Author Archives: KATRINA WILKINS

All That Was Lost – Our November Book of the Month

Perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy. In 1967 Patience Bickersleigh is a teenager who discovers a talent for telling people what they want to hear. Fifty years later she is Patrice Leigh, a nationally celebrated medium. But cracks are forming in the carefully constructed barriers that keep her real history at bay.

Leo is the journalist hired to write Patrice’s biography. Struggling to reconcile the demands of his family, his grief for his lost son, and his need to understand his own background, Leo becomes more and more frustrated at Patrice’s refusal to open up. Because behind closed doors, Patrice is hiding more than one secret. And it seems that now, her past is finally catching up with her.

May thrills in this English familial mystery, adding enticing plot layers as intricate and divisive as the themes she introduces.


Review
By Becky Hinshelwood

It’s a bit hard to not make this book sound like a depressing read. Amongst Alison May’s pages there exists every realm of loss imaginable. The loss of a child and the loss of a parent. Experiencing loss and creating loss. Loss of love, history, identity, hope, sanity, memory, dignity, reality and truth. Even the loss of a pet dog sneaks in there.

There’s something about loss that interests people. It’s what makes drivers take a look when passing an accident and consumers buy a tabloid which reports a human tragedy. It’s the sense of catharsis produced through morbid curiosity. This interest perhaps is a flaw in human nature. So it is very fitting that this story is based on flawed humanity and the difficult decisions that humans make. Not always the right ones.

Patrice is part Psychic Sally and part Blanche Dubois. Impeccably controlled and smartly turned out with a heartbreakingly tragic past swirling inside. All That Was Lost takes us along two parallel stories. In one, we witness celebrity psychic Patrice Leigh fighting to maintain her identity against the onset of what may be dementia. In another, the teenage Patience Bickersleigh comes of age in 1967. It’s clear that the two are the same person, and slowly we piece together each one’s story.

Amongst all of this are entwined the stories of Leo and Louise. Two individual parents experiencing grief and loss in very different ways. What is most affecting about the stories here is how Alison May so accurately conveys the ripples of effect that loss causes through a family and indeed a community. How loss can be both sanctioned by a community, feared by a community and sought out by a community.

In a previous professional life I booked theatre shows for venues, and in the industry certain celebrity psychics were always a dead cert to sell out (if you’ll excuse the pun). I remember one particular psychic lost a piece of jewellery in the venue and the general consensus amongst the staff was scathingly unsympathetic. Could they not locate it with their ‘gift’?

I booked these acts with some moral hesitation since making money out of other people’s loss doesn’t sit that well with me. Clearly the income of the venue won out, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this all the way through reading this book. Perhaps it influenced my sympathies.

In the end, the barriers that Patrice has built between her current identity and her teenage self allow the reader to completely sympathise with Patience without much liking Patrice in the present day. The narrative manages to link them and yet separate them entirely. My heart broke for Patience. I understood why she takes the path that she does. However this did not alter how unsympathetic I felt towards Patrice, and I found this contrast affecting if a little disturbing! The effect is that you are confronted quite graphically with your own judgemental inclinations.

So surely, this is loss at its most extreme. The decision of one person to completely erase their identity so as to stop experiencing the pain of the loss. As extreme, in a way, as Louise’s total submersion in her loss. Alison May clearly conveys the inclination of people put in extreme situations to react in extreme ways. It happens throughout the book, from the central protagonists to characters who lurk in the background.

However, for a book about loss, weirdly this is not devastating to read. It’s littered with sad experiences, yes, but there is something uplifting about Leo’s freedom at the close and, perversely, about Pat’s decision to take control of her own destiny. Perhaps it is this furtive sense of empowerment that makes this book such a page turner. Or perhaps it’s just morbid curiosity!

If Becky’s review has inspired you to read more, then you can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery. Published by Legend Press.

Take a look at our November Book club

If you love books then why not join our popular Book Club. See new titles, enter brilliant giveaways and if you write a short review of a book of your choice you can win this amazing bundle!

