Wednesday, 1 April 2020

#BlogTour The Philosopher's Daughters by Alison Booth


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Philosopher's Daughters by Alison Booth.
About the Author
Bornin Melbourne and brought up in Sydney, Alison spent over two decades studying, living and working in the UK before returning to Australia some fifteen years ago.

Her ancestors came to Australia from England and Scotland at the end of the 1800s, before Federation in 1901. Indeed, in 1891, when the novel starts, 32% of the Australian population were born overseas, mostly in the UK. Alison grew up fascinated by the thought that Australia once comprised small colonies, teetering on the edge of the vast continent, and wanted in this new novel to travel back in time to view it through the eyes of two strong young women. The tales of Alison's late father, Norman Booth, about his years in the Northern Territory also awakened her interest in the Northern Territory.

Her debut novel, Stillwater Creek, was Highly Commended in the 2011 ACT Book of the Year Award, and afterwards published in Reader's Digest elect Editions in Asia and in Europe. Alison's other novels are The Indigo Sky (2011), A Distant Land (2012), and A Perfect Marriage (2018).
Alison is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Australian National University. In November 2019, Alison was made Fellow of the Econometric Society, a prestigious international society for the advancement of economic theory in its relation to statistics and mathematics.

Follow @booth_alison on Twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads, Visit alisonbooth.net, Buy The Philosopher's Daughters


About the book
A tale of two very different sisters whose 1890s voyage from London into remote outback Australia becomes a journey of self-discovery, set against a landscape of wild beauty and savage dispossession.

London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters' lives are changed forever. Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life's work or devote herself to painting.

When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the Northern territory outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life.

Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand seeking revenge.

Review
It's easy to forget the history of Australia, especially when the narrative is usually one of sunshine, waves and living life with more joy. Spiders the size of dogs and in general many things that can kill you. Oh wait, those aren't positives.

My point is the history behind the building of the country we know now is often whitewashed and swept under the carpet. More than 270 frontier massacres over the space of 140 years. A state-sanctioned attempt to eradicate Aboriginal people. The conspiracy of police and settlers to keep silent and change the narrative of these awful events and history. That's not what people think of when Australia is mentioned.

Booth incorporates this conspiracy of silence into her story of two sisters, who try to rebuild their lives in Australia and find themselves confronted with atrocities and hatred. Harriet in particular connects emotionally to the fate of the indigenous people and creates bonds that people frown upon.

It's historical fiction with factual history at the core.

The strength of this story is the way the author  gives her readers an excellent visual with her descriptions. Really capturing the relentless heat, the difficult geographical conditions, the extreme isolation and harsh living conditions.

Booth also speaks to the inequality between the different genders, women's rights, violence and the amount of strength settlers needed to live, survive and eventually thrive in their country of choice. It's a multi-layered story, so as a reader you have to take a breath and let it sink in, and sometimes read between the lines of this ambitious historical novel.

Buy The Philosopher's Daughters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Red Door Press; 2 April 2020.

#PublicationDayPush Redeeming the Reclusive Earl by Virginia Heath


It's the Publication Push Day for Redeeming the Reclusive Earl by Virginia Heath.

Enter the Giveaway to Win 2 x e-copies of Redeeming the Reclusive Earl (Open INT)

About the Author
When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Despite that, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

About the book
His heart is a fortress… And she’s trespassing!
After losing all he holds dear in a horrific fire, Max Aldersley, Earl of Rivenhall, shuns the world—until he catches Effie Nithercott digging holes on his estate! He banishes the intrepid archaeologist and the unsettled feelings she rouses within him. But she returns even more determined and infuriatingly desirable than before! He wonders just how deep she’s prepared to dig—so far she’ll reach the man beneath his scars?

Review
I'm not sure whether Max is more annoyed by the fact Effie is a woman stomping round in trousers or by the fact she is oblivious to his annoyance. When he finds her digging holes on his land like a rabbit building a multiplex warren, he is quick to demand she leave and never return. Effie however doesn't let anything get between her and her research.

She demands to be not only heard, but also that her commands be listened to and met. Not much of a shy, obedient woman of society, much to the dismay of Max. The woman is quite frustrating, exasperating even.

As the story evolves Effie not only has to come to terms with the fact she is attracted to the annoying Earl of Rivenhall, she also has to deal with the lack of professional acknowledgment in her area of expertise, because of her gender.

