Tuesday 30 March 2021

#BlogTour Moonlight over Muddleford Cove by Kim Nash

 

It was a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Bound by Kim Nash.

About the Author

Kim Nash is an author of uplifting, funny, heartwarming, feel-good, romantic fiction. Her latest book, Sunshine and Second Chances, was shortlisted for the 2020 Amazon Kindle Storyteller Award.

She lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is Head of Publicity for Bookouture and is a book blogger at www.kimthebookworm.co.uk.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association's Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can't quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she's not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She's also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs. 

Follow @KimTheBookworm, Visit kimthebookworm


About the book

When thirty-four-year-old Nellie Wagstaff loses her job and discovers her fiancé is a cheating scumbag in a single day, she feels like the world has come crashing down. And that’s before the solicitor’s letter, along with a request to visit a place she hasn’t thought about for a very long time.

Heartbroken, Nellie escapes to the beautiful seaside town of Muddleford in Dorset, where she discovers she’s inherited more than she ever bargained for. Nellie never knew why her mother stopped talking to her sister, but now childhood memories of Muddleford come flooding back: long hot summers, the sea glistening beyond the sandy cove... and a stolen kiss with a boy called Jack.

Jack, now a devilishly handsome vet, has the local pet owners swooning over him, and as Nellie and he become close once more, and she gets used to gossiping with the locals and sipping wine at her beach hut with sand between her toes, she’s sure she can feel sparks flying once more. But just as she thinks she might be able to open her heart again, her newest frenemy, the glamourous Natalia, tells her a secret about Jack that changes everything.

Nellie will never know why her mother and aunt parted ways. She’ll sell the house, forget about Jack, and get back to real life. Because there’s nothing for her in Muddleford... is there?

Review

I think Nellie is a product of our era - she is complacent. It's all about accepting things because they are what is expected, accepting more than what you are worth, because nobody teaches you that you can ask for more and what you need - that's not really the norm.

This story is really one of self discovery, even one of coming-of-age, and yes I know what age Nellie is. You're never too old to grow up and smell the roses, quite literally suddenly acknowledge that there is more in life.

People say sometimes things happen for a reason and in this case Muddleford happens to Nellie for a reason. Being drawn back into a life she barely remembers and a world that embraces her with open arms - it's exactly what she needs to discover her own merit.

Nash gives readers what they want from an escapism read even down to the boomerang reaction Nellie reverts to when she feels uncertain or out of depth. It's right back to the old routines and people. It's very much a story about nostalgia, memories and comfort. About reconnecting with the inner person and being bold enough to embrace new people and emotions.

It's the perfect read for readers who like to step out and enjoy someone else's life for a few hours, without too many repercussions of course, and cheer them on as they navigate the obstacles that sometimes seem outlandish and yet others are so normal we absolutely relate to them. On that note I am hoping I have an aunt who leaves me something similarly exciting.

Buy Moonlight over Muddleford Cove at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour After the One by Cass Lester

 

It was a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Bound by Cass Lester.

About the Author

Cass Lester spent many years at CBBC having a fabulous time making award-winning programmes including Jackanory, Big Kids, Kerching! and the Story of Tracy Beaker. She has published a number of children’s books and is now having a fabulous time writing adult fiction. 

Follow @TheCasInTheHat on Twitter, Visit caslester.com

About the book

April 16th is always one of Charley’s worst days of the year. It’s her husband’s birthday, a painful reminder of his death four years ago. So naturally, her car breaks down. She nearly gets run over trying to catch the bus. And then she’s made redundant.

Her friends see the redundancy as a chance for her to start again and live the life she always wanted, but since being widowed Charley has clung to familiarity and avoided change like the plague. Then, out of the blue, her mother-in-law Pam pitches up in need of a place to stay after walking out on her 40-year marriage.

Together, Charley and Pam find themselves at a crossroad. It’s not easy to move on after The One, but they can’t stand still forever.

Review

There are certain days in the year that Charley finds hard to cope with. She shuts down completely on any kind of anniversary that reminds her of her husband and his premature death. Her friends are eager to try and awaken her from her deepest despair.

When Charley is made redundant she and others believe it is time to move on to a different career, which is the start of the reboot of Charley's life.

