Saturday, 19 June 2021

#BlogTour Volta by Nikki Dudley


 It's my turn on the BlogTour Volta by Nikki Dudley.

About the Author

Nikki Dudley studied for her BA and MA at Roehampton University. Published work includes: the thriller, Ellipsis, (2010); her chapbook, exits/origins (2010) and poetry collection, Hope Alt Delete (2017). One of Nikki’s poems was also featured in The Blackpool Illuminations (2016). Awards: ​-Novel, Volta, winner of the Virginia Prize for Fiction. Shortlisted in the London Writers’ Competition in 2003 for poetry. Won the Promise Prize for poetry in the London Writers’ Competition 2005. Novel, Ellipsis, shortlisted for the Ideastap Inspires programme in 2014. 

Nikki is Managing Editor of streetcake magazine, which she started with Trini Decombe in 2008. streetcake publishes an online issue every 2-3 months and in 2019, launched the streetcake experimental writing prize, supported by the Arts Council England. She also runs Mumwrite.com, a writing community for mothers.

She grew up in inner city London and attended state school in Camden. Nikki has been in love with words since she wrote short stories in her scrapbook at primary school and discovered what a metaphor was. 

Follow @nikkidudley20 or @streetcakemag on Twitter, Visit nikkidudleywriter.com

About the book

Winner of the Virginia Prize for Fiction 

When Briony Campbell confesses to killing her boyfriend, a straightforward crime soon turns into a baffling mystery.

Haunted by demons from his past, lawyer S.J. Robin is assigned to the case. But as confusion – and the body count – rises, he’s forced to question who is guilty and who is innocent. Can he see justice served and hold on to the woman he loves? Watch the booktrailer here


Review

Briony awakens to a certain set of circumstances with only one conclusion - she killed her boyfriend. Did she? No really, did she? The automatic response is doubt, the scales sway in both directions, but is there more to the story than meets the eye? 

The story is told through a trifecta of viewpoints: Briony - the alleged killer, Mari - Briony's doctor and SJ, who is Briony's lawyer.

Dudley gives the read a specific style. Short, pacy chapters. Switching from one viewpoint to the other and the reader gets both a barrel of emotions, facts and the occasional twists in an almost Flash Fiction like style. Often the paranoia, lack of trust and general confusion about what's going on, plus the attraction between two of the characters - all the intense emotions add to the feeling of the unstable undercurrent the reader can feel.

Thriller, crime story, romantic entanglement - all of that and more. Each character comes with their own baggage and trauma, which flows into the trifecta and bounces of each other, which leaves the reader often wondering if they are spectators in a large arena.

It's a very screenplay, visual imagery experience - scene, cut, reaction. It will be interesting to see what this author comes up with next.

Buy Volta at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Aurora Metro Books; PublishDrive  pub date 4 May 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Search for the House of Dreams by Alison Burke

 
 It's my turn on the BlogTour Search for the House of Dreams by Alison Burke.

About the Author

'I was born in Lancashire and started my career by training as a State Registered general nurse. Later, I joined the army and became an officer in the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. On a posting to Malaya, now Malaysia, I found my true love. This was an ideal setting for a marriage with young children, and now my memories are a wonderfully rich source of material for my writing.' Follow on Facebook, on Instagram, Visit alisonburkefictionwriter.com

About the book

It is the year 1847 in the elegant city of Bath where 18yr old Genevre Stratton is treated more as a servant than a daughter in the elegant house where bills are not paid, and the rent is in arrears.          

Appalled by the dishonesty and overriding social ambition beneath her parents’ veneer of respectability, only her love for her younger brother and sisters keeps her there. Left to cope alone when their false world falls apart, she fights to keep her siblings together, until poverty forces her to yield them to the care of their half-brother, George Coleman.  

Handsome, wealthy and charismatic, he is the enemy who becomes her lover. To surrender all to her passionate desire for him, or to keep the independence of a new-found musical career on the London stage? This is her is her choice to make, until an unexpected call of duty takes her to Paris. Must the old, dark secrets she discovers there alter the course of her life forever?

Review

As far as Genevre is concerned she is part of a respectable story with paths mapped out for all of them, especially the children of the family, but the truth is far from rosy. Fractured family relationships, money problems and living a huge charade to keep up with everyone else - all to the detriment of said children.

Genevre has to learn some very harsh lessons and at some point she also has to take a moment to think twice about the woman her mother is now, as opposed to the woman she once was or was supposed to be. Everything is determined through her particular frame of reference, her own experiences, but it's easy to forget it's the same for others.

