Remember Me by D.E.White Blog Tour

Book Blurb:

Fifteen years ago Ellen Smith vanished from the woods near her small Welsh village. Never to be seen again.

Eight people were in the woods that night: eight splintered lives, eight people hiding a terrible secret. But who can remember the truth?

Now, Ellen’s best friend, Detective Ava Cole is all grown up back in the village where it all began, and everyone is asking the same question.

What really happened to Ellen?


Filled with shocking discoveries and traumatic memories this fast paced thriller is perfect for fans of Friend Request and Close to Home.

Review:

*HarperCollins HQ sent me this book to review in exchange for an honest review*

As many of you will know, I am a sucker for a psychological thriller and as soon as I saw this thought provoking blurb, I knew I had to read it. I must also say that that cover is just STUNNING, the pop of yellow is really clever and instantly sucked me in.

The captivation didn’t stop at the front cover, the narrative also sucked me in with its unreliability, thrill factor and murder mystery. The main character Ava was very complex and like many psychology thrillers before, an unreliable voice that the reader does not know wether to trust or not.

The cat and mouse game/hunt between the characters made for an interesting read and kept my attention to the very end.

Considering the plethora of psychological thrillers I have read, I would give this one a 3/5 rating because it is not the worst I have read but it is also not the an ‘OMG I AM COMPLETELY OBSESSED WITH YOU’ kind of read either. Haha you know the one, the kind of book that you cannot stop thinking about.

About the author:

D E White started writing fifteen years ago, scribbling ideas on napkins at work on the night shift. After various jobs, including working as cabin crew, in a hospital, a supermarket, and as a 999 call handler for the ambulance service, she began writing full time in 2018. She is a multi-award winning entrepreneur, and was part of a small business delegation speaking at Number 10, Downing Street in 2015. Having spent a lot of time travelling the world, she now lives with her husband and two sons on the south coast of the UK, with a growing assortment of animals and several stick insects.

Buy Remember Me at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; Kindle pub date 6 Feb. 2019Paperback pub date April 2019.

Prestige Flowers Review

Thank you to Prestige Flowers for sending me this gorgeous Valentines bouquet! There is something special about receiving flowers, the notion of thought and kindness associated with the gifting warms my heart.

I was lucky enough to be sent this wonderful bouquet from Prestige Flowers in exchange for an honest review. Lets get real now…the packaging is STUNNING, the massive delivery box got me soooo excited! The flowers themselves were absolutely GORGEOUS! My bouquet was made up of red roses and luxurious gold leaves that really made the flowers POP!

The bouquet was accompanied by the CUTEST teddy bear and a box of luxury chocolates!

Do you need Valentine’s or ‘GALENTINE’S’ day inspiration? Look no further, because they have you covered – just click on the link provided above and explore!

Here is a picture of my teddy, I named his Bruce.

I cannot recommend this company enough! The flowers were in incredible condition and the accompanying gifts were the perfect addition and will make any one feel special this Valentine’s Day.


Flowers + Books = PERFECTION

Of course, I had to get books involved! How beautiful is this picture!

Whats your favourite flowers?

I absolutely ADORE sunflowers and daisies!

2018 in reading…

Yay! I read 97 books in 2018!

