Blog Tour: Veronica’s Bird #Memoir #BookReview

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Veronica’s Bird, a gritty memoir about a remarkable woman who rose from poverty to unprecedented success in the prison service

About the Book

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Title: Veronica’s Bird
Author: Veronica Bird & Richard Newman
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback ARC
Publication Details: January 22nd 2018 by Clink Street Publishing
Genre(s): Memoir
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

Amazon

Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.

A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.

Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.

Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.

After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.

Through a series of interviews with Richard Newman —author of the bestselling A Nun’s Story— Veronica’s Bird reveals a deeply poignant story of eventual triumph, is filled with humour and compassion for those inside and will fascinate anyone interested in unique true life stories, social affairs and the prison system.

 

Excerpt

Veronica’s time training in the old Holloway prison was an eye opener for her, particularly when she came face to face with Myra Hindley but there were others, just as evil inside…

Myra’s (Hindley) reputation was powerful as all truly evil people impress, in a sick, sad way. Outside the prison, following the escape plot, children had to be reassured it was safe to go outside, and mothers would glance across the street as they waited for their children to come out of school. There was no way they were going to allow them to walk home alone despite being told she was safe inside her cell. Such was the status she ‘enjoyed’ but remember, she was not a celebrity, manipulative, yes, evil very, but don’t let us fall into the trap of giving her a cult status.

I write in some detail about Myra Hindley’s time in Holloway. Although she was carefully moved about the country from prison to prison, a fellow prisoner was able to get to her in an unguarded moment. The prisoner’s name was Judith, a dangerous psychotic. She was apt to flip from eating out of your hand at one moment to a sudden and unsafe rage. This day, for whatever reason, Judith launched herself at the Moors murderer and managed to throw her over a high balustrade where Myra landed on the security nets strung across the light wells to prevent suicides. Such was the force used, Myra’s head was smashed in and she had to have plastic surgery to repair the damage. These incidents occur in the flash of an eye and those eyes need to be in the back of one’s head.

Let me stay with Judith for a moment. When she was at Styal prison she climbed one night out of her cell window which had no bars, urged on by the knowledge it was New Year’s Eve. She shinned down a drainpipe (yes, really), into a workman’s yard where there was a conveniently stacked set of ladders. (You cannot make this stuff up). Selecting one of the long ladders, Judith climbed out before walking off holding out her thumb as she went. Who should be the first to stop and help her but an off-duty policeman. (I told you it could not be made into a film – no-one would believe it). He said goodbye to Judith, a dangerous psychotic, at the start of a motorway and drove off secure in the knowledge he had helped a lady in distress. Having enjoyed a night’s celebration through into the New Year, she finally turned up at a friend’s house in Swansea at three in the morning. She had managed to remain unchallenged for over twelve hours as a friendly inmate had signed the register at seven in the morning for her. This meant she remained unnoticed until lunchtime when the duty officer saw her name was not in the book. The alarm was raised; the hunt was on but Judith was well gone. The police finally apprehended her in her friend’s cellar and took her back. Red and faces were two words which probably came to mind several times that day with the prison officers, and no doubt, those ladders were securely locked up. And, as for that milkman…

This checking was all part of the eternal need to know how many prisoners there were at any one time in any part of the prison. To do so, numbers were checked four times a day, at seven in the morning, when Judith’s friend stood in for her, at lunch, in the afternoon and when the night duty staff arrived. When prisoners were moved around the prison or had to leave to go to a trial for example, chalk boards were constantly updated. As one prisoner left, the number was rubbed out and a revised figure inserted. When they came back the number was altered again. The boards were divided into sections, such as Remand, Trials and Section the last was where a prisoner had to be transferred to the hospital section. Pretty low- tech in those days but it worked, usually.

As I came to the end of my eight weeks I was skilled in controlling fighting prisoners, night patrolling, interpersonal skills, gate duty, the switchboard and…. counting.

I was ready for Wakefield.

My Thoughts

I work in a prison library and I’m constantly surprised and interested in prison life, so I was thrilled to be offered a spot on the blog tour for this memoir.

I’m ashamed to say that I’d not heard of Veronica Bird despite all of her achievements in the prison service. I was eager to learn about her life, why she joined the prison service at a time when very few women did, and how it affected her.

Veronica’s Bird is a compelling read. I was gripped by her difficult childhood, which was a surprise as I thought I would have been more interested once she entered HMPS, but this was not the case. It’s a wonderful story of bravery and triumph from the very beginning.

I enjoyed following Veronica as she embarked on a career in the service with a driving ambition for promotion after promotion. I’m not sure I could ever be that driven, but work was Veronica’s whole life – she had little else – so it made sense that she wanted to be the best.

