believe I could join the ranks of my heroes.  But I accept that I probably could not have produced “The Pinocchio Brief” without my experience as a lawyer to guide me along the way. 
Being a lawyer is just like being a detective.  You are often required to construct the whole jigsaw puzzle of your client’s case from its constituent pieces.  And you need to be a good judge of character too; the motivation behind people’s actions (which you must glean from their words and conduct) is key to understanding what really happened and why.
I was a pupil of Roundhay School Leeds, and went on to read Law at Girton College Cambridge before wanderlust sent me off travelling through Asia, Australia and South America as a student.  I also lived overseas in Israel for 5 years, during which time I learned sculpting, pottery on the wheel and began and completed an MBA.
I now live in Radlett, Hertfordshire with my husband and three sons.  The peaceful village setting and warm community gives me ample opportunity to write.  I usually have at least three plot lines going on in my head at one time and ideas come to me at the strangest of moments.  The skill, of course, is to select the one which will work best and then sit down to write.
Find out more at www.abisilver.co.uk
Follow on Twitter @abisilver16
Abi Silver Author page on Facebook












Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Take Me To Your Heart Again by Marius Gabriel @Scribbler4Bread #Review




Tensions between three sisters, divided by life and love, are about to spill over into all-out conflict.
It is 1942 and the world is at war. The eldest of the Redcliffe sisters, Isobel, impulsive and ideological, strives to make herself heard in a world distracted by violence. But her ambitious new path is strewn with obstacles, not least a private scandal that threatens to become public. Optimist Chiara has had to grow up fast, to set aside teenage dreams and make way for the unexpected realities of adulthood—but who can she count on for help? Meanwhile Felicity has challenges of a more spiritual nature: will her journey of self-discovery lead her away from the convent she thought was her calling?
Separated by distance and war, Isobel, Chiara and Felicity must learn to confront life’s challenges with passion, strength—and unity. Because family is the tie that binds tightest of all.



Take Me To Your Heart Again by Marius Gabriel was published by Lake Union in July 2016 and is the second in the Redcliffe Sisters series. I read and reviewed the first, Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye here on Random Things in October last year.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series and had been looking forward to catching up with the three Redcliffe sisters again. I have to comment on the covers of the novels in this series, they really are such great quality, very attractive and eye-catching.

There is absolutely no doubt that this author really can tell a great story, despite the fact that this is the second in a series, it would read very well as a standalone novel as the author expertly weaves the character's back stories into his plot. He does this with a subtle touch and it never feels as though the first story is being re-hashed; it's seamlessly done.

The three sisters; Isobel, Chiara and Felicity are wonderfully created, with their own flaws and personalities that make each of them unique. The plot is played out against the backdrop of World War Two in both London and Cairo, and once again this author describes his locations incredibly well. It is clear that he writes with in depth knowledge of both places and the reader feels instantly at home in each setting.

With a sprinkling of scandal, romance, intrigue and politics, Take Me To Your Heart Again is a novel that I read in just one day (albeit I was sitting in the Corfu sunshine at the time!). Marius Gabriel is a true storyteller, this is a compelling story with heart and soul, populated with a fine cast of characters.
Very enjoyable and recommended by me.

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.







Marius Gabriel served his author apprenticeship while a student in the north of England. To finance his postgraduate research, he wrote 33 steamy romances under a female pseudonym. His identity as a man had to be kept secret until he turned to longer fiction under his own name. 

He is the author of 8 historical novels, including the best-sellers "The Mask Of Time," "The Original Sin" and "The Seventh Moon." Cosmopolitan accused him of "keeping you reading while your dinner burns." He very seldom burns his own, being an enthusiastic cook. He has three grown-up children.

His latest novel, "Take Me To Your Heart Again," (July 12, 2016) follows the fortunes of the tumultuous Redcliffe sisters through World War II. The other Redcliffe Sisters novel, "Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye," is available on Amazon. Both can be read as stand-alone novels, but if you've read one, you'll want to read the other!







Monday, 24 July 2017

Dying To Live by Michael Stanley #BlogTour @Detectivekubu @OrendaBooks #MyLifeInBooks



The sixth mystery in the beloved and critically acclaimed Detective Kubu series. Kubu and his colleague Samantha Khama track a killer through the wilds of Botswana on their most dangerous case yet.

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he's clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What's more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles... but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective 'Kubu' Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who'd befriended the old Bushman? As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of 'Sunshine Noir', Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world's most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction's most endearing and humane heroes.



Dying To Live by Michael Stanley is the sixth in the Detective Kubu series and was published by Orenda Books in paperback on 12 July 2017.

