#Blogtour Bound by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Bound

Bound by Vanda Symon Orenda March 4th 2021

The passionate, young police officer Sam Shephard returns in a taut, atmospheric and compelling police procedural, which sees her take matters into her own hands when the official investigation into the murder of a local businessman fails to add up…
The New Zealand city of Dunedin is rocked when a wealthy and apparently respectable businessman is murdered in his luxurious home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, they discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.
The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas. Weighed down by her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and by complications in her relationship with Paul, she needs a distraction, and launches her own investigation. And when another murder throws the official case into chaos, it ’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.

My Review

Hello Detective Sam Shephard, welcome back into my headspace, back to take me into the murky underworld of beautiful Dunedin. This time it was the murder of a wealthy businessman, who took our attention, his wife tied up and left until discovered by their teenage son.

As if a murder wasn’t enough, Symon didn’t spare us Sam’s complicated personal life which added that perfect balance, that human emotive touch so often missing from many crime novels. I loved that her relationship with fellow detective Paul, as her little defences broke down and the realisation that it wasn’t just a fling but something so much more. There was also her family, a dying father, a mother forever critical as Symon heaped on the pressure. Yet Shephard was a tough cookie, resilient, and so very determined, everything you liked in a woman detective, something Symon always made sure to emphasis especially when it came to her relationship with her boss. He was a man I detested, not outwardly sexist but numerous grudges and derision that simmered just below the service in his interactions with Shephard. I so wanted Symon to give Shephard a reason to retaliate, to sock it to him, and without leaking out a spoiler let me just say she didn’t disappoint.

Lets get back to the murder, and as Shephard soon began to realise all was not as it seemed Symon added in quite a few doubts, made us and Shephard think outside the box, and widen our horizons. I admired Symon’s ability hide the clues deep within her narrative, so hard for us to guess exactly who was responsible and just where we were going to end up. It wasn’t a dramatic, shouty revealing of the answers but more a gradual unwinding, of a detective brave enough to go out on a limb against her colleagues, and stand up for herself.

The murder and its fallout may have been resolved but Shephard’s personal life still needed answers, and you felt we had reached a turning point, a new direction that Symon left us contemplating. The next novel will be extremely interesting and I am hoping we will not have to wait too long for the next instalment.

I want to thank Orenda for a copy of Bound to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New
Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

#Blogtour The Book Of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd @suemonkkidd @TinderPress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheBookOfLongings

The Book Of Longings By Sue Monk Kidd Tinder Press March 18th 2021

The Blurb

Ana is born in Galilee at a time when women are seen as possessions, only leaving their fathers’ homes to marry. Ana longs to control her destiny. Taught to read despite her mother’s misgivings, she wants to be a writer and to find her
own voice. A voice that will speak for the silenced women around her.
Betrothed to an elderly widower, Ana almost despairs. But an encounter with a charismatic young carpenter in Nazareth awakens new longings in her, and a different future opens up. Yet this is not a simple love story. Ana’s journey will bring both joy and tragedy, but it will also be enriched by the female friendships she makes along the way.
The Book of Longings is an exquisite tale of dreams and desire, and of the power of women to change the world
.

My Review

I read the afterword at the end of the novel just to get an idea of the authors thoughts and what made her decide to write about a fictional wife of Jesus. It seemed it took her sometime to put pen to paper, declaring ‘I couldn’t muster quite enough audacity’

When Kidd finally did take that leap it was in my opinion a brave one, to challenge, even though fictitious, the possibility that Jesus had a wife. In The Book Of Longings her name was Ana, a beautiful, intelligent, educated daughter of Herod’s head scribe. She was the opposite of women of her time, keen to marry for love not to merge and increase the status and wealth of a family, and from the start she was a veritable fire ball, opinionated, stubborn, determined and brave.

From their first accidental meeting in a crowded market, you knew it was fate, their destiny to be together, but Kidd didn’t make that journey easy and the heartache and hardships were almost a training ground for what was to come.

Their eventual marriage was one based on pure love, a love that endured during the many years of trouble and separation. Kidd used Ana’a eyes to tell the story of Jesus as we know it but also the consequences it had for his family, the added danger it placed Ana in. It was an extremely clever technique one that made me view those bible stories I had read a little differently. I saw Jesus as a normal man, one who had his own desires but wasn’t afraid to follow his inner voice, to run into danger for a greater cause.

