Thursday 29 August 2019

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon @JoannaCannon @ProfileBooks #WellcomeCollection #BreakingAndMending

"A few years ago, I found myself in A&E.
I had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn't eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains and I shook with the effort of not crying. I was an inch away from defeat... but I knew I had to carry on.
Because I wasn't the patient. I was the doctor." 
In this powerful memoir, Joanna Cannon tells her story as a junior doctor in visceral, heart-rending snapshots.  
We walk with her through the wards, facing extraordinary and daunting moments: from attending her first post-mortem, sitting with a patient through their final moments, to learning the power of a well- or badly chosen word. These moments, and the small sustaining acts of kindness and connection that punctuate hospital life, teach her that emotional care and mental health can be just as critical as restoring a heartbeat.
In a profession where weakness remains a taboo, this moving, beautifully written book brings to life the vivid, human stories of doctors and patients - and shows us why we need to take better care of those who care for us.

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon is published by Profile Books on 26 September and is the first book in the Life Lines series; today's finest storytellers on health and being human, with the Wellcome Collection. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I have followed Joanna Cannon's writing journey for a long time now. I used to read her blog and was always touched by her ability to portray such emotion, and such compassion through her writing.
I think most people know her story; she wrote her first novel during her breaks when she was working as a psychiatrist in a busy NHS hospital. That book was The Trouble with Goats and Sheep; one of my favourite books of recent years.  Her second novel; Three Things About Elsie was another huge success.

Whilst I do know a lot of Joanna's back story, and have been lucky enough to meet her on more than one occasion, I was excited to learn that she was publishing this memoir, about her time as a junior doctor.

Breaking and Mending is not a long book. It's just 166 pages in total, but every single word is perfect. There were times when I had to put the book aside and gather my thoughts, and reign in my emotions. It is one of the most beautifully written books that I've ever had the pleasure to read.

Joanna's experiences as a junior doctor are not unique to her. I'm positive that most doctors would read this book and nod their heads in recognition. I've worked in NHS related jobs for many years and have seen the effects of the unrelenting work load on the professionals that I sit alongside.
However, I doubt that there are many other doctors who could put their feelings into words such as these. Joanna Cannon's ability to convey every feeling, every emotion and every single moment of hope, desperation and frustration is utterly compelling and so powerfully done.

Joanna Cannon was an 'older' medical student; deciding to undertake her medical training much later in life than most people. She was given a 'wild card' by the admitting Consultant; given a place at medical school despite her doubts about what she was doing. We follow her through her journey as a brand new student; as she undertakes placements; as she works her first shift as the only doctor on duty.
Writing with honesty and clarity, and pulling no punches, this author clearly details the immense pressure that our dedicated and treasured medical staff come under. It is a both shocking, and thought-provoking and it is my hope that it conveys to all readers the incredible dedication that drives most doctors who carry on their work despite often horrendous conditions and pressures.

As with this author's fiction, she uses her words to create the most wonderful imagery, this passage from the book particularly moved me:

'There are some rooms in a hospital which are designed for delivering bad news or made especially for people to sit in whilst they wait to receive it ............
............ Good news is allowed to wander around freely and stretch its legs. It's allowed to travel through cubicle curtains and make its way around the ward and be heard by anyone who might happen to walk by. It's bad news that needs to be contained. Trapped. Kept tightly enclosed in a small room with four easy chairs and a coffee table, just in case it should manage to escape and be heard forever.'

Painfully honest, harrowing, heart-breaking and so so human. Breaking and Mending is a book that must be read by everyone who ever has any contact with our NHS.

Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry.
Her first novel The Trouble With Goats and Sheep was a top ten bestseller in both hardback and paperback and was a Richard and Judy pick.

She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog.

Twitter @JoannaCannon


Tuesday 27 August 2019

Her Last Promise by Kathryn Hughes BLOG TOUR @KHughesAuthor #HerLastPromise #Giveaway @headlinpg #Win

Fall in love this summer with Her Last Promise, a page-turning, heartwrenching story of how hope can blossom in the ruins of tragedy and of the redeeming power of love. From No. 1 bestselling author of The Letter Kathryn Hughes.
Tara Richards was just a girl when she lost her mother. Years later when Tara receives a letter from a London solicitor its contents shake her to the core. Someone has left her a key to a safe deposit box. In the box lies an object that will change everything Tara thought she knew and lead her on a journey to deepest Spain in search of the answers that have haunted her for forty years.
Violet Skye regrets her decision to travel abroad leaving her young daughter behind. As the sun dips below the mountains, she reminds herself she is doing this for their future. Tonight, 4th June 1978, will be the start of a new life for them. This night will indeed change Violet's destiny, in the most unexpected of ways...

