#Blogtour The Darlings by Angela Jackson @AngelaJ @EyeandLightening @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #TheDarlings


When Mark Darling is fifteen years old, he is the golden boy, captain of the school football team, admired by all who know him. Until he kills his best friend in a freak accident.He spends the next decade drifting between the therapy couch and dead-end pursuits. Then along comes Sadie. A mender by nature, she tries her best to fix him, and has enough energy to carry them both through the next few years.

One evening, Mark bumps into an old schoolfriend, Ruby. She saw the accident first hand. He is pulled towards her by a force stronger than logic: the universal need to reconcile one’s childhood wounds. This is his chance to, once again, feel the enveloping warmth of unconditional love. But can he leave behind the woman who rescued him from the pit of despair, the wife he loves? His unborn child?

This is a story about how childhood experience can profoundly impact how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity and how we often blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us.

My Review

The Darlings, Mark and Sadie a normal couple in a normal everyday marriage but what if you looked below the surface? Would all be well or would there be little ripples just waiting to became something more? Of course Jackson wasn’t going to let Mark and Sadie carry on with their everyday life’s she was going to examine the minutiae of their marriage, open up the cracks and make them, especially Mark decide just what was important.

We all have flaws but Jackson gave Mark a few more than normal, an incident as a school boy and his accidental killing of a fellow pupil haunted his life, wife Sadie the one who quite literally put him back together. Yet Jackson gave us a fed up Mark, a mundane life, the trauma of IVF, and a new baby on the way seemed to make him exhausted, stuck in a rut until a chance meeting with an old school friend, Ruby. And that’s where the trouble began but also where Jackson very cleverly and slowly picked Marks life apart.

What did Ruby offer that Sadie couldn’t. For me it seemed to be a better understanding of the accidental killing of his best friend. She was there, she knew how much it had hurt him, but she also offered escape from everyday life, excitement, the thrill of forbidden assignations. Did I hate him for it, no I didn’t, Jackson actually made me feel a modicum of sympathy, of a man who clearly needed a break, who perhaps needed something to awaken the senses, the appetite for life.

I did feel sorry for Sadie, the strong one, the fixer, the one with drive and ambition but perhaps she need to wake up too, to emerge from the anguish of infertility and to realise that their relationship mattered just as much as a new baby.

Mark and Ruby became bolder, took more risks, and you knew the inevitable would surely happen. What you didn’t know was if Mark and Sadie would survive, or if the grass really was greener on the other side.

Whatever the outcome I revelled in Jackson’s ability and skill in pulling apart a marriage, a man and the wonderful story she was able to tell.

I would like to thank Eye and Lightening for a copy of The Darlings to read and to review and to Damp Pebbles Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Angela Jackson is a former psychology lecturer and teacher trainer. Her debut novel The Emergence of Judy Taylor won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award and was Waterstones’ Scottish Book of the Year. 

 The Darlings is her second novel.

 Originally from the north of England, she now lives with her family in Edinburgh.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaJ

Website: http://www.angela-jackson.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angelaedinburgh/

Purchase Links:Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3cpZ7gk

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3v3OgiD

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/3v409Vw

Hive.co.uk: https://bit.ly/34ZEaVq

#Blogblast Violeta Among The Stars by Dulcie Maria Cardosa @MaclehosePress @MillsReid11 #VioletaAmongTheStars

Violeta among the Stars
MacLehose Press June 24th 2021

The Blurb

Desperate and drunk, Violeta overturns her car on a lonely stretch of late-night
motorway. As she lies amid the wreckage of her car, suspended between this world and the next, Violeta’s life quite literally flashes before her eyes. Scenes from her past overlap with what happened right before the accident: her upbringing with her distant, critical mother; her troubled relationship with her daughter; her life on the road as she drives between waxing product-selling appointments with breaks at motorway service stations, the abuse from other travelers mocking her size, the terrible service station cafes, the alcohol, the risky encounters with lorry drivers on filthy public toilet floors…
Suspended in this eternity, Violeta examines the thousand daily grievances that
add up to a frustrated, thwarted life. She begins to sink into her past. The Carnation Revolution of 1974, the defining
historical moment of her life. Love, passion, sex, and the dreams of adolescence
sacrificed to failed relationships.