  1. An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire 
  2. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver 
  3. A Mighty Dawn (The Wanderer Chronicles #1) by Theodore Brun 
  4. Letters Home by Sylvia Plath 
  5. Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1: 1940-1956 by Sylvia Plath 
  6. The Sun Is Also a Star Nicola Yoon 
  7. Secrets for the Mad by Dodie Clark 
  8. The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  9. Idiot Verse by Keaton Henson
  10. You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want by Sarah Knight
  11. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  12. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella 
  13. The Keeper of Lost Things Ruth Hogan 
  14. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent 
  15. The Tinder Box by Hans Christian Andersen 
  16. Everything Wrong with You is Beautiful by Tina Sederholm 
  17. Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong 
  18. Burnings by Ocean Vuong 
  19. Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen 
  20. The Suffragettes by various
  21. Equal Power: A Handbook for Men and Women by Jo Swinson 
  22. The Beautifull Cassandra by Jane Austen 
  23. To Be Read At Dusk Charles Dickens 
  24. Places I Stopped on the Way Home: A Memoir of Chaos and Grace by Meg Fee 
  25. The Real Peter Pan: The Tragic Life of Michael Llewelyn Davies by Piers Dudgeon 
  26. The Art of Not Falling Apart by Christina Patterson 
  27. Midnight Sun by Trish Cook 
  28. Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World by James Ball 
  29. This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay 
  30. Only Ever Yours by Lousie O’Neill 
  31. The Child by Fiona Barton
  32. The Memories of Us by Vanessa Carnevale 
  33. Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson 
  34. The Death and Life of Sylvia Plath by Ronald Hayman 
  35. Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder 
  36. The Aladdin Trial: A Burton and Lamb Thriller by Abi Silver 
  37. Mind Platter by Najwa Zebian 
  38. 11 Missed Calls by Elizabeth Carpenter 
  39. She Must Be Mad by Charly Cox 
  40. Letters of Ted Hughes by Ted Hughes
  41. Her Husband: Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath – A Marriage by Diane Wood Middlebrook 
  42. Ted Hughes: Poems Selected by Simon Armitage by Ted Hughes 
  43. Ariel’s Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and the Story of Birthday Letters by Erica Wagner 
  44. Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath by Kate Moses
  45. Rough Magic: A Biography of Sylvia Plath by Paul Alexander 
  46. Sylvia Plath by Peter K. Steinberg 
  47. The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes by Janet Malcolm 
  48. Ariel: The Restored Edition by Sylvia Plath 
  49. Sylvia Plath: A Critical Guide by Tim Kendall 
  50. The Cambridge Companion to Sylvia Plath by Jo Gill 
  51. American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson 
  52. Crossing the Water by Sylvia Plath 
  53. Sylvia Plath and the Mythology of Women Readers by Janet Badia 
  54. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath by Anita Helle 
  55. That Was When People Started to Worry: Windows into Unwell Minds by Nancy Tucker 
  56. I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell 
  57. Normal People by Sally Rooney 
  58. Lullaby by Leila Slimani 
  59. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith 
  60. Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay 
  61. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite 
  62. Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill 
  63. Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy 
  64. How to Be Single by Liz Tuccillo 
  65. Asking For It by Louise O’Neill 
  66. This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl by Esther Earl 
  67. Ted and I: A Brother’s Memoir by Gerald Hughes 
  68. The Letters of Sylvia Plath Vol 2: 1956-1963  by Sylvia Plath 
  69. Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get It Together by Arden Rose
  70. Sunrise by Jessie Cave
  71. Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim 
  72. Scrapbook of an Unfound Songstress by Vicky Nolan 
  73. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris 
  74. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh 
  75. Africa’s Tarnished Name by China Achebe
  76. Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton 
  77. Hopeless Romantic by Dolly Alderton 
  78. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton 
  79. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K.Rowling 
  80. The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson 
  81. The Veiled Woman by Anais Nin 
  82. Lance by Vladimir Nabokov 
  83. P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #2) by Jenny Han 
  84. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  85. It’s Not Summer Without You(Summer, #2) Jenny Han 
  86. We’ll Always Have Summer(Summer, #3) by Jenny Han
  87. Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes
  88. Ted Hughes: Poems Selected by Simon Armitage by Ted Hughes
  89. Lucky by Alice Sebold
  90. Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero by William Makepeace Thackeray
  91. It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane 
  92. Genuine Fraud by E.Lockhart
  93. The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace
  94. The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
  95. The Child by Fiona Barton
  96. The Necessary Angel by C.K.Stead
  97. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

How was your 2018 year of reading?

What was your favourite book?

Can you recommend any for me?

Scrapbook of an Unfound Songstress review…

Author: Vicky Nolan 

Blurb: 

You’re a 15-year-old schoolgirl who has big dreams of becoming a pop star, and then one day you get your lucky break. Polydor records sends you to Copenhagen to make pop music – to make you a recording artist. You get back home and your future is looking brighter than ever – until the High Court writ hits the door mat – you’ve fallen out with your management and they have decided to sue. No, this isn’t a dream, this is now Vicky Nolan’s reality and fast becoming a nightmare, and all while still at school at the sweet age of sixteen.

Read about the trial, the family, Hollywood, London town, the glamour, the dog (eh?) and most importantly, the music. Curiouser and curiouser?

We always talk about ‘making it’ and fulfilling your dreams. The question is, what if you don’t? What happens next? Ultimately, this book speaks about life and family; its hopes and disappointments, Its ups and downs. Scrapbook of an Unfound Songstress is in some way a story that speaks to us all, because in the end, the best stories are always true.