I liked the way the author combined Charley with Pam, giving the readers different versions of loss. The comparison of one helps the other person to deal with her own loss. Death, betrayal and having to reimagine a completely different life for yourself - those similarities are what draw them closer together and simultaneously help them to get on with their lives.  

It's a story about new beginnings, about understanding that the death of a loved one doesn't mean your life comes to an end too. There has to be way forward. Equally it is also a story about grief and working through the stages of grief and then finding a way to cope. 

It's a heartfelt read with an emphasis on friendships, support and fresh starts.

Buy After the One at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Canelo pub date 5 April 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Bound by Vanda Symon

It was a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Bound by Vanda Symon. 'The latest in the bestselling Sam Shephard series, which has been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh award and the CWA New Blood Dagger.'

About the Author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Societyof Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Follow @vandasymon @OrendaBooks on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit vandasymon.com,

About the book

The passionate, young police officer Sam Shephard returns in a taut, atmospheric and compelling police procedural, which sees her take matters into her own hands when the official investigation into the murder of a local businessman fails to add up…

The New Zealand city of Dunedin is rocked when a wealthy and apparently respectable businessman is murdered in his luxurious home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, they discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.

The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas. Weighed down by her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and by complications in her relationship with Paul, she needs a distraction, and launches her own investigation. And when another murder throws the official case into chaos, it ’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.

Review

Sam is called to the scene of a vicious home invasion. Brutal, ruthless and unfortunately the young son of the victims has come home to find one parent dead and the other one close to death. It's the beginning of a sordid tale of crime and facades.

I'm sure I wasn't the only reader who wanted to shake Sam into some kind of reaction when it came to her boss treating her like a naughty schoolgirl in front of everyone. Then her mother, her family in general, treating her like an afterthought because she has the audacity to have a career in a male dominated field.

It's a cracking crime read - Symon captivates from start to finish. Shephard is a character who is pummeled by those who see the weaknesses in her and yet she shines when it comes to solving crimes. She has an instinct for the details - her gut tells her there is something wrong with the scenario being spun by those at the top.

I can't wait to see where the author takes this series and hope we see a more combative and fierce side to Sam. It's certainly an excellent read I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. The author knows exactly how to balance the tension of the crime with the more emotional side of the characters. It gives it a more authentic feel. And kudos to the author for the prologue.

Buy Bound at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books: pub date 4 March 2021 | Paperback Original | £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.


Monday 29 March 2021

#BlogTour I Lost My Compass at the Bermuda Triangle and Dream Five by Clara L. Molina

 

It's my turn on the BlogTour I Lost My Compass at the Bermuda Triangle and Dream Five by Clara L. Molina.

About the Author

Clara L Molina writes Science Fiction books most of the time, dabbles in comic drawings occasionally, and writes to laugh at herself all the time. She has a computer science degree, but has been a lifelong writer. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, and enjoys fresh air and days where her hair is not frizzy.

Follow @BoxaEl on Twitter, Visit elboxa.com 

About the book

Sophia Lorenzo awoke with no memory or identity and given a mission to murder a mysterious man named Murich Rhys. What will she do? There’s only one way to find out as she heads to his castle and embarks on a long and arduous journey to complete a task she does not want. 

Can she battle the scorching heat of the desert? What lies in the wake and maze of the forest? Can she escape from the Snow Dwellers and the inhabitants of the contentious city of Absolute Zero? 

She heads to the castle to discover who she is and why she was given this task. The truth is just as crazy as her mission. Sophia Lorenzo finds her compass on the Bermuda Triangle and Dream Five.

Review

Sophia Lorenzo awakens with no memory in the Cursed City. A city where messages drop from the sky. I wondered of there were shades of an abstract Dorothy on her way to the Emerald City being spoken to from above by the wizard.

It's a short read, around 136 pages. It's a speculative read with elements of sci-fi and dystopian genres. It reads a little bit like a series of short excerpts. Now and again the speculative nature is replaced with doubt about the nature of her reality. About her conscious state and subconscious meanderings.

At times it felt as if the structure of the sentences was slightly off and the in general the story seemed a little disjointed at times. Not always unusual when it comes to speculative fiction - the very nature of the genre allows for a crossing of boundaries and breaking of established rules.

