Published by Sandstone Press

ebook & paperback: 20 April 2017

320 pages

Category: Literary Fiction

 

It’s a pleasure to be starting off the blog tour for Making Space.  I really wish I was able to fit this book into my reading schedule as I really do need to make space – for everything!  As I haven’t had time to read and review, I have a guest post on a subject which is almost too painful to mention – a book cull!

The Book Purge

by Sarah Tierney

Erik, one of the central characters in Making Space, is a book hoarder. And although I have never owned as many books as he does, I used to have far more than was sensible for someone living in a small room in a shared house.

At that time, I was working as a book reviewer and my favourite part of the job was opening the post: those padded A5 envelopes containing the latest novels and a press release. Shiny new books, all for me. The longer I had this job, the more I accumulated. I was in my twenties and moved house a lot, but I lugged them all, and all the magazines containing my reviews, from one place to the next, for years.

Boxes and boxes of them, up and down narrow stairways, cramming them into any space I could find in one rented room after another.

I didn’t read the books more than once. In time, I didn’t even want them. And I definitely didn’t want to be carrying them around for the rest of my life. But still, I didn’t get rid of them. They were mine, but more than that, they were me. They were what I did and who I was.

Until, one day, they weren’t. That day I took all the magazines to the Council tip and almost all the books to a second-hand bookshop, where I swapped them for credit which I spent on greetings cards. (If there was one thing I didn’t need in my life right then, it was more books.)

So what brought about that change? That sudden ability to look at the hundreds of books and magazines and say: No more. Be gone. Stop following me around every place I go.

It came with the end of a relationship which had also gone on too long. It had dominated my life for years, wearing me out emotionally, playing havoc with friendships and work, eventually leading me to move back in with my mum while I found somewhere to live.

‘You’ll leave when you leave,’ a friend had said to me when I was in that relationship, foreseeing that it was a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

I think you hold on to stuff until keeping it becomes harder than letting it go. And you don’t know when you’re going to reach that tipping point until it happens.

Leaving the relationship was hard but getting rid of the books and magazines wasn’t. Without even noticing it happen, I’d grown into a different person to the one who’d seen them as a part of who she was.

Now I can barely remember what books they were. I just know that they were heavy and burdensome and too much to keep carrying around.

I sometimes go into that shop and see books that used to be mine. I pick them up, put them down, then buy something else, usually just a postcard. Something small and light, and designed to be given away.

 

About the book:

‘Why do we hold onto things we don’t need?’

Miriam is twenty-nine: temping, living with a flatmate who is no longer a friend, and still trying to find her place in life. She falls in love with Erik after he employs her to clear out his paper-packed home. They are worlds apart: he is forty-five, a successful photographer and artist and an obsessive hoarder still haunted by the end of his marriage. Miriam has an unsuccessful love life and has just got rid of most of her belongings. Somehow, they must find a way to reach each other.

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What others are saying:

‘A beautifully assured debut that is part love story, part psychological slow-burner. Tierney’s characters sing with a dark, sharp, tender realness. Combining exquisite descriptions with scalpel-sharp human insights, this is a book to languish in, and emerge from deeply moved. It marks the arrival of an elegant and thrilling new voice in literary fiction.’
-Emma Jane Unsworth

 

About the author:

Sarah Tierney is a graduate of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University. Her short story, ‘Five Miles Out’, was made into a short film by the acclaimed director Andrew Haigh. Sarah has worked as a journalist, editor and copywriter. She lives in Derbyshire with her husband and daughter.

Author Links:   Website   |   Twitter     |  Amazon UK   |  Goodreads

Thanks to those lovely folk at Harper Collins, I have two paper proof (advance reading copies) of a new psychological thriller to give away. Entry is by Rafflecopter below and two winners will be selected when the giveaway ends at midnight on 25 May.

Here’s a little about the book.  It’s the author’s debut novel and will be published in paperback on 15 June.  It is available to buy in ebook format already.

 

 

 

 

…But what if that’s the only thing you can remember?

Komméno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

 

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sorry but as Harper Collins are sending out the books, entrants are restricted to the UK.  Winners will be notified by email and/or Twitter after the closing date and will have 72 hours to confirm their details to me so that I can pass on to the publisher.  If no reply is received, then alternative winners will be selected.

Good luck!

Published by Avon

ebook and Paperback: 18 May 2017

 

It’s a delight to be taking part in the blog tour for Just For the Holidays published this week.  Sue Moorcroft has been a favourite author for a long time and her books just get better.  I expected to have finished the book by the time of my turn on the tour but unfortunately life has got in the way recently and it hasn’t worked out (- its totally untrue that I’m delaying from finishing the book because I don’t want to say goodbye to Ronan!) 😉  I’m over three quarters of the way through though and will be posting my review separately.  In the meantime, I have a guest post from Sue on what sounds to be a very challenging start to a holiday!

