On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder #BookReview (@TimothyDSnyder) @TheBodleyHead @MMFlint #politics #nonfiction #brexit #OnTyranny #Fahrenheit11/9

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History does not repeat, but it does instruct.

In the twentieth century, European democracies collapsed into fascism, Nazism and communism. These were movements in which a leader or a party claimed to give voice to the people, promised to protect them from global existential threats, and rejected reason in favour of myth. European history shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary people can find themselves in unimaginable circumstances.

History can familiarise, and it can warn. Today, we are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to totalitarianism in the twentieth century. But when the political order seems imperilled, our advantage is that we can learn from their experience to resist the advance of tyranny.

Now is a good time to do so.

Over the weekend, the Irishman and I watched Michael Moore’s latest documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9, charting the 2016 US Presidential election campaign and how the presidency of Donald Trump came about (I know what you are thinking, what wild party animals we are!) The documentary featured a gentleman named Timothy Snyder as one of the commentators, who was identified as ‘the author of On Tyranny.’ Since I found his comments in the documentary interesting, I decided to buy a copy of the book.

It arrived on Monday and I dove in immediately and read it in one sitting. At only 126 pages long, it only took me an hour to get through but, aside from its length, the things that compelled me to read it cover to cover in one sitting, and then read it straight through again the following morning, were the frightening historical lessons contained within the pages which are now scarily relevant to what is going on in the political world today, and which we need to remember and heed in order to avoid ending up in horrifying places we swore we would never go to again. Although this book is primarily drawing parallels between the European political history of the last century and the current situation in America, unfortunately our country is now facing a lot of the same issues.

The basic premise of the book is that, although history does not repeat itself exactly, in times of crisis it can flag up the warning signs that alert us to the fact we are heading down a dangerous path, and provide us with the knowledge and tools to avoid repeating historical mistakes. The book is in a very easy to digest format, with twenty lessons we can learn from twentieth century European political history, followed by a brief explanation of the context and how it may be currently manifesting in our society. Some of these ideas were not new to me, I have seen them mooted in other places during my reading and research over the past four years, but some were and, reading all of them brought together in one place and explained so clearly and concisely, was a hard slap to the face which will make any reader sit up and think, on whichever side of the political divide you find yourself. In the current unsettled and unsettling climate, this can only be a good thing.

I have seen a lot of extremes in political discourse recently, particularly on Twitter, with one side talking about the rise of fascism and the other saying this is arrant nonsense. Whatever stance you take, this book is a valuable read which might make you take a step back and consider the truth of what is actually happening. In this book, the author seeks not to say ‘this is definitely where we are heading,’ but ‘look, THINK, remember, be aware, decide where you stand and take action.’ Prevention is far, far better than the cure that proved necessary in the past. There is a famous quote, ‘eternal vigilance is the price of freedom’ which the author uses in this book. This is true today and, in contrast, apathy and inaction are surely its end.

Given the events of the last week in Parliament, some of the chapters rang with particularly resounding alarm bells. ‘Defend institutions,’ was the first, as we have seen our Parliament battling with the Executive for sovereignty over the Brexit issue and, in the last 24 hours, the independence of the judiciary being attacked. ‘Remember professional ethics’ is another topic that I particularly, as an ex-lawyer who follows a lot of legal accounts on Twitter, have seen being strenuously debated in relation to the Government’s suggestion that they may challenge or disregard the Benn Law passed this week and how members of the legal profession sitting in Government should position themselves if it takes such a step. The pieces of advice regarding critical thinking, being willing to say what you believe rather than following the herd and about using language wisely, gave me pause. The book will make you question who you want to be in the current climate and what you are prepared to stand for. Only by standing out and breaking the status quo can change be effected. How brave are we prepared to be as individuals in defence of our values?

There were a couple of quotes that really stood out to me. “The odd [American] idea that giving money to political campaigns is free speech means that the very rich have far more speech, and so in effect far more voting power, than other citizens” and ‘The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.” Two similar ideas that, given the controversy that surrounds the electoral spending and social media influencing during the referendum campaign, must make each of us question just how freely our votes are given and how much we are being influenced by people with their own agendas on both sides of the divide.