Did I think he was selfish? In some ways yes, when you thought about his mother, and more importantly his wife, but that was where it stopped, as Kidd gave Ana her own purpose, her own cause. She was there to support Jesus, to trail blaze for other women within society, to stand up to the inherent brutality present with men. Her writings were her outlet, a historical text for the future, to the point I did wonder if Kidd was suggesting that maybe she was part author of the New Testament. I may be totally and utterly wrong but wouldn’t it be wonderful to think a woman had a hand in its creation, and it was a thought I clung to throughout the second half of the novel.

One thing that did stand out, was the vividness of Kidd’s narrative, the brilliant portrayal of the Romans and the Jews, the society they lived in and the tensions and rivalries that existed. It was a veritable maelstrom of actions and events that culminated in the inevitable ending, and the ensuing scenes were hugely poignant and emotional.

What endured above all was Ana, her capacity for love and forgiveness, her fight to read, to write, to be treated as an equal, a shining beacon of light and hope.

The Book Of Longings, was never the novel you expected, and all credit and heaps of admiration to Sue Monk Kidd for having the audacity to put pen to paper, to challenge the reader, and dare to create an alternative to a story we all grew up and know so well.

I would like to thank Tinder Press for a copy of The Book Of Longings to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of The Secret Life of Bees, one of the most beloved novels of the 21st century. It spent 2.5 years on the New York Times bestseller list, and has sold over 8 million copies worldwide. It was long-listed for the Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction) and made into a film starring Sophie Okonedo, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson. Sue’s subsequent novels,
The Mermaid Chair, The Invention of Wings and now The Book of Longings, were all New York Times bestsellers.
Sue is also the author of several non-fiction books including the New York Times bestseller Travelling with Pomegranates, co-written with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor. Sue lives in Florida.


http://www.suemonkkidd.com

@suemonkkidd

#Blogtour The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner @si_penner @Legend_Times #TheLostApothecary

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner. Legend Press

The Blurb

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.


Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.


With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

My Review

I adored The Lost Apothecary, I loved being in the back streets of 17th Century London before being brought headlong into present day London and its maze of alleys and skyscrapers.

What I loved even more were Penners fantastic cast of characters, limited in number but what an impact they made. Nella, the 17th century apothecary who sold potions to women with everyday maladies, but underneath the darker tones of poison, of potions designed to kill the men that suppressed them, that engaged in extra martial affairs, ruined house maids to sate their own desires. She was aged, ailing, troubled and scared by the man she thought loved her, her mothers legacy somehow despoiled by divergence into the dark arts. A loner until Ella came in through the door and how I loved Ella, a fearless twelve year old who stole my heart. Penner’s portrayal of her was one of the highlights, her fierce determination to learn but also her respect for Nella, her maturity in seeing something in Nella that pained her, that needed to be brought to the surface and confronted so brilliantly translated in Penner’s narrative.

And then we had Caroline, an American in present day London, who reeled from her husbands affair, who sought alone time to think, to decide her future. What she didn’t reckon on was her reawakening of her love of history, of mudlarking on the Thames and the discovery of a glass vial, the imprint of a bear and the crazy journey it would take her on.

It was the intertwining of the past and the present and the distinct voices of those three women that stood out. The similarities between the suppression of women in the 17th century somehow no different to present day. The woman deemed less important, Caroline’s dreams cast to one side to stay by her husbands side, to support his career, the anguish of that other woman, yet forgiveness expected, the norm restored. Nella, deeply hurt by her love, cast aside, mere collateral in his life. Eliza, the housemaid, fair game for the master of the house, the wandering hand, the entitlement to take what he wanted when he wanted.

It was their determination to fight back, to look within themselves to discover who they were really were that gave Penner so much to work with. She didn’t stop until she had wrung every last drop of emotion and anguish from them and indeed from me as the reader. I was with Nella and Eliza as they battled to save The Apothecary, ran from authorities, explored the poisons dispensed, the reasons, the women that knocked at door, desperate for a quick fix. For Caroline, I empathised with her loss of identity and the fight to reclaim who she was , could relate with my own personal life experinces.

