Friday, 30 August 2019

#BlogTour Shelf Life by Livia Franchini


Today it's my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Shelf Life by Livia Franchini. It's an incredibly introspective and clever piece of literary and women's fiction.
About the Author
Livia Franchini is a writer and translator from Tuscany, Italy, whose work has been published in numerous publications and anthologies. She has translated Michael Donaghy, Sam Riviere and James Tiptree Jr. among many others. In 2018, she was one of the inaugural writers-in-residence for the Connecting Emerging Literary Artist project, funded by Creative Europe.

She lives in London, where she is completing a PhD in experimental women’s writing at Goldsmiths.

Follow @livfranchini on Twitter, Buy Shelf Life
About the book
Ruth is thirty years old.
She works as a nurse in a care home and her fiancé has just broken up with her. The only thing she has left of him is their shopping list for the upcoming week. And so she uses that list to tell her story.

Starting with six eggs, and working through spaghetti and strawberries, and apples and tea bags,
Ruth discovers that her identity has been crafted from the people she serves; her patients, her friends, and, most of all, her partner of ten years.

Without him, she needs to find out – with conditioner and single cream and a lot of sugar –
who she is when she stands alone.
Review
I do hope this read gets the recognition it deserves. It's an incredibly introspective and clever piece of literary and women's fiction. Part of me thinks it would make more sense or rather be more self-explanatory if given a visual medium, which probably sounds quite bizarre given the fact it's a book.

Think Eleanor Oliphant with a more keen sense of self and survival. A woman, Ruth, who we follow as she goes through the process of grief and finding herself after the end of a long-term relationship. Franchini uses each relationship and interaction Ruth has - then connects them via the objects, her job and her thought processes to build and create the story of Ruth. Each part becomes a lego brick as they are placed one by one to complete the picture we have of her.

I loved the whole shopping list aspect of the story. It's done in such a subtle way, an afterthought even, you don't realise how clever the concept is until you get to the end of the story. For me the items became the metaphors, coping mechanisms and at times idiosyncrasies.

Sometimes literary fiction can take the path of think more write less and presumes the reader will be able to anticipate meaning and aspiration. The reader can then get lost in the process. I think this verges on the precipice of that now and again.

It's an intriguing and innovative piece of fiction. I expect to read much more by this author in the future.

Buy Shelf Life at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday; pub date 29th August 2019 | Hardback | £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid. It's a dark psychological thriller, a manipulative game of emotions and secrets.
About the Author
Rebecca is a freelance journalist. She is a columnist for the Telegraph Women’s section,
works for Metro Online and has written for Marie Claire, the Guardian, the Saturday
Telegraph, the Independent, Stylist, Glamour, the iPaper, the Guardian, Indy100, LOOK
and the New Statesmen amongst others.

Rebecca is a regular contributor to Sky News and ITV’s This Morning as well as appearing
on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, LBC, BBC News 24 and the BBC World Service to discuss her
work.

She graduated from Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing MA in 2015 and Perfect Liars is her
debut novel. Rebecca lives in North London with her husband.

Follow @RebeccaCNReid on Twitter, Buy Truth Hurts


About the book
Poppy has a secret.
It was a whirlwind romance. And when Drew, caught up in the moment, suggests that he
and Poppy don’t tell each other anything about their past lives, that they live only for the
here and now, for the future they are building together, Poppy jumps at the chance for a
fresh start.
Drew says he has nothing to hide.
But it doesn’t take long for Poppy to see that this is a two-way deal. Drew is hiding
something from her. And Poppy suddenly has no idea who the man she has married really
is, what he is hiding from her or what he might be capable of.
Drew is lying.
Which is more dangerous, a secret or a lie?

Review
Reading this made me want to go back and read Perfect Liars again. Reid really knows how to write a wicked plot.

The story is presented in flashbacks and the present. At first it appears to be the lives of two separate people, but as the tale unravels the truth becomes clearer. Poppy meets Drew in a bar in the middle of a crisis. She has just been fired and hasn't got two cents to rub together to get home. A few weeks later her she has gone from downstairs to upstairs. Is it all too good to be true?

The author, whether it be through research or personal experience, describes the relationship between au-pairs or nannies and their employers accurately. The upstairs, downstairs mentality of those who can afford to hire people to help raise their children. Some of them think nothing of paying a mere pittance for a 24/7 nanny who is also expected to cook, clean, shop and play waitress. It's often those with wealth and reputations to uphold who are tighter than a nun's knicker.