Welcome to the #DyingToLive #BlogTour -in partnership with Orenda Books.
I'm delighted to welcome Stanley Trollip (half of the Michael Stanley partnership) here to Random Things today, to talk about My Life In Books:



My Life in Books ~ Stanley Trollip

I was 10 years old when I played the March Hare in my primary school’s stage play of this classic.  I immediately fell in love with worlds different from my own, worlds that had their own nonsensical logic that made sense to me. It made me believe that looking at things differently was okay.  It also showed me how powerful words could be.
“I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” 
“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

I was in high school when I read this.  I started it before my lights-out time, but continued reading into the wee hours of the morning until I reached the end.  As I switched off the light, I remember being resigned to the fact that I was going to die.  When my father woke me up in the morning to go to school, I was totally bewildered.  I should have been dead.  The impact that this apocalyptic story had on me gave me a deep appreciation of the power of story-telling.







Set in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in World Was II, King Rat is a story of survival in horrific circumstances.  The main character is an American who is a master of trading, and runs a successful (black market) business in the camp, buying and selling food and other items.  He comes into conflict with other characters, mainly British, whose principles are less flexible.  I regard this book as the first one that opened my eyes to how people react differently to the same circumstances and how flexible morality can be.  Clavell’s words opened up the idea of character to me more so than other books I had read.

This classic was published in the same year that the National Party came to power in South Africa.  The Nats, as they were called, were responsible for the institutionalization of apartheid.  For reasons I have never really understood, from a very young age I was appalled both by the premise of apartheid (that Black people were inferior to Whites) as well as the impact the legislation had on decent people.  Reading Cry the Beloved Country made me cry and feel ashamed that I was a privileged White.


I had a difficult time deciding whether to list The Magus or The Collector, two of John Fowles books that I love.  I decided on The Magus because I have seen the movie (Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn, Candice Bergen) more times (around 10) than I’ve seen The Collector (Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar) (4 or 5 times).  That’s probably because I had a crush on Candice Bergen.  The Magus is a weird book in which the main character, Nicholas Urfe, gets sucked into a series of psychological games, with Greek tycoon, Maurice Conchis.  As the games progress, Nicholas finds it increasingly difficult to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not.  The book spoke to me so strongly, probably because it reflected my own psychological uncertainties at the time as an undergraduate at university.  


Stanley Trollip ~ July 2017 




Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers award.

Find out more at www.detectivekubu.com
Follow on Twitter @Detectivekubu 







Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan @AusmaZehanat @noexitpress #BlogTour





One man is dead.
But thousands were his victims.
Can a single murder avenge that of many?
Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with so many deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?
In this important debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.





The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan is published by No Exit Press in paperback on 27 July 2017 and is the author's debut novel.
The Unquiet Dead is  the Winner of the Barry Award, Arthur Ellis Award, and Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First NovelI am delighted to kick off the Blog Tour for this extraordinary book.

The Unquiet Dead is set in Canada, but deals with the horror and tragedy of the war in Bosnia in the 1990s. Inspector Esa Khattack, along with partner Rachel Getty work within the Community Policing Section in the Canadian police and are tasked with dealing with racial crimes.

Christopher Drayton has been murdered and Khattack and Getty are on the case. On the surface, Drayton appeared to be an average business man; elderly with a younger fiancee. However, it soon becomes clear that Drayton's past may hold the answers to his death when it is discovered that he is, in fact, a Bosnian war criminal.



As the characters begin to dig into the past, the author very cleverly and effectively informs the reader of the atrocities of the war in Bosnia. This is emotionally draining for the reader at times, especially with the knowledge that the author has used genuine transcripts from interviews given by survivors of this terrible era. As a reader, I began to question myself; why did I not know more details about this war? How can something that happened not so long ago have been allowed to continue? Where was the intervention from the powerful countries of the world?

Part police procedural, part crime thriller, part mystery; The Unquiet Dead is also a complex and haunting look at our recent social history. I was intrigued to find a Muslim lead character who is so far away from the current stereotypical beliefs, and the insight into both Esa's and Rachel's own lives added an interesting depth to this story.

The Unquiet Dead is a well plotted and elegantly written story. It is a remarkable debut that raises questions, but also has all the requirements for crime thriller readers.

My thanks to the publisher for sending my copy for review.





Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of The Unquiet Dead, and winner of the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. Her widely acclaimed second novel, The Language of Secrets, was published in 2016. Among the Ruins, her third mystery will be published in February 2017. She is also at work on a fantasy series, to be published by Harper Voyager, beginning in 2017. The Bloodprint is Book One of the Khorasan Archives.

