Michael Morpurgo 8 Book Set Collection from @Books2DoorUK

8 book collection

You know, I love being a blogger because I get offered all kinds of books to review. Today I’m delighted to be featuring another selection from the fabulous folk at Books2Door. This time I’m looking at the Michael Morpurgo Series One 8 Book Set Collection which features War Horse. As I’ve read and taught many of the books in this set I’ve chosen to review Long Way Home in detail as I hadn’t read it before.

This is the third time I’ve featured books from Books2Door and you can read my review of The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff here and the 10 book box set Horrid Henry’s Mischievous Mayhem by Francesca Simon here.

Michael Morpurgo Series One 8 Book Set Collection is available for purchase here.

Michael Morpurgo Series One 8 Book Set Collection

8 book collection

This collection contains 8 brilliant novels from Michael Morpurgo, one of the most popular children’s authors of modern times, and comes in a beautiful keepsake box.

With Morpurgo attracting a new legion of fans after the success of the West End play and Steven Spielberg’s Hollywood adaptation of War Horse, there has never been a better time to introduce your children to his other fantastic heart-warming stories.

A natural storyteller, his books are epic tales of triumph and tragedy, human kindness and cruelty, animal humility and sensitivity.

Morpurgo introduces children to some of the bigger issues of life, often against the backdrop of of brilliantly researched history.

Description by Single Titles:

  • War Horse
  • Kensuke’s Kingdom
  • Long Way Home
  • Mr Nobody’s Eyes
  • The Wreck of the Zanzibar
  • King of the Cloud Forests
  • Escape fromShangri-La
  • Why the Whales Came

My Review of Michael Morpurgo Series One 8 Book Set Collection

This is a stunning collection of 8 brilliant books from a master storyteller.

I have to comment on the quality of how this set is presented. There’s a handy cardboard slip cover to keep the books together and I like the way in which the two cover images are repeated inside the cover too. Each of the books is beautifully designed with colourful and eye catching covers that will draw in children of all ages – even those approaching their 6th decade like me!

Having read, taught and enjoyed so many of the books in this collection in the past, I have chosen to concentrate specifically on Long Way Home for this review as it’s one I haven’t read before.

I loved this story. In typical Morpurgo fashion, the reader is drawn into the narrative instantly because of the natural dialogue and the attention to details that help paint a picture in the mind’s eye.

The characters are rounded and believable and any child will relate to George, Tom and Storme. It is wonderful how Michael Morpurgo manages to convey George’s insecurities and his desire for love and a home so sensitively that there is instant empathy and understanding form the reader. Children will be able to explore their own fears (such as being unable to swim, or being rejected) in a safe and helpful way through reading Long Way Home.

The plot races along with conflict, peril and adventure making for a thrilling read. Subtle cautionary messages underpin the exciting writing so that children can learn whilst being entertained. The dynamics of family life are also portrayed vividly and realistically, but I thoroughly appreciated the fact that George in in care as such children rarely have enough representation in children’s fiction. Reading Long Way Home will help give them status and self-worth. I found Long Way Home an emotional, compelling and affecting story.

This collection of Michael Morpurgo stories feels to me as if it should be compulsory reading for children of all ages because it has something for everyone. There’s war, animal rights, love, family, relationships, adventure – indeed everything any reader could ever want. Fabulous storytelling as ever from Michael Morpurgo. I cannot recommend this box set highly enough.

About Michael Morpurgo

michael morpurgo

Multi-award winning author, Michael Morpurgo, is one of Britain’s best-loved writers for children and has won many prizes, including the Smarties Prize, The Writers Guild Award and the Blue Peter Book Award for Private Peaceful, which has also had two successful runs as a play devised by Bristol Old Vic. From 2003 to 2005 he was the Children’s Laureate, a role which took him all over the UK to promote literacy and reading, and in 2005 he was named the Booksellers Association Author of the Year.

You can find out more by visiting Michael Morpurgo’s website.

The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke

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Although I’m taking a bit of a blog tour sabbatical at the moment, I’m so glad I agreed to take part in this book birthday blitz for The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke, thanks to fellow blogger and friend Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Secret to Falling in Love and have my review to share today.

If you’re a UK blog reader, you might also like to know that there is a smashing giveaway at the bottom of this blog post where you can enter to win an ARC of The Secret to Falling in Love as well as some rather delicious Belgian truffles.

