Tuesday 30 June 2020

Guest Review: Crazy in Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling

Nina is addicted to bad boys, the wilder, the better. Despite her friends’ misgivings, she firmly believes that true love only takes one form: wild, full of passion and fire and punctuated by tempestuous arguments. She won’t settle for anything less.
But years of swiping right has uncovered nothing but losers and flings, and Nina is no closer to finding her One True Love than she ever was. And when a man from her past walks into the shop Nina knows she has nothing to fear: the geekiest boy in her school has become a boring suit with no chance of making her heart go pitter patter.
Which just shows how little Nina knows about her heart…

Review: This is the third book in the Lonely Hearts Bookshop series by Annie Darling. I have read and enjoyed the first two parts in the series, and have been looking forward to continuing the stories behind those who work in the bookshop. This part could be read as a stand-alone, but I would recommend reading the other two parts of the series first for complete understanding of the story; there is frequent reference to events from the first two parts. I relished the opportunity to catch up with characters I had met in the previous books and to learn more about one in particular who took centre stage in this story.

The central character this time is Nina, a bookseller in the Happy Ever After bookshop, a store specialising in romantic fiction. Nina is obsessed with Wuthering Heights, and with Heathcliff in particular. She is searching for her own Heathcliff, but rarely progresses past the first date with men from the dating app she uses. She believes that she knows all the attributes of the man of her dreams. However, when Noah comes into her life, having been employed to help the bookshop’s owner grow the business, she finds herself becoming attracted to someone who strangely does not fit her requirements. What’s more, she realises that Noah is the awkward boy from her school days who at that time was branded a geek and bullied, and would rather that he didn’t remember her connection with that period in his life.

I loved the story of Nina. I think it is a classic situation of someone being absolutely sure of what they want and being surprised when they are attracted to the exact opposite. There is also the situation, familiar to us all, of not recognising someone out of context. By the time Nina places Noah, it is too late in their relationship for her to do anything and the reader is left holding their breath waiting for the penny to drop for him as well - excellent storytelling. I can’t say I liked Nina’s lifestyle at the start of the story, but at least she was willing to change. I really liked Noah, in particular the way he quietly observed people and took everything in; this was evidenced by a perfect surprise he planned for Nina. As with the other books in the series, there was a fair amount of humour in this story, often resulting from the banter among the bookshop staff. Definitely a book I would recommend for anyone wishing to escape for a few hours.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Monday 29 June 2020

Review: Hello Again by Isabelle Broom

Philippa Taylor (Pepper to her friends) has big dreams. When she closes her eyes, she can picture exactly who she ought to be. The problem is, it's about as far away from her real life in a small coastal town in Suffolk as she can imagine. 
So when her elderly friend Josephine persuades Pepper to accompany her on a trip to Europe, she jumps at the chance to change her routine. And when Pepper bumps (literally) into the handsome Finn in Lisbon, it seems as though she might have finally found what she's been looking for. 
But Pepper knows all too well things are rarely as they seem. Her own quiet life hides a dark secret from the past. And even though she and Finn may have been destined to find each other, Pepper suspects life may have other plans as to how the story should end. 
A romantic and sweeping story about friendship, love and realising that sometimes it's about the journey, not the destination.

Review: I always love Isabelle Broom’s writing and her ability to take me all over the world with her books. 

I adored the travel aspect of this book because we get to go to some more unusual locations. I loved visiting Lisbon, Guernsey and Hamburg in the novel. I loved the sights and the sounds as well as the food and the drink of course. This author has such a way with words you can fall in love with a place and have the urge to visit even if you hadn’t even given it a second thought before. I also love her writing because you can literally taste everything her characters are eating, I just wish I didn’t feel the hangovers as much after the wine!

Pepper is an interesting and complex character. I will admit that I did struggle to connect with her a little over the course of the novel. She has had a certain amount of tragedy in her life and acts accordingly. I do feel like she is a little selfish at times but when we get to know her and her past, especially her family life we can see why. Then we have Josephine who is definitely a positive influence in Pepper. She also has a selfish streak but in a ‘I don’t care what you think of me’ kind of way which is really hard not to love. 