My Review

Told in one long sentence, no full stops the narrative took some getting used to but once my brain had clicked into Cardosa’s style I was off, immersed in Violeta’s story.

As she hung from the roof of her upturned car, her life literally spilt out in one long stream of consciousness her life from her childhood to present day.

Cardosa definitely wasn’t out to portray a woman who looked back with much happiness, there seemed to be a huge disconnect with her parents, her daughter. Her parents, distant, a mother who was cold, a father who took little interest in family life unless it involved his beloved birds. There was no significant other half, no apparent father to her daughter Dora, merely a series of brief encounters, fleeting moments of sexual release, that gave Violeta what she needed.

I liked that Violeta wasn’t glamourout but instead overweight, ate what she wanted, yet gave off a vibe that said I’m here, I can give you something you need, something she needed in her brief encounters at truck stops.

The author surprised me with the combative nature of the relationship between mother and daughter when you might have thought Violeta’s upbringing would have steered her to be an attentive loving Mum. As I read I slowly realised why, as Dora became everything to her grandparents, soaking up their love and perhaps rejecting her mother. Did Violeta fight back? Cardosa said no, made it seem like an inevitability that Violeta could do nothing about a battle she would never win. Yet underneath I sensed love, maybe admiration that she had turned out ok.

As her incarceration in the car continued so did the introspection, and I loved how Cardosa managed to connect Violeta’s thoughts, feelings so brilliantly with the reader. The need to rid herself of everything to do with her parents, as if to cleanse her life, to start again became a pervading theme. The encroaching storm all built to give that sense of foreboding, of an outcome not foreseen.

As we neared the end, the narrative quickened, Violeta’s thoughts tumbled and tumbled onto the page, an urgency to be heard, for someone to listen.

I still cannot make my mind up if the ending was the one I wanted, there wasn’t an inevitability about it, it could have gone one of two ways, the uncertainty pervasive throughout, but that was the joy of the novel and surely the authors intention.

What I did decide that this was a novel that challenged, that pushed the boundaries and introduced me to a very fine novelist.

I would like to thank MacLehose Press for a copy of Violeta Among The Stars to read and review and to Milly Reid for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blog blast.

About the author

Dulce Maria Cardoso is a Portuguese writer, who spent her childhood in Luanda,
Angola after her parents moved there when she was an infant. Her family returned to Portugal following the Angolan War of Independence in 1975. She studied law at the University of Lisbon and worked as a lawyer before becoming a full-time writer. Her first novel, Campo de Sangue, won the Grand Prize Acontece de Romance, Violeta among the Stars won the EU Prize for Literature and O Chão dos Pardais won the Portuguese Pen Club Award. MacLehose Press published The Return in 2016.

#Blogtour Secrets Of The Mummy Concierge by Tiffany Norris @ConciergeMummy @BlinkPublishing @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #SecretsOfTheMummyConcierge

Blink June 24th 2021

The Blurb

Tiffany Norris is the one and only concierge for parenthood in the UK today.Acting as a baby’s personal assistant, on-call therapist and social director, Tiffany strives to be the ultimate parent protector, peacekeeper and negotiator when it comes to bringing a new tiny human into the world. Where demands go way beyond late-night food cravings and into the luxurious world of the super-rich, Tiffany is on hand to help with all kinds of seemingly impossible requests.

From opulent nurseries and stylists for new-borns to 3am calls worrying about just not being enough, Tiffany also shares her own rollercoaster journey to motherhood, as well as speaking honestly about her post-natal depression. Secrets of the Mummy Concierge reminds us all that being a new parent is one of the hardest jobs on earth.

And luckily, The Mummy Concierge is here to help.

My Review

Ok, hold on tight because The Mummy Concierge will open your eyes to the outlandish ideas, requests from mummies, and mummies to be that had money to burn and a need to outdo one another within their social circle.

Tiffany North was our wonderful guide, her eye for seeing the humour, but also the seriousness was admirable and the personal aspects of her own path to motherhood told with care and poignancy.

The opening chapter was jaw dropping funny but also a what the heck moment as a new mum readied herself for that perfect portrait to announce the birth of her baby. I won’t spoil it by saying what that funny moment was but let’s just say I was amazed. There were many more such moments, and i did think how lucky those women were to have such options, the private hospital, maternity nurses and nannies. Did it make me jealous that my simple NHS births were that simple? Maybe a little bit, on the whole my experience was a good one although a night time nurse would have gone down very well!!

