[BOOK REVIEW] Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin @TitanBooks #OtherWordsforSmoke

The synopsis for Other Words for Smoke reminded me of The Diviners by Libba Bray with its supernatural element. Having read the book, I can still say that it gave me The Diviners vibe which I loved!

Other Words for Smoke centers around two twins – Mae and Rossa – who spend two summers with their aunt Rita and her teenage ward Bevan in an unusual house. Having spent two summers in the house they’ve been looped in on its happenings. During their first summer with Rita and Bevan, Mae finds out that they’re witches who also have a talking cat… but that’s not all, evil lurks in this house in the form of a spirit that lurks behind the wallpaper called Sweet James. Sweet James has an effect on Bevan and he whispers things he can do for her but only if she brings him gifts. Mae begins to fall for Bevan, not knowing what secrets she holds, and Sweet James becomes intrigued by the new flesh that has come to the house.

Although I wouldn’t call this book amazing, I did find it very enjoyable and it offered me escape when life was hectic. I love how the author has gorgeous writing skills and certain scenes she created made me escape this world. The twin characters were great although annoying at times but that’s understandable since they’re almost-teenagers (if not already). The whole mystery surrounding Sweet James was so enjoyable to read and creepy as well! I loved reading about Bevan and the trance in which Sweet James put her in order to get his way. I found the storyline to end very abruptly because I wanted more from it – I wanted to be lost in it fully. I felt like certain parts ended abruptly which made me frustrated because I was enjoying them. I love how the author included an LGBTQ+ character to her story and made us experience that feeling of first love. The story in itself was very enjoyable for me and I really had a great time reading it.

Lovers of fantasy, magic, witchy kind of books will definitely devour this book!

I would like to thank the publisher Titan Books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book from the publisher.

My rating:

Add ‘Other Words for Smoke‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Other Words for Smoke‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Sarah Maria Griffin lives in Dublin, Ireland, in a small red brick house by the sea, with her husband and cat. She writes about monsters, growing up, and everything those two things have in common. Her first book, SPARE AND FOUND PARTS, is out now.
Find her on: Goodreads and Twitter
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[COVER REVEAL + BLURB] CNUT by Nathan Evans @InkandescentUK @nathanevansarts

I’m very excited to share with you all the brilliant cover for Nathan Evans’ new poetry book ‘CNUT’ publishing in November by Inkandescent, a publisher that focuses on ‘queer and outsider voices‘.

First of all – here’s the blurb for CNUT:

As King Cnut proved, tide and time wait for no man: An AnthropoScene, the first part of this collection, dives into the rising tides of geo-political change, the second, Our Future Is Now Downloading, explores sea-changes of more personal natures.

Nathan’s poetry debut, Threads, was longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize www.inkandescent.co.uk/threads. His follow-up bears all the watermarks of someone who’s swum life’s emotional spectrum. Some poems barely contain their righteous anger within their visceral verse – The old are eating the young in great Goya gobfuls. Others like What the Cat Dragged Back examine subtler sentiments – in response to your partner picking up a lover for you to share, for instance.

Short and (bitter)sweet, this is poetry for a mobile generation, poetry for sharing – often humorous, always honest about contemporary human experience, saying more in a few lines than politicians say in volumes, it offers an antidote to modern living.

‘Poignant, humane, and uncompromising’ Stephen Morrison-Burke, former Birmingham Poet Laureate 
and without further ado here’s the cover:
Do you like it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Nathan Evans is a writer, director and performer whose work has been funded by Arts Council England, toured by the British Council, archived by the British Film Institute and broadcast on Channel 4. His poetry has been published by Dead Ink, Inky Needles, Poetry Space, Manchester Metropolitan Univerity, and performed at Southbank Centre, Hoxton Hall, Hammer & Tongue, Bang Said the Gun and Coffee-House Poetry.
Find him on: Website and Twitter.

[Q&A with the author] In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids by Travis Rieder @TNREthx @HarperBooks

I’m very pleased to share a Q&A with Travis Rieder, the author of In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids which came out yesterday (18th of June; Harper Books). Let’s get to the Q&A!