Then Reid takes the plot further by adding the element of suggestive situations in an environment where a third person is intruding upon the family dynamics. Ask yourself whether you would consider physical beauty a valid reason not to hire a nanny? Does that mean you are insecure or is it just a question of if temptation is dangled in front of someone's face often enough then eventually temptation will probably win? Food for thought.

I'm going to be purposely vague about where the author takes her readers with this story. I loved it, but then I do have a thing for cracking plots with a twist of wicked and a slice of evil. I'll have mine on the rocks please.

It's a dark psychological thriller, a manipulative game of emotions and secrets.

Buy Truth Hurts at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Transworld Digital pub date 27 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid

Thursday, 29 August 2019

#BlogBirthdayBlitz A Wedding in Cornwall by Laura Briggs


Today it' s the Book Birthday Blitz for A Wedding in Cornwall by Laura Briggs. It's a contemporary romance, a feel good read for every occasion.

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below to Win one of 4 Fabulous A Wedding in Cornwall Prizes (Open Internationally) See details of the Giveaway below
About the Author
Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller 'A Wedding in Cornwall'. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

Follow @PaperDollWrites on Twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads, Visit paperdollwrites.blogspot.comBuy A Wedding in Cornwall
Enter the Giveaway below to Win one of 4 Fabulous A Wedding in Cornwall Prizes (Open Internationally) 

1st Prize: A Demelza collectible Knitdark character doll (Open Internationally) - 1 winner - A wonderful keepsake for fans of all-things Poldark, this Demelza doll was made by Angela Blay, whose popular Knitdark creations have been featured on The Graham Norton Show. You can learn more about the Knitdarks at Angela's Twitter page @kwerkyknits as well as her Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/kwerkyknits

2nd Prize A Kindle/Tablet case featuring cover art from the series A Wedding in Cornwall (Open Internationally) - 1 winner - A specially designed case for a Kindle or Tablet featuring cover art from the series A Wedding in Cornwall. The final product's size, image, texture, and color will depend on the winner's device.
3rd Prize: A Paperback Copy of A Wedding in Cornwall: Books 1-6 (Open Internationally) - 1 winner - This winning paperback (non-signed) contains the novellas A Wedding in Cornwall, A Christmas in Cornwall, A Cottage in Cornwall, A Manor in Cornwall, A Bake Off in Cornwall, and A Castle in Cornwall.

4th Prize: A Paperback Copy of A Wedding in Cornwall: Books 7-12 (Open Internationally) - 1 winner - This winning paperback (non-signed) contains the novellas A Romance in Cornwall, A Star in Cornwall, A Sewing Circle in Cornwall, A Talent Show in Cornwall, An American in Cornwall, and A Garden in Cornwall.
About the book
It’s the career move of a lifetime, and Julianne can’t believe it’s hers: a position as an event planner at a country house in Cornwall, England, beginning with the wedding of a celebrity! If her old firm's senior planner back in the States hadn't fallen suddenly sick with the chicken pox, Julianne would never have found herself chosen for a life in one of England's most beautiful coastal counties, surrounded by rugged shores, quaint cottages, elegant gardens and a house to die for.

But life in Cornwall isn't exactly as Julianne imagined it. Her first bride-to-be is a resentful, petted snob, the groom is immature and bored, and the Cornish staff of Cliffs House has a difficult time believing that an event planner from a mid-level position can handle a wedding this big. And then there's a personal matter -- the handsome, sometimes charming, sometimes standoffish gardener Matthew Rose. He and Julianne have a strangely complicated relationship somewhere between friendship and attraction. But with a secret in his past, and a scheming bridesmaid plotting to have Matthew all to herself, will Julianne find a way to untangle her feelings and the problems of planning a perfect Cornish wedding?

Review
This is the first part of a series, each part is novella length. To be completely honest I was surprised I hadn't heard or read anything by this author yet, and I absolutely hope she has some full length novels out. Saying that, I also enjoyed the way she managed to pack everything into such a short read and leave readers feeling as if they had read a full length story.

Julianne just can't believe her luck. She has landed a great job as a wedding planner all the way over the ocean in Cornwall, despite not being exactly qualified for said job. So it's hop on the plane and wing it time.

Her first job is making wedding wishes come true for a celebrity couple, an obnoxious bride and a groom who thinks the suns rises and sets in his own aura. Sounds simple, however there are a few mishaps along the way. One of those mishaps happens to be a very handsome, but very grumpy gardener.

