Wednesday, 1 April 2020

#BlogTour The Philosopher's Daughters by Alison Booth


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#PublicationDayPush Redeeming the Reclusive Earl by Virginia Heath


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#BlogTour Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


#BlogTour Dark Corners by Darren O'Sullivan


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read my review of Closer Than You Think


Tuesday, 31 March 2020

#BlogTour Beyond the Yew Tree by Rachel Walkley


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ordinary women. Extraordinary experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#BlogTour Children of War by Ahmet Yorulma


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

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

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

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

Follow Ahmet Yorulma on Goodreads, Buy Children of War


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 30 March 2020

#BlogTour A Question of Country by Sue Parritt


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read my review of Re-Navigation by Sue Parritt.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

#BlogTour How to Carry Fire by Christina Thatcher


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour How to Carry Fire by Christina Thatcher.

About the Author
Shortlisted for the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry  Collection Competition in 2015 and a winner in the Terry Hetherington Award for Young Writers in 2016, Christina Thatcher’s poetry and short stories have featured in over 40 publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, And Other Poems, Acumen and The Interpreter’s House. Her first collection, More than you were, was published by Parthian Books in 2017.

Follow @writetoempower @parthianbooks on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit christinathatcher.comBuy How to Carry Fire


About the book
How to Carry Fire was born from the ashes of family addiction. Beginning with the burning down of her childhood home, Thatcher explores how fire can both destroy and cleanse. Her work recognises embers everywhere: in farmhouses, heroin needles, poisonous salamanders.

Thatcher reveals how fire is internalised and disclosed through anxiety, addiction, passion and love. Underneath and among the flames runs the American and Welsh landscapes – locations which, like fire itself, offer up experiences which mesmerise, burn and purify. This poignant second collection reminds us of how the most dangerous and volatile fires can forge us – even long after the flames have died down.

Review
Poetry is very much a form of art - written art. It is also, when you leave aside structure, an absolutely subjective experience, regardless of whether it is performed for you or read by oneself. The base reaction to words, phrases and even sound is an experience each person owns, which is why I am highly sceptical of third parties evaluating an interpretation of a poem. I mean this more in an academic sense.

You can evaluate if I have recognised stanza, line length or other technical things - what you can't do is decide what I should be experiencing or how I interpret a poem. Although the author owns their own emotions, truth and their words, even they don't know how your own frame of references will experience their words.

This book contains over sixty poems. Word-art that speaks to the pain, the trauma, the fear and disappointment felt over decades. Words thrust upon paper in an attempt to understand, confront and eventually heal.

Arson - what does happen when life infuses you with fire? The kind you can't control as it controls every part of you. You feel, breathe and live it. An anonymous silent partner feeding your internal turmoil.

Most Days - almost an ode to a specific type of body dysmorphia linked to flashbacks. Severe trauma causing an out of body experience. Injuries heal, but scars are constant travelling companions in our lives.

Thatcher takes a sharp knife, draws it slowly down her arm and opens her vein to show her readers her fire, her pain that lives just below the surface and the demons she has tried to silence during her lifetime. Her poetry is a release, a reminder and hopefully also a rescue.

Buy How to Carry Fire at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Parthian Books; pub date 1 April 2020 Paperback / Poetry - £9.00. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

#BlogBlitz One Last Shot by Stephen Anthony Brotherton


Today it's my turn on the Blog Blitz One Last Shot by Stephen Anthony Brotherton.
About the Author
I was born in Walsall, grew up in the West Midlands and now live in Telford with my two cats, Boris and Tai.

After working in the health and social care sector for over thirty years, I have now written the trilogy that has been rooted in my head for most of my life.

The Shots trilogy is based on a first love relationship I had as a teenager. It tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop three decades after the end of their teenage romance. How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart, and what happens when they reunite is all told through a series of first person vignettes.

Getting these stories down on paper has been a cathartic process. I hope you enjoy them.