Of course we don’t just have a love story when it comes to travel and location in this novel, we also get to meet Finn who takes a liking to our Pepper. Again though I did struggle to connect with him on the page a little, I was wishing someone better would come along, I guess I just have very different tastes to Pepper and that is just fine.

I loved the travel in this novel, I loved the writing and as always Isabelle Broom has left me with such vivid pictures in front of me thanks to her wonderful description and I can’t wait to see where she is going to take me next. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Movie Review: Will I Be Giving 12 Points to Eurovision Song Contest, The Story of Fire Saga?


Friday 26 June 2020

Blog Tour: Review of The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker. I have a review of the book to share with you today and if you like the sound of that, you can click here to order your copy now. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about...

Robyn Bloom thought Ash Barnes was the love of her life – until one day he announced he was leaving her to fly halfway across the world.

Months later, Robyn is struggling to move on – but then she has a brainwave: The Never Have I Ever Club. Her handsome next-door neighbour Will helps her bring their fellow Yorkshire villagers together for some carpe-diem-inspired fun.
From burlesque dancing to Swedish massages, everyone has plenty of bucket-list activities to try, but it doesn't take long for Robyn to realise what – or who – her heart truly desires: Will.
There's just one problem: he's Ash's twin brother.
Make that two problems: Ash is moving home... and he wants Robyn back.

Review: Well this was a cute romance with some unexpected moments and some heart warming cross-generational moments too. 

I liked Robyn as a character. I loved how independent she was and how she was determined to make the best of her life. I LOVED her friendship group as well, the people that began the formation of the never have I ever club. I could totally recognise them in friends I have had over the years and they reminded me of several BFF characters from other great romcom novels. 

The romance in this book is also very true to life but also kind of aspirational. I love the fact that we have a bit of a choice to make when it comes to a love interest and I really like that those choices represent the past, present and the future. I thought the love scenes were steamy but not too unrealistic although I do think that Robyn made some questionable choices when it came to her love life. 

There are some very funny moments in this book, some moments that definitely made me laugh out loud and a lot of those are provided by older members of the never have I ever club. I did like the humour coming from this generation but there is also a lot of heart that comes from these members and I am liking the trend for older characters getting more ‘main parts’ in novels like this. 

The other thing I really enjoyed in this book was the setting. It was very close to home for me and I loved the mention of many places I could recognise. This was a nice escapist romance and I enjoyed getting to meet and spend time with Robyn and her men. 

About the author

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country... and she's still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them.
Follow Mary:
Facebook: @MaryJayneWrites
Twitter: @MaryJayneBaker
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Thursday 25 June 2020

Book Vs Movie: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli Vs The Disney+ Film (Unpopular Opinions)


Review: It's Not Me It's You by Mhairi McFarlane

Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong. Everything was going smoothly. Ok, she had a slightly rubbish job working for the council and she hadn’t seen her best friend Emma in god knows how long, but she’d been working up to proposing to Paul for months. This. Was. It.

But with one annoying little ‘beep beep’, Delia’s life is turned upside down and rather than stick around and commit GBH by punching her cheating scumbag boyfriend (who still wants to be with her) in the chops, she decides the best thing to do would be get some head space and leave for London.

But a new city is never going to be the answer, and with a dodgy new job in media PR, where a suspicious yet devastatingly handsome journalist seems to be sniffing around and endangering her job, Delia can’t run forever. Where did the old Delia go? And can she get her back?

Review: This book has been on my TBR for way too long and so I gave in and downloaded the audiobook so I would finally get around to reading it. I loved the premise of this novel, some life changing circumstances and a bit of a reinvention, that will always lure me into a novel. I also loved the fact that this book contrasts living and working in the north of England while living and working in London. Not enough books show that stark contrast. 

Delia was a great character to get to know because she doesn’t always get it right but she is really trying her best to win at life. She can be a little thoughtless but she really does mean well and so I found her really easy to relate to. I have to confess that I didn’t gel with any of the men in this novel really. I found myself very distrustful of any of the male characters and found them easy to pick apart. I was definitely on the side of the women in this book, all the way. 

