The death of the sentence by Richard Doyle

I don’t read enough experimental writing so I am grateful to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour for Richard Doyle’s The death of the sentence. I’m sharing my review today.

Independently published, The death of the sentence is available for purchase here.

The death of the sentence

The death of the sentence is the debut role of the writer; the plight of the poetry pamphlet; an inventive homage; science in the novel; science fiction in the real world; prose spaceship and singular music; both fun –

Simple in style yet steeped in emotion, I recommend The death of the sentence for poetry newbs and aficionados alike – Dystopic.co.uk

My Review of The death of the sentence

A collection of experimental writing.

Given that The death of the sentence is only a few pages long, Richard Doyle packs an enormous amount into this collection. Featuring both poetry and prose the reader can dip in and find much to ponder.

My favourite piece was My novel as it made me think about the books I’ve read and to see if I could think of a work to fit each of Richard Doyle’s categories so that reading The death of the sentence became an interactive experience.

Richard Doyle’s writing techniques are fascinating. His use of repetition in alive, for example, creates a feeling of history repeating itself whilst providing an oxymoronic intimate distance between the two voices. So much of what is written can be interpreted on many levels giving the reader cause to think. Pushbike Passion may well have a literal sense with a bicycle tyre puncture, but the impression of emotional hurt, possibly even of religious iconography, gives many layers to appreciate and this is true of the pieces across the collection.

Underpinning all the writing in The death of the sentence is a sensation of unfulfilled desire and ambition that I think would resonate with any aspiring writer as well as with readers. It is as if Richard Doyle feels he has not achieved his potential. Add in the many literary references, with images of the galaxies and nature, and there is a profound sense of the universal insignificance of humankind that I found affecting and thought provoking.

I am aware that my comments are very much my own personal responses to The death of the sentence and I think this is what makes it work so well. Richard Doyle’s writing is obviously personal to him but it affords the reader an opportunity to consider their own life and their role in the world. I found The death of the sentence very interesting.

About Richard Doyle

Richard Doyle is an old-school SF fan who began writing seriously in 2001. He has a Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and collaborated on a book in 2006. He has had poems published in the UK poetry magazines Orbis and Sarasvati and is a regular member of the Bristol Stanza Poetry Group.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Endless Skies by Jane Cable

It’s far, far, too long since Jane Cable appeared on Linda’s Book Bag with a guest post explaining how the past is never dead, to celebrate her novel Another You. You can read that post here and it is equally relevant to Endless Skies! Today, with thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in this blog blitz, I’m delighted to share my review of Jane’s latest book, Endless Skies.

Endless Skies is available for purchase here and is 99p in ebook until the end of today.

Endless Skies

As archaeologist Rachel excavates a World War Two airfield, could a love story from the past hold a lesson for her as well?

After yet another disastrous love affair Rachel has been forced to leave her long-term position for a temporary role as an Archaeology Lecturer at Lincoln University. Rachel has sworn off men and is determined to spend her time away clearing her head and sorting her life out. But when one of her students begins flirting with her, it seems she could be about to make the same mistakes again…

She distracts herself by taking on some freelance work for local property developer, Jonathan Daubney. He introduces her to an old Second World War RAF base. And from her very first visit something about it gives Rachel chills…

As Rachel makes new friends and delves into local history, she is also forced to confront her own troubled past. Could a wartime love story have any bearing on her own situation? Could this time be different?

My Review of Endless Skies

Rachel’s new job might be interesting!

I thoroughly enjoyed Endless Skies because it has a wonderful blend of history and modernity that borders the mystical but retains total credibility so that I found it fascinating. It’s a cracking multi-layered love story too.

One of the aspects of Endless Skies that I absolutely loved was its Lincolnshire setting. My home county rarely features in fiction and Jane Cable manages to create its atmosphere and aviation history so vividly without over dominating the story. The references to Hemswell and the antique centre took me right back there and added an extra layer of pleasure to my reading. Jane Cable has a deft touch in providing enough physical detail to paint a picture but without slowing the plot and I found her direct speech utterly natural so that I felt as if I were listening in to Rachel’s conversations. This all combined to immerse me into teh narrative.

I found the characters in Endless Skies very realistic. They could so easily be any one of us that they appeal completely. Rachel’s actions are rash and foolhardy on occasion, but who hasn’t done something they regret at some point? This aspect of her character made me sympathise with her far more. I wanted her to be happy, and I wanted to know what had happened to her in the past because I cared about her. I thoroughly enjoyed Jane Cable’s uncovering of Jonathan and her depiction of Ben felt sadly all too possible.

Indeed, the themes woven into the characterisation are very affecting. Grief and regret, love and friendship, the past and its echoes, emotional depth and shallowness all add up to a rich texture that I felt had a universal relevance and have left me thinking after finishing the book. It’s hard to explain too much more without spoiling the reading experience for others.

However, setting, character and theme aside, Endless Skies is a cracking narrative. I loved the echoes of the past that underpinned present action. I found the pace just right for a character driven story with a smashing balance of action and more reflective parts so that the book felt as if it had a maturity to it that I very much appreciated.

Endless Skies is a super book. Historical, romantic, realistic and engaging, Endless Skies provides fabulous entertainment. I very much recommend it.

About Jane Cable

Jane Cable writes romance with a twist, that extra something to keep readers guessing right to the end. While her books are character driven her inspiration is always a British setting; so far a village in Yorkshire (The Cheesemaker’s House), a Hampshire wood (The Faerie Tree), gorgeous Studland Bay in Dorset (Another You) and rural Lincolnshire (Endless Skies).

Jane was born and raised in Cardiff but spent most of her adult life living near Chichester before she and her husband upped sticks and moved to Cornwall three years ago.

Jane published her first two novels independently and has now been signed by Sapere Books. She am an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and contributing editor to Frost online magazine.

You can follow Jane on Twitter @JaneCable, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

#Quercus2021 Word of Mouth Best Sellers Evening

Last year, when the world wasn’t in chaos, I was thrilled to attend the Quercus Word of Mouth Best Sellers evening where I was excited to meet several authors and to receive some fabulous books coming out in 2020. You can read all about that event here.