Q&A with Travis Rieder

BTP: First of all, thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to answer a few questions of mine! As you already know, I’ve very much enjoyed reading In Pain and found it to be well-researched as well as written and engaging. I’ve come up with a few questions that I find to be interesting and may relate to the book as well as some general ones.

Q: Did you always know you were going to write a book (become a writer) or was it something that came spontaneously?

A: That’s a hard question. I’ve loved to write since I was a kid, and I always kind of daydreamed about having something I wrote read by the general public. I idolize good writers, and have longed to publish a trade book for years. As a scholar, though, I’m not exactly trained for that. I spent many (many!) years in graduate school learning precision and rigor in writing, which can often lead to prose that is, well, boring. So I’ve successfully published for years, but I still didn’t consider myself a writer.

After my motorcycle accident, I slowly came around to the idea of writing a popular book. I didn’t go straight there, though. I wrote a well-regarded scholarly article, and eventually pitched the book to an academic press. They told me that I really should find an agent and pitch to a trade press, because my story—which I wanted to use to push along some important lessons about pain and opioids—was compelling enough to warrant wider distribution. So I ended up giving it a try.

To be honest, though, I was totally unsure it would ever happen. It seemed too far and too foreign. I’m completely thrilled that I eventually found my way and am getting to share this book with a bigger audience than academic publishing affords.

Q: How long did it take you to write this book? Did you find anything particularly challenging while writing it?

A: In some sense, I began writing In Pain while still in the hospital. Family and friends told me to record what was happening—maybe for pragmatic reasons (remembering facts that might be necessary when dealing with insurance, for example) and maybe for therapeutic reasons (it would help me to process my trauma). I’m very glad they did, as both were true. I would have forgotten nearly everything if I hadn’t done the writing, as both drugs and trauma are very good for erasing memories. It also did make me feel better to put on paper how I saw the events unfolding; it gave me a sense of control.

So if you date it from the hospital, it took about three years. The most active period, though, after I found an agent and then once we sold the book to HarperCollins, lasted about 15 months.

Q: I’m interesting in the process of writing In Pain, did you write it every day or did you take breaks?

A: Related to my previous answer: there were lots of breaks in the beginning, when I didn’t know who I was writing for (or even whether I would ever be willing to publicly share my story). Once I knew that the book would happen, and then even more when I negotiated deadlines with the publisher, I tended to write on a schedule. During the school year, when I was teaching and mentoring my graduate students, I wrote about 3-4 days per week—always at night, typically after my daughter and partner went to bed. 9pm-12pm was the time slot when the vast majority of the book was drafted. During the summer, I wrote every weekday—still at night, but adding early morning writing if I could carve it out from my other research.

Q: How did you find the research process for In Pain? Was it fun and interesting?

A: I absolutely adored every aspect of writing a book. It’s the most satisfying thing I’ve done in my professional life. The writing of my story was profoundly therapeutic; I feel like I took this pain and suffering, pulled it out of myself, and locked it into the pages. Turning in the final revisions felt like saying goodbye to self-pity. And the research aspect was just delightful fun. I got to think of how best to tell stories about the ideas I wanted to convey, which is not how academic writing happens. I would run drafts past my agent or editor, and they’d constantly say, “Travis, you’re being an academic in this section.” Looking to where they pointed, I’d immediately understand, and go back to the drawing board. I loved this process of finding the best way to communicate a complex idea, and every time I got feedback, I felt like I got closer to really being a writer.

Q: While reading In Pain I stumbled upon something – when you write examples for certain situations you use ‘she’ while generally people use ‘he’ when they write something like the following: If he goes to the clinic to take meds…Was this something that was intentional?

A: Yup. It’s a habit from my feminist intellectual upbringing. There’s absolutely no reason to use ‘he’ exclusively except for an invisible cultural framework that allows ‘man’ to stand in for ‘human’. In the very near future, I expect it will be nearly universally acceptable to use ‘they’ as a non-gendered singular pronoun, and then I won’t have to make a point of using the feminine. But until then, if the rules of writing require picking a gender, I’ll choose to counter the backdrop of patriarchal influence.

Q: I’m sure there are people who will be left with wanting more after reading In Pain, could you recommend some books with a similar topic?