There are some intriguing ideas and plenty of creativity. Perhaps less trying to outsmart the reader and a bit more clarity to ensure readership.

Buy I Lost My Compass at the Bermuda Triangle at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Sunday 28 March 2021

#BlogTour Old Cases New Colours by Madalyn Morgan

 

It's my turn on the BlogTour Old Cases New Colours by Madalyn Morgan.

About the Author

I was brought up in a pub in a small market town called Lutterworth. For as long as I can remember, my dream was to be an actress and a writer. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live with so many characters to study and accents to learn. I was offered Crossroads the first time around. However, my mother wanted me to have a ‘proper’ job that I could fall back on if I needed to, so I did a hairdressing apprenticeship. Eight years later, aged twenty-four, I gave up a successful salon and wig-hire business in the theatre for a place at East 15 Drama College and a career as an actress, working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television.

In 1995, with fewer parts for older actresses, I gave up acting. I taught myself to touch-type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau and began writing articles and presenting radio.

 In 2010, after living in London for thirty-six years, I moved back to Lutterworth. I swapped two window boxes and a mortgage for a garden and the freedom to write. Since then, I have written nine novels. The first four, The Dudley Sisters’ Saga, tell the stories of four sisters in World War 2. My current novel, Old Cases, New Colours, is a thriller/detective story set in 1960. I am writing Christmas book - Christmas Applause - and a Memoir; a collection of short stories, articles, poems, photographs and character breakdowns from my days as an actress.

Follow @ActScribblerDJ on Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Pinterest, Visit madalynmorgan.com

About the book

Sick of working in a world of spies and bureaucracy, Ena Green, nee Dudley, leaves the Home Office and starts her own investigating agency.

Working for herself she can choose which investigations to take and, more importantly, which to turn down. While working on two investigations, Ena is called as a prosecution witness in the Old Bailey trial of a cold-blooded killer who she exposed as a spy the year before.

Review

This is the ninth book in the Dudley Green series and can be read as a standalone novel, but I am sure readers will want to go back to the beginning of the series if they enjoy this one.

Formidable Ena is putting her mark in a world predominantly inhabited by men and in that era the world of paid sleuthing is still cloaked in shades of Sam Spade. No case is too small or too big as previous adventures prove without a doubt, and it is fair to say that Ena and her trusty sidekick Artie don't shy away from the more lethal side of investigative work.

Seeing as this book is quite far into the series there is always an expectation of some kind of recap to introduce the characters or if the previous events have any impact on the book you're reading. In this case it would be the suicides and how Ena feels about each of the deaths for instance. 

Aside from that I thought the recap at the beginning was a bit much - far too much information crammed into a short space. A prologue or introduction would work better and keeping some of it separate from the plot at hand.

It's a quaint cosy historical crime series with a bit of a Tuppence and Tommy flair, and a family affair to boot. 

Buy Old Cases New Colours at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour A Book of Secrets by Kate Morrison

 

First of all the book cover is absolutely stunning! Secondly it's my turn on the BlogTour A Book of Secrets by Kate Morrison.

About the Author

Kate Morrison is a British debut novelist. She studied English Literature at New Hall College, Cambridge and worked as a journalist and a press officer. Morrison was mentored by Ros Barber, the award-winning author of The Marlowe Papers and Devotion. She was a visiting scholar with the Book, Text, and Place 1500-1700 Research Centre at Bath Spa University. Kate Morrison currently lives in West Sussex with her family.

Follow @katecmorrison on Twitter, Visit katecmorrison.com

About the book

A Book of Secrets tells the story of a West African girl hunting for her lost brother through an Elizabethan underworld of spies, plots and secret Catholic printing presses. 

Susan Charlewood is taken from Ghana (then known as Guinea) as a baby. Brought to England, she grows up as maidservant in a wealthy Catholic household. Living under a Protestant Queen in late 16th Century England, the family risk imprisonment or death unless they keep their faith hidden.

When her mistress dies Susan is married off to a London printer who is deeply involved in the Catholic resistance. She finds herself embroiled in political and religious intrigue, all while trying to find her lost brother and discover the truth about her origins.

The book explores the perils of voicing dissent in a state that demands outward conformity, at a time when England is taking its first steps into the long shadow of transatlantic slavery and old certainties about the shape of the universe itself are crumbling.

