Wednesday, 30 June 2021

#Blogtour The Storm Upon Us by Mike Rothschild

'This is the real story of QAnon - what it is, what it means, and where it goes. And be warned - none of it is pretty.'

It's my turn on the BlogTour The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything by Mike Rothschild. A must read for the 21st century!

About the Author

Mike Rothschild is a journalist, author, and the foremost expert in this ever-changing QAnon conspiracy theory. He is a contributing writer for the Daily Dot, where he explores the intersections between internet culture and politics through the lens of conspiracy theories. As a subject matter expert in the field of fringe beliefs, Mike has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and Yahoo - among many others. 

He is also a frequent speaker, and podcast and radio guest on the topic of conspiracy theories, including NPR’s weekly show “On the Media” and a Vice documentary. Rothschild has been  studying the QAnon phenomenon since early 2018, and was one of the first journalists not only to reveal its connections to past conspiracy theories and scams, but also to openly address its danger to the American public—and beyond. Follow @rothschildmd on Twitter

About the book

On 5th October 2017, President Trump made a cryptic off-the-cuff remark in the State Dining Room. He called this gathering of top-ranking military officials ‘the calm before the storm’ and refused to elaborate as journalist and politicos inquired further. But on the online message boards of 4chan, elaboration began all on its own. In the days that followed, an anonymous poster spun a yarn inspired by Trump’s remarks satisfied the deepest desires of MAGA-America. Did any of it come to pass? No. Did that stop people from clinging to every word they were reading, expanding its mythology and promoting the theory for years? No.

The first in-depth book on the QAnon phenomenon, The Storm is Upon Us is a guided tour through the conspiracies and cults that first fed the flowering of Q; its embrace by right-wing media and a complex of grifters, gurus, and eventually, former President Donald Trump; the rending of families whose loved ones became swept away by Q’s increasingly violent rhetoric; and ultimately, the storming of the Capitol on January 6, which revealed the full power of the venomous movement for all to see as it unfolded live on national television.

Review

QAnon and their movement are the new extremists. It is a radicalisation of thought and thought process resulting in the willingness to ignore all logic and commit crimes in the name of hive thinking. This is the bane of the 21st century and has been exacerbated in the last year and a half by the pandemic.

In combination with the movement of Q is the rise in the number of conspiracy theorists. Research studies have shown that people who believe in conspiracy theories make connections where non-believers don't. They see patterns, which then validates the theory, at least in their minds.

The rise of Trump, his ilk and their use of fake news, fake data and misinformation is similar to the way Brexit came to pass, through manipulation and false facts. It has created even more people who believe in the oddest of theories and also those theories that are based on a kernel of truth. When you throw the world into a situation of extreme stress, worry and panic it automatically increases the number of people seeking a solution and to ease their distress. It has created hoards of people willing to flock to the dark side - and it is the dark side.

It is a cult of thought. An extremist movement with the same type of hold as a terror organisation - when they act upon their theories they become domestic terrorists. The problem is they mistake their radicalisation for a revelation.

This should be standard reading material for everyone, trying to open eyes and minds one by one. It is hard when the world around us has become so scary that any safe haven is welcomed, even if it's a dangerous one. Kudos to Rothschild for saying it like it is.

Buy The Storm Upon Us at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Monoray pub date 22nd June 2021 | Paperback | 14.99. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at octopusbooks.co.uk

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

#BlogTour The Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro

My turn on the BlogTour The Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro.

About the Author

Violet Castro is a Mexican American writer originally from Texas now residing in the UK with her family. When not caring for her three children, she dedicates her time to writing. Follow @vlatinalondon on Twitter,  @vlatinalondon on Instagram

About the book

2018 - Belinda Alvarez has returned to Texas for the wedding of her best friend Veronica. The farm is the site of the urban legend, La Reina de Las Chicharras - The Queen of The Cicadas.

In 1950s south Texas a farm worker - Milagros from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, is murdered. Her death is ignored by the town, but not the Aztec goddess of death, Mictecacíhuatl. The goddess hears the dying cries of Milagros and creates a plan for both to be physically reborn by feeding on vengeance and worship. Belinda and the new owner of the farmhouse - Hector, find themselves immersed in the legend and realize it is part of their fate as well.

