Our Life in a Day by Jamie Fewery | Book Review |#OurLifeInADay

Published by Orion
Ebook and Paperback (18 April 2019)
288 pages
Source: Copy provided by publisher for review

About the Book

The rules are simple: choose the most significant moments from your relationship – one for each hour in the day.

You’d probably pick when you first met, right?

And the instant you knew for sure it was love?

Maybe even the time you watched the sunrise after your first night together?

But what about the car journey on the holiday where everything started to go wrong? Or your first proper fight?

Or that time you lied about where you’d been?

It’s a once in a lifetime chance to learn the truth.

But if you had to be completely honest with the one you love, would you still play?

For Esme and Tom, the game is about to begin. But once they start, there’s no going back . . .

Following Esme and Tom’s relationship over twenty-four individual hours of ups, downs and everything in between, Our Life in a Day is the most heartbreaking and moving love story you’ll read in 2019 – perfect for fans of Josie Silver’s One Day in December, Jojo Moyes, and Roxie Cooper’s The Day We Met.

My Thoughts

To celebrate their tenth anniversary, Tom and Esme are planning a mini break away but on the eve before they go, Esme presents Tom with a game – a stack of Post-its with a time noted on them and a drawing of a clock.

He has to pick the most significant moments from their relationship for each hour of a day, but over different years. This is how we see their relationship from his perspective from the moment he and Esme first met at a party in 2007.

Tom and Esme’s relationship wasn’t all hearts and flowers, they loved each other and had many happy times but each had their flaws and baggage and their relationship was complicated. Esme came across as being very bossy and wanting things on her terms whilst Tom seemed to be the more submissive one of the partnership and there were times when I wished he would stand up to Esme more.

There was one thing that Esme insisted on and that was total honesty. Tom however wasn’t always honest with her on a number of fronts – for his own reasons he felt that he couldn’t be, and this is where I found the story most powerful as it was a continuing thread as we follow this couple through the ups and downs of their relationship. Something in Tom’s past was hinted at from early on and although I wasn’t surprised when it was revealed, I was willing him to be upfront about it instead of things being left unsaid and causing misunderstandings and hurt. 

It was Tom’s narrative that I found the most moving. It’s not often you get a male’s perspective on such deeply personal mental health issues and here his character was beautifully written.

Our Life in a Day is a brilliantly written debut with wonderfully developed characters that you can feel for. Even though I felt frustration and even annoyance at times towards both characters, I cared for both of them.  It’s a powerful and emotional story and I loved it.  And it made me cry.

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to take part in the tour and to the publisher for providing a copy to review. My blog tour buddy today is Zoe from Zooloo’s Book Diary (click here)- do check out her review too.

About the Author

Jamie Fewery is an author, journalist and copywriter. He has written for the Daily Telegraph, Five Dials and Wired, and works for a London-based marketing and creative agency. He lives in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire with his wife and son. Our Life in a Day is his first novel.

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The Passengers by John Marrs | Blog Tour Review |#ThePassengers

Published by Ebury
Ebook (1 April) | Paperback (30 May 2019)
406 pages
Source: Review copy from publisher

About the Book

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

The new gripping page-turning thriller for fans of BLACK MIRROR from the bestselling author of HER LAST MOVE and THE ONE – soon to be a major Netflix series.

My Thoughts

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invitation and to the publisher for the paperback review copy.

This book was so gripping; totally plausible (- because we all know how incompetent any Government are at anything to do with transport!!) and absolutely terrifying all at the same time.  I am extremely uncomfortable with the idea of autonomous vehicles anyway and this story hasn’t reassured me in any way.

The Passengers is set in the future, where all cars are driverless. Older models have manual override but the latest, Level 5, are completely autonomous and used with an app. You just programme in where you want to go and the car takes you. It works out the best route, it will even collect you at a given time – taxis even operate this way.  You can drink, watch a film – it sounds great doesn’t it?  The Government has assured the public that the AI security levels mean that hacking is impossible, that there will be fewer accidents and that the whole concept is completely safe!

Our passengers are a varied bunch and include a pregnant woman, an abused wife and an ageing TV star. They all have a different backstory or reason for being in the car – some might be purely mundane whereas others’ have a more complicated and sordid story to tell. However, things soon get interesting because the Hacker has some surprises in store. 