I loved the attention to detail when it came to the flora and food, especially the flora. The research and extra detail was remarkable for what is considered an easy read. It took the whole story up a notch.

It's a contemporary romance, a feel good read for every occasion. Briggs is definitely an author who deserves a place at the romance and contemporary fiction table.

Buy A Wedding in Cornwall at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.
Enter the Giveaway below to Win one of 4 Fabulous A Wedding in Cornwall Prizes (Open Internationally) 


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.*

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

#BlogTour Burning Ambition and Takeaway Terror by B.L. Faulkner


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Burning Ambition and Takeaway Terror by B.L. Faulkner. It's police procedural crime fiction with an entertaining sleuth duo.
About the Author
Barry Faulkner was born into a family of South London petty criminals who ran with the Richardson's Crime Gang in the 60's-90's. Being the youngest his mother, a top fashion model, was determined he would not follow in the criminal footsteps of the rest of the family and enrolled him into the Morely Academy of Dramatic Art to pursue a career in acting. Sadly young Faulkner was asked to leave after three months when no acting ability had surfaced. He went onto become an advertising copywriter with the English branch of the US Agency Erwin Wasey Ruffraf and Ryan where he got lucky with some scripts he sent to the BBC TV and became a scriptwriter and editor for them and several ITV companies.

During this time the DCS Palmer plots were amassed in various notebooks and three years ago Faulkner finally found time to write and publish them. His early insight into the criminal world of his family has added authenticity to the characters and plots that makes them credible and the pace keeps the reader glued to the end. His signature end twist will always surprise you.

Follow @crimewriter1 on Twitter, on Goodreads, Check out his top rated crime blog at geezers2016.wordpress.comBuy Burning Ambition and Takeaway Terror


About the book
Cases 7 & 8 from the DCS Palmer and the Serial Murder Squad series. In Burning ambition an organised crime gang leader wants one last big heist as a signature to his career. He chooses the Royal Mint in Wales. But other criminals have learnt of this planned heist and want 'in'. The answer is 'no' but the arguments develop into murders which brings in Palmer and his team. Will they be in time to stop the job and prevent any more murders?

In Takeaway Terror two organised crime families fight over the lucrative London West End drugs trade. Are the fast food delivery lads on their mopeds delivering more than takeaways? Why have three been killed by a hit and run driver? Old school gangsters go to war with an incoming foreign drugs lord family. Palmer needs to get inside, but once inside will he get out? alive?

Review
You get two novella length stories in this book. Cases 7 and 8 of DCS Palmer and the Serial Murder Squad. It's a fast-paced and entertaining read

Part of the charm of these stories, despite the gruesome crimes and ruthless criminals, is the relationship between Palmer and Gheeta. It's very much old school meets modern world and the culmination is a perfect pairing when it comes to catching criminals.

In Burning Ambition the head of a crime gang is eliminating anyone who stands in the way of his last big job. You mention it - you die. You try and get in the way of his plans - you die. Either way you are living on borrowed time if you know anything at all.

In Takeaway Terror two crime gangs are in the middle of a turf war. Selling and peddling drugs is a lucrative business, but only if you are selling it in the right place. Something as seemingly innocent as a takeaway delivery driver on a moped starts to look suspicious when they start turning up dead. One is worth a thought, two is more than a coincidence, and three dead takeaway drivers is a problem for Palmer and Co.

It's police procedural crime fiction with an entertaining sleuth duo. Faulkner gives his readers a great balance of crime, snarky on the fly-by situational humour and cold-hearted criminals.

Buy Burning Ambition and Takeaway Terror at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: BSA Publications; pub date 15 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

What Red Was by Rosie Price

The way Price approached the rape and the reaction of the victim to the rape is done in a very specific way, and perhaps not the way the majority of readers will expect it be addressed. The focus is on everything and everyone surrounding the event and Kate.

Every single person, event and item is described in minutiae barring the most poignant one. It shifts the attention on the reactions and emotions of everyone except victim and perpetrator.

I found it an intriguing way to approach the topic, especially because in reality this is often what happens. The trauma of a rape never just belongs to the person it most certainly should belong to. Family members, loved ones, friends and acquaintances - everyone thinks they are entitled to not only an opinion, but also to own a part of the trauma.

As Kate fights to come to terms with the reality of what happened and the way it might change her life if she reveals the truth

Whose story is it to share? Does it belong to the person it happened to, the person who did it or does it belong to the general public? This is the real question that arises from the entire situation. As if it's some sort of public service to inform, to judge and to bare all. Even at the expense of the victim.