Although this can be read as a standalone novel I believe the end leaves this open for a sequel or to be part of a series. Where does Genevre go from here?

It's a family saga, historical fiction and a story defined by the societal rules of the time. About a woman who is forced to step up as the surrogate parent when her parents are incapable or just not willing to parent themselves. It's about love, support and disillusionment on a certain level. Looking for your place in society and family, whilst not being entirely sure what that is suppose to look like.

It's a heartfelt, moving and engaging read. Perfect historical escapism.

Buy Search for the House of Dreams at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Lily Dale Press pub date 14 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Friday, 18 June 2021

#BlogTour The Five Things by Beth Merwood

 It's my turn on the BlogTour The Five Things by Beth Merwood.

About the Author

Beth Merwood is from the south of England. The Five Things is her debut novel. Follow @lizcity77 on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook, Visit bethmerwood.wixsite.com/write 

About the book

For nine-year-old Wendy, the summer of 1969 will never be forgotten. - Local kids have always told stories about the eerie wood on the outskirts of the village, and Wendy knows for sure that some of them are true. Now the school holidays have started and she's going to the wood again with Anna and Sam, but they soon become convinced that someone is trying to frighten them off.

When a terrible event rocks the coastal community, the young friends can't help thinking there must be a connection between the incident, the tales they’ve heard, and the strange happenings they’ve begun to witness. As glimpses of a darker world threaten their carefree existence, they feel compelled to search out the underlying truth.

Review

Wendy and her friends enjoy the freedom and liberties of the late 60s, something the children of the 21st century will never experience. Roaming around, exploring alone and with friends, and soaking in the world around them. Until something terrible happens and their world is changed forever.

Given the way it is written, from Wendy's perspective - first as a child and then as an adult - the majority of the book is in simplistic language and structure to perhaps reflect that. It could be marketed as a YA psychological thriller and for advanced middle grade readers. I have to say I found the narrator and narration often made me as the reader feel as if it was a factual experience told by the author about herself. It certainly gave the character an added element of realism.

From a language perspective it could do with some tightening up, and the conjecture at the end was superfluous. The simplicity of the trauma was enough to carry the story completely until the end. It's a story of childhood and how one event can change the way you interact with your world going forward. It speaks of the very specific nostalgia of childhood memories and moments. It's both a mystery and a coming-of-age story.

Buy The Five Things at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : ‎The Wild Rose Press Inc; pub date 3 May 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

#BlogTour The Last Days of Us by Caroline Finnerty

 It's my turn on the BlogTour The Last of Us by Caroline Finnerty.

About the Author

Caroline Finnerty is an Irish author of heart-wrenching family dramas and has published four novels and compiled a non-fiction charity anthology. She has been shortlisted for several short-story awards and lives in County Kildare with her husband and four young children. Her first title for Boldwood is The Last Days of Us, to be published in June 2021. 

Follow @cfinnertywriter on Twitter, on Instagram, on Bookbub, Visit carolinefinnerty.ie

About the book

They say if you love someone, you have to let them go. But what they are your child? All Sarah McIntyre has ever wanted was a loving, happy family. So when her husband JP announces on Christmas Day that he is leaving her and their two children, 9 year old Harry and 4 year old Robyn, Sarah is left reeling.

But things are set to get worse when Robyn is diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. Can JP and Sarah unite to fight their biggest battle yet? or will they be on opposing sides once again? With the couple at loggerheads and with Robyn's condition deteriorating day-by-day, precious time is running out and JP is getting desperate…

The Last Days of Us is a tender story of hope and forgiveness that asks the question how far would you go to save your child?

Review

Sarah thinks her family is picture perfect, until her husband pulls the plug on their white picket fence family. In the midst of their separation the health of one of their children starts to takes precedence over their difficulties. Unfortunately both parents think they know what's best for their child, they disagree completely with each other.

Aside from the fact this story is about the disintegration of a family and how they can redefine said family after the husband and father decides to leave, it is also one about an important topic of our time. Do you allow someone to die with dignity or keep them alive by what ever means necessary, especially if there is no realistic medical chance of recovery or survival. Do you prolong a life by a few months regardless of the pain you would be subjecting someone to? Then think of these questions and ask yourself whether your answers would be any different if the person in question was your child.

