#Blogtour Overdrawn by N.J. Crosskey @NJCrosskey @Legend_Press #Overdrawn

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Overdrawn by N.J. Crosskey  Legend Press September 1st 2019

Henry Morris is watching his wife slip away from him. In an ageist society, where euthanasia is encouraged as a patriotic act, dementia is no longer tolerated. Kaitlyn, a young waitress, is desperate for the funds to keep her brother’s life support machine switched on. When a chance encounter brings the two together, they embark on an unconventional business arrangement that will force them to confront their prejudices, as well as their deepest, darkest secrets.

My Review

I loved Poster Boy and was very excited to be invited to read and review Overdrawn.

Once again Crosskey took us to a future, a future civilisation that seemed to have stepped back in time. Sustainability was the key concept, cars an anomaly, public transport pushed to the fore and its population ranked according to their means. There was one stark and to me horrifying contrast, the value of the human life, no longer seen as sustainable beyond old age or illness, procreation stilted, discouraged. The concept of Moving On, of voluntary euthanasia, to pass your wealth to your children was a hard one to grasp.

You wondered at Crosskey’s thought processes, her ingenuity and skill in a creating such a world, aspects believable and scary.

Her characters Henry and Kaitlyn, at the opposite ends of the age spectrum yet their views and need to save those they loved were brilliant. Their desperation and horror at the world they lived in oozed from the narrative. Their plan was shocking, but in other ways it changed their relationship, their outlook on life and the novel lost some of its harshness,as tenderness crept in.

The aged old problems of trust, respect, appreciation for the more human aspects of life were moved to the fore. You could sense change and the last few scenes made you think that perhaps a sequel could be in the offing and I do so hope there is.

Overdrawn was thought provoking, full of interesting themes and a compelling engrossing read from a fabulous author.

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of Overdrawn to read and review and to Lucy Chamberlain for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Nicola Crosskey author headshot (1)

NJ Crosskey lives with her husband and two children in Worthing, West Sussex.
She worked in the care sector for almost 20 years and now is a full-time
writer.
njcrosskey.wordpress.com
@NJCrosskey

Overdrawn Insta Blog Tour

#Blogtour Ten Thousand Doors by Alix E. Harrow @AlixEHarrow @orbitbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #TenThousandDoors

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Ten Thousand Doors by Alix E. Harrow   Orbit September 12th 2019

EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

My Review

I’m not sure what genre or indeed how I can describe The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

On the one hand it was the story of January, her childhood under the guardianship of a Mr Locke and the discovery of her parents past. On the other hand it was a magical journey where you expected mythical monsters from the Greek myths and legends to jump out at you from the pages.

The storytelling was magnificently sumptuous, the Doors January and her parents discovered, travelled through, the lands and the people they encountered were tinged with magic and wonder. You felt yourself transported to an alternate world that you didn’t want to leave.

I loved January, from the innocent little girl to the strong and brave woman she became she was a refreshing change in the world of female novel characters. She didn’t seem to fit the normal stereotypes, not the gungho female heroine with the brute force as she forged her way to the truth. Instead her quest was rooted in literature, in the books sneaked to her by her friend Samuel and ultimately the book written by her father. Ir was her wonderment at the stories and the images they conjured in her mind that so entranced, that made you hope that she had that happy ending.

If The Ten Thousand Doors of January was full of magic it also had an underlying feeling of an evil presence lurking beneath its surface, the chilling Mr Havemeyer, intent in thwarting January at every opportunity, Brattlebro, the asylum, that tried to restrain her, all gave the novel an extra frisson of excitement and menace.

It was a novel that enthralled, held you spellbound and firmly in its grip as you followed January’s journey and a novel that I would highly recommend if you want to lose yourself in a wonderful magical world.

I would like to thank Orbit for a copy of The The Thousand Doors of January to read and review and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author

 

Alix E. Harrow is an ex-historian with lots of opinions and excessive library fines, currently living in Kentucky with her husband and their semi-feral children. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is her debut novel.

Find her on Twitter at @AlixEHarrow.

#Review The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason @amandajanemason @ZaffreBooks @ClaireJKelly #TheWaywardGirls #KnockOnce

 

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The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason     Zaffre  September 5th 2019

 

Is there anybody there?