Is this too dramatic? I don’t know. I, for one, am certainly finding the current situation alarming. It is tempting to hide from the turmoil, assume it will all sort itself out eventually and we can just hide under the covers (literal, metaphorical or book, take your pick) until it does. The message behind this volume is history has shown us repeatedly that this strategy does not work. We have to pay attention and take action or accept that we have stood by while our values are eroded. This book is a wake up call. It really should be mandatory reading, particularly for those in positions of authority. Maybe we should crowdfund a copy being sent to each of our 650 MPs. After all, they have little else to do for the next five weeks.

On Tyranny is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Michael Moore’s new film, Fahrenheit 11/9, featuring Timothy Snyder is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

About the Author

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Timothy Snyder is one of the world’s leading historians of the twentieth century. An expert on eastern Europe and on the Second World War, he has written and edited a number of acclaimed and prize-winning books about twentieth-century European history.

His internationally bestselling Bloodlands won the Hannah Arendt Prize, the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding, and has been translated into thirty-three languages.Black Earth was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the annual prize of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee.

He is Levin Professor of History at Yale University and a frequent contributor to newspapers and journals on both sides of the Atlantic.

Connect with Timothy:

Website: http://timothysnyder.org

Twitter: @TimothyDSnyder

Period by Emma Barnett #BookReview (@Emmabarnett) @HQstories @Charlo_Murs #Period #amreading #freereading

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‘Don’t be revolted, lead the revolt – preferably with a grin on your face and a tampon tucked proudly behind your ear.’

Emma loathes her period. Really, she does. But there’s something she loathes even more: not being able to talk about it. Freely, funnily and honestly. Without men and women wrinkling their noses as if she’s pulled her tampon out and offered it as an hors d’oeuvre.

But somehow, despite women having had periods since the dawn of time, we’ve totally clammed up on anything to do with menstruation. Why, oh why, would we rather say ‘Auntie Flo’ than ‘period’? Why, in the 21st century, are periods still seen as icky? Why are we still so ignorant about such a fundamental bodily process?

Now, in Period., Emma draws on female experiences that will make you laugh, weep (and, most probably, squirm), in a fierce and funny rallying cry to smash this ridiculous taboo once and for all.

Because it’s about bloody time.

I have been waiting for this book to come out since I heard the editor, Charlotte Mursell of HQ Stories, raving about it back in March. Once I finally got hold of my copy, I was eager to start, and I raced through it. Odd, you might think, to be so keen to read a book about periods but, as the tag line says, this is the book we have all been waiting for and it’s about bloody time it was written.

Those of a squeamish disposition may want to look away from this post, because it is going to be blunt and revealing.

No, actually don’t, because the whole premise behind this book is that periods are a natural bodily function and we should be talking about them, loudly and proudly, all genders, and that the stigma surrounding periods and the silence that shrouds the topic is inherently unhelpful to everyone, perpetuates a certain level of female oppression and needs to stop.

Sound a bit heavy? Well it isn’t, this book is brash, ballsy and downright hilarious, as well as dealing with the subject openly, honestly and head on and should be read by everyone. As a 47-year-old woman who has almost run the full gamut of the female reproductive cycle from starting through child-bearing to now being perimenopausal, I could relate to a lot of what was being said here, and found myself cheering along, whilst also being shocked by some of the information imparted, enraged by other parts, questioning why I had never thought of some of the issues, laughing out loud in horrified solidarity at people’s embarrassing experiences and finally asking myself if I really was as open about this subject as I always thought or complicit in the silence that surrounds this final taboo topic.

I always think of myself as being fairly honest, very opinionated and not at all squeamish. I am the eldest of four girls, have two daughters and three step-daughters, all either in or rapidly approaching their teens, so periods are something I have been surrounded by almost continuously my entire life and something I have to talk about regularly. In the spirit of honesty encouraged by the book, and to illustrate that I have had to be open about my periods from the beginning, I will share my own ‘starting my period’ story with you.