This author never fails to make me laugh and I really do find that her novels lean more towards the side of comedy rather than romance in this genre but I am totally here for that and I love the fact that she always has character or two in her novels who is there to play devil's advocate, doesn’t give a toss about what people think of them and really helps out our main character and also delivers a whole lot of comedy. If you have liked Mhairi’s other novels then  you will know what a treat it is to read one for the first time. I highly recommend It’s not Me It’s You!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Guest Review: The Waffle House on the Pier by Tilly Tennant

Run away to Sea Salt Bay, where the sand is warm and soft, the sea is a perfect blue, and a candy-coloured waffle house is about to change Sadie’s life…

For as long as she can remember, Sadie’s grandparents have run the waffle house on the pier at Sea Salt Bay. With its pretty painted chairs, sweet smells, and the warm advice of her beloved grandparents, the waffle house is like a second home

But when Sadie’s grandfather dies, leaving her grandmother without an anchor, Sadie must make a difficult decision. She quits her job and moves back home, determined to keep things going. The trouble is, she knows nothing about running a business, and learning at a million miles an hour with a shop full of hungry people isn’t easy. When she nearly burns the waffle house down, she has to admit she needs to get some help.

Her ex-boyfriend Declan promises to be there for her but Sadie worries that getting too close is a mistake – especially as he has a new girlfriend now. And anyway she’s just met newcomer Luke, with his gorgeous suntan and mellow voice…

Sadie’s family have always loved Declan and they’re not too sure about Luke, leaving Sadie unsure which way to turn. A terrible accident at sea forces her to look into her heart, but what if it’s already too late to tell the right man that she loves him?

Review: I always love a book by Tilly Tennant, but this one sounded more than usually up my street, as a lover of the seaside and also waffles! This was a lovely quick read for me, the only disappointments I was left with were that it was finished and that this waffle house on the pier doesn’t really exist.

The principal female character in the story is Sadie, who comes from the little seaside town of Sea Salt Bay. Her family there are very much involved with activities in the bay itself, Sadie’s parents running boat trips for tourists, her brother operating a diving school and her grandparents running the all important waffle house which sits at the end of the pier, as illustrated on the book’s colourful cover. Sadie, however, has moved away to study, but is still unsure if she is following the right path. When her grandfather dies suddenly, Sadie moves back home to help her grandmother with the waffle house, but her grandmother’s health is causing difficulties and great concern within the whole family. Sadie’s ex-boyfriend Declan is on hand to help, but Sadie has moved on from that relationship; she is also feeling a growing connection with newcomer to the town, Luke. When it seems impossible to resolve the matter of the waffle house to everyone’s satisfaction, bizarrely a near tragedy brings all parties together.

I loved this story of the little seaside town and the waffle house that was at the centre of so much soul searching and heartbreak within one family. Once again, Tilly Tennant has brought the reader a wonderful tale full of likeable characters and believable situations. I felt for Sadie, pulled in so many directions over multiple issues in this book, and for her family struggling with a problem so tragically common for elderly people. I was never sure how it was all going to end - a sign to me of excellent storytelling. I have no hesitation in recommending this book to other readers; it was an enjoyable read that transported me to the seaside so well that I could almost hear the gulls and smell those waffles.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Unboxing June's Enchanted Fandom Jane Austen Drinking Vessel & Cocktail Making!


Review: Rick by Alex Gino

From the award-winning author of George, the story of a boy named Rick who needs to explore his own identity apart from his jerk of a best friend. 
Rick's never questioned much. He's gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff's acted like a bully and a jerk. He's let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn't given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out. 
But now Rick's gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school's Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that...understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones. 
As they did in their groundbreaking novel George, in Rick, award-winning author Alex Gino explores what it means to search for your own place in the world...and all the steps you and the people around you need to take in order to get where you need to be.

Review: This was such a sweet story of what happens when you start middle school and meet new people and see new things and those friendships you begin to reevaluate. 

This book is incredibly real in that sense because we have all had our friendships grow and change as we move onto the next stage in our lives whatever that stage might be. It was so organic the way Rick moved to middle school and found that that opened his eyes to new experiences and new ideas. 