How to submit your own book review:

  • Type the title of the book that you want to write a review on into the search bar
  • At the bottom of the page click on the submit review and login to enter

At the end of November, you will be entered into a grand prize draw to win the complete set of books. Go on give it a go! you might surprise yourself.

You can join Here: The BOOKS etc.Club


Wally Funk’s Race for Space
The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer
By Sue Nelson

The biography of Wally Funk as seen in the acclaimed major Netflix documentary Mercury 13 In 1961, Wally Funk was among the Mercury 13, the first group of American pilots to pass the Woman in Space programme. Wally sailed through a series of rigorous physical and mental tests, with one of her scores beating all the male Mercury 7 astronauts’, including John Glenn’s, the first American in orbit. But just one week before the final phase of training, the programme was abruptly cancelled.

A combination of politics and prejudice meant that none of the women ever flew into space. Undeterred, Wally went on to become America’s first female aviation safety inspector, though her dream of being an astronaut never dimmed. In this offbeat odyssey, journalist and fellow space buff Sue Nelson joins Wally, now approaching her eightieth birthday, as she races to make her own giant leap, before it’s too late. Covering their travels across the United States and Europe – taking in NASA’s mission control in Houston, the European Space Agency’s HQ in Paris and Spaceport America in New Mexico, where Wally’s ride into space awaits – this is a uniquely intimate and entertaining portrait of a true aviation trailblazer.

You can buy your copy HERE + free Uk delivery


Vladimir Putin: Life Coach
By  Robert Sears

What can the rise and reign of this century’s most feared politician teach us about life, work and love? Rob Sears shows how the machinations that enabled Putin to dominate the Kremlin and undermine the United States of America could also help you take control of your mundane life.

How would you like to ruin your enemies by sharing compromising material about that time they didn’t wash their hands? Or annex territory by claiming the stationery cupboard at work as your personal empire? Fancy hacking democracy at the parent-teacher association to ensure you’re a shoo-in for social secretary? Or serving up a cold dish called revenge in a high street restaurant?

Filled with stories from Putin’s extraordinary time in power, and ideas and illustrations to help you emulate him on a small scale, Vladimir Putin: Life Coach is the ultimate guide to releasing the pseudo-elected, judo black belt, 5D chess-playing autocrat inside each and every one of us.

You can buy your copy HERE + free Uk delivery


The Modern Multi-cooker Cookbook
101 Recipes for Your Instant Pot 
By Jenny Tschiesche

101 tried-and-tested recipes for your electric multi-cooker that will change your life! Expert nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche’s tried-and-tested recipes provide a wealth of ideas for family meals from a 15-minute risotto to a leg of lamb. It can saute vegetables in five minutes and cook a whole chicken in 20 so is it any wonder that the Instant Pot has taken the online community by a storm!

The cult phenomenon that is the multifunctional electric cooker is able to slow cook, steam, pressure cook and even saute. The combination of steam and pressure cooks food fast, making everything from tender roasts through to perfectly cooked curries in a flash. For active people and busy families it’s a miraculous time saver. Textures and tastes, which would otherwise take hours, can be created in minutes and healthy, nutritious meals are just a press of a button away!

You can buy your copy HERE + free Uk delivery



Santa’s Christmas Journey with Wind-Up Sleigh
Wind-up Books
By Fiona Watt
Illustrated by Simona Sanfilippo

Wind up the sleigh and follow Santa as he flies around the frosty night sky delivering presents on Christmas Eve. The colourful scenes with tracks embedded in the pages show Santa leaving the elves’ village, flying around a busy city, soaring over snowy mountains and landing on the rooftops to deliver presents to sleeping children.

You can buy your copy HERE + free Uk delivery



All That Was Lost
By Alison May

Perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy In 1967 Patience Bickersleigh is a teenager who discovers a talent for telling people what they want to hear. Fifty years later she is Patrice Leigh, a nationally celebrated medium. But cracks are forming in the carefully constructed barriers that keep her real history at bay.

