Jeoffry: The Poet’s Cat by Oliver Soden

Jeoffry: The Poet’s Cat by Oliver Soden

Summary:

Jeoffry was a real cat who lived 250 years ago, confined to an asylum with Christopher Smart, one of the most visionary poets of the age. In exchange for love and companionship, Smart rewarded Jeoffry with the greatest tribute to a feline ever written. Prize-winning biographer Oliver Soden combines meticulous research with passages of dazzling invention to recount the life of the cat praised as ‘a mixture of gravity and waggery’. The narrative roams from the theatres and bordellos of Covent Garden to the cell where Smart was imprisoned for mania. At once whimsical and profound, witty and deeply moving, Soden’s biography plays with the genre like a cat with a toy. It tells the story of a poet and a poem, while setting Jeoffry’s life and adventures against the roaring backdrop of eighteenth-century London.

My Review:

Jeoffry was a cat that lived some 250 years ago in London and in Jeoffrey: The Poet’s Cat (The History Press) the author Oliver Soden has used both research and narrative to bring back to life the story of a much celebrated cat. Jeoffry would wander the streets around Covent Garden and would seek out theatres and brothels for comfort, shelter and some food.

AAt the very core of this wonderful book is the eighteenth century poet Christopher Smart (11th April 1722 – 21st May 1771). He was a brilliant poet but had little means to support himself, and the story of Christopher Smart is beyond sadness. He was consigned to St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics on 6th May 1757 for ‘mania’. Christopher Smart was released from St. Luke’s on 12th May 1758 “uncured”

By the following year things had not improved for the poet and by late Summer he was again sent to an asylum, there is some debate as to actually where this was but what Christopher Smart really needed more than anything was the company of an animal. Jeoffry was roaming the streets of London and witnessing everything eighteenth century London including violence it is from here that he found Christopher Smart and it was Jeoffry that was his companion during his time at St Luke’s. It was here that he began to write the extraordinary poem Jubilate Agno.

It was here that Jeoffry would take refuge under the bed while a silent figure sat motionless at a table with a candle and ink and white quill pens, but soon Jeoffry would become brave enough to venture out from under the bed and onto the table.

And it was there that a sheet of paper contained the title Jubilate Agno. Jeoffry was becoming what Smart always really wanted the companion of an animal. By choice or design they had found each other and through the love and companionship they gave each other Jeoffry was rewarded with the greatest honour and tribute as cat has ever received.

The poem Jubilate Agno (Rejoice the Lamb) was not published until 1939 after fragments of the peom were found in a library and in 1943 a festival cantata by Benjamin Britten was written.

Jeoffry has been immortalised in the seventy-four lines of verse with “For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry” Oliver Soden has written a beautiful masterpiece in both research and imagination about a cat and a poet who found companionship and rewarded Jeoffry. A cat who has been immortalised and a place in history. I loved reading Jeoffry: The Poet’s Cat. A classic.

Jubilate Agno

208 Pages.

Thank you to The History Press for the review copy of Jeoffry: The Poet’s Cat by Oliver Soden

Jeoffry: The Poet’s Cat by Oliver Sodenwas published by The History Press and will be published on 6th October 2020 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Green Hands by Barbara Whitton #WartimeClassics

Green Hands by Barbara Whitton

Summary:

It is 1943, and a month into their service as Land Girls, Bee, Anne and Pauline are dispatched to a remote farm in rural Scotland. Here they are introduced to the realities of ‘lending a hand on the land’, as back-breaking work and inhospitable weather mean they struggle to keep their spirits high. Soon one of the girls falters, and Bee and Pauline receive a new posting to a Northumberland dairy farm. Detailing their friendship, daily struggles and romantic intrigues with a lightness of touch, Barbara Whitton’s autobiographical novel paints a sometimes funny, sometimes bleak picture of time spent in the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War.

My Review:

The very latest release from the Imperial War Museum as part of their Wartime Classics series is set in 1943 and the men are away fighting and so the women recruited as part of the Women’s Land Army (WLA) in Green Hands (IWM) Barbara Whitton (pseudonym for Margaret Hazel Watson) tells the of the experiences of three young women working the land.