I love the idea of the Rainbow spectrum club as well. I wish there had been something like this in the schools that I attended, it really sounds like a wonderful place where all ideas can be explored and no topic is taboo. We also get to catch up with characters from George in that club and so that was wonderful too. 

I was really impressed when I read George for the first time when it came up but Rick just takes it to a whole other level when it comes to being open about identity in all its forms. If you’re looking for some diverse middle grade fiction you have found it here. I listened to this on audiobook and I was so impressed with the narration so I recommend this book to you in whatever form you prefer. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Monday 22 June 2020

Review: The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

A dazzling and darkly comic novel of love, violence, and friendship in the California suburbs

Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠--beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael⁠⁠--with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠--lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bunny catches Michael smoking in her yard, he discovers that her life is not as perfect as it seems. At six foot three, Bunny towers over their classmates. Even as she dreams of standing out and competing in the Olympics, she is desperate to fit in, to seem normal, and to get a boyfriend, all while hiding her father's escalating alcoholism. Michael has secrets of his own. At home and at school Michael pretends to be straight, but at night he tries to understand himself by meeting men online for anonymous encounters that both thrill and scare him. When Michael falls in love for the first time, a vicious strain of gossip circulates and a terrible, brutal act becomes the defining feature of both his and Bunny's futures⁠⁠--and of their friendship. With storytelling as intoxicating as it is intelligent, Rufi Thorpe has created a tragic and unflinching portrait of identity, a fascinating examination of our struggles to exist in our bodies, and an excruciatingly beautiful story of two humans aching for connection.

Review: Wow! Talk about realness, this book has it in spades. I went into this novel not knowing a whole lot about it and if I hadn’t already known that it was fiction I would have taken this book to be a memoir or biography of sorts. I let myself get lulled into that kind of nonfiction tone because this book does read as someone telling you their life story. I did this on audio and so I let the narrator tell me about his life, his feelings and his troubles and I enjoyed every moment of it. 

This is definitely a dark read but coming from a very real place. There are moments of beauty but also moments of pure horror but that is real life and that is obviously where this book is coming from. This book shows what it is like for those of us in society who are not deemed to be ‘norma’ and who don’t ‘fit in’ and how important having a support network is, especially when that is the case. 

Bunny and Michael are really interesting and intriguing characters and I love how overtly different they are from one another and also from everyone else they go to school with. They have that inner turmoil of wanting to fit in with their peers but also knowing that there is something special about them and something which was meant to stand out and it was truly wonderful watching them come to terms with that and watching them bond over that. 

There are definitely some really really dark moments in this book and I loved how honest and real it was but there were also moments of just pure beauty and also moments that made me laugh out loud. I love how this author gave us an ending and allowed us to revisit Michael and Bunny at points in the future. I really enjoyed this book. It comes with some care warnings for sure but if you’re good with the synopsis then I highly recommend this novel to you. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Saturday 20 June 2020

Guest Review: When the Dogs Don’t Bark A Forensic Scientist’s Search for the Truth By Angela Gallop


By the time I arrived at the wood yard in Huddersfield on a bitterly cold night in February 1978, the body of the 18-year-old victim had already been taken to the mortuary.
Never before has criminal justice rested so heavily on scientific evidence. With ever-more sophisticated and powerful techniques at their disposal, forensic scientists have an unprecedented ability to help solve even the most complex cases.
Angela Gallop has been a forensic scientist for over 40 years. After joining the Forensic Science Service, the first crime scene she attended was for a case involving the Yorkshire Ripper. As well as working on a wide range of cases in many countries around the world, she is now the most sought-after forensic scientist in the UK, where she has helped solve numerous high-profile cases, including the investigation that finally absolved the Cardiff Three the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path murders, and the killings of Stephen Lawrence, Damilola Taylor, Rachel Nickell and Roberto Calvi.
From the crime scene to the courtroom, When the Dogs Don't Bark is the remarkable story of a life spent searching for the truth.

Review: This book is Professor Angela Gallop’s account of her career as a forensic scientist and some of the interesting and high profile cases on which she has worked. As a former forensic scientist myself, and having worked with her, I was very keen to read this book and I was not disappointed. What I didn’t realise was she joined the Forensic Science Service (FSS) just a few years prior to me and that we had similar backgrounds in that we both joined after carrying out academic research for a doctoral degree. In fact, we even both had our first experience of giving expert evidence in a Crown Court at York Crown Court.