Penner didn’t forget that we also wanted intrigue, mystery, that thrill of wondering what would happen next. She built it slowly, laid the foundations with some fantastic historical detail, left hints of past anguish as she rushed us headlong to a fast and heart stopping climax. We were left with questions that I needed answers to, and Penner didn’t disappoint with the answers, answers that were surprising but somehow satisfying.

As you can probably tell I loved The Lost Apothecary, and will be waiting with baited breath for whatever Penner has in store in her next novel.

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of The Lost Apothecary to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

#Blogtour The End Is Where We Begin by Maria Goodin #MariaGoodin @Legend_Times_ #TheEndIsWhereWeBegin

The End Is Where We Begin by Maria Goodin. Legend Press March 16th 2021

The Blurb

Jay Lewis is a troubled soul. A single father, just trying to keep everything together, he knows he sabotages any real chance of happiness. Tormented by nightmares and flashbacks, he can’t forget the events from one fateful night that steered the course of the rest of his life. Struggling against the crushing weight of guilt, Jay knows there are wrongs he needs to put right.

Determined to get closure, he seeks out old friends and a past love. But in his quest for a more peaceful future, is he ready to face the trauma of his past?

My Review

A cryptic title that posed many questions. Had our main character, Jay, got to the end of his story, were we going to follow him back to the beginning to how he got to his ending? Or did it mean his life could restart at year one after years of anguish?

I was interested to find out and the story that unfolded was a complex one, one that Goodin told with great introspection, perception and compassion. The opening was poignant, a dad celebrating his teenage sons birthday, the everyday celebrations of blowing out candles, watching them disappear to celebrate with friends. Yet we knew that Jay wasn’t coping that something lay behind the panic attack, the inability to feel joy and freedom.

We were sent back in time, to a childhood with friends, to school life, the divide between public and private the differing expectations that somehow didn’t seem to matter to Jay, and his little group. That was until an incident we only got glimpses of where we made assumptions and more importantly where Jay and his friends lives appeared to fall apart.

Goodin excelled at getting deep into Jay’s mind as she pushed him into meetings with old friends, made him face upto his and others actions, his role as a father and the modern issues of parenting a teenager.

Goodin touched on so many themes, of mental health, love, trust, social media that in less skillful hands could have been piece meal, a random flitting between past and present but it wasn’t. It was utterly engaging not only from an emotional aspect but we had the added intrigue of the real happenings of that one fateful night one that Goodin slowly unraveled, hints dropped into the narrative, fleeting images that left you guessing right until the end.

It could have been all darkness but chinks of light and warmth crept in as Jay reconciled feelings, thoughts and actions, as you hoped a way forward seemed more possible. Was a new life a possibility, could love be within his reach? And finally did the title justify the content and the ending? That is not for me to say but for you to find out.

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of The End Is Where We Begin to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Maria Goodin.jpg

Maria Goodin’s debut novel Nutmeg was published in 2012 and sold into the US, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Australia. The End is Where We Begin is her second novel. Maria lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two sons. Maria’s writing is influenced by her experience working in the field of mental health, and by an interest in how people process traumatic events.

 Instagram: @mariagoodin_author

#Blogtour Hotel Cartagena by Simone Buchholz @ohneklippo @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #HotelCartagena

Hotel Cartagena by Simone Buchholz Orenda March 4th 2021

The Blurb

Twenty floors above the shimmering lights of the Hamburg docks, Public Prosecutor Chastity Riley is celebrating a birthday with friends in a hotel bar when twelve heavily armed men pull out guns, and take everyone hostage. Among the hostages is Konrad Hoogsmart, the hotel , who is being targeted by a young man whose life – and family – have been destroyed by Hoogsmart’s actions. With the police looking on from outside – their colleagues’ lives at stake – and Chastity on the inside, increasingly ill from an unexpected case of
sepsis, the stage is set for a dramatic confrontation … and a devastating outcome for the team … all live streamed in a terrifying bid for revenge.
Crackling with energy and populated by a cast of unforgettable characters, Hotel Cartagena is a searing, stunning thriller that will leave you breathless.