The story is told by Bee and her two friends Anne and Pauline are sent to chilly windswept farm in a remote part of Scotland in Winter, with no training they are expected to learn quickly how to work a farm. It is hard-going, cold and tough for the young women who are expected to work 6 days a week and long hours. The novel is based on the authors own experiences in the WLA.

It is physically hard and soon one of the women gives up and goes home leaving both Bee and Pauline to be relocated to a dairy farm in Northumberland and from the story tells of how they coped during the war years.

It is funny and insightful and the author writes in such a way that she paints a picture of life working on a farm doing the job the men would be normally be doing but with not a hint of a thank you. At a time when the country had to pull together or go hungry, Green Hands tells of a time during the war years when it was the women who worked the land to keep the country fed and important part of our history.

#wartimeclassics     @I_W_M

@angelamarymar     @RandomTTours

224 Pages.

Thank you to Imperial War Museum and Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for a copy of Green Hands by Barbara Whitton

Green Hands by Barbara Whitton was published by Imperial War Museum and was published on 10th September 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Follow the Green Hands Blog Tour

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS SHOWCASE #2

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS

# 2. Grand Iota

For the second in my series in Independent Publishers I am showcasing an indie publisher that may be new to many readers. Grand Iota was established in 2019 and is dedicated to imaginative prose.

The primary aim of Grand Iota is to publish books that are out of the ordinary, these books may be difficult to slot into genres and categorise but will be excellent books to read.

Grand Iota was set up by Ken Edwards who has previous publishing experience and writer Brian Marley who will primarily release material from UK and USA based writers but with an eye to expand in the near future. So far they have released four books and will have two more released dated 30th September.

Grand Iota have a simple publishing motto: “books that are out of the ordinary, hard to categorise but good to read” Visit their website:  Grand iota

A selection of the fiction titles currently released through Grand Iota:

Wild Metrics by Ken Edwards

Released: 29th March 2019

1970s London: short-life communal living, the beginnings of the alt-poetry scene, not forgetting sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. This prose extravaganza dives into the inscrutable forking paths of memory, questions what poetry is, and concludes that the author cannot know what he is doing. Among the cast of characters are a Rock Star who has become a national treasure, a bunch of poets and writers, some now legends, and assorted other misfits and malcontents. Some names have been changed.

Bronte Wild by Fanny Howe

Released 1st January 2020

BRONTE WILDE is an early novel by Fanny Howe, later revised and now published in this form for the first time. It is the tragic tale of a dispossessed young woman in thrall to a childhood friend, set against the background of the emerging counter-culture of the early 1960s. This is the first of her novels to be published in the UK.

Apropos Jimmy Inkling by Brian Marly

In a Westminster café-cum-courtroom, Jimmy Inkling is on trial, perhaps for his life. Unless, of course, he’s dead already. But will that be enough to prevent him from eliminating those who give evidence against him?

The Grey Area by Ken Edwards

Despite being subtitled “A Mystery”, Ken Edwards’ third novel is no conventional crime story and the mystery seems incapable of any single solution. An old and vulnerable woman has gone missing, and a private detective, Phidias Peralta, an illegal resident in a business park near the run-down port of Deadmans Beach, has been hired by her nephew to find her. His assistant, Lucy, is more concerned with her seven-year-old son who is failing at school, but she is drawn inexorably into the investigation.

The Shenanigans by Brian Marley

Now it can be revealed …

… why Jonah doesn’t want to talk about that business with the whale
… who the woman was in the Davy Jones and Casey Jones love triangle
… how a hapless former tennis pro tried to save a city from ruin
…why one generalissimo is never enough
… and twelve other windows on a world not quite our own    

Play, A Novel by Alan Singer

Writer-director Pan Fleet plans a new experimental play for the off-Broadway stage: Killer Killing Killers, a montage of murder scenes, aiming to provoke his audience’s ire with a work apparently amorally predicated on senseless violence. The plan is complicated by the intervention of his heart surgeon, who also fancies himself as a kind of “director” and by the surgeon’s wife, an empathy-challenged child psychologist who clashes with Pan’s leading lady.

My thanks to Ken Edwards for his help and copies of books released through Grand Iota.