You may think North was being quite indulgent in the manner with which she talked about the opulent nurseries, the members only Mummy and baby clubs, the endless private treatments to make pregnancy that little bit more bearable but it couldn’t have been further from the truth. Underneath it all there was a seriousness, heartache, and the knowledge that no matter how much money an individual may have the need for a baby, the loss is the same for everyone. Indeed the authors own journey to motherhood was anything but straight forward and I loved that her numerous failed IVF treatments added that raw personal touch to her narrative.

The toll it took on her mental health, her relationship with her husband and that all encompassing sorrow at watching friends, relatives fall pregnant at the drop of a hat, of women pushing prams were an integral and unflinching part of her book. Her own personal experience lent itself to her new business and the relate ability to her clients made me wish that she had been my Mummy Concierge. Her empathy, understanding and professionalism shone through, she was a friend not just a person providing a service.

It was lovely to read that she realised her dream of becoming a mummy and I do so hope her potential and old clients realise she is probably priceless.

The Mummy Concierge was a joy to read, lighthearted, serious, full of wonderful insight.

I would like to thank Blink Publishing for a copy of The Secrets Of The Mummy Concierge to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Tiffany Norris is a no-nonsense mummy concierge, journalist and pregnancy guru who has worked with hundreds of pregnant mothers, and supports every woman who needs her help with tips and guidance – and sometimes just a listening ear. She is a journalist and presenter for Mumsnet, has written for Cosmo and Grazia and is an expert for The Baby Show. Tiffany owns and runs The Mummy Masterclasses parenting workshops for soon-to-be and new parents. She was the winner of the prestigious Jacqueline Gold women in Business award and has won the Theo Pathetis small business award. Tiffany would love to hear from you – do say hi to her or find out more on: INSTAGRAM, TWITTER and on her WEBSITE

#Blogtour In The Mirror A Peacock Danced by Justine Bothwick @Bothwick_Cro @AgoraBooksLDN #APeacockDanced

Agora Books June 24th 2021

The Blurb

Agra, 1938: Eighteen-year-old Florence Hunt has grown up riding horses past the Taj Mahal and chasing peacocks through her backyard under the critical gaze of her father. Increasingly enamoured with his work on the booming railway, Florence yearns to know more, but finds herself brushed away,
encouraged only to perform the more ladylike hobbies of singing and entertaining guests. So when a dazzling young engineer walks into her life, she finds herself not only gripped by secret lessons in physics but swept entirely off her feet.

Portsmouth, 1953: Fifteen years later, Florence finds herself pregnant and alone in post-war England – a far cry from her sun-drenched existence in India. Struggling to cope with the bleakness of everyday life in a male-dominated world, Florence is desperate to find the woman she used to be. But when
someone from her past reaches out, Florence might just have a chance to start over.
Soaring from the shimmering heights of the big top to the depths of heartbreak, can Florence find the happiness, independence, and passion she once had in order to start living again?
Set against the lush backdrop of early 20th-century India, In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced – the debut novel from Justine Bothwick – is the moving story of one woman’s journey back to herself.

My Review

India before independence always seemed to have that magical air about it. The British there to bring their wealth of knowledge, their customs and ways to a people considered uneducated, in need of a guiding hand to make them better.

Yet nothing could stay the same forever and when Bothwick introduced us to eighteen year old Florence you could sense that she and us were on the cusp of great change and upheaval.

Florence was wonderfully independent, so different from the girls she went to school with, boys not high on her horizon, instead her horse, the beauty of India and the railways her father worked on her first love. I loved that Bothwick gave her that stubborn wilfulness, not to make her a wilting flower, not spoilt by a father who mourned the death of her mother. In fact the father daughter relationship often seemed devoid of emotion, her father’s insistence she sing and dance with him, the attempt to make her into something she didn’t want to be put them at odds with each other. At heart I am sure he had the best of intentions, but maybe that was the only way he knew how to be a father, to show that he cared.