Many of Veronica’s anecdotes are interesting and insightful, and the pages flew by, but I did feel like there was something missing, and that was emotion. Veronica’s time in the various prisons she worked are told in almost a clinical fashion. I wanted to know how she felt about her first day, about the prisoners she met. How she felt about Myra Hindley, her colleagues, etc. But I felt like most of her memories were devoid of emotion and intimacy. She was doing a job and that was that. This is the only thing that let the book down for me.

There’s no question that Veronica is an astounding woman, who has achieved more than most us ever will, and her story is one that deserves to be read. I only wish that by the end of the book I felt like I knew her, but I didn’t.

She remains an enigma!

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About the authors: After thirty-five years working for the Prison Service, Veronica Bird is now retired and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She is still an active proponent of the justice system and continues to lecture across the country and is a supporter of Butler Trust, which acknowledges excellence within the prison system.

A qualified architect and Swiss-trained hotelier, Richard Newman enjoyed a forty-year career designing and managing hotels worldwide before retiring in 2001. Since then he has gone on to publish a number of novels: The Crown of Martyrdom, The Horse that Screamed, The Potato Eaters, The Green Hill, Brief Encounters and most recently The Sunday Times bestseller, A Nun’s Story. He is currently working on a new novel about retirement and an autobiography of his time in the Middle East. He lives happily with his wife in Wetherby, West Yorkshire where he enjoys being close to his family.

Thanks to Rachel @ Authoright for arranging this tour

 

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Authors, publishers, agents…If you would like me spotlight, review, or be part of your blog tour please get in touch via the contacts page

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Blog Tour: The Twelve Days of Elfin by Melanie Chambers

Welcome to my spot on the ‘Twelve Days of Elfin’ blog tour!

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About the Book

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Publication date:  November 21st 2017 by Clink Street Publishing
Genre(s): Children’s; Christmas

This is the story of a little boy who becomes friends with an elf; soon they are best friends!

The elf and the boy go on adventures together, creating wonderful magical things that every child would love to experience.

Keep the magic of Christmas alive for your little ones with this delightfully festive story by author and mum Melanie Chambers, to help create magical times together, with lots of fun and happy memories, for parents and children everywhere.

 

Goodreads // Amazon

Excerpt

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My Thoughts

The Twelve Days of Elfin is a charming little book that’s on a big mission – to bring parents and children together this Christmas by sharing quality time reading, baking and crafting.

I love the idea and the structure of this book which you can read over twelve nights during December. It follows Ruben and his new best friend Elfin who encourages him to get well and truly into the spirit of Christmas. Each section is followed by a simple recipe, or instructions on how to make whatever Elfin and Ruben have that day. What a great idea!

The only small criticism I have is that it felt a little bit amateurish to me, with regards to the storytelling and the illustrations, but saying that, I think it just added to the simple charm of it.

Twelve Days of Elfin is a lovely little book will without doubt bring parents and children even closer at Christmastime, encouraging wholesome family interaction and festive cheer.

 

 

Meet the Author

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Melanie Chambers was born in Bristol, and had a troubled childhood. She was only diagnosed with dyslexia a few years ago on a British Sign Language course.

Melanie has been inspired by her own children to write books for that age group, due to their limitless imaginations. With her younger daughter also being an arts and crafts fan, and with Christmas being a favourite holiday it made sense to combine them into a her first book – The Twelve Days of Elfin.

 

 

You can follow Melanie on:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/melanie.chambers.948

Twitter – https://twitter.com/rjchambers2009

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/teacup18/

Thanks to Rachel at Authoright for arranging this tour. If you’d like me to promote your book, please get in touch via the email on my contacts page 🙂

Alone by Cyn Balog: Spotlight Tour, Review & Giveaway!

Welcome to my spot on the Alone blog tour

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About the Book

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Publication date:  November 7th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): YA, Horror

When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school.

As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.

Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

Goodreads // Amazon

Excerpt

Sometimes I dream I am drowning.

Sometimes I dream of bloated faces, bobbing on the surface of misty waters.

And then I wake up, often screaming, heart racing, hands clenching fistfuls of my sheets.

I’m in my bed at the top of Bug House. The murky daylight casts dull prisms from my snow globes onto the attic floor. My mom started collecting those pretty winter scenes for me when I was a baby. I gaze at them, lined neatly on the shelf in front of my window. My first order of business every day is hoping they’ll give me a trace of the joy they did when I was a kid.

But either they don’t work that way anymore, or I don’t.

Who am I kidding? It’s definitely me.

I’m insane. Batshit. Nuttier than a fruitcake. Of course, that’s not an official diagnosis. The official word from Dr. Batton, whose swank Copley Square office I visited only once when I was ten, was that I was bright and intelligent and a wonderful young person. He said it’s normal for kids to have imaginary playmates.

But it gets a little sketchy when that young person grows up, and her imaginary friend decides to move in and make himself comfortable.

Not that anyone knows about that. No, these days, I’m good about keeping up appearances.

My second order of business each day is hoping that he won’t leak into my head. That maybe I can go back to being a normal sixteen–year–old girl.