A frequent lecturer and commentator, Ms. Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a research specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. Ms. Khan completed her LL.B. and LL.M. at the University of Ottawa, and her B.A. in English Literature & Sociology at the University of Toronto.

Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine. The first magazine to address a target audience of young Muslim women, Muslim Girl re-shaped the conversation about Muslim women in North America. The magazine was the subject of two documentaries, and hundreds of national and international profiles and interviews, including CNN International, Current TV, and Al Jazeera "Everywoman". 

Ms. Khan practiced immigration law in Toronto and has taught international human rights law at Northwestern University, as well as human rights and business law at York University. She is a long-time community activist and writer, and currently lives in Colorado with her husband.

Author photo taken by Athif Khan.


For more information visit : www.ausmazehanatkhan.com
Follow her on Twitter  @AusmaZehanat





Tuesday, 18 July 2017

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen @MsTamarCohen @TransworldBooks




She knows there’s a killer on the loose.
But no-one believes her.
Will she be next?

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking. Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying. Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again?
















They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen was published in paperback by Black Swan / Transworld on 13 July 2017.

It is no secret that I am a huge huge fan of Tammy Cohen. I've been reading her books for years, ever since she published The Mistress's Revenge under the name of Tamar Cohen. She's also written under the name Rachel Rhys for the historical fiction story A Dangerous Crossing.

Tammy Cohen never fails me, her writing is as tight as a drum; her writing is fresh and exhilarating and her plots are always solid. She has a very special knack of leading her readers up quite a few paths before blocking their way with an in-your-face, shocking twist, she never fails to amaze me.

They All Fall Down is set in a private psychiatric clinic and is Hannah's story. Hannah was a successful woman with a great job in publishing, married and flourishing. All she wanted was a baby and the reader is immediately aware that there's a baby at the centre of this mystery, but this author very cleverly avoids the reveal, instead she slowly and shrewdly drip feeds little snippets until she feels that the time is right to expose the facts.

Two of Hannah's co-patients have died. Reported as tragic suicides, Hannah is convinced that neither of them would have taken their own lives. She is determined to prove this, yet she's a patient in a psychiatric hospital, her senses are dimmed by anti-psychotic drugs, she has a history of erratic behaviour - why would anyone believe her?

One of the main strengths of They All Fall Down is the realistic setting. This author has clearly researched how a clinic such as this is run, with the stringent security measures, the attitudes of staff and the therapies offered. As a reader, I appreciate this, it shows a respect to the reader that I have found to be lacking in recent novels that are set in similar institutions. For me, this aspect added so much to the story.

I devoured They All Fall Down, it kept me guessing right up until the end. The writing is intelligent and Tammy Cohen's use of description for her settings and her characters is quite masterful.

I was both absorbed and at times disturbed, but always always completely consumed. This is another amazing story from one of my favourite authors.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.







About Tammy Cohen, in her own words (from www.tammycohen.co.uk)
I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria where my anthropologist father happened to be doing fieldwork at the time. Sabbatical years in far-flung places were a feature of my childhood and I attended school in both Sierra Leone and California. Otherwise, I mostly grew up in the suburbs of London where my adolescence was spent either in the local library or waiting for the last tube home.
After taking an American Studies degree at Manchester University I taught English in Madrid. While working as a secretary back in London, I started writing features and hand-delivering them to the magazine publishing house around the corner. The day the first one got accepted, I packed in my job and declared myself a freelance journalist, which is basically what I remained for the next twenty years, writing features for national magazines and newspapers, such as Marie Claire, The Times and The Telegraph, and then moving on to non fiction books. My dream was always to write fiction but it wasn’t until I was forty-seven that I finally conquered the self doubt and my first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge was published.
These days I live in North London with my partner and three (nearly) grown children and one very badly behaved dog. Together with my family I spent four happy years living in Spain from 2004 to 2008 and I live in fear of people finding this out and asking me something in Spanish at which I remain shamefully inept.
My first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge, was followed by three more contemporary fiction titles under the name Tamar Cohen – The War of the WivesSomeone Else’s Wedding and The Broken.
In November 2014, my first crime novel, Dying For Christmas was published under the name Tammy Cohen, followed by First One Missing a year later, and When She Was Bad in April 2016. My latest, They All Fall Down is published in July 2017.
Writing as Rachel RhysDangerous Crossing, my first foray into historical mystery was published in March 2017.
I am a member of the Killer Women collective of London-based female UK crime writers.

