Wednesday, 29 September 2021

#BlogTour To All the Living by Monica Felton

 It's my turn on the BlogTour To All the Living by Monica Felton.

In September 2021, IWM will publish another novel in their Wartime Classics Series which was launched in September 2019 to great acclaim, bringing the total number of novels in the series to eleven. Each has been brought back into print to enable a new generation of readers to hear stories of those who experienced conflict first hand.  

To All the Living by Monica Felton is published by IWM and can be pre-ordered here at the online IWM shop: www.iwmshop.org.uk/pg/114/IWM-Wartime-Classics 


About the Author

Monica Felton (1906 – 1970) was a feminist, socialist, historian, peace activist and a pioneering proponent of town planning.  She went to University College, Southampton and then did a Phd at the LSE.  In 1937 she was elected a member of the London County Council representing St Pancras South West.  During the Second World War she served in the Ministry of Supply, an experience she reflected in To All the Living.  In 1942 she became a Clerk of the House of Commons. 

After the war she became involved in town planning, serving as Chair for the Peterlee and Stevenage Development Corporations.  However, she was fired from this post after taking an unauthorized trip to North Korea on behalf of the Women’s International Democratic Federation in 1951.  On her return from this trip she accused American troops of atrocities and British complicity.  There was a media and establishment backlash and even accusations of treason. As a result she became increasingly isolated in Britain and moved to India in 1956.  She died in Madras (modern day Chennai) in 1970.

About the book

First published in 1945, To All the Living takes place in a munitions factory throughout 1941 in Blimpton, a place ‘so far from anywhere as to be, for all practical purposes, nowhere.’   The novel gives a lively account of the experiences of a group of men and women in the factory from both a top down and bottom up perspective, detailing the triumphs and tragedies of a diverse list of characters.  It is wide-ranging in the themes it touches on, including class, sexism, socialism, fear of communism, workers’ rights, anti-semitism and xenophobia.  Much of it was based on the author’s own experiences in the Ministry of Supply in the first years of the war, and it is one of the best depictions of factory life during wartime, providing the reader with a fascinating insight into this vital aspect of Britain’s home front.

Factory work, as depicted in the novel, could be exhausting and repetitive, with workers often receiving low pay.  Initially work was on a voluntary basis which meant there was always a shortage of labour.  As the war progressed, conscription for women was introduced in December 1941 to help stem the shortages.  By 1945, 6.7 million women were contributing to the war effort out of a population of 48 million with a further 2.5 million in the voluntary sector.  Only the Soviet Union mobilized a higher percentage of women for the war effort and the novel reflects the experiences of a tiny proportion of these women.

The work undertaken by women at munitions factories will also be explored in IWM’s new Second World War Galleries with personal items belonging to a worker at the Leeds based Blackburn Aircraft Factory on display for the first time when they open in October of this year.

Review

Griselda Green becomes the face of munition factory workers, especially the women. The fragile balance of power, being the cog in the wheel of destruction and the crossing of boundaries when it comes to relationships, and whether the ideology contradicts and dampens said relationships.

Felton was a Jane Fonda of her era. A woman with an ideology, which was in direct contradiction to what the majority considered to be patriotic, hence the accusations of being a traitor to her country and people. A woman synonymous with fighting the injustice she perceives by the US and the complicit British.

I think it's fair to say that her own experiences during the war, which is probably what started her drive towards her political, economic and social ideologies. The injustices, the underlying sense of betrayal and abuse of power by the top echelon - the system seeped in the archaic rules of the patriarchy. All this and more is reflected in this story. 

It also captures a part of wartime that is usually glossed over as the focus tends to be on action at the front, destruction and spydom, despite the fact the munition factories and workers were part of the integral structure of the war fight. I can't repeat enough how much I love the fact the Imperial War Museum is bringing all these important books back to the forefront of people's minds.

Buy To All the Living at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Imperial War Museum; published in Paperback 23rd September 2021 - £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

About the Imperial War Museums - IWM 

IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, which will open extensive new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries in autumn 2021; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain's best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast. 

#BlogTour Feeding the Gods by Elizabeth Harrison

It's my turn on the BlogTour Feeding the Gods by Elizabeth Harrison - 'Female writing duo ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ releases a powerful thriller that addresses the issues women face through life and the readiness of the drug companies to provide a pill for every problem'

About the Author

Elizabeth Harrison is the pen name of Denise Harrison (Dee) and Elizabeth Buxton (Liz), two friends, writing together. Feeding the Gods is set principally in South Manchester and Cheshire, which is the area where the authors grew up, married, and had their children. Liz decided to make her career on the high seas, crewing the Atlantic, and living aboard a yacht sailing the Mediterranean, whilst Dee was involved in the start-up and development of two successful software companies. Follow @eh_author on Twitter,

About the book

Roberta, Rosie, Sandra and Linda meet at college in the 70s and remain constant friends, despite life’s up and downs. The sudden death of one of the friends leads the others to suspect that a slimming drug she had been taking was perhaps to blame. Was this a wonder drug or a threat to life? 