A: Absolutely! In no particular order, and on various themes that my book deals with: Beth Macy’s Dopesick, Sam Quinones’s Dreamland, Maia Szalavitz’s Unbroken Brain, Barry Meier’s Pain Killer, Carl Hart’s High Price, Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream.

Q: What are some of your favourite books and what are you reading at the moment?

A: Favorite books—what a hard question! I’d have to say Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal (along with most anything else he writes), everything David Sedaris, and on the fiction side, every single one of Kurt Vonnegut’s books.

At the moment, I’m reading Lloyd I. Sederer’s The Addiction Solution, Jonathan Metzl’s Dying of Whiteness, David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth, and Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. All very different books, and all good and interesting.

BTP: Thank you very much, Travis!

Travis: Thanks so much for reading and reviewing the book, and for inviting this Q&A—it’s been a real joy!

As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this post – Travis’ book came out yesterday and it’s such a fascinating and well-researched one! I will leave a link to my review of his book here.

Add ‘In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids‘ here:

*Purchase ‘In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Travis Rieder was born and raised in Indiana, after which he has slowly and steadily moved eastward. After completing his BA at Hanover College in southern Indiana, he moved to South Carolina to do an MA in philosophy. He then did a PhD in philosophy at Georgetown University before taking a faculty position at Johns Hopkins, where he currently teaches.

Travis’s writing is wide-ranging, but took a sharp turn in 2015 after a motorcycle accident and a traumatic experience with pain and pain management that resulted. Since that experience, he has worked to turn his intimate struggle with opioid painkillers into a research program and a mission to reduce harm from irresponsible prescribing. IN PAIN, published by HarperCollins in June 2019, combines his personal story with fascinating and disturbing facts about the history of pain and opioid use, the American healthcare system, and suggestions for how the tide can be turned on the interlocking epidemics of pain, opioids, and addiction.

Find him on: Website, Twitter and Goodreads.

[BOOK REVIEW] Naturally Tan: A Memoir by Tan France @tanfrance #NaturallyTan @EllieCrisp

Queer Eye is one of those shows you just adore watching and whilst watching you start falling in love with the cast. For me, Tan is the one I immediately fell in love and whose story I was interested in learning more about – and I got the chance to do that because of the awesome publisher! If you haven’t seen Queer Eye on Netflix yet then I highly recommend it because it’s so good and because of the brilliant cast –Tan, Antoni, Karamo, Bobby and Jonathan.

Naturally Tan is Tan France’s memoir where he tells us many stories – from his upbringing to him being cast as the fashion expert on QE. The UK hardcover is so gorgeous because underneath the jacket you also get illustrated Tan as well as on the inside of the book you get a lot of drawings [for each chapter] which are amazing!  In Naturally Tan, Tan talks about many things he’s gone through in his life – from racism to stardom. One thing I especially like is that Tan is someone who, when a situation asks for it, doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is – we get many instances where Tan speaks up described in the book e.g. Tan had to deal with an awful boss. Besides Tan’s life story we get some fashion advice from him as well as do’s and don’ts. Tan doesn’t shy away from talking about real issues e.g. racism where he [since he was a child] went through a lot of mental analysis on what to do, how to act when faced with racism. Whilst on the subject of race issues – Tan tells the reader that in his life he’s had twenty-four incidents where he had to stay longer at the airport to answer a few more questions such as when’s the last time you’ve visited Pakistan? when’s the last time you held a gun? [I’m paraphrasing these questions]. I’m glad that in his memoir Tan deals with those tough questions because they are issues still! This book made me feel so happy while reading because of many lovely stories Tan shared about his life. We also get more info on how the whole casting process of Queer Eye went and how Tan met Antoni, Bobby, Karamo and Jonathan! I also wanted more of Tan – more from his stories because I felt like some were very short and ended abruptly. I would’ve loved to know more about his childhood and him and his family [yes, he provides this information but I wish it was done more in-depth].

If you’re a Queer Eye and/or a Tan France fan then this is definitely a must read! I honestly think that every reader will find something interesting in this book. Some life lessons and a lot of lovely stories that will warm your heart! [I’m now obsessed with Tan and his husband – so cute!]

I would like to thank the publisher Virgin Books (Ebury Publishing-Penguin Random House UK) for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got a free copy from the publisher.