“I’m living my life as consequence of yesterday.
And all of my choices compliment my life today.
There may have been times I could have gone and lost my way,
I could have, I would have, I should have, I don’t care – I’m here now.”

@Captivated_by_Fantasy

Review:

Firstly thank you so much to Vicky for sending me this gem of a book. 

This book is written in a scrapbook/diary-esque format which makes it appear deeply personal and filled with even more passion. The description is soo powerful because of its authenticity and ability to suck you in. 

It is safe to say, I am fully invested in her dreams. I feel like I know her and that is one powerful quality of a book. To connect so deeply with a character’s qualities is amazing but even more amazing when that person is real. 

The reader is right by her side through all the ups and downs making her words fuelled with inspiration and passion. Ahhh the passion in this book makes me so so so happy and eager to take on new challenges and not give up on my dreams.

I just love how clearly developed and coherent her ideas are and the relationship she establishes with the reader with her openness. 

Overall, I would give this book  5 stars because of its authenticity. She pours her heart and soul into this book and you can tell – it is just wonderful.  

And, oh my god can Vicky S-I-N-G.  

She is beautiful inside and out and you must go and buy her book and support her because she deserves it so much!  

About the author:

Professional female vocalist Vicky Nolan performs impressive vocals to your favourite songs in her own unique, classic style. From Motown to RnB, Classical to Contemporary Pop and everything else that’s in-between. 

http://www.vickysingsforyou.co.uk

@unfoundsongstress

Me Mam.Me Dad. Me. Blog Tour…

Title: Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. By Malcom Duffy. 

Publisher: Head of Zeus. 

Blurb: 

Humorous and heartbreaking debut novel with the fresh, funny, honest voice of a 14-year-old Geordie lad recounting the trials and tribulations of family life and finding first love. Nominated for the 2019 Carnegie Medal. 

Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. 

But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he’s never met. 

Set in Newcastle and Edinburgh, this supremely readable coming-of-age drama tackles domestic violence head on, but finds humour and hope in the most unlikely of­ places.

Review:

When the publishing sent me this book to review I did not know what to expect. My attention was instantly grabbed by the wonderful and bright cover and I just could not wait to devour it! It was also clear by the cover, the dialect was going to be northern, an accent that I welcome in my life as someone that is very much southern.  

This is a very important book, everyone needs to read it! Although themes such as domestic violence are sometimes difficult to read, this book approaches it in a really balanced and reassuring way. The information is easy to digest but it still kicks you in the teeth and makes you want to jump into the book and demand justice for the wronged.   

The protagonist, Danny, a fourteen year old boy was all I could wish for in this narrative and more. His fondness for his mother purely touched my heart and made me fall completely in love with his character.             As mentioned above, this book is easily accessible because of the way it presents the events in Danny’s life. Harrowing yet hilarious! He is broken yet full of banter.

This book does cater for an array of ages, it is suitable for young adult and I honestly do think it will help children like Danny in similar situations to process their thoughts and feelings and it is accessible to older people. I am 22 now and this book had me laughing and crying all at the same time. I just wanted to hug Danny at times and tell him every thing would be okay. 

‘Harrowing yet hilarious’

and….oh boy…that ending! Wow.  Message me to discuss because I need to talk but I do not want to ruin it!

About the author:

Malcolm Duffy is a Geordie, born and bred. His first novel, Me Mam. Me Dad. Me., nominated for the 2019 Carnegie Medal, was inspired by his time at Comic Relief, visiting projects that support women and children who have suffered as a result of domestic abuse.

malcolmduffy.com

@malcolmduffyUK

More About Malcolm Duffy

10 ways to overcome a book slump…

Recently I have been in a bit of a bookish slump, I  keep picking up books – reading a bit and then putting it down. Urg, I hate myself for doing this…come on Shannon – just read the darn book.

So, to motivate myself and you – I am going to reveal my top tips for getting out of a book slump.

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1. Stop reading the book you are currently reading:

This might sound like a strange thing to say but sometimes the book is just not right for you at this time in your life. It is stopping your progression, slowing you down and hindering your ability to move on – so put it down and pick another book.

2. Start a smaller book:

Size does matter! If you’re feeling the dread of a big book, do not rush your reading experience and force yourself to read it quickly. We all know there is no better feeling than finishing a book, so go and pick up a smaller book or an easy read because you will feel fab-u-lous once your read that last page. You will feel like your reading mo-jo is back, embrace it and let it motivate you.  Even if you just read one of the £1 penguin modern classics – reading is reading.

