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.*

#BlogTour A Place to Lie by Rebecca Griffiths


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour A Place to Lie by Rebecca Griffiths. It's a dark psychological thriller with a strong emotional core.
About the Author
Rebecca Griffiths grew up in rural mid-Wales and went on to gain a first class honours degree in English Literature. After a successful business career in London, Dublin and Scotland, she returned to mid-Wales where she now lives with her husband, a prolific artist, their three vampiric cats as black as night, and pet sheep the size of sofas.

Follow @rebeccagriffit7 on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon,
About the book
In a dark, dark wood

In Summer 1990, Caroline and Joanna are sent to stay with their great aunt, Dora, to spend their holidays in a sunlit village near the Forest of Dean. The countryside is a welcome change from the trauma they know back home in the city; a chance to make the world a joyful playground again. But in the shadowy woods at the edge of the forest hide secrets that will bring their innocence to a distressing end and make this a summer they will never forget.

There was a dark, dark house

Years later, a shocking act of violence sends Joanna back to Witchwood. In her great aunt's lonely and dilapidated cottage, she will attempt to unearth the secrets of that terrifying summer and come to terms with the haunting effects it has left on her life. But in her quest to find answers, who can she trust? And will she be able to survive the impending danger from those trying to bury the truth?

Review

Caroline and Joanna used to be as close as sisters can be until dark secrets create an insurmountable wall between them. The kind of wall that makes the two of them into complete strangers. It's no surprise that Joanna hasn't got an explanation for the bizarre behaviour Caroline exhibits just before her death.

There appears to be no reason for her erratic and violent actions that ultimately led to her sudden death. Unanswered questions leads Joanna on a search for the answers and the truth, even if that means discovering uncomfortable truths.

The truth seems to be connected to events going back to their childhood when the two of them were sent to stay with their aunt Dora. Carefree play with friends in the forest suddenly becomes sinister and dangerous when something terrible happens that changes their lives forever, but it doesn't leave the same impression on both of them.

It's a dark psychological thriller with a strong emotional core. Griffiths plays on the fact that we all experience events in a completely different way and our reactions are also individual and very personal. This thriller and the crime is viewed and projected through that kaleidoscope vision, which in turn shows the vulnerabilities and loopholes in relationships, even ones that are supposed to be really close.

I found the ending quite interesting, perhaps because Griffiths doesn't pander to what readers may be expecting or think they need. You'll have to read it to find out.

Buy A Place to Lie at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Sphere | Paperback | £7.99 | 22nd August 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Friday, 16 August 2019

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

I love this story. It is what every child holds deep in their imagination. What every inner child sat inside an adult screams for. Imagine doors, just random doors in the middle of nowhere, somewhere and even here. Doors that lead to other places, countries and people. Doors driven by the invisible magic in the world, but only visible to a few.

There's a moment in the story when Harrow balances the readers on the precipice of whether what January is experiencing is real or fiction. A fictional narrative drummed up by the trauma of grief and the pain of neglect. A young girl who has had episodes of delusions over the years or is that what Locke would have us believe.

It all seems too far-fetched to be true. Doors in the middle of fields that lead to other places.  A book that tells the story of a young girl who happens upon the opening of a door at the right time and then spends years trying to reestablish a connection made within moments. Moments that haunt her and set her on an incredible path to discover the truth.

This book has incredible depth and beauty. It's the kind of story that inspires both the young and old, and creates readers. It allows readers to step further than they believed - one page at a time. Magic of old and blood magic of new.

It's YA fantasy, but I would recommend it for younger readers too. Fantasy melded with historical fiction with an essence of literary fiction.

Buy The Ten Thousand Doors of January at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orbit; pub date ecopy 10 Sept. 2019, Hardcover pub date 12 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @AlixEHarrow on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit alixeharrow.wixsite.com/author

#BlogTour Take it Back by Kia Abdullah


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Take it Back by Kia Abdullah. It's a legal thriller with the precision of a crime, the darkness of a psychological thriller and has the power of women's empowerment at its best.
About the Author
Kia Abdullah is an author, journalist and travel writer. She has contributed to The Guardian, BBC, and Channel 4 News, and most recently the New York Times commenting on a variety of issues affecting the Muslim community. Kia currently travels the world as one half of the travel blog atlasandboots.com, which receives over 200,000 views per month.

