Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!! Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aisling Fowler

Image Description: Fireborn book cover depicting a young girl (Twelve) astride a large dog. The girl appears to be using magic and there is backdrop of magical ice and fire swirls.

Ember is full of monsters.

Twelve gave up her name and identity to train in the art of hunting them–so she says. The truth is much more deadly: she trains to take revenge on those who took her family from her.

But when Twelve’s new home is attacked, she’ll find herself on an unexpected journey, where her hidden past is inescapably intertwined with her destiny–and the very fate of her world.

One of the nicest things about being part of the gang over at The Write Reads has been rediscovering my love of Middle Grade and YA fiction – and of Middle Grade fantasy in particular. Having read and loved Amari and the Night Brothers earlier this year, I was eager for more epic Middle Grade fantasy in my reading life – and Aisling Fowler’s Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest definitely scratched that itch!!

Twelve is one of the best huntlings at the Lodge. But her refusal to get close to her fellow Hunters means that her mentors despair of ever passing her Blooding. Because the job of a Hunter isn’t just to fight the dark things of the world but to broker peace and negotiate treaties between the clans of Ember – and to stop the Dark War from ever happening again.

But the Hunter’s Lodge is only a means to an end for Twelve. She doesn’t want to be a Hunter – and she has no time for making friends or finding a replacement for the family she has so tragically lost. When the Lodge is attacked by a dark magician and his followers however, Twelve is swept up into a quest to rescue a fellow huntling and prevent the darkness returning to Ember. With the aid of the Lodge’s guardian Dog and two of her fellow huntlings, Twelve will soon have to make a choice between isolation and friendship – and learn to contend with her own hidden and wildly dangerous powers.

Any Middle Grade fantasy always has to contend with comparisons to Harry Potter and, although very different stories (and with very different protagonists), Fireborn does have that compulsive ‘one more page, one more chapter, one more book’ quality that held me in its grip and had me fully immersed in the adventures of Twelve and her friends – and in the world of Ember more widely.

Twelve is a fantastic protagonist. I really empathised with both her stubbornness and determination, and her desire to avoid further hurt by cutting herself off from those around her. Aisling Fowler has said that Twelve was partly inspired by her love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I can certainly see elements of Buffy’s courage and determination, as well as her anger and protectiveness in Twelve. I also really enjoyed seeing Twelve grow and develop as a character throughout the book, shedding her hard edges and learning – little by little – to trust and love others again.

The other characters in the book are equally well drawn. From brash, confident Five to shy, dreamy Seven, cantankerous Elder Hoarfrost, and even Twelve’s pet squirrel Widge, I came to feel like I knew – and cared about – all of them, and I loved watching their relationships with both Twelve and with each other develop.

Aisling Fowler has also created a truly magical world in Ember. There’s such a huge amount of lore that goes with the world but she’s managed to weave this in and give a real sense of the place and the society without resorting to large infodumps or long, complex exposition. Instead the world is built alongside the story and we’re gradually introduced to the clans and their history, the role of the Hunters, witches, magic, Ygrex, Cliffcrawlers, Deathspinners, and the threat of the Dark Wars.

Fireborn is such a compelling and compulsive read – a real page-turner! With plenty of adventure and a good dose of magic, intrigue, and friendship to boot, it really is perfect for anyone looking to fill a gap in their fantasy reading life! Fans of the boy wizard are sure to enjoy Fireborn – as is anyone who enjoyed BB Alston’s more recent Amari and the Night Brothers with its similarly determined female protagonist, and the epic adventures of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. I can’t wait to see what Twelve and her fellow Hunters get up to next!

Fireborn by Aisling Fowler is published by Harper Collins Childrens and is available now from all good booksellers including Hive, Waterstones, Bookshop.org, and Wordery.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and to The Write Reads for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 28 August 2021 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content by following #UltimateBlogTour and #TheWriteReads on Twitter and Instagram.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!!! Mrs March by Virginia Feito

Image Description: The cover of Mrs March depicting a woman in a green 1950s style dress against an orange background. A cockroach crawls up the bottom of the dress.

George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.

A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book – a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.

One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.

It has been a long time since a book both captivated and unsettled me as much as Mrs March. Virginia Feito’s accomplished debut is a poised, elegant, and delightfully disturbing portrait of a woman in crisis that had me utterly gripped from the very first page!

The novel opens with Mrs March, wife of fêted literary novelist George, buying her usual olive bread from her usual patisserie. Everything about Mrs March is usual. With her mint green gloves, coiffed hair, Upper East Side apartment, and practical loafers she is, to be quite honest, boringly respectable. So when the patisserie owner praises Mrs March on the success of George’s latest novel, Mrs March is ready to smile graciously and exchange platitudes about her talented husband and, by extension, her successful and elegant life. What she is not expecting is for the woman to think that the protagonist Johanna – a sex worker whose patrons continue to use her services from pity rather than desire – is based on Mrs March.

This seemingly small incident begins a gradual unravelling of Mrs March’s seemingly conventional life, causing her to reconsider the narratives she has constructed around her lifestyle, her marriage – and even her very existence. And as her carefully constructed world shifts and tilts around her, the secrets of Mrs March’s past begin to leak into her present – and the possibility that George may be far more dangerous than she could ever have imagined begins to prey upon her mind.