My Review

There is always that moment before you open the first page of a new Chastity Riley novel, where you held your breath and got ready for what Bulchholz was going to throw at her. Hotel Cartegena started out quietly as Riley went to meet friends and colleagues to celebrate a birthday in a plush hotel. Now this is something we were definitely not used to, Riley in a posh hotel, not in one of the backstreet bars of Hamburg? You could sense Riley felt just a tad uncomfortable not just about her surrounding but also the people she was about to meet, her love life the usual disaster zone that we had become used to.

Just as she settled down, eyed everyone up, bang they were now hostages, and Riley, after cutting her finger felt decidely dodgy. What would she do? Would we have an action packed overwhelming of the hostage takers? The answer to that question was a no as Buchholz changed tack and instead concentrated on the ring leader, his character and the reasons behind his actions.

Henning, brought up in the harshness of Hamburg, who escaped to Columbia intent on a new and trouble free life, but this was a Bulchholz novel and you knew that was just not going to happen. Henning may have been inticed into the world of Columbian drug smuggling, and the lure of cash, but Bulchholz didn’t make me dislike him, he wasn’t outwardly violent, he was just a man who wanted a better life. Even when tragedy struck, it was the quiet, determined way in which he exacted revenge that I liked and in some ways Bulchholz made me admire him even more. That revenge was somehow satisfying and grotesque, drawn out and slow, and so not what you would have expected which was just typical of Bulchholz.

Now we may not have had a lot of dramatic action but that doesn’t mean to say there wasn’t any, it was just that Bulchholz knew how to make us readers wait, to slowly build up to that moment.

The flitting backwards and forward between past and present, between Henning and Riley, meant Bulchholz built up that tension, had us waiting, watching, wondering when that explosive moment would finally happen. You could sense Riley’s impatience, her lack of control, her muddled thinking on how she could resolve the situation, until it just happened, Riley for once sidelined, an onlooker.

I got the feeling, Bulchholz wanted to show us a different Riley, maybe one with some of the edges rubbed off, not at her best, but just simmering below boiling point before something more lay in store. It was almost as if it was a stepping stone for Bulchholz to change some of the old, wether that be thoughts, feelings or more importantly people.

The ending certainly left me curious, impatient and wanting more.

I would like to thank Orenda for a copy of Hotel Cartagena to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up in the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

#Blogtour Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge @thegyth @MichaelJBooks @ellamwatkins #LieBesideMe

Lie Beside Me
Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge Michael Joseph March 18th 2021

The Blurb

Louise wakes up. Her head aches, her mouth is dry, her memory is fuzzy. But she suspects she’s done something bad.

She rolls over towards her husband, Niall. The man who, until recently, made her feel loved.

But it’s not Niall who’s lying beside her. In fact, she’s never seen this man before.

And he’s dead . . .

As Louise desperately struggles to piece her memories back together, it’s clear to Detective Jonah Sheens and his team that she is their prime suspect – though they soon find she’s not the only one with something to hide.

Did she do it? And, if not, can they catch the real killer before they strike again?

________

My Review

I am so late to the delights of Gytha Lodge and her crime series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens. I missed out on books one and two but I definitely feel that I had missed out on any back story when I bgean Lie Beside Me.

The opening was the stuff of nightmares, and Lodge gave me chills as she brilliantly described Louise’s gradual realisation that the man beside her was dead. How did he get there? What had alcohol blanked out?

The answer to those questions took some pretty circuitous twists and turns with Louise as the primary suspect. DCI Sheens was the man charged with investigating and he was ably assisted by DC Hanson, a woman who hid a stalking ex boyfriend but pushed her woes to one side as she worked hard to discover the truth.

Any good crime novel will make that truth hard to come by and Lodge was no different, my mind constantly wandered as multiple suspects were paraded in front of me, and Louise’s life was pulled apart. I intensely disliked her husband Niall, found him weak willed and not wholly trustworthy. The most difficult character to work out was Louise’s best friend April, the brash American, wealthy and outgoing, there was something that didn’t quite ring true but I never could put my finger on what that was until near the end.