It happened on my thirteenth birthday. Yes, the actual day itself, heralding in my teens and the start of womanhood at the same time. The only hitch was, I was staying over at my friend Alex’s house for the night and had arrived unprepared. Mortifying. Luckily, Alex and I had been friends a long time and I knew her mother well. She was (I’m sure she still is, I have not seen her for many years) a kind and sensible woman, who didn’t make a fuss but just helped me calmly and quietly, sparing my blushes, an act for which I have ever been grateful. Alex also had an older sister, so her mother had already been through this process and was suitably equipped, much to my relief.

The next morning my grandad died and my parents’ concerns were, understandably, entirely taken up with the fall out of that, so the whole episode went largely unremarked upon by my own family. My highly-anticipated birthday trip to Alton Towers was cancelled and the whole thing did not feel like something to be celebrated. My mother then presented me with a glamorous belt to wear around my waist which went through loops at either end of the massive sanitary towels I was given (the days of sticky fixing, slim towels were way in the future) and not much more was said about the matter. I had crippling cramps throughout my teens, which often made me cry with pain, taught myself how to use tampons and just got on with my life, accepting monthly discomfort as simply something to be endured.

I have tried to be much more open with my own daughters than my mother was with me, talking to them well in advance about what to expect, reacting calmly when my eldest started her periods and encouraging her to talk to me and ask any questions she has about anything to do with her body. I must have done reasonably okay, as she does talk to me, as do my step-daughters, although she does sometimes complain that I am a bit too open about bodily functions. She will probably be horrified by this post if she reads it. Parents are SO embarrassing, aren’t they?

I must admit I have to a degree been guilty of perpetuating the idea that periods are something to be ashamed of by giving her the requisite discreet pouch of sanitary products to take to school. Maybe I should be advising her to walk proudly through the corridors clutching them openly. However, I am not sure at 14 and quite shy, that she is ready to be such a period pioneer and I would not force her to face up to ridicule. We obviously still have a way to go before this topic is one that people of all ages can be open about, and I think the older generation will have to lead the way. This book is definitely a step in the right direction.

You may be thinking, this is all very well and interesting, but is talking about these things quite so bluntly really necessary? Why should I read this book? The answer is absolutely yes. Emma gives many reasons why we need to be more open throughout the book, but one issue really stood out to me as an important reason why we should do away with the shame surrounding periods and anything to do with the female reproductive system, and it is to enable women to speak openly with doctors when they feel something is wrong and to be listened to and taken seriously. I have another personal anecdote that illustrates how important this is.

Several years ago, when I first went back on the Pill after starting a new post-divorce relationship, the tablet the doctor gave me resulted in periods of a duration and severity I had never before experienced in my 27 years (at that point) as a menstruating woman. I knew something was wrong and went back to see the doctor. He (yes, it was a he) told me it was just teething troubles and it would bed down. Fast forward a few weeks and I found myself on a Saturday evening in A&E, having had to leave an evening out with friends because I was soaking through a Super Plus tampon every ten minutes and thought I was haemorrhaging. I have never seen so much blood, even post-childbirth. The A&E doctor gave me a tablet to stop it and told me I had to go back to my GP and insist he change my prescription. He did. We women know our own bodies, we know what is normal for us, we need to listen to them and feel able to talk honestly and forcefully to people when we know something is wrong and we deserve to be listened to and taken seriously. Our instincts are the best way to intercept serious problems at an early stage, and the more open we can be about what is normal for each of us and what is not, the better off we all will be. Emma stresses this point in the book and she is 100% correct.

So, next time I am at the doctors filling my pill prescription, I will be asking why it is necessary for me to bleed once a month (hint, it’s not for my benefit), making sure I think about donating sanitary products when giving to food banks and considering the different circumstances women may be in and how they might feel about their periods when I’m talking about them. This book is eye-opening and thought-provoking and should be read by everyone. I will certainly be passing it around amongst my acquaintances. Baby steps in the right direction.

Period is out now and you can get your copy here.

About the Author

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Emma Barnett is an award-winning broadcaster and journalist. By day, she presents The Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live in which she interviews key figures shaping our times, from the Prime Minister to those who would very much like to be. By night, she presents the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Newsnight, on BBC Two and hosts Late Night Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.