Review

Folklore, mysticism, myth and magical realism are combined with this undercurrent of horror, of evil lurking in the shadows. A presence always listening, sometimes reacting and always knowing. Seeping under through the slits in the doors and hovering in the corner.

The murder scene is particularly gruesome, perhaps because the visualisation and description of the event is so exact that is conjures up the kind of mental images you aren't likely to forget. You can feel it burn, hear her mental screams of anguish and you can even feel her meld into her surroundings. The pain summons the ancient power that flows through her veins.

Belinda is almost obsessed with the story of Milagros. She is determined to lay her and the legend to rest. A murder that has become a myth unto itself, but Belinda as no idea what she is really dealing with. She is stirring the waters and doesn't realise how much truth and horror is connected to the tragedy of the young farm worker.

I would love to read something by Castro with strong political, historical, feminism or cultural vibes. Those elements are already partly there but are drowned out by the fear, the chaos and the darkness. That doesn't mean it is any less of a good read, but there is so much more waiting to be heard beyond the genre of horror.

It's an engrossing read with its gruesome moments and it certainly manages to raise the hairs on the back of one's neck.

Buy The Queen of the Cicadas at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Flame Tree Press pub date 22 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 28 June 2021

#BlogTour The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi.

About the Author

Alka Joshi is a graduate of Stanford University and received her MFA from the California College of Arts. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a marketing consultant and an illustrator. Alka was born in India, in the state of Rajasthan. Her family moved to the USA when she was nine, and now she lives on California's Monterey Peninsula with her husband and two misbehaving pups. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is her second novel. Visit her website and blog at www.thehennaartist.com, Follow @alkajoshi on Twitter,

About the book 

Henna artist Lakshmi arranges for her protégé, Malik, to intern at the Jaipur Palace in this tale rich in character, atmosphere, and lavish storytelling. It's the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private shool education. 

At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of -the-art cinema. Malik soon finds that not much has changed as he navigates the Pink City of his childhood. Power and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favours flow from Jaipur's Royal Palace, but only if certain secrets remain buried. 

When the cinema's balcony tragically collapses on opening night, blame is placed where it is convenient. But Malik suspects something far darker and sets out to uncover the truth. As a former street child, he always knew to keep his own counsel: it's a lesson that will serve him as he untangles a web of lies.

Review

The magic of The Henna Artist still prevails in this second part of the trilogy, although Lakshmi doesn't feature as heavily in this book the essence of culture, heritage and the surroundings the author brings to the table is still what makes the read.

Both books can be read as standalone novels, which is important to note, however I would definitely suggest reading the first in the series just because it is such a great book.

Lakshmi's assistant Malik is making his way in the big world, leaving behind a fledgling relationship and heading towards a quagmire of lies, antiquated societal rules, destruction and deception. He finds himself in the midst of a struggle for power and money.

The juxtaposition of Lakshmi and Nimmi is a poignant element of the book. It demonstrates the difference in status, but interestingly instead of presenting or writing Nimmi as the uneducated submissive, Joshi let's the hesitation, lack of trust and occasional animosity shine through. The equality of their gender becomes the basis for their relationship.

It's a captivating balance between people, country, sights, sounds and smells. Said balance is tipped back and forth as the threads of betrayal, class structure, shame and elitist dishonesty are woven through Jaipur and the lives of the characters. It's a beautiful written and riveting story often filled with lyrical prose - I can't wait to read more by this author.

Buy The Secret Keeper of Jaipur at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher pub date 24th June 2021|Hardback £18.99 | Mira Books, an imprint of HarperCollins also available in ebook and audiobook. Buy at Amazon com. At Waterstones.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

#BlogTour Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen by Erin French

 It's my turn on the Blogtour Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen by Erin French.

About the Author

Erin French is the owner and chef of The Lost Kitchen, a 40-seat restaurant in Freedom, Maine, that was recently named one of the World’s Greatest Places by TIME Magazine. Booking is by postcard ballot on the first day of spring with over 20,000 postcards received last season. Erin French has written for The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living and The Wall Street Journal. 