Follow @FreddieJoJo1 on Twitter, on Instagram, on AmazonBuy One Last Shot


About the book
Can first love ever be reignited?
One Last Shot concludes the trilogy of Freddie and Jo-Jo, which has moved through time in a series of flashbacks, showing how the couple fell in love as teenagers, why they drifted apart, what happened in their lives away from each other, and what happens when they meet up again over three decades later. At the end of the second book, An Extra Shot, Jo-Jo tells Freddie about her dark secret. Confused, vulnerable and in a state of shock, he says he needs time to think about what to do next. Jo-Jo’s right to be worried. Freddie doesn’t react well...

Review
This is the last book in the trilogy - the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo. I wouldn't say it's necessary to read the others per se, because this can be read as a standalone novella, but if you want the entire gist of their story I would advise reading Another Shot and An Extra Shot too.

In the account of their relationship this book deals with the fallout of a dark secret Jo-Jo decides to reveal to Freddie, which has unexpected consequences for both of them.

Taking into account that the author says this is semi-autobiographical I hope the reactions to Freddie and his attempt to deal with his pain aren't based on real conversations, because they are uninformed, insensitive and ignorant.

Lack of understanding is the last thing Freddie needs when his emotional turmoil drives him to most extreme thing he can think of. Pull yourself together - get over it - it will be fine - those just aren't the right things to say or the best way to deal with him. Find more informed help, and if you read this and are in a similar situation or are having thoughts like Freddie this absolutely isn't the response you should expect or deserve.

I found the bouncing back and forth into different timelines and experiencing the memories of Freddie and Jo-Jo a little disjointed in a sense that it was often difficult to comprehend the connection the author was trying to make from one memory or experience to the other, and how it related to the present.

It's very much as Brotherton says himself, a cathartic process. A rush or waterfall of emotions being pushed forth into the atmosphere.

Buy One Last Shot at Amazon Uk. Publisher: Book Guild Publishing Ltd; pub date 28 Feb. 2020. Buy at Amazon com. At Waterstones. At Blackwells.


Friday, 27 March 2020

#BlogTour Lemon Drizzle Mondays at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Lemon Drizzle Mondays at the Little Duck Pong Cafe by Rosie Green.
About the Author
Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by 'the baddies'.

Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all - unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie's series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Cafe', is out now.

Rosie has also written a full-length, standalone book, 'Snowflakes over Moondance Cottage', out now.

Follow @Rosie_Green1988  on Twitter on Goodreads, on AmazonBuy Lemon Drizzle Mondays at the Little Duck Pond Cafe


About the book
Molly Hooper has a secret. It haunts her dreams and casts a dark shadow over life with her gorgeous three-year-old daughter, Eva. Arriving in Sunnybrook has given her a glimpse of sunshine. The Little Duck Pond Cafe crew seem so welcoming and there's even the chance of a new job. Baking delicious cakes has always taken Molly to a happy place, so the job - at the glorious Brambleberry Manor Cafe - might just be perfect for her. It would mean she and little Eva could finally put down some roots at last. But is Sunnybrook the sanctuary Molly is searching for? Or will the past come back to haunt her, wherever she hides?

Review
Molly is stuck in a situation that doesn't seem to have a solution. The life she has built up for herself and her young daughter is marred by someone with nefarious intentions. Someone who lured her into a trap when she was vulnerable and unfortunately it appears to be the kind of trap that won't end well for her.

She takes solace in the fact she has found a new job at the Little Duck Pond Cafe where everyone, well nearly everyone, is welcoming and interested in her well-being. The job also comes with the perk of having to serve the occasional scrumptious customer now and again.

Her heart isn't really in a place where it can trust her emotions or the reactions of men, because so far her experience of men in general has been one of avoidance, threats and fear. It will take more than a pair of beautiful eyes to change her mind about that.

