blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Hidden Wyndham – Amy Binns*

New biography explores the secret love life of celebrated author John Wyndham

Hidden Wyndham: Life, Love, Letters includes previously unpublished love letters from The Day of the Triffids author

The first biography of the life of science fiction author John Wyndham is now available. It includes the first publication of a collection of love letters to his long-term partner and later wife, Grace Wilson.

Hidden Wyndham: Life, Love, Letters, by Dr Amy Binns, author and senior lecturer in journalism at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), explores Wyndham’s wealthy but traumatic childhood. This was transformed by a spell at the first mixed-sex public school Bedales from 1915 to 1918, the source of the strange but fervent feminism of Consider Her Ways and Trouble with Lichen.

The biography covers his formative years as a pulp fiction writer, his experiences as a censor during the Blitz and his part in the Normandy landings. He described his struggles with his conscience in a moving series of letters to Grace, the teacher with whom he had a 36 year love affair.

After the war, he transformed the searing experiences of wartime London, France and Germany into a series of bestselling novels: The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos and The Kraken Wakes. But he remained intensely private, shunning fame and finally retiring to live anonymously with Grace in the countryside he loved.

With a decade of experience in news reporting, Dr Amy Binns is now a writer, researcher and journalism lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire.

Her PhD was on solutions to difficult behaviour on social media and other online communities, and she has contributed to a report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life on the intimidation of parliamentary candidates. She regularly speaks on Radio Five Live on social media issues.

Hidden Wyndham: Life, Love, Letters, is Dr Binns’ second book. She has also written about local history in the book “Valley of a Hundred Chapels”, also available on Amazon. She has also published papers and chapters on interwar feminism and social history. Dr Binns lives in Yorkshire with her husband and two children.

My thoughts:

This was certainly an interesting book, like most people I knew little of John Wyndham beyond his famous books; The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day of the Triffids foremost, but the reclusive author led a long and interesting life.

His wartime experiences are recalled in verbatim reproduction of the letters he and his great love, Grace, exchanged, while other details come from Grace’s diaries and Wyndham’s brother Viv’s writing.

I found the section on his publishing career and his works most interesting, he founded a science fiction magazine with several contemporaries as well as producing the novels for which he is most well known.

His early feminism was also very interesting, perhaps stemming from witnessing his parents unhappy marriage and his father’s treatment of women in particular.

Throughout it all it is his relationship with Grace that sustains him, and although very few people were even aware of their love, and they only married later in life, Binns posits that all of his female heroines were versions of Grace, a love letter in every story he wrote.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Tales of Unexplained Mystery – Steph Young*

Tales of Mystery Unexplained….What happened to Elisa Lam, found dead in a water tower atop a hotel roof? Who were the two men who came to see her & what was in the mystery box they gave her? Why did the location of her gravestone match the zip code of a Bookstore, miles away?

Why was a man found in the same spot he disappeared, but 4 years later, with a hole in his head that no surgeons could explain? And what did this have to do with a séance, doppelgangers & the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? Why did a man write the Fibonacci sequence as a clue & tell a stranger he was “Looking for the Beast,” before he disappeared in the barren plains of a desert? Plus many more Tales of Mystery Unexplained.

Steph Young has appeared on national radio shows & podcasts including the UK’s The Unexplained, and Coast to Coast Am, talking about many of these mysteries.

You can also hear some of these Unexplained Mysteries on her podcast on iTunes ‘Tales of Mystery Unexplained.’

Steph Young has been a guest on National Radio shows including ‘Coast to Coast AM,’ as well as many more…

Steph’s Podcast on itunes; “Tales of Mystery Unexplained” discussing Creepy Mysteries of the Unexplained

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My thoughts:

I’m not really interested in conspiracy theories, but this selection of mysterious deaths that have never been solved were interesting. Bodies turning up months after they went missing without any obvious signs of cause of death, in places that had already been searched, 5 young men wandering off into heavy snowfall despite having a working car.

All very odd, and nothing about any of these deaths really seem to add up. While this book lays out the theories around each case, there are still no answers. Only the dead know what really happened.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri*


In the midst of war, he found love.
In the midst of darkness, he found courage.
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope.
What will you find from his story?

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live happily in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens and they are forced to flee. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

Moving, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a powerful testament to the triumph of the human spirit.

My thoughts:

This is a really moving, at times heartbreaking, read, following the plight of Nuri and his wife Afra as they leave their home in the war torn city of Aleppo, Syria, to the UK.

Inspired by real people and real experiences, the lives of people living right now. The suffering of refugees is something we’re all aware of but can’t ever fully understand until we are in those shoes.