Angela Gallop joined the FSS in 1974, working initially at the laboratory in Harrogate and then moving to the newly-built Wetherby laboratory in 1977. In 1981, she transferred to the Aldermaston laboratory which is where I first met her. She left the FSS in 1986 to set up a company called Forensic Access which provided forensic science services to a variety of clients, mainly defence solicitors. Subsequently, she set up a number of other companies providing similar services. Her journey within the world of forensic science is described in the book and is illustrated with numerous fascinating and high profile cases, both in this country and overseas. Amongst the cases described are those involving the killings of Damilola Taylor, Rachel Nickell and Roberto Calvi. I was interested to see that a number of my former colleagues in the FSS get a mention. I must admit that I smiled wryly when one of my former assistants was described as urbane and laid back (admittedly, I only knew him when he was young and prior to his going to university).

Angela Gallop makes a number of points in the book, with which some, but not all, I would concur. One thing I was surprised to find, given the nature of forensic science and what I know of the author’s professionalism, was a few factual errors in the book. In her chapter on Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper”, she describes the geographical profiling as predicting that he lived in the Bradford area. This turned out to be correct, but he was not arrested in Bradford, as stated, but in Sheffield. She describes the blood grouping system phosphoglucomutase (PGM), one of the grouping systems used prior to the introduction of DNA profiling, as having ten different groups, but goes on to list only eight of the groups. In the chapter on the murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992, she describes the work undertaken at the time by staff of the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory (MPFSL) but later describes them as FSS scientists. In 1992, the MPFSL was a separate entity and did not merge with the FSS until 1996.

Overall, however, I found the book to be a fascinating read about the state of forensic science in the UK, with many interesting cases highlighting various aspects. I thought that the scientific techniques were explained in terms that would be understood easily by a lay person. Hence, this book will appeal to scientists and non-scientists alike. As for the cryptic title? This is explained in the book, so you will have to read it to find out what it means.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Friday 19 June 2020

Blog Tour: Interview with Tadgh Coakley Author of Whatever It Takes @Lovebooksgroup @MercierBooks

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Whatever It Takes by Tadgh Coakley. I have an interview with the author today and if you like the sound of that, you can click here to order your copy now. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about...

Set in Cork city, Detective Garda Collins is at war with the leading local criminal, Dominic Molloy. Unwilling to accept the human degradation caused by Molloy’s drugs, violence and prostitution. He has made up his mind to bring Molloy down, but just how far is he willing to go to make that happen? What is he willing to do and what fall-out will ensue for himself and his garda colleagues? This tense crime novel (the first in a series featuring Collins) tells the story of two immovable forces colliding. Something has to give. Running out of time before the murder of two teenagers becomes inevitable, and with a traitor in the garda station feeding information back to Molloy, Collins takes his battle to new heights. He is determined to win, whatever the cost, whatever it takes.

Here's that interview for you...
First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

I’d always wanted to write, so when I retired from my full-time job in 2015, I decided to seize the opportunity. I signed up for an MA in Creative Writing in UCC and have never looked back.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

At the moment, I still work a little part-time, but for the most part I’m writing full-time and have been since 2015.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer to write?

I don’t think I have a particular style – it depends on the work. My first book was sports fiction, my current book (Whatever It Takes) is crime fiction, and my next two books are in different non-fiction genres. I don’t prefer any particular genre or style, it depends on the book or piece of work. I do like stories, though – I think all writing must have an element of story.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

In fiction, I don’t base my characters on real people. I look at character and voice first and these general grow organically when I put the characters in situations and with other people. I don’t plan out my novels, they tend to grow quietly like a garden. When something flourishes, I’ll try to build more around it. When something fails, I’ll let it go.

What was the inspiration behind your book?

I’d never read a crime novel set in my city of Cork and so I wanted to rectify that omission when I began Whatever It Takes. That was the beginning point. Then I wanted a character who wouldn’t accept the impacts of crime, who would do ‘whatever it takes’ to prevent it. The book grew from that, with characters, plotlines and situations evolving as it went along.

