Friday, 29 June 2018

#BlogTour Love and Death in Shanghai by Elizabeth J. Hall


Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for Love and Death in Shanghai by Elizabeth J. Hall. It's a story inspired by the author's uncle who was a policeman in Shanghai between 1924 and 1942.
About the Author
Elizabeth J.Hall works in politics in the UK. Love and Death in Shanghai, her debut novel was inspired by the life and death of her uncle who worked in the Shanghai Municipal Police in the 1920s and 30s. Elizabeth’s first memory is of her mother crying when she received a telegram reporting his assassination.
Elizabeth lives in East Sussex with her husband. After a degree in French, she trained as a teacher with a particular interest in social and health education. She worked in the USA, West Africa and London before becoming a consultant, developing programmes of health education abroad, including Central Asia and Russia.



About the book
Shanghai 1924. Sam Shuttleworth joins the Municipal Police looking for adventure and to escape his working class roots in Lancashire. Shanghai is a glamorous, fascinating place - with an extremely dangerous criminal underworld. Sam rises through the ranks and marries his glamorous Russian lover Lulu, but the relationship is tumultuous, with infidelities on both sides.

In the 1930s, as Japan invades China and moves into Shanghai with appalling violence, Sam has to negotiate between warring sides, and wonders if he will ever find peace amidst the chaos of his relationships and the bloody events of his career.

Review
It's a story inspired by the author's uncle who was a policeman in Shanghai between 1924 and 1942. Love and Death in Shanghai represents chaos. The political chaos of that era in history and also the emotional chaos of the main character.

I think it's important not to underestimate the level of violence and animosity in Shanghai during the decades before the war. For a working class lad from Lancashire it must have been a complete culture and environment shock. Suddenly being confronted by such disdain for human life, extreme levels of decadence and poverty, must have been extremely traumatising for Brits living there and lads joining the Municipal Police.

The extremely dangerous situations and constant death he is surrounded by probably explains why Sam tends to spend all of his free time seeking thrills, such as sexual release and intense spontaneous relationships with women. He also has a completely hypocritical attitude when it comes to the women in his life. He gets jealous, but in the same breath thinks nothing of having a quick shag on the sly, just because he feels sexually neglected.

The scenes of intimacy are crude, brash and low-brow, which is perhaps in keeping with the chaos and violence of the setting. Fair warning for readers who dislike that or prefer a different approach.

The end of the story leads into World War 2, Pearl Harbor and the foreigners being detained in Japanese internment camps. There is an obvious reason the story ends there, but I would have liked to have found out a little more about the other characters after they go their separate ways.

Buy Love and Death in Shanghai at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle edition


Thursday, 28 June 2018

#BlogTour I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour for I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice. It's an exceptionally private insight into the soul, life and emotions of the author. It truly is a remarkable read.


About the Author
Ruth Fitzmaurice was born in 1976 and grew up in Co. Louth, Ireland. She was a radio researcher and producer when she married film director and writer, Simon, in 2004 and had three children. In 2008, Simon was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given three years to live. Simon went into respiratory failure in 2010 and was accidentally placed on a ventilator during an emergency procedure. He decided, against medical advice, to keep the ventilator; Ruth and Simon went on to have twins in 2012.

In January 2016, Ruth wrote her first piece for the Irish Times about family life and a new passion, sea swimming. She lives in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, with her five children Jack, Raife, Arden, Sadie, Hunter, a dog and a cat.  Simon passed away in October 2017.

Follow @RuthONeillFitz @vintagebooks on Twitter
Buy I Found My Tribe


About the book
Ruth Fitzmaurice has two extraordinary families.
She has her husband Simon, a filmmaker with advanced Motor Neurone Disease who can only communicate with his eyes via a computer. Together they have five children under the age of 10, as well as Pappy, a cantankerous Basset Hound. They are kept afloat by relentless army of nurses and carers that flows through their house in Greystones, on the East Coast of Ireland.

And then there is Ruth’s other family - her Tribe of amazing women. Amidst the chaos and the pain that rules their lives, The Tragic Wives Swimming Club congregate together - in summer and winter, on golden afternoons and by the light of the moon - on the sea steps at Women’s Cove. Day after day, they throw themselves into the freezing Irish sea. In that moment, they are free. Later, they will share a thermos of tea, teeth chattering, hands shaking, ready to take on the world once more.

An invocation to all of us to love as hard as we can, and live even harder, I Found My Tribe is an urgent and uplifting letter to a husband, family, friends, the natural world and the brightness of life.