Her first book, The Lost Kitchen Cookbook, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award and named one of the best 2017 cookbooks by The Washington Post and Vogue. Erin French will host The Lost Kitchen TV show on Joanna and Chip Gaines’ new television network, the Magnolia Network, launching in March 2021. Follow @thelostkitchen on Twitter, Visit findthelostkitchen.com

About the book

Erin French grew up barefoot on a 25-acre farm in Maine, fell in love with food working the line at her dad’s diner and found her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. In her story of multiple rock-bottoms, from medical student to pregnant teen, of survival as a jobless single mother, heartbreak and addiction, she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food―as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of creating community and making something of herself, despite seemingly impossible odds. 

Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin French ’s rollercoaster memoir reveals the passion and courage behind the fairytale success of The Lost Kitchen.

Review

The thing about memoirs is sometimes the one way tunnel vision you often get. I absolutely applaud anyone who is able to dust themselves off after sinking to certain depths. When everything crumbles around you it's hard to be able to see beyond the failure and disruption. Hearing how others felt and experienced said downfall and failures would give it an interesting edge - if only to support the author or to highlight how the people directly affected by the aforementioned felt during the extreme moments and the fact French was determined to overcome all obstacles.

It's also interesting to note that the obstacles existed and yet at the core she was looking for peace, structure and longevity in her self-inflicted chaos. Connecting all of those things to a love of cooking, indeed to a sense of nostalgia formed through memories of childhood. It's what draws a direct line between the author and the reader, even if they don't share the heart or similar memories what they do share is cooking and eating.

The combination of memories, nostalgia and a willingness to open the door into her inner sanctum is what makes the read endearing, but what really captivates the reader and makes them hungry for more is the element of food.

It's a story of perseverance, determination and proof that life can be a rollercoaster for many of us. It's a story about failure and success, and one of never giving up.

Buy Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Aurum pub date 6 April 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Friday, 25 June 2021

#BlogTour Someone I Used to Know by Paige Toon

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Someone I Used to Know by Paige Toon.

About the Author

Sunday Times bestseller Paige Toon was born in 1975 and grew up between England, Australia and America. A philosophy graduate, she worked at teen, film and women' magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. Paige is married, has two small children and lives in Cambridge. She is the author of eighteen novels which have sold 1.5million copies worldwide. In 2016, The One We Fell in Love With, was selected for the WH Smith Zoella Book Club. 

Follow Paige at @PaigeToonAuthor and sign up to the Hidden Paige at www.paigetoon.com

About the book 

Then - At fifteen, George is the foster brother Leah never asked for. As the angry, troubled boy struggles to come to terms with his circumstances, Leah finds herself getting drawn closer to him. Theo’s wealthy family have mysteriously pulled him out of boarding school and he’s now enrolled at the local state school with Leah and George. When their worlds collide that summer, the three teenagers form a bond they believe will be unbreakable. But life doesn’t always go to plan...

Now - Shocking news brings Leah back to Yorkshire, baby daughter in tow. But Emilie’s father Theo isn’t with them, and George has unexpectedly returned. After half a lifetime, have they healed the scars of their pasts? Will coming back home set their hearts in a different direction?

Review

Leah, George and Theo are thrown together and bound by events, as one can only be bound in teenage experiences. Their friendships and feelings endure through separation, betrayal and tragedy.

Although at the core this is a story about love and broken hearts learning to trust, reconnect and love again, the surrounding story is not only poignant it is also timely. I think it's fair to say that we are suffering a very particularly tragic crisis as the number of children being taken into foster care, into care and being removed from their homes, soars.

It's important to shine a light on the foster carers who legitimately try to give children a safe haven, if only for a short time. Not everyone has the right motivation, but let's focus on the people who genuinely become a sanctuary - like Leah's parents are to so many.

It's a heartwarming and incredibly sad story at times. So many damaged children in need of shelter, safety and care, making the only connections they can - with children going through similar trauma. In the midst of this a friendship and love blossoms, the kind of connection you don't make often in life.

It's the kind of read that makes you nostalgic and equally sad, and then hopeful that for some there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Buy Someone I Used to Know at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Simon & Schuster UK pub date 24 Jun. 2021 - £8.99 | Paperback Original. Buy at Amazon com

Thursday, 24 June 2021

#BlogTour A Second-Hand Husband by Claire Calman

 
It's my turn on the Blogtour A Second-Hand Husband by Claire Calman.