For more information visit www.tammycohen.co.uk
Follow on Twitter @MsTamarCohen



Monday, 17 July 2017

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase #BlogTour @evepchase @MichaelJBooks @GabyYoung





From the present day . . .

Applecote Manor captivates Jessie with it promise of hazy summers in the Cotswolds. She believes it's the perfect escape for her troubled family. But the house has an unsettling history, and strange rumours surround the estate.
to the fifties . . .
When teenage Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote during the heatwave of '59, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before.
The sisters are drawn into the mystery of Audrey's vanishing - until the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. Will one unthinkable choice bind them together, or tear them apart?
Step back in time for a richly evocative mystery, where the beauty of a Cotswolds summer is vividly contrasted with the violence which shatters it.



The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase was published by Michael Joseph in hardback on 13 July 2017.

I'm really happy to host the Blog Tour for The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde. You can read my thoughts about the book, and I'm also pleased to welcome Eve Chase to Random Things, she's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life in Books.


The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde is a dual-time story that features Applecoat Manor; a house in the Cotswolds that holds many secrets within its walls. I always enjoy novels that span different eras and this one is particularly well written. It's a rich and vivid story, populated by expertly crafted characters in the modern day and back in the 1950s.

The very short prologue draws the reader instantly, set in 1959 and featuring four young sisters with blood on their hands. The scene is set and the tension is immediate.

Eve Chase cleverly leaves her readers hanging on as she then takes up the modern-day story, fifty years later. Jessie and Will, with Will's teenage daughter Bella from his first marriage and their own toddler Romy are viewing Applecote Manor with a view to leaving London, and taking Bella away from increasing temptation. Relations between Jessie and Bella are strained and things don't get easier after the move as the two women are forced to spend so much time on their own as Will continues to work in London.



The story goes back and forth and I must admit that it was the story of the four sisters in the 1950s who go to stay with their Aunt and Uncle at Applecote Manor that held me captive. Their cousin mysteriously disappeared some time ago and they soon become entrenched in what happened to her.

The two timelines are cleverly interwoven as Jessie also becomes more and more interested in the rumours that surround her new home.

Eve Chase has written an evocative and haunting story that I raced through. Secrets, family loyalties and mystery, this is an atmospheric and intriguing story that I'd highly recommend.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to take part in the blog tour.




My Life in Books ~ Eve Chase

I wasn’t an early reader but once I started I didn’t stop, moving rapidly from book to book like a hungry bee between flowers, loyalty continually switching. 
I vividly remember sitting on the itchy carpet beneath the table in my local bookshop, reading Anne of Green Gables and eating a slab of chocolate. They never once asked me to leave, or buy anything. I loved them for that. 

I then moved on to the local library and started working my way through their shelves. Here I discovered The Diary of Anne Frank, still one of my favourite all time books: her voice, so alive on the page, inspired me to think that perhaps I too could write one day, that a young girl’s voice mattered. 
I also adored prolific authors because it meant there was always more to read: Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, who I read and reread, even if I already knew the murderer. (I liked going back and spotting the clues.) 

At home with my three brothers, Tintin was a constant companion. We all roared with laughter at Haddock, and Herge is still my favourite childhood author. Total genius. Tintin in Tibet is my favourite – utterly flawless. It has everything – peril, an amazing setting, friendship, heroism, a bittersweet ending. 

With the confusion of adolescence came Judy Blume – who else to turn to? – Shirley Conran’s Lace – ‘Which one of you bitches is my mother?’ the line remains unbeaten – and Virginia Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic, the twisted incest gothic that me and my girlfriends passed furtively from one to another like a religious tome, its pages folded and refolded at key shocking scenes. 

I stumbled across The Works of Oscar Wilde – a bloody massive book, I’ve still got it - and read it from cover to cover, enchanted. 
I caught my love of Jane Austen, in particular Pride and Prejudice, off a devoted English teacher.
Thomas Hardy’s Tess bewitched me, fused in my mind with Polanski’s amazing film. 
Similarly A Room with A View with Helena Bonham Carter. 

In my twenties, after studying English Lit at university and wrestling with the dusty canon, my tastes became more American - their novels felt lemon-sharp and dynamic. 

In recent years, I’d say some of my all-time favourite books – I have many more that I love, far too many to mention here - include Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are Not The Only Fruit, Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies. All of them have changed me as a writer and a reader, and completely transported me to a different place between their pages. 

Since reading only stops when you’re dead, this is a list in progress - I’m not done yet! And I like to think that if the afterlife exists, it’s going to have a damn good library.