Visit the Grand Iota Website for information on all their books and you can also find a manuscript submission page: Grand Iota

You can also find them on Twitter: @GrandIota

Look out for my next Independent Publishers Showcase next week. If you are an indie publisher and would like to add your name to the showcase, you can contact me via Twitter: @TheLastWord1962

A Year of Living Simply: The Joys of a Life Less Complicated by Kate Humble

A Year of Living Simply: The Joys of a Life Less Complicated by Kate Humble

Summary:

If there is one thing that most of us aspire to, it is, simply, to be happy.  And yet attaining happiness has become, it appears, anything but simple.  Having stuff – The Latest, The Newest, The Best Yet – is all too often peddled as the sure fire route to happiness.  So why then, in our consumer-driven society, is depression, stress and anxiety ever more common, affecting every strata of society and every age, even, worryingly, the very young?  Why is it, when we have so much, that many of us still feel we are missing something and the rush of pleasure when we buy something new turns so quickly into a feeling of emptiness, or purposelessness, or guilt?

So what is the route to real, deep, long lasting happiness?  Could it be that our lives have just become overly crowded, that we’ve lost sight of the things – the simple things – that give a sense of achievement, a feeling of joy or excitement? That make us happy.  Do we need to take a step back, reprioritise?  Do we need to make our lives more simple?

Kate Humble’s fresh and frank exploration of a stripped-back approach to life is uplifting, engaging and inspiring – and will help us all find balance and happiness every day.

My Review:

In this year of years that many of us having been struggling through, looking for happiness and something to sooth the soul. Here it is in the new book released this month by Kate Humble. A Year of Living Simply: The Joys of a Life Less Complicated (Aster) and I have to admit here and now I am a bit of a fan of Kate Humble.

Have you noticed how our lives are dictated by lots of gadgets and how we feel the need to upgrade to the latest model, car, mobile, computer. It is never ending. Sometimes the pressure of modern day living can really be too much. I read Kate’s last book Thinking on My Feet which ended up being shortlisted for two major literary prizes and I just really loved the way Kate was talking to you and just you. It was both calming and reassuring.

The real beauty of A Year of Living Simply I found was that I did not have to read from cover to cover but come back to it by dipping in and out and it felt reassuring to read about the people Kate met who have changed their lives and decluttering. If there has been the most perfect year for this to happen it is definitely 2020.

Kate Humble one of the country’s most popular tv presenters has a wonderful writing style that makes this such a personal book and she also shares a few recipes and the recipe for chilli jam caught my attention. I could not imagine a book from Kate Humble that did not include nature, and there is nature here but also gardening.

At a time when we are really concerned for our planet and its future, Kate shares her ideas that can make all of our lives easier and simple and doing something to help the future of our only home. Earth.

304 Pages.

Follow Kate Humble on Twitter: @katehumble

Follow Octopus Books on Twitter: @Octopus_Books

#AYearOfLivingSimply

Thank you to Aster (Octopus Books) and also Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble.

A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble was published by Aster (Octopus Books) and was published on 17th September 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Follow A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble Blog Tour

Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Summary:

For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books kept her afloat. Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help.

Dear Reader is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another.

My Review:

Last week I wrote my review for one of the most beautiful books of this year and then deleted it as I believe it did not do it justice. Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books (Picador) by Cathy Rentzenbrink is really a life full of the love of books.

There is nothing better that having conversations about reading and our favourite books, and those that we have loved throughout our life. Like a song that is played on the radio that can stop you in your tracks and bring back a memory, special books can also play exactly the same role in our lives.

Dear Reader is Cathy Rentzenbrink’s memoir of her favourite books that have been a great comfort through her life as a reader, bookseller and also writer and journalist. Cathy has had a career in bookselling starting at Harrods and then moving to Waterstones and then became manager of her own Waterstones store later moving to The Bookseller. Not an easy start at first but the hard work soon paid off. Cathy is nothing but inspirational to anyone who loves books.

What you find in Dear Reader is Cathy’s unique warmth as she takes the reader through her life. It is moving and yet there are humorous moments that stand out. But anyone who has read The Last Act of Love will know that Cathy’s life has not been without tragedy and through those dark times books kept her going. As she says in the pages of Dear Reader, that reading has saved her life time and time again. This is a book that you will find that is like sitting in a coffee shop and having a warm conversation with a close friend.