I admired how Lodge slowly revealed the truth as she used the voice of Louise and her thoughts as she looked back on her marriage, her own character, the sober Louise and the drunk Louise, the alternating personalities that made her doubt herself and question her own guilt. It was for me, what made this novel stand out from others in the genre, it took that one step further, explored the deeper reaches of the human psyche, the perceptions of others, and what our upbringing might force us to do in later life. It gave Lodge the opportunity to develop multiple layers and strands to her storyline which made for an exciting and thrilling read. In fact just when you thought Sheen has it all wrapped up, it was Hanson that suddenly realised that perhaps they were wrong and in one final wonderful twist, heightened by just a little bit of tense drama, we got a completely different ending.

Lie Beside Me was a top notch crime thriller that I loved and I shall now be seeking out Lodge’s previous two novels to read and enjoy.

I would like to thank Michael Joseph for a copy of Lie Beside Me to read and review and to Ella Watkins for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

See the source image

Gytha Lodge is a writer and multi-award-winning playwright who lives in Cambridge. After seven years spent as a successful playwright, she studied creative writing at UEA and was shortlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize and the Arts’ Council England fiction awards. She also developed a large online following, with over seven million reads accrued on platform Wattpad. Her first novel, She Lies in Wait, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. Lie BesideMe is her third novel.

You can find her on twitter @thegyth

#Blogtour The Favour By Laura Vaughan @LVaughanwrites @CorvusBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheFavour

The Favour by [Laura Vaughan]
The Favour by Laura Vaughan Corvus Books March 4th 2021

The Blurb

The Favour tells the story of eighteen-year-old Ada Howell, who feels that the gilded life she deserves has been denied to her after she is forced to move from her idyllic country house in Wales to suburban London following the death of her wealthy adoptive father.

When Ada’s eccentric godmother gifts her with an exclusive gap-year art history trip to Italy, she finally finds herself amongst the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them, and when one of the group dies in suspicious circumstances she spots an opportunity to permanently bind herself to these glamorous new acquaintances by burying a secret. But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she ever imagined…

My Review

Class divide never seems to disappear no matter how far advanced we seem to think society is. What if you felt you didn’t belong , that where you wanted to be was with the wealthy, the entitled, the connections the grand old houses that went to decay in the countryside. This was Ada, her famous author father dead, her Mum glad to have sold the Welsh mansion house and relocate to London. Yet Ada was not happy, as Vaughan made that very clear as she portrayed a teenager who felt wronged, uprooted and basically denied a life of privilege in the higher echelons of society.

Vaughan did not make it easy to like Ada, and I am not sure I actually did. It wasn’t that she was wholeheartedly horrible and nasty, more manipulative, watchful, aware of what was happening around here and generally being in the right place at the right time.

The art trip to Italy was her opportunity to wheedle her way into the rich, privileged lives of her fellow students. Vaughan placed her everywhere as she worked out who was the most approachable, who was the easier to attach herself to. Her golden moment was the death of one of their group, she acted, protected and held the power as they left Italy and got on with their lives.

We followed Ada through the following years, through the parties, the good living until Vaughan gave us the moment it fell apart, and I actually started to feel sorry for her, to like her. At last, I thought Ada had finally seen the superficiality of her so called rich friends, left them behind, and got her life together. But oh no Vaughan had other things to surprise us with, an about turn of events, an ending that perfectly fitted the time and themes of the novel.

A story of privilege, of jealousy, of entitlement The Favour was a hugely enjoyable, intelligent first novel.

I would like to thank Corvus for a copy of The Favour to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author

Laura Vaughan grew up in rural Wales and studied Art History in Italy and Classics at Bristol and Oxford. She got her first book deal aged twenty-two and went on to write eleven books for children and young adults. The Favour is her first novel for adults. She lives in
South London with her husband and two children.

#Blogtour Old Bones by Helen Kitson @Jemima_mae_7 @LouiseWalters12 @DamppebblesBTS #OldBones

Old Bones by Helen Kitson Louise Walters Books January 16th 2021

The Blurb

Diana and her sister Antonia are house-sharing spinsters who have never got over their respective first loves. Diana owns a gift shop, but rarely works there. Antonia is unemployed, having lost her teaching job at an all girls’ school following a shocking outburst in the classroom after enduring years of torment. Diana is a regular at the local library, Antonia enjoys her “nice” magazines, and they treat themselves to coffee and cake once a week in the village café.