Emma was named Radio Broadcaster of the Year by the Broadcasting Press Guild for her agenda-setting interviews. Previously, she was the Women’s Editor at The Telegraph. She now writes a weekly agony aunt column, ‘Tough Love’, in the Sunday Times Magazine and is a proud patron of Smart Works. Period is her first book.

Connect with Emma:

Twitter: @Emmabarnett

The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper #BookReview (@ItsEmmaCooper) @headlinepg @NetGalley @RNATweets #NetGalley #TheFirstTimeISawYou #FictionCafeWriters

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Lost:
Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin.
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.

Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey.
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.

When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be.
But fate has other ideas.

Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back.
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways than they ever expected…

I am delighted to be sharing my review today of The First Time I Saw You, by the author of one of my Top Ten Books of 2018, Emma Cooper. My thanks to Headline for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I am probably not alone when I say that I always approach follow up books to ones I have loved with some trepidation. When you have loved a book as much as I loved Emma’s debut, The Songs of Us, you want the next one to be just as good, but there is always the fear that it will not live up to the heights the last one achieved. I fell so in love with the story of Melody and her family and the book had such a huge impact on me, I really could not see how The First Time I Saw You was going to match it.

Well, Emma is a clever thing because the way she did it was to make this one feel completely different, but in a way that was still compelling and affecting. At least, that is how it felt to me. I found The Songs of Us extremely funny, whilst still being heart-breaking and plumbing real emotional depth. The First Time I Saw You is a horse of a different colour, with less of a comedy element but the same complex familial relationships, the same emotional rollercoaster and the same examination of personal relationships between two flawed people, put under strain.

It took me no time at all to fall in love with Samuel (it may have has something to do with  him being Irish, I may just have a little bit of a thing for Irish men). It took me a little longer to warm to Sophie. In fact, the situation was pretty much a reversal of the way I felt about the male and female characters in the last book, but this was very important for the story development. One of the most riveting parts of the plot for me was the development and softening of Sophie, the way she changes throughout the book and how she, and we, uncover the reasons she is the way she is, how her history has shaped her and how the events in the story shape her going forwards. Damaged characters, flawed characters, complicated characters – these are the things that gives books richness and depth and make them extraordinary.

Samuel’s plot arc, for me, was both devastating and uplifting. Because I fell in love with him from the first chapter and was totally on his side, what Emma did to him almost broke me, and seeing him go through his ordeal and claw his way back to where he wanted to be was excruciating. I lived every trial, every setback, every disappointment as if he were a real person I cared for deeply. I was willing him on, wanting him to get his happy ending, mentally begging Emma to help him. It is a rare gift for an author to be able to make characters come so alive and matter so much to readers in this way, and Emma totally has this. It is the thing I love most about her writing, what embeds it in my heart.

This book left me deeply affected, just as the last one did, but in a very different way. Despite the fact that this book turns out very differently (I am desperately trying to get my point across without spoiling either book for people who have not read them yet), in some ways it was a more difficult and melancholy read for me. That may not make any sense to people who have read them both, but it is how I felt. Some people may be disappointed that this book perhaps wasn’t as lighthearted as the previous novel. I say it shows bravery, diversity and a complexity of ability that makes Emma a talented author, who will continue to surprise and push her readers and I, for one, cannot wait to see what she does next.

The First Time I Saw You is challenging, heart-breaking and uplifting and will not disappoint anyone who recognises talent and enjoyed Emma’s previous book. New readers should grab both and indulge themselves in some excellent writing tout suite.

The First Time I Saw You is out now on Kindle and available for pre-order in audiobook and paperback and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Emma is a former teaching assistant, who lives in Shropshire, with her partner and four children. Her spare time consists of writing novels, drinking wine and watching box-sets with her partner of twenty-four years, who still makes her smile every day.

Emma has always wanted to be a writer – ever since her childhood, she’s been inventing characters (her favourite being her imaginary friend ‘Boot’) and is thrilled that she now gets to use this imagination to bring to life all of her creations.