I found the divide between the two parents, when it came to the possible treatment or allowing their child to die, was the actual crux of the plot. It shows the divide we have in this country at the moment in regards to euthanasia or having the right to choose to die. It's about choice and power over your own body, so what does that mean when you are a child and depend on your parents to make the best choices for you.

It's a lovely story, perhaps at the core an upsetting one, but it is one about being able to focus on the important things when life becomes an emotional tornado. Whether parents are able to put their own drama aside to focus on what is right for their child and not what feels good and seems right for themselves.

Buy The Last Days of Us at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ Boldwood Books pub date 17 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

#BlogTour The Awful Truth about the Herbert Quarry Affair by Marco Ocram


 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Awful Truth about the Herbert Quarry Affair by Marco Ocram.

About the Author

Little is known of Marco Ocram’s earliest years. He was adopted at age nine, having been found abandoned in a Detroit shopping mall—a note taped to his anorak said the boy was threatening the sanity of his parents. Re-abandoned in the same mall a year later, with a similar note from his foster parents, he was homed with his current Bronx mom—a woman with no sanity left to threaten.

Ocram first gained public attention through his bold theories about a new fundamental particle—the Tao Muon—which he popularized in a best-selling book—The Tao Muon. He was introduced to the controversial literary theorist, Herbert Quarry, who coached Ocram in a radical new approach to fiction, in which the author must write without thinking—a technique to which Ocram was naturally suited. His crime memoir, The Awful Truth about the Herbert Quarry Affair, became the fastest selling book of all time, and made him a household name. It was translated into every known language—and at least three unknown ones—and made into an Oscar-winning film, a Pulitzer-winning play, a Tony-winning musical, and a Golden Joystick-winning computer game.

Ocram excelled at countless sports until a middle-ear problem permanently impaired his balance. He has yet to win a Nobel Prize, but his agent, Barney, has been placing strategic back-handers—announcements from Stockholm are expected soon. Unmarried, in spite of his Bronx mom’s tireless efforts, he still lives near his foster parents in New York. 

Follow @denishaughnessy on Twitter, Visit theawfulauthor.com

About the book

With a jangle of keys, a door opened. Herbert clanked in, his arms locked to his sides, his ankles shackled, his face a Hannibal Lecter mask. He was overjoyed to see me.

“Marco, I’m jailed day and night with murderous thugs who can’t tell Schiller from Shakespeare. I’m desperate for intellectual stimulus—but you’ll do for now.” 

TV personality Marco Ocram is the world’s only self-penned character, writing his life in real time as you read it. Marco’s celebrity mentor, Herbert Quarry, grooms him to be the Jackson Pollock of literature, teaching him to splatter words on a page without thought or revision.

Quarry’s plan backfires when imbecilic Marco begins to type his first thought-free book: it’s a murder mystery—and Herbert’s caught red-handed near the butchered body of his lover.

Now Marco must write himself into a crusade to clear his friend’s name. Typing the first words that come into his head, Marco unleashes a phantasmagorical catalogue of twists in his pursuit of justice, writing the world’s fastest-selling book to reveal the awful truth about the Herbert Quarry affair

Review

Tongue-in-cheek comes to mind. A satirical view on the work, life and times of an author. His books are his life in real time and very much a work in progress. One could say it happens as he writes it or because he writes it. He is the author of his own literary escapades and destiny, and unfortunately for everyone else, also of theirs.

At the start of each chapter Marco Marco, oh sorry Ocram, discusses writing strategy with his mentor Herbert Quarry. The same Herbert who ends up in the middle of the strategy that will determine success. The man who yields the sword is the servant who becomes the master. In fact it wouldn't be too far off to say he uses his status and power to create this convoluted, and yet highly entertaining read.

Ocram is the eccentric uncle, the mad scientist of the literary world, however he is also the wordsmith who wields his words with a veracity and precision worthy of the finest of critics.

I wasn't entirely sure where to put this at first. An anagram of sorts describes events as they happen, sometimes despite being told not to use certain tools of the trade or tropes to drive the story, and instead derives pleasure from doing exactly what is expected of him by the industry. Make no mistake it is both a story and a deconstruction of the art of telling a story. 

It's an incredibly clever concept which will possibly not get the recognition it deserves, because it is also the kind of read you have to be willing to embrace in its entirety. I liked it. Now tell me who you are. I want more.

Buy The Awful Truth about the Herbert Quarry Affair at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Tiny Fox Press pub date 15 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Courage by James Hardy


It's my turn on the BlogTour Courage by James Hardy. 