3. Switch genre:

You might not be feeling the genre anymore, so mix it up and try something else. This is also a good time to explore a completely new genre that is outside your comfort zone. Go for it!

4. Pick up an old friend:

This is where I would be whacking out one of the Harry Potter books for comfort (probably Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) or The Bell Jar. Sometimes you just have to return to an old favourite and remind yourself why you love reading so much. For me, in my hectic life – I just need to zone out sometimes and lose myself within books.

5. Start or join a bookclub:

I have failed at this more times than I should admit – I have the best intention of going and then I don’t or me and my friends organise our own , read the book and then never discuss it. But I will join a bookclub soon, I will!

6. Set your own goals:

If you are an introvert like me and not fond of the bookclub idea, set your own goals to motivate yourself. Easy or hard goals will act as a reminder to you – this is why I love the Goodreads Reading Challenge because I can track what I have read and achieved so far and how far I have to go.

7. Reorganise your bookshelf:

If you’re anything like me, this tip will help you live your most organised life while also familiarising yourself with books you have forgotten about. We have all been there haven’t we? Moved a book and discovered a forgotten hidden gem.

8. Go book shopping:

I love a good bookshop! They are cozy, warm, full of wonderful people and of course, books! What more could you want? Go and motivate yourself with some new reads and grab a cup of tea if they have a coffee shop.

9. Watch a book to film adaptation:

Sometimes you just want/need a break from reading…do not judge yourself too harshly and just relax with a good movie.

10. Listen to a bookish podcast or audiobook:

This may be a podcast by your favourite author or a podcast about books! Like tip number 9, be kind to yourself and seek comfort in other forms. Some people do not view audiobooks as reading but it is – do not be ashamed of listening.

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  • What are you book slump tips?
  • Do you agree with any of mine?

Review of Not That Bad:Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay.

*Thank you so much to Atlantic Books for sending me this book!*

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Blurb:

In this valuable and timely anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay has collected original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronised, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, and bullied” for speaking out.

Highlighting the stories of well-known actors, writers, and experts, as well as new voices being published for the first time, Not That Bad covers a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation and street harassment.

Often deeply personal and always unflinchingly honest, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.

Review:

Oh boy! This book…urrgg…I just have so much admiration for the bravery of the people that decided to speak out. I wish I could hug every single author of the entries and tell them how amazing they are! This book could not have come at a better time, 2018 has seen the rise in the #MeToo movement and a lot of brave souls have spoken out for the first time!

The essays featured within the anthology made me cry and NEED change! It is an enlightening read full of raw and personal encounters with rape and I did have to put it down a few times to breathe and take it all in.

I was shocked by how sexual assault is still a prominent downfall of the twenty-first century and how often it happens. I truly hope this book shocks people into change because HOW is this still happening, no one deserves to have their bodies violated and it MUST stop. As I put the book down I found myself actively searching my brain on how I can contribute to the understanding of rape culture and how everyone needs to be aware of it – I started by recommending this book and giving it to a friend to read.

This eye-opening encounter and insight into something that not everyone can understand is vital in everyone’s life. It is not an easy read, but it is sooo worth it!

Every essay presents the reader with a different encounter of sexual assault which makes the anthology truly special as it gives people agency to express themselves in a culture where they are often silenced.

One aspect that I really admired was the voice given to male victims, often society associates rape victims with being a woman but that is so far from the truth. A victim is a victim no matter their gender, race, class or the culture they grew up in.

About the Editor: 

Roxane Gay is the author of the essay collection Bad Feminist, which was a New York Times bestseller; the novel An Untamed State, a finalist for the Dayton Peace Prize; and the short story collections Difficult Women and Ayiti. A contributing opinion writer to the New York Times, she has also written for Time, McSweeney’s, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Bookforum, and Salon. Her fiction has also been selected for The Best American Short Stories 2012, The Best American Mystery Stories 2014, and other anthologies. She is the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She lives in Lafayette, Indiana, and sometimes Los Angeles.