But he always comes.

He’s a part of me, after all. And he’s been coming more and more, invading my thoughts. Of course I’m here, stupid.

Sawyer. His voice in my mind is so loud that it drowns out the moaning and creaking of the walls around me.

Seda, honey?” my mother calls cheerily. She shifts her weight on the bottom step, making the house creak more. “Up and at ’em, buckaroo!”

I force my brother’s taunts away and call down the spiral staircase, “I am up.” My short temper is because of him, but it ends up directed at her.

She doesn’t notice though. My mother has only one mood now: ecstatically happy. She says it’s the air up here, which always has her taking big, deep, monster breaths as if she’s trying to inhale the entire world into her lungs. But maybe it’s because this is her element; after all, she made a profession out of her love for all things horror. Or maybe she really is better off without my dad, as she always claims she is.

I hear her whistling “My Darlin’ Clementine” as her slippered feet happily scuffle off toward the kitchen. I put on the first clothing I find in my drawer—-sweatpants and my mom’s old Boston College sweatshirt—-then scrape my hair into a ponytail on the top of my head as I look around the room. Mannequin body parts and other macabre props are stored up here. It’s been my bedroom for only a month. I slept in the nursery with the A and Z twins when we first got here because they were afraid of ghosts and our creepy old house. But maybe they—-like Mom—-are getting used to this place?

The thought makes me shudder. I like my attic room because of the privacy. Plus, it’s the only room that isn’t ice cold, since all the heat rises up to me. But I don’t like much else about this old prison of a mansion.

One of the props, Silly Sally, is sitting in the rocker by the door as I leave. She’d be perfect for the ladies’ department at Macy’s if it weren’t for the gaping chest wound in her frilly pink blouse. “I hate you,” I tell her, batting at the other mannequin body parts descending from the rafters like some odd canopy. She smiles as if the feeling is mutual. I give her a kick on the way out.

Despite the morbid stories about this place, I don’t ever worry about ghosts. After all, I have Sawyer, and he is worse.

As I climb down the stairs, listening to the kids chattering in the nursery, I notice the money, accompanied by a slip of paper, on the banister’s square newel post. The car keys sit atop the pile. Before I can ask, Mom calls, “I need you to go to the store for us. OK, Seda, my little kumquat?”

I blink, startled, and it’s not because of the stupid nickname. I don’t have a license, just a learner’s permit. My mom had me driving all over the place when we first came here, but that was back then. Back when this was a simple two–week jaunt to get an old house she’d inherited ready for sale. There wasn’t another car in sight, so she figured, why not? She’s all about giving us kids experiences, about making sure we aren’t slaves to our iPhones, like so many of my friends back home. My mother’s always marching to her own drummer, general consensus be damned, usually to my horror. But back then, I had that thrilling, invincible, first–days–of–summer–vacation feeling that made anything seemed possible. Too bad that was short lived.

We’ve been nestled at Bug House like hermits for months. Well, that’s not totally true. Mom has made weekly trips down the mountain, alone, to get the mail and a gallon of milk and make phone calls to civilization. We were supposed to go back to Boston before school started, but that time came and went, and there’s no way we’re getting off this mountain before the first snow.

Snow.

I peer out the window. The first dainty flakes are falling from the sky.

Snow. Oh God. Snow.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. I’m a huge fan of YA Horror , as regular readers will already know, and I wish there was more of it. So when a new one comes along it makes me happy. And Alone wasn’t a disappointment.

The success of Alone for me was all about the creepy old hotel that had been used as murder mystery venue. It provided such a perfect setting, with lots of red herrings. There were also lots of twists and turns, and I definitely didn’t see a few of them coming.

I wasn’t completely won over by Seda, the protagonist (and less so by her mother!) but it didn’t bother me as much as it has done in the past. I was still invested in the story, and although I never quite trusted her as a character, I still wanted Seda to come out of it alive!

Alone also struck me as a story that would make a great teen horror film. I don’t often think that when reading because I enjoy the medium of novels so much (obviously), but I couldn’t help but picture it as a horror movie on this occasion.

Overall, Alone is a fast-paced, compelling read which I couldn’t put down. There were some great twists and unique elements, and now all I want to do is go on a murder mystery weekend. Maybe not one quite so realistic though…

 

Meet the Author

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Cyn Balog is the author of a number of young adult novels. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at http://www.cynbalog.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

If you’d like me to promote your book, please get in touch via the email on my contacts page 🙂

Patrick Ness Release Premiere @ Curzon Soho – Be more LA, YA! #BookLaunch

Last Wednesday was the premiere launch event for Patrick Ness’ new release, Release, and I was there (not to rub it in or anything), but yayyyy!

For any of you who don’t know, Patrick is the author of several (amazing) YA books including The Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, and A Monster Calls which was adapted for the screen recently. He also penned the BBC series Class which has ties to the world of Doctor Who.