The Songs of Us was inspired by Emma’s love of music and her ability to almost always embarrass herself, and her children, in the most mundane of situations. She was so fascinated by the idea of combining the two, that she began to write Melody’s story. Working full-time with a large family meant that Emma had to steal snippets of ‘spare’ time from her already chaotic and disorganised life; the majority of her novel was written during her lunchtime in a tiny school office. She never expected to fall so deeply in love with the King family and is overwhelmed that others feel the same.

She has three loves in life: reading, writing and her family…oh, and music, cheese, pizza, films – Maths is not one of her talents.

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://emmacooperauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook: Emma Cooper Author

Twitter: @ItsEmma Cooper

Instagram: @itsemmacooper

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson #BookReview @cox_eleanorc31 #SummerReading #freereading #readingrecommendations

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An elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter while away a summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. As the two learn to adjust to each other’s fears, whims and yearnings, a fierce yet understated love emerges – one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the very island itself.

Written in a clear, unsentimental style, full of brusque humour, and wisdom, The Summer Book is a profoundly life-affirming story. Tove Jansson captured much of her own life and spirit in the book, which was her favourite of her adult novels. 

So, my cousin Eleanor lent me this book about a year ago and urged me to read it as soon as possible because she thought I would love it. My family and friends don’t recommend books to me very often because I have usually read everything before they get their mitts on it and I am recommending it to them or, in the case of my friend, Mary, because she thinks I won’t like it. This mostly tells me that my friend, Mary, does not read my blog or she would know that I will read almost anything and my tastes are wide, diverse and not particularly highbrow. (I will wait and see if she mentions this review to me as a way of testing whether or not I am correct!)

Anyway, bloggers being bloggers, I have had this book on my TBR ever since and had not found a slot in which to, well slot it, until I gave myself a summer off blog tours to do some free reading. I wish I had not waited so long because she was right, I did love it.

This book is the story of a young girl and her grandmother whiling away a summer on a remote island off the coast of Finland. Whilst not specifically written as a biography, the book is based on the author’s own childhood experiences and you can feel the love and affection for these memories she had shining from the page.

The book is an unusual construction, more akin to a series of related short stories or anecdotes than a linear tale, but I think this is part of its charm. It is a series of snapshots of events that stand out in the course of a summer when the rest of the days were probably all much the same, as summer days tend to be. And when I say stand out, they stand out in small and insignificant ways by and large, because mostly nothing huge happens. But this is the way of childhood, the things that are important are things that are insignificant when we get older and busier and more wrapped up in adult concerns. We don’t have the time to focus on the millions of tiny miracles that happen every day. These are the privileges of childhood and, as evidenced by this book, of old age when life again slows down and we can appreciate what is around us once again. Life come full circle, generations in tune.

This is the beauty of this book, the gentle, slow, true understanding and affection between these two generations sharing a quiet, slow summer on a small island. There are misunderstandings and arguments, moments of sadness, moments of fear, moments of joy and lots and lots of love. It really portrays a warm and real and beautiful relationship between two people and it really made me feel happy and hopeful. I will repeat that – happy and hopeful. What more could anyone ask for from a book? An unusual but very special read that deserves a place on anyone’s bookshelf, to be reached for a times when one’s soul needs a salve. Thank you for the recommendation, Eleanor. Oh, and happy birthday. xx

You can get a copy of The Summer Book by Tove Jansson here.

About the Author

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TOVE JANSSON (1914-2001) is revered around the world as one of the foremost children’s authors of the twentieth century for her illustrated Moomin chapter books.

The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson #BookReview (@wurdsmyth) @HQStories @NetGalley #TheDayWeMeetAgain #TeamSparkly #NetGalley

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Their love story started with goodbye…

‘We’ll meet again at St Pancras station, a year from today. If we’re meant to be together, we’ll both be there. If we’re not, it was never meant to be . . .’

Phoebe and Sam meet by chance at St Pancras station. Heading in opposite directions, both seeking their own adventures, meeting the love of their lives wasn’t part of the plan. So they make a promise: to meet again in the same place in twelve months’ time if they still want to be together.

But is life ever as simple as that?

This review is four days later than I intended, but sometimes circumstances get away from us and I hope it is better late than never! Anyway, here is my review of the latest book by Miranda Dickinson, The Day We Meet Again. My thanks to Miranda and the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially, and apologies for not getting this up sooner.