Review
I knew this would be very personal and emotional, but I don't think I was expecting nor prepared for how honest the author would be about her life, her feelings and the state of her soul. Even right down to her brutal honesty about being overwhelmed and having suicidal thoughts. The only thing stopping her from swimming out and never coming back being the children. Five anchors in a seemingly never-ending storm.

I thought it was eye-opening how she speaks about the 24/7 medical care and attention Simon needed, well actually let me be more specific, about the intrusion into her life. I don't think people who aren't in that kind of situation, can imagine how difficult it is to deal with the constant presence of strangers in the house. I in no way want to minimise the support the nurses and carers give to the patient and their families, but it must be extremely hard to have no privacy at all. Having to deal with the strange smells, habits and personalities of strangers in a place where a person can usually find solace and solitude.

Perhaps that is why Ruth is drawn to the sea. The enormous space, the feeling of being completely alone, and possibly the instinctual draw to the feeling of freedom, peace and tranquillity the water gives her.

I do believe her frank admissions, even if they may be perceived as odd, such as talking to a tree for instance, will help others in similar situations. There are probably plenty of us who speak out loud to the world, not necessarily because they think some higher power is listening, but perhaps in an attempt to hear our own thoughts. It makes them more solid, more tangible and less scary.

Finding her tribe becomes that one small thing that keeps her motor running. Getting in the water, no matter what day or season makes the situation at home seem easier to deal with. If you can conquer Goliath every day then everything else is just peanuts, right?

It's an exceptionally private insight into the soul, life and emotions of the author. What I will take from it is her strength and her unabashed way of cutting a window into her chest so everyone can see the scars on her heart and her soul full of ragged holes.

I am glad she found her tribe. Some people spend a lifetime searching for connections like that and come up empty-handed. I hope her family, her tribe and the sea in her cove help to heal her wounds and soften the memories.

It's a beautiful and in equal measures a tragic story. I just want to thank Ruth for sharing it with her readers.

Buy I Found My Tribe at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle edition Hardcover
Publisher: Vintage, pub date Paperback 28 June 2018


#BlogBlitz Coming Home To Ottercombe Bay by Bella Osborne


It's Publication Day for the Paperback of Coming Home to Ottercombe Bay by Bella Osborne. Celebrate with Bella by reading all about Ottercombe Bay and entering the giveaway for two signed books by Bella Osborne at the bottom this post.
About the Author
Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. She’s now written four romantic comedies and been shortlisted twice for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year.

Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you.
She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s dog. When not writing she’s usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

Enter the Giveaway (below at the bottom of this post) – Win signed copies of It Started At Sunset Cottage and A Family Holiday by Bella Osborne (Open Internationally)


About the book
Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

Review
Daisy finds it difficult to stay in one place for too long, and she really doesn't like staying in her hometown Ottercombe Bay, because it brings back a lot of painful and unresolved emotions. The death of her mother follows her everywhere in the place where she grew up.

When she returns home after the death of her Uncle Reg, she is surprised to find he has left her something quite interesting in his will. Unfortunately the wily old man has included specific conditions which must be fulfilled in order for Daisy to receive the inheritance, the kind of conditions he hoped would convince her to stay in O-Bay.

I have to say that Bugsy was the secret star of this book. The interactions between the obnoxious, stubborn pug and Daisy are hilarious. The scene with the chips and the last few pages had me laughing out loud. The two of them were made for each other. Good luck with the retraining!

Ottercombe Bay is all about discovering where you feel at home and most comfortable, even if it means having to lay some demons to rest. Daisy finds a lot of things she wasn't expecting. After many years of being by herself I think she struggles to accept that it's okay to let people in and to trust them.

Osborne has a knack for writing comedic scenes which seem completely effortless and natural, and of course this is what makes her books so enjoyable. She combines subtle romantic storylines with realistic emotional turmoil, and doesn't forget to add the small moments in life that make it both memorable and funny at times.

It's an entertaining and funny read with plenty of heartfelt moments

Buy Coming Home to Ottercombe Bay at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle edition

Giveaway – Win signed copies of It Started At Sunset Cottage and A Family Holiday (Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above the ToC's.  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 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, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.*

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

#BlogTour The Red Hand of Fury by R.N. Morris


It is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for The Red Hand of Fury by R.N. Morris. At the bottom of the post there is a Giveaway (International Yay!) to win a hardback copy of this fantastic crime with a gothic horror vibe.
About the Author
R. N. Morris is the author of eight historical crime novels. His first, A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia.