The night consisted of an on-stage interview with Patrick, a Q&A with the audience, and a signing. We also got pretty amazing goodie bags (see bottom of post) not to mention the new book a week before its release. *Happy Dance*

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© Alex Dimopoulos for Walker Books

 

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© Alex Dimopoulos for Walker Books

 

Before I get into some of the topics discussed, let me just say that it’s all paraphrased by me as I didn’t take notes, and my memory is pretty terrible at the best of times, never mind after a tipple or two 😉

Firstly, Patrick discussed  the new book, Release, which is a day in the life of Adam Thorn, ‘the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything.’ 

Patrick talked about being sick of reading gay YA books where the climax of the relationship is two boys holding hands under a tree. It’s not real. Real teenagers have sex. Yes, even gay ones. A great discussion about sex in literature ensued, with Patrick saying that he needed a book like this as a teenager; where gay sex is portrayed in a tender, sweet, and honest way. For books to omit loving, gay sex is damaging. Teenagers think there’s something wrong with it (them), and they turn to other things to explore like porn and Grindr.

He talked about hating the phrase ‘coming to terms with your sexuality’, explaining that he doesn’t think it’s something you have to come to terms with because it’s just who you are. It’s the world’s problem if they can’t handle that. Feel the fear, but do it anyway.

 

 

The discussion about how LGBTQ teens are represented in literature then turned to a broader look at diversity, and Patrick talked about his (many!) nephews and nieces, many of whom are mixed race and multi-cultured. And that’s what the world looks like, if that isn’t represented in books, then it’s not realistic.

Diversity shouldn’t be a tick list, but if that’s what it takes to make sure all people are represented then so be it. He talked passionately about the importance of stories being a mirror. I can’t remember who he said the quote came from but it was that in all good stories, the protagonists are like mirrors – all readers should be able to see themselves in the character – but I whole-heartedly agree with him when he said that it’s only people who are always represented who think everyone can see parts of themselves in characters. And that’s why he didn’t hold back in this book, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Recognising yourself in a story is magic… and the world is screaming out for more diverse stories, just look at Angie Thomas’ current success with THUG.

He urges everyone to write their story. If you are not mirrored in the books you read, write that story. Don’t ask permission. Write anyway. Writers don’t just write. They write anyway.

We were then led to the age old YA Vs Adult fiction debate. His definition for the genres was so perfect it made me jaw-drop:

 

YA tends to be about exploring boundaries. Adult tends to be about being trapped by those boundaries.”

 

The book snobbery surrounding YA was mentioned and I loved Patrick’s response. He believes it shouldn’t be a battle. YA shouldn’t be fighting against Adult Lit. There is good stuff everywhere. If you can’t admit that there’s good stuff in other genres you sound like a cult leader (LOL!). His analogy to LA always being slagged off by New Yorkers cracked me up too. Does LA give a shit what NY thinks? Nope. LA says ‘no worries man, come on over and have a good time anyway. Maybe you’ll leave with a different attitude.

Be more LA, YA. Be more LA.

While I agree with him completely, I do get exasperated having to explain the Young Adult genre to people. I work in a prison library and I’m constantly trying get prisoners to engage with reading. I think YA would be perfect for them, but they look at me like I’m mad. But why would you/I read that? It’s for children. Sigh. But no more, I’m going to be more LA, too!

There was lots more discussion, but those were my favourite parts. I’ve also been left with the need to read Mrs Dalloway, and Forever by Judy Blume -both of which inspired Release, and both of which have passed me by.

After the talk and Q&A, my friend Dora and I (and the other 200 -that’s a guess- people) queued to get our books signed. And this is where I feel the need to apologise. The queue was long. I had plenty of time to come up with something great to say to Patrick Ness as he signed my book…

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© Alex Dimopoulos for Walker Books

I could have told him what I’ve just told you about being more LA at work. But no.

I could have told him I loved The Rest of Us Just Live Here so much because it reminded me of a Buffy spin-off show concentrating on the minor characters at the school who aren’t in the know about Buffy and the Hellmouth. They witness all the weird shit, but aren’t let in on the big secret. But no.

I could have asked him how he could possibly enjoy redrafting more than getting the story down initially. About how I splurge out all these stories but find it impossible to transform them into a not-hot-mess. But no.

What did I say,  Readers?

I said *dons voice of stupidity* are you bored yet? I mean really. What a Knobular. I can only apologise. Patrick was of course extremely sweet regardless.


Thanks to Walker Books, Waterstones and Curzon, (not to mention the wonderful Patrick Ness himself), for putting on such a great night!

Photographs my own unless otherwise credited.

 

 

 

Book Blitz: Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicole Taylor #BookBlitz #XpressoBookTours

 

 

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Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found. This time it’s thanks to Xpresso book tours for arranging the blitz and giveaway for this intriguing Peter Pan-inspired YA Historical Novel.