I loved the premise of this book as soon as the blurb was released – two people who meet by chance and fall instantly in love, only to be immediately parted for a year. Is love at first sight a thing and can it survive an immediate separation? I couldn’t wait to find out, being a huge, squishy romantic at heart. I appreciate this one may not be for the cynical amongst you, although it is so good it might just change your mind.

The two main characters are immediately appealing. Phoebe, full of nerves and self-doubt, pushing herself to take an adventure alone that none of her friends think she is capable of. Sam seems something else in her and, his belief in her gives Phoebe courage to take that step and go on that journey to find herself and her purpose. Sam is on a different quest, he is in pursuit of answers about his own history but may also end up discovering more about himself than he anticipated, and having Phoebe there in the background might also give him courage to face those discoveries.

The challenges for the couple over the twelve months they are apart are fascinating. Can you really love someone you have only just met and don’t really know? How much can you trust them? How do you communicate across hundreds of miles without misunderstanding? How do changes in you affect the way you feel about another person? What should you put first, your own dreams or the love of your life? All of these questions are explored with real understanding and tenderness by the author in this book and will have you wondering what you would do when faced with similar dilemmas.

The first part of this book follows Sam and Phoebe on their separate travels; Phoebe through France and Italy; Sam to Scotland. As someone who is a sucker for a book featuring travel, I loved this aspect and the writing was so evocative of their journeys and the locations, I was itching to book a ticket to Paris and Rome and Glasgow and Mull. A book to both satiate and irritate your wanderlust at the same time.

The final third deals with what happens when Phoebe and Sam meet again at the end of the year, and parts of it had me screaming at the pages in a total WTF moment (excuse my language, but there is no other way to describe it). You know you have become truly engaged by the characters and the story in a novel when you start shouting at them for making the wrong decisions! I was totally charmed and involved in this relationship from the beginning to the end and could not read fast enough to find out how it was going to end, whilst at the same time as now wanting it to. A perfect recipe for great romantic fiction.

The Day We Meet Again is a book I loved. Romantic, entertaining, engaging, thoughtful, tender and moving, I relished every word. A very accomplished novel from an author whose writing keeps getting better and better. I highly recommend it.

The Day We Meet Again is out now and you can get your copy here.

About the Author

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Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. Born in Wolverhampton, in The Black Country, West Midlands, she grew up in Kingswinford and dreamed of one day writing a book that would reach the heady heights of Kingswinford Library… Her first novel, Fairytale of New York (2009) was discovered on Authonomy.com – HarperCollins’ site for unpublished authors. Within three weeks of its release, Fairytale of New York had entered the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers List, where it remained for five weeks – making it the world’s first crowd-sourced bestseller. The novel was also shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2010 at the Pure Passion Awards.

Miranda is a six-times Sunday Times Bestseller, with Fairytale of New York, Welcome to My World, It Started With a Kiss, When I Fall in Love, Take a Look at Me Now, I’ll Take New York, A Parcel for Anna Browne and Searching for a Silver Lining. Her Christmas novella, Christmas in St Ives, is a festive treat and also a prequel to her ninth novel, Somewhere Beyond the Sea. She is an international bestseller in four countries and her books have been translated into fifteen languages. To date, she has sold one million books worldwide. The Day We Meet Again is her tenth novel and publishes on 5th September 2019.

Miranda is the founder of WriteFoxy – resources, vlogs and inspiration writing days for writers of all ages and abilities. Her popular vlogs feature her own publishing journey for each new novel, together with advice for authors and lots and lots of hats!

Miranda lives in Dudley with her husband, Bob and daughter, Flo. She is also a singer-songwriter and recently released her first solo album, About Time.

Connect with Miranda:

Website: https://miranda-dickinson.com

Facebook: Miranda Dickinson Author

Twitter: @wurdsmyth

The Chase BookFest with Phillipa Ashley & Kim Nash @PhillipaAshley @KimTheBookworm #authors #BookFest #September #Event #CannockChase #Staffordshire #Readers #Writers

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Authors Phillipa Ashley and Kim Nash have joined forces with the Museum of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, to create a book festival where book lovers are invited to meet some of the UK’s most popular authors.