The Secret to falling in Love is available for purchase here.

The Secret to Falling in Love

the secret to falling in love

Status Update: I’m going offline for a while… Wish me luck! xx

Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta’s and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.

That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.

If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

My review of The Secret to Falling in Love

Mel is about to go social media cold turkey for her job…

The Secret to falling in Love is a super read. I think it may have been the right book at the right moment for me but I had just read some very intense so-called literary books and this one felt like the perfect pick me up palette cleanser – a bit like the sorbet course in a heavy meal! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I thought Victoria Cooke had the perfect style for what is often called chick-lit, but without the contrived saccharine features that sometimes occur. Her natural direct speech, her vivid descriptions and Mel’s first person narrative, with the occasional aside to the reader, all worked fabulously well so that this felt like a book where I could just relax as a reader and enjoy the story. I loved the theme of what life can be like if we just step away from our phones and social media for a month, and the messages of what makes a true friend or boyfriend, appreciating our friends and family and the world around us first hand, rather than vicariously through the distorted lens of social media, made The Secret to Falling in Love a brilliant book to read and a salutary tale to ponder.

Mel is a super character. She genuinely felt like someone I might know in real life and I was so convinced about her that I wanted her to have a happy ever after ending. In fact, as an older reader, I was genuinely saddened by the highly realistic concept that at 35 a woman is being left behind if she hasn’t found a life partner. I fear society really does believe this. I’m not going to say anything about the men in the story, except to say that I certainly preferred one of them, as too much detail will spoil the read!

There is a hugely entertaining plot in The Secret to Falling in Love that has several surprises along the way so that I think this would make a brilliant film.

I loved this book. I hadn’t read anything by Victoria Cooke before and am delighted to have discovered the perfect pick-me-up read in The Secret to Falling in Love. Uplit at its best!

About Victoria Cooke

Victoria Cooke Image

Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, The Secret to Falling in Love, in 2016.

You can find out more by visiting Victoria’s website, finding her on Facebook and Instagram and following her on Twitter @victoriacooke10.

Giveaway

The Secret to Falling In Love Giveaway Prize

Win an ARC of The Secret to Falling in Love and a box of Belgian Truffles (UK Only)

Please note that this giveaway is independent from Linda’s Book Bag under the following conditions:

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

To enter the giveaway, please click here.

Spring Blogger Evening 2019 with @TeamBATC

books and the city

It’s always such a thrill when an invitation to an event run by Books and the City @TeamBATC for Simon and Schuster drops into my inbox. This year was no exception and I was delighted to head off to London for an evening of chat, laughter and fun last Wednesday.

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The wonderfully irrepressible Sara-Jade (@BookMinxSJV) made us all so welcome with glasses of fizz, nibbles and Restoration Cake cupcakes as we mingled, chatting with authors and fellow bloggers.

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As Milly Johnson will be one of the authors at the Deepings Literary Festival where I live in May (tickets available here by the way) it was good to catch up with her again.

It was lovely to join blogger Kirsty from The Curious Ginger Cat Blog in the special photo booth for Messy, Wonderful Us so that Rich could take our picture.

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Also very special for me was having time to have a proper chat with Anstey Harris as I so loved The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton reviewed here and last time we met we didn’t have time to talk properly.

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Once we’d eaten and drunk as much as we could, we were treated to readings from some the atending authors, introduced by Bec Farrell. It’s always so exciting hearing authors actually reading their own writing as it brings it alive. Once the readings were complete we had a further chance to chat with our writers who were armed with Sharpies and signed our books and samplers for us. We came away with the usual stunning goody bags, including proofs and samplers, chocolate, shower gel, a notebook and a bookish necklace from Oh Panda Eyes.

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It really was a glorious evening.

Let me tell you a bit about some of the books we were introduced to. Some are so new that covers and details have yet to be revealed so don’t be surprised that I can share too much yet.

Firstly, the authors from whom we had readings:

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

the glittering hour

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying just the right side of scandal.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go.

Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, this is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss.

 

The Glittering Hour is available for pre-order here.

If You Were Here by Alice Peterson

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‘I can toast to my future, but the thundercloud over my head, the threat of a storm, will follow me like a shadow wherever I go. The truth is, I have a potential bomb in my bag, and who knows when or where it will go off.’