One of the pivotal points of the story is the platonic relationship between Max and Kate and the repercussions of the assault on said relationship. The equilibrium between them is destroyed, but only one of them is aware of that fact.

This is an engaging piece of contemporary fiction with a noirish quality to it.

Buy What Red Was at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harvill Secker; 9 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

#BlogTour More Than a Game by Ralph Robb


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour More Than a Game by Ralph Robb.  It's a contemporary read, a poignant read hidden within the world and love of footie.
About the Author
Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England, and now lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife, two cats and a dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and of course a good book. His world is balanced by his obsession with comic books, quality TV, global events and the great outdoors.

Follow @RalphSRobb on Twitter, on Facebook, Visit ralphrobb.com,


About the book
Sabina Park Rangers is the first team of black players to reach the final of the Watney’s Challenge Cup. But coach Horace McIntosh has more selection problems than most. The First Division champions want to sign one of his best players – and right up until the day of the match he is uncertain that he will have a team for the biggest game in the club’s history because of arrests, a scam and an atmosphere of impending violence.

Review
Personally I could have done with a glossary explaining the dialect and idioms of the culture Robb writes about. The gist, flavour and voice is clear, but often some of the phrases went right over my head.

When you read between the lines and look beyond the jovial humour and brusque descriptions, especially when the author ventured into the past, it's actually a brutally honest storyline. Robb draws comparisons between the day and age we live in, and the 70s and 80s. Sometimes he takes it back a wee bit further to the baseline and beginning of certain behaviour patterns.

He pulls no punches when it comes to describing the racism, discrimination and treatment of black people. Robb addresses the way society has evolved, become more diverse and more aware of white privilege, then in the same breath describes the way society is reverting back to those days once again. In a sense society and scaremongering white nationalists are laying a gunpowder trail which could end up being lit by the smallest of sparks.

There is a general lack of comprehension when it comes to white privilege, which is difficult to eradicate or even to educate people about. It can be taught with simple examples, which in turn would create a better understanding of racism and the oppression of black people and minorities. 

It's quite interesting how the author has infused such an entertaining and amusing read with such serious topics, and yet does it in such a non-confrontational way. It's a contemporary read, a poignant read hidden within the world and love of footie.

Buy More Than a Game (links to follow soon) or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

#BlogTour The StationMaster's Daughter by Kathleen McGurl


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Stationmaster's Daughter by Kathleen McGurl.
About the Author
Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

Follow @KathMcGurl on Twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit kathleenmcgurl.comBuy The StationMaster's Daughter


About the book
As the last train leaves, will life ever be the same?

Dorset 1935
Stationmaster Ted has never cared much for romance. Occupied with ensuring England’s most beautiful railway runs on time, love has always felt like a comparatively trivial matter. Yet when he meets Annie Galbraith on the 8.42 train to Lynford, he can’t help but instantly fall for her.

But soon the railway is forced to close and a terrible accident occurs within the station grounds, Ted finds his job and any hope of a relationship with Annie hanging in the balance…

Present day
Recovering from heartbreak after a disastrous marriage, Tilly decides to escape from the bustling capital and move to Dorset to stay with her dad, Ken. When Ken convinces Tilly to help with the restoration of the old railway, she discovers a diary hidden in the old ticket office. Tilly is soon swept up in Ted’s story, and the fateful accident that changed his life forever.

But an encounter with an enigmatic stranger takes Tilly by surprise, and she can’t help but feel a connection with Ted’s story in the past.

Review
The story has a nostalgic feel to it, perhaps because McGurl is very good at giving her readers the feeling as if they are right there experiencing everything with the characters. Tugging on the heartstrings is one of her talents, which is reflected in the way she builds the characters and their emotional turmoil.

The story moves from Tilly in the present to Ted and Annie in the past. At first glance the only connection between the two appears to be the railroad and the station. As we learn more about all of them the how becomes clearer.

Tilly is damaged and suffering, and has returned to her parent to gather herself and reboot her life. She carries immense trauma around with her, which has been magnified tenfold by the way she has been treated by her husband. Her path brings her to Dorset.

In the past we meet stationmaster Ted. His life is filled with trains, railways and schedules, at least until the day he meets Annie. What looks like obsession to one person is merely unrequited love to Ted. His fascination with Annie is the beginning of a heart-wrenching secret - a secret that leaves a trail of destruction all the way into the present.

McGurl likes to combine history and mystery to create captivating stories. In this case England's railway gets in on the action, and I enjoyed learning more about that aspect of history.