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

norakettlePublished by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: February 29th 2016
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to—the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them”—things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naïve, eighteen-year-old Nora—the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing.

Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks

EXCERPT

 

This is some medieval contest. Teeth gnash, men who smell much too much like men and… fish… grab at each other’s heads and hair, pull each other down and claw at each other’s necks. They are a desperate, scrabbling entity. I stand back from the jostling crowd, wondering whether I can do this. I bite my lip, lock my limbs, and decide it can’t be worse than anything else I’ve experienced. So I take a deep breath and await instruction.

“You don’t have to do this,” Kettle says as he edges into the throng from the western side.

Yes I do.

“I want to,” I say, trying to keep my voice low this time. Kettle chuckles at my attempt to sound like a boy, his blue eyes flashing with excitement.

Over the noise, he yells, ducking when a fist comes flying at his shoulder, “You’re small, fast, try to squeeze your way in.” He shoulders his way in and disappears. I hear him shouting underneath a tangle of arms, “If you don’t make it through, wait for me outside.”

He doesn’t think I’ll make it. It makes me more determined to prove him wrong. I test a foot on the edge. It instantly gets stepped on. I grimace.

Think.

I think about a slap coming toward me, my father’s palm aching to mark my cheek red. If I could have avoided it, ducked out of the way, what would I have done? How would I have done it?

Each man in this throe of clashing bodies becomes my father. And I’m surprised that instead of wanting to hurt them, all I want to do is get through, stand on the inside of the fence where he/they can’t get to me anymore.

There are small shadows of space opening up before my eyes, and I hurl toward them, I stop thinking, stop worrying, and just react. Under elbows, between bodies, over large legs trying to stomp on me. There are no walls to be thrown against. No one to protect. There is an escape, a way through for me to find.

The freedom tastes delicious, salty and hard-earned on my tongue.

I’m nearly there. The fence vibrates, ringing for me. Calling—You’re close, so close. My hand stretches to the wire and I grab at it, missing as my head suddenly jerks back. Someone’s fingers dig into my collar and pull me backward. The top button on my shirt presses into my neck and I can’t breathe, a strange cacking, gurgling noise coming from the back of my throat. I turn around to meet the owner of the hand. A small, twisted man, a skeleton almost. My cap tips back and he sees my face clearly, suddenly releasing me. “Sorry, ma’am,” he says. Then he’s scattered behind me like a spilled bag of bones, and I’m thrust forward.

The gate slides open and my feet don’t feel like they’re connected to the ground. I’m carried along, through the gap by a sea of muscled, grunting flesh and thrown into the clear, sea air.

The guard at the gate claps it shut and shouts at me, “Lucky last, eh?”

I made it. Me.

Meet the Author

noraauthorLauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!

Enter the Blitz-wide giveaway and you could win a Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box (INTL)! Huge thanks to the publishers and Xpresso Book Tours. 

 Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here

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Book Blitz: The Violet Hour

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Welcome to another great promo post at Lipsyy Lost & Found. I’m thrilled to host a stop on the book blitz tour for Andrea L. Wells’ debut release, The Violet Hour.

How stunning is that cover!?

(I have one copy of the ebook to give away and you can also enter the blitz-wide draw to win a Kindle Fire HD so keep reading…)

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About the Book

The Violet Hour by Andrea L Wells
Series: The Violet series #1
Publication date: May 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Goodreads // Amazon // B & N

Synopsis
Still shocked over her mother’s mysterious death, California socialite Logan Keller is handed a one-way ticket to her long lost roots in Wyoming where love, deceit and danger await. Though she could forget everything staring into Luke Callahan’s eyes, Logan is quickly thrust into a fight for survival. Taking fate into her own hands, she begins unraveling the dangerous deceptions that abound at every turn. Her father is keeping secrets and Luke is keeping more. But Logan is keeping the biggest secret of them all.

The Violet Hour is a page-turning captivating twist of young romance and the supernatural.

Meet the Author

violet2The Violet Hour Series has been begging to escape Andrea’s subconscious for more than five years. Focusing on a wonderful career, handsome husband and two beautiful children by day, she began feverishly penning the series by night. Now a full-time writer, Andrea debuts The Violet Hour.

Facebook
Website
Instagram:@andrea.l.wells

Giveaways!

One Lipsyy Lost & Found reader can win a copy of the ebook here, via Rafflecopter

Blitz-wide Giveaway:

Enter to win an Amazon Fire HD via Rafflecopter

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Many thanks to Andrea for the giveaways, and to Xpresso book tours for all their great work. You can sign up for tours, book blasts, and more by heading to their website. The image below will take you there.

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Blog Tour: Rush of Shadows by Catherine Bell (Review)

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I’m delighted to host a tour stop today for Catherine Bell’s Rush of Shadows, depicting the conflict between settlers and natives in 1800’s Calfornia. It was a rollercoaster of a read!