During these difficult days, Dear Reader is like a harbour on a stormy night safe in words of comfort. I have already purchased a copy for a close friend in need. There are many reading recommendations throughout and Dear Reader is one book I am delighted highly recommend.

240 Pages.

Cathy Rentzenbrink (@CatRentzenbrink)

Picador Books (@picadorbooks)

Thank you Camilla Elworthy (Pan Macmillan) for the review copy of Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Independent Publishers Showcase #1

# 1. Neem Tree Press

Delighted today to begin my journey in showcasing the UK’s Independent Publishers, it has been a project that I have been really looking forward in putting together. Across the country I will aim to bring highlight the books being published by an important part of the publishing industry.

The UK’s independent publishers have a vital role in book publishing, they will bring to our attention some fresh new writers from all forms of genres. As you will see over the weeks and months as I journey the length of the country just how vibrant these small publishers really are, and each with their own unique voice.

For my first stop I would like to introduce Neem Tree Press based in London, they are a young publisher with the sole aim of producing books that will broaden and change perspectives.

It was while I was researching the name of the publisher that I discovered the name: The Neem is a hardy and drought resistant tree that thrives in poor conditions. It has many uses such as medicinal. The United Nations declared it a ‘tree for the 21st Century’

Neem Tree Press have become a global when it comes to securing writers, not just here in the UK but contracts from as far as Germany to the Middle East, Spain and Turkey.

Under the umbrella of Seven Seas they release both MG & YA titles, all their fiction and non-fiction titles will be released through Neem Tree Press.

A selection of the fiction titles currently released through Neem Tree Press:

Children of War: A Novel by Ahmet Yorulmaz

Translated from Turkish by Paula Darwish

Released 26 March 2020

Summary:

Hassanakis is a young Muslim boy of Turkish descent growing up on Crete during WWI. Fifteen generations of his family have lived on the island and until now he has never had any reason not to think he is a Cretan. But with the Great Powers tussling over the collapsing Ottoman Empire and the island’s Christians in rebellion, an outbreak of ethnic violence forces his family to flee to the Cretan City of Chania. He begins to lay down roots and his snappy dress earns him the nickname of Hassan ‘the mirror’. As WWI draws to a close and the Turkish War of Independence rages, he begins a heady romance with the elegant Hüsniye. There are rumors that the Cretan Muslims will be sent to Turkey but Hassanakis can’t believe he will be sent to a country whose language he barely knows and where he knows no-one. This powerful novel drawn from the diary of a refugee family evokes the beauty, complexity and trauma of Crete’s past and weaves it into a moving tale of an ordinary man living through extraordinary times.

About the Author:

Ahmet Yorulmaz  (1932- 31March 2014)

Ahmet Yorulmaz was a Turkish a journalist, author and translator. He was born in Ayvalik to a family of Cretan Turks deported to mainland Turkey as part of the Greek/Turkish population exchange decreed in the Treaty of Lausanne. He was fluent in modern Greek and translated novels and poems from contemporary Greek literature to Turkish. Most of his original works were written with the aim of making people learn about Ayvalık, the city where he grew up. He dedicated himself to Greek-Turkish friendship and rapprochement.

The Umbrella Man by Keith Carter

Released: 3 October 2019

Summary:

A witty and acerbic novel for our times about corporate greed, the hubris of bankers, contradictions of the clean energy economy and their unintended consequences on everyday people.

Finance, environmentalism, rare-earth mining and human frailties collide in a complex of flawed motives. We follow Peter Mount, the self-made Chief Executive of a London-based rare-earth mining company as he and his business are buffeted by crisis-torn Royal Bank of Scotland and by his own actions, real and imagined. Meanwhile in Oregon, Amy Tate and her group of local environmental activists do their contradictory part to undermine a component of the green economy, unwittingly super-charged by the Chinese state. The repercussions of events in pristine Oregon are felt in the corporate and financial corridors of New York and London with drastic consequences. This is a deeply involving novel about the current workings of capitalism, miscommunication, causes and unexpected effects, love and survival.

About the Author:

Keith Carter

Born in Scotland, he read Economics at Cambridge, taking a First in 1981 when he was elected a Scholar. He worked as an investment banker before going straight and running a small pharmaceutical company. Now a writer and business consultant he enjoys travel, politics and economics, reading and writing, languages, music and meals with family and friends. Keith suffered a spinal cord injury in March 2018 and since rides a wheelchair.