Rating: 

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May Wrap-Up

Hello everyone, I knows it been ages since frequent blog posts but hopefully I am back now!! Yaaaaaaayyy. I have recently finished the teaching side to my MA in Publishing Media at Oxford Brookes and I am coming to the end of my one month stint in London working at publishing houses. I am so grateful to Biteback Publishing and Icon Books for taking me in and teaching me so much. If you have any questions about publishing/an MA in publishing or internships – drop me a message in the comments.

tenor

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Due to my daily commute into London for the last month I have had a lot of reading time.  Check out the books I have read in May below –

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  1. The Child by Fiona Barton
  2. The Read Peter by Peter Dudgeon
  3. Equal Power by Jo Swinson 
  4. Places I Stopped on the Way Home by Meg Fee
  5. The Art of Not Falling Apart by Christina Patterson
  6. This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay
  7. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
  8. Post-Truth by James Ball
  9. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  10. Midnight Sun by Trish Cook
  11. (and I am currently reading) Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

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What have you been reading this month?

Guest Post: The Sheriff’s Catch by James Vella Bardon.

*Today’s post is by author James Vella Bardon. Thank you James for writing such a wonderful guest post for my blog. Readers, it would be fabulous if you could check the author out, watch his book trailer and ultimately – READ THE BOOK.  If you have read this book, let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you and I am sure James would also love to see your comments. *

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The Making Of The Sheriff’s Catch / Introducing James Vella-Bardon

I don’t think you can beat well-researched novels which are also fast-paced. It doesn’t matter if they’re in eBook format on your smart phone, leaving you to miss your train stop on your way home from work. Or if they’re paperbacks that you hide under your pillow with a small torch, so that you can read late past midnight long after the missus and kids are asleep.
There’s heaps of other people I know who love these breaknjeck page-turners which leave you too breathless to realise just how quickly you’ve read the story. Yet for some reason these sorts of books are so hard to find. I remember reading The Fellowship Of The Ring when I was ten and sick in bed. It was a magical week that I’ll never forget, in which my eyes were absolutely glued to the page while I read the chapter about the fellowship fleeing orcs and a flaming balrog in the Mines of Moria. Reading that chapter left me wondering: what if I could one day create the same levels of anticipation and exhilaration for other readers, all through written words on a page?
There have been other similar works which have also stirred great emotions inside me while also teaching me a lot about different periods in real human history. Henri Charriere’s Papillon was quite simply ‘crack on a page’ from cover to cover, not to mention the opening chapter of ‘Q’ by the band of Bologna-based writers who call themselves Luther Blissett (and subsequently Wu Ming). The first-person account of Gert from the well fleeing Catholic forces with the unconscious Anabaptist Thomas Muntzer was like something out of Mel Gibson’s Apocalytpo. Precious few novels have evoked the same exhilaration and burning curiousity, and in my case these have included Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Sharpe’s Tiger’, Perez-Reverte’s Captain Alatriste series and more recently Tim Willocks’ ‘The Twelve Children Of Paris’.

What if I could write a whole novel with the same first-hand intensity? Something which you couldn’t put down, like ‘The Da Vinci Code’? But without the dryness of an airport read and without all the sagging, flouncy, hellishly boring bits usually contained in a Booker Prize-winning novel? And even better still: what if I could produce a series of books like that, with a story arc akin to those created by fantasy writers like Tolkien, David Eddings and Stephen Donaldson?

At the age of 25 I finished university and with my tertiary studies off my back, I instantly knew what I had to do. I was working in Brussels when I decided to try my hand at writing a fantasy epic, but I knew that the Dark Lord vs the forces of good theme had been done to death and was wearing a bit thin. Rehashing former fantasy series just wasn’t a stimulating enough venture for me. It was during that period of deliberation that I received a book called ‘Romegas’ by Carmel Testa as a birthday gift from my uncle Klaus in Malta. I was instantly drawn towards the stark differences in customs and traditions between the people of the 16th Century, and immediately decided that this world would be the canvas for my novel. But what sort of story should I write?

The key spark of inspiration occurred a couple of years later, shortly after I had emigrated to Sydney, Australia. I walked into a second hand bookstore and picked up a small historical nonfiction book by the Irish journalist T. P. Kilfeather, called ‘Ireland: Graveyard Of The Spanish Armada’. Spanish Armada in Ireland? What was this about? Yet I hardly started to read the first page, that I did not put the book down until I’d read it all. I bought it for three bucks and staggered out of the shop, feeling like I’d just been on the wildest rollercoaster ride I’d ever been on. Moria? Orcs? Papillon? The stories of the Spanish Armada castaways in Ireland ate all that up for breakfast!