One the main characters is Libby. Libby is a young mental health nurse totally opposed to these cars for reasons which are gradually revealed.  She is called to serve as a juror on an inquest into accidents involving driverless cars.  These inquests are held in secret and are not as wholly independent as we would hope, however one random member of the public is always in attendance and in this instance it’s Libby’s turn.  She tries to get her points across but keeps being shouted down by the forceful (and obnoxious) MP in charge. Libby was a standout character for me, I admired her for the way she tried to stand up for her own beliefs even when under pressure.

At a given time, the hacker starts live streaming the passengers’ reactions whilst trapped helplessly in their cars and also has live access to the jurors whose building he has hacked into.  From then on, the fate of every single passenger is up to the jurors and also up for the public vote – mob mentality is very much the focus here and it was quite frightening. No detail is spared for public consumption, however horrifying – cameras are everywhere. 

I really enjoyed this and flew through it.  The concept is original and entertaining and makes reference to the idea that technology is/could be so advanced that our every move could be tracked, and that the authorities would have access to every single detail about each and every person.  In this futuristic story, the value of one life was weighed against another. It makes you think about how we judge people without knowing the full facts and how easy it is to manipulate people into thinking a certain way.

With plenty of brilliant twists and surprises throughout, The Passengers is a thrilling and engrossing read.  Some of the characters I felt great empathy for and others I could happily have driven the car to the collision point myself they were so awful.   However, one thing is certain. I am never getting into a driverless car.  Ever.

The Passengers is currently available to download from Amazon UK for just 99p

About the Author



John Marrs is a former journalist from Northamptonshire, England, who spent 25 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.

He wrote for publications including The Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World’s Sunday Magazine.

He recently gave up his job to write novels full time. His first car at the age of seventeen was a three-door, Ford Escort with a Batman sticker in the rear windscreen. He thought the sticker was cool at the time.

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A Dangerous Act of Kindness by LP Fergusson | Blog Tour Guest Post |#DangerousActofKindness

Published by Canelo
Available in ebook and audiobook (28 March 2019)
429 pages

About the Book

What would you risk for a complete stranger?

When widow Millie Sanger finds injured enemy pilot Lukas Schiller on her farm, the distant war is suddenly at her doorstep. Compassionate Millie knows he’ll be killed if discovered, and makes the dangerous decision to offer him shelter from the storm.

On opposite sides of the inescapable conflict, the two strangers forge an unexpected and passionate bond. But as the snow thaws, the relentless fury of World War Two forces them apart, leaving only the haunting memories of what they shared, and an understanding that their secret must never see light.

As Millie’s dangerous act of kindness sets them on paths they never could have expected, those closest to them become their greatest threats, and the consequences of compassion prove deadly…

A Dangerous Act of Kindness is a beautiful, harrowing love story, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore and Santa Montefiore

Guest Post

You Never Grow Old at the Table

Or how I learnt to relocate a shoulder for A Dangerous Act of Kindness

One of the great pleasures of writing historical fiction is the research. Often it reveals a plot idea that I hadn’t thought of and fleshes out the feelings and actions of a character living in that time period. But the other invaluable source of ideas and inspiration comes from the library in my head where decades of anecdotes and stories are waiting to be tapped.

I discovered the value of these when doing my Master’s degree at Oxford Brookes. Our tutor had this terrifying and brilliant technique of giving us a random subject and, ‘Three hundreds words on that now. I’ll be back in ten minutes.’ At first the tutor group gasped and chatted – within a week we were all heads down and writing hard. We knew we’d have to read our extracts out loud when he came back into the room.

I found the only way to get something intelligible down on paper was to pluck a book from the library in my head, and adapt an anecdote. I often find myself doing the same thing now.

I have a huge advantage. I grew up in a medical family – three generations of doctors and surgeons stretching back to the nineteenth century. My father had spent some time in Italy during the war where he picked up a wonderful saying, ‘A tavola non s’invecchia’, which he roughly translated as, ‘You never grow old at the table’.

All through my childhood and teenage years, the family would gather round to eat and chat for hours at a time. My father was a wonderful raconteur and many of the stories he regaled us with were medical.