I really liked the way Green inserted a sub-storyline with a more serious tone into this romcom. It sort of delivers the joyful message with one of hope. To never give up and that there are always people out there willing to help or share a kind gesture. In fact if we all did just one kind thing for someone else every so often then I am sure the world would soon become a brighter and more optimist place., and if a piece of cake was part of the deal I am sure we would all be a lot happier too.

The act of doing something kind for someone without expecting anything yourself other than that person pass it on via their own act or gesture of kindness is something we can all get behind. It's not limited to country continent, race, religion, gender or age, and it also a concept we can all comprehend.

It's a romcom with big heart and plenty of goodwill.

Buy Lemon Drizzle Mondays at the Little Duck Pond Cafe at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

#BlogTour Two Lives by A Yi


Happy Publication Day and it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Two Lives: Tales of Life, Love & Crime by A Yi, translated by Alex Woodend.
About the Author
A Yi (author) is a celebrated Chinese writer living in Beijing. He worked as a police officer before becoming editor-in chief of Chutzpah,an avant garde literary magazine. He is the author of several collections of short stories and has published fiction in Granta and the Guardian. In 2010 he was
shortlisted for the People's Literature Top 20 Literary Giants of the Future. A Perfect Crime, his first book in English was published by Oneworld in 2015. He is noted for his unsentimental worldview,and challenging literary style.

Alex Woodend (Translator) is a writer/translator whose fascination with Spanish and Chinese began at Franklin & Marshall College. He continued his studies at Columbia University where he wrote his Masters on early post-Mao literature. Translator of The Captain Riley Adventures , Murder in Dragon City, and other works, he currently lives in New York.

Follow A Yi on GoodreadsBuy Two Lives

About the book
Seven stories, seven whispers into the ears of life: A Yi’s unexpected twists of crime burst from the everyday, with glimpses of romance distorted by the weaknesses of human motive. A Yi employs his forensic skills to offer a series of portraits of modern life, both uniquely Chinese,and universal in their themes.
Review
These are seven stories, seven vastly different tales about the imperfection of humankind. The depths people can and do sink to when life doesn't go their way or a simple blip seems like an insurmountable barrier.

This book contains the following stories: Two Lives, Attic, Spring, Bach, Human Sum, Fat Duck and Predator.

Two Lives - I suppose it's up to each reader to determine the moral of this story or indeed any one of the following. I felt as if the monk closing the door became the supposed the catalyst for future events and behaviour. 'You deny me therefore you are to blame for my choices.'

The monk's behaviour becomes the path travelled analogy except he closes off one path therefore is to blame for the more volatile choices Zhou makes. Or, as I would argue, were those choices always part of his character and a possibility?

Attic - favourite sentence ' just lie there and let the man poke, be good'. That just literally describes the fraction of women who support and encourage the misogyny the patriarchal society is steeped in. When the pressures put on certain genders cause the kind of reaction that is unfathomable.

Predator - As in Attic the dysfunctional relationship between mother and child plays a role. In general how narcissism and control defines the structure of family relationships, and more importantly the way siblings interact when the negativity comes from the mother - the caregiver. The obsessive, neurotic fear of death becomes an almost self-fulfilling prophecy. I think therefore it is. I create enough negative energy to invoke something in another person that swallows them whole.

It's literary fiction - noir meets cynicism and the reality of human failings.

I think it's possible, despite the excellent translation, that perhaps some of the style and specific literary quirk of this author gets lost along the way. A certain essence perhaps that is often only notable in original language.

A Yi likes to expand the consciousness of mind and language, which doesn't always end with beauty, because the reality is that the world is full of cruelty, mistakes, greed and selfishness. These stories serve as a reminder of the obscure nature of life and its very many bitter endings.