As Mrs March becomes every more unmoored, the reader is sucked into a suspenseful and sinister portrait of a woman forced to grapple with the cracks that have appeared in both her inner and outer life. Small, seemingly incidental, moments – a cockroach on a bathroom floor, a stolen cigarette case – take on meanings and symbolism of their own as Mrs March navigates her now fractured sense of self and re-evaluates the choices that have led her into this existence.

As you might expected, this does not necessarily make for ‘easy’ reading. Mrs March is, in many ways, a deeply unsettling novel and there were a few occasions when I had to put the book down and take a break to escape the suffocation of Mrs March’s claustrophobic interior life. This all-pervading sense of paranoia is a testament to the quiet brilliance of Virginia Feito’s writing which combines detailed observation of the minutiae of Mrs March’s life with pared back yet absorbing style.

Whilst the era in which the novel is set is never made completely clear, we’re in an era of ‘the help’, of smoking at cocktail parties in other people’s homes, of being served in department stores by elegant assistants at individual counters – and of ‘respectable’ women’s lives being strictly curtailed and regulated by societal expectations of marriage and motherhood. As such, the novel is a commentary upon social complicity in the vein of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper (with which it shares definite themes), and it caused me to think not only about what sort of society creates a woman like Mrs March but also the extent to which she is invested as an agent of her own downfall.

With shades of Patricia Highsmith’s suspenseful menace and Shirley Jackson’s unsettling paranoia, Mrs March is a slow-burning but effective portrait of a woman that raises questions about the line between sanity and insanity, and the role of society, childhood, and those we love in creating our inner selves. With its bleak yet razor sharp humour, fans of My Sister, the Serial Killer will find Mrs March to be another compelling read that focuses on the darker side of female existence – and another debut writer to watch.

Mrs March by Virginia Feito is published by 4th Estate and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including HiveBookshop.org, Wordery, and Waterstones.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and for inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 15 August 2021 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Book Tags

The Book Snob Book Tag!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a non-review post (so many books, so little time to read and review them all!) so today I’m having a go at the Book Snob book tag, which was originally created by Tia and all the Books over on YouTube.

I was tagged by the lovely Jenny over at Jen Jen Reviews – thank you for the tag Jenny!!

This tag is really good fun and will hopefully give you a little bit of insight into my personal reading tastes and the way I like to read. So without further ado, let’s get on with the tag!

ADAPTATION SNOB: Do you always read the book before watching the film/ TV show?

Almost always.

That said, I’m not necessarily always of the opinion that ‘the book was better’ however (Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was, in my opinion, a far better film than it was a book, as was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl) and I have no issues with adaptations that retain the spirit of the book whilst playing fast and loose with some of the details (such as in the recent adaptation The Personal History of David Copperfield).

In fact, some of my favourite adaptations are those that present the book to me in a new light (Autumn de Wilde’s Emma, Greta Gershwin’s Little Women), or that streamline the reading experience for the screen (Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings). Ultimately, an adaptation of a book is just that – an adaptation – and it isn’t the job of adaptation to be wholly faithful to the source. Instead, for me, a good adaptation conveys what is special about the book to a new audience and in a new medium.

And whilst I will always try to read a book before watching an adaptation, I do love that film and TV allows me to enjoy characters and story arcs that I probably wouldn’t pick up and read. I’m not the world’s biggest comic fan, for example, but I can watch and enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. I’m also not a huge reader of romance – but loved the Bridgerton TV series! And David Copperfield? Never read it! Dickens has never really gelled with me – but thanks to seeing the film, I now have the book on my TBR.

FORMAT SNOB: You can only choose one format in which to read books for the rest of your life. Which one do you choose: physical books, eBooks, or audiobooks?

Artist Credit: Maria Scriven

100% physical books. My Kindle is super convenient for when I’m reading on the go, and audiobooks are fantastic for listening to during my daily commute but, for me, nothing beats the feel of reading a physical book. Plus I struggle to read for long periods on the screen.

There’s something tactile about the reading experience that means that, for certain genres, I have to be reading in a physical format to fully immerse myself in the reading experience. So whilst I can happily listen to non-fiction on audio, or read a thriller on my Kindle, I need to hold a physical copy to immerse myself in the latest literary novel.

SHIP SNOB: Would you date or marry a non-reader?

I kind of did! My husband is a reader but I think he’d be the first to admit that he’s somewhere off my level of obsessed! And, when we first met, he really wasn’t a big reader having, like many people, been put off reading by English classes at school.

Despite not being a huge reader himself, my husband always accepted my love of books and the fact that I would spend a lot of my time reading – it sort of goes with the territory when you date an English Literature student, and that’s before you add in that reading is one of my favourite ways to spend my free time. And, over time, he began to become more interested in reading himself because we’d often talk about what I was reading, watch book programmes together and, of course, visit lots of bookshops and libraries.

Artist Credit: Debbie Tung

Nowadays my husband has a really varied reading taste – one that is quite different to mine (he’s much more of a sci-fan fan, and he reads a lot more non-fiction and classics than I do) – and, although he doesn’t read as much as me, he’s a much faster reader than I am when he really gets into a book!

To be honest, I think the fact that he loves that I love reading is the most important thing – and the fact that he puts up with my ever-increasing TBR, my ability to blank everyone and everything when lost in a book, and my propensity to find and visit the nearest bookshop wherever we go!