He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger. The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin House, The Dark Palace and now The Red Hand of Fury, published on 31 March, 2018.

Taking Comfort is a standalone contemporary novel, written as Roger Morris. He also wrote the libretto to the opera When The Flame Dies, composed by Ed Hughes.
Follow @rnmorris @severnhouse on Twitter
Buy The Red Hand of Fury


About the book
London, June 1914. A young man is mauled to death at London Zoo after deliberately climbing into the bear pit. Shortly afterwards, another young man leaps to his death from the notorious Suicide Bridge. Two seemingly unconnected deaths – and yet there are similarities.

Following a third attempted suicide, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men if he is to discover what caused them to take their own lives. The one tangible piece of evidence is a card found in each of the victims’ possession, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand. What does it signify? To find the answers, Quinn must revisit his own dark past. But can he keep his sanity in the process …?

Review
Do you believe there is such a thing as true evil? Can someone who has committed the most heinous of acts ever be redeemed, and should they then be allowed to walk amongst the innocent of society? Allowed to prowl the streets like a caged hungry tiger, who is always only one step away from devouring its next meal.

How many men and women with a lust for pain and killing have convinced their peers that they are merely victims of a moment of mental instability, as opposed to beings who crave the pleasure of sadism, thereby laying their own path for inevitable freedom somewhere in the future.

The truth is the criminal system is flawed, and the containment of psycho- and sociopaths in mental institutions is perhaps the biggest flaw of all. Where an attempt is made to heal and rehabilitate, and assessments are made which enables to patient killers to one day prowl the streets again.

Silas Quinn can see Timon Medway for what he is, and the danger he represents to everyone around him. Even the most brutal of guards can often distinguish the difference between lunacy and true evil.

When men start committing suicide in the most bizarre and brutal way possible, the obvious assumption is some sort of momentary madness or desperation. Which isn't completely impossible, even it weren't for the fact they all have something minor in common. Just something any other person would dismiss as a coincidence, but Silas and his team are used to sniffing out the anomalies in the strange cases they solve.

It's an intriguing combination of mystery and crime with a gothic horror vibe. You can feel the insidious nature of the beast seeping into the pages. Morris plants this almost hypnotic suggestion about not looking into the eyes of evil, thereby confirming not only the fears the characters have, but also your own.

What makes Silas Quinn such a compelling character is the fact he has crossed the line between reality and his own conjured up visions of insecurities and fears. One gets the feeling that he never quite knows what he is doing and whether or not he is about to lose the plot completely. Who better to recognise the devil than someone who has danced with him themselves.

The story has an element of the macabre feel of a Poe at his darkest, and yet it is lightened by the imperfections of  Quinn and his bloodhound knack of sensing when a crime is afoot. It's a well-written riveting piece of fiction.

Buy The Red Hand of Fury at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle edition Buy The Red Hand of Fury at Amazon com
Published by Severn House 30 Marc 2018


Giveaway – Win a hardback copy of The Red Hand of Fury (Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter above.  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 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, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.*

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

#BlogTour How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan


I was thrilled when Sarah Morgan announced last year that she would be writing her first book of women's fiction. Finally she gets to spread her wings and cross boundaries, and most importantly show even more readers ow talented she is. I am delighted to take part in the BlogTour for How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes romance and contemporary women's fiction and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She is a 3 time winner of the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America and has been nominated five times. Sarah lives near London, England, and when she isn't reading or writing she loves being outdoors.
How to Keep a Secret is Sarah's first standalone women's fiction novel, coming to the UK in June and to the US in July 2018!

Follow @SarahMorgan_ @HQStories @HarperCollinsUK on Twitter
On Facebook www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan
Visit sarahmorgan.com
Buy How to Keep a Secret


About the book
When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise.

Lauren has the perfect life...if she ignores the fact it's a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.

Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it's... Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she's determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn't been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha's Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite...

Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan's brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.
Review
It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here; Sarah Morgan's first venture into women's fiction, and I can honestly say it was worth the wait. Finally Morgan has taken a step towards a genre, which will give her the opportunity to show her full potential. Not that she has to prove how talented she is as a writer or storyteller, but this means she has less boundaries fencing her creativity and talent in.

The story is about three generations of the Stewart women, their relationships with each other, and the secrets they keep to make sure they all stay safe. The focus is on Lauren and Jenna, sisters who know each other like the back of their hands or at least they both think they do. The main thing they have in common is a disdain for the mother they both experienced as aloof and neglectful.