The friends start to uncover long held secrets and betrayals – both personal and professional, but the pharmaceutical industry is not yet finished with them. Feeding the Gods is a thriller that addresses friendships, the different roles a woman must take on through life and the power of the drug giants.

Review

This begins with death and ends with death, the first is one of a group of friends and the second addresses how we deal with the topic of death. A group of female friends  navigate the pitfalls of a patriarchal society and decades that boast of freedoms, but in reality just contain more dangers and restrictions. Whilst a small minority appear to be living the life every woman dreams of, the majority are still stuck in the hamster wheel.

The Svelta story resonated with me. In the 70s and 80s slimming drugs were keeping the majority of women stick-thin. Over the counter, easy to access and often sold in the aisle right next to muscle protein for body builders. Just one thing though - more or less pure amphetamines.

Although the first Amphetamine epidemic tends to cited only up to the early 70s, the truth is the first wave continued on much longer. The body image mania was quickly replaced by physical addiction, although it's fair to say the majority would have been unaware at first of why. Slimming pills - speed.

The second sub-plot that resonated with me was the euthanasia element and the difference in the way modern affluent countries take care of their elderly.

There is a lot going on in this story, perhaps too many sub-plots being pulled in different directions, which means not all of them get the attention or depth they possibly deserve. The writing duo wants to do due diligence when it comes to giving a voice to women, and drawing back the veil of some very popular myths of certain decades. It's a political, social and domestic thriller.

Buy Feeding the Gods at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎The Book Guild pub date 24 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

#BlogTour The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All by Josh Ritter

 It's my turn on the BlogTour The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All - 'A lyrical, sweeping novel about the last days of the lumberjacks from nationally bestselling author and acclaimed musician Josh Ritter' (picture of author by photographer Laura Wilson)

About the Author

Josh Ritter is a songwriter from Moscow, Idaho. His albums include The Animal Years and So Runs the World Away. Bright’s Passage is his first novel. He lives in New York. Follow @joshritter on Twitter, Visit joshritter.com

About the book

In the tiny timber town of Cordelia, Idaho, everyone has heard tales of the Applegates. Local legend says their family line boasts some of the greatest lumberjacks to ever roam the American West, and from the moment young Weldon stepped foot in the deep Cordelia woods as a child, he dreamed of joining the rowdy ranks of his ancestors in their epic, axe-swinging adventures. But at the beginning of the twentieth century, times are changing fast, and the jacks are dying out.

On his deathbed nearly a century later, Weldon Applegate recounts his life in all its glory, filled with tall tales writ large with murder, mayhem, avalanches and bootlegging. It’s the story of dark pine forests brewing with ancient magic, and Weldon’s struggle as a boy to keep his father’s inherited timber claim, the Lost Lot, from the ravenous clutches of Linden Laughlin.

Braided with haunting saloon tunes and just the right dose of magic, The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All is a novel bursting with heart, humor, and an utterly transporting adventure that is sure to sweep you away into the beauty of the tall snowy mountain timber.

Review

Weldon Applegate, nearly a century of age, full of stories and memories. He takes the reader back to his days of his childhood when his father introduced him to the magic of the woods - the brotherhood of the lumberjacks, the men who conquer the mighty timber. Sometimes they win and sometimes they lose.

I'm not sure if people nowadays give themselves enough time to really experience the true magic of a forest and standing in the midst of many trees, especially when they are truly old. It's like being one with a magical sense of the beauty we are surrounded by. The awe of the strength, the majesty and thought of how many others have stood in the same position admiring the stoic fixture. A visual representation of seasons coming and going. 

It's this inexplicable feeling that Ritter has drawn upon and infused the story with. Combined with the nostalgia of memories, a coming-of-age story and one of brotherhood the tale takes a step into magical realism.

If you enjoyed the read then I also suggest giving the audiobook a whirl, it makes the magical and then the musical element come to life. 

Buy The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Hanover Square Press - HQ Fiction; pub date 16 September - £18.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Gloria by Katherine Shaw

It's my turn on the BlogTour Gloria by Katherine Shaw.

About the Author

Katherine Shaw is a multi-genre writer and self-confessed nerd from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, spending most of her time dreaming up new characters or playing D&D. She has a passion for telling the stories of underdogs who must rise up to defeat the hardships they have been dealt in life, often with a focus on female protagonists. She is currently working on her debut novel Gloria, a contemporary domestic thriller launching in September this year, alongside several short story projects that are in the works. You can find out more at her website katherineshawwrites.com, and she is always happy to chat on Twitter @katheroony. On Instagram, on Facebook.

About the book

For all intents and purposes, Gloria Harrison has the perfect life: a rich husband, a beautiful home, and all the free time she needs to work on her art. And yet, she is deeply unhappy. Initially resigned to be pushed around by her snobbish, manipulative husband, Greg, she discovers a shocking truth about him she simply cannot ignore, and has to get out.

As Gloria’s world unravels around her, she has to team up with friends new and old to escape not only her husband’s clutches, but also the country, even if that means giving up everything. 

Gloria must rediscover who she used to be and realise her true worth to finally free herself from Greg’s stranglehold forever, or risk losing the person she holds most dear in the world – her daughter.