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time?

I tend to begin with characters and voices. Then, until I have a plot worked out, I will write scenes and see where the characters take them. I like to test the characters and get them out of their comfort zones in difficult situations. That’s when we see the real personalities behind the day-to-day facades we all create. Books also need tension and again that’s very revealing and readers enjoy it.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

It’s hard to say. I hope I’m compassionate in my writing, even if some of the situations in Whatever It Takes are difficult for the characters (and readers). Because it’s a crime novel, involving professional criminals and police, there is a lot of conflict, which I prefer to avoid in my own life. I don’t agree with a lot of what the main character Collins, does, he’s certainly not like me, I think. I wouldn’t last ten minutes as a detective or criminal!

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing behind your book?

It depends on the book. For a book of essays I’m working on, I did a lot of research. For Whatever It Takes I did some research about ‘true crime’ and garda procedures, but then I deliberately changed aspects of those to suit the needs of the book. I asked friends and experts who know about crime, policing and medical issues a lot of questions. With location I was very attentive to detail, going to all the places where scenes take place in the book.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

I try not to, but luckily for my first book the reviews were very positive. I think the main thing about bad reviews it to learn from them and not to take them personally. The aim is for everybody who reads your work to love it, but in reality that’s unlikely, and that’s okay. Conversely I tried not to get too carried away with good reviews for The First Sunday in September, either. Reading is so subjective, it’s important not to lose sight of that.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

Incredibly so. My wife Ciara is amazingly supportive and I’m not sure if I could keep going without her. All my family have been wonderful. They even did a Zoom launch for the ebook version of Whatever It Takes, when it came out in late April on Amazon. All my friends have been brilliant, too, and I give thanks for them every day.

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

It’s very exciting and I try to enjoy it all because it’s so rare. Most books are ideas or dreams that are never put down on the page, and most that are begun are not completed. So to actually finish a book (which isn’t easy), have the guts to send it out, survive the rejections, keep sending it out until it’s accepted – all that is really brave and takes great inner resources. I try to float on the wonder of it all, and I’m hoping for that again on July 31 when Whatever It Takes hits the book shops.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

All writers inspire and amaze me. My favourite writer is Kate Atkinson. Her Jackson Brodie series of crime books have such a light touch – as does the work of Fred Vargas and Andrea Camilleri – and I admire that so much. I also greatly admire Elizabeth Strout; her novel Anything is Possible is simply wonderful. My favourite crime writer is Peter Temple, the great Australian novelist. But I also love Tana French, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbo, James Lee Burke and Henning Mankell. I love the short stories of Wendy Erskine, John McGahern and Danielle McLaughlin and the essays of Sinéad Glesson, Zadie Smith, Deborah Levy, Olivia Laing and Joan Didion. I love the pure storytelling of Philip Pullman and the humour of Terry Pratchett.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working with a famous sportsman on his autobiography and a book of essays on sport. After that I’m hoping to return to Detective Collins of Whatever It Takes, to see what trouble he gets himself into next …

About the Author

Tadgh Coakley is from Mallow and lives in Cork city. His debut novel The First Sunday in September was shortlisted forthe Mercier Press fiction prize and was published in 2018 to much acclaim. His sports writing has appeared in The Irish Examiner and The Holly Bough. He has also been published in The Stinging Fly, The Honest Ulsterman, Silver Apples,Quarryman and the From the Well anthology. He is a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing course at University College Cork. www.tadhgcoakley.com

Thanks to Tadgh for stopping by the blog today!

Thursday 18 June 2020

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020


Blog Tour: Interview with Ronan Brady Author of World’s Apart @AnomalyRonan @Lovebooksgroup @MercierBooks

Today is my stop on the blog tour for World's Apart by Ronan Brady. I have an interview with the author today and if you like the sound of that, you can click here to order your copy now. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. There are also some exclusive videos at the bottom of this post if you want another taste of this book.

Here's what it's all about...