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Title: Rush of Shadows
Author: Catherine Bell
Series: n/a
Publication date: October 15th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction; Literary Fiction
Purchase from: Amazon

Synopsis
When American pioneers set their hearts on a California valley where Indians had been living for thousands of years, a period of uneasy appraisal emerged, followed by conflict and soon enough by genocide. The epic greed and violence of the 1850′s and 60′s has been brushed aside by history, conveniently forgotten in the pride of conquest. Willful ignorance and cruelty, terror and desperation were common in that time, but there were moments too of nobility and compassion, ingenuity and forgiveness, qualities which might have prevailed if certain things had been different. Rush of Shadows brings to life two freethinking women, Mellie, a white, and Bahe, an Indian, who enact the clash of their cultures, endure, and come to an unlikely understanding.

My Review

I’ve always had a weird fascination with this period of history, despite not actually knowing much about it (shamefully). I remember a book my dad had when I was growing up which was essentially just photos of Native American Indians going about their lives, and I thought it was beautiful and magical.

So when I came across this book and was asked to be part of the blog tour, I was delighted. And, I still am!

Rush of Shadows is about Mellie and Law, a recently married couple who become some of the very first settlers in an area of California, an area inhabited by Indians.

Mellie is sweet-hearted yet extremely strong-willed, with a degree of irreverence about her. You get the feeling from the start that she’s not entirely happy about her lot in life, and has reservations about her husband, Law, but she goes along with his plans regardless.

When they arrive at the place Law has his mind set on, he is concerned with building their home and finding sustainable work, leaving Mellie feeling isolated and alone. This is when she meets Bahé. Bahé, as Mellie names her, is the opposite of Mellie, yet somehow they are similar in many ways too.

To Law’s dismay, Mellie finds herself seeking Bahé out more and more. But as time goes on and more settlers arrive bringing with them their ignorance and fear of the Indians it gets increasingly harder for Mellie and Bahé’s friendship to develop.

This book was such a rollercoaster. On one hand, I loved the way the Indian’s were portrayed, in that the way they lived was such a mystery to the settlers it made them seem so spiritual and almost magical, but on the other hand, the way the settlers saw them and feared them made me so angry.

I liked that Mellie had her own mind and stood up to her husband on occasion (and that he enjoyed it!), but she also let the influence of others impact on her relationship with Bahé and her family.

There is massive scope in this novel. We start at the very beginnings of settlement, when there were only two houses in the region, to the development of a town and a government. I found this really interesting and enjoyed the contrast of this story to that of Bahé’s who learns a lot from Mellie but will never fully understand her or their ways – which I guess works both ways.

Bahé and her family’s lives are in danger from the settlers. Everything that was once theirs – nature, wildlife, freedom, is slowly taken away from them to the point that they begin to starve, and their traditions are basically damned, but she never blames Mellie, or lashes out – such is her spirit.

I found Rush of Shadows dramatic, emotional and infuriating – but all in a good way. Catherine Bell did such a great job of juggling multiple narratives, something which I often dislike in books. I thought it was written really beautifully and the amount of research she did comes across in every single line (you should see the list of sources)! It is definitely one of those books that gives you food for thought, as the themes here are universal and can be applied to any era.

unicorn rating 4

Meet the Author

DSC_0974Catherine Bell grew up in a New England family with a sense of its past as distinguished and its culture superior, as chronicled in many of her short stories.

An early reader, she found in fiction that penetrating experience of other people’s lives that opens a wider world. The Winsor School, Harvard, and Stanford prepared her to recognize good writing and thinking. She credits work as a gardener, cook, cashier, waitress, and schoolbus driver with teaching her how to live in that wider world.

She has also worked as a secretary, freelance writer, and therapist, served as a teacher in the Peace Corps, and taught in inner city schools. She has lived in Paris, Brasilia, Nova Scotia, Northern California, and Washington, D.C. Culture clashes, even within families, are often subjects of her fiction. She has published stories in a number of journals, including Midway Journal, Coal City Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Sixfold, Solstice, and South Carolina Review. Her story “Among the Missing” won The Northern Virginia Review’s 2014 Prose Award.

She researched and wrote Rush of Shadows, her first novel, over a period of twenty years after she married a fourth-generation Californian and fell in love with his home territory, the Coast Range. The bright sunburned hills, dark firs, clear shallow streams, and twisted oaks were splendid, but the old barns and wooden churches and redwood train station didn’t seem old enough. Where was the long past? Where were the Indians? There was only the shadow of a story passed down by her husband’s grandmother late in life. Born in 1869, she grew up playing with Indian children whose parents worked on the ranch her father managed. One day the Army came to remove the Indians and march them to the reservation, and that was that. She was four years old, and she never forgot.

Bell lives with her husband in Washington, D.C. and visits children and grandchildren in California and Australia. As a teacher at Washington International School, she loves reading great books with teenagers.