Review

Aside from certain sub-plots, the most poignant one becomes clear quite early on in the book. The toxic nature of Gloria's relationship with Greg. Her entire life - each and every decision and moment is influenced by her husband. Is she allowed to breathe? I don't know, let's ask Greg. He certainly has an opinion about the way she spends her days, the clothes she wears and how she moves forward in life.

When Gloria is given an opportunity to follow her heart in regards to her art and creativity. Initially she is overjoyed until Greg puts a 'realistic' perspective on her potential and whether anyone would be interested in anything she creates. The pattern of behaviour between the two of them is a flourishing flowerbed for the plot that evolves from this initial encounter with the characters.

The multiple threads are all good storylines, the combination is perhaps to the detriment of all of them. Perhaps make one a focus, especially when it comes the genre jumping. Not that you cant go from dark domestic thriller into something more speculative with an adjacent sideline of fluttering of romance. You can, but each individual great idea doesn't come to fruition completely. It will be interesting to see where Shaw goes from here.

Buy Gloria at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher‏: ‎Arteminion Books pub date 8 Sept. 2021. Buy at Amazon com. Barnes and Noble. Apple. Kobo

Giveaway to Win a Signed Paperback of Gloria and more (Open to UK Only)

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

#BlogTour Always, in December by Emily Stone

It's my turn on the BlogTour Always, in December by Emily Stone, and the tagline Because some books are too good to wait until Christmas... is absolutely spot on!


About the Author

Emily Stone lives and works in Chepstow and wrote Always, in December in an old Victorian manor house with an impressive literary heritage. Her debut novel was partly inspired by the death of her mother, when Emily was seven, and wanting to write something that reflected the fact that you carry this grief into adulthood, long after you supposedly move on from the event itself. Follow @EmStoneWrites on Twitter

About the book

For fans of One Day in December and Me Before You, Always, in December is the timeless, stay-up-all-night love story you’ll take straight to your heart.

Josie Morgan never looks forward to December. It’s always a reminder of the life she lost, twenty years ago. Now, she always switches off the radio when Christmas music comes on. She always wants to tear down the tinsel her flatmate insists on pinning up. And she always posts a letter she knows will never be read.

Max Carter never expected to find himself stranded in London just days before Christmas. He never expected it would be so hard to say goodbye to a woman he hardly knows. Then again, he never expected to fall in love.

But, this December, when Josie’s letter leads her to Max, a chance encounter will change their lives in the most remarkable way. And their story is only just beginning . . .

From London to Manhattan, from Edinburgh to the English countryside, Always, in December is a romantic journey that’s impossible to forget.

Review

Josie doesn't like Christmas or anything to do with Christmas time. It's a time she connects with trauma, pain and sadness, and on top of that she is dealing with a crushing betrayal. An accidental collision slowly gives her a new perspective on life and what she expects from life and those in her life.

Max certainly didn't expect to find somebody like Josie by accident. She opens his eyes, which is especially important given the fact he is going through a tumultuous time himself. 

I always enjoy a contemporary romance or read that doesn't feel the need to give readers the ending they tend to prefer. Instead it is very much a heartfelt, authentic experience of two people recognising what the other needs, especially when it comes to Josie. Sometimes you meet a person who will teach you a life lesson that will stay with you forever - the trick is knowing it when it happens.

I enjoyed the easy flow of the dialogue and the story, you could feel the characters connecting with each other and genuinely become invested in the outcome of their stories. I think Stone definitely has the potential to write with incredible depth and this is merely skimming the surface.

Buy Always, in December at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Headline; pub date 14th October 2021 I £7.99 I Paperback Original. Also available as audiobook and ebook. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 27 September 2021

#BlogBlitz Freecycling for Beginners by Misha M Herwin

 It's my turn on the BlogBlitz Freecycling for Beginners by Misha M Herwin.

About the Author

Misha M Herwin is a Staffordshire based writer. When not writing she runs workshops for adults and children, including youth groups at the New Vic Theatre, and events such as the 6x6 Story Café for Stoke Libraries. She spends what spare time she has with family and friends, reading, working in her garden and baking. Scones are a speciality. Follow @mishaherwin on Twitter, on Facebook, Visit mishaherwin.wordpress.com


About the book

The time has come for Jane to sell the family home. Downsizing to a flat means that everything must go, but her late husband’s favourite chair is far too precious for the tip.

Meanwhile, Robyn, balancing her precarious career as a portrait artist with raising an autistic son, is searching for a chair with panache that will allow her sitters to pose in comfort.

Elsewhere in the city, Tracey is clearing out her wardrobe at the same moment that divorced and cash-strapped Debbie is frantically seeking a prom dress for her daughter.

None of these women have ever met until Freecycle brings them together and their lives are about to be changed in ways they could never have imagined.


Review

Jane, Robyn and Tracey don't have a lot in common when you take a brief look, but their respective stories about giving something away and looking for something, is what connects them and their stories.

Freecycle is essentially recycling based on the principle of one man's junk is another man's treasure. At the core of the principle is not letting something that is still of use to someone becomes yet another item on a landfill. Instead of waiting around decades or centuries to it to hopefully degrade, perhaps that item can be useful a while longer.