One of the aspects of life in a Covid 19 world that I have found most frustrating is not being able to meet up with fellow bloggers and authors on an almost weekly basis and if I’m honest, I may have had enough Zoom and online events to last me a lifetime! However, when an invitation to attend the virtual #Quercus2021 arrived in my inbox, I knew this was an online event I simply couldn’t miss and I signed up right away.

Imagine my delight when a box of fabulous goodies arrived the day before #Quercus2021, generating much excitement about the night to come. When I opened it up I found an abundance of treats:

Now, of course, my difficulty was to decide which stage to attend as I wanted to hear every session, but sadly that wasn’t possible. The main part of the evening was introduced by Quercus marketing director Bethan Ferguson.

The sessions included:

Lucy Anne Holmes, author of Women On Top Of The World interviewed by her editor Katy Follain

Lucy-Anne Holmes is a writer, actress and campaigner living in Sussex. She is the author of three previous novels which were published in ten countries, and of Don’t Hold My Head Down, her funny and eye-opening personal sexual odyssey. Lucy-Anne was also the founder of the No More Page 3 campaign to convince the owners and editors of The Sun newspaper to cease its Page 3 feature, which showed photos of topless models. The newspaper withdrew this feature as a result of the movement. When she is not working on Women On Top Of The World, Lucy-Anne is on a training course to become a sacred sexual priestess.

Women On Top Of The World

‘A brilliant testament to those reclaiming their sexual power’ – RUBY RARE

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHRISSIE HYNDE, JENNY ECLAIR AND MANY OTHERS

What goes through a woman’s head while she’s having sex?

Women on Top of the World is a collection of 51 first person testimonies by 51 women from around the globe, from all ages and from all walks of life. Searingly honest, they reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings during sex to writer Lucy-Anne Holmes. The result is an incredible compendium of true disclosures that are funny and sad, shocking and tender.

Every experience is different, unique and fascinating. From 19-year-old Melodie in the UK to 32 year-old Wambui from Kenya and 74-year-old Lucy in New Zealand, we as readers are led down as many paths as there are ways to have sex. There are heterosexual women, gay women, bisexual women, queer women, monogamous women, polyamorous women, non-binary women and transgender women. There is beautiful sex, bored sex, auto-sexuality, crazy sex, tantric sex, sad sex and sex that is experienced as colours and melted toffee.

A range of hugely talented, cutting-edge artists from all over the world – both male and female – have given their visual interpretations with rich and remarkable illustrations that convey the range of emotions contained within these intimate revelations.

The result is a stunning, transportive book that will help quench the obvious thirst for narratives for women by women about their journeys of sexual self-discovery.

Published on 25th February 2021 Women On Top Of The World is available for pre-order here.

I was fascinated by the conversation about Women On Top Of The World and think it’ll be a life changer for some women!

Selina Flavius, author of Black Girl Finance

Selina Flavius is a London-based Senior Account Exec who created and runs the coaching platform Black Girl Finance. A conversation with a colleague about investing and financial goals prompted Selina to research how BAME women fare when it comes to their money and finances – and, after reading the ethnicity pay gap statistics, was determined to help women start thriving financially. After carrying out a mini survey about how best women respond to information about finances and doing a web-design course, she put her thoughts into action and launched her website and Instagram account in April 2019 to create a safe space for women to talk all things money. Black Girl Finance is Selina’s first book.

Black Girl Finance

START FINANCIALLY THRIVING WITH BLACK GIRL FINANCE

We don’t like thinking about money, do we? We think maths, we think spreadsheets, we think boring. But Selina Flavius, founder of Black Girl Finance, wants to show that there can be another, better way. A way to start making our hard-earned money work even harder for us.

Selina Flavius created Black Girl Finance to address the unique difficulties Black women and women of colour face due to the gender and ethnicity pay gaps. Since we literally can’t afford to wait for change, we need to start changing things up for ourselves. From challenging money mindsets to teaching key skills, such as how to set up an emergency fund and where to start with budgeting, investing and saving, Black Girl Finance provides a safe space for a community of unapologetic, ambitious, money-minded women to get real about their finances.

Black Girl Finance is the guide every woman needs to kick-start their financial journey. Packed with tips, tricks and tools, as well as statistics, personal stories, goal-setting exercises and straight-talking advice, this will be your go-to helping hand when it comes to making your financial goals a reality.

Published on 21st January 2021, Black Girl Finance is available for pre-order here.

The advice from Selina on the night was crystal clear and incredibly helpful. Don’t miss Black Girl Finance!

Francesca Specter, author of Alonement

Francesca Specter is a London-based journalist and founder of the platform and podcast, Alonement. Prior to launching alonement in 2019, Francesca was the deputy editor of Yahoo! Lifestyle. She has formerly worked as a reporter at the Daily Express, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Telegraph and Grazia. She holds an M.A. degree in Magazine Journalism from City University, London, and she has been nominated for several awards for her work, including the PPA Digital Rising Star award. Alonement is Francesca’s first book.

Alonement

How to be alone and absolutely own it, by founder of the Alonement blog and podcast, Francesca Specter.

Being alone has a serious branding issue. We’ve only ever had negative language to talk about flying solo – but what about when time spent alone is restorative and joyful? What if it’s something you crave? What if it’s even just an hour you’ve carved out for yourself in the middle of a hectic week?

Enter: Alonement, Francesca Specter’s empowering new word to express valuing your own company and dedicating quality time to yourself, whoever you are and whatever your relationship status.

Between open-plan offices, two-for-one vouchers and co-habiting with partners and friends, most of us don’t know how to be alone – yet our life-long relationship with ourselves is the most important one we’ll ever have. A reformed ‘extreme extrovert’ who struggled to spend even an hour alone, Francesca made the resolution in January 2019 to improve her solitude skills. Having spent two months of lockdown by herself, Francesca knows better than most how to optimise the quality of time spent alone.