Copyright Eve Chase 2017 







Eve Chase always wanted to write about families - ones that go wrong but somehow survive - and big old houses, where family secrets and untold stories seed in the crumbling stone walls.
Black Rabbit Hall and The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde are just such stories.
Eve is married with three children and lives in Oxfordshire


Follow her on Twitter @evepchase








Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain @BelgraviaB @ed_pr




A collector unearths the find of a lifetime: an eighteenth-century portrait of a man uncannily like him. 

While wandering through a Paris auction house, avid collector Pierre-Francois Chaumont is stunned to discover the eighteenth-century portrait of an unknown man who looks just like him. 
Much to his delight, Chaumont's bid for the work is successful, but back at home his jaded wife and circle of friends are unable to see the resemblance. Chaumont remains convinced of it, and as he researches into the painting's history, he is presented with the opportunity to abandon his tedious existence and walk into a brand new life...











The Portrait by Antoine Laurain was published in paperback by Gallic Books on 27 June 2017.


This is another original, quirky story from the author of The Red Notebook which I read and reviewed here on Random Things back in 2015.

Antoine Laurain writes with elegance and wit, and The Portait is not just the story of a discovered painting, but is also an ode to France. The lead character; Pierre-Francoise Chaumont is extraordinarily crafted; he's a strange, self-obsessed man who is astounded when he comes across a painting in an auction house of a man who looks just like him. Paying far more than he intended to, he takes it home to his wife and proudly shows it to her, and their friends. He is shocked to hear that they can see no resemblance at all.

Pierre is not put off by their reaction, not in the least and starts a mission to track down more information about the subject of the portrait. However, his wife and his friends may have other reasons to scorn him ...

The author has created a character whose impulsive and unpredictable behaviour is both shocking and humorous at the same time. I wasn't fond of Pierre as a person, but as a wonderfully crafted character, he is pure genius!

A short novel that can be read quickly in just a couple of sittings, and is most enjoyable. I believe this is the author's first novel and whilst I did not enjoy it as much as The Red Notebook, it is very well structured, with some outstanding characterisation.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.






Antoine Laurain was born in Paris and is a journalist, antiques collector and the author of five novels. The President’s Hat, a charming fable set in the Mitterrand years, was awarded the Prix Landerneau Découvertes and the Prix Relay in 2012 and is published in English by Gallic. It was a Waterstones Book Club book and ABA Indies Introduce pick in 2013. Antoine was chosen to represent France at European Literature Night 2014.

He is also the author of The Red Notebook (2015) and French Rhapsody (Oct 2016).

Sign up for Antoine Laurain's newsletter and keep up to date with his upcoming novels, book signings and events near you. http://eepurl.com/b9D1aD







Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie @theyarnyard @unbounders




It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams. 

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.











The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie was published on 17 April 2017 through Unbound, and is the author's debut novel.


I spent a couple of very happy days during my holiday in Corfu reading this captivating and intriguing story; the cover is beautifully designed and perfectly fits the story. Despite the fact that I cannot sew, even though my late Nana presented me with an all-singing, all-dancing electric sewing machine on my twenty-first birthday (to my horror!), it was the combination of history and modern-day, all linked to one sewing machine that really drew me in.

The story begins as Jean and her colleagues prepare to go on strike, it's 1911 at the Singer factory in Scotland. Workers have few rights, especially women and the mass walk-out of thousands of people in support of better working conditions was a ground-breaking event. For Jean, this is a life-changing event as she battles against her father's long-held, old-fashioned beliefs and begins to make her way in life, outside of the factory gates.

Natalie Fergie then brings her reader right up to date, as Fred discovers hidden documents that reveal the story of the sewing machine of the title.  This author cleverly takes her readers through the decades between Jean and Fred's stories, detailing social history, life-changing events and outlining how, despite the changes, people themselves rarely change.

The Sewing Machine is an impeccably researched story full of warm and charismatic characters who worm their way into the reader's heart.

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.


***  The BBC have made a short film about the strike at the Singer Factory and the author's narrative has been used in it. You can view it here on the BBC Scotland News Facebook page ***








Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years running a one-woman dyeing business, sending parcels of unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this she had a career in nursing. She lives near Edinburgh.
The Singer 99K, which was the inspiration for this novel, has had at least four previous owners. It was bought for GBP20 from someone who lived in Clydebank, just a stone’s throw from the site of the factory where it was made a hundred years earlier. It’s quite possible that there are another eight sewing machines in her house. She blogs at www.nataliefergie.com and can be found on Twitter as @theyarnyard.

Image credited to photographer Alison Gibson.