Her Last Promise by Kathryn Hughes was published by Headline on 22 August 2019. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to offer a copy to one lucky winner. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post. UK entries only please.


*** Winner Book of the Year in Prima magazine Big Book Awards 2019 ****
'Storytelling at its finest with characters that come alive and a plot that dances with intrigue. An absolutely first-class read that does not disappoint' Prima
'A gripping summer read' Woman & Home
'A wonderful, enthralling story'
Lesley Pearse


Good Housekeeping

'A heartbreakingly powerful read'


Just some of the five-star reviews from real readers for Her Last Promise...

'Hope rises from despair and new beginnings are forged in the most extraordinary and unexpected way. Kathryn Hughes delves deeply into the heart and soul of her characters, making them totally friends you really care for. My addiction to this novel was total and uncompromising *****'

'Wonderful! First book I have read by Kathryn Hughes and will now read her previous stories. I loved it *****'
'Another great story from Kathryn Hughes *****'
'As always, a lovely story by Kathryn Hughes *****'
'I really enjoyed this book, especially the nostalgic 1970's descriptions *****

One Copy of Her Last Promise by Kathryn Hughes

Kathryn Hughes was born in Altrincham, near Manchester. 
After completing a secretarial course, Kathryn met her husband and they married in Canada. 
For twenty-nine years they ran a business together, raised two children and travelled when they could to places such as India, Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand. Kathryn and her family now make their home in a village near Manchester. 
Her first novel, The Letter, was a Kindle Number One bestseller

Website :
Twitter: @KHughesAuthor
Author Page on Facebook

Monday 26 August 2019

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane @Mary_Beth_Keane BLOG TOUR @MichaelJBooks #AskAgainYes @sriya__v

A gripping and compassionate drama of two families linked by chance, love and tragedy
Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.
Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope - cold, elegant, unstable - wants to be left alone.
It's left to their children - Lena's youngest, Kate, and Anne's only child, Peter - to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.
A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later . . .
A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood - villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so.

A story of how, if we're lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane was published in August by Michael Joseph Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, and who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour.

Ask Again, Yes is the ultimate story of family relationships, friendships and how tragedy and illness can have such far-reaching effects.

Set in a small town in the US, beginning in the 1970s and following two families over the next thirty years, this is a sweeping and ambitious story. The writing is beautiful and the setting is wonderfully done; even this woman from the depths of the English countryside felt as though she were living in the small town of Gillam at times.

For the first half of this book I was totally engaged. I absolutely adore how this talented author drew her characters, and how as a reader, I felt as though I lived amongst them. 
The two families involved; the Gleesons and the Stanhopes; whilst having much in common, are very different. They both have Irish connections, both men serve in the local police force, but the wives: Anne and Lena, couldn't be more different.
It's clear from the beginning that Anne has problems. She's recently lost a baby, whilst Lena is pregnant with her first, and that seems to be the basis for Anne's instant dislike of her neighbour. 

Anne and Lena's children; Peter and Kate don't care about the differences between their parents and form a close and loving friendship. One day that friendship ends. Dramatically and tragically, and it is this event that changes the course of both family's histories.

It was from this point on that I began to feel a little overwhelmed by quite how much this author throws at her characters. She is adept at describing the effects of mental illness and addiction on a family, but there were times when I struggled to engage with the story as it progressed.

There is no doubt that this author is a very talented writer, her prose and her characters are excellent. 
I'd certainly be interested in reading more from Mary Beth Keane

Mary Beth Keane attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. In 2011, she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35,” and in 2015 she was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. 
She currently lives in Pearl River, New York with her husband and their two sons. 
She is the author of The Walking PeopleFever, and Ask Again, Yes.

Twitter : @Mary_Beth_Keane
Author Page on Facebook
Instagram : @marybethkeane

Sunday 25 August 2019

Meditation For Children by Shelley Wilson @ShelleyWilson72 BLOG TOUR #MeditationForChildren @BHCPressBooks #MyLifeInBooks

Author and meditation tutor Shelley Wilson takes you on a magical journey to a calm and happy place that you and your child will love.
Children of all ages can learn and enjoy the benefits of meditation.
Designed to help access creative abilities through relaxation and imagination, these stories help develop the necessary tools needed at a young age for lifelong healthy habits of managing stress and anxiety while also improving learning skills.
Meditation for Children is a simple way to introduce children to mindfulness through guided visualization. Includes a handy reference guide and instructions.