The essence of this story are such items that connect us, our memories and our experiences. These items become a conduit to share emotional connections with each other. They become the thread woven between strangers, and between these characters in the story.

I liked the idea - it has this element of nostalgia, which lends a certain depth to the characters. Herwin also brings forth the differences in our reactions, when it comes to being attached to physical belongings and what each one of us believes is important. It's different for everyone. It's a message of humanity and simultaneously about how similar and different we are at the same time.

Buy Freecycling for Beginners at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Penkhull Press pub date 31 Aug. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt


It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt.
About the Author
Emma Harcourt has worked as a journalist for over 25 years, in Australia, the UK and Hong Kong. In 2011, she completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and The Shanghai Wife was borne. Emma lives in Sydney with her two daughters. She is currently working on her second novel. Follow @emma_harcourt on Twitter,

About the book
Forbidden friendship, political conspiracy and incendiary passion draw Australian woman Annie Brand deep into the glamour and turmoil of 1920s Shanghai.

Leaving behind the loneliness and trauma of her past in country Australia, Annie Brand arrives to the political upheaval and glittering international society of Shanghai in the 1920s. Journeying up the Yangtze with her new husband, the ship's captain, Annie revels in the sense of adventure but when her husband sends her back to Shanghai, her freedom is quickly curtailed.

Against her will, Annie finds herself living alone in the International Settlement, increasingly suffocated by the judgemental Club ladies and their exclusive social scene: one even more restrictive than that she came from. Sick of salacious gossip and foreign condescension, and desperate to shake off the restrictions of her position in the world, Annie is slowly drawn into the bustling life and otherness of the real Shanghai, and begins to see the world from the perspective of the local people, including the servants who work at her husband's Club.

But this world is far more complex and dangerous than the curious Annie understands and, unknowingly, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue and conspiracy as well as a passionate forbidden love affair she could not have predicted: one with far–reaching consequences… 

Review
Moving to 1920's Shanghai is a big stretch for Annie, having to deal with the curious and judgemental creatures called ex-pat - throwbacks of the old world on the cusp of change and a new awakening. Thrust into the gossipy world full of sharp retorts and a visible shallowness, Annie starts to reach out into her new surroundings, but encounters more than she ever thought possible.

I imagine it will appear to many that Annie is impulsive and naïve in her actions. Her desire to learn, to help and discover her surroundings is dangerous to the observer, and yet it is completely in keeping with her societal position and her heritage. It's called white saviour complex, which although is still prevalent today, was and is very much a product of colonialism. She is fearsome in certain situations and simultaneously convinced her position and her good intent will keep her safe. The invisible bubble of privilege if you will.

Harcourt draws the reader in with the vivid imagery and historical setting, to the point where the more adventurous aspect becomes the obstacle, the dam that keeps the other genre voices slightly tamed. 
It's a story driven by the vivid imagery, the accurate settings and the due diligence given to the characters. The author blends and weaves to create a riveting tale of self-discovery and times gone by.

Buy The Shanghai Wife at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Fiction, pub date 16. Sep 2021 - £.8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

#BlogBlitz A Cornish Summer at Pear Tree Farm by Angela Britnell

 It's my turn on the BlogBlitz A Cornish Summer at Pear Tree Farm by Angela Britnell.

About the Author

Angela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties! 

A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she's visited or lived on her extensive travels. Thanks to over three decades of marriage to her wonderful American husband she's a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association. Her first novel ‘Truth and Consequence’ was published in 2006 and she’s now had over 30 novels published internationally and several short stories in women’s magazines.

If you'd like to find out more of what Angela gets up to (Advance warning: this may include references to wine, dark chocolate, Poldark and the hunky Aidan Turner) check out angelabritnellromance.com or follow her on facebook.com/angelabritnell@angelabritnell on Twitter and on Instagram 

About the book

Cornish charm and a Tennessee twist – the perfect pair? Nessa Vivian is determined to keep her parents’ business afloat, but Pear Tree Farm near the backwater Cornish village of Polgarth didn’t do well as farm, and it’s not faring much better as a camp site. Maybe it’s due to Nessa’s habit of taking in troubled runaways, like ex-soldier Crispin, for next to nothing. Or perhaps her highly-strung sister Lowena is right – caravans named after Beatles’ songs and homegrown pears are not enough to turn the farm into a tourist haven.

Then another troubled runaway turns up, posing the greatest threat yet. Ex-musician Ward Spencer from Tennessee is certainly intriguing, but could his plans to put nearby Tregereth House on the map mean Pear Tree Farm is finished – or does his arrival signal a second lease of life, and not just for Nessa’s business?

Review

Pear Tree Farm is a haven - it's supposed to be a profitable business, but it's really become a place come to hide away from the world and their problems. Nessa needs it to be profitable enough to pay the bills, and yet she understands the need for a hiding place and has a lot of empathy for her strays.

The last thing she needs is to take in another one, according to her sister, especially one who has his own agenda. Ward has plans that could not only interfere with Nessa's life, his plans could potentially destroy her dreams.