Distant Signs by Anne Richter

Released: 7 November 2019

Summary:

Distant Signs the debut novel by Anne Richter is an intimate portrait of two families spanning three generations amidst turbulent political change, behind and beyond the Berlin Wall.

In 1960s East Germany, Margret, a professor’s daughter from the city, meets and marries Hans, from a small village in the Thuringian forest. The couple struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of war. As East German history gradually unravels, with collision of the personal and political, their two families’ hidden truths are quietly revealed. An exquisitely written novel with strongly etched characters that stay with you long after the book is finished and an authentic portrayal of family life behind the iron curtain based on personal experience of the author who is East German and was 16 years old at the fall of the Berlin Wall.

About the Author:

Anne Richter

Anne Richter was born in 1973 in Jena, in the former German Democratic Republic. Her degree in Romance languages and English included study periods in England, Italy and France. In 2011, Anne was nominated for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, a highly regarded German-language literary award. Her debut novel, Distant Signs, was published in Germany in 2013. Anne is currently writing her second novel.

Non-Fiction Title:

Modesty: A Fashion Paradox by Hafsa Lodi

Released: 19 March 2020

Summary:

Modest fashion has been gaining momentum in the mainstream global fashion industry over the past half-decade and is now a multi-billion-dollar retail sector. Its growing and now consistent appearance on high-profile fashion runways, on celebrities and in the headlines of fashion publications and news outlets, has shown that the modest fashion movement is hugely relevant to consumers. This is particularly true for millennials who are attracted to the feminist influences behind concealing your body, follow faith-based dress codes, or are attuned to social media, where more and more modest fashion bloggers are using imagery to inspire their followers. While the movement can credit European high fashion houses, like Gucci, for making conservative dresses and layering “in style” and “on trend,” and subsequent Western labels like DKNY, H&M and Mango for dabbling in the realm of modest wear, it is the newly emerging group of faith-influenced fashion brands who are driving the revolution, along with a new crop of Muslim fashion bloggers. These have helped catapult demure dressing trends globally. This book speaks to the various personalities and companies who have helped shape the modest fashion industry into such a significant retail sector, while also exploring the controversies that lie at the heart of the movement, such as one pressing question: even if it covers the skin but is flamboyant, modeled with the purpose of attracting attention, and publicly promoted on social media, can fashion truly be modest?

About the Author:

Hafsa Lodi

Hafsa Lodi is an American journalist who has been covering fashion in the Middle East for the past decade. She was born in New York City, and at the age of 14 relocated to the United Arab Emirates with her family, where she attended Dubai American Academy while interning after school with one of the region’s leading publishing houses, ITP.

After completing her undergraduate studies at the Ryerson School of Journalism in Toronto, Hafsa moved to London for a year, where she earned her master’s degree in Islamic Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies. The relationships between religion, culture and modernity have always fascinated Hafsa, who covered topics like honour killings in Canada’s South Asian communities, the use of DNA evidence in rape cases in Pakistan and the industrialization of the Holy city of Makkah, before turning to the fashion journalism beat. While living in Dubai, Hafsa has written for The National newspaper, Luxury Magazine, Mojeh Magazine, Velvet Magazine, Savoir Flair and Vogue India, in addition to working as an online fashion editor for one of the Middle East’s largest luxury retailers, Boutique 1. She is a freelance stylist, and also has a part-time clothing line, creating whimsical maxi-cardigans and kaftans during Ramadan, and statement hand-embellished sweatshirts for the winter seasons. You can find Hafsa on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hafsalodi/

My grateful thanks to Dr Archna Sharma for review copies of copies of their recent releases.

Visit the Neem Tree Website for information on all their books and you can also find a manuscript submission page: Neem Tree Press

You can also find them on Twitter: @NeemTreePress

Look out for my next Independent Publishers Showcase next week. If you are an indie publisher and would like to add your name to the showcase, you can contact me via Twitter: @TheLastWord1962

Love Orange by Natasha Randall

Love Orange by Natasha Randall

Summary:

While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments.

Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters…

My Review:

Take one American family, by all accounts your normal average family on the outside but then turn the story into a story about a dysfunctional family and you have an extraordinary debut novel in Love Orange (riverrun) by Natasha Randall.