I have probably said this before about Heath, but it's always worth mentioning. She has a knack of combining the breathless fun of a bodice-ripper, without the ripping, with a jolly good sense of humour. You get cheeky fun, a slow-burning romance with escalating tension and characters that whip themselves into a frenzy with sharp retorts. Duels with tongues at sunrise. Okay, that sounds a bit naughty.

Heath also weaves elements of women's empowerment into the story, which are often only small concessions, but given the era they are a step in the right direction.

Buy Redeeming the Reclusive Earl at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Mills & Boon Historical; pub date 19 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of The Determined Lord Hadleigh and The Disgraceful Lord Gray by Virginia Heath.

Enter the Giveaway to Win 2 x e-copies of Redeeming the Reclusive Earl (Open INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.*

#BlogTour Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan


Today it's also a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan.

About the Author
Sarah Morgan lives near London, England with her family. When sheisn't writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike.

Follow @SarahMorgan_ @HQStories @HarperCollinsUK on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, on Facebook www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan,Visit sarahmorgan.com, Buy Family for Beginners


About the book
Who says you can’t choose your family?
When Flora falls in love with Jack, suddenly she’s not only handling a very cranky teenager, but she’s also living in the shadow of Jack’s perfect, immortalised wife, Becca. Every summer, Becca and Jack would holiday with Becca’s oldest friends and Jack wants to continue the tradition, so now Flora must face a summer trying to live up to Becca’s memory, with not only Jack’s daughter looking on, but with Becca’s best friends judging her every move…

The more Flora tries to impress everyone, the more things go horribly wrong…but as the summer unfolds, Flora begins pushing her own boundaries, and finding herself in a way that she never thought she needed to.

And she soon learns that families come in all shapes and sizes.

Review
The author doesn't paint Flora as the nasty interloper, which is what often happens when a new partner is introduced to the family. Instead she presents both sides of the difficult situation. On one side there is Flora, who has never experienced being part of a family, which is probably why she overcompensates in certain situations. Then the family unit who are reluctant to accept someone new stepping into the role the mother used to inhabit.

It's very much an intense emotional minefield, as Flora tries to navigate the pain and distress of the two young girls that are the entire world to her boyfriend. Molly thaws with each genuine moment of love and attention, but Izzy is determined to get rid of Flora.

To make things even more difficult the awkward foursome reluctantly spend a holiday with the best friend of a dead and very perfect mother and wife. It brings feelings both old and new to the surface, which means there is no choice but to face the truth.

It's women's fiction - a story of upheaval, grief and broken families.

In the last few years Morgan has successfully moved from romance to more complex contemporary fiction for women. She takes her characters to greater depth and her stories cross into more complex topics.

It's a beautiful read, uplifting and incredibly sad at times. Full of genuine emotions and vulnerable people. Morgan hits the mark once again.

Buy Family for Beginners at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 2 April 2020. Buy at Amazon com.


#BlogTour Dark Corners by Darren O'Sullivan


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Dark Corners by Darren O'Sullivan.

About the Author
Darren O'Sullivan is the author ofpsychological thrillers, Our Little Secret, Close Your Eyes and Closer Than You Thin. He is a graduate f the Faber Academyand his debut novel, Our Little Secret, was a bestseller in four countries.He lives in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire where his days are spent either behind his laptop writing, in front of a group of actors directing teatre or rollingaround pretending to be a dinosaur with his young son.

Follow @darrensully on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Amazon,
Buy Dark Corners


About the book
It’s been twenty years since Neve’s best friend Chloe went missing. Neve has never recovered and promised herself she’d never go back to that place.

But secrets can come back to haunt you.
When Neve receives news that her first boyfriend Jamie has gone missing, she’s forced to return. Jamie has vanished without a trace in a disappearance that echoes the events of all those years ago. Somebody is watching and will stop at nothing until the truth about what took place that night is revealed …

Review
I think it's fair to say that Neve thinks she has everything under control and that her life is perfect. The truth is harder to acknowledge. She likes a drink, or two or perhaps a few bottles. She is unreliable when it comes to work, which is taking its toll on her colleague.

She blames it on her crumbling relationship with her fiancee, but perhaps the turbulence in her past has a lot to do with it.  Something to do with the fact her best friend disappeared into thin air when they were teenagers.

Now another one of her friends has also mysteriously disappeared and she has no choice but to return to the scene of her teenage nightmares. Perhaps this time she can actually help solve the mystery that has caused years of anxiety and dark thoughts.