Follow @KiaAbdullah on Twitter, Visit kiaabdullah.com
Buy Take it Back
About the book
Zara Kaleel, one of London's brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on he by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister's wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

Jodie's own best friend doesn't even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her.

Jodie and Zara becomes the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she's looking for. But t what price?

Review
This is definitely going on my list of favourite reads of this year. It is an extremely powerful story. The author doesn't pull any punches and when she does take a shot those punches are delivered with such an intensity, power and honesty that it leaves a mark.

It's controversial and the subject matter is more so, but perhaps the controversy lies in the realism. The author speaks from the heart, the mind and from her own personal experiences as a Muslim and as a woman and merges all those elements into her main character, Zara.

Zara has broken free of many restraints of her culture and religion, however it has come at a price. There is a moment in the book when her father says something terrible to her. A sentence that changes the way she defines herself in her family, as a person and as a professional, which haunts her going forward. It's simply indefensible and it can't be justified in any way shape or form.

When a young white girl with terrible facial deformities comes to Zara for support after being sexually assaulted by four Muslim boys, she is determined to get Jodie the justice she deserves. She isn't prepared for the backlash against all of them. The racial Molotov cocktail it becomes and the target it paints on her back is lit by the fury of the sanctimonious and thrown by hypocrites.

The author makes some really poignant points about rape. The why and the imbalance when it comes to the treatment of victim and perpetrator, and what role the choice of victim plays in the rape. In this case the shadow of doubt that hovers over the case just because Jodie is deemed ugly, ergo not worthy of raping.

What Abdullah portrays with a frightening accuracy is the patriarchal society we live in, and the role the parochial attitudes play within the male dominated structures. The subordination of women is expected and any deviance is met with harsh repercussions for said women and girls.

Regardless of empty words about women being revered in certain cultures, and especially in specific religious groups, the reality is completely different. Honour killings, kidnappings, forced 'arranged' marriages and the domination of female gender by males of all ages. The author makes a really important point about the role of other women in this systemic domination and oppression. The majority of them take part in the oppression, because it is easier and safer to do so, but also because they have somehow convinced themselves that winning smaller battles is a victory in itself, even if it is at the expense of their daughters, sisters and fellow women in general.

It's a legal thriller with the precision of a crime, the darkness of a psychological thriller and has the power of women's empowerment at its best. This is an explosive must read as far as I am concerned.

Buy Take it Back at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 8 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Patchett is truly a writer who knows and has fine-tuned her craft, which is especially evident within the pages of this powerful tale of family, abandonment, perspectives and above all the individuality of relationships. Not one is the same.

Each relationship we create, foster or even tear asunder is identifiable to ourselves by our own frame of reference, experiences and memories. It is never quite the same for someone else, which is why a group of us can all know a person well and yet experience relationships with that person on a completely different level and way to every other person in said group.

I think that is one of the most poignant parts of the story. It is certainly the aspect that defines the role of the absentee mother. What Danny feels and has experienced isn't what Maeve experienced in regards to their mother, which in turn also applies to Cyril and the rest of the women from the Dutch house.

The house itself, which is integral to the plot, and the emotions which are tethered to said house become singular relationships in their own right. Once again, it takes on a different level of importance for each one of the characters.

Danny and Maeve struggle with the fact their mother just upped and left them, which is compounded tenfold when their father brings home a new stepmother and two stepsisters. A stepmother who is fascinated by the house and wealth her marriage brings with it. A woman who feels as if Danny and Maeve are the enemies.

The siblings have a strong bond necessitated by the indifference and neglect they experience. Neither of them understands the intricacies of their relationship until others intrude upon it. Towards the end Danny finally understands the measure and depth of their relationship and wherein his peace and happiness really lies.

I loved the way Patchett wove and spun this story. It's beautiful and yet simultaneously also incredibly sad at times. It's literary fiction, a beautiful contemporary read about altruistic relationships and family dynamics.

Buy/Pre-order The Dutch House at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing; pub date 24 September 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Bloomsbury.