A Book of Secrets gives a striking new perspective on the era and lets one of the thousands of lost Elizabethan voices, speak out loud.

Review

This books presents an interesting comparison when one draws parallels to the way voices of dissent were treated historically, they found a freedom in democracies and now once more they are being silenced and bound by those eager to iron out dissent and protests.

Susan, although it pains me to use an anglicized name that hides her identity in an attempt to diminish her true heritage. She was torn from her family, her country and like many others has become a woman without ancestors or a past. There is a pull in her that seeks out the truth of her beginnings though, and yet simultaneously she knows she has to compromise in the world she lives in now to survive.

This is a gem of a book that should be taking prizes. It is meticulously researched and the author does due diligence when it comes to telling both the fact behind the fiction and the representation of the characters. And the book cover is absolutely stunning.

I loved the way the beginning is the end and vice versa, but also that perhaps the epilogue suggests another venture into the as yet undiscovered depths of this tale. It is a hydra of bloodlines, ancestors and descendants. A search for identity. It is the language of blood and truth, a truth hidden in webs of white privilege and supremacy.

I look forward to reading more by Morrison. If this book is any indication then there is plenty more captivating storytelling to come.

Buy A Book of Secrets at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Jacaranda | 25 March 2021 Paperback| Historical Fiction| £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Secret Places by Heather Peck

 

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Secret Places by Heather Peck.

About the Author

Heather Peck fulfilled the ambition of a lifetime. Her first novel ‘Secret Places’ is published on 3 February by Silverwood Books. Contributing stories to a community newsletter had re-ignited Heather’s ambition to do more, and after completing a course with the Norwich based National Centre for Writing she buckled down and wrote a story that had been buzzing round her head for years. 

‘One in three women will suffer domestic abuse during their lives. And it can happen to anybody. Within the context of a crime novel, I wanted to make that bleak fact real and explore the impact on lives. I also wanted to set the story in the environment so familiar to me but so foreign to many - farming in the UK.’

Follow @HeatherLydia1 on Twitter, Visit heatherpeckauthor.com

About the book

‘It was dark, cold and silent. He did not wake, but nor was he now asleep. Slowly he became more aware, first of the cold which made it hard to tell where his body ended and anything else began. The dark was total. Were his eyes open or closed? He tried opening his eyes, but could still see nothing, not even vague shapes. Time went by and it became clearer where the strange flesh he was lying on ended, and his body began. Where there was pain, there he was.’

Goat farmer, cheese maker and weaver Tristan Smith is working on her North Yorkshire smallholding when a chance visit by archaeologists exposes a skeleton in an abandoned WW2 bunker. But it’s not a wartime casualty.

Tristan becomes involved in the search for the truth about her predecessors, as DI Greg Geldard follows a trail from North Yorkshire to the Norfolk Broads. He is seeking justice for a long dead victim; but another casualty is hunting for a new life and a safe place to start again. 

Review

Tristan Smith is a woman determined to succeed despite being ridiculed for trying to do a job dominated by men in an area of the country where everyone can see each mistake she makes. She thinks nothing of letting two archaeologists search her property for a secret bunker from the war. She certainly doesn't expect them to find a the remains of human in there.

The author shines a light on the complex issue of domestic abuse and the reactions of victims, which often appears incomprehensible from the outside. It is however an incredibly complicated psychological and physical situation, and people who have never been a victim of domestic abuse tend to victim blame and misunderstand the actions and reactions of said victims.

That's why the court case in this story may pull readers in different directions. Was it trauma or intent? Was it planned or someone acting on pure survival instinct? Should you feel pity for the dead man or is he the real victim in this scenario?

It's an interesting domestic thriller with topics some readers could find hard to read. I found the last page quite brutal, perhaps because it makes the inhumane human and at the same time lets a worm of doubt wriggle into the story.

Either way it's a compelling story that plays upon biases, rumours, assumptions and also the fact that we look the other way far too often. In equal measures the topic of domestic abuse is still one that is grossly misunderstood and the victims still don't get enough support.

Buy Secret Places at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: SilverWood Books pub date 3 Feb. 2021. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at silverwoodbooks.co.uk.

