Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Spotlight On: Miranda Dickinson (Author)

Hi everyone,

How is everyone doing? It's a crazy time to be alive right now, isn't it? I really wish everyone well and hope you are all staying safe, washing those hands, and keeping sane during these difficult and stressful times. Let's hope as a nation/world we can all play our part and beat this invisible evil virus into submission, and enjoy life (whatever life will be) more and as we should be. I've been wanting to catch up with some blog writing for a while to keep me busy but wasn't really sure what to write - so I thought I'd just shine a spotlight on some of my favourite things/people, etc. that are inspiring me right now, just to show a bit of support where I can.

Miranda Dickinson became one of my favourite authors a while back. I remember at the time being heavily in to historical sagas, and devouring so many I basically ended up with genre fatigue (if that's not a thing, I've just invented it!) and needed something new. I turned to chick-lit (if that's the right term) and never looked back. I currently have 4 of Miranda's books sitting on my bookshelf, and one other I've read and donated, and when my reading pile eventually goes down I will be catching up with the rest of her novels. 



I've read Take A Look At Me Now, It Started With A Kiss, Fairytale Of New York, and When I Fall In Love more than once. Mum doesn't understand it, but if a book stays on my bookshelf it'll get read again. Re-reading a favourite is a great way to unwind when you haven't the headspace to concentrate on something new. All these novels were set somewhere different, all the characters have different professions or challenges to face - but there is one common theme that unites each one - they are easy to read. I enjoy all the twists and turns, the lively characters, and colourful settings of each story. My favourites change, but right now it's Fairytale of New York at the top of the list. 

Miranda is a prime example of who I love to follow on social media as well - she is real, full of life, very supportive of all authors, bookshops (especially independents). She posts some great baking photo's as well, and let's face it cake is definitely an essential right now. Miranda is also hosting (as I write this) weekly Wednesday chats on her Facebook page, which are a nice distraction. 

I'm not sure what else to say about this lovely lady, but do go check out her books - there is a new one coming called Our Story out on September 3rd on eBook, paperback, and audiobook, which you can preorder now. Go to Waterstones, Amazon, or check out Hive.co.uk - where you can nominate a local independent book shop to benefit from the sale if you buy from that link (such a good idea right now). 

If you've read any Miranda Dickinson novels before, do comment below and let me know your favourite. 

Stay safe and keep reading everybody. 

Miranda Dickinson Facebook
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And find all things sparkly on Twitter

Friday, 20 March 2020

The Girl With The Amber Comb By Linda Finlay - Blog Tour Review

I think it's safe to say we are living in uncertain times right now, and what a crazy time to be writing a book review. Crazy, but in some ways apt, as I think now is the perfect time to switch off from the news and social media when you can, and lose yourself in a book. I'm very happy to join in with the book tour for The Girl With The Amber Comb, and a big thank you to HQ Stories for gifting me a copy of the book for review.

Linda Finlay is a new author to me, but one through her seven published novels who is famed for West Country sagas based around traditional crafts, and The Girl With The Amber Comb is no exception. One of the first things that struck me as I started reading was the sense of place, and how deeply rooted the story is, in its Somerset location. I have read a lot of historical sagas, but this is the first one that I felt was really anchored in its location, and couldn't have been set anywhere else.

But it wasn't just the sense of place that made this novel for me, it was making the traditional craft a big part of the story, more than just a passing mention, or something the main character just goes off to do, sometimes.

This novel follows the story of orphan Eliza, a poor willow weaver dreaming of a more exciting life beyond her remote waterlogged cottage. When childhood friend Clem tells tales of a more exciting life along the river, the daydreamer and her 'grass is greener' philosophy embarks on a journey that is eye-opening on every level.

Eliza is portrayed as a naive and sheltered young woman and the author captures this so well. She is a character you can believe in, and while her short-lived infatuation with wealthy suitor Theo was somewhat expected, the circumstances that led to her fleeing the droves, and ending up 'caring for gentlemen' in disreputable Lavender House was not. I enjoyed the contrast between the remote withies, the slightly more bustling jailhouse environment of Lavender House, and the happy woollen mill and village. The descriptions of each and Elizas experiences of them were great to read.

For someone that got bored of historical sagas and diverted to chick-lit, Linda Finlay is a breath of fresh air in a genre that for me had got very samey. I look forward to learning more about traditional crafts and reading some more of her work. For now, I would encourage you all to stay safe and virus-free, and lose yourself in this new, heart-warming West Country tale. 

The Girl With The Amber Comb was published on 19th March 2020 by HQ Stories. Available in paperback, eBook and audio versions.




Monday, 9 March 2020

From Zero To One - Mardi Gras (single review)



With 60,000 views and counting since it's debut on January 17th, the video for Mardi Gras' latest single release is making waves, and I'm not surprised! Out of all the songs I've heard since discovering this Italian band, From Zero To One is one of the strongest, and most powerful.

Although the song has been out for a while, I have held back on doing a review because I didn't (in the best possible way) know what to write about this track, that I had a pretty instant love for. I downloaded it after first listen, turned up the volume, and hit the repeat button- which probably tells you all you need to know, but I will go on.

In 'From Zero To One' Mardi Gras has created a catchy, soaring pop/rock song, that's as slick as it is edgy. There are softer vocal moments, and a focus at the start on acoustic/piano in the mix, with the electric rock elements front and centre later on.

To add to the creativity there are some poignant spoke word parts in English, Estonian, and Italian that just strengthen this band's reputation for creating atmospheric, memorable songs. It really is a beautiful song, it makes me feel good when I'm having a bad day and has depth in the vocals and music that kept me engaged all the way through. The question is, how will they top this with their next release?

Follow Mardi Gras on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find out more.

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Spotlight On: Miranda Dickinson (Author)