GENRE SNOB: You have to ditch one genre – never to be read again for the rest of your life. Which one do you ditch?

Probably sci-fi. I don’t read a huge amount of fantasy, sci-fi, or romance but, out of the three, I probably read more books that can be classed as fantasy or romance – or have fantasy/romance elements within them – than I do sci-fi.

By this though, I should say I mean hard sci-fi, which I don’t read a lot of. However I’ve read and enjoyed books that contain sci-fi elements but are placed into other genres – the most common being what gets termed ‘speculative fiction’, which seems to cover everything that is deemed to “literary” to be given a definitive genre label (and yes, that annoys me – see the question below about book snobbery!).

UBER GENRE SNOB: You can only choose to read from one genre for the rest of your life. Which genre do you choose?

Artist Credit: Tom Gauld

Now this IS a really tricky choice because I’m a mood reader so I wander between genres pretty freely – there is no monogamy in my reading life!

If I say ‘contemporary fiction’ is that cheating? Because I feel like a lot of genre fiction that can’t be categorically labelled gets placed into contemporary fiction so I’d still be able to read lots of different types of books.

If you absolutely made me have to choose a defined genre, I’d say either historical fiction or crime/mystery. Both are genres I can’t imagine being without in my reading life – and most of my favourite books tend to have a historical or crime element to them.

COMMUNITY SNOB: Which genre do you think receives the most snobbery from the bookish community?

As I mentioned above, I think most genre fiction gets some snobbery – and I have no idea why, especially given the fact that many prize-winning, acclaimed, and historically notable books are, essentially, genre fiction.

Jane Austen? Romance writer. Mary Shelley? Horror. Wilkie Collins? I think you’d be hard pressed to read The Moonstone and say it’s not a crime novel. And current literary heavyweights such as Kazuo Ishiguro are open about the fact that they write within – and utilise – many of the tropes of certain genres (see this really interesting interview Ishiguro gave to Neil Gaiman when the former published his ‘speculative’ novel The Buried Giant).

As someone who reads a lot of crime fiction, it really annoys me that certain genres – most notably sci-fi, fantasy, and romance – are treated with snobbery, and that that snobbery sometimes extends to the readers who love and enjoy those books. Ultimately, reading is a pleasure and you should read what you love – whether that’s heavyweight literary fiction, hot-under-the-collar erotica, or a page-turning thriller!

On the plus side, I think BookTube and blogging has done a lot to reduce book snobbery. There may still be some of it within the mainstream press but one of the things I love about the bookish community on blogs and social media is the fact that there are readers sharing the wide variety of books they love and enjoy.

So those are my answers to the Book Snob book tag! Thank you again to Jenny for tagging me – do check her out over at Jen Jen Reviews if you haven’t already! I’m tagging:

If you buy any books as a result of this post, please support a local indie bookshop if you can by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!!! Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets – even the dead.

In the quiet, wealthy enclave of Brecken Hill, an older couple is brutally murdered hours after a tense Easter dinner with their three adult children.

Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew.

Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions?

That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

I’ve mentioned previously on the blog that, after reading a small glut of them, I was suffering from a severe case of thriller fatigue. As a result, I’ve not read any of Shari Lapena’s books despite having had them recommended to me by several of my favourite BookTubers, bloggers, and friends. So when the opportunity arose to be part of the blog tour for Shari’s latest novel, Not a Happy Family, I was instantly interested. And when the plot sounded like a combination of two of my favourite thriller tropes (Family Secrets meets Rich People Problems anyone?), I was even more eager to jump right in and get reading!

With an opening that features the world’s most horrendous family dinner, Not a Happily Family makes swift work of introducing us to the victims – vindictive patriarch Fred Merton and his ineffectual wife Sheila – and our primary suspects, comprising of the Merton’s three adult children Catherine, Dan, and Jenna, their respective partners Ted, Lisa, and Jake, and the family’s former nanny-cum-cleaner Irena.

A few short hours after the ending of that tense and unpleasant dinner, Fred and Sheila Merton are dead in an apparent robbery – but why would a robber slit Fred’s throat and then stab him multiple times in a vicious and seemingly uncontrollable rage? When detectives Reyes and Barr arrive on the scene, they immediately think that something feels wrong about this crime scene. And when it turns out that Fred Merton intended to change his will, it become apparent that someone much closer to the victims may have had a very good reason for wanting them dead.

There are shades of Knives Out in Shari Lapena’s portrayal of the deliciously dysfunctional Merton family, none of whom make for especially sympathetic protagonists – but all of whom held me in grim fascination as I read. Fred Merton is selfish, vindictive, and controlling, ably assisted by his ineffectual and neglectful wife Sheila. Their children, despite being grown up, remain trapped in long-established patterns: Catherine, the ‘favourite’ is a successful doctor, middle child Dan remains the family failure, and wild child Jenna is living it up off her parents’ allowance. And that’s before adding in Fred’s rapacious sister Audrey and the other skeletons in the family closet!

As with Knives Out, it turns out that all of the Merton children had good reason to want their parents dead – and as the story progresses, all of them will tie themselves – and those around them – up in a tangled web of secrets, lies, allegiances, and betrayals. All of which makes for a fast-paced and suspenseful read!

With perfect pacing, Shari Lapena gradually peels back the layers of this maladjusted family setup whilst simultaneously ratcheting up the domestic tension and suburban paranoia. With all the secrets and lies involved, I genuinely had no idea which of the Merton siblings might have committed the crime and the final reveal, when it came, was brilliant – as was the final, unexpected, twist in the tale!