Packed with practical tips, insights from key experts and lessons from guests of the Alonement podcast – including Alain de Botton, Florence Given, Konnie Huq and Camilla Thurlow – Francesca reveals how we can all thrive alone, whatever our circumstances, and harness the untapped power of some meaningful time with me, myself and I.

Published on 4th March 2021 Alonement is available for pre-order here.

Ali Benjamin, author of The Smash-Up in conversation with her publicist Ana McLaughlin

Ali Benjamin is the author of the young adult novel The Thing About Jellyfish, an international bestseller and a National Book Award finalist. The Next Great Paulie Fink was named a top children’s book of the year by Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, the New York Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library. Her work has been published in more than twenty-five languages in more than thirty countries. Originally from the New York City area, she now lives in Massachusetts. This is her first adult novel.

The Smash-Up

Life for Ethan and Zo used to be simple. Ethan co-founded a lucrative media start-up, and Zo was well on her way to becoming a successful filmmaker. Then they moved to a rural community for a little more tranquility–or so they thought.

When newfound political activism transforms Zo into a barely recognizable ball of outrage and #MeToo allegations rock his old firm, Ethan finds himself a misfit in his own life. Enter a houseguest who is young, fun, and not at all concerned with the real world, and Ethan is abruptly forced to question everything: his past, his future, his marriage, and what he values most.

Ambitious, startling, witty, and wise, Ali Benjamin’s debut novel offers the shock of recognition as it deftly tackles some of the biggest issues of our time. Taking inspiration from a classic Edith Wharton tale about a small-town love triangle, The Smash-Up is a wholly contemporary exploration of how the things we fail to see can fracture a life, a family, a community, and a nation.

Published on 23rd February 2021, The Smash-Up is available for pre-order here.

Phoebe Wynne, author of Madam

Phoebe Wynne worked in education for eight years, teaching Classics in the UK and English Language and Literature in Paris. She is both British and French, and currently spends her time between France and England. Madam is her first novel.

Madam

Light a fire they can’t put out…
For 150 years, above the Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises a future where its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.
Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher, is the first new hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose feels overwhelmed in the face of this elite establishment, but soon after her arrival she begins to understand that she may have more to fear than her own ineptitude.
When Rose stumbles across the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor – a woman whose ghost lingers over everything and who no one will discuss – she realises that there is much more to this institution than she has been led to believe.
As she uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, Rose becomes embroiled in a battle that will threaten her sanity as well as her safety…

A brooding, mesmeric novel with a feminist kick, perfect for fans of Naomi Alderman, Madeleine Miller and Margaret Atwood.

Published on 18th February 2021, Madam is available for pre-order here.

Having heard Phoebe Wynn speak about Madam and read from it, I’m utterly thrilled I found a proof copy in my box of goodies!

Candice Brathwaite, author of Sista, Sister in conversation with Remi Sade and with a book that is so new that Candice is still writing it and we only got to hear about it last night. Candice was absolutely brilliant – honest, passionate and absolutely compelling.

Candice Brathwaite is the hugely popular influencer and founder of Make Motherhood Diverse – an online initiative that aims to encourage a more accurately representative and diverse depiction of motherhood in the media. She has worked with brands such as Pampers, Ella’s Kitchen and Specsavers, and has appeared on countless panels to discuss modern motherhood. Her writing has appeared in Stylist, the Metro and the Huffington Post. As Sista, Sister is still a work in progress, I’ll tell you about Candice’s I Am Not Your Baby Mother instead!

I Am Not Your Baby Mother

baby mother

It’s about time we made motherhood more diverse…

When Candice fell pregnant and stepped into the motherhood playing field, she found her experience bore little resemblance to the glossy magazine photos of women in horizontal stripe tops and the pinned discussions on mumsnet about what pushchair to buy. Leafing through the piles of prenatal paraphernalia, she found herself wondering: “Where are all the black mothers?”.

Candice started blogging about motherhood in 2016 after making the simple but powerful observation that the way motherhood is portrayed in the British media is wholly unrepresentative of our society at large.

The result is this thought-provoking, urgent and inspirational guide to life as a black mother. It explores the various stages in between pregnancy and waving your child off at the gates of primary school, while facing hurdles such as white privilege, racial micro-aggression and unconscious bias at every point. Candice does so with her trademark sense of humour and refreshing straight-talking, and the result is a call-to-arms that will allow mums like her to take control, scrapping the parenting rulebook to mother their own way.

Published in paperback on 4th March 2021, I Am Not Your Baby Mother is available for purchase here.

Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev in conversation with Sarah Shaffi.

Dawnie Walton was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. She earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (2018) and holds a journalism degree from Florida A&M University (1997). Formerly an editor at Essence and Entertainment Weekly, she has received fellowships in fiction writing from MacDowell and the Tin House Summer Workshop. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

An idol of Afro-punk. A duo on the brink of stardom. A night that will define their story for ever.

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Despite her unconventional looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her one night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially Black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter, but as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens everything.

Provocative and haunting, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev introduces a bold new name in contemporary fiction and a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling.

Published on 20th April 2021, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is available for pre-order here.

Hearing the conversation between Sarah Shaffi and Dawnie Walton about The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, I cannot wait to read it and as it was in my goodie box it won’t be long before I get started!

Jo Spain, author of The Perfect Lie -in conversation with Lisa Howells 

Jo Spain is a full-time writer and screenwriter. Her first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and her first psychological thriller, The Confession, was a number one bestseller in Ireland. Jo co-wrote the ground-breaking RTE television series Taken Down, which first broadcast in Ireland in 2018. She’s now working on multiple European television projects. Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.

I love Jo Spain’s writing and I cannot wait for The Perfect Lie. See what you think:

The Perfect Lie

He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with his murder.

Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.

Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.

But it was all built on the perfect lie.

Published on 13th May 2021, The Perfect Lie is available for pre-order here.