This American family live in a ‘smart’ home but while Hank is the all -consuming techno husband/father that insisted that the family must have a ‘smart’ home, his wife Jenny is left to wonder what on earth her life actually really means. With one child an all hours of the day gamer and the other not knowing what his family are coming to.

Add in that Jenny has started to write pen pal letters to a prison inmate and this is where the orange comes in. (you have to read the book to find this out). But there is much more to the Tinkley’s and it is that the secrets and a family that just have lost the art of communicating with each other on a personal level and everything that entails make this a really riveting fly on the wall type of novel that you cringe on one hand but cannot take your eyes off on the other add in the various addictions and this is a family who have lost touch with the reality and with each other.

The real beauty of Love Orange is that Natasha Randall has crafted a novel with so much going on with a computer controlled house at its very heart. Everything is ultra-modern apart from Jenny’s letters.

A genius of a novel and very different from anything I have read before, I love the way Natasha writes and there is some humour in her writing.

368 Pages.

#NetGalley

@NatashaRandall @riverrunbooks

Thank you to riverrun for the Netgalley review copy of Love Orange by Natasha Randall.

Love Orange by Natasha Randallwas published by riverrun on 3rd September 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Independent Publishers

Independent Book Publishers

A love letter to indies

Blog Journal: #4

10th September 2020

It is mid-morning and the warm September sunshine is pouring through the window onto my writing desk and it is distracting me. It must be time to pick Blackberries and Cobnuts.

Earlier this week I announced on Twitter that I was going to be running regular feature on my blog about UK independent publishers. I was amazed at the response received, I now have a long list of independent publishers to showcase over the weeks and months to come.

There are so many challenges that indie publishers face and these challenges like many other publishers have been exacerbated due to the Coronavirus pandemic, yet their passion and enthusiasm for publishing knows no boundaries as they find new writing talent and supporting their writers. Only in recent days Little Toller based in Dorset and who published Dara McAnulty’s first book The Diary of a Young Naturalist went on to win the prestigious Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing, the youngest ever winner at just 16-years-old and has now also been longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize.

But unless we support independent publishers many may not survive, it is a tough business to be in especially in these difficult times. Many challenges are faced on a daily basis from selling books to digital piracy, it is a tough business to be in. I was touched by the messages and emails by many of the small publishers who wanted to get on board and be featured. It has been nearly six years since I started writing my book reviews and interviews and recently celebrated my 500th blog post and looking back to when I first started to that dark November afternoon it was a few of the small indie publishers who got on board and sent me books and encouraged me. I guess this is me giving something back!

During the last six years I have been impressed beyond words at the quality of writing being published by the indies such as Orenda Books, Bluemoose Books, Little Toller and urbane Books just to name four. Whether is it fiction or non-fiction, whether you like reading crime or contemporary fiction or you enjoy reading history there is something out there for every reader.

We are so fortunate in this country in that we have so many passionate people in publishing, no matter what part of the UK, they are rich and diverse and all with their own unique style and brand. Imagine a time if we lost our independent publishing industry?

Starting on my blog from next week I will showcase an indie publisher. This will be a journey across our country, join me as we discover the many authors and their books and those behind the scenes of each of the publishers.

If you are an indie publisher and would like to be showcased, contact me to get your name added to the list.

John Fish

The Last Word Book Review

V2 by Robert Harris

V2 by Robert Harris

Summary:

Rudi Graf has dreamt since childhood of sending a rocket to the moon. Instead, along with his friend Werner von Braun, he has helped create the world’s most sophisticated weapon – the V2 ballistic missile, capable of delivering a one-ton warhead that travels at three times the speed of sound.

In a desperate gamble to avoid defeat, Hitler orders 10,000 to be built.

Now, in the winter of 1944, Graf finds himself in a bleak seaside town in Occupied Holland. Haunted and disillusioned, he’s tasked with firing the V2s at London. Nobody understands the volatile, deadly machine better than he does.

Kay Caton-Walsh is an officer in the WAAF. She has experienced at first-hand the horror of a V2 strike. As the rockets rain down, she joins a unit of WAAFs on a mission to newly-liberated Belgium. Armed with little more than a slide rule and a few equations, the hope is that Kay and her colleagues can locate and destroy the launch sites.