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

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

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

If You Were Here is available for pre-order here.

Living My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost

Living my best life

Bell had it all, the perfect job, the perfect partner, and on their 10th anniversary she thought she would get the ring… But two weeks later, Bell wakes up to find herself still clutching a wine bottle and the memories of Collin saying those dreaded words: ‘We need to talk…’

Determined to get on with her life before she hits 40, Bell starts following ‘inspirational’ people on Instagram. Her favourite lifestyle guru is @mi_bestlife, whose life seems Insta-perfect but if you were to zoom out of the heavily filtered picture, you’d see reality strike.

Millie is a single mother, with a cute son called Wolfie, whose father is absolutely useless and not much on the scene. Instagram and the profile she has built up online is more ‘best lie’ than ‘best life’. It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths finally cross that the two women begin to understand what is real and what it is that they really want.

Living My Best Li(f)e is available for pre-order here.

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew by Milly Johnson

the magnificcent mrs mayhew

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhewlooks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie ‘the trophy’ plays her part in front of the cameras.

But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there.  Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.

But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie?

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew is available for pre-order here.

You can read a guest post with Milly here on Linda’s Book Bag to celebrate The Mother of all Christmases here and my review of Milly’s The Perfectly Imperfect Woman here.

The Love Child by Rachel Hore

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Now, this is so new I don’t even have access to the blurb and sadly I haven’t had time to type it out from the back of my sampler but what I can tell you is that Rachel’s reading had me gripped and I can’t wait to read this one about an unmarried mother and a child adopted by a couple unable to have children of their own…

The Love Child is available for pre-order here.

Then two books we received as proofs in our goody bags:

Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac

messy wonderful us proof

One morning in early summer, a man and woman wait to board a flight to Italy.

Allie has lived a careful, focused existence. But now she has unexpectedly taken leave from her job as an academic research scientist to fly to a place she only recently heard about in a letter. Her father, Joe, doesn’t know the reason for her trip, and Allie can’t bring herself to tell him that she’s flying to Italy to unpick the truth about what her mother did all those years ago.

Beside her is her best friend since schooldays, Ed. He has just shocked everyone with a sudden separation from his wife, Julia. Allie hopes that a break will help him open up.

But the secrets that emerge as the sun beats down on Lake Garda and Liguria don’t merely concern her family’s tangled past. And the two friends are forced to confront questions about their own life-long relationship that are impossible to resolve.

Messy, Wonderful Us is available for pre-order here.

(I loved Catherine Isaac’s You, Me, Everything which has now been optioned for a film and you can read my review of that book here. I spent an ‘evening in’ with Catherine here too.)

If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon

If you could go anywhere

Angie has always wanted to travel. But at 27, she has still never left her small mining town in the Australian outback. When her grandmother passes away, Angie finally feels free to see the world – until she discovers a letter addressed to the father she never knew and is forced to question everything.

As Angie sets off on her journey to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will enigmatic stranger Alessandro help guide the way?

If You Could Go Anywhere is available for pre-order here.

You’ll find my review of Paige Toon’s The Last Piece of My Heart here and of Five Years From Now here.

And last, but by no means least, the sample books from our goody bags:

Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain

Poppy's recipe for life

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

Poppy’s Recipe for Life is available for pre-order here.

Heidi is such a good friend she’s been on Linda’s Book Bag almost as often as I have, most recently here when she wrote a smashing guest post to celebrate the publication of Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland

We also stayed in together to discuss Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square here, and you can read my review of Heidi’s Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market here.

Those People by Louise Candlish

Those People proof

Could you hate your neighbour enough to plot to kill him?

Until Darren Booth moves in at number 1, Lowland Way, the neighbourhood is a suburban paradise. But soon after his arrival, disputes over issues like loud music and parking rights escalate all too quickly to public rows and threats of violence.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific crime shocks the street.

As the police go house-to-house, the residents close ranks and everyone’s story is the same: Booth did it.

But there’s a problem. The police don’t agree with them.

Those People is available for pre-order here.

If Those People is as brilliant as Louise’s Our House (my review of which is here) we are in for a stunner with this one!

The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen by Juliet Ashton

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Again, as you can tell from the image taken on my phone, I have very little I can actually tell you yet except to say I’ve read the blurb and initial pages for this book and I can’t wait to move in to Cherry Blossom Mews.