Robert Jones Jr., author of The Prophets in conversation with Simon Savage

Robert Jones, Jr. is a writer from Brooklyn, N.Y. He earned both his B.F.A. in creative writing and M.F.A. in fiction from Brooklyn College. His work has been featured in The New York TimesEssenceGawker, and The Grio. He is the creator of the social justice social media community, Son of Baldwin, which can be found on Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Medium, Tumblr, and Twitter. He is also currently working on his second novel.

The Prophets

In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose of Zora Neale Hurston to characterise the forceful, enduring bond of love, and what happens when brutality threatens the purest form of serenity.

The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love – away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs – where they can be alone together.

But, Amos – a fellow slave – has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul’s gospel, he betrays them.

The culminating pages of The Prophets summon a choral voice of those who have suffered in silence, with blistering humanity, as the day of reckoning arrives at the Halifax plantation. Love, in all its permutations, is the discovery at the heart of Robert Jones Jr’s breathtaking debut, The Prophets.

I thought The Prophets sounds fantastic and I cannot wait to read it as it was in my goodie box.

Published on 5th January 2021, The Prophets is available for pre-order here.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones, author of The Fear-Fighter Manual in conversation with Sarah Shaffi

Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning author, podcast host, and sought-after speaker who thrives at the intersection of comedy, justice, and professional troublemaking. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellerI’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, and her site, AwesomelyLuvvie, is where she covers all things culture with a critical yet humorous lens. She runs her own social platform, LuvvNation, which is a safe space in a dumpster fire world.

The Fear-Fighter Manual

From the New York Times bestselling author of I’m Judging You, a hilarious and powerful book that talks about how to tackle fear–that everlasting hater–and live boldly and audaciously in spite of all the reasons we have to cower

Luvvie Ajayi is known for her trademark wit, warm voice, and exceptional integrity. But even she’s been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer because she was afraid of the title. She nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. Also, she’s deathly afraid of bugs. And, as she shares in Professional Troublemaker, she’s not alone.

We’re all afraid of asking for what we want because we’re afraid of hearing “no.” We’re afraid of being different, of being too much or not enough. We’re afraid of leaving behind the known for the unknown. But in order to do the things that will truly, meaningfully change our lives, we have to become professional troublemakers: people who are committed to not letting fear talk them out of the things they need to do or say.

With humor and honesty, and guided by the influence of her inspiring and professional troublemaking grandmother, Funmilayo Faloyin, Luvvie walks us through what we must get right within ourselves before we can do the things that scare us; how to use our voice for a greater good; and how to put movement to the voice we’ve been silencing–because truth-telling is a muscle.

The point is not to be fearless. It is to know we are afraid and to charge forward regardless, to recognize the things we must do are more significant than the things we are afraid to do. This book shows you how she’s done it, and how you can, too.

Published on 2nd March 2021, The Fear-Fighter Manual is available for pre-order here.

I loved the interview an am definitely going to start taking up space as Luvvie suggests!

Sarah Knight, author of I Knew This Was A Bad Idea in conversation with Clemmie Telford

Sarah Knight’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, has been published in more than twenty languages, and her TEDx talk, “The Magic of Not Giving a F**k,” has nearly five million views. All of the books in her No F**ks Given Guides series have been international bestsellers, including Get Your Shit Togetherwhich was on the New York Times bestseller list for sixteen weeks. Her writing has also appeared in Glamour, Harper’s BazaarMarie ClaireRed, Refinery29, and elsewhere. After quitting her corporate job to pursue a freelance life, she moved from Brooklyn, New York, to the Dominican Republic, where she currently resides with her husband, two feral rescue cats, and a load of lizards.

I loved the energy with which Sarah spoke and will be investigating her books as soon as I can.

(My *!) Again, I don’t have details to share yet of I Knew This Was A Bad Idea, because Sarah hasn’t finished writing it yet, so I’ll share Sarah’s latest No F**Ks Given book instead.

The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k Journal

Are you stressed out, overbooked and underwhelmed by life? Fed up with pleasing everyone else before you please yourself? Finding it hard working from home? Then it’s time to stop giving a f**k.

This irreverent and practical book explains how to rid yourself of unwanted obligations, shame, and guilt – and give your f**ks instead to people and things that make you happy. From family dramas to having a bikini body, the simple ‘NotSorry Method’ for mental decluttering will help you unleash the power of not giving a f**k and will free you to spend your time, energy and money on the things that really matter.

Published on 29th October 2020, The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k Journal is available for pre-order here.

So you can see, an evening with Quercus is an eclectic and entertaining experience and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope you’ll find a book or two that appeals to you too!

If you’d like to see the full catalogue of brilliant looking new fiction coming in 2021, see the Quercus Word of Mouth Bestsellers Digital Catalogue.

Gobbledy by Lis Anna-Langston 

My enormous thanks to Lis Anna-Langston for sending me a copy of her children’s novel Gobbledy in return for an honest review.

Gobbledy is published today, 20th October 2020 in the UK and 24th October in the US, by Spark Press and is available for purchase through the links here.

Gobbledy

Ever since eleven-year-old Dexter Duckworth and his brother, Dougal, lost their mom, everything has been different. But “different” takes on a whole new meaning when, one day just before Christmas (or Kissmas, as they call it), Dexter finds a golden rock in the forest that hatches into an adorable alien. Gobbledy is smarter than he seems and is lost on planet Earth. Before long, Gobbledy takes Dexter, Dougal, and their best friend Fi on an adventure of friendship, family, and loss—one that requires them all to stay out of trouble, protect Gobbledy from a shadowy group called the Planetary Society, and prepare for their school’s Winter Extravaganza Play, where Dexter has to be a dreaded Gingerbread Man.

Gobbledy is a fun-filled holiday story that adds up to two brothers, three friends, unlimited jars of peanut butter, a ketchup factory, and one little alien far, far from home.

My Review of Gobbledy

Dexter’s school project isn’t going to plan!

Gobbledy is utterly brilliant and I loved every word. I may be half a century older than Lis Anna-Langston’s target audience but I was completely captivated by her story-telling. This is a truly wonderful book that would appeal to any reader regardless of age because it is written with humanity and has such skilful story-telling. There are some lovely illustrations too.

