Wednesday 27 December 2023

#Review Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

I absolutely understand why this was such a bestseller!

About the Author

Rebecca F. Kuang is the #1 New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Poppy War trilogy, Babel: An Arcane History, Yellowface, and Katabasis (forthcoming). Her work has won the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, and British Book Awards. She has been named to the 2023 Time100 Next list and the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2024.

A Marshall Scholar, she has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford. She is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale, where she studies Sinophone literature and Asian American literature. Follow @kuangrf on X

About the book

Athena Liu is a literary darling and June Hayward is literally nobody.

White lies - When Athena dies in a freak accident, June steals her unpublished manuscript and publishes it as her own under the ambiguous name Juniper Song.

Dark humour - But as evidence threatens June’s stolen success, she will discover exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.

Deadly consequences…What happens next is entirely everyone else’s fault.


Part of me wonders whether the editors really knew what they were reading when this hit their desks. It is such an accurate reflection of white privilege in the publishing industry and more of a tongue lashing than a tongue-in-cheek drop in the pan.

The author takes scathing shots at a variety of elements of publishing, fame, being a writer, and perhaps most astute is her take on who is allowed to write what about whom, when and in what capacity. I am so glad one of the examples mentioned is American Dirt, which is a perfect example of the storm in Yellowface.

Then there are the questions that pop up in relation to June stealing Athena's work or idea then adapting it with her own style and voice. Is that not the core of fan fiction, which is in essence taking the ideas of others and creating an adaptation using the material of other authors. Then the controversy of white authors writing about minorities, about issues their privilege doesn't allow them to view objectively. This thought process is carried forward by the author by referencing the similar inter-culture restraints and prejudices Athena was guilty of.

It's an incredibly clever piece of writing and story. I enjoyed the fact the end is exactly as brassy and bold faced as one would expect, because it reflects the publishing industry so well. It's a fantastic read.

Buy Yellowface at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎The Borough Press, pub date 25 May 2023.Buy at Amazon com.

Friday 8 December 2023

#Blogtour #Podcasttour From The Library With Love by Kate Thompson

It's an absolute pleasure to take part in this Blogtour with a difference - featuring Kate Thompson and her brilliant podcast - From the Library with Love.

About the Author/Podcaster

Kate Thompson an award-winning journalist, ghostwriter and novelist who has spent the past two decades in the UK mass market and book publishing industry. 

Over the past eight years Kate has written eleven fiction and non-fiction titles, three of which have made the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list. Follow @katethompson380 on X, @KateThompsonAuthor on Facebook or @katethompsonauthor on Instagram

About the Podcast

It's Kate Thompson here, author of The Little Wartime Library and upcoming Wartime Book Club.

Wonderful, transformative things happen when you set foot in a library. In 2019 I uncovered the true story of a forgotten Underground library, built along the tracks of Bethnal Green Tube tunnel during the Blitz. As stories go, it was irresistible and the result was, The Little Wartime Library, my seventh novel.

Bethnal Green Public Library, where the novel is set, was 100 years old in October 2022, and to celebrate the centenary of this grand old lady, funded by library philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, I set myself the challenge of interviewing 100 library workers. Speaking with one library worker for every year this library has been serving its community seemed a good way to mark this auspicious occasion. Because who better to explain the worth of a hundred-year-old library, than librarians themselves!

I wanted to explore the enduring value of libraries and reading. I quickly realised that librarians have the best stories.

My research led me to librarians with over fifty years of experience, to the impressive women who manage libraries in prisons and schools, to those in remote Scottish islands. From poetry libraries overlooking the wide sweep of the Thames, to the 16th century Shakespeare’s Library in Stratford, via the small but mighty Leadhills Miners’ Library.

This podcast was born out of those eye-opening conversations, because as Denise from Tower Hamlets Library told me: 'If you want to see the world, don't join the Army, become a librarian!'

I’ll also be talking to international bestselling authors and some remarkable wartime women. This is my way of celebrating and documenting the remarkable stories I have found whilst researching my books.

Interviews up already:
100-year-old Bletchley Park Codebreaker Betty Webb on keeping her wartime secrets.

Bestselling author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Christy Lefteri on the importance of writing what you feel.
New York Times bestselling author Madeline Martin on underground libraries and clandestine book clubs.


October 2nd - 8th is Libraries Week. I'll be releasing an episode every day with some incredible librarians, including the librarian who has kept everything she has ever found in a returned library book.

November. 'I was born in a concentration camp' A powerful interview with 78-year-old Eva Clarke, who told me '‘You don’t know what you can withstand until you are put to the test.’

December marks the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport scheme, 97-year-old Gabriele Keeaghan bravely shares the harrowing moment she was forced to leave behind her family and flee Nazi occupied Vienna.