About the Author

James began writing COURAGE 40 years ago. He resurrected and rewrote the draft following a serious illness. His daughter, knowing he had the passion to write, dropped a notepad on his lap as he lay in a hospital bed and said, 'Now you have the time, write!'

About the book
Joanne Sinclair wants Leroy Martin's help to find a serial killer dubbed the Dorking Devil. The problem is, he's a criminal who spent two years in prison and she's the detective who helped put him there.

The unlikely duo team up to find the man and bring him down and, surprisingly, they make a good pair. But it isn't long before Leroy's past catches up with him, putting them both in grave danger.

Review

Leroy doesn't have to go out of his way to help anyone. The world hasn't been particularly kind or easy to him, but the truth is despite what certain people believe, he is strong enough to act on his base impulses, which is to help others when needed.

That's how he ends up in the midst of a crime being committed and the best intentions end up with the finger being pointed at him, so much for being a saviour and trying to make a difference. His encounter with a beast prowling the area for victims leads him straight into the arms of Joanne Sinclair.

Joanne and Leroy are indeed an unlikely pair, one wonders how much of their attraction is driven by guilt and respectively the desire to be acknowledged properly. Either way something deeper connects them.

It's full of tropes - some slightly unsavoury, and teeters on the edge of romanticising quite a few, even if it's is merely in the name of plot and character. Without those the gritty urban vibe of the story would be more at the forefront.

Hardy delivers urban crime at the core of which is a man who desires something as simple as depth in a relationship, peace and love. When everything else is stripped away, including mistakes and difficult roads taken, that is what remains for the majority of people.

Buy Courage at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Dark Edge Press pub date 14 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 14 June 2021

#BlogTour The Shadow Man by Mark Brownless

 It's my turn on the BlogTour the Shadow man by Mark Brownless.

About the Author

Mark Brownless lives and works in Carmarthen, West Wales. He has been putting ideas on paper for some years now but only when the idea for The Hand of an Angel came to him in the autumn of 2015 did he know he might be able to write a book. Mark likes to write about ordinary people being placed in extraordinary circumstances, is fascinated by unexplained phenomena, and enjoys merging thriller, science fiction and horror. Follow @markbrownless on Twitter, on Facebook, on Youtube

About the book

Idyllic memories? A perfect childhood? A secret buried for thirty years... None of us could remember why we drifted apart – we were always so close at school…

That was thirty years ago, and I hadn’t thought of my school friends in all that time – it was like they’d never existed. Then the dreams started. Dreams that I knew I’d had before. Horrific dreams of fear and fire and death.

Dreams of a ghostly urban legend who seemed to hang over my home village like an evil spirit – the Shadow Man. I’d begun to remember, and I knew we had to go back. What happened to us back then? Do we really want to know? Are we ready to face the Shadow Man again?

Review

Philippa knows in her gut that the dreams she is having are connected to something deeply disturbing, something evil. Somehow instinctively she also knows it is linked to some event when she was younger.

A mutual dream experience - perhaps if everyone is going through the same processing of emotions and memories at the same time. What could an event like that be triggered by and why would an old group of friends have the same kind of nightmares at the same time? What does their friend Janey know about it?

In fact Janey drums them all back together because she is determined to figure out what happened to them when they were younger. Have they all collectively been so traumatised that they have blocked out the truth?

It's a psychological thriller with a tinge of deep set fears and how we cope with trauma and said fears. The author hammers home how the human is the unreliable variable in any equation when it comes to memories. 

We only have space for a certain number of items in our short term memory and everything else is filed in long term, however not everyone has the same filing system. Retrieval can be partial or not at all, and even attached to other memories. On top of that our perception at the time of filing is framed through individual references and experiences, which explains why two people can experience the same event in a completely different way. The question is what exactly did they experience?

Buy The Shadow Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎SpellBound Books pub date 13 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low

 It's my turn on the BlogTour One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low.

About the Author

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and her first title for Boldwood was My One Month Marriage in January 2020. Sign up to Shari's newsletter


About the book

As the sun rises on a hot summer’s day, four lives are about to be changed forever... Brand new from the bestselling author of What If?, What Now? and One Day In Summer. Today, Maisie McTeer decides to track down the ex who jilted her at the altar. Today, she’ll find out that revisiting the past can also rewrite her future. 

After losing her husband, Harriet Bassett can no longer bear her lonely life. Today, a familiar face in a crowd will spark a quest to discover if there’s something and someone worth living for. 