Saturday 27 March 2021

#BlogTour The Beijing Conspiracy by Shamini Flint

 

It's my turn and the last day on the BlogTour The Beijing Conspiracy by Shamini Flint.

About the Author

Shamini Flint was born and brought up in Malaysia. Having studied law at Cambridge University, she travelled extensively throughout Asia for her work as a corporate lawyer, before becoming a writer, part-time lecturer and environmental activist. Shamini now lives in Singapore with her husband and two children. She is the author of the highly acclaimed Inspector Singh mystery series.

Follow Shamini on Facebook, Visit shaminiflintbooks.com

About the book

A long-lost daughter. An explosive secret. A lethal conspiracy.

Ex-Delta Force soldier Jack Ford is trying to put the past behind him. But when he receives a letter from someone he hasn't spoken to in thirty years, claiming he has a daughter, he can't resist investigating for himself.

Soon he's on a plane to China, a country he hasn't returned to since witnessing the atrocities of the Tiananmen Square massacre. But on his search he stumbles upon a document which both the Chinese and American governments are desperately chasing. Now Jack is trapped in an impossible dilemma: save his daughter or prevent a new world war where thousands will lose their lives.

Review

Jack Ford has never really put the events of the Tiananmen Massacre behind him. The images, the flashbacks and the decisions of those days still haunt him. They are brought back to the forefront of his daily life when he receives a request for help from someone he left behind in China and his alleged daughter. It means having to immerse himself back into the ruthless political machinations of a regime that doesn't stand for any opposition - ever.

This book is especially poignant given that the anniversary of the Tiananmen Incident is looming. It's hard to believe it has already been over three decades. I recently watched an interview with one of the leaders of the protesters who was lucky enough to survive and escape. He hasn't seen his family in three decades, can't return to China - for obvious reasons - and his family isn't allowed to leave China. 

He made a really important point - the young protesters were absolutely convinced they would be able to sway both public and government opinion by standing up for their rights and against the oppressive regime. Instead the protest and subsequent massacre was used as a tool to instill fear and even more oppressive measures on the country. It signaled a significant change in the way the authoritative rule governed and controlled the people of China.

It's a captivating political thriller with aspects of espionage, which is based on the factual events of the Tiananmen Incident and the mystery of the Tank Man, who becomes the centre of this story. I actually enjoyed the way the author took this Kodak moment in history and built a story around the identity and mystery of said man.

Buy The Beijing Conspiracy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in paperback format by Black Thorn Books on 4th March 2021. Buy at Amazon com. At Waterstones. At Foyles. At Hive.

#BlogBlitz A Little Birdie Told Me by Sharley Scott


It's my turn on the Blitz Tour A Little Birdie Told Me by Sharley Scott.

About the Author

Sharley Scott is the author of the Devon Seaside Guesthouse novels – Bedlam & Breakfast and B&Bers Behaving Madly – and the Maddie Meadows series.

Sharley is a guesthouse owner in South Devon. She is thankful to have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the fictional characters featured in the Devon Seaside Guesthouse series.

The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows – and its sequel The Gift of a Rose – portray the life of a working single mum. Some of the mischief Maddie's little one, Josh, gets up to will be familiar to all parents. In real life, Sharley has carried out the threats she made to her son decades ago and now gets her own back him by telling tales to his girlfriend (some of the incidents in the books are inspired by him), although he returns the favour by recounting utterly embarrassing stories about his mum.

Sharley's latest novel ‘A Little Birdie Told Me…’ is being published in February 2021. This book goes back in time to the late eighties: a time of fun music, interesting fashion, strange hairstyles and no internet or mobile phones. Fancy having to talk to each other! (Says the author who frequents Facebook too often).

With that in mind, Sharley can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SharleyScott3/ or follow Sharley on Twitter: @SharleyScott


About the book

It’s 1988. The era of young love, with Scott and Charlene melting hearts in Neighbours, and a new princess for the Royal Family. With Bros, Madonna and Wet Wet Wet in the charts, and children hoping for Ghostbusters’ toys in their stockings.

But it’s not all fun for Belinda. If her life was a board game, she’s losing at snakes and ladders. Once she’d been working her way up one of those ladders but, thanks to her snake-like polytechnic lecturer, she’s toppled from the rungs. Now she works in an old people’s home, where her chief duties involve cleaning toilets and emptying commodes.