About the Author

Claire Calman is a writer and broadcaster known for her novels that combine wit and pathos, including the bestseller Love is a Four-Letter Word. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Loose Ends. Her first book for Boldwood was published in June 2020. Sign up to hear more from Claire Calman, Follow @clairecalman on Twitter, on Bookbub,

About the book

Natalie and Carl are newlyweds, but the honeymoon period is over already. Carl has just announced he has bought their first home at auction without telling Natalie where it is, never mind showing her a picture of it.

Natalie is horrified to discover that the dream home is in Little Wyford, mere minutes away from Carl’s ex-wife Antonia. And to make matters worse, Antonia’s palatial country mansion has a fully-functioning roof (and a heated swimming pool!), unlike the ramshackle cottage Carl has bought for them…

Antonia is Little Wyford’s Queen Bee, mistress of the book club, organiser of the Christmas Fair and leader of the ladies-who-lunch. No matter how hard she tries, Natalie just doesn’t fit in, and when Antonia insists on referring to Carl as ‘Our Husband’, Natalie’s dreams of happily-ever-after take another nose dive.

Second-hand furniture has much to recommend it, especially when doing up a country cottage, second-hand clothes can be ever-so chic, but second-hand husbands are proving to be a very bad idea indeed… Can Natalie ever escape the label of Wife Number Two or is she destined to share her husband forever?

Hilariously funny, wickedly witty, but with a heart of gold and a warmth and wisdom that are all its own, A Second-Hand Husband is Claire Calman’s tour de force.

Review

Some readers might have a tendency to cringe at Natalie's actions and low self-esteem, and they wouldn't be completely wrong to do so. It verges on embarrassing the way she stumbles politely and ever so apologetically from one situation to the other, where others feel free to mock and belittle her.

She lets herself be manoeuvred into being second best, an afterthought, the friendly mouse and the new wife who doesn't shine as brightly as the old wife. Her first mistake is letting her husband get away with picking a new house right next door to the ex-wife, without any input from her, then keeping stumm every time someone uses her as a doormat.

Oh boy, sorry not sorry, but Carl and his actions aren't romantic in any way shape or form. He has no respect for Natalie at all. Natalie in turn doesn't seem able to distinguish between what possible toxicity or a romantic gesture may look like.

It's story of family dynamics, with romance and how to rebuild trust and relationships when a ready made family needs to open the doors to a new member. Calman doesn't have to wade too far into fiction with this premise, which is probably why certain characters will evoke strong emotional responses.

Buy A Second-Hand Husband at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ Boldwood Books pub date June 16, 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour This Fragile Earth by Susannah Wise

 It's my turn on the BlogTour This Fragile Earth by Susannah Wise.

About the Author

Susannah Wise is an actor and writer who grew up in London and the Midlands. The death of her father in 2015 was the catalyst for THIS FRAGILE EARTH. His preoccupation with astronomy and the beauty of the night sky formed the jumping-off point for the story. Susannah studied at the Faber Academy, graduating in September 2018, during which time she wrote a second, more peculiar novel. Both books have been longlisted for the Mslexia prize. She lives in London with her partner and son.

Follow @susannahwise on Twitter, Visit susannahwise.com

About the book

Not long from now, in a recognisable yet changed London, Signy and Matthew lead a dull, difficult life. They've only really stayed together for the sake of their six year old son, Jed. But they're surviving, just about. Until the day the technology that runs their world stops working. Unable to use their phones or pay for anything, Matthew assumes that this is just a momentary glitch in the computers that now run the world.

But then the electricity and gas are cut off. Even the water stops running. And the pollination drones - vital to the world, ever since the bees all died - are behaving oddly. People are going missing. Soldiers are on the streets. London is no longer safe.

A shocking incident sends Signy and Jed on the run, desperate to flee London and escape to the small village where Signy grew up. Determined to protect her son, Signy will do almost anything to survive as the world falls apart around them. But she has no idea what is waiting for them outside the city...

Review

Signy reminded me of the early version of Tempe Brennan in Bones. Very logical, intelligent and blunt to the point of rude. She also spends the entirety of the book talking to those around her with a certain aloofness including those closest to her. Her conversations with her son are more like intellectual discourse between two peers.