I often struggle to enjoy novels with unsympathetic narrators but, despite non of the characters being especially worthy of sympathy in Not a Happy Family, I was drawn towards finding out what happened and found myself compulsively turning the pages to the end long after what should have been my bedtime! Lapena certainly knows how to control the pace – and how to close her chapters on a cliff-hanger!

Whilst this was my first Shari Lapena thriller, it certainly won’t be my last. Although not the most demanding of mysteries, Not a Happy Family held 100% of my interest while I was reading it and made for a compulsive read. With a compelling narrative, some delightfully awful characters, and a page-turning pace, this is the perfect read for whiling away a day at the beach or a weekend in a sunny garden. Existing fans of Lapena’s work will undoubtedly find much to enjoy here – and any thriller fans who have not yet discovered her work should seek to speedily rectify that with this book!

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena is published by Bantam Press and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Bookshop.org, and Waterstones.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 11 August 2021 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!!! The Killing Tide by Lin Anderson

After a fierce storm hits Scotland, a mysterious cargo ship is swept ashore in the Orkney Isles. Boarding the vessel uncovers three bodies, recently deceased and in violent circumstances. Forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod’s study of the crime scene suggests that a sinister game was being played on board, but who were the hunters? And who the hunted?

Meanwhile in Glasgow DS Michael McNab is called to a horrific incident where a young woman has been set on fire. Or did she spark the flames herself?

As evidence arises that connects the two cases, the team grow increasingly concerned that the truth of what happened on the ship and in Glasgow hints at a wider conspiracy that stretches down to London and beyond to a global stage. Orcadian Ava Clouston, renowned investigative journalist believes so, and sets out to prove it, putting herself in grave danger.

When the Met Police challenge Police Scotland’s jurisdiction, it becomes obvious that there are ruthless individuals who are willing to do whatever it takes to protect government interests. Which could lead to even more deaths on Scottish soil . . .

Long-time followers of The Shelf will know that I enjoy a good police procedural, especially if there’s an element of forensic mystery. So quite how I’ve managed to miss Lin Anderson’s Rhona MacLeod series is beyond me!

The Killing Tide is the sixteenth outing for Glasgow-based forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod and sees her called to a possible incident of self-immolation in a Glasgow tenement, followed swiftly by a trip to Orkney to identify three bodies washed up on a seemingly deserted former cargo ship. At first glance the two cases could not be more different but, as Rhona and her colleague DS Michael McNab investigate, it becomes apparent that a shadowy company, operating on the Dark Web and providing a deadly playground for the rich and powerful, may connect the deaths.

As Orcadian investigative journalist Ava Clouston begins investigating the shadowy organisation, and evidence in the police investigation grows, it becomes clear that these four deaths may hint at a wider conspiracy – one that spreads to London, and the global stage beyond. And when the Met Police send up a detective to challenge Police Scotland’s jurisdiction on the case, Rhona, DS McNab and Ava begin to question if the conspiracy could lead into the corridors of power justice itself. One thing is certain – there are ruthless individuals who will stop at nothing to conceal their secrets. And that will lead Rhona and her colleagues into terrible danger – and to even more deaths on Scottish soil.

Jumping into an established series at the sixteenth book is always a slightly nerve-wracking experience but The Killing Tide works perfectly well as a standalone. Whilst there are plenty of references to the established relationships between characters who are clearly series regulars – and to some of the previous cases they’ve worked on together – these are made clear for new readers in a way that neither spoils previous books nor bores existing fans with unnecessary exposition.

The plot rattles along – aided by short, sharp chapters that switch between multiple perspectives and often end on tantalising cliff-hangers that leave you racing to find out what happens next! Combined with the multi-stranded investigations across Orkney, Glasgow and London, this made The Killing Tide a compelling and compulsive read that takes in illegal fight clubs, people trafficking, undercover police operations, and corruption before its end – and that will put more than one of our protagonists in life-threatening circumstances.

As such, trigger warnings for several graphic scenes of physical violence, plenty of choice language, detailed descriptions of crime scenes, references to sexual violence, and drug abuse. Although never gratuitous, Lin Anderson does not shy away from depicting the darker and more dangerous side of police investigations – and DS McNab is a detective who doesn’t always play entirely by the rules!

That said, I really did like the main characters in The Killing Tide. DS McNab might be no angel but despite making some questionable choices (primarily in his personal life), he is definitely one of the good guys – and puts his heart and soul into getting the job done and bringing the perpetrators of these dreadful crimes to justice. Rhona MacLeod is smart and intelligent – both academically and emotionally – and her chatty and flamboyant assistant Chrissy makes for a perfect pairing! Investigative journalist Ava also makes for an interesting viewpoint character, being torn between her undoubtedly dangerous – but rewarding – career and her young brother’s wish for her to come home to Orkney and help him keep control over the family farm following the tragic deaths of their parents. Lin Anderson does a fantastic job of balancing such personal struggles with the investigation of the ongoing cases and, by the end of the book, I was keen to spend more time with these characters – and to go back and discover what I’d missed in earlier books!