At least her lovely colleague, Joe, offers excitement in her otherwise dreary life. But Belinda can’t believe he'd be interested in someone like her. Not when her pretty friend, Tracey, only has to glance at a man to have him fall for her.

But just when it seems things are looking up for Belinda, the residents’ precious possessions start to go missing. Then she witnesses a disturbing incident and doesn’t know what to do. Luckily, Belinda has Joe to guide her – until she discovers that he’s hiding a secret, one that forces her to make an agonising decision.

Will she continue to hide in the shadows, never speaking out – or will she put her future on the line to stand up for what is right? After all, she’s caring for a generation that's lived through two wars. Now it’s time to fight for them.

Review
Belinda has started a new job at a care home - totally unsupported and without any kind of dialogue or instruction. In fact some of the colleagues appear to be working against her and another new colleague. It's not long before she realises there are things happening at the care home that aren't acceptable and that the elderly people need someone to look out for them.

The read is a blast from the past and a nostalgic walk if you were a certain age during the 80s. It's more a story about learning to love yourself for who you are and not who people think you should be. At the beginning Belinda is very much a woman lacking in confidence and subservient to everyone around her. She tends to ignore her gut instincts, especially when it comes to working in a care home. During the story she learns to stand up for herself and others, which is a milestone for Belinda.

The author gives readers a story that will pull at the memory strings for certain readers and perhaps make others take a moment to consider the situations of the elderly in care homes. I can't imagine feeling more disempowered and vulnerable than as an elderly person who has reached an age where living alone has been deemed no longer sustainable. Alice's story in particular is quite tragic and routed in realism. The plight of women when they are considered a nuisance, a troublemaker and refuse to fall into line with what society deems normal.

Buy A Little Birdie Told Me at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Friday 26 March 2021

#Blogtour Song by Michelle Jana Chan

 

It's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Song by Michelle Jana Chan.

About the Author

Michelle Jana Chan is an award-winning journalist and travel editor of Vanity Fair in the UK, where she presents the magazine's digital Future Series. Formerly, Michelle was a BBC TV presenter, a news producer at CNN International and a reporter at Newsweek. She was a Morehead-Cain scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Follow @michellejchan on Twitter, on Instagram, Visit michellejanachan.comBuy Song

About the book

Song is just a boy when he sets out from Lishui village in China. Brimming with courage and ambition, he leaves behind his impoverished broken family, hoping he’ll make his fortune and return home. 

Chasing tales of sugarcane, rubber and gold, Song embarks upon a perilous voyage across the oceans to the British colony of Guiana, but once there he discovers riches are not so easy to come by and he is forced into labouring as an indentured plantation worker.

This is only the beginning of Song’s remarkable life, but as he finds himself between places and between peoples, and increasingly aware that the circumstances of birth carry more weight than accomplishments or good deeds, Song fears he may live as an outsider forever.

This beautifully written and evocative story spans nearly half a century and half the globe, and though it is set in another century, Song’s story of emigration and the quest for an opportunity to improve his life is timeless.

Review

This is the story of a young Chinese boy who believes it is his duty to take care of his family after the death of his father. His childhood is swallowed up by this fierce need to fulfill said duty, which at some point is exchanged with a determination to survive and then to take care of his own family.

There is something Song's mother says in the first few chapters and Song then later admits to himself in the last chapters - it's an incredibly poignant moment. It's actually something that connects Song with nearly every person who leaves their entire world behind to find something else or better in life, even those who don't take their paths willingly. 

His mother knows, but it takes Song ages to realise she is right. It takes the threat of loss, the acknowledgement of what is really important, missed opportunities and that those on pedestals tend to stumble off them quite regularly.

It's a beautifully lyrical at times, despite the more difficult moments. I really liked the last few pages and had to read them again just to make sure. The characters need to be given more depth, let's see below the surface and not just wander on the periphery of poignant. The pain of his situation as a young migrant child, the trouble and not just the happy. Also to not try and out-intellect your audience, because sometimes it means some of said audience will completely miss the point. Chan clearly has the kind of story in her that readers will not easily forget.