If Florence lacked a mother she did not lack female influence and I loved Sita, her aya who gave her all the maternal affection she craved and attempted to guide her in matters of love and life. Yet often we don’t want to listen and for Florence that wilfulness sprang to the fore, a forbidden love destined to be torn apart by war before being swept off her feet by a singer, her father delighted at such a match. Yet Musty wasn’t going to end things there as once again disaster struck, independence sent many British packing and Florence found herself in a dreary Portsmouth in 1953. Divorced and a little boy in tow, Musty plunged her into the dark depths of depression, a brief job in a factory saw happiness return, then marriage to man who promised much but delivered nothing and took Florence to her lowest point. I wondered if Musty had any happiness destined for Florence but I need not have worried as a surprise visit from a friend from India galvanised Florence into action.

Musty treated us to the delights of the circus of the wonderful connection between human and horse, of a Florence determined to find happiness and I had my fingers crossed that she would.

Musty may have made Florence’s search for happiness hard to reach, but it didn’t stop her conjuring up such wonderful images within her narrative, as she immersed me in the heat of India, the contrast of a gloomy Portsmouth that left me craving for warmer climes. I could smell the smoke from the train engines, the whoosh as it chugged down the track, and delighted in Florence’s wonder and fascination of its inner workings.

Musty’s main achievement was to create a novel that’s as its core a woman at odds with herself but also the world at large, a woman who wished to be treated as an equal to men, to train as an engineer, to work in her first love, the railway. Musty had to be admired for the way she skilfully wove all the varying themes to make Florence’s story a fascinating and compelling one, that I absolutely loved.

I would like to thank Agora for a copy of In The Mirror A Peacock Danced to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the Blogtour.

About the author

Justine Bothwick grew up in Kent and Hampshire, and studied in London. In 2005, she moved to Italy and now teaches English in an international secondary school in Rome. She is married to a Roman architect. Together they have a flat in the city with a small balcony on which she grows her ever expanding collection of plants and watches the local birdlife.
Justine is a graduate of the Manchester Writing School’s Creative Writing MA programme and has short stories published in Fictive Dream, Virtual Zine, Confingo Magazine, and forthcoming in The Lonely Crowd, and with Nightjar Press.
In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced is her debut novel

#Blogtour The Exile And The Mapmaker by Emma Musty @EmmaMusty @Legend_Times

The Exile and the Mapmaker_High Res.jpg
Legend Time’s June 16th 2021

The Blurb

Theo, an aging Parisian cartographer, is desperately searching for the woman he once loved before Alzheimer’s takes his memories of her.
Elise, his estranged daughter, moves in to take care of him. She still blames him for the tragic loss of her mother and is struggling with this new forced intimacy.
Nebay, an Eritrean refugee, becomes Theo’s carer and friend. Unbeknownst to Elise, Nebay does not have a visa for France and is working illegally in order to support his sister.Each one is living a life of questions and secrets in a world where Nebay’s very presence in the France of Theo’s maps is steeped in uncertainty.
An important novel that is as compassionate as it is eye-opening, The Exile and the Mapmaker is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit.

My Review

Imagine being trapped within your own mind, a mind stuck in the past, of a lost love and huge regrets, of war and rebellion. It is definitely not somewhere where I would chose to be yet Theo had no choice as Musty wrote of his mental anguish, the everyday almost an aside, his memories torturous, the tears like a tap you couldn’t turn off.

What of those on the outside, watching, caring for Theo? Daughter, Elise, tormented by her own fear of being in love, her mothers death a constant reminder of where she didn’t want to be. Her job interviewing U.K. Visa applicants from refugees a daily struggle against her own morals and conscience.

And then we had refugee, Nebay, a proud but guilt ridden Eritrean who survived under the radar, a chance meeting with Theo the catalyst that could change the trajectory of his life.

All brilliant characters but even more sparkling as Musty thrust them together. I loved the relationship between Theo and Nebay. You could see Theo’s anguish over his past love mirror that of Nebay who hid his own, Theo’s need to track her down to seek redemption, forgiveness something maybe Nebay too needed and wanted.

After years of little communication between Father and daughter, we watched as Musty gradually eroded Elise’s grudging need to care, but also her need to let the past go and forgive, move on and make the most of her father whilst she still could.

It made for a mesmerising mix especially as Musty immersed us more and more into the world of refugees, of those with no status, of the family they had left behind, the grim prospect of return that meant punishment or even death. I felt ashamed as humans became mere numbers, statistics that didn’t meet quotas, of the brutality of the police and authorities.