Her world is suddenly thrown into disarray when the technology appears to fail completely, which leaves chaos and panic in its stead. Society isn't really set-up for failure and the humans aren't at all prepared for a pre-technology on the spot solution.

Sometimes some scenes seemed superfluous and some moments out of character, a bit like filling holes with some random stuff. This seemed like a contradiction to the premise as a whole. On the plus side the futuristic element felt easy to elate too. Nothing too outlandish and possibilities that could be in our near future.

It's a dystopian sci-fi come technology premise - a possible glimpse of the future. A society completely dependent on gadgets, electricity, gas, drones and the Big Brother surveillance. It perhaps has a message about relying completely on technology in life, because if it fails there isn't anything to fall back on. Cue survival mode and preppers, even if it's just filling the pantry with long life milk, tinned food and bottled water.

Buy This Fragile Earth at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Gollancz, pub date 24 June 2021 - Hardback £14.99 also as eBook and audiobook. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour Between You and Me by Carol Mason

 It's my turn on the Blogtour Between You and Me by Carol Mason.

About the Author

Carol Mason is the Amazon Charts and Kindle #1 bestselling author After You Left (more than 300,000 copies sold), The Secrets of Married Women, The Last Time We Met, The Shadow Between Us, Send Me A Lover and Little White Secrets which hit the Bookstat digital bestsellers list top 3 in the week of its launch. She was born in the North East of England where most of her novels are set. She now lives in Canada with her Canadian husband, a rescue dog from Kuwait and a three-legged cat. When not writing, Carol loves to read, cook and binge watch Netflix. 

Follow @carolmasonbooks on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazonon Facebook, Visit carolmasonbooks.com

About the book

Is her new husband really who she thinks he is? When young doctor Lauren Matheson meets Joe, an older divorced businessman, at a glittering poolside in California, it’s a chance encounter that seems life-changing for them both. Back home in London, their feelings only strengthen. But Lauren soon discovers that building a happy future with Joe is going to be an uphill struggle…

She’s determined to be a good stepmother to his children, four-year-old Toby and complicated teen Grace. But under the watchful eye of Meredith, Joe’s intimidating ex-wife, Lauren can’t seem to do a thing right. Why won’t Joe ever take her side against Grace? And what really happened between him and Meredith?

As her husband retreats into a cold, secretive version of the dashing man she met in California, Lauren starts to wonder if she’s made a costly mistake. Was Joe ever the man she thought she married?

Review

Lauren loves her husband and her career, she tolerates the ex-wife and is coming to like the children more each day. However the realisation that she will always come second to both the children and the ex-wife is a disappointment. In fact her status is unstable and always under threat.

I can't give Mason enough kudos for the insight in this story. I'm not sure if it's just research or personal experience, but between the fictional premise there is a solid foundation of reality, and the true emotional turmoil of patchwork and step-families.

The outsider status of the interloper who tries to navigate the roles of new wife and step-mother without crossing the boundaries of actual parenting or rather the parents themselves. Interesting conundrum the bio parents put the step-person in - all the responsibilities of a parent, but treated like a teenage babysitter who is doing a bad job.

When loyalty and connections are cemented within the first relationship and no room is left for the new one then eventually the outsider status will become permanent. Building a new family unit in these circumstances is stressful and complicated, and often goes hand in hand with disruption and acrimony.

I really enjoyed it, and the frank and open discourse. It hurts, it's scary and sometimes you can't do right for doing wrong. The author absolutely hits the nail on the head with this one.

Buy Between You and Me at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Lake Union Publishing pub date 22 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Kill A Stranger by Simon Kernick


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Kill a Stranger by Simon Kernick.

About the Author

Simon Kernick is a number one bestseller and one of the UK’s most popular thriller writers, with huge hits including Relentless, The Last 10 Seconds, Siege and The Bone Field series. Follow @simonkernick on Twitter, Visit simon-kernick.html

About the book

To save a lie, could you take another? How far would you go for the one you love? And how well do you really know them? They took your fiancée. They framed you for murder. You have one chance to save her. To clear your name. You must kill someone for them. They give you the time. The location. The target. You have less than 24 hours. You must make an impossible choice.

Review

I loved how messed up this was. The clock never stops ticking, even the ending is violence waiting to happen. I wonder if it will? Tell me, will it?