The plot of Gobbledy is riveting. There’s intrigue and peril, adventure and humour, all mixed with sensitively portrayed emotions of love, friendship and grief in a story that romps along. I was totally captivated. Add in aliens, thieves, school teachers, ketchup, glowing rocks and Christmas and this is a story that deserves to become a children’s classic. I couldn’t put it down because I was desperate to know what might happen next in this dramatic and exciting story.

The characters are glorious. Poor Mr D trying to manage two boys, a precarious job and his grief over his wife, illustrates perfectly how adults can behave in ways that seems harsh but that simply reflect how much they actually care. Dougal’s sensible and logical attitude balances Dexter’s chaotic personality to perfection. So many children will be able to relate to Dexter’s ability to get into trouble unwittingly. I loved the fact that it is Fi, the main female character, who is the most technologically minded because she gives status to girls who enjoy less traditional roles. Her friendship with Dexter shows how genders can mix and care for one another without hidden agendas or being considered unusual, giving valuable messages to children as they enjoy the story.

The star of the narrative is undoubtedly Gobbledy himself. He may be alien, but he embodies such deep humanity that I wanted to reach into the pages of Gobbledy and hug him tightly.

The themes are cleverly woven into the story so that difficult concepts such as grief and truth, economics and employment, education and friendship bubble alongside the action, making for an affecting and educating read whilst entertaining flawlessly. I confess to shedding a tear as I read.

Lis Anna-Langston’s Gobbledy makes it onto my books of the year for 2020. It is absolutely fabulous and brought me complete joy. Don’t miss it.

About Lis Anna-Langston

Lis Anna-Langston was raised along the winding current of the Mississippi River on a steady diet of dog-eared books. She attended a Creative and Performing Arts School from middle school until graduation and went on to study Literature at Webster University. She is a Parents’ Choice Gold and a Moonbeam Book Award winner. Twice nominated for the Pushcart award and Finalist in the Brighthorse Book Prize, her work has been published in more than forty publications including: The Literary Review, The Merrimack Review, Emrys Journal, The MacGuffin, Sand Hill Review and dozens of other literary journals.

She draws badly, sings loudly, loves ketchup, starry skies, fireflies, French hip hop & stories with happy endings, (or rather) aliens. Very happy aliens.
Find out more by visiting her website.

Special Delivery by Elliot Kruszynski

My enormous thanks to Lefki at Cicada Books for a copy of children’s book Special Delivery by Elliot Kruszynski in return for an honest review.

Published by Cicada on 13th August 2020, Special Delivery is available for purchase here.

Special Delivery

When you’re waiting for a new baby, expect the unexpected!

Today is a very special day. Sophie Duck is expecting the arrival of her new baby brother!

But Delivery Dude keeps bringing the wrong babies. First a baby mouse, then a baby elephant, then a crocodile, a giraffe, an anteat-er a rabbit and a hippo. ‘These babies are NOT my brother!’ shouts Sophie – but Delivery Dude insists that he never makes mistakes. Sophie’s house is filling up to the rafters when the doorbell rings again. ‘NO MORE!’ shouts Sophie, but thankfully this time Delivery Dude is followed by his Stork boss, a load of very cross parents who have come to collect their babies… and Sophie’s Mum and Dad, who have brought a very special delivery…

My Review of Special Delivery

The wrong delivery keeps arriving!

As usual with a Cicada children’s book, I am impressed by the quality of production. There’s a robust hard cover that means Special Delivery is durable and the end papers as well as all the illustrations are bright, colourful and quirky. I loved the fact that many of the illustrations are made from fairly simple shapes that older children, perhaps sharing this book with a younger sibling, could emulate to enhance their own artistic skills. I especially liked the double page spread that is all illustration where images can be shared, discussed and numeracy introduced, perhaps counting the number of wrong babies that have arrived or looking at emotions through the expressions on the mother bird’s face. Indeed, there’s considerable potential for interaction with Special Delivery.

Learning aside, the story is lovely. I can see Special Delivery helping parents introduce the concept of a new baby to young children so that they are helped to adjust to a changing household. I think it would work well with adoptive children too, making sure they know how special they are once the correct baby arrives. With the wrong animal babies being delivered until a very special delivery of the correct baby for the house there’s good humour that children will love. Repetition of key phrases builds language confidence for young children, adding in an almost pantomime feel that appeal to children and adults alike.

Special Delivery is a super children’s book. It’s bright, colourful and charmingly presented. I know exactly who I’m sharing my copy with!

About Elliot Kruszynski

Elliot Kruszynski is a London-based writer and illustrator who has worked with clients including the New York Times, Air BnB, Camden Brewery and Deliveroo. He illustrated and designed Bleep Bloop and Spot the Bot (Laurence King, 2019) and has two books in development with Walker/Candlewick (titles TBC).

You can follow Elliot on Twitter @EKruszynski.

Boomerville at Ballymegille by Caroline James

My grateful thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Caroline James’s Boomerville at Ballymegille. It’s far too long since Caroline featured on Linda’s Book Bag. Last time she was here Caroline was celebrating her novel The Best Boomerville Hotel in this post. On other occasions Caroline provided her top ten writing tips here, when Coffee, Tea, the Caribbean and Me was published and allowed me to interview her here.  Caroline also told me about writer’s block and I reviewed her novel Jungle Rock here.

Today, I’m delighted to share my review of Boomerville at Ballymegille.

Published on 6th October 2020, Boomerville at Ballymegille is available for purchase on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Boomerville at Ballymegille

 

Boomerville is back!

Join Hattie and Jo as they head to Southern Ireland to open Boomerville Manor, a holiday retreat for guests of ‘a certain age’. There’s Irish craic and shenanigans aplenty for the colourful cast of characters as everyone gathers for the grand opening.

Meet Melissa, an ex-cabaret singer running from her abusive husband, and Bill, a bachelor bullied from beyond the grave by the ghostly voice of his mother. Along with local bobby Harry the Helmet, ageing aquatic team the Boomerville Babes, eccentric artist Lucinda Gray, and heartthrob Finbar Murphy, they gather in Ireland and the fun begins. But murder is in the air and there’s mischief afoot. Will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?