One knock for yes …

Two knocks for no … 

THEN

1976

Loo and her sister Bee live in a run-down cottage in the middle of nowhere, with their artistic parents and wild siblings. Their mother, Cathy, had hoped to escape to a simpler life; instead the family find themselves isolated and shunned by their neighbours. At the height of the stifling summer, unexplained noises and occurrences in the house begin to disturb the family, until they intrude on every waking moment . . .

NOW

Loo, now Lucy, is called back to her childhood home. A group of strangers are looking to discover the truth about the house and the people who lived there. But is Lucy ready to confront what really happened all those years ago?

My Review

A derelict farmhouse, and mysterious happenings made the Wayward Girls one of those novels perfect to read on a dark night, the chill and bleakness perfectly marching the themes and events of the story.

Primarily the story of two young sisters Loo and Bee, Mason seemlessly flipped the story between past and present.

The present, an investigation into the past hauntings of the farmhouse experiences by Bee and Loo, the past, the real time events that would have consequences for the family for the rest of their lives.

It was Mason’s ability to control these two aspects, to slowly build links, to unravel a web of lies and deceit that so impressed.

You could feel the chill and the fear, the knocks, the vividness of the sounds, the moving furniture, the shady recesses and images in the darkened rooms.

The two young sisters, so different, so close their fear tangible, oozing from the page. Loo most affected, the one who returned years later to assist against her better judgement with the investigation. You could sense her unease, the tensions and fear from the past brought to the fore, painful relationships with siblings and a mother, harried and lost in the quagmire of motherhood, brilliantly portrayed by Mason.

I can’t say I liked Bee, older, manipulative, jealous of the attention pressed on Loo. There was something not quite right, but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it as Mason kept you guessing.

Mason certainly knew how to ramp up the tension, how to effortlessly mingle the past with the present, to hurl her characters into a maelstrom of jealousy, and deceit. It was a novel that proved addictive, the narrative compelling, the pages turned at a furious rate, the urge to uncover the truth whatever it may be all encompassing.

A fantastic debut and cannot wait for Mason’s next offering.

I would like to thank Zaffre for a copy of The Wayward Girls to read and review and to Claire Kelly for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to review.

About the author

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Amanda Mason was born and brought up in Whitby, North Yorks. She studied Theatre at Dartington College of Arts, where she began writing by devising and directing plays. After a few years of earning a very irregular living in lots of odd jobs, including performing in a comedy street magic act, she became a teacher and has worked in the UK, Italy, Spain, and Germany. She now lives in York and has given up teaching for writing. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies. The Wayward Girls, her debut novel, was longlisted for the Deborah Rogers prize.

#Blogtour An Echo Of A Scandal by Laura Madeleine @LauraMadeleine @TransworldBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #AnEchoOfAScandal

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The Echo Of A Scandal by Laura Madeleine   September 19th 2019

The sumptuous and seductive world of Tangier in the early 20th century is a world where men make decisions and women follow. But Alejandra is determined to secure her independence, at any cost. In the dead of night, with blood on her hands, she made her escape. Accused of murder, Alejandra flees her home, escaping to the southern edge of Spain, where she faces a life of poverty and destitution.
Seduced by the power of the rich and the anonymity that waits across the water in Tangier, Ale makes a bid for a new start. But it will come at a cost: a life of deception. Because Ale’s new friends want to know what she is running from, they want to know who she is and whether they can trust her.
Fifty years later, a young American writer wanders the streets of Tangier, searching for inspiration. When he stumbles across a trace of Ale’s life, he finds himself tangled in a story of scandal, love and danger that has not yet reached its end.

My Review

The first thing that struck me about An Echo Of A Scandal was it’s wonderful sense of place. You could feel the heat of a dry arid Tangier, the bustle and crush of the busy Casbah, a melting pot of intrigue and passion.

By passion I don’t necessarily mean love, although there was that element, but it was passion for a story, for seeking out the truth, for a love of cooking and good food.

Madeleine took us back to to the 20’s to a young girl, Alejandra, her life as a cook in a house of disrepute, a murder that would see her flee to Tangier to the intrigue and glamour of a wealthy Englishman. I loved the twist Madeleine gave to Ale’s character, a unique approach that added that extra frisson of mystery to her novel. The interactions between characters, passerby’s were instantly more interesting, their actions different from the norm although it is hard to explain without revealing too much!