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

#BlogTour The Hiding Place by Jenny Quintana

 

It's a pleasure take part in the BlogTour The Hiding Place by Jenny Quintana.

About the Author

Jenny Quintana grew up in Essex and Berkshire before studying English Literature in London. She has taught in London, Seville and Athens. Her first novel, The Missing Girl was published in 2017 and chosen as a Waterstones thriller of the month. Our Dark Secret, her second novel, was published in 2020. She now lives with her family in Berkshire

Follow jennyquintana95 on Twitter, on Goodreads, Buy The Hiding Place

About the book

Some houses have their secrets. But so do some people…

From Jenny Quintana, the bestselling author of The Missing Girl and Our Dark Secret, comes The Hiding Place: a story about identity, love, long-buried secrets and lies.

Marina is adopted. She’s always known this – but the circumstances of her birth remain a mystery. Baby Blue, the newspapers nicknamed her at the time, after she’d been found wrapped in a blue shawl, in the hallway of a large, shared house in London.

24 Harrington Gardens. That was the house. And it’s still standing now Marina is an adult; still split into flats. And one of them is to let…

Of course, Marina knows that the chances of her uncovering the truth about her birth are remote – but she hopes the house might hold some clues.

What it it’s not just the house, though? What if someone connected to it knows what really happened that day? Someone who doesn’t want the truth to come to light?

Review

Like many adopted children, Marina feels she needs to know the truth about her birth to get any closure. The innate sense of connection or rather the wanting to know who her biological parents were or are has nothing to do with what she feels for her adoptive parents. In particular she wants to know why her mother abandoned her in a residential building full of flats.

That means she wanted Marina to be safe and found by someone, right? So many questions and not enough answers, which is why she embarks on a journey or investigation to find out the whole truth. But sometimes you need to to let sleeping dogs lie.

It's a slow burner, a contemporary read with a domestic mystery vibe. The search for truth uncovers the kind of secrets that can become dangerous even after so many decades. Quintana gives readers a combination of a read driven by emotions - a heartfelt read and yet also one that hints at the darkness hidden behind closed doors.

I kind of liked the way the author keeps the reader wondering about the kind of story it is. The majority of the story absolutely plays on the emotive topic of birth ties and the loving relationships of non-birth carers, whilst the element of danger pops up here and there to give it an entirely different feel. 

Buy The Hiding Place at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. To be published by Mantle in hardback on 18 March 2021 at £14.99 and in Ebook at £12.99.

#BlogTour Nothing Man by R. J. Gould.

 

It's my turn on the BlogTour Nothing Man by R. J. Gould.

About the Author

Richard writes under the pseudonym R J Gould and is a (rare male) member of the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA). His first novel was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award following his participation on the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Having been published by Headline Access and Lume Books, he now self-publishes. 

He writes contemporary literary fiction about relationships, loosely though not prescriptively within the Romance genre, using both humour and pathos to describe the tragi-comic journeys of his protagonists in search of love. Nothing Man is his sixth novel, following A Street Café Named Desire, The Engagement Party, Jack and Jill Went Downhill, Mid-life follies and The bench by Cromer beach.

Ahead of writing full time, Richard led a national educational charity. He has been published in a wide range of educational journals, national newspapers and magazines and is the co-author of a major work on educating able young people. He lives in Cambridge, England.

Follow @RJGould_author on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, Visit rjgould.info

About the book

One man in need of an overhaul. Two women determined to drag him there. - Neville Watkin’s life is so rubbish surely things can’t get any worse.  Yes they can, because his wife leaves him, he loses his job, has a car crash and ends up in hospital.

Feisty Laura, the other party in the car crash, befriends him and sets out to turn his life upside down. For reasons he struggles to understand, Caroline, her equally feisty mother, seems to like him. Rather a lot. 

All in all things are looking up, but is Neville courageous enough to seize these new opportunities?

Review

If you take a step away from the story then you will probably realise the irony of the title in relation to the entirety of the plot. Whether that is intentional or not is another matter. The whole point is that Neville lives a life without any purpose - a seemingly empty existence - a nothing man. Everything seems to evolve around this, hence the story appearing full of inconsequential details and scenes.