Scott and Kelly Bassett’s daughter is leaving home. Today, Scott plans to tell Kelly that he’s ending their marriage to pursue his rock and roll dreams. However, Kelly, has a bombshell of her own. How will Scott react to the news that a new arrival is on the way to fill their empty nest? Between sunrise and sunset, there’s love, heartbreak, laughter and tears, but who will find happiness at the end of the day?

Review

Maisie finds herself in a situation that forces her to face the past and ultimately to find closure when it comes to her past. Call it kismet, when she returns to the scene of her greatest heartache. She needs to face the bad to be able to open her eyes to the good.

Harriet is someone who has faded into the background since the death of her husband. Nobody realises how lonely she is and perhaps even she doesn't realise how much she would like a taste of life again. And Scott and Kelly are the perfect example of what happens when a couple lives next to each instead of with each other. Together they all make this the perfect conga line of mistakes -linked together through a common denominator.

The story taking place in the time constraints of one day is an interesting way to go about it, I think it would make a great screen experience given the right screenplay adaptation. The stories of the characters connect with ach other to create a honeycomb version of a plot.

Low likes to deliver stories with a lot of heart and the kind of tales that people can relate to. Families with secrets, characters who are just like you, me or your loved ones. 

Buy One Summer Sunrise at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books pub date 3 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

#BlogTour Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

 It's my turn on the BlogTour Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau.

About the Author

Jessica Anya Blau is the author of US bestselling novel The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and three other critically acclaimed novels, most recently The Trouble With Lexie. Her novels have been recommended and featured on CNN, NPR, The Today Show and in Vanity Fair, Cosmo, O Magazine, and many other US magazines and newspapers. 

Follow @JessicaAnyaBlau on Twitter, Visit jessicaanyablau.com

About the book

Set in 1975 suburban Baltimore, Blau’s breakout novel introduces Mary Jane, a sheltered teenage girl whose world opens up when she lands a summer job as the nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house. 

The Cone house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it’s a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, Impeachment: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and takeaway for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane’s mother to know, which she does not): the doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job—helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife—Jimmy and Sheba— move in.

Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule and has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be.

A nostalgic trip into the 1970’s, Mary Jane is a timeless coming of age story about finding yourself, all wrapped up with lots of humour, a dash of teenage rebellion and plenty of rock and roll. 

Review

When confronted with a completely different lifestyle Mary Jane is in a position to both directly compare her parents and her employer's parenting skills. The result is two-fold, she realises she wants something akin to what she knows, but slightly different, and just how much she is a product of her upbringing.

Taking care of a young child, who at best seems a little lost and at worst neglected, helps her to mature emotionally. Seeing the world through the eyes of people who live life without rules and with a sense of abandonment creates doubt and worry. It awakens senses, emotions and desires. It awakens the Mary Jane her parents fear.

It reminded me of the nostalgia and atmospheric read of Emma Cline's Girls, and the empowering chaos of discovery and evolution of Daisy Jones. By setting it in the mid 70s the author also captures the growing differences in society. The recognition of a society seeped in racism and white supremacy, the complete explosion of freedom of the 60s becoming a more decisive movement, and a generation starting to break out of those molds.

It's important to note, especially when it comes to the young child, that certain parenting techniques or attitudes to child rearing would set off alarm bells for social workers in our era. Life didn't evolve around the child, the child slotted into the life the parents led. Leaving them unsupervised, alone and having them present during during moments when children shouldn't be observing and taking everything on board - the norm for the 70s. 

Mary-Jane and her parents represent the old and new generations, the three on one path heading towards a crossroads in life. It also shows the clear divide between what is deemed respectable and appropriate for a girl. That exploring fashion, feelings of desire, sexuality and coming-of-age in general does not equate to a girl or woman being slutty.

Blau writes with a keen understanding of the emotional turmoil and mind-set of a teenage girl. She does so without presenting the usual tropes of the Lolita or demonising the parents. It's a compelling read with a foot in one timeline and the rest of the body surging through to another. Excellent read.

Buy Mary Jane at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Custom House, an imprint of HarperCollins pub date 27th May - Hardback, £20* - also available in ebook and digital audio (with original song). Buy at Amazon com. At Waterstones.

#BlogTour The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig

It's my turn on the BlogTour The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig.

About the Author

Francesca Haig grew up in Tasmania and is an academic and writer, whose poetry and YA/crossover fantasy have been widely published. She lives in London with her husband and son. This is her first novel for adults. Follow @FrancescaHaig on Twitter, Visit francescahaig.com

About the book

A heart-rending tale of a family in turmoil after the death of a child is kept secret from one of his siblings.

