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

Or on Twitter: @_wordgetsaround

Instagram: @WordGetsAround

Plague by Julie Anderson

Plague by Julie Anderson

Summary:

There are many ways to die. Plague is just one of them.

Work on a London tube line is halted by the discovery of an ancient plague pit and, within it, a very recent corpse. A day later another body is found, killed in the same way, also in a plague pit. This victim is linked to the Palace of Westminster, where rumours swirl around the Prime Minister and his rivals.

As the number of deaths climbs, the media stokes fear. Government assurances are disbelieved. Everyone feels threatened. This has to be resolved and fast.

The Westminster connection enables Detective Inspector Andrew Rowlands, working alone on  a series of rapes and murders of vulnerable young people in central London, to finally persuade his superiors that there is a pattern. He is assigned to lead the case.  Cassandra Fortune, a disgraced civil servant, is given the uncomfortable task of investigating the investigation, while joining forces with Rowlands to find the killers before Parliament rises for recess.

Together they navigate the arcane world of the Palace of Westminster as the body count grows. But someone is leaking important details about the case to the press and the media ratchets up the pressure. Misinformation and malice online feeds distrust and panic and the Black Death begins to stalk the streets of London once again.

Meanwhile the commercial and political world focuses on the launch of a huge government Thames-side building programme worth billions. Powerful forces, in Parliament and the City, are competing for its spoils. How, if at all, does this link with the killings? Drawn into the melee, Cassandra Fortune finds herself the object of the attentions of one of the major players, wealthy City broker, Lawrence Delahaye. The attraction is mutual. Fortune and Rowlands discover a shadowy underground network of influence and power as they race against the clock to prevent the death of more innocents and the destruction of the Mother of Parliaments itself. Cassandra will be forced to make a terrible decision as she faces ruin. Time is running out and it’s not clear what, or who, is going to survive. 

My Review:

Set in modern day London, Plague (Claret Press) by Julie Anderson is a really exciting thriller, the title suggests a novel set against a background of a plague but what this really is a gripping murder mystery and political intrigue.

The story begins when workmen discover a plague pit while working on the London underground network, but there is also a grim discovery of a body that has recently been placed there. How? And who committed the murder? Cassandra Fortune who as a civil servant has a past that he is trying hard to overcome, is there. A day later another body is discovered and there are similarities and also discovered in a plague pit. This victim has connections to the Palace of Westminster and government officials are nervous.

Mention of recently discovered bodies in plague pits and there is a media frenzy and the public are now very nervous. Is this the plague returning and are there more victims to be discovered?

 The killing is not over and time is running out, high ranking civil servants want answers before Parliament closes and there is pressure on both Cassandra and Detective Inspector Rowlands to find the killers before they strike again and strike fear into the public about the return of the Black Death? Meanwhile someone really is going after Cassandra and it is not only her career that could be ended if the killers are not found and quickly. The pressure is mounting.

Running under central London is the forgotten underground River Tyburn that plays a significant role in the storyline as do some extremely dangerous people who will not stop at anything for power and they have eyes at the very top.

Plague is a fast moving thriller that has political intrigue as well as money and greed at the very heart of the story and dark secrets of London’s underground. I really enjoyed Julie Anderson’s writing as she creates some interesting characters for the plot and creates a storyline that is tense and you are not sure what is coming next and you feared for Cassandra Fortune at every turn of the page.

288 Pages.

Thank you to Claret Press for the Netgalley review copy of Plague by Julie Anderson.

Plague by Julie Andersonis published by Claret Press and will be released on 15th September 2020 and available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers: A treasury of 1,000 Scottish Words by Robin A. Crawford

Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers: A treasury of 1,000 Scottish Words by Robin A. Crawford

Summary:

The Scots language is an ancient and lyrical tongue, inherently linked to the country’s history and identity, its land and culture. In Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers, Robin Crawford has gathered 1,000 words from his native land – old and new, classical and colloquial, rural and urban – in a joyful and witty celebration of their continuing usage and unique character.

airt o’ the clicky – bawheid – carnaptious – dreich – eejit – forefochen – Glasgow kiss – haver – inkie-pinkie – jags – kelpie – loch-lubbertie – meevin’ – neuk – oxter – pawky – quaich – ramstam – simmer dim – tattie bogle – usquebaugh – vratch watergaw – yowe trummle

My Review:

What a book to celebrate my 500th blog post, a book to celebrate words after all this is why I started a blog about books. Those of us who talk and write blogs about literature love to celebrate words and now released is a book about Scottish Words old and new. Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers: A Treasury of 1,000 Scottish Words (Elliott & Thompson) by Robin A. Crawford.

Across our lands and through history we have used words to as culture and identity and this is as true in Scotland as anywhere and in this wonderful book by Robin A. Crawford he delves deep into a joyful celebration of its usage. Set out in alphabetical format so it is very easy to use and also some delightful line drawings by Liz Myhill that just add to the book.

From Robert Burns to Billy Connolly and even Monty Python and even Twitter they are all here a living testament to Scottish words old and new. It is clear that Robin put in a lot of time and research into this project and deserves praise. Scottish language is part of their cultural history and should be celebrated. Just a few words that I have picked out

Ailsa Cock or Parrot: Puffin

Blaws Snell: A biting, chastening wind.

Inkie-pinkie: Weak beer.

Clootie Dumpling: Suet and dried-fruit pudding wrapped tightly in a cloth, or cloot and cooked by being boiled in a pan.

Haver/Haiver: Ramble, talk nonsense. As in the Proclaimers were happy to haver for 500 miles.

Silver Darlings: Herrings

Ailsa Cock or Puffin

These words hark back through Scottish history and Robbie Burns is at the very core of this book and rightly so as it speaks to the people of Scotland in everything they do no matter where they are around the world today.

Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclvers is a celebration of the richness of Scottish words, but in all of this we must remind ourselves that these words are now disappearing. Scotland’s favourite word as voted in a poll is Dreich (grey and miserable; usually applied to the weather.

As a lover of words I can only hope these words are not fading away confined to history. A beautiful book celebrating the best Scottish words many I have never before come across. There is so much to celebrate about Scotland the mountains and its islands and who can forget the Compton Mackenzie film Whisky Galore (1947) so let us celebrate the great Scottish words.

208 Pages.

#CauldBlasts @RobinACrawford2 @eandtbooks

Thank you to Alison Menzies and Elliott & Thompson for the review copy of Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers by Robin A. Crawford.

Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers by Robin A. Crawford was published by Elliott & Thompson and was published on 20th August 2020 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Follow the Blog Tour

My Piece on Great Books That Nearly Never Made It #3

August Edition of The Leveller Newspaper

As a regular contributor to The Leveller newspaper, Somerset’s highest circulation newspaper, I have been writing literary based articles for the past few year’s and my latest pieces are about Great Books That Nearly Never Made It and my latest piece is the third in the series: Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding a book that I studied as part of my English Literature studies but initially rejected more than twenty times before the UK publisher Faber and Faber became interested in Golding’s book that was first called Strangers from Within and requested a change in title. Since than it has become an international best-seller and selling over 25 million copies in English alone.

You can find out more about The Leveller Newspaper via: https://leveller.live/

John Fish

The Last Word Book Review

https://thelastwordbookreview.com/

Summer by Ali Smith

Summer by Ali Smith

Summary:

In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world’s in meltdown – and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time.

This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?

Summer.

My Review:

That day in October 2016 when there was a thud on my doormat as the postman delivered Autumn by Ali Smith in what was the first instalment of the seasonal quartet. Fast forward four years and the final book has just been released this month. Summer (Hamish Hamilton) really is a magnificent finale.

Since Autumn was released in 2016 the world has gone through a seismic shift with Trump in the Whitehouse, the Brexit vote, refugees, the enviroment and elections in the UK now with Boris Johnson in Number 10 and the Coronavirus pandemic. The world is in trouble. What Ali Smith has achieved in Autumn, Winter, Spring and now Summer is staggering, writing at breakneck speed to take into account our troubled world and in each of the novels troubled characters to match.

There are characters that we have met previously as much as each book is a separate storyline each of the seasonal books are linked via the characters that appear. In Summer we meet the Greenlaw family the siblings are clever but they are split by politics and their mother Grace and the father who left have separated but despite the politics the siblings are close. A family trying to get to grips with who they really are. But there is another brother and sister from Summer’s past and they face a real threat to their lives.

The one aspect of Summer is how Ali Smith has managed to bring the current news agenda into a book that has just hit the bookshelves there is the real shock of Corvid-19 and how it has affected the world and even the death of George Floyd gets into the story. Summer flits between time frames and yet is the most current corvid novel of our times.

We are at an end now of the quartet by Ali Smith but I have a feeling that in the years that lie ahead new readers will discover the four seasons and debate about these current times.

400 Pages.

Summer by Ali Smith was published by Hamish Hamilton on 6th August 2020 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Twins of Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor

The Twins of Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor

Summary:

In the summer of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at Auschwitz.

Within thirty minutes, they were separated. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, while Eva and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man who became known as the Angel of Death: Dr. Josef Mengele. They were 10 years old.

While twins at Auschwitz were granted the ‘privileges’ of keeping their own clothes and hair, they were also subjected to Mengele’s sadistic medical experiments. They were forced to fight daily for their own survival and many died as a result of the experiments, or from the disease and hunger rife in the concentration camp.

In a narrative told simply, with emotion and astonishing restraint, The Twins of Auschwitz shares the inspirational story of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.

Also included is an epilogue on Eva’s incredible recovery and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and worked toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.

My Review:

Eva and her twin sister Miriam was born in Portz, Romania on 31st January 1934 to a hardworking Jewish farming family. They were the only Jewish family in the village. The Twins of Auschwitz (Monoray) by Eva Mozes Kor is the remarkable story of endurance and survival. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

In the Spring of 1944 the family were moved to a regional ghetto. They had no shelter and made tents out of sheets. Later they were moved by the Nazis to Auschwitz Concentration Camp, the twins were aged ten. On arrival the mother was approached to confirm if Eva and Miriam were twins. The parents and their two other daughters Edit and Eliz were separated from Eva and Miriam. The parents and Edit and Eliz were sent to the gas chambers.

The Twins never realised they were never going to see their family again and over the next ten months the twins became the property of SS Doctor Josef Mengele known as the Angel of Death and as twins they would be subjected to experiments at one point Eva became very ill and Mengele said she would die within two weeks. Eva was determined to survive and wanted to see her sister again. She did survive.

It was January 27th 1945 that the Red Army liberated Auschwitz and both Eva and Miriam were among about 180 children that were rescued. Many were sent to a convent in Katowice and later they were taken back to Romania were they lived with their aunt.

The fact that Eva publicly forgave both Mengele and the Nazis helped her and Miriam move forward with their lives. She spent the rest of her life giving talks on the Holocaust and giving messages of peace and reconciliation and the removal of hatred.

Miriam had kidney problems years later and Eva donated one of her kidneys to help her twin sister. Sadly, Miriam died in1993 of Kidney cancer. Eva died in July 2019 at the age of 85.

I cannot recommend The Twins of Auschwitz highly enough. In this year the commemorates the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz it is a powerful and important book.

240 Pages.

Thank you to Monoray (Octopus Books) and Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of The Twins of Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor.

The Twins of Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor was published by Monoray and was published in paperback on 6th August 2020 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Follow the Blog Tour