I locked myself away in my studio flat, typing out my first twelve-chapter draft in less than a week, subsequently realising that the first draft required further rewriting and editing. I stuck to this project like a hound on the scent, editing and rewriting it again and again for years on end until I developed my voice. Extensive research was also carried out on this period of history, which was nearly as addictive as the writing itself!

And how couldn’t it be? The Spanish Armada shipwrecks in Ireland were a juncture at which three starkly different cultures met: counter-reformist Spaniards, reformist English and the late medieval Irish. There were just too many dramatic episodes to cover, from the preparation and voyage of the Spanish Armada itself, to the dramatic slaughter of Spanish castaways along the Irish beaches, with desperate ‘man on the run’ stories of those Spaniards who managed to elude the great bloodbath along the beaches.

As if this story was not amazing enough, nothing prepared me for the wonder and complexity of 16th Century Gaelic culture. We all too often forget that Ireland was the last European country to be influenced by Rome, so that a sophisticated Gaelic culture of law and bardic tradition had blossomed there, with women having the exact same rights of men and there being no concept of a bonus paterfamilias. I was also taken aback by the sheer beauty of the countryside when I visited Sligo Town and surrounds in Western Ireland to undertake further research on the novel back in October 2012. This was just too much mind-blowing material to be left untouched by fiction, and before I knew it I had penned a staggeringly long novel in five parts. I subsequently divided this into a five-part series called The Sassana Stone Pentalogy.

The first instalment is called ‘The Sheriff’s Catch’ and was published by leading British crowdfunding publisher Unbound on 15 March 2018. The required crowdfunding figure of 4000 pounds was raised in less than six days, even though the campaign was expected to last three months! A number of other highs were to follow. My publisher Unbound got me to work on the manuscript with structural editor and talented novelist CM Taylor, as well as experienced copy-editor Andrew Chapman. There followed work with award-winning cover designer Mark Ecob, before the novel was serialised on international online book club The Pigeonhole. To my disbelief, this book club was previously used by Ken Follett to promote his sequel to ‘The Pillars Of The Earth’, called ‘A Column Of Fire.’

I was walking on air as the comments from 250 readers about my debut novel came through on The Pigeonhole, with a few of them kindly also posting reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. My nine years of backbreaking rewriting and research had already paid off, with a large number of readers greatly warming to my anti-hero protagonist and deadly marksman Abel de Santiago, also known as ‘The Lynx of Haarlem’, not to mention the gutsy tragic heroines Elsien Van Der Molen and Muireann Mac An Bhaird. And as if that wasn’t enough, I received a call from Tim Willocks’ (and Ken Follett’s former) literary agent Mr Albert Zuckerman last month which was the absolute cherry on the cake! Mr Zuckerman kindly invited me to his hotel to discuss my novel for close to an hour, which was quite simply unbelievable. Yet more unbelievable news was to follow earlier this month, when a novel trailer I created was nominated in the ‘best trailer for a novel or book’ category at the Golden Trailer Awards to be held in Los Angeles on 31 May 2018!

Watch the trailer below:

The product of a long lonely nine-year slog has so far met with a really good reception, and I cannot wait for what’s next around the corner. And for those readers who have loved ‘The Sheriff’s Catch’ (and you only need to check my Goodreads and Amazon pages to discover what the feedback has been to date), the good news for my growing following of readers is that the draft manuscripts for four other sequels have already been penned, which altogether will make up ‘The Sassana Stone Pentalogy’. I can’t wait to get stuck into the editing of the next instalment: ‘A REBEL NORTH’.

 So what are you waiting for?

Jump on Goodreads and have a look at the reader reviews, then hop on Amazon and read the ‘Look Inside’ free excerpt of The Sheriff’s Catch, and find out for yourself just how hard it is to put down! And if you love it, well, then strap on your seatbelt and buy the whole thing, as you embark upon one of the literary thrills of your life!

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James Vella-Bardon

James was born and raised in Malta, an island nation steeped in the millennia of history. As a boy he often caught a rickety old bus to the capital of Valletta, where he would hover around the English bookshops to check out the latest titles in fiction.

Growing up he was an avid reader and a relentless day-dreamer, with his standout subject at school being English composition. He also won a couple of national essay competitions. Although he spent seven years studying and obtaining a doctor of laws degree, this did not cure him of his urge to write stories. So after emigrating to Sydney in 2007 he resolved to have a proper stab at writing his first novel.