Jenna still lives near her childhood home on Martha's Vineyard. Her whole life revolves around becoming pregnant and having a baby, to the point of putting her marriage on the line. Lauren is trying to deal with her obnoxious teenage daughter and her husband, who seems to be focused on everything other than his family.

Nancy has been keeping her own painful secrets in order to protect her daughters. Then when tragedy strikes in the family she finds herself having to confront her past and her fears in order to heal wounds of the past.

There is an emphasis on the tenuous strings holding people and relationships together, and the way they are easily shattered. Words said in haste, being in the wrong place at the right time and not having the courage to speak out. All things that can change the course of a life.

The author as a very distinctive style when it comes to story-telling. It's a mixture of pure honest emotion, the intricacies of relationships, and her flair for timing and creating the kind of scenes that tug at your heartstrings.

The story of the Stewart's is subtle and relatable. It speaks to the mother and daughter relationships we all experience, often struggle with, and yet ultimately are also driven by and flourish because of them. The sisterhood that exists, albeit it often subconsciously, and regardless of whether via blood connection or not, to support each other in times of struggle.

The secrets we keep usually don't stay buried forever.

It's a successful and exciting new venture for Morgan, and I hope just the beginning of many more.

Buy How to Keep a Secret at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read: Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5)New York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in ForeverMaybe This ChristmasSuddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.


Monday, 25 June 2018

#BlogTour The Very White of Love by S.C. Worrall


It's my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for The Very White of Love by Simon Worrall. It is a nostalgic ode to Nancy and Martin, and of course to their love and a relationship that took place across many miles through the medium of pen and paper.
About the Author
S.C. Worrall was born in Wellington, England and spent his childhood in Eritrea, Paris an Singapore. Since 1984, he has been a full-time, freelance journalist and book author. He has written for National Geographic, GQ, The London Times and The Guardian. He has also made frequent appearances on Radio and TV, including the BBC's From Our Own Correspondent: NPR and PBS. He speaks six languages and has lived in or visited more than 70 countries. The Very White of Love is his debut novel.

Follow @simonworrall @HQStories
Visit simonworrallauthor.com
Buy The Very White of Love


About the book
Torn apart by war, their letters mean everything...
'My love. I am writing to you without knowing where you are but I will find you after all these long months...'

3rd September September 1938. Martin Preston is in his second year of Oxford when his world is split in two by a beautiful redhead, Nancy Whelan. A whirlwind romance blossoms in the Buckinghamshire countryside as dark clouds begin to gather in Europe.

3rd September 1939. Britain declares war on Germany. Martin is sent to the battlefields of France, but as their letters cross the channel, he tells Nancy their love will keep him safe. Then, one day, his letters stop.

3rd September 1940. It's four months since Nancy last heard from Martin. She knows he is still alive. And she'll do anything to find him. But what she discovers will change her life forever.

Review
This story of romance, first love and the tragedy of war is based on the correspondence between Martin Preston and Nancy Whelan. Her son found the letters and a picture of Martin after the death of his mother, and decided to tell the world about this forgotten blip in time instead of letting it fall into the deep hole of unknown stories.

Unfortunately none or not many of her letters exist, but the author has been able to give the reader a good idea what they would have looked like based on Martin's emotional and honest letters to Nancy.

Aside from the romantic element of the story, the author also highlights the tragedy of war. In this case both World Wars, during which whole generations of young men were annihilated, and damaged both mentally and physically. Even the men lucky enough to return home were never the same again. You don't just bury trauma like that without it leaving some kind of mark.

One of the things I think is important to note when discussing the events of both the Great War and World War 2, is the military hierarchy and how it influenced the process of decision-making and number of fatalities. In fact it is probably also the case in other war conflicts and so-called skirmishes. There is this automatic assumption that academic learning and higher socio-economic status in life equates to good leadership skills in the military hierarchy.

This meant that inexperienced, and often very young men were made officers and therefore put in charge of the lives of all men beneath them in the hierarchy. The irony of the fact these boys had lower ranking men with prior war and military experience working beneath them and giving them advice, and yet not in charge, is just tragic in every sense of the word.

Men who have no clue what the situation is on the ground are making decisions that will ultimately kill many innocent men, because they are playing games of strategy in their office. Officers not suited to their positions are leading hundreds of men into traps. Is it any wonder the majority of lower ranking soldiers speak of the same frustration when it comes to the reality of war.