Set in the beautiful Irish countryside, Boomerville at Ballymegille is a heart-warming story of friendship, fears and new beginnings.

My Review of Boomerville at Ballymegille

Change is afoot for Jo and Hattie.

Not having read The Best Boomerville Hotel, I wasn’t sure how I’d pick up the threads in Boomerville at Ballymegille, but I needn’t have worried. Caroline James’ smooth writing style incorporated all the basic information I needed fully to appreciate the various back stories without slowing the pace of this narrative so that I was immediately completely engaged. However, reading Boomerville at Ballymegille has made me want to go back and read The Best Boomerville Hotel too!

The plot of Boomerville at Ballymegille is fast paced, unexpected and a real pleasure to be immersed into. There’s romance and passion, murder and mayhem, humour and sadness all perfectly balanced into a hugely entertaining and ultimately heart-warming read. I loved the two Boomerville settings too as Caroline James includes some lovely description that brings both the English and Irish places alive for the reader. It truly feels as if it would be possible to pick up the phone and book a stay.

There’s a rainbow of characters to love, to like, to despise and to admire within the pages. I thought Hattie was magnificent because of her no nonsense approach and her enjoyment of food. Every time she appeared in the story I found my emotions heightened. It was through Hattie that I felt empathy for all the others and she’s a real scene stealer when it comes to humour. It took me a while to warm to Bill, but my word he redeemed himself and in fact his story held some of the most affecting moments for me. I’m not usually keen on books that have multiple characters but in Boomerville at Ballymegille I felt every single one had earned their place in the story, was vivid and real, making me understand them fully.

One of the most glorious aspects of Caroline James’ Boomerville at Ballymegille is the fact the narrative isn’t populated only with 30 somethings. Here we have a cast of characters illustrating that life doesn’t end when we turn 40, that there is a world out there to discover and enjoy, that we have talents we can uncover and use, and that friendship and romance might be just round the corner. In placing her characters in the settings and situations she does, Caroline James somehow instils a sense of self-worth in the reader that I really appreciated.

Reading Boomerville at Ballymegille is a bit like having a holiday. It’s written with such warmth and humour, incorporating pathos and levity in a finely tuned balance that it feels like pure escapism mingled with complete realism. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the residents of Boomerville and my stay alongside them. Smashing stuff.

About Caroline James

Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can.

A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. Caroline also runs writing workshops.

In her spare time, Caroline can be found walking up a mountain with her two Westie dogs, sipping raspberry gin or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

You can find out more about Caroline on her website and by following her on Twitter @CarolineJames12. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

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Staying in with Chris Malone on #stoptheglitch publication day

I have no idea what it is like for a fiction author on publication day, but it always gives me a frisson of excitement to welcome them to Linda’s Book Bag on the day to chat about their latest book. It’s my absolute pleasure to welcome Chris Malone to stay in with me to tell me about her new thriller out today.

Staying in with Chris Malone

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Chris and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Hello Linda and thank you for the invitation to stay in with you today, a special day for me because it sees the publication of my latest thriller, #stoptheglitch.

The irony is not lost on me that, in order to publish a thriller about loss of the internet, especially at the current time, I am dependent upon the very phenomenon which my protagonist despises.

That’s an intriguing title and I love that irony! What can we expect from an evening in with #stoptheglitch?

Well, Robin, the narrator, is angry. She is fed up with the everyday frustrations of technology, she is appalled at homelessness, and she is desperate to find somewhere quiet where she can think more clearly.

But Robin is by no means an irritating moralistic prig. As Juliet Blaxland says in her review, “It is appealing that the narrator is prepared to admit to being slightly preachy … the tone of ‘moral dissonance’ was pitched just right to engender genuine sympathy with the narrator & the collective dilemmas and paradoxes thrown up by life.” Tensions between order and disorder, anachronistic left and right-wing politics, gender stereotypes and the ethics of individual agency are all explored through the novel.

That sounds incredible. I find books that explore quite challenging issues very compelling.

So, at first. our evening will not necessarily be relaxing, that is, until we reach Caernef camp, in remote Wales. Robin’s dream-escape on a remote Welsh clifftop was conceived from my experience of education outdoor centres. In fact, #stoptheglitch is dedicated to the Hill End Outdoor Centre, near Oxford, ‘a place of possibilities’.

That’s a first for me. I’ve stayed in with authors who dedicate their books to all kind of people but never to an outdoor centre before! Tell me more.

The first time at Caernef, Robin says, ‘It is a very long time since I have been in a place where you cannot hear the human race. There are no traffic noises, no voices, and no hums or buzzes. The distant swell of the sea is calming, and I willingly lapse into a daze, transfixed by the beauty and simplicity of the scene, instinctively remaining silent and still, to blend into the tranquillity.’

But this peace does not last long. When Robin travels back to Oxford just before Christmas, to collect some belongings and see friends, another serious glitch strikes, knocking out phones, power and internet. The cause of this chaos has something to do with Caernef.

Robin is faced with a tantalising dilemma. Should she use her knowledge to try and restore the systems which mankind so relies upon, or should she follow her instincts and deliberately prevent the return to a digital age?

I think #stoptheglitch sounds brilliant.

What else have you brought along and why?

I have brought my #stoptheglitch face mask, to assist our social distancing indoors, and because the book is set in the immediate aftermath of coronavirus. As Juliet Blaxland says, ‘I liked the way #stoptheglitch referred to the pandemic as being in the recent past, as part of a collective memory but not an over-dominant one. The vaguely sinister lurking background presence of the virus added authenticity to the very real idea of internet vulnerability, and the subtle fear of a second wave/glitch.’

That’s a super review and a very impressive mask Chris!

We will listen to Dire Straits Brothers in Arms, because my husband who is a (now ageing) rock guitarist, used to play, and sing it exquisitely. The lyrics sum up the spirit of #stoptheglitch, but this time it is a cyber war. There is also an irony in the title, as I play gently with gender in the book, ever the feminist.