At just under six foot in his socks and weighing in at fourteen stone, Ronan Brady is a solid slab of rarest Roscommon meat. He has a natural tendency to throw himself about – some would say recklessly, others would say enthusiastically – into whatever he sets himself to. Ronan had a ‘normal’ childhood in Roscommon and knew by the time he was a teenager that when he grew up he wanted to play football for his county and become a teacher. Ronan had achieved his life ambition when he took up ‘Flying’ as a hobby. A hobby that transformed his life and took him to heights he never dreamed of, performing in the smash hit show Riot alongside Panti Bliss, and going on to tour the world. Worlds Apart is an open, humorous account of Ronan’s life journey,

Here's that interview for you...

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

Perhaps not such a cliché answer, but I got into writing when my publisher approached me asking if I’d be interested in publishing a fitness book. At the time I was part personal trainer and part circus performer. I didn’t consider myself a writer and only had a few random blog posts and a small email list that I sent out thoughts, tips and upcoming performances to.
The idea of a fitness book didn’t appeal to me and I thought I could potentially create something more powerful. I only had the ideas and stories though, and didn’t have to correct literary skills or the words per minute to assemble a cohesive 65,000 word document. So I trailed a sample chapter with a ghost writer who I met by pure chance, pitched it to Mercier, and they loved it. And that was the beginning of me writing.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

I don’t. The only marginally consistent writing I do are morning pages, and they aren’t so consistent. Usually when I’m stressed, blocked or anxious. It’s amazing what comes out in morning pages.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer to write?

With this being my first book, a particular style hasn’t yet been established. What I’ve found for me with creating anything, whether it be writing or creating performance art, it’s better to allow whatever needs to come out come out. So sometimes trying to create something specific is a hinderance and if I just start, what needs to be created in that moment is what comes out. It can be a scary process, like going on a journey with out a destination and no map. But it’s often how I best work.
What was the inspiration behind your book?

The inspiration was to tell authentic honest stories that can provide learning and be useful to people. If I was going to take the time to write something at all, I wanted to to pour myself into it and produce something of substance, not produce a book that was simply more noise. I wanted to write the book I would have loved to have read as a teen or young adult. To present situations, circumstances and events to people so they can take lessons from should they wish, and if not, for them to have enjoyed the story anyway. I love to observe other people and learn from that. I don’t necessarily like being told what to do. I like something to be presented to me, and then I take away what I feel is useful. I wanted to offer that same scenario to my readers.

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time?

For this book I sat down with my ghost writer and we conducted a series of interviews over the course of a week. Two sessions per day, morning and afternoon, separated by some kind of physical activity around lunch. A hike, a surf, a run etc. A beer in the evening helped the process too. It was important we were comfortable with each other and trusted each other.
Once the initial recordings were done. The chapters were drafted and became online, editable google docs. There is where I went in and made corrections, elaborated more on the story or changed words or phrases to be more my voice.

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing behind your book?

The research came after the first draft. It’s crazy how our memory can blur the past. Sometimes separate occasions spanning over years melding into one single instance. I had to go back and seek out accurate timelines and talk to other people present. It was a wonderful conversation starter and I enjoyed the process and catch ups with people.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

I like to read them. I like to understand what people enjoyed or didn’t like. It’s a dangerous game, but I’d rather know than not know.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

They are. It’s a huge achievement to create a book and have it published. People realise what a mammoth task that is and really appreciate it.

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

Super nervous. I’ve found we can never truly have open or truthful conversations with each other unless we have exposed something of ourselves that we might not usually or to be vulnerable. Even though reading a book is not necessarily a conversation, I want it to feel somewhat that way, so that is the manner I have created it. The book is somewhat exposing and that can be nerve wrecking, but it’s also exciting and important.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

I really enjoy Emilie Pine and Michael Harding.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

Right now I am trying to accept the world for what it is right now and how I navigate that. Stories are what make the world go around, so I want to continue telling them. I am practicing speaking stories more, how to record audio and to camera. Stories will always be stories but the way in which we tell them may need to be malleable for a while.
Ronan Brady
Ronan Brady is a physical performer, aerialist and hoop artist who is recognised internationally for his expertise with the Cyr wheel. He is a native of Roscommon, where he was a teacher and played intercounty football, before embarking on his stage career.