Anyway I digress, although in a way it is pertinent to how Martin ended up where he was and perhaps ultimately decided his fate and that of many others. Although the information was hard to gather, put together and the exact truth will never be known, it is fair to say he was a brave man.

I believe Simon Worrall has made the best of a double-edged sword. He found a secret that determined the inner emotional stability and/or turmoil of his mother and her marriage to his father. She kept the torch burning for Martin throughout her life. Their love was romanticised in her head, especially because it was never physical, and the dreams of a wedding and children were never fulfilled.

It's the not knowing that makes the brutally interrupted first love something she dwells on in moments of unhappiness or frustration. The trauma of not knowing the truth, and perhaps never quite believing it, stayed with her forever.

It's a beautiful story, probably one of very many during that particular era, but this one provided the author with enough physical evidence to be able to replicate the events. Obviously he has filled in certain scenes with fictional dialogues and descriptions, but he does so with the greatest respect towards his own family and the family of Martin Preston.

Buy The Very White of Love at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Published by HQ 14th June 2018
Hardback  ebook  Audio


Saturday, 23 June 2018

#BlogTour One Small Thing by Erin Watt


It's my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for One Small Thing by Erin Watt today. It's an emotional roller-coaster ride filled with strong characters, right-fighters, and with a young girl at war with the world and herself at the midst of it all.

About the Author
Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors linked together through their love of great books and an addiction to writing. They share one creative imagination. Their greatest love (after their families and pets, of course)? Coming up with fun–and sometimes crazy–ideas. Their greatest fear? Breaking up.

Follow @authorerinwatt (brainchild of authors: @JenSFred and @ElleKennedy)
Follow @HQStories and @HarlequinTEEN
Buy One Small Thing


About the book
Their secret could tear everything apart…
Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Trapped at home by her over-bearing parents Beth needs to get out. So when she sneaks out to a party and meets the boy everyone’s been talking about she’s shocked by their instant connection, and the part he played in her sister’s death.
A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings become. Beth has a choice to make – follow the rules, or risk ruining what she cares about most.

Review
Grief plays a major role in this story, and the different ways people deal with it or don't deal with it, as is the case with Beth. Her inability to accept any kind of emotional reaction about her losing her sister becomes the active volcano in the midst of the emotional minefield surrounding her.

She has to deal with her parents obsessive need to protect her and their refusal to let Rachel go, the killer and his need to be punished indefinitely for her death, and the community and friends who all have an opinion on how she should react to the tragic event.

Watt makes it easy to understand both sides of the coin, when it comes to Beth and her parents. As a parent you are terrified another child will be taken from you, so your reactions don't seem over the top or extreme. You can justify any action or rule that will keep your kid safe, right? Simultaneously you have Beth reacting and rebelling against the restrictions, the oppression and the panic that oozes from their every pore. Normal teenage shenanigans become more dangerous and risky, when seen through the lens of the frightened and angry parent.

Everything takes on a more explosive and destructive element when Beth hooks up with a handsome mysterious young man at a party, who later turns out to be the person charged and sentenced for the death of her sister. Beth struggles to satisfy her instinctual attraction to him, whilst pretending to hate him for what he has done to her family. She finds it difficult to juggle what she knows of him with what she experiences when she spends time with Chase.

This author duo certainly knows how to tug on the heartstrings and make the reader feel the intensity of the emotional upheaval the characters go through. The sign of good YA romance is being able to communicate the confusion, passion, anger, sadness and joy of a young person, which is usually all over the place, in a way that makes the reader connect with the characters and the story.

At the same time Watt also subtly weaves important topics like abuse, peer pressure, isolation and child-parent conflicts, into this tapestry of grief and pain. It's an emotional roller-coaster ride filled with strong characters, right-fighters, and with a young girl at war with the world and herself in the midst of it all.

Pre-order/Buy One Small Thing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Published by HQ on 28th June 2018 Paperback £7.99 /
eBook £2.99 pub date 26th June 2018 
pub date 26 June 2018 Audio 12.99

About HQ
At HQ we love writers and readers. We publish books we believe will bring pleasure and satisfaction regardless of genre or classification. Our aim is simple. To combine the classic values of readability and quality with a focus on reaching readers directly, while giving writers the support they deserve. HQ is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a heart-wrenching reading experience. It is the kind of book you may have to put down for a moment, because the content is upsetting at times. Simultaneously it's also so compelling you can't tear yourself away from it.