As The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen is so new I thought I’d remind you of my review for Juliet Ashton’s The Sunday Lunch Club that you can read here, and of her wonderful The Woman at Number 24 that you can find here.

 

Thank you Simon and Schuster

I’d just like to thank all the team at Simon and Schuster for making this one of my highlight events of the year. They work so hard to make sure bloggers have a fantastic evening, get to speak with every author (including those like wonderful Anstey Harris who wasn’t a formal part of the evening but whose book The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton was just fabulous as you can see here) and go away with new books and goodies that are second to none. We’re in for a fabulous reading year.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I let you go

One of the authors I’ve been meaning to read since I began blogging is Clare Mackintosh and I have a couple of her books lurking on my TBR pile, so I was delighted when her psychological thriller I Let You Go turned out to be the choice for the U3A book group to which I belong. I’ll be interested to discover what they all thought of it on Monday but I’m sharing my views today!

Published by Little Brown imprint Sphere, I Let You Go is available for purchase through these links.

I Let You Go

I let you go

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .

My Review of I Let You Go

On one evening for Jenna, events will spiral out of control affecting the rest of her life.

I found I Let You Go a completely absorbing and entertaining narrative that held me gripped throughout. There’s an intensity and menace from the start that doesn’t abate throughout. The plot is cleverly constructed and although I guessed some of the twists, others blindsided me with their cleverness. I thought Clare Mackintosh’s story was brilliantly constructed and I’m only sorry that this is my first reading of one of her books.

The title I Let You Go is so apposite because it could relate to the relationships Jenna has, the police and their investigations and various elements of the plot about which I can’t really comment without spoilers. Clare Mackintosh cleverly manipulated both plot and reader under her title so that there are moments of revelation and surprise that feel perfect.

I often find narratives from different perspectives frustrating, but in I Let You Go the balance between Jenna’s first person story and the third person elements relating to Ray and Kate works seamlessly. I was equally engaged with both aspects and desperate to know what would happen next. In fact, I’d go so far as to say these two strands are vital to allow the reader to recover from each ingeniously mastered section. Jenna and Ian in particular are fabulous creations. Their actions are so far removed from anything I might have experienced, but utterly believable and compelling. I Let You Go is a powerfully effective portrayal of the human psyche.

Alongside vivid descriptions of the Welsh coast and a twisty and thrilling narrative are weighty considerations for the reader too, so that I let You Go provides so much more than mere, albeit brilliant, entertainment. Clare Mackintosh made me confront the manner in which we are shaped by events and relationships, particularly abusive ones; she caused me to think about the ways the media and the public respond to those in the spotlight without necessarily having the full details and how crime and investigation can impact not only on the victims, but on those investigating too.

I Let You Go is a narrative that can be read and enjoyed on so many levels. Its one of those books that reverberates and has impact long after it has finished. It may be my first Clare Mackintosh book, but my goodness, it won’t be the last. At the risk of being completely clichéd, I could not put it down! It’s a cracking psychological thriller.

About Clare Mackintosh

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Clare Mackintosh spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant and is the founder of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival. She now writes full time and lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

Clare’s debut novel, I Let You Go, was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It was selected for both the Richard and Judy Book Club (and was the winning title of the readers’ vote for the summer 2015 selection) and for ITV’s Loose Women’s Loose Books. It is a New York Times bestseller, with translation rights sold to more than 30 countries.

Her second psychological thriller, I See You, was a number 1 Sunday Times bestseller and Audible’s best selling psychological thriller in 2016. Translation rights have been sold to almost 30 countries.

Clare is the patron of the Silver Star Society, an Oxford-based charity which supports the work carried out in the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Silver Star unit, providing special care for mothers with medical complications during pregnancy.

You can find out more on Clare’s website. You’ll also find her on Facebook and can follow Clare on Twitter @claremackint0sh.

Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize

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Ever since I read Under MilkWood over 40 years ago I have been fascinated by Dylan Thomas so it gives me enormous pleasure to bring you information about the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize, not least as I shall be attending the awards ceremony at the British Library in May.

Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the prize is named after the Swansea-born writer, Dylan Thomas, and celebrates his 39 years of creativity and productivity. One of the most influential, internationally-renowned writers of the mid-twentieth century, the prize invokes his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow.