Britnell writes a story with flawed characters, but they are also the kind of characters you might meet and could relate to. Nessa and her misfits are like many other caravan or camping parks. Characters full of quirks, and you're never quite sure whether or not you feel sympathy for them or want to thrown them into a quarry. It's a lovely feel good read.

Buy A Cornish Summer at Pear Tree Farm at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Choc Lit pub date 3 Aug. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

#BlogTour Heavy Duty People by Iain Parke


 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Heavy Duty People by Iain Parke.

About the Author

Iain Parke imports industrial quantities of Class A drugs, kills people and lies (a lot) for a living, being a British based crime fiction writer. 

Iain became obsessed with motorcycles at an early age, taking a six hundred mile cross-country tour to Cornwall as soon as he bought a moped at the tender age of sixteen. After working at a London dispatch job delivering parcels on a motorcycle, he built his first chopper in his bedroom at university, undeterred by the fact that the workshop was upstairs.

Iain worked in insolvency and business restructuring in the UK and Africa, where he wrote his first thriller The Liquidator. The success of that propelled him to write a ‘biker lit’ trilogy about the Brethren Motorcycle Club, a ‘cult’ hit which has recently been optioned for television. Today Iain lives off the grid, high up on the North Pennines in Northumberland with his wife, dogs, and a garage full of motorcycle restoration projects.

Follow @IainParke on Twitter, on Facebook TheBrethrenMcTrilogylinkedinpinterest.com/iainparke/, on Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit bad-press.co.uk, on Youtube iainparkebadpress 


About the book

“…a fantastic anti-hero…positively Shakespearian in his moral complexity...If I could only recommend one book this year, it would be Heavy Duty People” – Vulpes Libris

Damage’s club has had an offer it can’t refuse, to patch over to join The Brethren MC.

But as the bikes rumble and roar across the wild Northern fells, what does this mean for Damage and his brothers? What choices will they have to make as they ride through the wind? What bloody oil stained history might it reawaken? And why are The Brethren making this offer?

Loyalty to his club and his brothers has been Damage’s life and route to wealth, but what happens when business becomes serious and brother starts killing brother?

From being in a gang to becoming a gangster, Heavy Duty People is the book that invented Biker Noir. Get Carter meets Sons of Anarchy in this gritty British crime thriller, now in development for TV.


Review

What happens when the close brotherhood of an outlaw biker gang starts to crumble in the sight of greed and power. Loyalty suddenly falls to the wayside and the bodies start piling up. Priorities shift as the essence of the Brethren engages in it's own metamorphosis - brotherhood defined by motorised masculinity fuels a mafia-like organisation. I wonder how many recognise the manipulation of this specific type of band of brothers.

Sons of Anarchy is an excellent way to demonstrate what separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to understanding why people tend to romanticize outlaw biker gangs instead of recognising them for the well organised criminal organisations they actually are. The Brethren series does the same, but with two differences - it's on home turf in the UK and of course how deeply the author goes into the mindset of Damage's life.

In the afterword the reader gets a twofold experience - the character of Damage in comparison with the actual person, which gives a slightly different perspective on things. The adherence to the way of life, the code of honour, which is a direct contradiction to the criminal element of their actions and organisation, but it cements the idea of brotherhood and idea of us vs them.

That interview though, it speaks volumes about the man. When you take away the idea of honour and you never betray the Brethren, what remains when you take a closer look? Lack of empathy, no indication of guilt or conscience, and certainly no accountability. Even a romanticized criminal organisation will have a number of individuals with one psychopathy or the other.

This is urban crime embedded in fact, the beginning of a trilogy that packs a punch. The author infuses it with authenticity and draws upon real life interactions and characters to create a cracking read.

Buy Heavy Duty People at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: Bad Press Ink, pub date 28 July 2010. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Bad Press Ink.

Giveaway to Win Signed Heavy Duty trilogy bundle + sweatshirt (Open INT)

1st Prize - 1 x signed copy of the Heavy Duty Trilogy, 1 x Heavy Duty bookmark, 1 x DILLIGAF hoodie. 9 x Runners up prize - Heavy Duty bookmark

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

#BlogTour My Sorrow. Mi Libertad by Robin Harwick

It's my turn on the BlogTour My Sorrow. Mi Libertad by Robin Harwick.

About the Author 

Robin Harwick, Ph.D., is a writer, educator, research scientist, and performer. After years spent coaching youth on how to achieve their dreams – she decided it was time to “walk her talk” and spent a few years traveling with her teen son and two dogs before deciding to make Mexico home! Robin is also the founder and director of The Pearl Remote Democratic High School, a radical school that provides space for youth to take control of their education. She is published in peer-reviewed journals, blogs, zines, and anthologies. Her first novel, My Sorrow. Mi Libertad was published in June 2021. 

Robin Harwick, Ph.D. - Author, Educator, Researcher, Survivor, and Youth & Family Advocate. Follow @RobinHarwickPhD on Twitter, on Instagram, Visit robinharwick.com

“The days went by sluggishly when I lived on the streets. The sun didn’t come up until almost eight and went down by a little after four. That gave me an excuse to tuck myself into a sleeping bag for many hours of the day. We also spent several hours a day begging for money on the Ave. Between all of us, we managed to get enough money for one pay as you go cell phone. We took turns checking our messages on that phone – trying to stay connected to anyone we could think of. It felt like if I didn’t have a phone, I’d be forgotten.”