It tells the incredibly sad story of Jojo, the biracial child of a black mother and a white father. Mother spends the majority of her time getting high and his father is behind bars most of the time. Jojo and his baby sister are cared for by his mother's parents, mainly because Leonie neglects them and they don't exist for the white side of the family.

Leonie decides to take the children along on a road trip to pick their father up from prison, which becomes a catalyst for fragile relationships and tensions between all of them. Throughout the whole ordeal I just wanted to reach out and help Jojo and his baby sister. To save them from the brutal reality of their existence.

Ward has created a passionate and lyrical vision, which is simultaneously fraught with emotion and tempered by the brusque reactions of the characters. The reader is confronted with the harsh realities of racism, child abuse and neglect, and drug abuse.

It sings the silent song of all the men, women and children who have fallen prey to hatred and injustice. The forgotten who are trapped in an endless hell that is neither here nor there, because they can't cross over or find peace. The ones who will never have any kind of justice.

It is both magical and mystical in equal measure. It is an outstanding piece of literature.

Buy Sing, Unburied, Sing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2018

Follow @jesmimi 
Follow @BloomsburyBooks
Visit jesmimi.blogspot,co,uk

Friday, 22 June 2018

#BlogTour America Über Alles by Jack Fernley


Today it's time for the BlogTour for America Über Alles by Jack Fernley, a slightly disturbing premise, although given the politics of our time perhaps not quite such an outlandish prospect.


About the Author
Jack Fernley is the pen name of Wayne Garvie, a leading British television executive. Over his career he has been involved with programmes as varied as Strictly Come Dancing, Top of the Pops, Top Gear, and The Crown, and has worked as Head of Entertainment at the BBC. He is currently Chief Creative Officer for Sony and lives in London.
Buy America Über Alles


About the book
What if America was based not on the Declaration of Independence, but the values of Mein Kampf?
Germany, April 1945. As the Russians close in on Berlin, a lone plane flies into the city. On board are General Robert Ritter von Greim and the Nazi flying ace, Hanna Reitsch, summoned by Hitler to his bunker. There, the Führer reveals Germany’s secret weapon – a weapon he believes will win the war for the Nazis and change the course of history for ever.

America, December 1776. George Washington and his army are close to collapse, the War of Independence is almost lost. The British army scent victory, aided by the arrival of extraordinary German mercenaries. However, when the Germans offer the Americans secret intelligence to allow a surprise attack on their supposed allies, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. Who are these Germans and what are they fighting for?

Fast-paced, thrilling and thought-provoking, America Über Alles imagines a world in which the American War of Independence becomes a struggle for democratic values against fascist ideology; perfect for fans of SSGB and The Man in the High Castle.

Review
Given our current political climate and the steady rise of the far-right and anti-semitism in the 21st century, this premise is slightly disturbing, although perhaps not quite such an outlandish prospect.

Imagine if the Nazi's and the Fuhrer himself had influenced the outcome of the American War of Independence. However that also means their specific twisted ideology would become part and parcel of the American way of life, thereby changing the course of history forever.

I think the most worrying aspect of this fictional scenario is the fact that there are probably a lot of people who would applaud the idea. The idea of Mein Kampf becoming the go-to bible and book of rules of the country or nation that was founded on the idea of democracy, basic human rights and freedom, well it's truly disturbing.

I think Fernley does two things with this premise. First of all he highlights the racism, bigotry, violence and blinkered views of the Nazi's, and how damaging their ideology was and is. Secondly he demonstrates how easy it is for people to accept the unacceptable. In this day and age where one of the biggest democracies is being run by an autocrat, who is political buddies with volatile dictators, it's important to remind everyone how important it is to rebel against oppression.

As the world watches America being stripped of the very values it was founded upon, America above everything and everyone doesn't seem like such a bizarre storyline after all. I'm sure a lot of countries would love to own time-hopping super soldiers to change the outcome of history, but I am glad they only exist in this fictional context. I dread to think what else could happen.

Buy America Über Alles at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle edition


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

#BlogTour Cuttin' Heads by D.A. Watson


Today it's a time for a bit of the gruesome and scary, the unexplained and unexpected, as we finish off the BlogTour for Cuttin' Heads by D.A. Watson. Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end to win a signed copy of Cuttin' Heads!


About the Author
Prizewinning author D.A. Watson spent several years working in bars, restaurants and call centres before going back to university with the half-arsed plan of becoming a music teacher. Halfway through his degree at the University of Glasgow, he discovered he was actually better at writing, and unleashed his debut novel, In the Devil's Name, on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012. Plans of a career in education left firmly in the dust, he later gained his masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.

