#Blogtour Soldier Boy by Cassandra Parkin @cassandrajaneuk @legend_press #SoldierBoy

Soldier Boy by Cassandra Parkin Legend Press October 1st 2020

The Blurb

Under the shadow of trauma, Liam has been discharged from the army. As night terrors torment him and he struggles to keep his anger intact, he finds himself in his car, his daughter Alannah asleep in the back, while his wife Emma has gone AWOL. With no idea where to go for shelter, his only goal is to hold onto his daughter at all costs. But Alannah is on a journey of her own. 
As the consequences of Alannah’s choices unfold, nothing will ever be the same again.
Soldier Boy is gripping story about secrets, fear, longing, lies and the power of being true to yourself, even when the price is higher than you could have imagined. 

My Review

There was so much to think about and digest within Soldier Boy that I was unsure my review would do it justice, but i have had a go.

I will start with the characters. Liam, husband, father, son, two years out of the army, struggling with PTSD, life in general and in a suspended state of denial, unwilling to seek help.

Emma, wife, mother, the one left at home to get on with it, the one who tried to hold it together, as she threw herself into a swirl of superstitious rituals to keep Liam safe and poured all her love and energy into daughter Alannah.

Alannah, the young girl, the one stuck in the middle, obsessed with body image, with ballet, with the way she looked, her feelings hidden, her parents oblivious.

It was not until Emma walked out the door that Parkin unleashed a myriad of simmering emotions, and psychological trauma’s that commanded you attention.

Perhaps the most shocking was that of Alannah, one very mixed up young girl, who grappled with not only body image but gender, impending puberty a real fear. I so admired Parkin’s ability to understand her thought process, her utter torment that shocked but also educated, Alannah’s ultimate act of defiance one of pure anguish, one that I will never forget.

Whilst Alannah’s issues were an important part of the novel, it was Liam’s that cast a shadow, that had an impact on the family. Here was a proud man, drafted out of the army with PTSD, a man in total and utter denial. Parkin once again dug so deep within Liam, that you became immersed in Liam’s battle with himself. You felt his overriding need to control absolutely everything within his world, the obsessive tidying, the need to control his own emotions and those of others. You watched as he shifted the blame for the family break up and his daughter’s issues to wife, Emma, you felt immensely frustrated as you looked for chinks, glimmers of hope that he would finally accept defeat and seek help.

Emma was the absent one, the one who got away from it all, took herself to a hotel to have that freedom to think, to work out exactly what would make her life better. Did she find the answers? Of course not, it merely opened up the years of having to cope, of supporting a young child, of accommodating a largely absent husband, of making space on his return, turning her routine upside down to fit in with his wants and needs. Yet Emma knew it wasn’t enough, his permanent presence an ever increasing dark cloud, that suffocated and pushed her to the edge.

Before we could catch our breath, Parkin delivered a punch that shocked, not only us but also the characters and she cleverly turned their thoughts outward, to a realisation they would have to emerge from their own personal dramas and concentrate on the one thing that really mattered, their daughter.

You truly wanted that happy ending but Parkin wasn’t writing a novel to make it comfortable for the reader or necessarily to give us what we wanted and this was what I truly admired. She was immensely brave, but also brilliantly skillful in navigating such a complex novel of difficult and controversial themes, and her ability to turn it all into an utterly awe inspiring piece of writing.

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

About the author

Cassandra Parkin picture.jpg

Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories.

cassandraparkin.wordpress. com

Twitter: @cassandrajaneuk

#CoverReveal Medusa Retold Poetry by Sarah Wallis @wordweave @fly_press #flyonthewallpoetrytours #poetryblogtour

Medusa Retold by Sarah Wallis Fly On The Wall Press December 1st 2020

The Blurb

A feminist retelling of the Medusa myth, set in a run-down, modern seaside town, Medusa Retold is filled with the magic and fury of the original tale. In this telling, loner Nuala is difficult and introverted, fascinated by creatures of the sea. Athena becomes her best friend and first crush, and together they form a duo which is ripped apart by circumstance, leaving Nuala unprotected, unable to save herself. A long-form poem of poignant motifs which recur throughout, the poem is a mythic puzzle, an epic for ordinary girls, and a love letter to the sea.