It's a mystery come historical fiction with a modern flair. Splitting the story into past and present gives it a two genre feel. It's a story with an authentic feel to it.

Buy The Stationmaster's Daughter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; pub date 7 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of The Forgotten Secret, The Girl from Ballymor and The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl.

#BlogTour A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O'Brien


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O'Brien. Once again the author gives her readers an intense and captivating historical read

About the Author
Sunday Times bestselling author Anne O'Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master's in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history. Today she has sold over 250,000 copies of her books in the UK and lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels about the forgotten women of history.

Follow @anne_obrien on Twitter, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on Facebook,Visit anneobrien.co.uk,
Buy A Tapestry of Treason


About the book
Her actions could make history but at what price?
1399: Constance of York, Lady Despenser, proves herself more than a mere observer in the devious intrigues of her magnificently dysfunctional family, the House of York.

Surrounded by power-hungry men, including her aggressively self-centred husband Thomas and ruthless siblings Edward and Richard, Constance places herself at the heart of two treasonous plots against King Henry IV. Will it be possible for this Plantagenet family to safeguard its own political power by restoring either King Richard II to the throne, or the precarious Mortimer claimant?

Although the execution of these conspiracies will place them all in jeopardy, Constance is not deterred, even when the cost of her ambition threatens to overwhelm her. Even when it endangers her new-found happiness.

With treason tragedy, heartbreak and betrayal, this is the story of a woman ahead of her time, fighting for herself and what she believes to be right in a world of men.

This is one woman's quest to turn history on its head.

Review
This should go without saying when it comes to historical fiction - I both enjoy and admire the way O'Brien endeavours to stay as close to the known or presumed historical narrative as possible, whilst building the fictional story around the facts. It becomes a learning and not just a reading experience.

Also the way she gives us a more in-depth look, albeit it one gathered via research and presumption, and not necessarily based on written records or hearsay, of the women behind powerful men. The women who played pivotal roles in history, and yet usually end up being invisible figures.

The approach O'Brien takes differs from say Gregory, who wanders more into the fictional aspect of the genre, as opposed to the historical accuracy O'Brien strives for. It's certainly a difference worth noting.

In events pre-dating the War of the Roses, in fact the ones that led to it, this story takes a closer look at Constance of York, Lady Despenser. The Plantagenet family is one of the most infamous when it comes to British history, scheming,  politics and ruthlessness. The majority of them appear to have had an innate affinity for survival in what can only be called tumultuous eras in history.

The women played their part in our very own game of thrones, as did Constance. A woman who at first glance comes off as cold, ambitious and willing to do anything to keep the family name and honour safe. As a man her actions would be considered the norm, as a woman the description tends to become more negative.

As a man her involvement in treasonous plots against King Henry IV would have probably been met with a harsher response than just a life in isolation and staying a great distance away from court and intrigue.

Once again the author gives her readers an intense and captivating historical read. One full of treachery, betrayal and staunch loyalty. A read I highly recommend.

Buy A Tapestry of Treason at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 22nd August 2019. Hardback £14.99 - Available in ebook and Audio. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Queen of the North by Anne O'Brien


Friday, 23 August 2019

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Barron is an exquisite storyteller. This story should be enjoyed like a glass of fine wine, sip by sip and word by word, as the author weaves beautiful fictional magic. As she conjures up demons, shamans and the kind of magic that sucks people dry.

Arrah feels immense pressure to make her family, her people and her ancestors proud. As yet her ancestral powers have failed to make an appearance, which can be rather embarrassing at the annual ceremony where all the tribes and witch-doctors gather. Her father and grandmother have faith, but her mother doesn't even try to hide her disappointment.

There is one thing she can try to evoke magic, however it comes with a price - the kind of price that is irreversible. When local children start going missing, including a dear friend, she finds she has no other choice. It's the beginning of an intricate, vicious and ruthless power struggle. A struggle that will leave death and despair in its wake. It will make Arrah either crumble like a sandcastle or rise to the occasion.

It's YA fantasy, however it has the intricate world-building and mature complexity of high fantasy. The blurb doesn't do it the justice it deserves and neither does my inadequate attempt to give a brief idea of the plot. It's an intense and captivating read. A fascinating exploration of myth, culture and fantasy.

Buy Kingdom of Souls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperVoyager pub date ebook 3rd September 2019, Hardcover 24th September 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @renathedreamer on Twitter, Rena Barron on Goodreads

#BlogTour What Happens Now? By Sophia Money-Coutts


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts.

