Giveaway

GIVEAWAY!!! The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw

Photograph of the giveaway prize as detailed to the left
Image Description: Photograph of the giveaway prize as detailed to the left

With my balloon day on the horizon AND as a celebration of reaching 2,000 (eek!) followers over on Twitter, I am hosting another GIVEAWAY!!

My HUGE thanks go to author Jennifer Renshaw for allowing me to offer a copy of her debut novel The Parlour Game, along withand a Gothically-themed ‘Haunted House’ wax melt!

Details of how to enter can be found at the bottom of this post but, before you do that, let me tell you a little bit about the book in question!

About the Book

The cover of The Parlour Game features an image of a corvid, wings outstretched next to a black inkpot and pen. Dark blue leaves surround the image.
Image Description: The cover of The Parlour Game features an image of a corvid, wings outstretched next to a black inkpot and pen. Dark blue leaves surround the image.

London, 1873.

Ivy Granger, an amateur botanist, is plagued by disturbing dreams and faceless whispers. Misunderstood by her father, she fears for her sanity – threatened with the asylum or worse, the hands of the man she loathes.

But a stranger at her mother’s funeral reveals Ivy’s world has been a lie, and she could have a different life, for she is capable of so much more…

Miss Earnshaw, London’s most renowned spiritualist, is Ivy’s only hope of revealing what secrets her mother took to the grave and discovering her true purpose.

Ivy’s journey for knowledge takes her to Blackham House, a building haunted by a terrible past – full of macabre artefacts and ancient studies of the supernatural. But behind closed doors, the Blackhams collect more than relics alone, and Ivy will soon find herself at the centre of a conspiracy spanning generations, and a hidden evil waiting to be unleashed.

Can Ivy survive in a world where women must play their part or risk being silenced?

I was thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Parlour Game so you can read my full review of the book here. Although the tour has now finished can also find more reviews by following #TheParlourGame or by checking out the other bloggers who took part in the tour (details on the poster below)!

About the Author

Jennifer Renshaw grew up in Sussex, England, and is a former analyst. She has always been fascinated by history and enjoys a gothic mystery. She now lives in Denmark with her family and two portly cats.

You can find out more about Jennifer and her work on her website and by following her on Instagram.

GIVEAWAY!!!

Thanks to author Jennifer Renshaw, I have ONE PRINT COPY of The Parlour Game to giveaway to a lucky UK reader, complete with a ‘Haunted House’ hand poured wax melt from Whitcliffe Aromas.

All you need to do to win is to follow me (@shelfofunread) on Twitter and retweet the pinned tweet that links to this post! The giveaway is open from 9.00am on 06 November 2022 and closes at midnight on 13 November 2022. There is one winner. Terms & conditions apply (see below).

TERMS & CONDITIONS: UK only. The winner will be selected at random via Tweetdraw from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days, then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties. The prize is one paperback copy of the UK edition of The Parlour Game and will be posted by Royal Mail Tracked Delivery 2nd Class. I am not responsible for any delay or damage during postage.

The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw is available now from Amazon in both eBook and paperback formats.

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 the opportunity to run a giveaway for the book.

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!. You can also find my Amazon Wishlist here.

Giveaway

GIVEAWAY!! Ithaca by Claire North

I have something a little different on the blog today because I am hosting a GIVEAWAY!! Details of how to enter can be found at the bottom of this post but, before you do that, let me tell you a little bit about the book in question!

The cover of Ithaca shows a classical style frieze of a woman dressed in Grecian robes seated partially reclined on a couch. She is holding golden threads in her hand. The backdrop is a vivid orange with a gold circle around the title.
Image Desscription: The cover of Ithaca shows a classical style frieze of a woman dressed in Grecian robes seated partially reclined on a couch. She is holding golden threads in her hand. The backdrop is a vivid orange with a gold circle around the title.

About the Book

‘The greatest power we woman can own, is that we take in secret . . . ‘

Seventeen years ago, king Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them have returned, and the women have been left behind to run the kingdom.

Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. Whilst he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that husband is dead, and suitors are starting to knock at her door . . .

But no one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne – not yet. Between Penelope’s many suitors, a cold war of dubious alliances and hidden knives reigns, as everyone waits for the balance of power to tip one way or another. If Penelope chooses one from amongst them, it will plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning and her spy network of maids can she maintain the delicate balance of power needed for the kingdom to survive.

On Ithaca, everyone watches everyone else, and there is no corner of the palace where intrigue does not reign . . .

About the Author

Image Description: of Claire North
Image Description: author photograph of Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin.

Catherine’s first novel, Mirror Dreams, was completed when she was 14 years old. The book was published in 2002 and garnered comparisons with Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman. She went on to publish a further seven young adult novels under her own name, earning her extensive critical acclaim and two Carnegie nominations for her novels Timekeepers and The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle.