A chance encounter opens up a whole new door and interpretation of what life could actually be for Neville. I guess you could say it's a story of self-discovery and perhaps even a new way of looking at men and what everyone sees as a mid-life crisis. Instead it's an uplifting story about not giving up when a door is closed, because there is always another door waiting to open up.

The author gives the read a light-hearted and uncomplicated feel. Even the more serious moments are experienced with a devil-may-care and blasé attitude, which again I felt is what the author may want readers to take away from this read - never give up, because you never know what is waiting for you right around the corner.

Buy Nothing Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Thursday 25 March 2021

#BlogTour Memoirs of a Karate Fighter by Ralph Robb

 

It's my turn on the BlogTour Memoirs of a Karate Fighter by Ralph Robb.

About the Author

Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England and now lives in Ontario Canada with his wife, cat and dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and a good book. His world is balanced by quality TV, global events, great outdoors and of course his grand-daughter. 

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

About the book

Novelist and former karate champion Ralph Robb recounts his experiences at one of Europe’s toughest dojos and provides an insight into the philosophy and training methods of a club which produced national, European and world titleholders. In a hard-hitting story, Ralph tells of the fights on and off the mat; his experiences as one of a very few black residents in an area in which racist members of the National Front were very active; and the tragic descent into mental illness and premature death of the training partner who was also his best friend.


Review

It's a fascinating account of the heyday, as the author calls it, of the British karate sport. The author recounts his personal experiences in a way that keeps readers captivated - not at all like a dry memoir.

Although I think it was unintentional the author draws a comparison between what type of stance, attitude and thought process was attached to the sport of karate then and now. The winning streak not just born out of talented athletes, but also out of the connection to the original art or fighting skill of karate. The violence, the origins and how both of those fuelled what became a very regimented sport.

The question is whether there is a correlation between the way the skill and methodology has been watered down by Western attitudes over the decades and the winning during the 1970s.

It's very much a story of a common denominator bringing young men together and feeling connected, especially when the world seems so disconnected from what they need in life to succeed and thrive. With that in mind Robb doesn't delve into the systemic racism he must have dealt with on a daily basis, instead he just gives certain glimpses. Or rather he doesn't delve too deeply into the fear, anger and sense of disillusionment he must of felt at having to deal with racist organisations such as the National Front on a regular basis.

Being a part of a successful sport club must have been a respite at times in the sense that a brotherhood and friendships were born out of it. It's a really interesting read, regardless of whether you like sport or not.

Buy Memoirs of a Karate Fighter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour A Chance Encounter by Rae Shaw


 It's my turn on the BlogTour A Chance Encounter by Rae Shaw.

About the Author

Rae Shaw is a pen name for the author Rachel Walkley. Rachel is based in the North West of England. She read her first grown-up detective novel at the age of eleven, which proved to be a catalyst for filling many shelves with crime books, which still occupy her home and grow in number whenever she visits a book shop.

As well as crime, Rachel likes to unplug from the real world and writes mysteries that have a touch of magic woven into family secrets.

Follow @RaeShawauthor on Twitter, on Facebook, on linktr.ee, Visit raeshawauthor.com, Watch the booktrailer on youtube.

About the book

Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, that is until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?

Mark works for Haynes’s vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers. His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend whom she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret. For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?

Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives in danger.

Review

Julianna's actions are usually driven by her past experiences, which means she jumps to conclusions and also has an irritating need to help or try to teach the people around her how to do better. If it wasn't coming from a genuine place of concern then she would probably be deemed a nuisance.

It explains how she jumps to conclusions about her boss and his wife, and when she gets to know Mark it's a similar story. Quite a meddler when all is said and done, and yet those around her indulge her.

I think the character of Julianna Baptiste has plenty of potential, it just needs a bit of an iron. Nothing major perhaps a bit more focus and delivering with intent, aside from that I think Juliana could evolve into a captivating main character in a popular series.

The author clearly knows how to draw in an audience with a flawed individual, who has the best intent and yet manages to often be one step behind whatever the heck is going on. The first few chapter are an excellent example of this.

It's a fast paced read, a crime thriller that could go either way - into the more serious stuff or into something more cosy. I am betting I know where it will end up though, because there are just so many opportunities to shine a light, whilst delivering a good read.

Buy A Chance Encounter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Spare Time Press pub date 24 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.