Fans of the Rhona MacLeod series will probably be well aware of Anderson’s ability to combine a gripping narrative with some wonderfully evocative and atmospheric writing – and are unlikely to be disappointed by The Killing Tide. For readers new to the series, The Killing Tide offers a perfect place to jump into a satisfying slice of some of the best modern ‘tartan noir’ that I’ve read. The Killing Tide may be the first Rhona MacLeod thriller I’ve had the pleasure of reading – but it certainly won’t be my last!

The Killing Tide by Lin Anderson is published by Macmillan and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Bookshop.org, Waterstones, and Wordery.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 18 August 2021 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR REVIEW!!! The Master of Measham Hall by Anna Abney

1665. It is five years since King Charles II returned from exile, the scars of the English Civil Wars are yet to heal and now the Great Plague engulfs the land.

Alethea Hawthorne is safe inside the walls of the Calverton household as a companion to their daughter. She waits in anticipation of her brother William’s pardon for killing a man in a duel before they can both return to their ancestral home in Measham Hall.

But when Alethea suddenly finds herself cast out on the streets of London, a long road to Derbyshire lies ahead of her. Militias have closed their boroughs off to outsiders for fear of contamination.

Fortune smiles on her when Jack appears, an unlikely travelling companion who helps this determined country girl to navigate a perilous new world of religious dissenters, charlatans and a pestilence that afflicts peasants and lords alike.

Providing a fictional imagining of the author’s own family history during the 1660s and set around a manor house (now sadly lost) in nearby Derbyshire (although, thanks to some tidying up of county boundaries in 1889, Measham would now be part of Leicestershire), The Master of Measham Hall was an intriguing prospect for a historical fiction fan – and did not disappoint in its evocation of the era.

Beginning in 1665 and with plague taking its toll on London, the novel follows Alethea Hawthorne, a young gentlewoman whose family seat is the titular Measham Hall but who, at the ‘suggestion’ of her stepmother, has been sent to act as companion to another young lady, Jane Calverton, in London. Alethea and her family are Catholics – a faith that sets them apart despite King Charles II’s claims of toleration – and her beloved brother William has been exiled overseas in mysterious circumstances.

Despite this, Alethea is happy in London – until she is suddenly cast out by the Calverton’s and forced to fend for herself on the streets of plague-ridden London. Determining to make it home to Measham Hall by any means possible, Alethea finds herself accompanied by the charming – and streetwise – Jack Fleet, before falling in with a group of non-conformists, headed up by their charismatic leader Samuel. By the time she eventually reaches her family home, Alethea will be a changed woman – and will have learnt to navigate a world filled with peril, pestilence, and deceit.

I always try to avoid spoilers in my reviews but its impossible to fully review The Master of Measham Hall without giving a couple of plot beats away, the most significant of which is that, through a series of misunderstandings, Alethea ends up arriving at Measham Hall as the titular ‘master’ of it, assuming the disguise of her brother William for much of the book’s final third.

I mention this ‘spoiler’ because the journey that Alethea goes on in the novel is more than just a physical one from London to Derbyshire. It is also a sort of seventeenth-century ‘coming of age’ tale in which Alethea learns to think and act independently, makes good and bad choices, dissemble, reason, argue, and love – and during which she begins to make her own way in the world around her. This personal journey was one of the central draws of the novel for me, although I’ll admit to being occasionally frustrated by some of Alethea’s choices!

Alethea’s assumption of the role of ‘William’ also allows the novel to explore the different societal expectations of men and women in the period, and I found it interesting how Alethea came to embrace the freedoms she had as a man whilst also missing some of the pastimes she could enjoy as a woman.

Whether a young woman such as Alethea would have been able to pass for her brother during this period has been debated by some readers on Goodreads but, as a student of the period, I’ve read of several instances of women disguising themselves as men in order for various pragmatic reasons – the most famous being Spanish nun Catalina de Erauso, who fled her convent disguised as a man in order to fight in the Spanish army and later travelled around Spanish America under a number of predominantly male identities. It is also thought that some women may have fought in the English Civil War disguised as men (Charles I certainly thought they did – he issued an order banning women dressing as men in order to fight), and there’s evidence of a number of women from the period managing estates in their husband’s absence. Whilst keeping up the pretence after periods of conflict was unusual, I can forgive Anna Abney some poetic license to allow her to explore the fascinating difference between the lived experiences of men and women during this period!

Indeed, the evocation of seventeenth-century England is one of the delights of The Master of Measham Hall. From the tense atmosphere of plague-ridden London to the incendiary religious debates going on at the time, Anna Abney’s writing brilliantly evokes the Restoration era. I did occasionally feel that some characters were serving to provide historical exposition for modern readers – the odd conversation felt a bit stilted and provided information that Alethea, being a woman of that period, would likely know already – but, for the most part, the writing is fluid and evocative.

From its pacy opening on the streets of London, the novel did also lull a bit for me in the middle section – which sees Alethea and Jack living amongst a group of non-conformists in Epping Forest – and I found the plot moving along more predictable lines for a while. Once the action moved on to Measham Hall, however, I was soon re-engaged in Alethea’s struggles – although I found myself becoming more and more conflicted about her as a character as her dual identities – and dual responsibilities – lead to her taking ever more ruthless decisions. I was also a little disappointed that the likeable and charming Jack Fleet didn’t feature a little more prominently in the novel – although fingers crossed that he may appear in Book Two of the series, due out in 2022.