It's a psychological thriller that creeps up on you and surrounds you silently.

At the end of the day it's hard to balance the right and the wrongs in this story. When you do something you categorically know is wrong, even if it is to save your own skin, then a part of you will always dwell on the fact it was wrong. How that guilt manifests itself can be different for each person. Substance abuse, inability to have stable relationships  or mental health issues. Unless you have some sort of psychopathology you will probably feel your conscience in some way or other.

When you take the entirety of the plot - not giving anything away - the way certain people ease their own conscience by placing blame on others is perhaps the most interesting element of the story. Probably one that will lead to discussions about guilt and blame. The stories that sit on the boundaries are the ones that make you think.

Buy Dark Corners at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date  2 April 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Closer Than You Think


Tuesday, 31 March 2020

#BlogTour Beyond the Yew Tree by Rachel Walkley


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Beyond the Yew Tree by Rachel Walkley.

Enter the Giveaway to Win One copy of The Last Thing She Said or The Woman of Heachley Hall (Open INT) - If the winner is in the UK then it will be a print copy, otherwise International winner is e-book.
About the Author
Aspiring writer who pens Women's Fiction and magical tales about family secrets.
What else? An East Anglian turned Northerner - almost. Information professional, always. Biologist, in my memories. Archivist, when required. Amateur pianist and flautist. Reluctant gardener. Scribbler of pictures. And forever.... a mother and wife. Oh, not forgetting, cat lover! Click here to sign up to my newsletter.

About the book
Whispers in the courtroom. Only one juror hears them. Can Laura unravel the truth by the end of the trial?

In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts shy juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman.

Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.

The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.

Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder. If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?

Ordinary women. Extraordinary experiences.

Review
Laura is called up for jury duty and finds herself in the middle of a case that is right up her professional street, however she is finding it hard to concentrate. There are strange things happening in the courtroom. She can hear sounds the others can't. She feels cold for no reason.

Then there are the terrible nightmares. Visions at night of a poor woman in a prison. The sounds become whispers, which lead her to an old prison churchyard where she is certain she will find information about the woman from her nightmares.

Her boyfriend has been overseas for a while and seems to be ignoring her as much as possible, so she can't ask him for support. Instead she finds a helping hand in Sean the museum curator. Together they both start to unravel the bizarre things Laura is experiencing, and how it is connected to the case and the ghostly presence that won't leave her alone.

It's a ghostly mystery - one of truth, conscience and justice.

Walkley delivers an intriguing story of historical crime combined with a modern mystery. The secrets and hidden tales of the past often find a way of being retold and discovered.

It's a story of abuse, fear and oppression, and yet it is also one of empowerment, discovery of self and freedom. When there seems to be no way forward another door will open up.

Kudos to Walkley for the fascinating sub-story on reading as it relates to the plot. It was an eye-opener and gave the story a lot more depth.

Buy Beyond the Yew Tree at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Spare Time Press; pub date 27 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Enter the Giveaway to Win One copy of The Last Thing She Said or The Woman of Heachley Hall (Open INT) - If the winner is in the UK then it will be a print copy, otherwise International winner is e-book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.*

#BlogTour Children of War by Ahmet Yorulma


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Children of War by Ahmet Yorulma, translated from Turkish by Paula Darwish.

About the Author
Ahmet Yorulmaz was a Turkish a journalist, author and translator. He was born in Ayvalik to a family of Cretan Turks deported to mainland Turkey as part of the Greek-Turkish population exchange decreed in the Treaty of Lausanne. He was fluent in modern Greek and translated novels and poems from contemporary Greek literature to Turkish.

Most of his original works were written with the aim of making people learn about Ayvalık, the city where he grew up. He dedicated himself to Greek-Turkish friendship and rapprochement.

About the Translator
Paula Darwish is a freelance translator and professional musician. She read Turkish Language and Literature with Middle Eastern History at SOAS in London graduating with a First in 1997. She is a qualified member of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters (MITI).

Follow Ahmet Yorulma on Goodreads, Buy Children of War


About the book
Hassanakis is a young Muslim boy of Turkish descent growing up on Crete during WWI. Fifteen generations of his family have lived on the island and until now he has never had any reason not to think he is a Cretan. But with the Great Powers tussling over the collapsing Ottoman Empire and the island’s Christians in rebellion, an outbreak of ethnic violence forces his family to flee to the Cretan city of Chania.