Links:
Check out the rest of the tour schedule here: JKS Communications
Add Rush of Shadows on Goodreads
Available from Amazon

Many Thanks to Catherine Bell and JKS Communications!

Blog Tour: Infinitude by Ruchi Banerjee (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Infinitude Blog Tour Banner

Welcome to my stop on the Infinitude blog tour. How stunning is that cover!? Keep reading for your chance to win $80 in Paypal Cash!!! (INTL)

Infinitude Ruchi Banerjee Book Cover
Title: Infinitude
Author: Ruchi Banerjee
Publication date: Published May 5th 2014 by Hachette
Genre(s): Young Adult; Dystopian; Romance
Purchase: Amazon/ Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
The year is 2173. Humans are a near-extinct group herded together in protected sectors. Mira, a regular, self-absorbed, 16-year-old pimple buster, resident of Sector 51, has no clue how drastically her life is about to change when she accompanies her mother on a research project to a distant tropical jungle.

There, Mira discovers a tall, super-intelligent and rather good-looking boy called Neel, who introduces her to a whole new world of mysterious possibilities. But before she can even begin to understand her feelings for him, things take a nightmarish turn . . . Carnivorous mutants are on the prowl. A deadly new breed of the forest, they have Mira trapped.

Rescued by unlikely saviours, she finally learns the ugly truth of her world. Now, Mira must fight not only for her own life but also for humanity itself as she is pitted against a far stronger, smarter and more evolved enemy. Her only hope lies in Neel. But will he be able to overcome the overwhelming odds against them? Will this be the end of the human race? With electrifying action and forbidden love, Infinitude is the riveting story of two young lives caught in a deadly clash of civilizations.

Excerpt

My body stilled as my eyes tagged the dark silhouette covering the doorway. The stranger was a few feet taller than me. His shaved head sloping into distinct ear lobes, a thick neck and broad masculine shoulders. I tilted my head up, to catch a glimpse of his face but it was completely shrouded in the dark. Maybe he realized my predicament because right then he stepped closer.

I instinctively stepped back. My heart skipped a beat as I stared at the face now swathed in moonlight. Massive brow, sparse eyebrows, deep-seated eyes, a broken aquiline nose and a ruddy jaw. Everything was a bit disproportionate. It was not a handsome or even a cute face. It was…menacing. A face you would run away from in a dark alley. But then, there was something there that would make you look back. Just once. Just to be sure.”

Links
Goodreads
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon

Giveaway

Ruchi has a MEGA Blog Tour Giveaway where you can win $80 in Paypal Cash!

Enter Rafflecopter Giveaway

Blog Tour: Cutlass by Ashley Nixon (Review & Giveaway)

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I’m delighted to host a tour stop today for Ashley Nixon’s pirate adventure, Cutlass. It made me want to be a pirate, you guys! Keep reading for my review and to enter the awesome giveway.

cutTitle: Cutlass
Author: Ashley Nixon
Series:(Cutlass Series #1)
Publication date: April 23rd 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase from Amazon: Paperback / Kindle

Synopsis
Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

Review

I don’t think I’ve really read many good pirate books, certainly not since I started blogging, so all I really had to compare Cutlass to before I started reading was classics like Treasure Island and Peter Pan, and it turns out Cutlass, is completely different to both of those, but just as fun!

As all good pirate stories should, Cutlass starts with the kidnapping of a beautiful young woman. The infamous-beyond-his-years pirate Barren Reed and his crew gatecrash his brother William’s engagement party to kidnap Larkin (the fiancé) in an attempt to exact revenge for their father’s death. The only problem is that Larkin doesn’t seem too keen to marry William anyway, and is not quite the damsel in distress that Barren expected her to be.

I was hooked from the start of this book, despite it taking me a while to warm to Barren himself. I felt like he really came into his own as he got to know Larkin better. Larkin was such a strong, feisty character I really felt like she carried a lot of the book, which is no bad thing.

The relationship between Barren and Leaf was adorable too. Other than Larkin, Leaf seemed to be the only person who could put Barren in his place, without fearing for his life. He’s mischievous and funny, and it was easy to believe that they’d been friends forever.

Ashley Nixon did such a great job at world-building. I felt like the history of The Orient was rich and interesting and I just wanted to jump on board and sail along with them.

I did think it took a bit too long to get to the main body of the story – the hunt for the mysterious bloodstone – but even though the pacing was a bit slow at times, it reminded me of a good old-fashioned yarn so I was OK with that! I mean, everything about it screams epic adventure, from a chapter entitled Old Salt, to Barren yelling “If the sea had wanted you, I wouldn’t have been able to save you.”

I also devoured it in two sittings (OK, so I kind of had to because -DEADLINE- and I left it to the last minute but that’s besides the point!), they were two very enjoyable sittings!