The Chase BookFest will be held at the Museum of Cannock Chase, Valley Road, Hednesford on Saturday 21 September 2019.

The event is Cannock Chase’s first book festival devoted to women’s popular fiction and thrillers. It has attracted a host of star names including Milly Johnson, Cathy Bramley, Miranda Dickinson, Iona Grey, Nicola May, Mark Edwards and many more best-selling and award-winning popular novelists. 

Readers will be able to enjoy author readings and join in question and answer sessions and discussions with favourite writers from the local area and further afield.

They can even have tea with an author by booking onto ‘Tea and Conversation’ audiences with Sunday Times best sellers Milly Johnson in conversation with Cathy Bramley, Romantic Novel Awards winner Iona Grey, best-selling crime thriller writer K.L. Slater and number one best-selling novelist Mark Edwards.

A pop-up Waterstones book shop will be on site for the day along with a variety of book and craft stalls and a unique book-themed ‘Yarnbombing’ display outside. 

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Bestselling author Phillipa Ashley said: “The support for previous events shows how much popular fiction is loved by readers.  We’re thrilled that the Museum has been so supportive of this event and of fiction in general.” 

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Author and Head of Publicity at publisher Bookouture, Kim Nash said: “We’ve been so lucky to get so many amazing authors on board and would love to thank them all for being so enthusiastic about the festival.’ 

Lee Bellingham, Museum Services Manager for Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, said: “The museum has been hosting very popular ‘Meet the Author’ events for some time now, and along with local authors Phillipa Ashley, Kim Nash and the book loving members of staff, we thought it would be lovely to have a book festival here. We are thrilled to be the venue for the first ever Chase BookFest.

Events like this showcase the museum not just as a home for local history, but as a community venue for arts and cultural activities. We look forward to welcoming authors from around the country to Cannock Chase for the day.”

The day runs 10am until 4pm with tickets available for £3 by calling the museum on 01543 877 666. Tea and Conversation with an author costs £5 and includes tea or coffee and cake, and Q&A Panels cost £3.  Don’t miss the chance to meet your favourite author, book in advance to avoid disappointment.   Please see the museum Facebook page and website, museumofcannockchase.org, for timetables and start planning your BookFest!

book fest time table (002) updated 29-8-19

Bloody Sheets by Andy Rausch #BookReview #BlogTour (@writerrausch1) @BlackthornTours #novella #pulpfiction #crimenoir #BloodySheets

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When a young black man is lynched in a small Alabama town, his estranged father — a crime world enforcer — sets out for revenge, embarking on a blood – soaked journey that will leave the ravaged bodies of dead Klansmen in his wake.

I am delighted to be one of the blogs rounding off the tour for Bloody Sheets by Andy Rausch, today. My thanks to Isobel Blackthorn at Blackthorn Tours for inviting me to review the book and for my digital copy, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a no holds barred, bloody, brutal story of racism, murder and revenge that is told without pause or apology, shining a relentless light on the schisms that currently fracture society in parts of America. And, whilst this tale is set in a particular section of US society, the deep divisions it portrays are not limited to its locale and the truths it reveals should make all of us sit up and take notice.

A young black male is lynched in a backwards, backwoods town in rural Alabama, and the culprits are the local Klan. Unfortunately for the Klan, the father or the murdered boy is an ex-felon enforcer for a crime kingpin and the death of his turns his particular skills away from his boss’s enemies and towards his own. Revenge is not pretty, but it is swift and brutal.

This book is not suitable for the sensitive or squeamish, peppered as it is with the basest language of racism and the goriest of violence. Some may find it offensive, although in the context of the story it is vital and not gratuitous and should be approached as such. The book is designed to shock, and that shock is necessary to make the reader confront the grotesque nature of the attitudes portrayed in it. We should be made uncomfortable by the issues, and Rausch does a fine job of making it so. However, at the same time as blasting the reader in the face with the horror of the inequalities and bigotry displayed in the story, there is also an underlying tenderness, love and pain on display in the actions of Coke as he tries to avenge his son. Something you may not expect in quite so black a story.

