The Saxon Wolves by Penny Ingham #BookReview #BlogTour

Britain 455AD. The Roman Empire has fallen. As the daughter of a king and a priestess of the sacred grove, Anya's life in Germania is one of wealth and privilege - until she dares to speak out against the high priest's barbaric human sacrifices. Her punishment is exile. Forced to leave her homeland, she sails to Britannia, to an island that is sliding into chaos and war, as rival kingdoms vie for power. Alone and far from home, Anya must learn to survive amidst the bloodshed, treachery and intrigue of fifth century Britain. Can she find a place to belong - a home, a hearth, a welcome?

I'm delighted to be one of the hosts for the first leg of the blog tour for The Saxon Wolves today, alongside two fabulous bloggers -  Cathy at What Cathy Read Next and Zoe at Zooloo's Book Diary. Many thanks to Penny Ingham and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Tours for inviting me and for my digital copy of the book.

The prologue of The Saxon Wolves places Anya, Saxon princess and…

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech #BookReview #BlogTour


Be careful what you wish for... Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t... Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined... Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it? What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

I'm thrilled to be one of the hosts for The Lion Tamer Who Lost blog tour today along with the fabulous Joy Kluver who has a brilliant extract from the book for you. Many thanks to Louise Beech, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is the third book I've read by Louise Beech (I really must read How To Be Brave soon!) and I've reached the conclusion that her novels really should come with some sort of warning about risking ugly tears should you choose to read it in public. Fortunately I came prepared and settled down at home to read it so at least I was protected from the public's look of horror as I sobbed my way through the latter pages of the book. However, I ended up going to bed in the early hours of the morning because I couldn't put it down. After I'd finished I immediately went on to Twitter to share my feelings about such a special book but for several minutes discovered I'd lost the ability to express myself coherently. I'm not entirely sure I'll really manage to do it justice today, suffice to say I loved every word of this captivating, heart-rending story.
The structure and pacing of the novel is perfect with a storyline that switches seamlessly between the past and present but I don't want to talk too much about the plot other that to say it features a love story that is infused with poignant tenderness and intense passion. Instead I want to discuss just what it is about The Lion Tamer Who Lost - and indeed all of Louise Beech's books which make them just so unforgettable. Louise doesn't just write stories or create characters; she breathes life into them and they become real.  I wasn't just reading about Ben and Andrew's relationship, I was invested in their lives and felt every emotion from the first tentative butterflies of attraction, to the deep love they developed for one another, to their cataclysmic shock when long held secrets are revealed with devastating effect. There were times when I didn't agree with or like their behaviour or decisions but that's the magic of Louise's writing; her characters become friends - I had grown to understand them and so could sympathise with them and forgive their mistakes.
I almost forgot I was on my sofa as I was transported to Zimbabwe to watch the sun rise with Ben and I sat with him as he tried to bond with orphaned lion cub, Lucy. I was with Andrew when he made his wishes and could feel his fear when he understood what they meant. I cringed when Ben's homophobic father met Andrew for the first time and ached for the relationship he felt he couldn't have with his dad if he was honest about who he was. I laughed with them, held my breath with them and wept with and for them.
The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a story about love in all its forms; passionate desire, tender care, unrequited feelings, family bonds and supportive friendships. It is wise, insightful, funny and heartbreaking. It's about knowing that even when it's time to let go, love doesn't leave. This is an exquisitely real, sensitive and beautiful book that I feel immensely privileged to have read. I believe Louise's next book, Star Girl is a psychological thriller, so with fears instead of tears I may be able to forego the tissues. Nevertheless I know that such is the talent of this very special author, I'll still experience every mood and emotion. I can't wait to read it but it the meantime I cannot recommend The Lion Tamer Who Lost strongly enough.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is published by Orenda Books and is available now as an ebook or as a paperback from 30th September 2018. Purchasing links can be found here.

Don't forget to check out some of the other stops on the tour, details are below.


About the Author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.
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