Ale, was tough, resilient, a strong woman who faced upto adversity with ingenuity and at times bravery.

As Madeleine flipped effortlessly from the 20’s to the 70’s she introduced us to aspiring author Sam. A man lost in the world, financially bereft as he fought to remain in Tangier. It was his investigation into Ale’s life that gave him a purpose, made him grow up, appreciate what he had. There were similarities between himself and Ale, both found strength and determination in adversity and an unfailing determination to succeed.

Madeleine’s narrative was wonderful, sumptuous in its descriptions of Tangier and in particular the food so lovingly prepared by Ale. I loved the correlation between the types of food and events that Ale created, the way it was used to steer actions in a certain direction to affect the people who ate it.

There was a veritable web of intrigue and mystery, the atmosphere always tense and exciting, the reader never knowing which way the author would take them next.

Madeleine always managed to touch on the characters emotions amongst the corrupt and murderous world they found themselves in. You found yourself hoping Ale and Sam would find that happy ending that resolution and truth that they so desperately sought.

An Echo Of A Scandal was I novel I loved, Madeleine proving once again that she is an excellent storyteller.

I would like to thank Transworld for a copy of An Echo Of A Scandal to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, Laura Madeleine changed her mind, and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge. She now writes fiction, as well as recipes, and was formerly the resident cake baker for Domestic Sluttery. She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon, eating cheese and getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom.

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#Blogtour In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael J Malone @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #InTheAbsenceOfMiracles

In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael J Malone Orenda Books September 19th 2019

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home. Following a massive stroke, she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again. With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

In a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash.

And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence…

My Review

You definitely can’t chose your family and the decisions we make can haunt us for the rest of our lives. Malone’s novel explored the Doherty family, typical and seemingly ordinary, stay at home Mum, successful policeman Father, and two brothers Chris and John. Their mothers stroke acted as the catalyst for Malone to take his character, John on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as he forced him to confront issues long hidden, his own relationship with his family and those around him.

What was fascinating was Malone’s ability to somehow access those remote corners of John’s mind, to unfurl the harrowing and dark memories he had long hidden. As his investigation into his brothers disappearance progressed, as events became more intense and terrifying so did John’s recollections of that time. Malone didn’t shy away from the detail, nor did he sensationalise, glorify or slip into the stereotypical, as he surprised and shocked the reader.

It was the emotions and reactions of the characters that I admired, from the guilt, and disgust, to the cold, calculating use of the human as a mere commodity. Malone’s narrative was stark and bleak but infused with chinks of light and hope. He more than perfectly demonstrated the far reaching consequences of a persons choices, of the damage seemingly innocent actions can have both in the past and the present.

It was these aspects that made In The Absence Of Miracles so much more than a simple crime novel. Yes, it had all the tension and drama you would expect, but it went so much deeper, the human aspects the highlight, the cruelties of life visible, and the hope for a better future left you with an unending feeling of satisfaction of having read a first class novel.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of In The Absence Of Miracles to read and review and to Anne Cater Of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

‘Vivid, visceral and compulsive’ Ian Rankin ‘Michael J Malone is a massive talent’ Luca Veste

#Blogtour The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott @laraprescott @HutchinsonBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #The SecretsWeKept

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott Hutchinson September 5th 2019

TWO FEMALE SPIES. A BANNED MASTERPIECE. A BOOK THAT CHANGED HISTORY.

1956. A celebrated Russian author is writing a book, Doctor Zhivago, which could spark dissent in the Soviet Union. The Soviets, afraid of its subversive power, ban it.

But in the rest of the world it’s fast becoming a sensation. 

In Washington DC, the CIA is planning to use the book to tip the Cold War in its favour.

Their agents are not the usual spies, however. Two typists – the charming, experienced Sally and the talented novice Irina – are charged with the mission of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago back into Russia by any means necessary.

It will not be easy. There are people prepared to die for this book – and agents willing to kill for it. But they cannot fail – as this book has the power to change history.

My Review

The authors name could not be more apt for a novel than Lara Prescott’s, Lara the subject of Boris Pasternak’s sweeping Russian love story Dr Zhivago. Many of us have seen the film and read the book but not many know the story behind its creation and journey into the world. Prescott’s novel cleverly mixed fact with fiction as she took us back to the 1950’s to a world wrapped in the Cold War between Russia and America.