When Gill and Gabe's eldest son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth.

Told through alternating perspectives, and moving between Tasmania and London, this is a novel about family, food, grief and hope.

For readers of Celeste Ng, Delia Owens, and Anne Tyler, this dramatic, poetic novel explores the many ways that a family can break down - and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.

Review

I will be counting this as one of my top reads for 2021. It's an evocative story about a family dealing with the death of their loved one by concealing his death from one of his siblings in an attempt to save another of their children.

With this first venture out of the YA sub-genre, the author shows incredible depth and maturity in her storytelling and character development. The element of grief is viewed from the perspective of each character, all of whom react differently to the tragedy that threatens to make their world implode. 

There is no statistically proven adhering to stages of grief in order to cope, because the truth is grief doesn't read the same books or listen to the same experts we do. It has it's own agenda and can be very different for each person, especially when it comes the position in the family hierarchy or dynamics - and this very important nuance is exactly what Haig captures.

As if the above wasn't enough to capture the attention of the reader and hold it with an equal measure of sympathy and empathy, indeed there were moments that tugged at the heart and opened the doors for silent weeping. It's beautiful. I loved it. It's the kind of book I would (and will) buy for others and just say - read this.

Buy The Cookbook of Common Prayer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Allen and Unwin - Hardback & eBook | 3 June 2021 | £14.99. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

#BlogTour Embers by Josephine Greenland

 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Embers by Josephine Greenland.

About the Author

Josephine Greenland is a Swedish–English writer from Eskilstuna, Sweden. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham and a BA in English from the University of Exeter. She is the winner of the 2019 Bumble Bee Flash Fiction Competition by Pulp Literature, the 2017 Fantastic Female Fables Competition by Fantastic Books Publishing, and also the runner-up in the 2018 Summer Solstice Competition by Wild Words. 

Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Dream Catcher, Literary Yard, Soft Cartel Mag, Plum Tree Tavern, Porridge Magazine, Litro and AHF Magazine. She has also been highly commended in competitions by TSS Publishing and Cinnamon Press. In 2017, she was awarded the Young Writer’s Bursary by Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival.

In August 2019, Josephine began a PGDE course at the University of Edinburgh to become a Secondary English teacher. When not writing or teaching, she enjoys playing the violin, running and hiking. Embers is her first novel and was written during her MA course. It is based on her own travels in northern Sweden two years ago with her brother. 

Follow @greenland_jm on Twitter, Visit linktr.ee/josephinegreenland

About the book

Two siblings, one crime. One long-buried secret.17-year-old Ellen never wanted a holiday. What is there to do in a mining town in the northernmost corner of the country, with no one but her brother Simon – a boy with Asperger’s and obsessed with detective stories – for company?

Nothing, until they stumble upon a horrifying crime scene that brings them into a generations-long conflict between the townspeople and the native Sami.

When the police dismiss Simon’s findings, he decides to track down the perpetrator himself. Ellen reluctantly helps, drawn in by a link between the crime and the siblings’ own past. What started off as a tedious holiday soon escalates into a dangerous journey through hatred, lies and self-discovery that makes Ellen question not only the relationship to her parents, but also her own identity

Review

Ellen is reluctant to take a holiday and even more reluctant to take her brother Simon with her. The trip becomes a journey into the past and a forest of lies. It also becomes a journey to solve a grotesque crime, a crime which is connected to their own heritage - they just don't know it yet. The attempts to cover up a crime and pervert the course of justice are a something Simon can't and won't accept.

I find it interesting how both the existence and treatment of the Sámi people remain something akin to a dirty secret. The Scandinavian societies are generally perceived as forward thinking and modern in certain areas, and also often held up as examples for the rest of Europe.

The truth is that they have their fair share of problems that are kept nice and quiet, including the history of the mistreatment of their indigenous people. Unfortunately the systemic racism, irrational hatred and attempt to ignore their historical importance is still prevalent. Instead of gaining insight into the past, heritage and the mystical link they have with their surroundings - Scandinavians (not all) choose to treat the Sámi people with contempt. 

I truly hope Greenland revisits this riveting sleuthing duo and writes another book featuring the siblings. The combination of the reluctant older sister, the younger brother with a lack of impulse control and their crime solving seen through the lens of a someone with Asperger's, really makes for a great read.