A Dangerous Act of Kindness is the story of a lonely young widow who finds an injured German pilot on her remote farm in England at the beginning of the Second World War. She makes the fateful decision to help him. In order for the plot to work, Lukas Schiller’s injury had to be severe enough to prevent him from travelling but also treatable at home. One of my father’s stories gave me the answer.

He was skiing in the 1950s with a group of friends, all orthopaedic surgeons. One of them fell, dislocating his shoulder. The medics gathered round him, each certain they had the perfect technique to relocate his shoulder. One after the other, they tugged away at the poor man until he could stand the pain no longer.

Eventually, he was brought down the mountain in the blood wagon and taken to the clinic in the village. Here the ordinary general practitioner, who clearly dealt with these types of injuries all the time, gave him a sedative, laid him face down on a table and got him to hold a heavy weight. As the muscles relaxed, the shoulder slipped back into place. My heroin Millie doesn’t have a sedative, but she has some powerful poteen.

There’s a second medical anecdote in the book as well, one my brother – also an orthopaedic surgeon now – told me. I don’t want to include a spoiler here but if you don’t spot it when you’re reading the novel, don’t despair. You’ll find the answer in the acknowledgements at the end.


My thanks to Ellie at Canelo for the tour invitation and to LP Fergusson for the fascinating guest post.

About the Author

LP Fergusson grew up on the borders of Wales in a Tudor house on the banks of  the River Wye. As a child she longed to go back in history. Now she does, through her writing. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University and won the Blackwell’s Prize for MA Creative Writing. Her stories have made a number of shortlists for competitions run by the Orwell Society, Oxfordshire Libraries and Flash500. Her psychological thriller reached the final three of a Quercus/Psychologies Thriller competition and her wartime novel A Dangerous Act of Kindness was Highly Commended in the Caledonia Novel Award 2018. She edits the historical blog With Love from Graz which was featured on BBC Radio Wales, Radio 2 and BBC4’s A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley. She now lives in an Oxfordshire village beneath the chalk downs where her debut novel is set.

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The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan |Blog Tour Extract (@RKbookpublicist @WorldEdBooks) #TheStoryteller

Translated by Sinead Crowe and Rachel McNicholl
Published by World Editions (4 April 2019)
Ebook and paperback
468 pages

About the Book

The enthralling search for a missing father

Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family’s adopted home in Germany for volatile Beirut in an attempt to find his missing father. His only clues are an old photo and the bedtime stories his father used to tell him. The Storyteller follows Samir’s search for Brahim, the father whose heart was always yearning for his homeland, Lebanon. In this moving and gripping novel about family secrets, love, and friendship, Pierre Jarawan does for Lebanon what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan. He pulls away the curtain of grim facts and figures to reveal the intimate story of an exiled family torn apart by civil war and guilt. In this rich and skillful account, Jarawan proves that he too is a masterful storyteller.

EXTRACT

From Chapter 4

Father was quick to realise how important it was to learn German. After fleeing burning Beirut in spring of 1983, the first refuge my parents found in Germany was the secondary school’s sports hall in our town. The school had been shut down the previous year when routine inspections during the summer holidays had revealed excessive levels of asbestos in the air. But there were no other options, so the sports hall ended up as a refugee reception centre. Father soon managed to get hold of books so that he could teach himself this foreign language. At night, while others around him slept wrapped in blankets on the floor, he clicked on a pocket torch and studied German. By day, he could sometimes be seen standing in a corner, eyes closed, repeating vocabulary to himself. He learned fast. Soon he was the one the aid workers sought out be their interpreter. Then he’d stand, a circle of others around him, and explain to the aid workers in broken German which medicine people needed or what it said on the certificates and documents they held out to him. My father was no intellectual. He’d never been to university. I don’t even know whether he was smarter than average. But he was a master of the art of survival and he knew that it would be to his advantage if he could make himself indispensable.

The atmosphere in the sports hall was often strained. People who had arrived here with no possessions, nothing but hope for a new life, were now condemned to wait for their fate to unfold. The air was stuffy, the space cramped. A constant hum of voices hovered beneath the ceiling; there was never complete silence. At night, you’d hear children crying or mothers weeping, and the snoring, scratching, and coughing of the refugees. If one got a cold, many were sick a few days later. The aid workers did their best, but there were shortages of everything: medicine, toiletries, food, not to mention toys for the kids, or ways for the grown-ups to keep themselves busy.