Imagine coming home to your pregnant fiancée and instead of finding her tucked up in bed - she is gone. Kidnapped, and the ransom is more than you're willing to pay or are you? Matt isn't sure at first, but knowing his actions can mean the difference between life or death for Kate - it's a great motivator.

Is it enough motivation to kill a complete stranger though? Like, really kill and not just stun, maim or disfigure. Stone cold killer dead. Are many deaths worth it to save a life, the life of a loved one. Is it true that anyone can cross the ultimate boundary if given the right circumstances?

It's a captivating psychological thriller. I especially liked the way the author gave each character a voice and avenue to present their side of the story. Not everyone sees the events the same way, especially not the detective in charge.

Kernick gives this slowly evolving tense crime read an urban feel to it, as he keeps readers guessing. I'm pretty sure what is coming right at them is completely unexpected.

Buy Kill A Stranger at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Headline pub date 26th November 2020 . Hardback . £14.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

#BlogTour The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe


 It's my turn on the BlogTour The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe.

About the Author

Katie is a graduate of the University of Birmingham with a BA(Hons) in English and an MPhil in Literature and Modernity, and in 2012 started her blog, Fat Girl PhD - writing about body image, feminism and health. Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Independent, and the BBC, as well as a number of media outlets in the US, Canada and Australia. Katie is currently working on a PhD in Female Rage in Literary Modernism and the #MeToo Era. THE FURIES is her first novel. Follow @fatgirlphd on Twitter, Visit katie-lowe.co.uk

About the book

Everyone says Graham Catton was the perfect husband, professor and father. Why would someone murder him?

His wife, Hannah Catton, tells the police she remembers nothing from the night of the murder. Why would she lie to them? Evidence against the accused, Mike Philips, is minimal and he protests his innocence throughout the trial. Why would they convict him?

Journalist Anna Byers has overturned numerous prison sentences with her popular podcast Conviction and she believes the wrong man is behind bars. What will she do to help him? Someone knows more about the murder than they’re telling. It may have been Hannah’s husband who was killed, but listeners are about to become judge, jury and executioner on this season of Conviction.

Review

If Hannah's professionalism is anything to go by then she is in a deep well of trouble. She dithers, dathers and doubts herself. Wonders whether she might or might not have crossed boundaries or helped to accelerate the decline of a patients mental health. Hmm, when you take that into consideration is it that far of a stretch to think she might have a lapse of sanity and kill her husband. Or maybe there was no lapse.

The Conviction true crime podcast not only puts her name back in the minds of everyone, it also makes her start to doubt the narrative she has believed for so many years. The death of Hannah's husband is about to be reviewed and dissected by millions of listeners.

Lowe writes comfortable chaos and equally chaotic characters, but with a nice little psycho twist to it. Do we know if she did it, because thinks she did it - then she realises someone else did it, but hey they changed their mind too. Got that?

At times it feels as if there are too many threads trying to compete for the finish line, but then that leads nicely into the instability of the main character. It's a very specific type of domestic psychological thriller. 

Buy The Murder of Graham Catton at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Collins pub date 10th June 2021 | Hardback | Audio | Ebook | £12.99. 

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

#BlogTour Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane

 
It's my turn on the BlogTour Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane.

About the Author

Lizzie Lane is the author of over 50 books, a number of which have been bestsellers.  She was born and bred in Bristol where many of her family worked in the cigarette and cigar factories.  This has inspired her new saga series for Boldwood The Tobacco Girls, the first part of which will be published in January 2021. Sign up to Lizzie's newsletter

Follow @baywriterallat1 on Twitter,  on Facebook, on Instagram, on Bookbub,

About the book

Nothing will stop the The Tobacco Girls, not even war... Bristol 1940. The Tobacco Girls cling together as they realise that the clouds of war are turning dark, the world is becoming more dangerous and their lives more unpredictable. Bridget Milligan’s big, happy family fragments when her siblings are evacuated to North Devon, then a letter from America further fills her with dismay.

Maisie Miles safe haven from both Eddie Bridgeman and her father is jeopardised and she is forced to move on, but where too this time? Phyllis Mason is struck down by tragedy and her life spirals downwards into despair until a new horizons beckons, but also perhaps great danger...