But at this stage in the war it’s hard to know who, if anyone, you can trust.

For every action on one side, there is an equal and opposite reaction on the other. As the death toll soars, the separate stories of Graf and Kay ricochet off one another, until in a final explosion of violence their destinies are forced together.

My Review:

Historical fact and fiction blended together in the latest blockbuster by bestselling author Robert Harris. V2 (Hutchinson) tells the story of Hitler’s last desperate attempt to turn the tide of WWII. Hitler so desperate he ordered 10,000 to be built of the most advanced rockets the world had seen. Mostly written during the pandemic lockdown, V2 is an enthralling read.

The story is set in the winter of 1944 in London, Holland and Belgium, for Rudy Graf who used to look up at the moon and thought about designing a rocket to land a man there, life during this stage of the war took a sinister turn along with his friend Werner von Braun designed the ballistic Vengeance weapons to strike terror and death and destroy London and also Antwerp and win the war. It takes just 5 minutes from launch in Holland to hit London and there are no warnings.

In London intelligence officer with photographic reconnaissance, 24-year-old Kay Caton-Walsh has had a lucky escape when a V2 hits close to where she has been staying with a married senior officer in the RAF, now Kay wants to get more directly involved in the war effort before the war ends. Locating the launch sites for the V2 rockets has been a massive problem and now efforts are being stepped up to find them and Kay together with a team of women and officers are sent to Mechelen in Belgium to work on calculations based of the trajectory of the V2’s when they are launched and then the RAF is scrambled to the target and destroy the launch sites.

The death toll in the construction of the rockets is huge around 20,000 slave labourers were killed in the production of the V2 weapons. The rockets were never accurate but carried a one-ton warhead that caused death and devastation, the need to seek and destroy the rockets sites was now a priority.

In Holland Graf was becoming more and more disillusioned, some of the rockets were failing and malfunctioned. But now the SS officers running the sites believe Graf is involved in deliberate sabotage. Tension is running high as the high command insist on more and more rockets are launched.

Meanwhile in Mechelen it is pencil and paper and calculations that a pin pointing the launch sites. But the correct calculation has to be made in no more than six minutes to prevent another launch.

V2 by Robert Harris is a gripping and enthralling account of life during the latter stages of WWII and what it takes to try and stop the V2 rockets destroying London. It is also fascinating to read what happened at the end of the war.  

320 Pages.

#NetGalley

Thank you to Hutchinson for the NetGalley review copy of V2 by Robert Harris.

V2 by Robert Harris will be published by Hutchinson on 17th September 2020 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

My September/October 2020 Book Reviews for Word Gets Around Magazine. Issue 41.

My September/October 2020 Book Reviews for Word Gets Around Magazine Issue number 41

The latest edition of Somerset’s Word Gets Around magazine has arrived for September/October. Issue number 41 for the Taunton and surrounding areas and issue number 5 for West Somerset.

Inside it is packed with great articles for Taunton and its surrounding areas as well as pieces for West Somerset. If you are in Somerset, they magazines are widely available and you can find out more by visiting the website for more information: Word Gets Around Magazine

The Fiction Book for September/October Edition: Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin

Published by Europa Editions, Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin tells the story of Violette Toussaint who is a caretaker of a cemetery in Bourgogne, France. The visitors come to make final arrangments and Valérie shares coffee and tears with the occaisonal laughter. It is a story of those that share the duties of the cemetery, the gravediggers and groundsmen and a priest. But one day a visitor arrives in the form of the local police chief, Julien Seul. A beautifuly written novel with tears and laughter and a secret past.

The Non-Fiction Book for September/October Edition: Into the Tangled Bank: In which our author ventures outdoors to consider the British in nature.

Writer and conductor Lev Parikian sets off on a journey across the country in his latest book Into the Tangled Bank (Elliott & Thompson) to discover how we look at the natural world. It all begins with a Butterfly on the pavement outside his home. From here Lev visits the homes of the great nature lovers, Charles Darwin, John Clare, Etta Lemon and Gavin Maxwell. A wonderful book packed with humour and tells of how we all have a connection with the natural world around us.

For more information on Word Gets Around Magazine please visit: Word Gets Around

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