While studying International History at the London School of Economics, she wrote an urban fantasy series for adults, writing as Kate Griffin. On graduating LSE she went to the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts to study Technical Theatre and Stage Management.

Throughout her training she continued to write, and while working as a lighting technician at the Royal National Theatre wrote her first Claire North novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which became a word-of-mouth bestseller and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

She has since published several hugely popular and critically acclaimed novels, won the World Fantasy Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and been shortlisted for the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a Locus Award and the Philip K. Dick Award.

Catherine currently works as a live music lighting designer, teaches women’s self-defence, and is a fan of big cities, long walks, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

You can find out more about Claire and her work on her website and by following her on Twitter.

GIVEAWAY!!!

Thanks to Claire North and publisher Orbit Books, I have ONE PRINT COPY of Ithaca to giveaway to a lucky UK reader!

All you need to do to win is to follow me (@shelfofunread) on Twitter and retweet the pinned tweet that links to this post! The giveaway is open from 9.00am on 11 September 2022 and closes at midnight on 18 September 2022. There is one winner. Terms & conditions apply (see below).

TERMS & CONDITIONS: UK only. The winner will be selected at random via Tweetdraw from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days, then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties. The prize is one hardback copy of the UK edition of Ithaca and will be posted by Royal Mail Tracked Delivery 2nd Class. I am not responsible for any delay or damage during postage.

Ithaca by Claire North is published by Orbit (Hachette UK) 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 the opportunity to run a giveaway for the book.

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 · Giveaway · Reviews

BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY!!! The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Image Description: The cover of The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield is a dark blue with a stylised floral pattern picked out in gold, blues, and pearl effects. The gold silhouettes of two female profiles look at each other across the cover.

1768. Charlotte arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Two years later, her sister Antoine is sent to France to marry another stranger. In the mirrored corridors of Versailles, they rename her Marie Antoinette.

But the sisters are not powerless. When they were only children, Charlotte and Antoine discovered a book of spells – spells that seem to work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.

In a world of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, Charlotte and Antoine use their secret skills to redefine their lives, becoming the most influential women of the age.

But every spell requires a sacrifice. As love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

When The Embroidered Book landed on my doormat, the thump was so big I heard it from my office upstairs! At 658 pages, the hardback of Kate Heartfield’s latest novel is a slightly intimidating, albeit beautifully presented read (seriously, just LOOK at that cover!).

This initial impression was not erased by the four pages of ‘dramatis personae’ which opens the book and, sure enough, the sheer amount of characters was initially a little overwhelming. Within a few chapters, however, I was so caught up in the richly textured world of the House of Hapsburg-Lorraine – and in the stories of sisters Charlotte and Antoine – that such concerns faded into the background. Despite the story rapidly spiralling out across three countries and several dynasties, characters soon distinguished themselves and, with the central focus remaining on Charlotte and Antoine, it became surprisingly easy to follow the tangled web of court connections despite the massive scope of the novel.

Alternating between the perspectives of Charlotte, married off to the indolent King Ferdinand of Naples, and Antoine, married to the Dauphin of France and later known as Marie Antoinette, The Embroidered Book presents readers with an alternative history of the power struggles, conflicts, and revolutions that took place across eighteenth-century Europe. For Charlotte and Antoine, in addition to being daughters of the formidable Hapsburg empress Marie Theresa and Queens in their own right, are also magisters: keepers and users of secret – and dangerous – magical knowledge.

I have to admit that, whilst I found the magic in The Embroidered Book to be very well woven into the history, it was, for me, the least interesting part of the novel. To be fair, I’m not a huge reader of fantasy because, for me, real lives and histories are interesting enough on their own. So whilst Charlotte and Antoine’s use of magic – and the lengths they have to go to in order to conceal their use of it – is a unique premise, I have to admit I was more interested in the political intrigues and court politics than the spellcasting. The idea of these women having a secret power that allowed them to control empires was interesting but, I have to admit, I would probably have been more engaged if, as in the real history, it was their sheer force of will and determination – rather than their magical gifts – that enabled them to do this.

That said, the magical elements of the novel do allow Kate Heartfield to explore the prejudices against female power in this period in an accessible and engaging way. Even with their spells, Charlotte and Antoine are shown as often having to act through the men around them – by using charm, manipulation, threats, bribery, and coercion – to achieve their aims. It also provided a unique way of exploring the bond between two sisters and the way in which this strains and stretches as each pursues their goals within their respective nations.

As for this history, it’s clear that Kate Heartfield has done her research and The Embroidered Book provides an evocative glimpse into the heart of eighteenth-century Europe and the powerful factions that vied for control of it. Everything from political manoeuvring to the court fashion is richly depicted on the page, making for an engrossing and unflinching read. Despite it’s length, there’s absolutely no ‘filler’ in this novel and, although each page is replete with texture and detail, the story moves along and the characters develop and evolve at every stage.