Leo is the journalist hired to write Patrice’s biography. Struggling to reconcile the demands of his family, his grief for his lost son, and his need to understand his own background, Leo becomes more and more frustrated at Patrice’s refusal to open up. Because behind closed doors, Patrice is hiding more than one secret. And it seems that now, her past is finally catching up with her.

May thrills in this English familial mystery, adding enticing plot layers as intricate and divisive as the themes she introduces. `Intriguing with a cast of complex characters that keep you fascinated, this is a page-turner and surprisingly tender’ Katie FForde

`A resonant, emotional story about grief, loss and love with a complex, tragic heroine-a fake psychic reaching the end of her career. Although it’s about death, this story is never depressing, and ultimately it’s about recovery and healing’ Julie Cohen

`A beautiful and compelling story that delves into what is real, what we are willing to believe and the power of grief’ Liz Fenwick

`”All That is Lost” is a bold, beautiful thought-provoking novel, that sensitively confronts difficult themes’ Rowan Coleman ‘It is a triumph. What Alison May has produced is an intimate and affecting study of loss, grief and identity that is just wonderful.’ Linda’s Book Bag ‘What an interesting and unique book… a fascinating, at times heart-wrenching, look at secrets, the cost of keeping them hidden, and whether hiding them requires lies.’ Fireflies and Free Kicks

You can buy your copy HERE + free Uk delivery


Sweet Fruit, Sour Land
By Rebecca Ley

When a wealthy client visits Mathilde’s dressmaking shop, she finds herself drawn into the only surviving circle of luxury left in a barren London. Attending parties offers a welcome escape from life governed by ration cards and a strictly enforced child policy. Here she meets enigmatic government minister, George, and piano-playing Jaminder, with whom an intense friendship blossoms. As their relationship grows stronger, George’s grip on Mathilde tightens, as she tries to discover where the illicit food is coming from, where women disappear to, and what price she must pay to avoid bringing a child into a cruel, ever-changing world.

You can buy your copy HERE + free Uk delivery


Pick a Pine Tree
By Patricia Toht
Illustrated by Jarvis

Pick a pine tree from the lot – slim and tall, or short and squat! Long straight limbs or branches bent… Mmm! Just smell that piney scent! From the winner of the V&A Best Illustrated Book 2017 From Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth creator, Jarvis, and author Patricia Toht, comes a beautiful, irresistible Christmas gift book that all begins with … picking a pine tree!

Brimming over with the excitement of being with family at the festive season, a gorgeously rhythmical, read-aloud narrative accompanied by warm, joyful art celebrates all the familiar rituals of decorating the tree – from digging out jam-packed boxes of trimmings, stringing tinsel, to, at last, turning on those twinkly fairy lights.

You can buy your copy HERE + free Uk delivery


The Nordic Baking Book
By Magnus Nilsson

The acclaimed chef featured in the Emmy-Award winning US PBS series The Mind of a Chef and the Netflix docuseries Chef’s Table explores the rich baking tradition of the Nordic region, with 450 tempting recipes for home bakers Nordic culture is renowned for its love of baking and baked goods: hot coffee is paired with cinnamon buns spiced with cardamom, and cold winter nights are made cozier with the warmth of the oven.

No one is better equipped to explore this subject than acclaimed chef Magnus Nilsson. In The Nordic Baking Book, Nilsson delves into all aspects of Nordic home baking – modern and traditional, sweet and savory – with recipes for everything from breads and pastries to cakes, cookies, and holiday treats. No other book on Nordic baking is as comprehensive and informative. Nilsson travelled extensively throughout the Nordic region – Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden – collecting recipes and documenting the landscape. The 100 photographs in the book have been shot by Nilsson – now an established photographer, following his successful exhibitions in the US. From the pubisher of Nilsson’s influential and internationally bestselling Faviken and The Nordic Cookbook.

You can buy your copy HERE + free Uk delivery