Buy Two Lives at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 26 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Towards the Vanishing Point by Jan Turk Petrie


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Towards the Vanishing Point by Jan Turk Petrie.
About the Author
The author Jan Turk Petrie lives in the Cotswolds, S.W. England. She is the author of the fast paced Nordic thriller series: the Eldísvík novels. All three of these novels are set in 2068 in a fictional city state just below the arctic circle.

'Until the Ice Cracks' - the first of the trilogy was published in July 2018.
Volume Two - 'No God for a Warrior' was published in November 2018
The third and final volume - 'Within Each Other's Shadow' was published in April 2019

The ebook boxset - The Eldísvík Trilogy was published in August 2019. Jan's fourth novel - 'Too Many Heroes' - a gripping new post-war thriller set in the East End of London was published in August 2019. Her fifth book  ' Towards the Vanishing Point' was published in Jan 2020.

A former English teacher with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, Jan has also written numerous, prize-winning short stories.

Follow @TurkPetrie on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit janturkpetrie.comBuy Towards the Vanishing Point

About the book
What would you do if your best friend was about to risk everything?
In the North of England in1938, two ten-year-old girls, Lily Hetherington and Stella Marsden, form a close if unlikely friendship that endures despite their wartime experiences. After the war, the two women are working as nursing auxiliaries when Lily meets male nurse Will Bagshaw. Stella begins to hear sinister rumours about the man, but the besotted Lily won’t listen to a word said against him.

Can Stella make her see sense before it’s too late? Building to a tense, dramatic climax, this is a story of friendship, love, loyalty and the ultimate betrayal.

Review
The chapters building up to Lily and her relationship with Will take up half of the book, so the general feel of it is one of two friends growing up and coming-of-age together.

Stella and Lily have a friendship formed from an unusual connection and perhaps because their lives are different, then again it might be despite of those differences. Either way the two of them forge the kind of bond that lasts many years regardless of what life throws their way.

They bungle their way through childhood, teenage years and young adulthood with heartache and disruption. The kind of life-changing surprises that can either solidify relationships or break them.

What do they say - no smoke without fire? Some people think Will is dodgy others just think he is unlucky. What are the chances of losing multiple wives tragically, even if it's not at the same time. Unfortunately the warning signs the son is exhibiting are all attributed to the death of his mother and the grief he is feeling.

It's historical fiction with contemporary issues woven into the story. It fills me with sadness that it is one of those topics that hasn't really made enough progress, despite this tale going back over half a century. Domestic violence and coercive control are still grossly misunderstood and the handling of it is still less than satisfactory.

But the author puts more of a sinister mark on it by giving it a bit of a Dr. Crippen vibe - making this more of a crime read, but then this author does like to mix it up a little.

Buy Towards the Vanishing Point at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pintail Press; pub date 2 Jan. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Too Many Heroes by Jan Turk Petrie.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

#BlogTour Blackwood by Michael Farris Smith


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Blackwood by Michael Farris Smith.
About the Author
Michael Farris Smith is the author of Blackwood (2020), The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. His essays have appeared with The New York Times, Bitter Southerner, Writer’s Bone, and more. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and daughters.

Follow @michael_f_smith on Twitteron Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit michaelfarrissmith.comBuy Blackwood

About the book
In this timeless, mythical tale of unforgiving justice and elusive grace, rural Mississippi townsfolk shoulder the pain of generations as something dangerous lurks in the enigmatic kudzu of the woods.

The town of Red Bluff, Mississippi, has seen better days, though those who've held on have little memory of when that was. Myer, the county's aged, sardonic lawman, still thinks it can prove itself -- when confronted by a strange family of drifters, the sheriff believes that the people of Red Bluff can be accepting, rational, even good.

The opposite is true: this is a landscape of fear and ghosts -- of regret and violence -- transformed by the kudzu vines that have enveloped the hills around it, swallowing homes, cars, rivers, and hiding a terrible secret deeper still.