Even more impressive was Musty’s ability to portray Theo’s increasing confusion, the minds descent into a miasma of memories, of impulsive forays through the streets of Paris in search of the elusive lover. My heart broke, the poignancy, the sheer despair of Elise and Nebay was at times hard to read but somehow compulsive, the need and desire for Musty to give Theo the peace he so desired overrode the discomfort.

The Exile and The Mapmaker was poignant, heartbreaking but brilliantly written and Musty will definitely be an author to watch in the future.

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

About the author

Emmy Musty.png

Emma Musty was born in England and grew up in Scotland. She spent her childhood crossing the border between two countries and two cultures.

In 2009 she went to Calais for the first time and met some of the many people living in ‘the jungle’ as they struggled to reach the UK. Following this she began to write about borders and migration, starting work on what later became The Exile and the Mapmaker.

She is an editor and writer with the Are You Syrious? Daily Digest, which chronicles news from the ground regarding the refugee situation in Europe, and a long term member of Khora Community Centre which works with marginalised groups in Athens. She is also a freelance consultant for Refugee Rights Europe. Emma’s second novel will be published by Legend Press in 2022.


Twitter: @EmmaMusty

Instagram: @emmamusty_author

#Blogtour Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen @KtAllenWriting @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomTTours #EverythingHappensForAReason

The Blurb

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.

When a misguided well-wisher tells her that “everything happens for a reason”, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she’s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.

Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…

Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.

My Review

I absolutely adored Everything Happens For A Reason. Katie Allen basically blew me away with her wonderful, poignant story of Rachel and her stillborn baby Luke. In fact I’m not sure quite where to start or even if my review will do justice to Allen’s story.

Where I will start is with the title, Everything Happens For A Reason, it’s what my Mum always told me when bad things happen, that I perhaps wouldn’t know the reason until a later date.

For Rachel it was why did her son have to be still born? Was it something she did or didn’t do or was it the fact she stopped a man jumping in front of a tube train, one life saved, her son lost, no space for both.

Whatever it was her journey to discover the why’s was utterly beguiling. Allen’s decision to use Rachel’s emails to baby Luke made the narrative all the more personal, like her every thought no matter how outlandish, impractical or even the chinks of hope were poured out onto the page.

What it did show was the attitude of others towards her loss, husband Ed’s need to work to be away, her mum and mother in laws continual refusal to discuss, to change the subject and friends inappropriate invitations, and ignorance. It was much like a manual of what not to say, what not to do, as Rachel navigated her way through her grief.

Where Allen’s novel really shone was Rachel’s relationship with Lola, her daughter Josephine and Ben the man she saved. Lola, single Mum, Josephine charming, quirky and somewhere Rachel could pour all that maternal love that had nowhere to go. With Ben it was more complicated, this man that loved dogs, hated people, often rude, dismissive. You wondered why Rachel bothered but Allen had a purpose, a reason, I may be wrong but I felt as if Rachel wanted to get to the heart of this man to see if he really was worth saving. What she found was altogether different and in a way she tried to fix him, but we all know it doesn’t always work out and Allen definitely threw in an unexpected curve ball that surprised not only the reader but also Rachel.

It was like a full stop, a stop to the constant whirlwind of thought and emotion, of finally realising that there was nothing she could have done, that the grief would never disappear, but would be something she and her husband had to learn to live with.

Now you would be wrong to think that Allen’s novel was dark and despairing as it most definitely wasn’t. Yes there was grief and sorrow but there was a lightness, humour and an overriding sense of hope. It was made even more special knowing the author had herself suffered a stillbirth, that what you were reading was based on experience. I could not help but admire Allen’s bravery, skill and utter genius in translating her own feelings and emotions into a truly stunning debut novel.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Everything Happens For A Reason to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her ‘Everything happens for a reason’. Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband, children, dog, cat and stick insects. When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels

.

#Blogtour Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney @CynthiaDSweeney @Harper360Uk @annecater #RandomThingsTours #GoodCompany

Harper 360 June 10th 2021

Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband’s wedding ring—the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.

Flora and Julian struggled for years, scraping together just enough acting work to raise Ruby in Manhattan and keep Julian’s small theater company—Good Company—afloat. A move to Los Angeles brought their first real career successes, a chance to breathe easier, and a reunion with Margot, now a bona fide television star. But has their new life been built on lies? What happened that summer all those years ago? And what happens now

With Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s signature tenderness, humor, and insight, Good Company tells a bighearted story of the lifelong relationships that both wound and heal us.