My Sorrow. Mi Libertad. shares the story of fifteen-year-old Didi, whose world is turned upside down when she is placed in foster care while her mother battles heroin addiction and after her father is deported. The story is set in the United States amidst the opioid epidemic and at a time when many families are being separated due to US immigration policies. My Sorrow. Mi Libertad exposes the suffering Didi and other youths in care experience, but more importantly, it reveals their resilience. It is a story of strength, determination, and hope as the young characters learn to take control of their destinies.

Review

'For the first time in as long as I could remember, my life became kind of boring and uneventful.' - For me this sentence encapsulates the experience of being a child or young person in the system. You have a constant barrage of trauma, which has led to being in the system, then to top it off there is no consistency in your life. 

Being moved from home, to facility, to yet another house and not being able to maintain regular education or relationships, due to moving all the time. In each new place there is a worry of new dangers, of being thrown away again - there is no optimal situation where trust can grow and safety can be felt. Let's be clear, although the system is hopefully addressing the immediate dangers, neglect and safety issues, they certainly aren't looking at how tumultuous a life in the system is. The system is inadequate at best, it's failing children, and unfortunately it is also often producing the adult who repeats the cycles they were exposed to in the first place.

Being able to feel safe enough to be breathe and be bored is a huge moment - just saying. It is a step towards a future Didi is finally allowed to direct herself.  It also means having to be honest about her loved ones and their lack of accountability.

Harwick intentionally leaves the politics of the situation aside and focuses on Didi and her experiences - it's a personal story, as opposed to a universal one, and yet it is and always will be both.

Buy My Sorrow. Mi Libertad at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Qvixote Press pub date 24 Jun. 2021. Young adult novella - £7.28 (UK). Buy at Amazon com.

Friday, 24 September 2021

#BlogTour The Margins by John Wigglesworth


 It's my turn on the BlogTour The Margins by John Wigglesworth.

About the Author

John Wigglesworth is a British national who has been based in Asia for the last ten years. The Margins is his fiction debut. In his spare time—when he’s not writing—John runs his own company in Bangkok. A former backpacking junkie, John travelled extensively across India and South East Asia before realising that his wanderlust was incompatible with the parenting demands of his Westie. He is now settled in Thailand. Follow @JohnWiggleswor8 on Twitter, Visit johnwigglesworth.com

About the book

It’s a tragedy that will make headline news across the globe—the bodies of scores of Westerners discovered at a remote commune high in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh. Amidst a growing media frenzy, the Indian authorities are desperate for answers, and only Ethan Hicks can provide them—for no one else made it out alive. Yet as Ethan begins to recount what took place up on the mountain, it soon becomes apparent that his story will prove just as shocking as the injuries he survived . . .

Moving between the bustling streets of 1980s Delhi and the forested slopes of the Kullu Valley, The Margins is a dark and unsettling exploration of the human condition—a tale of greed and obsession, but also of love.

Review

Ethan is a survivor of a tragedy, unfortunately it looks like the sole survivor, which means the police have questions. The reader gets a glimpse of the man who started looking for purpose, whilst dawdling his life away in India. He meets like minded people with a penchant for mind-numbing substances - together they decide to create their own solution to their lack of purpose. Now, everyone is dead - except for Ethan of course.

In a way Margins holds the concept of why theoretical ideology of societal structures is often only a good idea in theory. Take communes as your attempt at Marxist Communism for example. Communism only ever works well in theory, because ultimately capitalism and greed supersedes the ideology, and of course someone has to or wants to be in charge. There will always be a hierarchy no matter how equal society is structured. 

Also, just to note, that statistically the majority of communes, cults are brought to life by privileged white men. In this case the irony of the privileged wanting to escape the chains and societal burdens laden upon them by capitalism by escaping into a self-made utopia of equality with no rules, which then turns into an excellent example of how capitalism works and of course the exploitation of workers.  

Although this is a premise that is deeply ingrained with a message about societal structures and the fallacy of the practical usage of theoretical ideologies, Wigglesworth has written it as very cleverly constructed suspect and crime scenario. I loved it, it's definitely one of my best reads of the year.

Buy The Margins at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Penguin Random House SEA; pub date 15th Jan 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies


It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies.

About the Author
Dinah Jefferies began her career with The Separation, followed by the number 1 Sunday Times and Richard and Judy bestseller, The Tea-Planter's Wife. Born in Malaysia, she moved to England at the age of nine. As a teenager she missed the heat of Malaysia, which left her with a kind of restlessness that led to quite an unusual life. She studied fashion design, went to live in Tuscany where she worked as an au-pair for an Italian countess, and there was even a time when Dinah lived with a rock band in a 'hippie' commune in Suffolk.