 

A holiday in France … with added challenges

by Sue Moorcroft

In Just for the Holidays, Leah goes to France for a holiday with her sister Michele and family and things do not go well for her. Although her story is not my story, I do have a ‘holiday from hell’ story of my own.

It was over twenty years ago and quite probably things that happened then wouldn’t happen now because the world has become a smaller place in terms of communication and standardisation of technology.

At the time, my family owned a third-hand trailer tent, which saw many a happy holiday within its slightly musty canvas walls. We decided to visit Brittany for a beautiful fortnight at a camping ground close to the sea.

I count myself an organised person but our journey did not go to plan. We booked a ferry to cross the Channel, though I don’t travel well on boats, because the Channel Tunnel had barely opened and I didn’t fancy that either. It was cheaper to cross very early in the morning so we arrived at the docks at dawn, having travelled through the night. I’ll draw a veil over the actual crossing but, suffice to say, I did not enjoy it.

We arrived safely on terra firma, however, feeling optimistic on a beautiful sunny morning.

As we’d travelled through the night it seemed responsible to find a lay-by and take a nap, just for an hour or so. Fast forward four hours and we wake up to realise the day’s getting away from us and sally forth, remembering that we need to fill the car with petrol because we don’t have enough to reach the camping ground on the west coast and hadn’t been able to find a 24-hour fuel station on the English side.

We very soon discovered that France shut at noon on Saturdays.

Seriously, it just shut. We passed garage after garage, all closed. Then finally! Just as we were beginning to think we were going to run out of petrol on the hard shoulder, we found a garage! Hooray! It had self-service pumps only. And took credit cards only. And you needed a PIN. It seems amazing now that we all use our PINs every day but at that time a PIN with your credit card was optional and I had not opted in. Someone tried to help me but I have only rubbish French and his English was even worse, so we had to give up, with me nearly in tears.

Glumly we travelled on until, hooray again! We saw a sign off the main road for a garage selling ‘essence’ and the sign said the garage was ‘ouvrir’. Hiding our misgivings about leaving the main road, which, by then, wasn’t very main, we struck off up a network of lanes. No SatNav in those days, of course, and we were soon lost. We stopped and talked to some girls whose English, thankfully, was at least good enough to fill in the big blanks in my French, and eventually found the village.

The garage was shut.

But … this is where our luck turned. There was a wedding nearby and some very tipsy men came out to see what the problem was. I explained in my Franglais and hauled the owner of the garage out of the wedding. He unlocked his petrol pump and filled our car. Relief! One of the men at the back of the group then came forward to chat in excellent English. He hadn’t spoken earlier because he thought my Franglais was so funny.

We set off again, found the main road with no problems, then discovered after an hour that we were now travelling along it the wrong way. A summer storm blew up and we cut our losses, hit the nearest campsite for the night and lay under canvas wondering whether the tent was actually going to lift off us in the wind.

But the next day the beautiful sun had returned, we had an easy journey to the campsite by the sea and had a lovely, lovely holiday.

C’est la vie.

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About the author:

Best-selling author Sue Moorcroft writes women’s contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes. Her last book, The Christmas Promise, was published by Avon Books UK. It reached #1 in the UK Kindle chart and did well in mass market paperback both in the UK and in Germany (WinterZauberKüsse). Her next book, Just for the Holidays, will be published on 18 May 2017.

Sue has won the Best Romantic Read Award, been nominated for a RoNA and is a Katie Fforde Bursary winner. She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing ‘how to’.

An army child, Sue was born in Germany then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She’s worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a typesetter, but is pleased to have wriggled out of all ‘proper jobs’.

 

 

Author Links:   Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   | Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Newsletter Sign Up

 

 

Published by Harper Collins

ebook & hardback: 18 May 2017   |   Paperback: 11 January 2018

 

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

 

My Review:

Eleanor Oliphant is not really completely fine at all. She may think that she is, with her reclusive tendencies and her routines but, deep down, she cuts a very lonely figure, sometimes just longing for a human touch from another to reassure herself that she is alive.

Eleanor is 30 years old however if I hadn’t have known this at the beginning, I would have thought that she was about 70+, her grammar and vocabulary were so very precise and formal; referring to “public house”,“luncheon” and using the sign off “Eleanor Oliphant (Ms)” when sending informal internal emails to work colleagues – indeed, she seemed so unworldly and out of synch when it came to the minutiae of modern life that she could have been parachuted in from a previous century. She follows the exact same routine each day and each weekend, she has the same meal each night – only one pan to wash and each Friday night she buys herself a pizza and Chianti together with two bottles of vodka to see her through the weekend until she gets the bus to work on Monday morning. Her life would probably have continued in this way if it hadn’t have been for an accident involving a stranger.