National Letter Writing Day, I met the woman who collects forgotten letters from flea markets and told me, ‘Letters capture the essence of what it is to be living through history. In attics, and drawers and shoe boxes under beds there are hundreds of stories waiting to be told.’

Plus SO so many more I just can't wait to release. This is a labour of love. 

The episode I decided to feature is the story of Gabriele - On the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport scheme, which saved 10,000 children from the Nazis, 97-year-old Gabriele Keenaghan shares her astonishing story

About the episode:
You’re 12 years old. Your mother is dead and your father has gone missing. You are wrenched from everyone you know and love and put on a train and sent from your home to a new country, where you don’t speak the language, with a group of total strangers.  And you have no idea whether you will ever set eyes on your family again. This was the terrifying reality facing Gabriel Weiss when she boarded a Kindertransport train out of Nazi occupied Vienna in April 1939 and was sent to live in England in the months building up to World War Two. On the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport scheme, the 97 year old shares her extraordinary story…


I sincerely hope if I ever reach the age of 97 that I will be able to engage with the world as Gabriele does in this podcast, as if not a year had gone by since she stepped onto a train and journey into uncertainty.

Her story, her voice, her memories and her stamp on this world is a testament to her strength of character and her perseverance, above all it is proof of victory, despite the tragedy surrounding her childhood. The death of her mother sort of cements the beginning of change, and the subsequent disappearance of her Jewish father during Kristallnacht tears the fabric of her life apart.

Luckily for her, for her future family and for us, Gabriele's grandmother had the foresight to recognise the danger her granddaughter was in and facilitated her journey as part of the Kindertransport. This paved the way for many thousands of Jewish children to escape persecution. Unfortunately it also meant severing ties with loved ones, in the majority of cases it was the last time the young children had any contact with their parents or loved ones.

Thompson engages Gabriele with polite, friendly conversation, almost as if two friends were meeting over a coffee. The gentle questions dig a little deeper here and there to dislodge memories and flashbacks that give the overall picture of a child who has to endure always being perceived as the enemy, and yet simply wanting to feel safe, secure and belong.

I really enjoyed the podcast and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others. It's both admirable and a fantastic idea to capture certain topics and moments as an audio memory. It's also a great way of paying tribute to people who deserve to have their voices heard. By the way, the Teddy had me gulping.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

#Blogtour How Not to Murder Your Ex by Katie Marsh

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour How Not to Murder Your Ex by Katie Marsh.

About the Author

Katie Marsh wrote five bestselling, uplifting women’s fiction novels before turning to cosy crime for Boldwood. Previously published by Hodder, the first in her new crime series  How Not To Murder Your Ex, following the fortunes of the Bad Girls Detective Agency, will be published in December 2023.

About the book

It is 5:30 am on Clio's forty-fifth birthday and her hated ex is lying dead on her doorstep. Even worse, this is no accident. Someone’s killed him...

When single mum Clio’s ex Gary turns up dead on the doorstep of her caravan – the one she’s been forced to live in ever since he stole every penny she had – there’s only one suspect. Her.

What’s more, she doesn’t remember much about the night he was killed – not just because of the forgetfulness that’s been plaguing her along with the hot flushes – but because she definitely had one too many cocktails with her two best friends Amber and Jeanie.

Clio does remember them talking about how much they all hated him though. And, in the frame for murder, she has to ask herself – if she didn’t kill Gary, who did? One of his many enemies? Or someone a little closer to home? And can she and her friends find the real killer before it’s too late?

Unputdownable mystery set on the English coast – perfect for fans of The Thursday Murder Club, Bad Sisters, and How to Kill Your Family. Follow @marshisms on X, Sign up to Katie's newsletter


Chaos reigns supreme in this first book in the Bad Girls Detective Agency. It's exactly how you might imagine the discovery of a dead body might go after a boozy night out with the girls. First thought is to get rid of the body, you know like some mob killer. Why would Clio think she needed to hide a crime she didn't commit, well is fairly certain she didn't commit - umm not entirely clear on what happened the night before and could have killed her ex. 

Flanked and supported by her best friends, who are helpful and entirely unhelpful sometimes, depending on the circumstances. They are however convinced that Clio is innocent - there is that pesky detail about the blackout though - and are willing to go to great lengths to prove it. The ex was a scoundrel, scammer and a wannabe Brad Pitt who liked to swim in dangerous waters with bigger sharks than he was. He was always convinced the solution to every problem was just round the corner waiting to be found.

It's cosy crime with a comedy element to it, perhaps because the core and depth of the friendship between the women and the situations they find themselves will resonate with readers. It's serious enough to make you grumble at the injustice, and yet wanders so close to the edge of hilarity to make it an entertaining read.

Buy How Not To Murder Your Ex at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ Boldwood Books; pub date 1 Dec. 2023. Buy at Amazon com.