In 1985, the death of her fourteen-year-old son changed everything and she now draws on the experience of loss in her writing. She started writing novels in her sixties and sets her books abroad, aiming to infuse love, loss and danger with the extremely seductive beauty of her locations. Follow @DinahJefferies on Twitter, Visit dinahjefferies.com


About the book
France, 1945. Deep in the river valley of the Dordogne, in an old stone cottage on the edge of a beautiful village, three sisters long for the end of the war. Hélène, the eldest, is trying her hardest to steer her family her family to safety, even as the Nazi occupation becomes more threatening. Elise, the rebel, is determined to help the Resistance, whatever the cost. And Florence, the dreamer, just yearns for a world where France is free. 

Then, one dark night, The Allies come knocking for help. And Hélène knows she cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. But bravery comes at a cost, and soon the sisters' lives become more perilous as they fight for what is right. And secrets from their own mysterious past threaten to unravel everything they hold most dear.

The first in an epic new series from the No.1 Sunday Times bestseller, Daughters of War is a stunning tale of sisters, secrets and bravery in the darkness of war-torn France...


Review
Hélène has long been the surrogate mother for her sisters in lieu of her absentee mother, who is conveniently tucked safely away in another country, whilst the young women have to navigate fear, pain and death. It has made each of them develop differently. Elise is deeply involved in helping the Resistance to fight the enemy, Hélène is the protector and Florence is living in her own version of denial.

All of their lives are on the precipice of heartbreak, blindsides and betrayal. The question is whether they will be able to survive the inevitability of a war-torn and occupied country.

This is the first part of a trilogy, a family saga, but more accurately a story about sisterhood and women. It's about endurance, support, forgiveness and being able to see beyond the tragedy and trauma life often deals us. As the trilogy unfolds it will e interesting to see whether or how said trauma influences further generations or indeed the sisters as they become older and navigate new challenges in their lives.

The author threads the connections of blood and genetics, and yet ensures the individuality of each sibling grows consistently within the story and their own stories. The story itself reminds us of the fact that blood isn't the core element or bond between women, especially not those who happen to be sisters - it is a deeper connection of experience and solidarity. Indeed it's what makes the story.

Buy Daughters of Wars at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Collins; pub date 16th September 2021 - Paperback Original £8.99 - Ebook £5.99 - Audio 12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

#BlogTour A Girl Called Ruthless by Melody Pendlebury


 It's my turn on the BlogTour AGirl Called Ruthless by Melody Pendlebury.

About the Author

Melody firmly believes that one should never completely grow up. That is why she has chosen to spend her days writing for a younger audience. Melody resides in Jacksonville Florida with her beloved corgi Gatsby, and her husband Dylan. She started her writing career with children’s picture books and has now pivoted to middle-grade novels. 

She believes that children are eager for more books with strong-willed characters that deal with darker and interesting topics. Her debut novel, A Girl Called Ruthless, is inspired by the fiery girls in her fourth-grade class. When Melody is not writing or teaching kids how to write, she can be found planning her next big trip to some magical place she has never been to. Follow @melodypendy on Twitter, @melodypendywrites/ on Instagram

About the book

A girl with ambition. A clever ruse gone awry. A fatal encounter… Eleven-year-old Ruthless will do whatever it takes to live up to her name. Slaughtering pirates, running an underground gambling operation, and intercepting Russian spies are just a few examples. 

In true Ruthless fashion, she claims the title of student body president, but her aspirations are cut short after getting in trouble. Not letting that stand in her way, she runs for Mayor with the help of her incredibly strong best friend, Owen. Her town of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has no age requirement to run for the post. The chances of a child winning are slim, to say the least, so Ruthless and Owen disguise themselves as an adult with the good old ‘two kids in a trench coat’ ruse.

This seemingly harmless scheme has grave consequences that invite the turmoil of her mother’s past back to haunt her. When the dangers of the adult world come crashing down on Ruthless, she must learn how to live with her new reality, and ultimately use it to turn her life into a success story – and live up to her name. But will she be able to leave the past behind?

Review

Ruthless prides herself on swimming upstream - she is her name and her name is her. Nothing will stand in her way, even if it means walking over people to get there. She wants to be Mayor, ergo she shall be Mayor. She learns that life isn't always going to go her way and the best laid plans sometimes fail.

Whilst I am absolutely onboard and in agreement with the fact young readers need to encounter more strong-willed young female lead characters, I think Ruthless overshoots the mark by a mile though. What you have instead is a child written like an adult character. Strong-willed isn't the same as rude or lacking impulse control, boundaries and any regard for rules or authority. It's not relatable or a potential role model. You can write a rebel without her being an A-class miniature adult muppet or add half a decade to her age.

What I did like was the way her imagination, reasoning and her stories, and those of others, become part of the narrative. The fairytale, the memory, the life experience - all of them show the storytelling talent and simultaneously the contradiction in the main character. It's loud, brusque and ambitious. 

Buy A Girl Called Ruthless at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ darkstroke books pub date 21 Aug. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

#BlogTour The Family Man by Kimberley Chambers

 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Family Man by Kimberley Chambers. 'A brand-new series from the queen of gritty crime.'