For fans of historical fiction, The Master of Measham Hall has much to enjoy – a convincing and evocative depiction of the Restoration era that delves into the social and religious divides of the period, with a side of intrigue, a hint of a love story, and an interesting coming-of-age tale all thrown into the mix! If you read and enjoyed Frances Quinn’s The Smallest Man or Lucy Jago’s A Net for Small Fishes, and are looking for another historical read to dive into, The Master of Measham Hall should be heading for your TBR!

The Master of Measham Hall by Anna Abney is published by Duckworth and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Bookshop.org, Waterstones, and Wordery.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 28 July 2021 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!!! Girls Who Lie by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir

Image description: the cover of Girls Who Lie has title, author and pull quote text in black and purple on a white background. Below the text is a grayscale image of a female figure standing on a bridge over a desolate river. In the distance is what appears to be a volcanic mountain.

When single mother Marianna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grabrok lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?

Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.

Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Marianna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…

Having read and reviewed Eva Björg Ægisdóttir’s confident and compelling debut The Creak on the Stairs last year, I was keen to read the next instalment in the Forbidden Iceland saga and discover what small town secrets Chief Investigating Officer Elma and her colleagues in Akranes found themselves investigating next. As it turns out, the dust has barely settled on Elma’s first case when the body of a missing woman is found.

Everyone has assumed troubled single mother Marianna had taken her own life but it soon becomes clear from the body that Marianna was the victim of a brutal crime. As Elma and her colleagues Sævar and Hörður investigate, they quickly find themselves embroiled in a dark and twisted saga of abuse and scandal, rooted several decades before.

While A Creak on the Stairs was most definitely Nordic noir, Girls Who Lie adds an additional layer of psychological tension to the gloomy atmosphere of Akranes. Whilst not overtly violent or gory in its tone, it therefore pays to mention trigger warnings for sexual abuse, rape, discussion of false allegations, psychological trauma, child neglect, psychological manipulation, post-natal depression, and suicide. As with its predecessor though, these harrowing topics are handled with sensitivity however and the novel ably interrogates the relationship between personal trauma and wider societal issues.

Getting back into the shoes of Chief Investigating Officer Elma was a delight. Sharp, perceptive, and hard-working, Elma retains all the dogged commitment from The Creak on the Stairs but has, finally, begun to recover from the personal trauma that led to her returning to Akranes. As such, she is a slightly softer character in Girls Who Lie and whilst this doesn’t exactly remove all of her sharp edges, it does allow us to see her work on her relationships with her sister Dagny and colleague Sævar, both subplots that I enjoyed immensely.

As with her previous novel, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir has also brilliantly captured the rhythms and patterns of small town life, from the respectability and comfort of the suburbs, to the grim reality of life on the poverty line. She’s also brilliantly evoked Iceland in all its harsh and wintery glory.

Written with subtly and nuance, Girls Who Lie also provides a compelling psychological portrait of a desperate new mother. In intermittent first-person chapters, we are transported into the mind of a troubled young woman and her daughter. These chapters make for some of the most harrowing in the novel as their unknown narrator grapples with her own complex, conflicting – and occasionally very dark – feelings towards her little girl. Working out who this unknown mother is – and what relationship she and her daughter might have to Marianna’s murder – makes for a compelling addition and, running alongside chapters focusing on the police investigation, makes for plenty of twists and turns before the novel’s end!

As with its predecessor, Girls Who Lie is a chilling, absorbing slow-burn of a book that combines a sophisticated police procedural with a subtle and emotive psychological portrait into a compelling and atmospheric package. Skilfully translated by Victoria Cribb, this is a complex, twisty novel with a compelling central protagonist and it cements the Forbidden Iceland series as amongst the finest of Nordic and Scandinavian noir.

Girls Who Lie by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (translated by Victoria Cribb) is published by Orenda Books and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Bookshop.org, Waterstones, and Wordery.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 30 July 2021 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Image description: blog tour banner for the Girls Who Lie blog tour showing the book cover (described above), tour dates/stops, and publisher information. Tour dates run from 1-30 July with 2-3 bloggers posting per day. Tour posts can be found and followed using the #GirlsWhoLie, or by following @RandomTTours and @OrendaBooks.

Reviews

REVIEW!!! The Crimson Tide by Anna Sayburn Lane

When Helen Oddfellow goes to Canterbury for the opening of an Elizabethan play unseen for 400 years, she is expecting an exciting night. But the performance is disrupted by protests, then a gruesome discovery in the cathedral crypt draws her into a desperate hunt for a murderer.

Is the play cursed? The actors think so, but Helen doesn’t believe in curses. As friends go missing and Helen herself is threatened, she pursues the clues through the ornate tombs of the cathedral and the alleyways of the ancient city.

Mysteries from the distant and not-so-distant past are exposed.

Can Helen find the killer – before he kills again?

Having thoroughly enjoyed Anna Sayburn Lane’s previous two Helen Oddfellow mysteries, Unlawful Things and The Peacock Room, I was delighted to receive a copy of the third book in the series, The Crimson Thread, and to find out what literary mystery Helen has found herself embroiled in this time.

The time has finally come for the lost Elizabethan play that Helen and her investigative partner Richard found in Unlawful Things to be performed. The play is not without controversy – depicting Sir Thomas Becket (also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury) as an anti-hero, its discovery has rocked some of the more extreme parts of the religious and literary worlds, and the play’s performance has attracted protests.