Russia a country led by Stalin, then Kruschev, its citizens oppressed, their words, their thoughts spied upon by the state. Pasternak, one of its most eminent literary figures secretly wrote his epic novel, his mistress Olga, his inspiration. Prescott’s portrayal wasn’t necessarily complimentary, a selfish and in some respects a weak man. His lover was the strong one, the driving force, the one who suffered unimaginable horrors, horrors that Prescott did not shy away from sharing with her readers. It showed the sheer oppression and fear people lived with, the consequences life changing and often fatal. You could feel the burden Olga carried on behalf of Pasternak, the precariously fine line she navigated, as you held your breath, as you felt anger and frustration at this great man.

On the other aide of the world, Russian Irina experienced the freedom to live as she wanted, to express opinions and thoughts often taken for granted in a free world. Yet she wasn’t totally free, money tight, a mother to look after. Her entry into the world of the CIA as typist was full of excitement, but Prescott also filled it with a lingering sense of tension, of danger that lurked below the surface. Irina, came across as awkward, naive, a constant struggle to fit it, as she hovered on the periphery of the in crowd, never able to fully immerse herself in the chatter and gossip.

It was in her relationship with fellow spy Sally that Prescott was able to reveal Irina’s true nature and personality. She was a woman eager to learn the deceptive art of being undercover, Sally the teacher. They jointly embraced a world dominated by men, rose above the disdain, and blazed a trail for future generations of women but you knew it would come at a price and Prescott certainly delivered. It left me feeling sad, frustrated but it made Irina stronger, Sally bitter and resentful her actions surprising but intriguing.

Pasternak’s Dr Zihvago was a character in its own right, the words a taint on the Russian government and its people. It’s role in the Cold War was remarkable, a powerful advert for the importance of the written word and literature, of its ability to open up lines of communication and to threaten the power of a government.

I loved the ingenuity and the intrigue of Prescott’s plotting, of the terror and tension she created. At times I held my breath as Irina or Olga faced dangerous situations, discovery and arrest just a breath away.

The switch between America and Russia provided the perfect contrast, freedom versus oppression, the stories brilliantly entwined, the connections deepening as the novel progressed.

I could feel the darkness, the thrill and excitement, the despair and the pain, a novel that truly transcended so many thoughts and emotions.

It was a novel that would transfer brilliantly to the big screen and I do so hope that whom ever wins the rights produces a film that captures the essence of Irina and Olga and the novel.

I would like to thank Hutchinson Books for a copy of The Secrets We Kept to read and review and to Anne Cater for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Lara Prescott was named after the heroine of Doctor Zhivagoandfirst discovered the true story behind the novel after the CIA declassified 99 documents pertaining to its role in the book’s publication and covert dissemination.

She travelled the world – from Moscow and Washington, to London and Paris – in the course of her research, becoming particularly interested in political repression in both the Soviet Union and United States and how, during the Cold War, both countries used literature as a weapon.

Lara earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband.

Website : http://www.laraprescott.com/

Twitter : @laraprescott

#Blogtour A Shadow On The Lens by Sam Hurcom @SamHurcom @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #AShadowOnTheLens

 

A Shadow on the Lens

A Shadow On The Lens by Sam Hurcom  Orion September 5th 2019

1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

My Review

There was one thing that stood out above all else in Sam Hurcom’s debut novel and that was its atmosphere. From the time his character, Thomas Bexley stepped off the train and arrived in the sleepy Welsh village, Dinas Powys, Hurcom’s narrative was hauntingly bleak and dark as menace lingered, before it rose to the surface,

Bexley was one of those characters who oozed confidence, sure of his skills and abilities in photographing and solving the crimes he investigated, until events and illness eroded his grasp on reality and made him question his actions and reasoning.  His spiralling descent into what could only be described as halucinatory madness was superbly described by Hurcom as his narrative ran riot, and your imagination whirled into overdrive.

The village characters he encountered from the stammering local Constable Vaughan and Councillor Cummings to Betsan’s mother and the addled mind of the General, propelled you into a world of mystical beliefs, and a tangled web of lies and deceit.