He has since published two more novels, The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a handful of non-fiction pieces, several short stories including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O' Shatner, which in 2017 came runner up in the Dunedin Robert Burns Poetry Competition, and was a competition winner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival.
He lives with his family in Western Scotland.
Buy Cuttin' Heads


About the book
Aldo Evans is a desperate man. Fired from his job and deeply in debt, he struggles to balance a broken family life with his passion for music. Luce Figura is a troubled woman. A rhythmic perfectionist, she is haunted by childhood trauma and scorned by her religiously devout mother. Ross McArthur is a wiseass. Orphaned as an infant and raised by the state, his interests include game shows, home-grown weed, occasional violence and the bass guitar.

They are Public Alibi. A rock n’ roll band going nowhere fast.

When the sharp-suited, smooth talking producer Gappa Bale offers them a once in a lifetime chance to make their dreams come true, they are caught up in a maelstrom of fame, obsession, music and murder. Soon, Aldo, Luce and Ross must ask themselves: is it really better to burn out than to fade away?

Review
'Tell me, my friend, have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?'

The band members of Public Alibi get the chance to do so, albeit unknowingly and perhaps not exactly completely of their own free will.

If you were given the chance to fulfil your wildest ambition, would you be willing to make a deal with an ancient evil being to get what you want? Fame, fortune, infamy and the adoration of the people? To do so you would have to forget about everything and everyone important to you though. With that in mind, would you still want to sign on the dotted line?

Aldo, Luce and Ross all have their weaknesses, which make them vulnerable to the proposition of a record deal presented to them by Gappa Bale. Bale draws them into his web and preys on their inner fears and worst nightmares. At the same time his charming snake tongue speaks to their most intimate desires and deepest emotions. He plays with them like a cat in a room full of confused mice.

Although this is based on the age-old tale of evil vs good and the temptations we tend to succumb to, Watson has infused it with his own brand of menacing wickedness and his in-depth knowledge of music, the world of musicians and instruments. The reader can almost taste the passion, the need and the desire that courses through the veins of dedicated musicians.

It is a compelling tale that makes you wonder how much of it is based on the fictional meanderings of the writer and how much is so close to reality that it bites, just like a sharp intake of breath in a smoky room. It may be horror, but it is also a close uncomfortable look at the lengths some of us will go to, to achieve what they want, even if it's at the expense of others.

Buy Cuttin' Heads at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle edition

Enter the Giveaway below to win a signed copy of Cuttin' Heads

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Saturday, 16 June 2018

#BlogTour A Sacred Storm by Theodore Brun


I do love a bit of well-written historical fiction, so it is an absolute delight to take part in the BlogTour for A Sacred Storm by Theodore Brun. It's the second part in the fantastic The Wanderer Chronicles by Brun. If you haven't read the first part A Mighty Dawn yet, I highly recommend you do. This series is historical fiction par excellence.


About the Author
Theodore Brun studied Dark Age archaeology at Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MPhil in History.  He also rowed in the Boat Race for the university.  Professionally, Theodore qualified and worked as an arbitration lawyer, in London, Moscow, Paris and finally Hong Kong.  In 2010, he quit his job in Hong Kong and cycled 10,000 miles across the whole of Asia and Europe (crossing 20 countries) to his home in Norfolk. Theodore is a third generation Viking immigrant - his Danish grandfather having settled in England in 1932. He is married and divides his time between London and Norfolk. A Sacred Storm is his second novel.
Follow @theodorebrun @CorvusBooks
Visit theodorebrun.com
Buy A Sacred Storm


About the book
8th Century Sweden: Erlan Aurvandil, a Viking outlander, has pledged his sword to Sviggar Ivarsson, King of the Sveärs, and sworn enemy of the Danish King Harald Wartooth. But Wartooth, hungry for power, is stirring violence in the borderlands. As the fires of this ancient feud are reignited Erlan is bound by honour and oath to stand with King Sviggar.

But, unbeknownst to the old King, his daughter, Princess Lilla, has fallen under Erlan’s spell. As the armies gather Erlan and Lilla must choose between their duty to Sviggar and their love for each other.
Blooded young, betrayed often, Erlan is no stranger to battle. And hidden in the shadows, there are always those determined to bring about the maelstrom of war…

Review
This is the second book in The Wanderer Chronicles series, and although A Sacred Storm can be read as a standalone novel, I would recommend reading the first part A Mighty Dawn. You don't need it to catch up on the story, but you're missing out on one heck of a read.