Going to the opening night performance in Canterbury – the site of Becket’s murder – Helen is expecting to have to defend the play but she is wholly unprepared to stumble upon a corpse in the cathedral crypt, and even less prepared when the body turns out to be connected to an old ally of Helen and Richard’s. Someone, it seems, is determined to stop the performance of the lost play – and to continue to hide Thomas Becket’s last secret. And it soon becomes apparent that they will stop at nothing in pursuit of their aims.

As with Anna Sayburn Lane’s previous Helen Oddfellow mysteries, The Crimson Thread provides a page-turning literary mystery complete with a satisfying and intriguing intellectual puzzle and a trail of literary breadcrumbs for readers to follow as the mystery is revealed.

There are probably more thriller elements in this book than the previous titles – Helen finds herself up against a truly vicious villain who is capable of both psychological and physical violence – meaning that, with The Crimson Thread being a tad shorter than its predecessors (a slender 211 pages), the pace really rattles along, making for a page-turning and compulsive read. I finished it over the course of an afternoon because once I was absorbed in the mystery, I just didn’t want to stop reading!

Helen continues to mature as a character – she’s more sure of herself in this book, and more aware of the risks that she is taking. Whilst it was lovely to see some returning characters, it was also great to be introduced to some new faces – a determined and organised police detective, and a handsome actor (and possible love interest for Helen) being two of my favourites. I wasn’t quite as taken with the subplot of this book – the young choir boy who occasionally acts as a viewpoint character didn’t quite make up for the absence of newspaper reporter Nick Wilson for me – but I appreciated the change of location and the opportunity for Helen to meet new people, revisit old connections, and tie up loose ends from Unlawful Things.

As in Unlawful Things, the antagonists of the novel are brilliantly realised – one of them really made my skin crawl, being a blend of manipulative, deceitful, and outright violent. As I mentioned above, there are some scenes of both psychological and physical abuse in the novel – Sayburn Lane doesn’t shy away from depicting violence on the page when necessary – but, as in her previous books, this felt in-keeping with the characterisation of her villains.

Unlike its predecessor The Peacock Room, The Crimson Thread is a more direct sequel to Unlawful Things, picking up on a number of strands from the first book in the series and with the return of a number of characters from that novel. Whilst the mystery itself is, as with the others in the series, a standalone, I do feel that you’d get more enjoyment out of The Crimson Thread if you read Unlawful Things first – the central mystery of that novel is fairly key to this one, and a number of events and characters are referenced.

Fans of The Da Vinci Code and The Shakespeare Secret who have not yet discovered Helen Oddfellow should definitely be jumping on this series, as should any thriller fan seeking a change of pace from domestic noir. Lovers of literature will also find much to enjoy here – Anna Sayburn Lane has clearly done her research and her clear yet crafted writing really brings her characters and settings to life. Packed with twists, turns, action, and adventure, The Crimson Thread is another thrilling outing for Helen Oddfellow and I can’t wait to see what she might get up to next!

The Crimson Thread by Anna Sayburn Lane is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive and Waterstones.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the author for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Blog Tours · Reviews

REVIEW!! Yours Cheerfully by A J Pearce

Image description: the cover of Yours Cheerfully has a pastel blue title text and an illustration of a typewriter on a pastel pink background

London, November 1941.

Following the departure of the formidable Henrietta Bird from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles (now stationed back in the UK) is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, is bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It.

When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty and standing by her friends.

As I said when I first read A J Pearce’s first novel – the delightful Dear Mrs Bird – some books really do come along at just the right time. And after the rough ride that was 2020, it feels like we could all do with some cheerfulness and support in our lives. So it really is the perfect time for the irrepressible Emmeline ‘Emmy’ Lake and her colleagues at Women’s Friend to make their return in Yours Cheerfully!

It’s all change at Women’s Friend following the departure of the formidable Henrietta Bird. The good-natured Mr Collins has assumed the role of editor and Emmy is now free to assist the understanding and practical Mrs Mahoney on the problem page. More importantly, however, Women’s Friend has been given An Important Task.

Called for a high-level meeting at the Ministry of Information, Emmy and the rest of the Women’s Friend team are tasked with helping to recruit female war workers. Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help but, when she and her best friend Bunty meet a young widowed mother on the train, she begins to realise the challenges faced by some of the women trying their best to do their duty to the country. Before long, Emmy is back on the campaign trail and getting involved in helping her new friends as only Emmy can – but what is she prepared to risk to stand up for her friends?

A J Pearce has done a fantastic job developing her returning characters – and bringing in some interesting new faces. Emmy grew so much during the course of Dear Mrs Bird and, in Yours Cheerfully, we see her develop further as both a young woman and a young journalist. I really empathise with Emmy because she does make mistakes and she sometimes gets herself into a right tangle – but her heart is always in the right place and, whilst she’s becoming increasingly aware that sometimes you can’t just push away your worries, she’s determined to Make a Go of It and do her best to support her friends, her family, and her beloved boyfriend Charles.

I also really loved the focus of Yours Cheerfully, with its depiction of women’s war work and the challenges faced by working mothers – challenges that still haven’t been adequately solved to this day. As with its predecessor, there’s a real sense of the challenges of wartime life beneath Emmy’s cheer and spirit, and the novel doesn’t shy away from depicting the tragedy and often grim realities of the war years.