Who did we belief, whom had things to hide, who was the murderer and would Bexley reign supreme and furnish us with the answers and bring the culprit to justice? Hurcom didn’t make it easy for Bexley or for us, clues were littered throughout, and often led to dead ends, our theories dashed and a quick rethink required before all was revealed in a dramatic and thrilling last few pages.

What I loved most about A Shadow On The Lens was not just the intricate plotting or the interesting characters, but the wonderfully vivid narrative. The scene setting was brilliant and at times, chilling, one particular scene in the crypt of a derelict village church was the stuff of nightmares. It was unhurried, careful and subtle, allowed your own imagination to run wild, the emotions and determination of Bexley always at the forefront. It was a novel that perplexed, that intrigued was hugely enjoyable and am hoping we shall see the return of Mr Thomas Bexley.

I would like to thank Orion for a copy of A Shadow On The Lens to read and review and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers fro inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Sam Hurcom

Sam Hurcom was born in Dinas Powys, South Wales in 1991. He studied Philosophy at Cardiff University, attaining both an undergraduate and master’s degree. He has since had several short stories published, and has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. Sam currently lives in the village he was raised in, close to the woodlands that have always inspired his writing. A SHADOW ON THE LENS is Sam’s debut novel.

#Blogtour BloodSong by Johana Gustawsson @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Bloodsong

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Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson  Orenda Books  September 19th 2019

Spain, 1938
The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Teresa witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Teresa gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016  A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

My Review

Do you like intelligent, strong, gritty crime that’s not afraid to push the boundaries, to mix the historical with the present? If thats you then you need look no further than Jo Gustawsson’s Blood Song, a novel that didn’t flinch from stark cruelties, was tinged with sadness and sprinkled with hope.

The seemingly uncompromising Emily Roy and crime author Alexis Castells were once again at the forefront of a human tragedy, of a family brutally murdered. Their investigation led them to discover the unsavoury truth behind medically assisted reproduction and the injustices of Franco’s reign of fascism in Spain.

Gustawsson handled the dual timeline with effortless ease, as the once tenuous links between past and present, slowly became stronger. Her portrayal of the Spanish orphanages was unflinchingly grim and horrifying, and left you wondering how those that survived managed to move on and create a life of normality, or were they?

You were constantly reassessing characters. Were they guilty or innocent, what part did they have to play in the gruesome murders, if any? Gustawsson’s plot twisted and turned, as her ingenuity and intelligent narrative dragged you kicking and screaming into an unfolding nightmare. Gustawsson never let us forget the human cost of brutal dictatorships, of those who preyed on the young and vulnerable, of those who sought revenge and retribution.

Yet, for all it’s starkness there was a gentler side, a side that had compassion and forgiveness and most of all hope. It was a hope that what ever life threw at us there was always someone to help and a way to push through the grimness to a brighter future.

Blood Song was uncompromising and unflinching but, at its heart the storytelling was captivating, compelling and superb. You didn’t want to step away from the pages, there was always that need to read just a little bit more before Gustawsson revealed all, a truth that shocked, and an ending you didn’t see coming.

My only gripe would be that the story ended, that I had to leave behind Roy and Castells and I live in hope that another instalment will follow very very soon.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Blood Sing to read and review and to Anne Carter Of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Johana Gustawsson
Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson
has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her
critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la
découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published
in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish
and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and
their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to
write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.

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#Blogtour The Love Child by Rachel Hore @rachelhore @simonschusterUK @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheLoveChild

The Love Child Cover

The Love Child by Rachel Hore   Simon & Schuster   September 5th 2019

London, 1917
When seventeen-year-old Alice falls pregnant, she is forced by her father and stepmother to give up the baby. She simply cannot be allowed to bring shame upon her family. But all Alice can think of is the small, kitten-like child she gave away, and how the father, a young soldier, so beloved, will never have the chance to know his daughter. Meanwhile, Edith and Philip, a couple unable to have children of their own, secretly adopt a baby girl, Irene, given up by a young unmarried mother. Irene grows up knowing that she is different from other children but no one will tell her the full truth. As two extraordinary stories intertwine across two decades, will secrets long-buried at last come to light?

My Review

1917, the world war is nearing an end and the men are returning. Women the stalwarts are being sent back to the homes, back to being traditional housewives. There are those who can never go back, who can never be who were they were before and Alice was one of them. For Alice training to be a doctor was a way to forget her dead lover and the baby she had to give away.