Naomi lives alone, haunted by the failure of her two marriages. She works in the library, doesn’t get on with her younger colleagues, and rarely cooks herself a proper meal. Secretly she longs for a Boden frock.

When a body is discovered in the local quarry, all three women’s lives are turned upside down. And when Diana’s old flame Gill turns up unexpectedly, tensions finally spill over and threaten to destroy the outwardly peaceful lives all three women have carefully constructed around themselves.

Helen takes us back to the fictional Shropshire village of Morevale in this, her brilliant second novel which exposes the fragilities and strengths of three remarkably unremarkable elderly women.

My Review

You get so used to reading novels where the main characters are all young, middle aged, and then every so often someone turns the tables and plunges into the lives of women in their sixties.

You would expect them to be married, a myriad of grandchildren to spoil, but not in Kitson’s novel. Instead we met sisters, Diana, Antonia and librarian Noami, three very different women, all alone, all harbouring enough angst and anguish that it was very difficult to like them. Now don’t get me wrong, that is not to say that it spoilt my enjoyment of the novel, on the contrary, I found myself intrigued as to how their past woes would or even if they would resolve.

Lets have a look at each character and start with Diane. The eldest of the two sisters, owner of the local giftshop, the sensible one, the one who promised on her mothers death bed that she would looks after Antonia. Kitson left us in no doubt that it was a promise and a task she resented, a long held grudge drove a wedge between them and she longed for escape. Antonia herself was for me frustrating, I found her behaviour and actions childish and many times I could have quite happily screamed at her to stop. She was perhaps the most complex and as the novel progressed, the one that you did start to feel some empathy.

Naomi, was your typical librarian, quiet, understated, largely friendless due to what I perceived was her embaressment at two failed marriages. She was staid and traditionalist perhaps afraid for things to change and make her exit her comfort zone.

So how did things begin to change? Kitson used the discovery of human bones in a disused quarry to set off, not a dramatic sequence of events but a gradual examination of their lives and their relationships. You could sense the tinge of regrets, of a fear that somehow the bones had a connection with Naomi. As rumours swirled so did the minds of the women, past grudges resurfaced, dynamics shifted and unlikely friendships ensued.

I admired Kitson’s narrative skill to hold my attention, to enter the minds of the three women, to use their individual voices to explain themselves. Outside characters influenced their decisions, their thoughts pushed them to confront not only their own feelings but also those around them.

You wandered if Diane and Antonia’s relationship would endure, if Noami would cast aside that hard impenetrable exterior and let others creep in.

Old Bones was a fascinating and intriguing look into human nature, and emotion that was wonderfully perceptive and hugely enjoyable.

I would like to thank Louise Walters for a copy of Old Bones to read and review and to Damp Pebbles Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Helen lives in Worcester with her husband, two teenaged children and two rescue cats. Her first poetry collection was nominated for the Forward Best First Collection Prize. She has published three other poetry collections and her short fiction has appeared in magazines including Ambit, Feminist Review and Stand. She holds a BA (Hons) in Humanities.

​Helen’s debut novel The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson was published in March 2019. Her second “Morevale” novel, Old Bones, will be published on 16 January 2021.

​Helen’s favourite novel is Dracula by Bram Stoker, and her favourite novella is Reunion by Fred Uhlman. Her top poet is Sylvia Plath.

Helen tweets @Jemima_Mae_7

#Blogtour The Phone Box At The End Of The World @LalmaiMessina @manilla_press @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #ThePhoneBoxAtTheEndOfTheWorld

The Phone Box At The End Of The World by Laura Imai Messina Manilla Press

The Blurb

A sweeping, moving novel based on an incredible true story.

Picture an old disused telephone box in a beautiful garden, not found easily.

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in a tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people travel there from miles around.

Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels like it is breaking.

When you’ve lost everything – what can you find?

My Review

The Phone Box At The End Of The World should come with the warning, ‘once started you can’t stop’. I read it in one sitting totally lost in the story of Yuki, a young women who had lost her mother and daughter in the Japanese Tsunami of 2011. How do you recover or even carry on with life after something so traumatic, I know for me life would become that impossible thing, one that you had to endure.