This is also bought across in the other strand of the novel – Emmy’s relationship with her boyfriend, Captain Charles Mayhew. Although now stationed back in England, the demands of the war place constant constraints on Emmy and Charles’s relationship – and there’s the ever present possibility of redeployment to contend with. I loved how Pearce balanced Emmy’s pride in Charles with her worries about him being sent back into the front lines of the fighting.

As with Dear Mrs Bird, there is an accomplished lightness of touch in Yours Cheerfully. A J Pearce has, yet again, walked the line between the realities of life on the UK’s Home Front in World War II and the uplifting, hopeful story of Emmy and her friends with great skill. As I said in my Dear Mrs Bird review, the deft lightness of touch that allows such a story to work on so many levels is a real testament to the skill of the author.

The story does work perfectly well as a standalone so readers unfamiliar with Emmy could certainly dive straight in here – although I’d recommend picking up the first book anyway because you’d be missing a treat otherwise! Fans of Dear Mrs Bird are, however, sure to adore Yours Cheerfully – it really is the perfect sequel, and an ideal novel for picking up and diving into to take your mind away from the challenging times we find ourselves in.

Yours Cheerfully by A J Pearce is published by Picador and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Bookshop.org, Waterstones, and Wordery.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to Camilla Elworthy at Pan Macmillan and to Picador for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Image description: a ‘support me on Ko-fi’ banner on a grey and peach background with The Shelf of Unread Books logo on the left hand side and the Ko-fi logo (a coffee cup with a heart in it) top right.
Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!!! White Spines: Confessions of a Book Collector by Nicholas Royle

Image description: the cover of Nicholas Royle’s White Spines showing blurred white-spined Picador classics on a bookshelf shelf, covered by orange, black and white title text and blurb

A mix of memoir and narrative non-fiction, White Spines is a book about Nicholas Royle’s passion for Picador’s fiction and non-fiction publishing from the 1970s to the end of the 1990s.

It explores the bookshops and charity shops, the books themselves, and the way a unique collection grew and became a literary obsession.

Above all a love song to books, writers and writing.

Like most book bloggers, I love a book about books – and I’ve reviewed a few on this blog since its inception, with Cathy Rentzenbrink’s Dear Reader being a recent favourite. So when a bookish memoir blurbed by Cathy (she “didn’t want it to end and would like a gargantuan infinite edition”) crossed my blogging doorstep, I wasn’t going to say no to giving it a read!

White Spines is, as its subtitle suggests, about books and book collecting. A mix of part-memoir and part narrative non-fiction – with occasional detours into bookshop conversations and various surreal dreamscapes – the book details Nicholas Royle’s love of (obsession with?) his collection of white-spined Picador fiction and non-fiction. Like all good books about books, however, White Spines is more than the sum of its apparent parts. Whilst Royle’s passion for Picadors and love of book collecting provides the backbone of the book, White Spines is also a love letter to literature more widely, and to the power of books to captivate, enthrall, and transform.

Royle talks with wit, charm and intelligence about the joy of discovering a good secondhand bookshop, or the exhilaration that the bookworm feels at discovering a pristine edition on a charity shop shelf. He also captures perfectly that bookish obsession with presentation – the frustration of a publisher changing cover design mid-series, the horror of the TV tie-in cover, and the desire to curate shelves of matching, beautiful spines. In his conversations with author and publishing friends, he brings across the inherent exuberance of conversations about books, from the discovery of new authors to the joyful dissection of a shared read.

Anyone who has ever lost themselves having a rummage through a second hand bookshop, accidentally fallen into a charity shop for a ‘quick look’, or contemplated how to fit several new purchases onto already bulging shelves, will find themselves in White Spines. Although my own reading taste is quite different to Royle’s, I found myself nodding along or smiling in agreement with so many of the incidents and experiences that he recounts.

White Spines also provides some insight into the business of publishing. Royle talks to a number of former and current Picador authors, illustrators, and staff to consider how the ‘white spine’ paperback list was built, how the covers were chosen, and why the list (which includes an impressive collection of both authors and titles) became the cultural force that it did during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

That said, the book is not a ‘publishing memoir’, nor is it a documented history of Picador or an account of all of their titles. It is, as I said at the start, a love letter to books and, more specifically, to book collecting. To the physicality of books – to the desire to hold a physical object in your hand before putting it on your carefully curated shelf with its fellows, or the intrigue that comes with finding a letter or note left in a book by a previous reader.

White Spines is a book that spoke to the part of me that loves seeing the stripy spines of my Penguin English Library editions next to each other on the shelf, as well as the part that’s a sucker for a beautiful cover or stunning endpapers. It made me think about the times I’ve found receipts or train tickets in books and wondered about the people who put them there – and about the times I’ve given books with my name or ephemera in away and wondered what will become of them. It is, in short, an ode to the book and a journey of delight through the pleasures of being a bookworm.

White Spines by Nicholas Royle is published by Salt and is available from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Bookshop.org, Waterstones, and Wordery. You can also support the publisher by buying from them directly on their website.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and to Helen Richardson for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 20 July 2021 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content.

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Image description: blog tour banner for the White Spines blog tour showing the book cover (described above), tour dates/stops, and publisher information. Tour dates run from 15-20 July with one blogger posting per day. Tour posts can be found and followed using the #WhiteSpines.