This book takes place in 8th century Sweden and features Erlan Aurvandil as the somewhat unwitting accidental main character. He is favoured by King Sviggar for saving his daughter, however he is ridiculed and hated in equal measures for being an outsider and a cripple. What is more worrying is the fact he has caught the eye of the queen, a woman who will do anything to get what she wants. A woman with ancient skills and a taste for violence, blood and pain. Saldas is certainly a force to be reckoned with, as she moves her pieces strategically across the board of this game of war.

I liked the fact Erlan isn't your typical vision of brawn, beauty and perfection. He keeps his tragic past to himself, and is used to being the focus of negative attention. The only chinks in his armour are his almost fatherly affection for Kai and his bond with Lilla.

His confusion when it comes to lust, love and physical attraction is right on the money. More in keeping with a young man with a weakness for a pretty woman and pumped up with battle fuelled adrenaline, as opposed to a lovesick puppy.

Be prepared for murders, false accusations, the questioning of allegiances and for oaths to be broken in this fast-paced brutal story. Reading this makes you wonder how any people were left at all in the Scandinavian countries. Talk about bloodthirsty and vicious, but hey it does make for a fantastic story.

This an excellent piece of historical fiction. It is filled with betrayal, intrigue, passion and savage battle scenes. Brun plots with precision, and that meticulous plotting is strengthened by the riveting characters and on point dialogues. It's an outstanding read.

Buy A Sacred Storm at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle pub date 7 June 2018 Hardcover pub date 7 June 2018
Buy A Mighty Dawn (The Wanderer Chronicles #1)


Friday, 15 June 2018

#BlogTour Her Mother's Secret by Rosanna Ley


Today it is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Her Mother's Secret by Rosanna Ley.  It is a thoughtful story with vivid imagery and a smorgasbord of emotions. The characters are realistic and the situations evoke empathy.


About the Author
Rosanna Ley has had six novels published by Quercus Books. She has worked as a creative writing tutor for many years and has written articles and stories for a number of national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea.
Follow @RosannaLey @QuercusBooks
Visit rosannaley.com
Buy Her Mother's Secret


About the book
Escape to the heart of enchanting Brittany with the bestselling author of The Villa and The Little Theatre by the Sea. The perfect treat for fans of Santa Montefiore and Veronica Henry.

For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland - the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany - afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea's failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?

Despite Colette's wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother's flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette's mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?
The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret - one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.


Review
Secrets, everyone has them, but how they impact your life or psyche really depends on the secret and how much you think revealing it will change your life. I think the same applies to this story. Over time the importance of keeping certain things hidden has grown into a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Pride, emotions and fear of rejection makes it impossible to rectify mistakes of the past.

Colette is called back to the place she once called home, to the bedside of her dying mother. Saying goodbye makes her re-evaluate her own life and relationships. It also throws up some conflicts and unanswered questions from her mother's own past. Not everything is as black and white as Colette always presumed it to be.

One of the main themes of this book is being or feeling at home somewhere. Having roots and experiencing a sense of belonging or connection to a particular place. This is especially the case for people who have parents with different nationalities, people who move around a lot as children or spend their childhood in one country and the rest of their lives in another one.

It is a thoughtful story with vivid imagery and a smorgasbord of emotions. The characters are realistic and the situations evoke empathy. The descriptions of the surroundings elicit this feeling of serenity, awe-inspiring beauty and nostalgia. Not in a sense that the reader may have been there, but in a way that makes us recall our own experiences of taking in the same kind of moments in time.

Ley has created a warm and heartfelt read, despite all the secrets and accusations. It makes us aware that our parents have other identities besides that of a parent. They were lovers, friends, daughters and sons, before they became the hopefully nurturing parent. They often have a lifetime of hidden encounters and secrets tucked away inside them. I think it is safe to say we never know someone completely. We only know what they want us to see and hear.

The author plays with the emotional connections we have with each other and our loved ones, but she does so with sensitivity and compassion. I was impressed by the way she expressed the confusion one can have when it comes to feeling at home somewhere. It's like an inner siren song, sung only for that individual, and although others hear their own they can never completely comprehend what someone else hears and feels inside.

Buy Her Mother's Secret at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Paperback pub date 14 June 2018 Kindle pub date 8 March 2018