Visit annpatchett.com

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

#BlogTour In Truth, Madness by Imran Khan


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour In Truth, Madness by Imran Khan. It's a contemporary read with elements of a dystopian story wrapped in the powerful pull of history.
About the Author
Having kickstarted his career in the heady world of 1990s independent magazine publishing with work on Dazed and Confused, and launching seminal style title 2nd Generation, Imran Khan jumped into the mainstream with BBC London - hosting radio shows on popular culture, arts and news as the millennium approached. Despite having a face for radio, in 2001 he produced a series of short documentaries for BBC Newsnight, Britain’s leading current affairs programme. His work was noticed in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and Channel 4 commissioned the award winning film "The Hidden Jihad", which he wrote and presented. Imran subsequently moved full-time into TV news, working as a BBC producer and correspondent reporting from Lebanon, London and Qatar, with freelance stints in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He became a correspondent for Al Jazeera English in 2005 and is known for his extensive reporting from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine and Libya, as well covering the Arab Spring and the conflict in Syria. He continues to work as a correspondent for Al Jazeera English, dividing his time between the Middle East, South Asia and London.

Follow @ajimran on Twitter, on GoodreadsBuy In Truth, Madness
About the book
Meet Malek Khalil. In his mid-40s, Malek is a brilliant reporter with decades of experience in the field. If there has been a war, natural disaster or political crisis, Malek has been there and will be there.

But the years of conflict reporting have taken their toll and Malek is slowly unravelling. His colleagues, Neeka and Justin, have noticed a change in him. Neeka should know, she has been his producer for decades and knows him better than he knows himself. Justin the cameraman has shot his material for just as long. Together they make a formidable team. But they are only as strong as each other - and Malek is fast going down the rabbit hole.

Born a Muslim but an atheist to his core, Malek undertakes a voyage that takes him around the world  and back in time to ancient Babylon as he finds himself arguing with a God in whom he doesn't believe.

The novel takes place throughout Middle East, South Asia and London where the backdrop of war, religion, political skullduggery and love play out to take the reader on a journey through some of the most dangerous parts of modern culture and the ancient world.

Review
I think what I enjoyed most about this read were the factual elements both the historical and more current ones. The political and religious opinions, and the deep well of emotions he sometimes draws from. Moments like the guilt Malek feels as a journalist, because he is able to come and go as he pleases in the war-torn countries, ergo not being allowed to claim the burden of PTSD.

I think in this case it's perhaps easier to let each reader enter the world Malek inhabits and decide what journey he is taking his readers on themselves. I found it an intriguing journey of self, which battles with the pain and destruction humanity causes, and ultimately a conversation with self about faith or lack of it. An sadonic panel of arbitrators who determine which path we take, do we determine it or have our cards fallen long before we are aware of it.

At times I felt as if there was an inner struggle going on, a tug-of-war of the stories within the story. The stories the author wants to tell, but melds them together with ambitious eagerness. The fantasy come historical fiction tale of the character and the connection to Babylon, the man who braves the war-torn countries, and then the political and religious complexities of the Middle East. All of them worthy of a read in their own right, together they get less attention and give the story a slightly disjointed feel.

There is no doubt Khan has plenty to tell his readers, and he does so with compassion, intellect and a very strong voice. I can imagine conversations with him would be quite interesting, because despite some controversial opinions, depending on your views, there is an attempt to keep a balance throughout.

It's a contemporary read with elements of a dystopian story wrapped in the powerful pull of history.

Buy In Truth, Madness at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital; pub date 22 August 2018. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Unbound.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

#BlogTour Careless Whisper by T.S. Hunter


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Careless Whisper by T.S. Hunter. It's book 3 of the Soho Noir series.

About the Author
Claiming to be only half-Welsh, T.S. Hunter lived in South Wales for much of his latter teens, moving to London as soon as confidence and finances allowed. He never looked back.

He has variously been a teacher, a cocktail waiter, a podium dancer and a removal man, but his passion for writing has been the only constant.

He's a confident and engaging speaker and guest, who is as passionate about writing and storytelling as he is about promoting mainstream LGBT fiction.