Launched in 2006, The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is the largest literary prize in the world for young writers. In 2019 Swansea University will be the first British University to launch an English module based solely on a literary prize, where students will examine the works longlisted for the Prize.

The longlist was announced on 31st January and the shortlist will be made public on 2nd April. The winner will be announced on Thursday 16thth May at Swansea University’s Great Hall, just after International Dylan Thomas Day on 14 May.

This year’s longlist celebrates a whole host of debut authors, including eight dynamic and unique female writers, of which three are debut novelists and one is celebrating her debut poetry collection, and four amazing new, critically acclaimed, debut male voices.

The Judges

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The twelve longlisted titles will be judged by a panel chaired by Professor Dai Smith CBE,  BBC BroadcasterDi Speirs, award-winning novelist Kit de Waal and Professor Kurt Heinzelman. All their details can be found here. I’m thrilled that Kit de Waal has featured on Linda’s Book Bag here.

The Longlisted Authors

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Top from left: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Clare Fisher, Michael Donkor, Emma Glass, Guy Gunaratne, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

Top from left: Zoe Gilbert, Sarah Perry, Richard Scott, Louisa Hall, Sally Rooney, Jenny Xie

(No bias here on Linda’s Book Bag but I did love Clare Fisher’s Debut All The Good Things and you can read my review here.)

Recognised for its celebration of experimental and challenging young voices in contemporary writing, this year’s longlist highlights more than ever the challenging world we live by tackling head on difficult topics – including domestic violence, mental health, rape, racism, gender and identity.

This year’s longlist of 12 books comprises eight novels, two short story collections and two poetry collections:

  • Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US) and Riverrun (UK))
  • Michael Donkor, Hold (4th Estate)
  • Clare Fisher, How the Light Gets In (Influx Press)
  • Zoe Gilbert, Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Emma Glass, Peach ((Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Guy Gunaratne, In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press, Headline)
  • Louisa Hall, Trinity (Ecco)
  • Sarah Perry, Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Sally Rooney, Normal People (Faber & Faber)
  • Richard Scott, Soho (Faber & Faber)
  • Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, House of Stone (Atlantic Books)
  • Jenny Xie, Eye Level (Graywolf Press)

I think this sounds like an amazing collection of writing and I look forward to reading and featuring many of these talented young writers on the blog over the coming months.

You can find more details by following #IDTP19 or @dylanthomprize on Twitter. The Swansea University website has all you need to know.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

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My enormous thanks to Caolinn Douglas at Little Brown for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for The Lost Man by Jane Harper and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

The Lost Man will be published by Little Brown tomorrow, 7th February 2019 and is available for purchase through these links.

The Lost Man

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He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

My Review of The Lost Man

When Cameron’s body is found next to the old stockman’s grave in the outback, no-one can work out why he died so far from his car.

Jane Harper’s writing has been so well received that I had probably unrealistically high expectations for The Lost Man. However, the author far exceeded each one. The Lost Man is totally sublime.

The title is so apt. It’s not just Cameron who is lost and found dead, but any of the men in this book could be the lost man. Each has his demons, his secrets, his losses and his pride that prevent him from becoming the man he wants to be. I actually found Jane Harper’s exploration of Nathan in particular, as well as Bub and Harry, quite tender and poignant so that they felt like real men in my own life and not mere characters on the page. Even the brutal, bullying Carl is a lost man. Equally affecting is the impact these lost men have on those around them, so that everyone in The Lost Man is touched by a brilliantly conveyed theme of disorientation and being adrift.

The mystery surrounding Cam’s death thrums with menace throughout the narrative so that I felt both tense and mesmerised by the writing. It’s such a cleverly constructed plot. The way in which small details are uncovered made it impossible not to continue reading. I found Jane Harper’s prose hypnotic and I could not tear myself away. She has a wonderfully distinctive and compelling authorial voice; sometimes as if she’s one of her characters and at other times as if she herself is part of the narrative. I found this incredibly effective. The searing realism of the outback and life in remote Australian places, that leaps from the page through her vivid descriptions and through the realistic and natural dialogue, is absolutely transporting. I was there with Nathan as he struggled to come to terms with Cam’s death and his own life. The undercurrent of violence made me feel quite nervous and I was never quite sure when that violence might erupt.