Meditation For Children by Shelley Wilson, illustrated by Phaedra Elson was published on 22 August by BHC Press.
As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life in Books

My Life in Books - Shelley Wilson

I was fortunate enough to have a dad who loved inventing stories, and so my earliest memories of bedtime reading involved a little girl (me) visiting Blackpool or taking a trip to a farmyard to see the baby lambs. I’m reasonably sure there were a few Janet and John moments in there too when mum took over.

The first book I remember, and the book that sparked my love of reading, was Enid Blyton’s The Folk of the Faraway Tree. The possibility that if I climbed a tree, I would enter a weird and wonderful land filled with new friends and adventures left me spellbound. Consequently, my early years were spent three feet in the air hanging to a quivering bough and covered in bruises with plasters on my knees.

When I wasn’t daydreaming about joining Moonface on a quest, I was fantasising about being Mildred Hubble from The Worst Witch (Jill Murphy). Witches and wizards fascinated me long before Harry climbed out of his cupboard under the stairs. It appears that my love of all things fantasy and supernatural developed at a young age. I would have been ten years old at this stage and devoured anything I could get my hands on that allowed me to escape reality. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S.Lewis) was another firm favourite, as was Danny The Champion of the World (Roald Dahl) and The Borrowers (Mary Norton) – who, might I add, were most definitely responsible for the mysterious disappearance of my Brownie hat!

Mildred Hubble was a character I could resonate with, but then Sue Townsend introduced me to The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾, and I knew I’d found another character as nerdy as me. The idea of anyone reading my diary was unfathomable at that time, but reading this book gave me the confidence to share my angst about life and friendships – in secret, of course.

As I reached the tender and impressionable age of sixteen, I found life at secondary school to be a huge disappointment. I was an avid reader of the U.S Sweet Dreams Series and couldn’t understand why my school corridors weren’t full of cowboys, dreamy surfers, and sporty gods. I only recently gave away my collection to charity, although I did keep my favourite book P.S I Love You by Barbara Conklin, which is notoriously difficult to get hold of these days. I must have read this book over twenty times (and cried every time). My original copy is well-worn and still takes pride of place on my shelf. My love of travel, especially America, came about from reading these books and I even signed up for Camp America when I was twenty-two, so I could see the places in the novels for myself.

My college years were spent partying and pretending I knew what I was doing. This meant I left behind the ‘childish’ romance novels and raided my parent’s bookshelves. I enjoyed my dad’s Wilbur Smith books and mum’s Danielle Steel novels, notably Message from Nam. However, it was during these years I discovered James Herbert’s horror novels (or chiller fiction), and soon had an entire bookshelf dedicated to Herbert’s books. The Rats was my favourite, and I would scare myself silly every time I was on a train that stopped inside a tunnel.

Getting married and having my three children took precedence over my reading and I went through a period of ten years where all I read where Noddy books or Biff and Chip! When my children were 2, 3, and 5, I divorced my abusive husband and rediscovered my love of reading. At that time, I needed to rebuild my life, and that’s how I found myself in the Mind, Body, Spirit section of Waterstones one rainy afternoon. The book that jumped off the shelf and started my fascination with self-help and personal development was The Secret (Rhonda Byrne). I’d never been interested in non-fiction until that moment, and now I’ve amassed an impressive collection of self-help titles, and written quite a few of my own.

Fighting my way back to normality, whatever that may be, was tough yet necessary. The self-help books I read each gave me a piece of the puzzle that made me whole again. However, I was desperate to get back to fiction. I tried my old favourite genres, but nothing felt right, romance novels were an absolute no, no (and still are), and I didn’t enjoy horror as much as I had. It was then that I stumbled across young adult (YA) fantasy and in particular Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. I’m a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and would love to personally thank Joss Whedon and Buffy for getting me through the majority of crap in my marriage. For one hour a week, I was left alone to enjoy this show, and so it will always have a special place in my heart. The YA fantasy genre took me back to that safe space I’d carved out. Maggie’s books were followed by City of Bones (Cassandra Clare) and Throne of Glass (Sarah J.Maas).

Escaping reality is something I’ve done since I first followed Moonface up that Magic Faraway Tree, and it’s a place where I feel at home. Reading YA fantasy at 47 years old may seem odd to some, but young adult novels are incredibly fast-paced, full of bold issues and incredible story arcs that show the evolution of a character as they come-of-age.

If you’re tempted to give YA fantasy a go, then I can highly recommend Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo). This is a phenomenal novel (soon to be made into a TV series) and a book I wish I’d written. Her writing is pure gold.