He now lives with his husband in the country, and is active on social media as @TSHunter5.

Follow @TSHunter5 @RedDogTweets on Twitter, on Goodreads,
Buy Careless Whisper
About the book
LOOSE LIPS COST LIVES.

It’s 1986, and Adam Cave, lead singer of sensational pop group Loose Lips, is struggling to stay in the closet, especially as his group is going through a messy split, and media speculation about the reasons behind it are rife.

Joe Stone is assigned to Adam as a runner for the behind-the-scenes, warts and all expose of the recording of the bands last album, and an unlikely friendship begins to form.

But when Adam’s manager, Jack Eddy, is found dead in Adam’s hotel room, in what looks like a sex game gone wrong, Joe turns to his flatmate, Russell, to help him clear the pop star’s name, and keep his secret.

Russell, meanwhile, has a secret of his own. He’s just been for a test, the results of which may change his life forever.

Review
This is the third book in the Soho Noir series, novella length murder mysteries set in the 80's in the LGBT community.

What I really love about this series, aside from the excellent covers, the great read, the fantastic song book titles, is the fact they are quick pocket reads. Not everyone wants to spend hours or days with one story. This is exactly the right length to inspire new readers and for readers who like some of their reads to be like a tasty foot-long sub over the lunch hour.

During the 80s the word homosexuality was synonymous with HIV and AIDS. It was very much a decade of ignorance, blame and misinformation. The gay community took the brunt of that misinformation, the fear and sadly also a high death toll.

In this book Russell faces his own fear about HIV when he goes to get tested. His journey from coming out to living his best life as an openly gay man has only just begun. The contrast between Russell and Joe is an interesting one. Both with similar stories and yet completely different circumstances.

Of course it wouldn't be a Soho Noir if a dead body didn't pop up somewhere in the story. A crime for the two of them to solve, whilst they navigate the complex structure of their lives and those who love them and the ones who oppose them.

Each of the books can be read as a standalone book, despite recurring main characters. There are certain storylines that develop  and grow with each book, but not in a way that necessitates reading the prior ones. Saying that, I would definitely recommend reading the others in the series.

It's a murder mystery set in hub of a pulsing LGBT community in the flashy 80s. Hunter combines the atmosphere of individuality, freedom and the leftovers of the burnt-out 70s with homophobia and the acidic fear of HIV and AIDS. Mystery meets life and is humbled by its sincerity in this brash noirish series.

Buy Careless Whisper (Soho Noir #3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Red Dog Press; pub date 5 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of Tainted Love (Soho Noir #1) and Who's That Girl (Soho Noir #2) by T.S. Hunter.


Tuesday, 6 August 2019

#BlogTour Last Orders by Bill Todd


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Last Orders by Bill Todd. It's a murder mystery solved Danny Lancaster style.
About the Author
Bill is a journalist and travel writer who has visited more than 40 countries from the white wastes of Arctic Finland to the ancient deserts of Namibia. He loves a good wilderness. He received the Ed Lacy travel award in 2007.

Bill has written six crime thrillers featuring soldier-turned-investigator Danny Lancaster and was startled and delighted to be voted one of the 100 best crime authors in the WH Smith readers’ poll in 2015. He’s also written three short factual military histories. He lives to write although keyboard time has been cut lately with the arrival of grandson Theo.

Follow @williamjtodd  and @DannyLancaster3 on Twitter, on Goodreadson Instagramon AmazonDannyLancasterInvestigates on Facebook, Visit billtodd.co.uk


About the book
Big Eddie Archer is throwing a celebrity party for the reopening of The Bellerophon public house. When singer Paul Toopen, star of TV reality show Dreamboat, goes missing there is only one man the pub’s guv’nor can call on. But Danny Lancaster is off his game after overdoing Eddie’s free hospitality at last night’s dress rehearsal. Fans besiege the pub and the media are everywhere. This could be a public relations disaster but Eddie reckons if Danny can crack the case before closing time it will make the new Bellerophon famous. Danny’s head is pounding but Eddie’s star guests might just be trapped in a pub with a killer. And the clock is ticking down to last orders. #TheBigBellBash

Review
This is a novella length story, but Todd manages to deliver an entertaining read worthy of a novel. I kinda liked this one a lot more than the full-length ones though, perhaps because the focus is on less rather than on more. It's just Danny and his devil-may-care attitude and a few side characters, which is all the story needs.