He begins to lay down roots and his snappy dress earns him the nickname of Hassan ‘the mirror’. As WWI draws to a close and the Turkish War of Independence rages, he begins a heady romance with
the elegant Hüsniye. There are rumours that the Cretan Muslims will be sent to Turkey but Hassanakis can’t believe he will be sent to a country whose language he barely knows and where he knows no-one.

Review
My bad, I had no idea the history of Crete was such a geo-political minefield and that the migration associated with it was so complex. A powder-keg of two national identities and religions who live together peacefully, until pot-stirrers looking for power and acknowledgment stoke hatred, which sets the two against each other.

Hassanakis is a young boy, a Muslim boy of Turkish descent who only knows peace and friendship between the Turks and the Cretans of Greek descent. His father starts to speak about rumours of dissent and trouble aimed at anyone of Turkish descent. His fear and paranoia seem to be pulled out of thin air, as he uproots his family to head for a safer location.

The violence they and others encounter leaves a permanent stain on the family as they find themselves in the middle of ethnic violence. People who have lived on Crete for many generations and yet now find themselves without jobs, businesses and homes. They are targeted, attacked, raped, murdered and those left living become displaced persons.

It's historical, geo-political fiction or rather a fictional family in the midst of a factual historical setting.

One of my favourite things about this book is the conversations it can generate. After reading it I had a chat with a fellow book enthusiast about the history, so the author achieves both a story and a history lesson at the same time. Now that may not sound interesting to some readers, but it does serve an important purpose.

In times where the curriculum can no longer fit every single bit of history in and the history of the country you live in supersedes the majority of other countries history - many important moments get lost. The kind of important historical moments that help to explain old animosity and scars, conflicts that are often continued over decades and centuries.

It's a fascinating story of upheaval, displacement and national identity.

Buy Children of War at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Neem Tree Press; pub date 26 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 30 March 2020

#BlogTour A Question of Country by Sue Parritt


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour A Question of Country by Sue Parritt.
About the Author
Originally from England, Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories, articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and seven novels:

Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2014.  Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016.  Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2016. The Sky Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.  Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017

Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

Feed Thy Enemy, based on Sue’s father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019. A Question of Country explores the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity. Next Chapter (formerly Creativia Publishing), 2020.

Sue’s current project, working title: Twenty-eight Days, first in The Doorkeeper series, is set in Southern Australia in 2100. It deals with overpopulation and extended life expectancy in an increasingly climate-challenged world and the inhumane solutions adopted by a government determined to rid Australia of unproductive citizens.

Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism.  Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.

Follow Sue Parritt on Facebook, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit www.sueparritt.com, Buy A Question of Country


About the book
On Christmas Eve 1969, a letter from Australia House, London, brings welcome news for newly-weds Anna and Joseph Fletcher.

Young and idealistic, Anna falls passionately in love with their adopted land. Seven months later, an unexpected event causes their life to take a stressful turn.Years pass, and Anna retreats to a fictional world she has created. But when a different challenge presents itself, does she have the courage to take the risk… or will she take refuge in fantasy?

Review
Anna and Joseph are on the edge of a precipice - a new life. They decide to leave their families behind and carve out a life for themselves in Australia. It means possibly never seeing their families again, because it's expensive and a long way to travel, but the couple is looking forward to building a life without interference from anyone else.

That in itself is sort of naive because the one thing you need when you are alone on a different continent is people who help you to get both feet on the ground. People who have already been there and done that.

I think plenty of people assume, wrongly so by the way, that moving to another English speaking country on the other side of the globe is easy because the language is the same. It isn't. The climate, the culture, the traditions and the whole way of life is different. It takes patience and adjustment.

It's a migration novel - a story of self-discovery and perseverance.

I think the voice of the story was very distanced at times and lacked emotional connection, perhaps because it often had a semi or autobiographical air to it. As if it were being told in a factual way. I would have liked to have seen more emotional depth in the characters.

The isolation of Anna when it comes to experiencing new roles in her life is perhaps the most poignant element of the story. The pressure she puts on herself to succeed when it comes to being a mother and wife, thereby realising that the part of herself that craves something that belongs solely to herself will remain beyond reach unless she becomes determined to capture and hold on to it. Very much the story of many women who have gone before her and those who will come after her.

Buy A Question of Country at Amazon Uk. Publisher: Magnum Opus - A Next Chapter Imprint; pub date 30 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Re-Navigation by Sue Parritt.