Colburn, a junkyard sculptor who's returned to Red Bluff, knows this pain all too well, though he too is willing to hope for more when he meets and falls in love with Celia, the local bar owner. The Deep South gives these noble, broken, and driven folks the gift of human connection while bestowing upon them the crippling weight of generations. With broken histories and vagabond hearts, the townsfolk wrestle with the evil in the woods -- and the wickedness that lurks in each and every one of us.
Review
This story is driven in various directions with a rural Mississippi town and its people in the midst of it all. Townspeople that live off the myths, the gossip and the paranoia of the darkness that consumes their town and the surrounding area.

The drifter family who wander in and play a pivotal part in the story are perhaps the most interesting, because the author never deems it necessary to name them, almost as if a name makes them real and gives them a better hold in the events that happen. It's just the woman, the man and the boy.

Then there is Colburn, a man who has never truly been able to escape the darkness and pain of his childhood. Is coming back a way to face his inner demons and guilt head on?

It's hard to pin this down, perhaps because it mixes multiple darker genres together. It has a noirish vibe, often the charm of a Southern gothic, but ultimately for me this was bordering on horror. No matter how much it had a pinky inclined tea-drinking feel to it - it always came back to creepy, mysterious and disturbing. A kind of Twin Peaksesque sense of plotting, which is thrown into disarray with the reality of things that go bump in the night.  The horror behind the mask of small town normality.

I think it's fairly easy to visualise where the author was going with the story, but in all fairness I can see why some readers might feel as if they aren't being given enough information. The kind of story that works well with imagery, as opposed to many words. It's appears to be a style thing. The author wants images to override the words. Feel the clinging darkness of the kudzu, the claustrophobic nature of the wet earth in the dank oppressive cave.

Buy Blackwood at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: No Exit Press; pub date 19 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

#BlogTour Game Changer by Lasairiona E. McMaster


Well hello, yesterday was my turn on the BlogTour Game Changer by Lasairiona E. McMaster, but I straight up forgot - so sorry for that!
About the Author
Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did - with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself 'home', with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation.

With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

Follow Lasairiona @QueenofFireLas on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreads, Visit lasandcolgotexan.com, Buy Game Changer


About the book
AJ Williams wasn’t supposed to fall in love with a girl on the internet. But he did.

Other than living over five thousand miles away in Northern Ireland, Lisa Millar is seemingly his perfect match. AJ can’t quite believe his luck, not only is she beautiful, but she has an appreciation for both music and hockey - two of his favorite things.

Surprised by Lisa turning up unannounced in Alabama, AJ is under pressure to deal with the issue at hand. Should he risk losing her, come clean and tell her the truth? Or should he try to keep his secret under wraps?

Will true love win out? Or will AJ’s secret be too much for Lisa to bear?
Review
When Jeremy sets his friend AJ up on a double-date it's more about Jeremy wanting to get into someone's knickers, as opposed to wanting his friend to meet a great girl.

The banter between AJ and Jeremy, and of course AJ's worst enemy - his own brain and conscience, is typical locker room stuff. Misogyny is part and parcel of their relationship goals and daily interactions with the opposite gender. They aren't exactly Prince Charming candidates, but they certainly think they are.

AJ is more than surprised when he finds himself attracted to Lisa, even if it is only via chat from one continent to another. They grow closer and a spark of attraction grows into something neither of them expects. Unfortunately there are bigger barriers than oceans between them.

Let me just warn you - AJ really likes to talk to himself. He has a constant internal dialogue with himself, to the point where I am not sure he is listening because he spends all of his time having internal conversations. At times he isn't even sure whether he is saying it in his head or out loud.

It's the first in a young adult romance. A story very much driven by heightened emotions and the emotional turmoil that is felt by the young with such strength that the world always appears to be coming to an end when things don't go their way.

McMaster delivers a story full of passion, love and also one full of omissions, one that has potential for development. 

Buy Game Changer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Drama Llama Publishing; pub date 14 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Bloom Where You're Planted by Lasairiona E. McMaster.