About the Author

A truly unforgettable character, Kimberley injects authenticity into her gritty gangland crime novels set around the east end. She came to writing later in life, having worked as a street trader (being promoted from tea girl to sales when she rugby-tackled a shoplifter), a DJ and a cabbie. Fed up of scraping a living, she set her mind to writing a novel, despite being laughed at by friends and family, who dubbed her ‘a female Del-Boy’. 

But with her creative mind, colourful life experiences and memorable covering letter (‘Take a chance on me, you won’t regret it. This time next year I’ll be wearing Prada, not Primark’), she quickly had five agents knocking at her door and a publishing contract. Fifteen novels and three Sunday Times number ones later, she’s top of her game and an incredible inspiration.

Join Kimberley’s legion of legendary fans on facebook.com/kimberleychambersofficial and @kimbochambers on Twitter.

About the book

Meet The Bonds… Kenny Bond is finally out of prison after doing a long stretch for killing a copper, and is determined to get back to life on the straight and narrow. He’s got a lot of time to make up for, he’s missed his beloved wife, Sharon, and his family is growing up fast.

A Family Like No Other… Kenny’s son Donny might lack his father’s edge but his twin grandsons, Beau and Brett – well, they are Bonds through and through. Like him, they won’t let anyone stand in their way.

But They're About to Meet Their Match… Family comes before everything else for Kenny. There’s nothing he won’t do for them. But there are enemies from his past he can’t shake off, and a family feud is brewing. Kenny’s determined that nothing, and no one, will threaten his family. But can the Bond family stick together when someone’s out to take them down?

Review

Kenny Bond and his family of conveniently criminally inclined loved ones - give or take a few, those who swim against the stream are likely to clash with the head of the family. He is finally out of prison after a bit of a stretch and it's back to business as usual, but there are certain people who are determined to throw a spanner in the works.

There is no candyfloss and unicorns when it comes to rephrasing the hard parts for sensitive ears and eyes. Chambers does her gangland in a brassy, gritty and unforgiving way. No such thing as easing your way in or a romantic interlude - more like wham bam thank you mam. Put your big girl/boy panties on and pull 'em up yourself. Trigger warnings are for the faint of heart, then again I'm not a fan of those myself.

So, we are clear on the tone of the story, which is family orientated as only British gangland can be. Loyalty in the most peculiar of situations and yet brusque dismissive disloyalty in the next breath, depending on who is on the short end of the stick. The voice, well I had a constant combo of harsh Del Boy turned gangster in my head ( can't wait to hear this in audio version).

I think the author has definitely brought the odd boundary issues of British urban crime to the table. You feel connected and empathetic at times, and yet simultaneously completely angered and/or disgusted by the characters. The Bond family is certainly memorable, that's for sure.

Buy The Family Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins pub date 16th September 2021│ £14.99│HB EB Audio. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogBlitz A Lethal Arrogance by D.S. Lang


 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogBlitz A Lethal Arrogance-An Arabella Stewart Historical Mystery  Book 3 by D.S. Lang.

About the Author

D.S. Lang, a native Ohioan, has been making up stories since she was a little girl, and she still is! Along the way, she studied English and social studies as an undergrad. After graduate school, she went on to teach government and American history in high school. She also taught English at the junior high, high school, and college levels. In addition, she has worked as a program coordinator, golf shop manager, and online tutor.

Now, she spends much of her time reading, researching, and writing. Most recently, she has delved into the Great War era and the years immediately after it. Her Arabella Stewart Historical Mystery Series was inspired by her Great Uncle Brice who served in the American Expeditionary Force during World War One, and by her love of historical mysteries. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with family and friends, including her dog Izzy. Follow DSLang on Facebook

About the book

After returning home from her service as a United States Army Signal Corps operator in the Great War, Arabella Stewart’s goal, to save her family’s resort, seems within reach as the summer season progresses. She and her business partner, Mac MacLendon, look forward to re-establishing a successful championship golf tournament, once the signature event of the resort’s year. 

Problems arise when one of the contestants, an overbearing snob who has created problems at other competitions, clashes with more than one person. When he is found dead, the victim of a suspicious automobile crash, Bella once again helps Jax Hastings, the town constable and her childhood friend, investigate. As they pursue answers, Bella and Jax find several suspects who might have wanted to make the victim suffer for his lethal arrogance.

Review

Bella is determined to jump-start the family business again. The war has taken it's toll both emotional and financially. Nearly everyone has suffered loss, as has Bella. Learning to come to terms with life without her brother and the holes he has left in the family. It's actually this loss that connects her to Jax, although they refuse to confront the obvious.

Instead they band together to find the killer of an awful man, who was despised by many. The attempts to save Ballantyne Inn are threatened by the early demise of this particularly vile individual.

I think this is less of a whodunnit and more of a 'can you find anyone who wouldn't have dunnit' - yeh that's how likeable the victim is. Is there anyone who didn't have a reason to bump him off?

It's historical romance with cosy mystery as a sideline. Lang weaves the emotional fragility of war trauma, loss, post-war world rebuilding, romance and crime together in this read. The result is a tender approach to each other, whilst navigating a murder most wicked. Note: this dude totally deserved it.

Buy A Lethal Arrogance at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.