Losing their homeland was a fate everyone shared; they were all refugees. But a residence permit was also at stake, and not everyone would be allowed to stay; they knew this too. Everyone had witnessed scenes in which screaming mothers clung to the poles holding up the basket-ball hoops as they resisted being carried out of the hall along with their children. Here, one person could be the reason why another didn’t get to stay. That made fighting a serious problem. But settling fights was another thing Father was good at. He’d talk calmly and persuasively to the irate parties, stressing how important it was not to cause trouble, how it helped to make a good impression, because news of what went on in the hall would inevitably find its way to the outside world. Sometimes there were indeed people outside the hall, holding placards that said there wasn’t enough room in this town for so many people.

There were others too, people who brought bags of clothes—even if they were in the minority. And many of the refugees began to see my father as an authority, someone they could go to with their worries. “We’re people too,” they’d complain, “not animals, and yet we’re locked up in here.” Or, “In Jounieh, I was a lawyer. I had a practice that got destroyed. Where am I meant to go if I they won’t let me stay here? Go back? There is no going back. I have no house, misfortune— for having lost everything, for being refugees, for having to live in a sports hall.

My father’s friendship with Hakim was another thing that lent him authority. Hakim and Yasmin, who was barely two at the time, were Muslims. My parents were Christians. They had all fled Beirut together. Hakim and Yasmin were camped right beside my parents—in the Christian sector of the hall, so to speak. But Hakim encouraged his daughter to play with all of the kids, making no distinctions. My father and Hakim would say to the others, “We’re not in Lebanon anymore. We all came here because we want peace, not war. It’s not about Christians and Muslims here. It’s about us. As Lebanese people.”

But sometimes words were in vain. One night, Father was woken by a dull thumping, the sound of something hard rhythmically pounding something soft. Fumbling in the dark and aware of my mother breathing gently beside him, he sat up. All he could hear in the dark hall was that noise. He made his way towards its source, putting one foot carefully in front of the other to avoid stepping on sleeping bodies. In the dim shadows he could make out one figure bent over another. But he was too late. Father could see the battered face even as he leaned in to grab the shoulder of the man who was straddling his victim and punching him like a man possessed. The woman closest to them began to scream. Someone turned the lights on and people sat up suddenly, looking around in shock. More and more people started screaming. There was blood not just on the floor, but all over the hands and clothes of the man who had killed the other. Four men grabbed him and pinned him to the ground until the police arrived.

For a while, the dead man’s place in the hall remained empty, and his death seemed to put an end to the fighting too. But more people were arriving in the sports hall every day, so it wasn’t long before someone spread his blanket in the free space to lie down and sleep. After a few days, it was impossible to say where exactly the empty space had been.

My thanks to Julia of Ruth Killick Publicity for the invitation to take part in the tour and for providing the extract.

About the Author

Pierre Jarawan was born in 1985 to a Lebanese father and a German mother and moved to Germany with his family at the age of three. Inspired by his father’s imaginative bedtime stories, he started writing at the age of thirteen. He has won international prizes as a slam poet, and in 2016 was named Literature Star of the Year by the daily newspaper Abendzeitung. Jarawan received a literary scholarship from the City of Munich (the Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis) for The Storyteller, which went on to become a bestseller and booksellers’ favorite in Germany and the Netherlands.

A link to the author in a two-minute clip talking about his novel:

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55 by James Delargy |Blog Tour Extract |#whoisfiftyfive

Published by Simon & Schuster
Ebook and Hardback (4 April 2019) | Paperback (19 September 2019)
432 pages

About the Book

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.

He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

Gabriel is the serial killer.

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

James Delargy has written one of the most exciting debuts of 2019. He masterfully paints the picture of a remote Western Australian town and its people, swallowed whole by the hunt for a serial killer. This novel has been sold in 19 countries so far and has just been optioned for film.

EXTRACT

1

His lungs burned as if he weren’t breathing oxygen at all but the choking red dust that spat up with each footstep. Footsteps taking him nowhere. This was the middle of nowhere. That much he knew. The middle of nowhere and still the world was strangling him, the low branches stretching to take their ounce of flesh, to welcome him to the neighbourhood permanently.