I thought the use of elves, magic in a story centered around a pirates was unique and clever, and the myth of the bloodstone was intriguing. And yes I admit it, I was totally in love with Barren by the end of the book. I look forward to reading more of his and Larkin’s adventures.

“I am a pirate, I always follow my heart. It is the only thing I am loyal to.”

unicorn rating 4

Meet the Author

Ashley Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren’t used as much as she’d like.

When she’s not writing, she’s hard at work on her Master’s degree in Library Science and Information Technology, working out, or pretending she’s Sherlock Holmes.

Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she’s loved everything Fantasy–resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the ‘geek’ tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.

 

Links:
Twitter
Goodreads
Facebook
Website

Giveaway

Tour wide giveaway (INTL)

• Prize 1) A signed Paperback Copy of Cutlass, a cute octopus mug (it’s purple and ADORABLE), Bookmark, and maybe a poster.
• Prize 2) A signed Paperback of Cutlass + a bookmark
• Prize 3) E-book of Cutlass

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Blog Tour: Eden Forest by Aoife Marie Sheridan (Review & Giveaway)

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Today, Aoife Marie Sheridan stops by on her blog tour for the first book in her Saskia Trilogy, Eden Forest, a fast-paced YA Fantasy.

Eden Forest (Saskia Trilogy #1)

EDEN Sarajane Anderson is your regular twenty one year old. With family, friends and a normal job. She also happens to be the only person who can save Saskia, a world parallel to earth.

When Sarajane is taken to Saskia, she could never have imagined the reality of the world she steps into, a world where magical abilities are in everyone’s possession.

She must face a father she never knew, a world that is beyond her belief. A guardian who captures her heart, and a darkness that wants to take it.

On this journey Sarajane discovers her magical abilities and realizes they come with a price. Sarajane is truly tested, as her loved ones are put at risk. The question she must ask herself is, how do you choose who lives and who dies?

Add Eden Forest on Goodreads

Purchase:
Amazon
B&N

My Review

Eden Forest is told through the perspectives of protagonist Sarajane, her mother who had disappeared without a trace, and Bellona, the evil queen of Saskia.

Saskia is a world parallel to earth in which magic exists and people are categorised into whichever type of magic they show an affinity for, earth, air, fire or water. It is here that Sarajane is reunited with her mother, but at the same time she’s thrust into a world in turmoil. It’s up to Sarajane to save Saskia from Queen Bellona and the angel Lucian who are hell-bent on destroying everything.

After what I found to be a slow start, Eden Forest really picked up the pace and I didn’t want to stop reading. The characters are all well rounded enough to either love or hate them (I can’t stand wishy-washy characters). Queen Bellona was a great villian; both evil and intelligent, and Sarajane was the perfect ratio of innocence and sass.

Sheridan did a good job at world-building here too. Saskia is a complex place with its own history, morals and values, and I was pleased that we learnt about the creation of the world, even if I felt we were told too much too quickly sometimes.

The main thing that fascinated me about this story, was the way it looked at relationships and family. Sarajane was judged harshly for her mother’s relationship with the King, even though it was pretty clear that he loved her, not to mention that Queen is totally evil. I also really liked the whole ‘matching’ thing.

I also loved the friendship that developed between Sarajane and Alana – who she appoints as her personal guardian – despite women not usually being permitted to fight, and I thought the love story between Sarajane and Tristan was exciting and realistic. He definitely did it for me…Tristan’s are always hot!

Eden Forest is an ambitious, entertaining story. Once I was sucked in, I couldn’t put it down. At times, I felt like I was being told too much at once, and there was quite a lot of telling not showing, but considering the scope of the story it’s not surprising…there was a lot to explain!

I have the feeling that this series will get better and better.

unicorn rating 3
(3.5/5 – but I can’t chop a unicorn in half!)

Meet the Author

aoifeAoife Marie Sheridan has loved reading from a very young age, starting off with mills and boon’s books, given to by her grandmother her love for romances grew, by the age of 14 she had read hundreds of them.

Aoife had a passion for writing poetry or in her eyes her journal entries. It was something she did throughout her teens and into her twenties. Aoife won first place for two of her poems and had them published at a young age of just nineteen. Realising she needed to get a real job (What writing isn’t) she studied accountancy and qualified working in that field for many years, until her passion for reading returned and she found Maria V Snyder. Poison study one of her favourite books has been read and re-read countless times.

Aoife’s first book Eden Forest (Part one of the Saskia Trilogy) came to be after a dream of a man and woman on a black horse jumping through a wall of fire and the idea of Saskia was born. Now with her first novel published and taking first place for Eden Forest with Writers Got Talent 2013, Aoife continues to write tales of fantasy and is currently working on her third book for the Saskia Trilogy amongst other new works.

LINKS:
Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

*Giveaway*

Aoife is giving away 2 e-copies of Eden Forest, and 2 e-copies of book 2, City of Secrets. Open Internationally.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.