The story is really quite simple. A minor celebrity goes missing at an event, during the event actually, and Danny is called in to solve the mystery of the disappearing guest. The author takes that scenario and turns it into so much more.

There was this moment during the story - the most poignant one in my opinion. It's a comical one, and I admit to laughing out loud at that moment. Then bang the author flips the switch and takes the reader straight into a flashback. The reader is right there with Danny as he relives the trauma and the horror of the situation he finds himself in once again.

The juxtaposition of the comedic moment and traumatic flashback is a stroke of genius. It actually gives the reader similar visceral reactions as they are reading. Laughter melds into uncertainty, then shock and finally the realisation of what is happening. Kudos to Todd for that particular part of the story.

It's a murder mystery solved Danny Lancaster style, as only he can solve them. It's snarky, funny and a jolly good read.

Buy Last Orders:Trapped in a pub with a killer (Danny Lancaster) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in paperback and ebook formats by DLE-Fiction on 1st August 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of Rock Hard and Rough Diamond by Bill Todd.

Buy Rough DiamondDeath SquadThe Wreck of the Margherita (free download)Gargoyle Pixie DogGodlefe's Cuckoo all by Bill Todd.

Monday, 5 August 2019

#BlogTour Mrs Sommersby's Second Chance by Laurie Benson


Today it's the BlogTour Mrs Sommerby's Second Chance by Laurie Benson. This is a Seasoned Regency Romance.

Enter the Giveaway to Win 2 x Paperbacks of His Three-Day Duchess by Laurie Benson (Open INT)
About the Author
Laurie Benson is an award-winning author who writes flirty and frisky Regency romances. She began her writing career as an advertising copywriter, where she learned more than you could ever want to know about hot dogs and credit score reports. Now, she is happy to put that behind her and spend her time writing stories that take her and her readers on a romantic adventure. When she isn’t at her laptop avoiding laundry, Laurie can be found browsing antique shops, going on ridiculously long hikes, or sitting in her car on the school pickup line. She lives with her husband and two sons in a house filled with testosterone—even her bunny is a boy.

Follow @LaurieBWrites on Twitter, on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Goodreads,Visit lauriebenson.net

About the book
She’s played Cupid for others
Now she’s met her own unlikely match!
The final book of The Sommersby Brides quartet. Widowed society matchmaker Mrs. Clara Sommersby thinks self-made businessman William Lane is just the man for her neighbor’s overlooked daughter. He’s successful and confident, if emotionally distant, until suddenly—shockingly—his attention turns to Clara herself! She thought her days of romance were over, but is this younger man intent on giving her a second chance?
Review
This is a Seasoned Regency Romance, the main character is a mature heroine in her forties, which is something I found quite refreshing. Regency romances tend to focus on young women. Nubile, fertile, feisty or innocent, as long as they are quite young. So, reading a plot with a more mature woman is not only breath of fresh air, it also allows for other storylines.

This is the fourth and final book in the Sommersby Brides series. Mrs Clara Sommersby enjoys her independence, in fact she has promised herself that she will never marry again, because of the oppressive patriarchal rules of society. If she were to marry again everything she owns would automatically become her husband's property. Including the hotel in Bath she absolutely loves to run secretly from the sidelines.

Her desires and needs become conflicted when she meets William Lane. Their instant attraction melds smoothly into a strong physical one, which leads to emotions she wasn't expecting to be thrown by ever again. However in the back of her head she knows that it can only go so far. Eventually he will want commitment and there is no way she can give that to him.

I have to hand it to Benson, she knows how to write a bodice-ripper. She clearly not only has a talent for writing, but also for spinning the Regency wheel the right way with all of the nuances, etiquette and ostentatious characters.

It's a seasoned Regency romance, a love story with a more mature main character. It's titillating and breathtaking in a way only these type of romances can be.