Buy Embers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Unbound Digital pub date 18 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

#BlogTour Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

 
It's my turn on the BlogTour Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica.

About the Author

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many novels. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. Mary lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. 

Follow @MaryKubica on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit marykubica.com, on Facebook at MaryKubica

About the book

People don’t just disappear without a trace… Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried. 

Review

Wow, that's messed up - typical Kubica though. 

Shelby isn't exactly going where she said she was going when she disappeared. Then not long after another woman and her six-year-old child also vanish. Are the events connected and if so what the heck is going on? Where are Delilah and her mother Meredith?

This dual timeline story goes from the past - before the disappearances, and eleven years into the future when one of them reappears out of the blue. The loved ones have difficulty accepting the return. The victim isn't the same person she was before she vanished. 

It's a dark domestic thriller that is a bit like a maze with many corridors leading to the conclusion, although there are plenty of red herrings. To be fair I felt as if some of the questions were left unanswered, not all of the threads were tied off neatly. Just a bit frustrating (wonders if I should email the author and ask where xyz is?).

At times it seems as if everyone gets lost in the many different threads, both the readers and the author. As if the it ends up somewhere completely unexpected and not entirely planned. It doesn't change the fact it's a good read though.

Buy Local Woman Missing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ pub date 18 May 2021. Buy at Amazon com. At Waterstones.

#BlogTour Into the Mouth of the Lion by A.B. Kyazze

 

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Into the Mouth of the Lion by A.B. Kyazze.

About the Author

A.B. Kyazze is a British-American writer and photographer. She spent more than 18 years writing and taking photographs in humanitarian crises across the globe in Africa, Asia and the Balkans. Into the Mouth of the Lion is her debut novel. She recently published short stories in The Great Lakes Review, Byte the Book and The National Anthology of Flash Fiction 2019 (UK). She also writes book reviews and articles, and teaches creative writing classes for children. Follow @abkwriting on Twitter

About the book

Angola, 2002. In the last days of a vicious civil war, it is a dangerous landscape rife with rebel soldiers, land mines, corruption and deception. A suspicious explosion kills a beloved nurse, while another humanitarian worker goes missing.

Lena Rodrigues, a young photographer, flies out to Angola's highlands to piece together the reasons behind her sister's disappearance. But will she have the strength to bear witness to the truth, before she gets entangled in the country's conflict for minerals and power?

Review

Lena, in all of her privileged naiveté, doesn't really have any idea what she has let herself in for by flying halfway across the globe to look for her sister in Angola. To the team on the ground, DJ's team, she is a liability for exactly that reason. 

DJ is more of a fleeting image or a mirage in the book. Now and again the reader gets a short chapter or paragraph of her emotional state of mind and where she is headed, but no idea when that happened and if she is still safe. The death of her friend has caused a breakdown in communication - her grief has made her an uncontrollable variable.

Kyazze creates this fictional story around the factual events of the brutal Angolan Civil war or the tail-end of the unrest. The more personal fractious relationship between two sisters is indicative of the many stories that go unheard in war zones, especially ones driven with such brutality and frenzy of opposing forces.

Kudos to the author for the way she approached the character of DJ and the way she takes part in the story. The dipping in, the almost lyrical moments that are anonymous in a sense that the reader knows but there is a lack of direct reference to whom the scenes refer. It creates this beauty and fragile moments in the midst of the reality of what is taking place with Lena and the team.

Definitely a book I would recommend, certainly an author I would like to read more by.

Buy Into the Mouth of the Lion at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ Unbound Digital pub date 6 May 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour She Never Told Me About the Ocean by Elisabeth Sharp McKetta


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour She Never Told Me About the Ocean by Elisabeth Sharp McKetta.

About the Author

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta grew up in Austin, Texas. She holds literature degrees from Harvard, Georgetown, and the University of Texas at Austin and teaches writing for the Harvard Extension School and the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. 

She is the author of eight books: We Live in Boise, Energy: The Life of John J. McKetta Jr., Fear of the Deep, Fear of the Beast, Poetry for Strangers Vols. I and II, The Creative Year: 52 Workshops for Writers, and The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell. She Never Told Me About the Ocean is her first novel. Follow @ESMcKetta on Twitter, Visit elisabethsharpmcketta.com

About the book

Told by four women whose stories nest together, She Never Told Me About the Ocean is an epic about a rite of passage that all humans undergo and none remember: birth.