Hore brilliantly depicted the hardships she faced, family and societies need to hide the illegitimate child, to forget it never happened. Your heart melted for the young Alice for her grief but you also admired her strength and bravery. Her determination to be a doctor in a male dominated profession was tough, and you reeled at the attitudes, the derision poured upon the women. You had to accept that this was the way of things and, indeed such prejudices prevailed thoughout the novel, as Hore perfectly captured the society of the time

I loved the dual aspect as we not only followed Alice’s life but also her daughter, the love child, Irene. Here was another young woman, a misfit, with that feeling that she didn’t belong, hadn’t yet found her place in the world. She was also strong and determined, persistent in her pursuit to find her mother and why she was given away.

I liked that Hore didn’t take the stereotypical route, you never knew if they would have that happy ending, if they would both garner the acceptance they both craved and deserved. Their struggle for acceptance and the truth was vividly portrayed, as family tensions and prejudices prevailed.

Hore’s storytelling was compelling, it drew you in to the world of Alice and Irene. It made you appreciate the obstacles they faced and the trail they blazed for women’s future roles in society.

For someone who hasn’t read Rachel Hore before, I am annoyed I have left it so long and shall be seeking out her titles to read and enjoy.

I would like to thank Simon Schuster for a copy of The Love Child to read and review and to Anne Cater for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Rachel Hore Author Pic

Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she teaches publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She is married to the writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons. Her latest novel, Last Letter Home, was a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for 2018.

 

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#Blogtour No Place Of Refuge by Ausma Zehanat Khan @AusmaZehanat @

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No Place Of Refuge by Ausma Zehanat Khan   No Exit Press August 22nd 2019

Amid a global crisis, one woman searches for justice…

The Syrian refugee crisis just became personal for Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty.  

NGO worker Audrey Clare, sister of Khattak’s childhood friend, is missing.

In her wake, a French Interpol Agent and a young Syrian man are found dead at the Greek refugee camp where she worked.

Khattak and Getty travel to Greece to trace Audrey’s last movements in a desperate attempt to find her. In doing so, they learn that her work in Greece had strayed well beyond the remit of her NGO…

Had Audrey been on the edge of exposing a dangerous secret at the heart of the refugee crisis – one that ultimately put a target on her own back?

My Review

Trust me to arrive late to a series, and miss out on all of Esa and Rachel’s past history. Did it make a difference? In some respects yes, there seems to be quite a bit of past history between themselves and also other characters. What didn’t make a difference was the story, the events and the actions of the characters. It was powerful and moving and considering Khan’s background informative and eye opening.

The refugee crisis is one that is never far away from the headlines, their dangerous passage across seas in inadequate boats always horrific. You would expect the refugee camps they entered to offer safety, but what if they didn’t, what if they faced even more danger and trauma.

This was the tack Khan took as Esa and Rachel landed in Lesvos looking for their friend, Audrey. What they found opened not only their eyes but also mine.

Khan used fact, with some dramatic licence, to portray the true horror of the refugee camps, of the cramped sometimes unsanitary conditions. Yet that wasn’t the worst, as always seems to be the case it was us humans that posed the most risk. There were the smugglers who charged extortionate amounts of money to carry refugees across the water, the camp infiltrators who fought out young girls to traffick and exploit. It was not a comfortable read, nor was it comfortable for Esa and Rachel as they pursued those who might have been responsible for Audrey’s disappearance.

You could see them struggle as they tried to remain professional, tried to push their own emotional feelings to oneside. As they dug deeper, the depravity and horrors of a civil war in Syria and it’s devastating consequences rose to the surface in all its lurid colours.

The plot was complex, and multilayered as it slowly meandered to a dramatic conclusion with unexpected twists and turns.

It was a novel that didn’t flinch from the facts, that told a story with intelligence, thought and emotion.

If you haven’t read any of the series then I suggest you do.

I would like to thank No Exit Press for a copy of No Place Of Refuge to read an d review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Ausma Author Pic

Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with specialisation in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. She has practised immigration law and taught human rights law at Northwestern University and York University. Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine, the first magazine to reflect the lives of young Muslim women. Her debut novel, The Unquiet Dead, won the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. She is a longtime community activist and writer. Born in Britain, Ausma lived in Canada for many years before recently becoming an American citizen. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

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