It had so nearly succeeded. But he escaped. Now he was running for his life. A throwaway phrase that he never believed he would actually have to realize. He didn’t feel alive. Far from it. The crushing fear of cap- ture consumed everything, his focus constrained to each step, each rocky scramble and dive between trees. He felt like an animal, reduced to base instincts of survival, everything classed simply as dangerous or safe.

The long fingers of the relentless sun reached through the trees, baking the ground where it found land, dappling the bare earth in light but offering no glowing path to freedom. There were trees and rocks, trees and more fucking rocks. He had no idea whether he was heading towards civilization or further into the outback.

Around another rock scorched by the sun, his calves tightened, as if the manacles were still weighing him down. The cold, rusted metal he thought would chain him until that psycho decided to kill him. He couldn’t stop. Despite the pain, fatigue and crippling lack of air in his lungs he couldn’t stop. Stopping meant death.

He spotted a break in the trees up ahead. The edge of hell he hoped, where he would find a road, a farm, a dirt track – anything that indicated the real world. He forced more air into his lungs and pushed towards the light. Throwing his foot forward it met a rock that had prob- ably been embedded for centuries, undisturbed until now. Knocked off balance, he flung an arm out. He found nothing but air. Then his shoulder jarred against a tree trunk which shook but stood firm. Somehow, so did he.

The treeline broke. Sunlight dazzled his eyes, his dreams of stumbling upon civilization dashed. He was faced with nothing but a small clearing with five or six distinct patches of loose soil; rectangular patches that looked like . . . graves. He knew that if he didn’t get up now he would find himself in one.

He hauled himself up. His body hurt all over. Sweat soaked his clothes. Skirting around the gravesite without tearing his eyes from it he entered a landscape dominated by more trees and rocks. Almost as if he had circled back on himself.

Here the ground rose once again, his legs joining his lungs in protest at the continued abuse. In the distance the faint blue shimmer of a cloudless skyline signalled the top of a hill; a vantage point to orientate himself.

He quelled the rebellion in his legs and lungs, but in subduing their protest, failed to see the tree root looping out of the soil. Over he went, no loosened earth to break his fall, just the hard, baked ground and a face full of dust. He stifled the bark of pain, terrified of giving his position away, but the echo of his grunt taunted him, the hard earth amplifying it, drowning out the chirps of birds, insects and the sound of his would-be killer.

The hilltop arrived and brought further dismay. There was no vantage point, only a sheer ten-foot drop. A pan- icked glance left and right confirmed there was no safe path down.

He didn’t have time to source an alternative route. A shove in the back caused him to hit the dirt hard. He rolled around just in time for a set of knuckles to find his left cheek. A glancing blow, but enough to force his eyes closed for a split second. Balling his fist, he swung hard in retaliation. It found something hard – possibly a shoulder. In response, his attacker ground his sharp knee into thigh muscle. The pain forced his eyes open, his sight blurred. Without a plan, or indeed, much co-ordination, he threw a series of frenzied fists. Some found targets, others just air. But as many as he threw, double returned his way, accurate, finding his head and neck, dull fleshy strikes that set off a kaleidoscope of worthless diamonds across his vision. His hair was wrenched and his head slammed into earth that had no give, nor sympathy.

Blackness clawed at his brain threatening to switch it off for good. If he passed out he was a goner. Reaching up, he grabbed on to the dark outline above him. Pinning his attacker’s arms, he rolled to the side battling for leverage. Where there should have been ground, there wasn’t, the roll continuing for what seemed like forever, weight- lessness encompassing him as if the blows to the head had freed his brain from the effects of gravity. With it came a sense of bliss that was almost surreal. It was over. He had been killed and was passing on to whatever lay beyond this earth and there was nothing he could do about it.

The landing changed that.

The ground forced the breath from his body. As if his soul had fled. Opening his eyes, he took in the coarse grey-brown wall of the ridge rise high above, a little haze of waning blue above it. The browns, greys and blues darkened and he passed out.

My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour and for providing the extract.

About the Author

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives. He incorporates this diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. 55 is his first novel.

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