The emotions in The Lost Man are palpable.  Love, grief and passion are balanced by jealousy, hatred and relief so that every word in this amazing story felt poised, balanced and perfect. I had to compose myself at times as I read. My heart beat more rapidly on occasion and at other times I found I was holding my breath. The explorations of morality, memory and perception left me reeling. As soon as I had established what I thought was happening, Jane Harper shifted my viewpoint as easily as the winds shift the sand at the stockman’s grave. She made me give deep consideration to behaviour, blame and guilt so that I found The Lost Man thought provoking as well as enormously entertaining.

Occasionally I find an author whose writing I find hard to define and describe. That is the case with Jane Harper’s The Lost Man. It is a beautifully written insight into humanity. I think it will be hard to find a book I have enjoyed more this year. The Lost Man is phenomenal.

About Jane Harper

jane harper

Jane Harper is the author of the international bestsellers The Dry and Force of NatureHer books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea.

Jane has won numerous top awards including the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year, the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year and the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year.

Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK and now lives in Melbourne.

You can find out more by visiting Jane’s website and finding her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @janeharperautho.

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3

You Belong To Me by Mark Tilbury

Mark Tilbury - You Belong To Me_cover

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for You Belong To Me by Mark Tilbury and would like to thank Mark and Emma Whelton at Bloodhound Books for inviting me to participate. This is one of the tours I agreed to before I decided on my tour ‘sabbatical’ and I’m so pleased to be taking part.

I have previously reviewed Marks The Abattoir of Dreams here and it became one of my books of the year in 2017 in a post you can read here. I was lucky enough to interview Mark when The Liar’s Promise was published (here) and Mark stayed in with me here on the blog more recently to chat about The Abattoir of Dreams.

Published by Bloodhound Books, You Belong To Me is available for purchase here.

You Belong To Me

Mark Tilbury - You Belong To Me_cover

Can two wrongs ever make a right?

The police never found fifteen-year-old Ellie Hutton. She vanished ten years ago after walking home from school along a disused railway track. But Danny Sheppard knows exactly what happened to her. She is dead and buried in a field near Lassiter’s Brook.

Now Cassie Rafferty has gone missing. Same age. Similar circumstances. And Danny also knows what has happened to her.

Can Danny fight his demons and tell the truth this time?

Or will history repeat itself and leave another innocent girl dead?

My Review of You Belong To Me

When school girl Cassie Rafferty goes missing it looks as if the past is going to catch up with the present.

Oh my goodness. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed Mark Tilbury’s You Belong To Me because it made me feel very disturbed and uncomfortable, but my goodness it’s a powerful read.

It’s tricky to say too much about the plot without spoiling the reading experience for others, but the three part structure works so well, especially with the theme of retribution and Keiran’s religious beliefs weaving through so that I kept thinking of the holy trinity and ethics in general. I found the middle section, dealing with the boys in the past, brutal and savage because of the realistic dialogue and the escalating violence of Calum. It was so effectively written that I had to keep giving myself a breather as I read to recover. I loved the way the narrative was resolved at the end.

What made me so disquieted about reading You Belong To Me was the way it made me question my own morality. Danny’s desire to outwit his evil brother Calum steps beyond what might be called acceptable behaviour, but I was with him all the way. I felt almost complicit in his actions and that didn’t make for an easy feeling. Mark Tilbury has an incredible knack of getting inside the very soul of a character, especially one like Calum, and making the reader understand them entirely. I found myself contemplating whether humans have the capacity to be born evil or whether Calum was simply incredibly ill. I’m not sure I know the answer even after reading You Belong To Me and I still don’t know if I would have gone along with Danny and the others.

As well as my helpless fascination with the character of Calum, I thought the four younger boys, Danny, Rob, Josh and Keiran were entirely realistic too. Their naive boasting, their bravado and the way in which they are affected by events seemed utterly believable and actually, terribly sad. Although I didn’t always like some of their language and attitudes, I have taught enough youngsters from challenging backgrounds to appreciate just how accurate a picture these parts of the narrative are.

You Belong To Me isn’t a book I will forget in a hurry and I’m beginning to find that this is characteristic of Mark Tilbury’s writing. He has the capacity to present the most barbarous actions utterly convincingly and to make the reader wonder ‘What if?’. I find this compelling and terrifying in equal measure. What a read!

About Mark Tilbury

mark tilbury

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar, and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

You can follow Mark on Twitter @MTilburyAuthor, visit his website and find him on Facebook.

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