Buy Mrs Sommersby's Second Chance at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Mills & Boon Historical; pub date 25 July 2019. Buy at Amazon com. At Barnes &NobleGoogle Play iBooks Kobo Waterstones  WHSmith


Enter the Giveaway to Win 2 x Paperbacks of His Three-Day Duchess by Laurie Benson (Open INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will 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.*

Sunday, 4 August 2019

#BlogBlitz One of Us by Rachel McLean


Today it's the Blog Blitz for One of Us by Rachel McLean. It's book 3 in The Village sreies and the sequel to Sea of Lies.
About the Author
My name's Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.What does that mean? In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you'd like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I'll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I'll let you know when my books are on offer.
About the book
‘Leave, or die.’
Jess Dyer has won safety for her sister-in-law Ruth and proved her worth as the leader of her refugee community.
Sarah Evans has stood up to her parents and discovered who she can trust.
But the villagers still aren’t welcome. When the local population expresses its anger, can Jess keep everyone safe? And can she hold it together as Steward when someone she loves dies?
And how will Sarah react when her new fiancee Martin receives death threats, telling him he must leave her, and their village?
One Of Us is a gripping thriller about belonging and acceptance. It’s the third book in the Village trilogy, and the sequel to Sea Of Lies.
Review
I've said this before about The Village series premise, but it's worth repeating, the reason it is so compelling is the fact it doesn't stray far from what could realistically happen. So, despite it being a dystopian setting it still has a sense of realism to it that rings true.

In fact when you consider what is going on in the Peak District at the moment with the threat of the Whaley Bridge dam bursting and a possible impending collapse, and the evacuation of over 6500 people from their homes, then this doesn't seem far-fetched at all. It's just on a bigger more national scale.

In this sequel to Sea of Lies, the women are still coming to terms with the aftermath of their kidnapping and the new relationships and members of their community. Not everyone is finding it easy to put the nightmare behind them.

This includes the rest of the villagers who are unwilling to accept newcomers into the fold. A slightly hypocritical stance seeing as the majority of them were once refugees who were accepted by others. When the government decides it's time for their version of dystopian bedroom tax or move out - the villagers will have to rethink their positions. I swear there is always some type of oppressive regime that survives a catastrophe. A bit like cockroaches.

The focus in this book is on Jess again and the strict rules and structure of life after a major catastrophe. I felt it could have done with a little more depth and less skittering around from one place and person to the next, but the premise keeps the story kicking above water.

It's an intriguing dystopian story with plenty of room for development and further books.

Buy One of Us (The Village Book 3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at books2read.

Read my review of Sea of Lies and Thicker than Water by Rachel McLean.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

#BlogTour Buried Treasure: is not always what it seems by Gilli Allan


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Buried Treasure: is not always what it seems by Gilli Allan.
About the Author
Gilli Allan began to write in childhood - a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.

After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.

Currently published by Accent Press, each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.

Follow @gilliallan on Twitter, at Amazonat Accent Press, on Facebook, on Goodreads, at RNA,
Visit gilliallan.blogspot.com


About the book
Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.

Review
In a way this is about two different kinds of buried treasure, which is also an element of the story that connects the two main characters. Jane is fascinated with the treasure her uncle found many years ago and was confiscated in its entirety barring one piece. Theo on the other hand is looking for treasure of the archaeological kind. The proof or evidence of the existence of an ancient civilisation close to his university campus.

Two different types of treasures, priceless and of equal importance. Two completely different people, who find it difficult to find commonalities and thrive on the differences. In fact they use the differences to keep walls up between the two of them.

I think it's fair to say that the way Jane lives her life and makes all of her decisions is influenced by her relationship with her sister. More so by the fact she feels like second best and never quite good enough, because that's the way her sibling likes her to feel. It probably explains a lot of her interactions with Theo.

I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters. It wasn't the writing per se, but rather the way nothing appeared to connect, flow or intersect in any way in the beginning. A little bit of literary smugness in outsmarting the reader. I haven't read anything by Allan before, so it could just be her specific style of writing and storytelling. Then again maybe I should just come back to it again at a later date in time.

It's a contemporary romance, a mystery bound in historical fiction. Two people who share more than they think, despite them seeming worlds apart on the surface.

Buy Buried Treasure: is not always what it seems at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.