I had prepared myself for a novel that would be quite dark, full of despair but was pleasantly surprised with the lightness Messina managed to infuse within her narrative. Yes there were moments that were upsetting particularly in the aftermath of the Tsunami as Yuki waited for news, news that you knew would not be good, and when it came the way in which Messina described it was for me heartbreaking but endearing and comforting.

At the heart of the novel was a phone box, a phone connected to nothing, that was a magnet to all those who had lost someone, a place they could talk to that person. There was no ridicule, no judgement just a garden, a phone box and its owner that offered comfort, a place to leave sorrow, to talk to those who understood.

Its healing powers were immense as Yuki found out, but it also brought her into contact with Takeshi, a widower, a father of a young girl who remained mute, unable to express her thoughts and feelings. Their connection, relationship was touchingly beautiful as Messina explored their grief, the many ways we experience that grief, an individual process that meant different things to different people. It somehow drew me in and wouldn’t let me go, I so desperately wanted that fairytale love affair but Messina didn’t make my reading experience easy with multiple bumps in the road, and a heart stopping finale.

The Phone Box At The End Of The World was a wonderful contradiction, a simple story on the surface until Messina made her characters explore their feelings, their emotions, complex, multi layered yet full of wonderful hope and enlightenment and I loved it.

I would like to thank Manilla Press for a copy of The Phone Box At The End Of The Road to read and review and Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Laura Imai Messina was born in Rome, Italy but has been living in Japan for the last 15 years. She works between Tokyo and Kamakura, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children. She took a Master’s in Literature at the International Christian University of Tokyo and a PhD in Comparative Literature at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World has been sold in over 21 territories.
Laura can be found on Twitter at @LaImaiMessina and on Instagram at @LauraImaiMessina, or on her website www.lauraimaimessina.com.

Lucy Rand (Translator): Lucy Rand is a teacher, editor and translator from Norfolk, UK. She has been living in the countryside of Oita in south-west Japan for three years.

#Blogtour While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart @RuthDruart @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #WhileParisSlept

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart Headline March 4th 2021

The Blurb

In the tradition of Virginia Bailey’s Early One Morning and M. L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans, a luminous, powerful portrait of the brutality of war and the tenacity of love.
Santa Cruz 1953. Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.
Paris 1944. A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.
On a darkened platform two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined.
Beginning on an ordinary day and ending on an extraordinary one, WHILE PARIS SLEPT is an unforgettable read.

My Review

While Paris Slept took an alternative view of World War II and the aftermath, a Jewish baby thrust into the arms of a young railway worker, his entrepid escape with his girlfriend and their subsequent life in California.

Our young railway worker Jean-Luc was a man who questioned the Nazi’s and their methods, his work on the railways an eye opener to the horrors that may await the Jews herded on its railway carriages. His girlfriend Charlotte, a health care worker in a German hospital shared his views and they made a formidable but naïve team as they defied their parents and escaped with the baby.

Their flight across the Pyrenees was wonderfully portrayed by Druart, their exhaustion, the danger a tangible presence within the narrative. Yet it wasn’t necessarily this that tugged at the emotions, but more of what happened as Jean-Luc and Charlotte settled into life in America as Druart sprang forward to 1953. The young baby, Sam, was now an all American school boy, oblivious to his dramatic start to life until Jean-Luc is arrested and accused of kidnapping Sam.

What followed was an emotional tug of war with a bewildered Sam in the middle. Druart used the voices of each of her main characters to tell their stories which gave us that closer more intimate and emotional aspect. She made you question what you would do in similar circumstances. Were the two sets of parents thinking of their own feelings, and where did Sam and his feelings fit into the whole scenario.

The officials were at times cold, their objective to get a job done, emotion left somewhere else. It was heart rending to read and that it could have actually happened made it all the more real and plausible.

I admired Druart’s narrative skill, a narrative that kept you reading, that drew you in and made you invest much angst and emotion in the characters and their story.

It was nice to see an author take on a differing aspect to the World War II and its fall out and made a welcome change.

Not an easy read but one I couldn’t put down and found totally compelling.

I would like to thank Headline for a copy of While Paris Slept to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Ruth Druart grew up on the Isle of Wight, moving away at the age of eighteen to study psychology at Leicester University. She has lived in Paris since 1993, where she has followed a career in teaching. She has recently taken a sabbatical, so that she can follow her dream of writing full-time.