Nothing wrong with a bit of feminism! Did you bring any food?

Sorry to disappoint, but as a severe coeliac, I tend to avoid special food. Instead, we can drink coffee, but in keeping with Robin’s principles, not in throwaway cups.

Most definitely not! I have a feeling I’m going to rather like Robin when I get to read about her Chris. Thanks so much for staying in to tell me all about #stoptheglitch and happy publication day.

#stoptheglitch

In a post-pandemic world, the nation is healing its wounds and trying to get back to a new normal.  But the darker threat of a second wave looms.

Robin hopes to escape society, using an inheritance to secure a peaceful life off grid in Wales. However, through a series of bizarre circumstances, Robin is pulled back into a life left behind, and into a conspiracy where competing gangs challenge assumptions about progress and prosperity.

When the second glitch strikes, knocking out power and communication networks, Robin becomes stranded in Oxford.  Desperate to make it back towards Caernef Camp, Robin recruits three companions and is joined by a mysterious gate-crasher.

Does Robin hold the key to stop the glitch?

Published by Burton Mayers today, 16th October 2020, #stoptheglitch is available for purchase here.

About Chris Malone

Chris achieved a first-class degree through the Open University while raising her family. She then worked as a teacher, a primary school headteacher, and an Ofsted inspector, as well as setting up and managing pre-schools, and leading a further education centre.  In 2000 she was invited to Buckingham Palace to celebrate her contribution to education. Chris then occupied a series of senior management roles in county councils, most recently as Assistant Director for Education in Warwickshire.

Now retired, her debut novel, Zade was published by Austen Macauley in May 2020, closely followed by ‘#stoptheglitch’, published by Burton Mayers Books.

For more information about Chris, visit her website and follow her on Twitter @CMoiraM.

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

This Time Next Year Cover (1)

Back in August I was lucky enough to host an extract from This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens in a post you can see here. Since then I have been desperate to read the book and I’m enormously grateful to Rachel Kennedy for sending me a copy of This Time Next Year in return for an honest review and for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

Published by Penguin imprint Arrow in ebook on 1st August 2020, This Time Next Year is out today in paperback and is available for purchase through the links here.

This Time Next Year

This Time Next Year Cover (1)

Get ready to fall for this year’s most extraordinary love story

Quinn and Minnie are born on New Year’s Eve, in the same hospital, one minute apart.

Their lives may begin together, but their worlds couldn’t be more different.

Thirty years later they find themselves together again in the same place, at the same time.

What if fate is trying to bring them together?

Maybe it’s time to take a chance on love…

My Review of This Time Next Year

Minnie’s aversion to New Year’s Eve is understandable!

In This Time Next Year I think Sophie Cousens has written exactly what would be requested if a reader sent a list of ingredients for what they wanted in the ultimate romantic story. I loved every moment of finding out about Minnie and Quinn. This Time Next Year is the perfect winter book. It warms the heart and soul of the reader and puts a smile on their face. It’s sheer escapism, mixed with a dash of reality and an added, impossible to define, sparkle that is just wonderful.

There’s a witty and effervescent plot that races along, mainly from Minnie’s perspective, so that she becomes incredibly real to the reader. I was absolutely desperate for her to have a happy ending to her story and feared the tantalising relationship she has with Quinn might not work (in spite of the owls!) until I was beside myself wanting to race through the story to find out what happened, whilst simultaneously not wanting my enjoyment in the book to be over. I thought Minnie’s friendship with Leila was sensitively and realistically handled by Sophie Cousens and the author’s depth of understanding of what makes us who we are, particularly with regard to Quinn and Tara, was pitch perfect. I rather feel I’m a little bit in love with Quinn myself. I adored the natural dialogue because it added to the humour and uncovered character brilliantly. Sophie Cousens writes with a visual filmic quality that would make This Time Next Year a sublime Christmas romcom film.

Alongside a fast pace, humour, plenty of action and cracking characters, This Time Next Year is a narrative with conscience. By all means read and enjoy it as pure entertainment of the most engaging kind, but looking just below the surface, Sophie Cousens explores many themes that will resonate with so many readers at a much more profound level too. Mental health, friendship, family, loyalty, commercialism and community, conformity and difference make This Time Next Year a compelling book to believe in as well as to be diverted by.

I thought This Time Next Year was absolutely wonderful. It brought the occasional tear to my eye but it made me laugh too. Reading This Time Next Year made me completely happy because of Sophie Cousens’s skilled narrative style. What could be better than that? Don’t miss this gorgeous, heart warming read.

About Sophie Cousens

Sophie Cousens cr. Holly Smith

Sophie Cousens worked in TV in London for over twelve years, producing The Graham Norton Show, Big Brother and Ant and Dec. Sophie has previously published an eBook only romantic comedy novel How To Get Ahead In Television which was shortlisted for the 2015 Romantic Novelist Association Awards. She relocated from London to Jersey and balances her writing career with working for an arts charity, taking care of her two small children and enjoying small island life.

You can follow Sophie on Twitter @SophieCous.

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Staying in with Linn B Halton

It’s an absolute pleasure to be joining the blog tour for Linn B. Halton’s latest book Coming Home to Penvennan Cove. I’d like to thank Victoria Joss at Aria for inviting me to take part. Linn has featured on Linda’s Book Bag before with a super guest post about paperback reading that you’ll find here and I was delighted to host an extract from A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love here too. Today Linn stays in with me to discuss her new book.

Staying in with Linn B. Halton

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Linn and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Ah, my pleasure, Linda – sending a virtual hug! x

Thank you! So, tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Coming Home to Penvennan Cove, the first in a three-book series—which is a first for me! What is exciting is that as I’m about to sit down and begin writing book number two, I have no idea where the characters are going to take the story. And that’s what keeps me writing.

It must be exciting and daunting in equal measure I think! Before you write book two, what can we expect from an evening in with Coming Home to Penvennan Cove?

Aside from some bracing walks along the beach and the eerie sound of the seagulls circling overhead…

Actually, I love that already! Tell me more.