Regardless of the rationing, shortages and an ever-worsening situation, The Tobacco Girls all pull together and hope for better days to come.


Review

With the darkness of World War 2 looming over the girls they each have their own problems to deal with. Maisie sees her past and danger lurking behind each corner, whic technically isn't paranoia if it's true. Bridget has to watch her family be torn apart, even if it's in the best interest of her siblings. Phyllis experiences a tragedy which will turn her life around completely.

Each of them, in their own way, finds their own trauma and difficulties hard to cope with alone, but together they become strong enough to do what's right. More importantly they show each other the light in the hours of sadness and despair.

Maisie, Phyllis and Bridget will always be there for each other through thick, thin and in this case wartime. Even with the odd disgruntled snipes and their own problems, what they truly excel at is being there when one of them is in dire need of a friend. 

It's a story of friendship, sisterhood and family, because that's what they are ..family. It's lovely historical war fiction, escapism with its roots grounded firmly in history and the reality of friendship between women.

Buy Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Boldwood Books; pub date 8 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday, 19 June 2021

#BlogTour The High-Rise Diver by Julia von Lucadou


 It's my turn on the BlogTour The High-Rise Diver by Julia von Lucadou, translated from the German by Sharmila Cohen. 

About the Author

Julia von Lucadou was born in Heidelberg in 1982. She studied film and theater at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and Victoria University of Wellington and earned her PhD in Film Studies in 2015. Lucadou worked as both an assistant director and a television editor prior to writing The High-Rise Diver, her debut novel, which was nominated for the Swiss Book Prize in 2018. She lives between Biel, New York, and Cologne.

Sharmila Cohen is an award-winning writer and German-to-English translator who has translated the works of several leading German-language authors. Her work has been featured in publications such as BOMB and Harpers, and her projects span from poetry and literary fiction to crime and children’s stories. Originally from New York, Cohen came to Berlin in 2011 as a Fulbright Scholar to complete an experimental translation project with local poets. She now divides her time between both cities.

About the book

‘The High Rise Diver is a chillingly beautiful dissection of perfected capitalism. Lucadou creates a horribly convincing world where every aspect of existence has been monetised. In a taut, delicate narrative an implacable and disinterested cruelty faces the human ache for tenderness, mercy, contact and affection.’  A.L. Kennedy

Riva is a “high-rise diver,” a top athlete with millions of fans, and a perfectly functioning human on all levels. Suddenly she rebels, breaking her contract and refusing to train. Cameras are everywhere in her world, but she doesn’t know her every move is being watched by Hitomi, the psychologist tasked with reining Riva back in. 

Unquestionably loyal to the system, Hitomi’s own life is at stake: should she fail to deliver, she will be banned to the “peripheries,” the filthy outskirts of society. For readers of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Circle, and Brave New World, this chilling dystopia constructs a world uncomfortably close to our own, in which performance is everything.

Review

This is going on my top reads of 2021. It is an intricately planned and well written dystopian story. A premise with shades of Orwell's 1984, but perhaps on a much bigger scale.

To Hitomi Riva is just a job, a way to keep her status, which is closely linked to obedience and performance, and in turn to performance management. The human and humane element is non-existent. Trying to determine why the high-rise flyer refuses to fly and convincing her to jump once again becomes all consuming and directly linked to the slow decline of Hitomi's success.

The Big Brother or Sister aspect is more than intrusive it is law, lifestyle and a mind-set. It's voluntary because nobody questions it, unless they aren't part of the right side of the tracks. The privileged side, who are set on paths to success, whereas the rest are treated like the poor relatives. 

But let's talk about that privilege and success, is it worth being subjected to a life of 24/7 scrutiny in all areas of their lives or being isolated from all emotional bonds like a Harlow monkey. Creating a species that craves positive reinforcement to a degree that it makes them easy to control - it's fascinating and in equal measures frightening.

Lucadou is the kind of writer who thrives on the possibilities of speculative creativity, especially when they are cemented in possible futuristic visions of our society. Compelling and riveting. On a side-note - excellent translation.

Buy The High-Rise Diver at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: World Editions; pub date 6 May 2021 - £12.99 paperback. Buy at Amazon com. Buy via World Editions.

#BlogTour Fragile by Sarah Hilary


 It's my turn on the BlogTour Fragile by Sarah Hilary.