My rating:

Add ‘Naturally Tan: A Memoir‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Naturally Tan: A Memoir‘ here:

*Purchase ‘Naturally Tan: A Memoir‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Tan France has been a successful fashion designer behind-the-scenes for over 15 years, and now steps into the spotlight as the star of Emmy-winning makeover hit, and Netflix re-boot, Queer Eye. Surrounded by an all new cast, France is the witty wardrobe wiz leading the charge in the fashion department and is ready to make America fabulous again one makeover at a time. This experience is so much more than just new clothes to the British born fashion advisor however, it’s about real-life issues, changes and acceptance on all sides. The epitome of style and class, Tan is the creative mind behind successful brands including the popular ladies clothing lines Kingdom & State and Rachel Parcell, Inc. Prior to his personal success as a designer, he spent his summers working in his grandfather’s denim factory while he secretly enrolled in fashion college in preparation to start a new chapter as a fabulous design star.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram.

[BLOG TOUR: Q&A] The Body in the Castle Well by Martin Walker #BodyInTheCastleWell @QuercusBooks @MillsReid11

I’m very pleased to share with you a Q&A with Martin Walker, the author of The Body in the Castle, the newest book in the Bruno, Chief of Police series!

SYNOPSIS:

A rich American art student is found dead at the bottom of a well in an ancient hilltop castle. The young woman, Claudia, had been working in the archives of an eminent French art historian, a crippled Resistance war hero, at his art-filled chateau.

As Claudia’s White House connections get the US Embassy and the FBI involved, Bruno traces the people and events that led to her death – or was it murder?

Bruno learns that Claudia had been trying to buy the chateau and art collection of her tutor, even while her researches led her to suspect that some of his attributions may have been forged. This takes Bruno down a trail that leads him from the ruins of Berlin in 1945, to France’s colonial war in Algeria.

The long arm of French history has reached out to find a new victim, but can Bruno identify the killer – and prove his case?

Q&A 

Q: How long did it take you to write this book and was the writing process hard compared to your previous works?

A: The first draft took about 4 months, after 2 or 3 months planning and research which is about the usual pattern. This was a little easier than most books because I knew the site of Limeuil so well.

Q: How often do you write?

A: Every day, either a wine column or or some other journalism and for the new cookbook or a non-Bruno novel. As a journalist most of my life I am accustomed to writing every day.

Q: Did you always know you were going to write a book (become a writer) or was it something that came spontaneously?

A: I already knew from childhood that I wanted to write. I used to follow my mum around the house reading out to her poems or little stories I had written.

Q: Do you relate to the main character Bruno?

A: I wish I could cook and play tennis as well as he does. But although he was inspired by my village policeman, who is also my tennis partner, Bruno is an invention but I always liked the idea of a friendly and helpful policemen who see himself as a good neighbour as well as a cop.

Q: I love the title The Body in the Castle Well – were there any alternatives or were you set on this title from the beginning?

A: I’m never good with titles so my UK editor chose it, my working title was ‘the girl in the castle well’.

Q: What are some of your favourite books and what are you reading at the moment?

A: I always love Sherlock Holmes and Maigret, I am currently reading Adam Roberts on Napoleon and Gegard Fayolle’s ‘Les Trentes Glorieuses’.

Q: Do you have a routine of writing at a certain time for a couple of hours or do you do it spontaneously?

A: Once I start writing a book I have to write 3 pages – or 1000 words – every day until I am done.

Q: What authors have influenced you and made you fall in love with reading and eventually writing books?

A: Conan Doyle, Chandler, le Carre, Carlyle, Dickens, Mailer, Saul Bellow and Trollope.

Thank you s much to Martin as well as the publisher for making this Q&A possible!

Make sure to follow other book bloggers on this blog tour!

Add ‘The Body in the Castle Well‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘The Body in the Castle Well‘ here:

*Purchase ‘The Body in the Castle Well‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Martin Walker is the U.S. bureau chief for The Guardian (London), a regular commentator for CNN, and a columnist for newspapers in the United States, Europe, and Moscow. A published novelist and poet, he lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, the novelist Julia Watson, and their two daughters.

Find him on: Website and Goodreads.