Being a multi-genre author means I’ve also developed my multi-genre reading habit. I tend to switch between non-fiction self-help and young adult fantasy. However, more recently, I’ve tried other genres that I wouldn’t usually seek out. Historical fiction is something I’m enjoying more and more, especially if it’s about the Tudors or Vikings, and post-apocalyptic is becoming a firm favourite with October Rain (Dylan J Morgan), and Tipping Point (Terry Tyler) being my favourites.

I do keep trying to read romance, but I never get beyond chapter one. Fortunately, my family and friends love this genre, so I’m able to recommend books to them written by my talented author pals. On the flip side, I get tagged in on anything werewolf and vampire-related, so my reading list is always evolving!

Shelley Wilson - August 2019 

Shelley Wilson is an English author of motivational self-help titles and young adult fantasy fiction. 
Her sensible side writes non-fiction books to inspire you to be the best you can be, and her cheeky and playful side writes young adult fiction to remind you to nurture that inner teen.
Shelley is a single mum of three, has a crazy black cat called Luna and is obsessed with vampires, Tudor history, and exploring castles. 
She’s tall (5ft 10inches) which seems to surprise people when they meet her. She often hears, “you’re much taller than your profile picture!” (Courtesy of Goodreads)

Saturday 24 August 2019

The Warehouse by Rob Hart @robwhart BLOG TOUR @TransworldBooks @ThomasssHill #TheWarehouse #Giveaway #Win

In a world ravaged by bankruptcy and unemployment, Cloud is the only company left worth working for. But what will it cost you?

Amidst the wreckage of America, Cloud reigns supreme. Cloud brands itself not just as an online storefront, but as a global saviour. Yet, beneath the sunny exterior, lurks something far more sinister.

Paxton never thought he’d be working Security for the company that ruined his life, much less that he’d be moving into one of their sprawling live-work facilities. But compared to what’s left outside, perhaps Cloud isn’t so bad. Better still, through his work he meets Zinnia, who fills him with hope for their shared future.

Except that Zinnia is not what she seems. And Paxton, with his all-access security credentials, might just be her meal ticket.

As Paxton and Zinnia’s agendas place them on a collision course, they’re about to learn just how far the Cloud will go to make the world a better place. 

To beat the system, you have to be inside it.

The Warehouse by Rob Hart was published by Transworld on 13 August 2019. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to offer one copy as a prize to readers of my blog.
Entry is simple; just fill out the competition widget at the end of this blog. UK Entries only please.


What people are saying about The Warehouse:

'A gripping read, a literary blockbuster with brains. Horribly compelling' The Observer

'Featuring an explosive twist-in-the-tail climax, this terrifying hybrid of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Zamyatin's We is a triumph' The Guardian

‘Brilliantly imagined’ BBC Culture

‘Inventive, addictive’ Paul Tremblay

‘Thrilling’ Blake Crouch

‘An Orwellian thriller’ Publisher’s Weekly

‘Wildly imaginative yet terrifyingly real’ Riley Sager

‘Taut, tense and masterful’ Chuck Wendig

'One of the breakout books of the year' Barnes & Noble

'Holds up a dark mirror to our times' San Francisco Chronicle

'A jet black satire of modern consumerism' Waterstones

'A thriller of ideas ... taut action, incisive cultural commentary ... shades of Fahrenheit 451 and Jurassic Park.' USA Today

One Copy of The Warehouse by Rob Hart

Rob Hart is the author of the Ash McKenna series, published by Polis Books, which wrapped up in July 2018 with Potter’s Field. Other entries include: New Yorked, which was nominated for an Anthony Award for Best First Novel, as well as City of Rose, South Village, and The Woman from PragueHe also wrote the short story collection Take-Out, and co-wrote Scott Free with James Patterson.
His first standalone novel, The Warehouse, is available now. The Warehouse has sold in 21 countries and has been optioned for film by Ron Howard.
Rob is the former publisher for and the current class director at LitReactor. He has also worked as a political reporter, the communications director for a politician, and a commissioner for the city of New York.
Rob’s short stories have appeared in publications like Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, All Due Respect, Thuglit, Needle, Helix Literary Magazine, Mystery Tribune, and Joyland. He’s received a Derringer Award nomination for best flash fiction story, and his short story “Take-Out” appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2018. He also received honorable mention in both Best American Mystery Stories 2015 and 2017.
Non-fiction articles have been featured at sites like LitReactor, Salon, The Daily Beast, Criminal Element, The Literary Hub, Birth.Movies.Death, and Electric Literature.
He lives in Staten Island, N.Y., with his wife and daughter.