About the Author
Sophia Money-Coutts is a journalist and author who spent five years studying the British aristocracy while working as Features Director at Tatler. Prior to that she worked as a writer and an editor for the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail in London, and The National in Abu Dhabi.

She writes a column for the Sunday telegraph called Modern Manners and often appears on radio and television channels talking about important topics such as Prince Harry's wedding and the etiquette of the threesome.

What happens Now? is her second novel, following her debut, The Plus One, published in August 2018.

Follow @sophiamcoutts on Twitter, on Instagram, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit sophiamoneycoutts.com, Buy What happens Now?
About the book
After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she'd already found 'the one' - that is, until he dumped her for a blonde twenty-something colleague.

So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What's the worst that can happen?

Well it's pretty bad actually. First Max ghosts her and then, after weeing on a stick (but mostly her hands), a few weeks later Lil discovers she's pregnant. She's single thirty-one and living in a thimble-sized flat in London, it's hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for.

Lil's ready to do the baby-thing on her own - it can't be that hard, right? But she should probably tell Max, if she can track him down. Surely he's not that Max, the highly eligible, headline-grabbing son of Lord and Lady Rushbrooke, currently trekking up a mountain in South Asia? Oh, maybe he wasn't ignoring Lil after all...

Review
I have to say that what I originally liked about the style and voice of The Plus One, the first novel by Money-Coutts, remains consistent with this book. The author has a way of mixing a brash, brutally honest voice with a dark sense of humour and a devil may care attitude. Imagine 'Knocked Up' meets 'Friends' with a dollop of British snark.

Lil ventures back into the shark infested pool of dating and meeting potential partners after she is discarded by the person she thought was the one. Instead she finds that she is his number two, something she was completely unaware of. So much for trust, happiness and loving relationships.

When she meets a handsome stranger it seems like the perfect opportunity to prove to herself that she is still desirable. One thing leads to another and in the heat of the moment two become three, which throws both Lil and Max off their game.

I enjoyed the way the author made this a conversation about pregnancy and choice without making it confrontational or veering into extreme views. It's just a woman, her thoughts and her emotional response. Alternatives are brought to the table the way they would be between friends. Again, kudos to the author for keeping this lovely, fun read in its lane.

It's a funny and at times emotional contemporary read. You can't help but fall in love with the quirky characters and their places in this story. There aren't many authors who can replicate an air of realism, as opposed to the fictional feel of a read, but Money-Coutts is one of them.

Buy What Happens Now? at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 22 August 2019. Hardback £12.99 - ebook £5.99 - Audiobook £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts.


Thursday, 22 August 2019

#BlogTour The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley by Ian Thornton


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley. It's alternate history come historical and biographical fiction.
About the Author
Ian Thornton’s debut novel, The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms (How One Man Scorched the Twentieth Century, but Didn’t Mean to) was published by Simon & Schuster Canada in September 2013. Harper Collins published worldwide on June 28th 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the pivot of the novel. It was translated across Europe and taught at the Sorbonne.

Prior to becoming a novelist, Ian worked for Broadcast magazine in London and also for Variety. He is a co-founder of the global television industry publisher, C21 Media and www.c21media.net.
He covered the Royal wedding in London for CTV, Canada's premier independent broadcaster, and has recently written for Wisden Cricketer, The Guardian, The Hindu and for the Soho House magazine, House. He also wrote on the football World Cup in South Africa for the Canadian sports channel, The Score, and has worked for Queen’s University in Ontario, where his project was presented at the White House as part of President Obama's new media initiative.

Ian is the official biographer of the Compton cricket club in California and has been a judge on the largest Latin American film festival, Expresion en Corto. He is currently producing a feature documentary.

Originally from Leeds, Ian currently resides in Toronto with his wife Heather Gordon and their children, Laszlo and Clementine.

Buy The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley


About the book
Aleister Crowley - otherwise known as the Great beast - is one of the most reviled men in history. Satanist, cult leader, debauched novelist and poet, his legacy has been hotly contested for decades.

But the truth is: Crowley is alive and well, in the elevated and life-preserving air of Shangri-la. they used to call him the wickedest man in the world, but the Great Beast only laughs at those fools. the British Secret Service, Churchill and Rasputin all knew the real Crowley, who was the greatest spy and the Scarlet Pimpernel of the twentieth century. this genuine English hero and unrivalled drug fiend used his pre-eminent knowledge of the Occult to run amok behind German lines in two world wars and to turn both Mussolini and Hitler into twitching and hollow wrecks.