The result of this decision is an epic, sprawling five-part historical fiction series called The Sassana Stone Pentalogy. It is the product of nine years of intense rewriting and research, and tells the story of a Spanish Armada survivor who is shipwrecked in Ireland.

The first instalment in the series is a rip-roaring, myth-busting page-turner called The Sheriff’s Catch. Its anti-hero protagonist Abel de Santiago is an Armada survivor who finds himself on the run across Connacht, whilst being pursued by English troopers who want him tortured and killed.

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A Might Dawn by Theodore Brun blog tour.

My book review for #AMightyDawn by Theodore Brun. 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

A gripping and brilliantly realised debut epic adventure set in eighth-century Denmark. This is the beginning of an ambitious new series in the vein of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.

Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam. When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan’s household he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior.

Whispers of sinister forces in the North pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?

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 My Review of A Mighty Dawn

*I was luckily sent this book in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much to Kate asking me to participate.* 

I do not normally read this genre, or when I do it centres around Tudor England but I thoroughly enjoyed it and am now eager for more. 

I found this book to be riveting, captivating and not predicable in the slightest, which I loved. This is the first book that I have read about Eighth-Century Scandinavia which was both informative and educational.  I also have not read a lot about the Vikings, so I eagerly delved into the book with no preconceived ideas. 

This is the first book in what I hope will be a brilliant historical fiction series which I will definitely pick up in the future. *EX-CIT-ING…GIVE ME MORE NOW!* 

Within A Mighty Dawn, Brun effortlessly creates a complex world full of intriguing, well put together and compelling characters that will suck you in. While reading this novel, I was fully immersed within the world and at the mercy of Brun cleverly crafted narrative. 

Another part of A Might Dawn that I thoroughly enjoyed was the construction of the narrative. The novel is split in three parts, with each section showing a different side to Hakan aka Erlan (the protagonist). At the beginning of the novel, Hakan is the chosen son, then he goes on a journey of self discovery and finally we (the reader) see him under the ruling of a new king.

After tragedy strikes Hakan’s life, he abandons his old identity and instead takes on the new identity of Erlan. This journey of discovery is one that can be felt by all readers and the tragedy element makes it a page turning extravaganza. 

I do not want to give away any of the book but if you are a reader of historical fiction or fantasy, go check out this wonderful book. This book deserves all its recognition and much much more.

Release date for paperback: 4th January 2018 
Book extent:  608 pages
Publisher: Corvus Books (an imprint of Atlantic Books) 

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Author Bio:

Theo is an established author and public speaker. At Cambridge, he studied Dark Age archaeology (amongst other things), graduating with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MPhil in History. After university he trained as a solicitor, qualifying into the area of arbitration law where he worked for several years, including for two Magic Circle firms. His career took him first to London, then to Moscow, Paris and finally Hong Kong.

However, in 2010, disenchanted with the law and with the germ of an idea for a series of novels already in his head, he quit his job in Hong Kong, jumped on a bicycle and pedalled 10,685 miles across Asia and Europe to his home in Norfolk. At this point he sat down in a spider-infested cottage to write the first volume in his epic historical fiction series, the Wanderer Chronicles. Four years later, A Mighty Dawn was published by Corvus Atlantic. Its sequel, A Sacred Storm, is due for release in July 2018.​

Theo is a third generation Viking immigrant, his Danish grandfather having settled in England in 1932. One could say Viking stories are in his blood. They did also form a small part of his degree, but the truth is they only came alive for him through the discovery of Wagner’s Ring Cycle when he was studying for his law exams. Through this unlikely portal, Theo discovered the hoard of stories from the old Scandinavian and Germanic worlds which underlie many of the works of authors like Tolkein, CS Lewis, George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman, Giles Kristian and Bernard Cornwell to name a few. It was this material that provided the inspiration for the first two novels in his Wanderer Chronicles series.

Besides writing, Theo is also an acclaimed speaker and has presented to a wide variety of audiences about his epic bike journey and about creative writing, as well as inspiring young people to dream big and pursue their passions.

Theo is married to Natasha. They live in London together with Natasha’s daughter, Ella, their baby girl, Talitha, and an unruly dog named Wilmo. 

For more information visit the below website:

Website – www.theodorebrun.com/home

Facebook – www.facebook.com/theodorebrunauthor/

Twitter –twitter.com/theodorebrun