Eighteen-year-old Sage has been mothering her mother for as long as she can remember, and as she arrives on the shores of adulthood, she learns a secret: before she was born, she had an older brother who drowned. In her search to discover who he was and why nobody told her,

Sage moves to tiny Dragon Island where her mother grew up. There, she embarks on a quest to learn the superstitions of the island, especially its myths involving her mother. Gathering stories from Ilya, a legendary midwife who hires Sage as her apprentice; Marella, Sage’s grieving mother who was named for the ocean yet has always been afraid of it; and Charon, the Underworld ferrywoman who delivers souls to the land of the dead, Sage learns to stop rescuing her mother and simply let go. But when her skill as Ilya’s apprentice enables her to rescue her mother one final time, in a way that means life or death, Sage must shed her inherited fears and become her own woman.

Review

Since Sage can remember she has always been the adult in the mother daughter relationship. Her mother is fragile and unstable. She refuses to engage with the world or get close to her child. Sage has never really questioned the why of her behaviour until her grandmother says something peculiar before she dies.

The return to Dragon Island forces Marella to confront the past, which includes the island's midwife and her ability to speak truth to the future. It's a story filled with the power of sisterhood, the complex relationship between reality and figures of folklore. It's also a story of breaking free from the shackles of dysfunctional relationships and being able to finally embrace a restricted maternal love, but love nevertheless.

It's one of those books where you go - where did that come from, which well of inspiration spoke and filled your head with such rivers of inspiration? It's a spectacular venture into myth, folklore and magical realism. Simultaneously it's also an intricately woven web of women's relationships. Mother to daughter, daughter to mother, death to living and the somewhere that exists in between.

McKetta is an excellent writer and storyteller. She captures the fragility of life and death, the extreme weight and consequences of unresolved grief, and the fractured nature of relationships strained by mistakes of the past.

Buy She Never Told Me About the Ocean at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Paul Dry Books pub date 2 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

#BlogTour The Murderess by Ivan Jenson

 It's my turn on the BlogTour The Murderess by Ivan Jenson.

About the Author

Artist/writer/poet Ivan Jenson was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in a family steeped in the arts. A child prodigy, he earned acclaim when, at age nine, he produced his first sculpture that was ultimately featured in the poster for the National Museum of Costa Rica.

Ivan is now also a published novelist and a widely published poet who is enjoying burgeoning critical, commercial, and literary success. His debut novel, Dead Artist, which "delves into the world of New York City and explores issues of art and soul," is published by Hen House Press New York as an eBook for the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook and as a paperback on Amazon. 

His second novel, Seeing Soriah, “a riveting story of thrills, revenge, obsession, and redemption” is a psychological thriller that is a fast-paced, "thoughtful novel about art, artists, and the world they occupy." Ivan Jenson's new book of poems, "Media Child and Other Poems" will be published by Hen House Press, New York in 2014. Ivan Jenson: pop artist icon, published novelist, prolific and widely published poet and screenwriter. Follow @IvanJensonAuthor on Twitter, Visit ivanjenson.com

About the book

30% of murders in the US go unsolved. Becca Garner hopes her lover's is one of them. Because she found him. He bequeathed her a million dollars. She's married. And so is he.

Review

Becca has a husband and children. She loves them - she loves them not. She also thinks nothing of seeking gratification elsewhere, behind her husband's back. Everything is hidden well until one day she wakes up after a session with her elderly and wealthy beau, and finds herself in a bit of a pickle.

For me the story was about perception, stereotypes and preconceived notions of how women should behave. About their role in patriarchal society and what happens when they deviate from that dictated path. And the judgement that comes along with the deviation, depending on the actions and behaviour of said woman. 

Is Becca a narcissist, a woman having a mid-life crisis, someone who is feeling unfulfilled and lonely or is she someone who was never allowed to work through her pain and trauma? That's at the core of this quick read. Do you judge someone solely on their actions or give them the benefit of the doubt and try to figure out the why?

Jenson takes all that and creates a murder mystery around it. I do think the pivotal moment in the past came and went like a tide without leaving much of an impression. Let me be clear, I do not mean details because the scenes weren't in any way gratuitous. I am talking about the emotional fallout from all of it, which is what led to her behaviour patterns and lack of self-worth.

I think it gives some food for thought in a sense that we never know what is behind closed doors or what kind of trauma someone might be carrying around with them. It's a fast-paced domestic crime thriller, short but pithy.

Buy The Murderess at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Dark Edge Press pub date 1 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.