And so now, the inspiration behind the music and sexual revolutions of the sixties is about to return for his curtain call, for there is a dark Orwellian dystopia coming. And Aleister Crowley is convinced that only he can save the world.

Review
'There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt. Love is the law, love under will.' The problem with people who believe their own myth is that they can be dangerous, and also very convincing. Crowley was like many charismatic people who lie to shower themselves in the admiration of others. Creating his own set of rules, guidelines and morals in order to excuse his own lack of adherence to any the aforementioned dictated by society.

If you read between the lines I think Thornton allows a window into the relationships, events and experiences that could have shaped Aleister into the man he became. Although hidden behind the sarcastic meanderings and a seemingly nonchalant attitude Crowley has towards his childhood and experiences as a young man, the scared and vulnerable child shines through. Neglect, abuse and association with adults who would rather use than guide the child, all of those things define the young boy and meld him into the grown man he becomes.

The suggestion being that we only ever see the surface and can never know what a person has been defined by. It puts a different slant or perspective on the historical version of Crowley, albeit one based on a fictional narrative.

The concept is quite clever and allows for a multitude of scenarios and storylines. There seemed to be a slight fixation on the sexual side of the story. The way the abuse as a child was smoothed over and led straight into the manipulative sexual rituals of certain groups, was slightly disconcerting.

It's an ambitious piece of work, there's no doubt about that. I enjoyed the style and the writing. It's alternate history come historical and biographical fiction.

Buy The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound; pub date 22 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

#BlogTour The Unlikely Occultist: A Biographical Novel of Alice A. Bailey by Isobel Blackthorn


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Unlikely Occultist: A Biographical Novel of Alice A. Bailey by Isobel Blackthorn.
About the Author
Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including psychological thrillers, gripping mysteries, captivating travel fiction and hilarious dark satire.

Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey's life and works has culminated in the biographical novel, The Unlikely Occultist.

Follow @IBlackthorn on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreads, Visit isobelblackthorn.com
Buy The Unlikely Occultist


About the book
Librarian Heather Brown discovers the fascinating life of Alice Bailey - a long forgotten occultist.
Back in 1931, Alice is preparing to give a speech at a Swiss summer school. But how can she stave the tide of hatred and greed set to bring the world to its knees?

Soon after, Alice is put on Hitler's blacklist. What she doesn't realize is the enormity of her influence to the world, and the real enemies who are much closer than she thinks.

A dynamic and complex figure, Alice Bailey’s reach was huge. She was influential among people and organizations of global power, especially the United Nations, and is widely regarded as the Mother of the New Age.

Yet today she is maligned by fundamentalist Christians, Theosophists, Jews, academics and above all, by conspiracy theorists. Are any of these groups justified in rejecting the unlikely occultist?

Review
It won't come as a much of a surprise that there are plenty of invisible women in history who have influenced life the way we know it, and yet we are completely unaware of them. When I say we I mean the majority of society or the world even, depending on which domain the person has influenced.

Alice A. Bailey is one of those women. She made her mark on the world in her field of interest and expertise, and in many other areas. Creating a ripple in a large body of water, and yet she was ridiculed for it and scorned into obscurity.

Blackthorn puts forth some interesting theories for the reasons why Bailey was discredited. In the end competition and the fight for recognition in areas that were deemed non-scientific (pseudoscience) and based on theory rather than fact, was fierce. Perhaps more so between women trying to assert themselves in a male dominated world and those who thought nothing of borrowing ideas.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the reasons that are more frequently mentioned in regards to Bailey and her fall from grace. Some of her work has a very clear anti-Jewish slant. Sentences such as: 'Today the law (karma) is working and the Jews are paying the price, factually and symbolically, for all they have done in the past'. For someone who had such concise thoughts on how to help those in need, her thoughts and New World Order ideology was often a stark contrast.

I think it's fair to say that Blackthorn definitely gives readers the opportunity to learn about an influential writer, who has a body of work with not enough recognition. The attempt to dissect and study her life, relationships and work comes together in a way that sheds a favourable and fair light on Bailey. The combination of fact and fiction brings her name and influence to the table and perhaps even a 21st century view on the woman and her legacy.

Buy The Unlikely Occultist: A Biographical Novel of Alice A. Bailey at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Creativia; ecopy pub date 4 Dec. 2018.   Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of A Matter of Latitude and A Perfect Square by Isobel Blackthorn.