About the author

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Sarah Wallis is a poet and playwright based in Scotland. She has an MA in Creative Writing from UEA and an MPhil in Playwrighting from Birmingham University. Theatrical residencies include Leeds Playhouse and Harrogate Theatre. Recent publications include The Yorkshire Poetry Anthology and Watermarks: for Lido Lovers and Wild Swimmers and Best New British & Irish Poets 2018.

You can connect with her via Twitter @wordweave and her website sarahwallis.net

#Blogtour City Of Margins by William Boyle @wmboyle4 @noexitpress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #CityOfMargins

City Of Margins by William Boyle
September 24th 2020

Book Synopsis

In City of Margins, the lives of several lost souls intersect in Southern Brooklyn in the early 1990s. There’s Donnie Parascandolo, a disgraced ex-cop with blood on his hands; Ava Bifulco, a widow whose daily work grind is her whole life; Nick, Ava’s son, a grubby high school teacher who dreams of a shortcut to success; Mikey Baldini, a college dropout who’s returned to the old neighborhood, purposeless and drifting; Donna Rotante, Donnie’s ex-wife, still reeling from the suicide of their teenage son; Mikey’s mother, Rosemarie, also a widow, who hopes Mikey won’t fall into the trap of strong arm work; and Antonina Divino, a high school girl with designs on breaking free from Brooklyn. Uniting them are the dead: Mikey’s old man, killed over a gambling debt, and Donnie and Donna’s poor son, Gabe.

These characters cross paths in unexpected ways, guided by coincidence and the pull of blood. There are new things to be found in the rubble of their lives, too. The promise of something different beyond the barriers that have been set out for them. This is a story of revenge and retribution, of facing down the ghosts of the past, of untold desires, of yearning and forgiveness and synchronicity, of the great distance of lives lived in dangerous proximity to each other. City of Margins is a Technicolor noir melodrama pieced together in broken glass.

My Review

This was a book I needed, no pussy footing around, but strong harsh and gritty. Set away from the bright lights and glamour of New York City, Boyle did exactly what he said in his title as he pushed us out to the cities margins. His characters were surviving, just, knocked back by life circumstances of their own choosing and the circumstances chosen by others.

Donnie, the corrupt cop was a scarred man, even if he himself didn’t realise. The suicide of his son, Gabe, had far reaching consequences, ones that Boyle made him fail to recognise. His involvement with the subervise underground made him cocky, to take risks that you knew would eventually lead to his downfall.

He was the cog in the wheel, the one the other characters whirled around, as their lives and their actions became more and more intertwined.

There was Mikey, directionless, his father dead by presumed suicide, who lived with his mother, a woman who had never recovered who inherited her husband’s debt to Big Time Tommy. Antonina unwittingly pulled into the net, desperate for escape and Donnie’s ex wife Donna still reeled from Gabe’s suicide.

Boyle set the scene, gave us brilliant insights into the characters, their motives, their thoughts, he did this slowly, as coincidence played its part, as they met unaware of the hidden connections. It felt as if Boyle was winding up a clockwork toy just waiting for the right moment to let it go, for the craziness and the consequences to unravel and for you, the reader, to wonder who would be left at the end.

His narrative was harsh, the undertones dark and oppressive, the chinks of light few and far between. Boyle did it so well that you didn’t mind, that you understood that it was essential to the novel, to portray the darkness that engulfed those at the margins, those that could see no way out, that somehow resigned themselves to the life they were in.

As the connections between the characters became more apparent to us and themselves, Boyle ramped up the tension, the pace became more frenetic, and individuals surprised us with their actions, actions that would change their lives forever. You delighted in some, felt dismayed at others and I was most pleased to see Boyle include an epilogue to tie up the loose ends, to stop me wondering where they all ended up.

The City Of Margins was a novel I admired from start to finish, the human consequences of crime and its after effects brilliantly examined and presented. A must read for all those who like a crime novel with a bit of a difference.

I would like to thank No Exit Press for a copy of City Of Margins to red and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

William Boyle is from Brooklyn, New York. His debut novel, Gravesend, was published as #1,000 in the Rivages/Noir collection in France, shortlisted for the Prix Polar SNCF, nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Boyle is also the author of the Hammett Prizenominated The Lonely Witness (No Exit Press), a book of short series, Death Don’t Have No Mercy and another novel, Tout est Brisè, released in France by Gallmeister. His new novel, City of Margins, will be published by No Exit Press in 2020. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

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