Despite her quirky (but endearing ways) and often very rude and direct manner, I took Eleanor to my heart and just wanted to hug her (although she certainly wouldn’t have approved of such close personal contact!). She appeared to be at the back of the queue when tact and social interaction skills were handed out and I did squirm with embarrassment on her behalf when she went to a birthday celebration armed with half a bottle of opened vodka and a packet of cheese slices from her fridge as a birthday gift on the simple premise that ‘all men liked cheese’.

It is clear from the outset that Eleanor hasn’t had the best of times and that something bad has happened in her past with details being revealed in a piecemeal manner. However, once I knew the full story Eleanor’s behaviour is put into perspective. Eleanor’s story is carved into 3 parts – ‘Good Days’, ‘Bad Days’ (this section almost made me cry) and ‘Better Days’.

Eleanor’s story is one of self-preservation and discovery. She uses the familiarity of routine as a shield and comfort blanket and it is only when the opportunity for change is put in front of her does she start to dip her toes into the pool of life and start thinking about living instead of just existing.

There are some wonderful characters here – her IT work colleague Raymond whose kindness has such a significant impact on Eleanor’s regimented life (although she doesn’t make it easy for him). Sammy’s family, who although on the periphery have a hand in opening Eleanor’s eyes to the idea that there could be something more to life. Some of the funniest and most poignant moments for me happened during Eleanor’s makeover campaign undertaken to impress her ‘love crush’.

This is the author’s debut novel and was a delight to read. She writes beautifully and with such empathy for Eleanor that you could be laughing one moment and almost welling up the next. Eleanor’s voice is so clear throughout, whether by dialogue or just by articulating her thoughts that I could form a picture in my mind of how she would look and behave.  Her education was far superior to mine – I really needed a dictionary to hand whilst reading this as in keeping with her precise use of the English language, there were quite a few words that I had to look up – ‘comestibles’ anyone? I don’t normally do this, but there were so many pages in this book that I had marked for a ‘Eleanor quote’ to refer to. I can’t possibly include them all but these are just a few of my favourites:

Talking about Bob, her boss “….Maybe he sensed, back then, that I would never aspire to anything other than a poorly paid office job, that I would be content to stay with the company and save him the bother of ever having to recruit a replacement. Perhaps he could also tell that I’d never need to take time off to go on honeymoon or request maternity leave. I don’t know”.  (She seemed resigned as to what her future was likely to be and I found this just so sad).

Her views on the wedding present lists circulated by work colleagues – “Of all the compulsory financial contributions, this is the one that irks me most. Two people wander around John Lewis picking out lovely items for themselves, and then they make other people pay for them. It’s bare-faced effrontery”. (Actually, although I always contribute, I do tend to agree with her on this one!)

At one of her early encounters with Raymond he was wearing a duffle coat. …..a duffle coat! Surely they were the preserve of children and small bears?…”  (I’ve included this because it made me laugh).

And this final one produced a lump in the throat moment. “There are scars on my heart, just as thick, as disfiguring as those on my face. I know they’re there. I hope some undamaged tissue remains, a patch through which love can come in and flow out. I hope.”

If this hadn’t been offered to me for review, this book might well have passed me by and I would have missed out on this wonderful story but I am so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to read it and it could well be a contender for my book of the year list.

Eleanor and I didn’t always see eye to eye but I adored my time spent with her and felt quite bereft when I came to the end. I would love to read a follow up to Eleanor’s story.  Do put this on your reading piles – you won’t regret it.

 

My thanks to Jaime and the publisher Harper Collins for the paperback ARC and the blog tour invitation

 

About the author:

Photo: © Philippa Gedge

Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress and is Honeyman’s debut novel. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

 

Author Links:   Twitter   |   Amazon UK   | Goodreads

 

 

I do love historical fiction, especially stories set during the war years and Shelter, to be published in hardback by Zaffre on 27 July really does appeal. I’m delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal but first, here’s a little about the book.

 

A beautiful, unique and deeply engrossing novel about finding solace in the most troubled of times, about love, hope and renewal after devastation.

1944. Connie Granger must leave Coventry after her family home is blitzed, she must learn to survive alone, hiding a huge secret. She finds work with the Women’s Timber Corps in the Forest of Dean and soon starts to work as a lumberjill.

It’s here that she meets Italian P.O.W., Seppe, who is haunted by his past. But in the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.

Their meeting signals new beginnings. In each other they find the means to imagine their own lives anew, and to face that which each fears the most. But then Connie’s secret is revealed and she must decide whether to stay or run – and who to leave behind.

 

and now for the cover, isn’t it fabulous – (just the cover alone would make me pick up the book)

 

 

 

About the author:

Sarah Franklin lectures in publishing at Oxford Brookes, is the host of Short Stories Aloud and a judge for the Costa Short Story Award. She has written for the Guardian, Psychologies magazine, The Pool, the Sunday Express and the Seattle Times. In 2014, Sarah was awarded a Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship on the strength of her opening pages of SHELTER, and worked on the novel for a year with Jenn Ashworth, amongst others.

 

 

click here for Amazon UK buy link