About the Author

Sarah Hilary’s debut Someone Else’s Skin won the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year, was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and The Observer’s Book of the Month. In the US, it was a Silver Falchion and Macavity Award finalist. No Other Darkness, the second in the series, was shortlisted for a Barry Award. The sixth in her DI Marnie Rome series Never Be Broken is out now. Her short stories have won the Cheshire Prize for Literature, the Fish Criminally Short Histories Prize, and the SENSE prize.

Fragile is her first standalone novel. Sarah is one of the Killer Women, a crime writing collective supporting diversity, innovation and inclusion in their industry. 

Follow @sarah_hilary on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit sarahhilary.com 

About the book

A modern Gothic thriller from an award-winning and critically acclaimed author - a REBECCA for our times.

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong. So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands. But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for…


Review

It's a compelling psychological thriller that revolves around the inadequacies of a care system and forgotten children that fall through the loopholes. The damaged individuals that venture into society and often leave a mark behind, and sometimes not a good one.

Throughout the story the reader wonders whether Nell is damaged and fragile or is she damaged beyond repair and capable of manipulating the fragility of others. Victim? Or a victim who is beyond redemption? Or is she just someone who really wants to be loved and needed - then again she could be all of the aforementioned.

I love it when an established author reinvents their own wheel. If this was my first excursion with Hilary I would be noting her down as one to watch, however having read and experienced her writing previously I have to say she has been curtailing herself. This not only shows a real depth, darkness and ability to create multi-layered characters - it is also taking it up a notch from a writing perspective.

I have to say kudos for the last chapter. It does two things in a way, it reveals the two-faced doll and simultaneously gives credence to the plot and character that goes before it. I hope this isn't the last time Hilary delves into the dark side, she certainly seems comfortable there. 

Buy Fragile at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pan MacMillan; pub date 10th June 2021 –  £14.99 HB. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour And Now You're Back by Jill Mansell


 It's my turn on the BlogTour And Now You're Back by Jill Mansell.

About the Author

Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including The One You Really Want and Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay.  Take a Chance on Me won the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award. 

Jill’s personal favourite amongst her novels is Three Amazing Things About You, which is about cystic fibrosis and organ donation; to her great delight, many people have joined the organ donor register as a direct result of reading this novel.

Jill started writing fiction while working in the field of Clinical Neurophysiology in the NHS, but now writes full time. She lives in Bristol with her family. 

Follow @JillMansell @headlinepg on Twitter, Follow on Goodreads, Follow OfficialJillMansell on Facebook, Visit jillmansell.co.uk


About the book

One magical winter's night in Venice, Didi fell in love. But it ended - and he left without even saying goodbye. Now, thirteen years on, Shay Mason is back.

The old spark is still there, but Didi's determined to ignore it. As manager of a stunning Cotswolds hotel, she's happy at last, and soon to be married. Anyway, Shay isn't staying. He's made a promise to his father. He's going to keep it. And then he'll be gone.

But Shay's return stirs up long-forgotten emotions, and the scandal that led him to leave raises its head once again. It's time for buried secrets to come to light. And it seems that this was someone's intention all along . . .

Review

It's like a scene out of a Christmas romance movie. Boy and girl meet under the stars, play in the snow and fall helplessly in love. And so begins a story of disappointment and heartbreak, but also a story everyone tends to look back on with fondness.

Based on Didi's track record there seems to be a subconscious part of her which hasn't let go of her teenage romance - the idea of those moments of romantic perfection. The wistful feeling of nostalgia that keeps her from committing or is it the fact she has reason not to trust men, and that reason is Shay.

It's unfortunate that Shay seems to be playing up to what people expect of him. The guy who doesn't fit with the more privileged and wealthy crowd he was hanging out with. The man who broke her heart - the question is whether he is back to do it again?

The secondary characters kind of steal the limelight a bit, and make Didi and Shay fade into the background a little. I kind of enjoyed it, because it gave the story a fresher feel in a story with an outcome you can kind of see coming. The strong cast surrounding the main characters drive the read and keep this tale of push and pull going strong. Mansell delivers a lovely escapism read.

Buy And Now You're Back at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏ : ‎ Headline Review pub date 21 Jan. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.