Lefteri (herself the child of former refugees) brings the characters and the horrors they endure to life with tenderness and compassion. This is the sort of book that leaves a mark in your heart.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Four Minutes to Save a Life – Anna Stuart*

There’s always time to help out a stranger…isn’t there?

Supermarket delivery driver Charlie enjoys his new job, because he doesn’t have to spend too long with people, who, he’s found, are nothing but trouble. But when he’s assigned the Hope Row street, he realises there are a lot of lonely people out there – and for some, he’s their only interaction.

The supermarket boss tells Charlie he’s a driver, not a social worker – but Charlie can’t abandon the Hope Row residents and he sets about trying to draw them out of their shells and back into the world. But will his helping hand make everything worse?

My thoughts:

Moving and heartwarming, this story of Charlie and his new customers is one of those life affirming, ultimately uplifting reads that we all need from time to time.

For some people the delivery drivers are the only faces they see all day which makes them so much more than just “supermarket man”. This book touches on the loneliness and isolation that some people live in and the need for connection that we a need.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Wreckage – Robin Morgan-Bentley*

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Ben is driving on the motorway, on his usual commute to the school where he works.

A day like any other, except for Adam, who in a last despairing act jumps in front of Ben’s car, and in killing himself, turns the teacher’s world upside down.

Wracked with guilt and desperate to clear his conscience, Ben develops a friendship with Alice, Adam’s widow, and her 7-year-old son Max.

But as he tries to escape the trauma of the wreckage, could Ben go too far in trying to make amends?

Gripping and sinister, The Wreckage is guaranteed to keep you up all night…

 

My thoughts:

This started as a rather shocking crime procedural, but then it turned into something a bit darker, more twisted, and the ending, my goodness, flips the whole thing on its head.

The strange relationship that develops between Ben and Alice, the mess and devastation that both of their lives begin to revolve around, the power dynamics, it’s a whole heap of NOOOO!!!!

Honestly, I’ve not read a book quite like it, both such damaged souls drawn into a whirlpool of mess basically.

Clever, compelling and compulsive, this is definitely a must-read.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part on this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

 

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Woman Downstairs – Elisabeth Carpenter*

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Can you ever really know your neighbours?

When human remains are found in a ground floor flat, the residents of Nelson Heights are shocked to learn that there was a dead body in their building for over three years.

Sarah lives at the flat above and after the remains are found, she feels threatened by a stranger hanging around the building.

Laura has lived in the building for as long as she can remember, caring for her elderly father, though there is more to her story than she is letting on.

As the investigation starts to heat up, and the two women become more involved, it’s clear that someone isn’t telling the truth about what went on all those years ago…

 

My thoughts:

This reminded me of the film Dreams of a Life with Zawe Ashton, which was about a woman who died alone and nobody noticed for three years, it was based on an actual person’s tragic end.

The thought that no one in your life would notice you’d disappeared is harrowing, can you imagine not a friend, family member, colleague, neighbour or even the postman noticing you’d basically vanished from your own life?

This book made me feel a bit sad, loneliness is a huge problem in this country, it’s one of the reasons we check in on our elderly neighbour, and reading this made me pop round just to be sure she was ok.

But the person whose remains are discovered in the book did have friends, did have family, they just weren’t very good at checking in and keeping in touch.

The writing is clear and concise, Sarah makes a great investigator/protagonist. It was really interesting to read and despite the sad moments, it was not a weepy book.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour, but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: All the Flowers in Paris – Sarah Jio*

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When Caroline Williams wakes up in Paris with no memory of her past, she finds that returning to the life she has forgotten is harder than she thought. Even her cavernous apartment on rue Cler seems to hold no clues…

As she searches, Caroline discovers a hidden stack of letters written by a young mother, Céline, during the Second World War. Captivated by Céline’s desperate love for both her daughter and her missing lover, and the haunting glimpses of Paris under Nazi occupation, Caroline begins to realise she may have more in common with Céline that she could ever imagine.

What dark secrets are harboured within the walls of her picture-perfect Parisian home?

And could uncovering the truth about Céline unlock Caroline’s own…?

 

My thoughts:

This is a beautiful, sad, moving story, both in Caroline’s present and Celine’s past.

The occupation of Paris is evocatively and sensitively brought to life, both the darkness of Celine’s time in the apartment that connects the two women, and her memories of life before, when things were happier.

Caroline’s amnesia and her subsequent attempt to remember who she was and what her life was like is equally sensitively handled and written.

Amidst the darkness the two women face in their own times, there is also light and love, making this a redemptive, ultimately uplifting tale of two women across time, trying to live their lives against sometimes insurmountable odds.

 

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.