The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

For me the story is about all of us being connected at some level, regardless of where we are in the world. Six degrees of separation. It's also about fate and small pieces of a large puzzle fitting together to create a bigger picture. One could say it's coincidence, one could also say there is no such thing as coincidence.

Augusta  and Julia are twins, but they couldn't be more different. Julia is everything her parents expect her to be and more, and Augusta dances to her very own music. She loves words. Words are life, discovery, mystery and knowledge. Words lead to people, things and places. They are doors to other worlds.

Simultaneously the reader is introduced to Parfait on the other side of the world. His life is a complete contrast to that of Augusta, and there is no connection between the two, barring a wish and a dream of places far away.

The juxtaposition of the two lives of these two young people is relevant to our day and age, especially that of Parfait. His fate as a refugee and that of his brother is tragic. Glen wants us to see the way we live our day-to-day lives, whilst men, women and children risk their lives to reach a safer country in an attempt to escape their war-torn countries and the violence.

In a way Julia becomes the guilty conscience the author hopes our society will develop. We need to stop acting as if we see nothing, hear nothing and then speak nothing. A visceral connection needs to be strung from us to them.

Both Parfait and Augusta experience and have to deal with incredible grief and guilt. It is one of the bridges that connects and leads them to each other. In fact they become the hypothetical bridge of connection.

It's a profound and emotional piece of literary fiction. The main character has shades of Eleanor Oliphant, and the story is introspective with politics and family dynamics woven into this beautiful contemporary read.

Buy The Other Half of Augusta Hope at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: The Borough Press; pub date 13 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @JoannaGlenBooks on Twitter

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

#BlogTour The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada by Neil Randall


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada.

Enter the Giveaway below to Win 3 Copies of The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada (UK Only)
About the Author
Neil Randall is the author of seven published novels and a collection of short stories. His work has been published in the UK, US, Australia and Canada.

Follow @NARandall1 on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit narandall.blogspot.co.uk
Buy The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada

About the book
Nine stories
One artist
The whole world against him

The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada is the story of an outsider, a lonely, misunderstood young artist who chronicles all the unpleasant things that happen to him in life. Abandoned by his parents, brought up be a tyrannical aunt, bullied at school, ostracized by the local community, nearly everyone Jacob comes into contact with takes an instant, (often) violent dislike towards him.

Like Job from the bible, he is beaten and abused, manipulated and taken advantage of. Life, people, fate, circumstance force him deeper into his shell, deeper into the cocoon of his fledgling artistic work, where he records every significant event in sketches, paintings and short-form verse, documenting his own unique, eminently miserable human experience. At heart, he longs for companionship, intimacy, love, but is dealt so many blows he is too scared to reach out to anybody. On the fringes of society, he devotes himself solely to his art.
Review
It's a series of stories, represented by chapters, a summary of a life in short episodes. Life defining moments and experiences that Jacob holds on to as more important than other moments. In a way it is a very Kodak moment, flashback or memories in a noirish and almost satirical style.

It gives the story a specific style. On screen one would perhaps present a fading out into blackness after every episode, a short interval and then another that starts off in an entirely different time and place.

It's uncomfortable at times and bends the frame of reality a wee bit in places, as fiction is wont to do. I think the author wants show the extreme in an attempt to showcase the damage inflicted upon Jacob and victims in general. Sometimes reality is far worse than any fictional scenario.

Whilst I understand the whole idea that the bullies and abuse make Jacob the shell of the man he becomes, I am also inclined to disagree with that element of the book. Jacob the child, the teen, the young and older man all show a propensity towards violence and inflicting pain. Whether that is a self-fulfilling prophecy caused by abuse and neglect, a protective stance or something more innate, is worth a discussion. Also debatable is how much we control our own outcomes, regardless of the input of others,be it negative or positive input.

What isn't debatable of course is that a lifetime of neglect, abuse and bullying can define the life of the victim. However not every victim becomes violent or remains the underdog going forward.
Randall makes a good point about perception. Jacob is already predisposed to think the worst of people, ergo doesn't know how to react or recognise when there is no ill intent aimed his way. Towards the end there is an interesting conversation between Jacob and one of the boys from the incident he perceives to be the catalyst of everything. Jacob is surprised by the fact there could have been an alternative scenario for that day and perhaps his life.

It's difficult to fit this into a genre per se. It's a contemporary read with the feel of a noirish fictional memoir.

Buy The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: J.New Books; pub date 20 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at J.New Books.

Enter the Giveaway below to Win 3 Copies of The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada (UK Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Terms and Conditions –UK 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.*