This is a short novella, it took me only about an hour to read, but it is fast paced and punchy, not a word wasted, with a distinctive style that takes no prisoners. Not something I pick up every day but a story that gave me food for thought and left me unexpectedly affected.

Bloody Sheets is out now and you can get a copy here.

To explore some different views of the book, please do check out the rest of the blogs on the tour:

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About the Author

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Andy Rausch is a a freelance film journalist, author, and celebrity interviewer. He has published more than twenty books on the subject of popular culture, including The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Making Movies with Orson Welles (with Gary Graver), and The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood (with Charles E. Pratt, Jr.). His work has appeared in Shock Cinema, both Screem and Scream magazines, Senses of Cinema, Diabolique, Creative Screenwriting, Film Threat, Bright Lights Film Journal, and Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture. He has written several works of fiction including Mad World, Elvis Presley: CIA Assassin, Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties, and the short story collection Death Rattles. He has also worked as a screenwriter, producer, and actor on numerous straight-to-video horror films.

Connect with Andy:

Website: authorandyrausch

Twitter: @writerrausch1

Goodreads: Andy Rausch

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Deadly Prospects by Clio Gray (The Scottish Mysteries Book One) #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@ClioGray) @urbanebooks @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #DeadlyProspects #TheScottishMysteries

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1869, Sutherland, Scotland. For years the people of this remote area of the Highlands have lived a hard life. Now a local Gold Rush has attracted the Pan-European Mining Company to the area, and Solveig McCleery is determined to re-open the Brora mines and give the population the riches they deserve.

But when work starts on re-opening the mines, the body of a prospector is discovered, and odd inscriptions found on stones near the corpse. Before the meaning of these strange marks can be deciphered another body is discovered.

Are these attacks connected to the re-opening of the mines? Will Solveig’s plan succeed in bringing peace and prosperity back to the area? Or has she put in motion something far more sinister?  

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog blitz for Deadly Prospects by Clio Gray, first book in the Scottish Mysteries series. My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group for offering me a place on the tour, and to the publisher for my ecopy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I found this book very different and refreshing, combining as it did very detailed, historical issues and a gripping mystery. I’m not sure I have read a book that felt quite so like a  fascinating history lesson and an intriguing crime puzzle at the same time.

The author chose a time period and location in which to set the book that I have never come across used in a fictional mystery before, the Highlands of Scotland around the time of the Clearances. I have always been fascinated by Scottish history and the plot really intrigued me, which is why I applied for the blog tour in the first place, but I got far more than I was expecting with this book. The level of historical detail was impressive, I learnt a huge amount about emigration between Scotland and Scandanavia that I had never known before, but it was woven into the book so cleverly that it did not feel like it was detracting from the plot in any way, but only enhancing it.

The book really captured the hardship and bleakness of the period and location, remote as it was, and barren, and the struggles that the people had to try and hang on to their homes and scratch out a living in the face of adversity, both natural and man-made. The characters were well drawn and compelling and I was completely pulled in to the story and held captive while it played out. I found it sinister and disturbing, and I did not see the twists it was going to take coming at all.

The author is clearly passionate about the topic she is writing about and has taken a great deal of time and care in researching this book before writing it. The depth and breadth of the research that has gone into it can only be a labour of love and I think this shines through in the writing. The book affected me more than I expected, and was one of those happy surprises that come along rarely, an un-hyped book that exceeds expectations and takes you places you never saw coming but swept you away. I highly recommend this for lovers of great historical fiction.

Deadly Prospects is available now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Clio was born in Yorkshire, spent her later childhood in Devon before returning to Yorkshire to go to university. For the last twenty five years she has lived in the Scottish Highlands where she intends to remain. She eschewed the usual route of marriage, mortgage, children, and instead spent her working life in libraries, filling her home with books and sharing that home with dogs. She began writing for personal amusement in the late nineties, then began entering short story competitions, getting short listed and then winning, which led directly to a publication deal with Headline. Her book, The Anatomist’s Dream, was nominated for the Man Booker 2015 and long listed for the Bailey’s Prize in 2016.

Connect with Clio:

Website: https://www.cliogray.com

Twitter: @ClioGray

Love Books Group Tours (1)