The ideas for my stories all begin with a one-liner that pops into my head, is jotted down, and then filed away. Kerra Shaw was unnamed at that stage, but her words puzzled me: ‘If you leave home because you don’t fit in, what happens when you achieve your dream but still feel that something is missing? And then fate leads you back home…’

The heart of this story is about the way that life, love, and relationships impact upon the journey we each take. Kerra thought that having a successful career would make her feel more self-assured and she’d no longer have anything to prove to herself, or to other people. Instead, she’s becoming a chameleon and feeling the need to blend in. As a people watcher, it’s something I’ve often noticed and as Kerra tells her story I’m fascinated to see where it goes. And it’s made me think about whether there is a little bit of a chameleon trait inside of me… and if that is a good thing, or a bad thing? I guess I’ll find out by the time I get to the end of the series. That’s what I love about writing—it often throws up issues that change the way I look at things. And I like that.

Absolutely. I really enjoy books that make me question myself. I think we might all have a bit of the chameleon about us Linn!

What else have you brought along and why?

People tend to flock to Cornwall in the summer months, but I prefer the quieter seasons. And here are the photos that inspire me to keep going back! The best kedgeree I’ve ever been served for breakfast was at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Padstow. A-maz-ing!

These photos make me desperate to get back to Cornwall. I think I’d better get reading Coming Home to Penvennan Cove pretty quickly.

The tall ships in Charlestown remind me of Poldark and Aidan Turner. I always return home and start re-watching old episodes.

The tiny, shingle coves and the harboursides are dramatic in winter and bustling in summer. Nothing beats a walk along the shoreline, no matter what the weather is doing.

I agree. We’ve just bought a motorhome so that we can escape to the coast socially distanced as often as possible.

The truth is that my love for Cornwall began when I was a child on our annual holiday and whenever I return it conjures up old memories, as I create new ones…

In the end Linn, memories are all we have. I love the sound of Coming Home to Penvennan Cove so thank you so much for staying in with me to tell me all about it.

Coming Home to Penvennan Cove

Can Kerra’s Cornish hometown offer the fresh start she needs?

When Kerra left the quiet Cornish town of Penvennan Cove for the bright lights of London she didn’t look back. But after the death of her mother, she’s decided it’s time to face her past and return to the place she called home. Her father needs her, and perhaps she needs him more than she’s willing to admit?

Tackling town gossip, home renovations and a flame from her past, it’s not quite smooth sailing for Kerra. Ross is the bad boy she was meant to forget, not a man who still sets her heart aflutter. As he helps bring her dream home to life, they begin to break down the barriers that have been holding them back and in the process learn things about themselves they never thought possible.

As friends old and new come together, the future in Penvennan looks bright.

Perfect for fans of Milly Johnson, Phillipa Ashley and Julie Houston.

Published by Aria on 8th October 2020, Coming Home to Penvennan Cove is available for purchase on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play and iBooks.

About Linn B. Halton

From interior designer to author, when Linn B. Halton’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic. Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. Linn writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

For more information about Linn, follow her on Twitter @LinnBHalton, find her on Facebook or visit her website. There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path

There’s an irony that the first book available since lockdown for the U3A Book Group to which I belong is my choice along with another member and I can’t make our Zoom discussions for it! The Salt Path has been a book I’ve wanted to read since it was first published in 2018 because I’d heard such wonderful things about it. I’ll just have to share my thoughts here by way of a review.

Published by Penguin, The Salt Path is available for purchase through the links here.

The Salt Path

Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.

Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.

The Salt Path is an honest and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.

My Review of The Salt Path

Ray and Moth find their lives dramatically altered by circumstance.

My word. What a book. It’s going to be tricky to review The Salt Path because it’s a book rather unlike any other I’ve read. Part memoir, part history, travelogue or gazetteer The Salt Path is a blend of glorious description, medical insight and a true tale of humanity at its most basic and sublime in equal measure. It is also an intimate portrait of a marriage where love overrides everything else. What I so enjoyed too was that even though catalyst for the book arises out of momentous adversity, there’s still humour and positivity to be had. The ongoing theme of Moth being mistaken for Simon Armitage, for example, made me smile every time he was mentioned. Indeed, I loved every single syllable of this book.

Reading The Salt Path took me vicariously as far from my comfort zone as it is possible to be as I experienced Raynor Winn’s life so completely. The descriptive quality of her writing is quite wonderful so that I felt the sting of the wind, rain and salt on her journey with Moth. Familiar with the area Ray writes about, it felt to me as if I were with them both every step of the way, whilst at the same time I couldn’t imagine how I might have responded to life’s events had I been Ray. This is skilled writing indeed because it draws in the reader and compels them to read on even when they may be wary of the content based around Moth’s illness. I felt Raynor Winn’s depiction of nature had the quality of Gerard Manly Hopkins’ poetry as she painted a vivid image of the weather, the birds and animals, and the characteristics of the path she was taking, both literally and metaphorically. I was mesmerised.

The people Ray and Moth encounter as they walk are a striking cross-section of society and I found my attitude towards those who find themselves homeless sharpening and clarifying as I read. I think Raynor Winn has managed to make me a more thoughtful and understanding person through my reading – not just of those I meet and interact with, but of myself too.

Underpinning the journey is a depth of emotion I found incredibly affecting. There’s overwhelming grief and loss but, equally, uplifting joy and hope, so that reading The Salt Path made me reflect on my own life, what I’ve achieved and what I might still like to do. I have a feeling it is one of the most personally influential books I’ve read. I found The Salt Path an almost hypnotic read that drew me in until the last moment and held my attention unwaveringly. I loved it and am desperate to know what happened next for Ray and Moth.

About Raynor Winn

Since travelling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. She lives in Cornwall. The Salt Path was her first book and became a Sunday Times bestseller in hardback and paperback. It was shortlisted for numerous prizes including the Costa, the Wainwright and the Stanfords Travel Writing awards.

You can follow Raynor on Twitter @raynor_winn. You’ll also find her on Instagram.