As mentioned above, I’m probably not the ideal reader for The Embroidered Book however, even with some reservations about the magical elements, I ended up becoming engrossed in this richly textured and evocative read. Fans of historical fantasy are sure to adore this novel but I’d encourage even fantasy sceptics like myself to give it a go. If you’re interested in a richly imagined historical novel and prepared to try something a little bit different, The Embroidered Book may offer just what you’re looking for.

GIVEAWAY!!!

Thanks to Kate Heartfield, publisher Harper Voyager, and Anne at Random Things Tours I have ONE PRINT COPY of The Embroidered Book to giveaway to a lucky UK reader!

All you need to do to win is to follow me (@shelfofunread) on Twitter and retweet the pinned tweet that links to this post! The giveaway is open from 9.00am on 28 February 2022 and closes at midnight on 06 March 2022. There is one winner. Terms & conditions apply (see below).

TERMS & CONDITIONS: UK only. The winner will be selected at random via Tweetdraw from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be used only for fulfilment of the prize. The prize will be despatched by second class recorded delivery with Royal Mail. I am not responsible for delivery of the prize.

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield is published by Harper Voyager 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 inviting me onto this blog tour and providing the opportunity to run a giveaway for the book.

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 · Giveaway

BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY!!! The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen

Image Description: The cover of The Rabbit Factor is bright yellow-orange and has the image of a man standing in front of a large-eyed, cartoon-style, one-eared rabbit

I have something a little different on the blog today because I am hosting my very first GIVEAWAY!! Details of how to enter can be found at the bottom of this post but, before you do that, let me tell you a little bit about the book in question!

About the Book

Award-winning author Antti Tuomainen launches his first series with The Rabbit Factor, an energetic black comedy, currently being adapted for the screen by Amazon/Mandeville Films with Steve Carell to star, and Antti executive producing.

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

About the Author

Image Description: Author Antti Tuomainen

Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published.

With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. A TV adaptation is in the works, and Jussi Vatanen (Man In Room 301) has just been announced as a leading role. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’.

His latest thriller, Little Siberia, was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

In total, Antti Tuomainen has been short- and longlisted for 12 UK awards.

You can follow Antti on Twitter at @antti_tuomainen.

About the Translator

David Hackston is a British translator of Finnish and Swedish literature and drama. He graduated from University College London in 1999 with a degree in Scandinavian Studies and now lives in Helsinki where he works as a freelance translator.

Notable recent publications include the Anna Fekete trilogy by Kati Hiekkapelto, Katja Kettu’s wartime epic The Midwife, Pajtim Statovci’s enigmatic debut My Cat Yugoslavia, two novels by Helsinki noir author Antti Tuomainen, and Maria Peura’s coming-of-age novel At the Edge of Light. His drama translations include three plays by Heini Junkkaala, most recently Play it, Billy! (2012) about the life and times of jazz pianist Billy Tipton. David is also a regular contributor to Books from Finland. In 2007 he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Translation.

David is also a professional countertenor and has studied early music and performance practice in Helsinki and Portugal. He is a founding member of the English Vocal Consort of Helsinki.

You can follow David on Twitter @countertenorist.

Praise for The Rabbit Factor

Novelist Martyn Waites has said that, ‘Antti Tuomainen turns the clichéd idea of dour, humourless Scandi noir upside down with The Rabbit Factor. Dark, gripping and hilarious […] Tuomainen is the Carl Hiaasen of the fjords’, whilst early readers on Goodreads have called the book ‘fun’ and ‘quirky’, and have praised Antti’s deft handling of both the farcical elements and the darker, drier humour within the novel.

You can also read more reviews as part of the Blog Tour for the novel, which is running until 20 October 2021! Just follow the hashtag #TheRabbitFactor, as well as publisher @OrendaBooks and @RandomTTours!

GIVEAWAY!!!

Thanks to Antti Tuomainen, publisher Orenda Books, and Anne at Random Things Tours I have ONE PRINT COPY of The Rabbit Factor to giveaway to a lucky UK reader!

All you need to do to win is to follow me (@shelfofunread) on Twitter and retweet the pinne tweet that links to this post! The giveaway is open from 9.00am on 04 October 2021 and closes at midnight on 11 October 2021. There is one winner. Terms & conditions apply (see below).

TERMS & CONDITIONS: UK only. The winner will be selected at random via Tweetdraw from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Good Luck!!

The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen (translated by David Hackston) is published by Orenda Books on 28 October 2021 (ebook/hardback) and is available to pre-order now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Waterstones, Bookshop.org, Wordery, and direct from publisher Orenda.

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 and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blog tour and providing the opportunity to run a giveaway for the book.

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!