My Review

Los Angeles , the city that conjured up glamour, famous actors, the film industry, the one we see on the television or read about in the papers, but is it truly as glamorous as it’s made out to be?

Sweeney evidently did her homework and dug deep into the LA underworld where insecurity, anxiety as to where the next job would come from were far more prevalent than we might think. She then took two couples, their friendship, their marriages and seamlessly wove it into a compelling examination of what loyalty, secrets and lies can do to upset and even destroy what they so carefully built.

The leading character was Flora, definitely the most interesting and I would say the one I felt most empathy towards. There was a fragility to begin with as she celebrated what she thought was a good marriage, a career that was finally bearing fruit and a daughter successfully thought high school and on her way to college. The fragility, the constant acquiescence to friend Margot, to being a supportive wife, knowing it made life more comfortable, easy. Sweeney wasn’t here to give us comfortable and easy, she wanted to shake things up, sow seeds of doubt, make Flora question the status quo. The discovery of husband, Julian’s lost wedding ring was the catalyst, that symbol of security turned on its head, to stop Flora in her tracks and assess just what the future might be.

Would it include Julian, did she still love him, did she still want to be married and what of her friendship with Margot? Margot, beautiful, star of a long running hospital series, wealthy and childless, happy to throw her money around to support, Flora, Julian and daughter Ruby. But was it a way to keep them close, to retain a hold over them, to ensure they stayed in her life to be there when her own emotional and work life became tough?

And what of Julian where did he fit in all this. Sweeney showed a man who obviously loved his wife, but was a product of his upbringing, the self destruct button never far away, one mistake perhaps the end of life as he knew it.

There were brief appearances from daughter, Ruby and Margot’s husband David. Ruby at the start of life, working things out, watcher of her mothers emotions, which perhaps she found burdensome, Margot the escape, easy to please, David, once successful heart surgeon, a stroke that put his career onto another path, a supporting role to his wife.

It was the interaction between the characters that stood out until Julian’s secret set off small fissures, betrayal felt by Flora, remorse from Julian, the rocking of the status quo for Margot. I found it all utterly fascinating as they each reassessed their roles, as Flora realised she had choices, choices that didn’t necessarily suit others. I loved the sense of empowerment Sweeney gave to Flora, and for me that was the crux of the novel, the need to look below the surface, to be brave, not accept what has always been.

The outcome wasn’t your typical tying up of loose ends, you never quite knew what Flora and the rest of the characters futures would be but that was the beauty of Good Company, the challenge of the unknown and unpredictable.

I would like to thank Harper 360 for a copy of Good Company to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney - Photo by Bader Howar

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is the author of the instant New York Times bestseller, The Nest, which is currently in development as a limited series by AMC Studios. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.

#Blogtour Waiting For The Miracle by Anna McPartlin @AnnaMcPartlan @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #Compulsive Readers #WaitingForTheMiracle

The Blurb

2010

Caroline has hit rock bottom. After years of trying, it’s clear she can’t have children, and the pain has driven her and her husband apart. She isn’t pregnant, her husband is gone, and her beloved dog is dead.

The other women at her infertility support group have their own problems, too. Natalie’s girlfriend is much less excited about having children than her. Janet’s husband might be having an affair. And then there’s Ronnie, intriguing, mysterious Ronnie, who won’t tell anyone her story.

1976

Catherine is sixteen and pregnant. Her boyfriend wants nothing to do with her, and her parents are ashamed. When she’s sent away to a convent for pregnant girls, she is desperate not to be separated from her child. But she knows she might risk losing the baby forever.

My Review

We all take for granted the ease with which we conceive, carry and give birth to our children, but what about those women who struggle, who get pregnant only to loose a baby, how devastating that can be?

McPartlin introduced us to a group of women, all individually engrossed in their own grief, and struggles. Each poured out those feelings in a fertility support group, one that at first seemed quite depressing, the smiles, the laughter a distant thought. Catherine, a successful lawyer, married, a sufferer of endometriosis, numerous failed IVF attempts behind her, Janet, the quiet mouse, again married, failed pregnancies that traumatised and knocked her confidence. Natalie, desperate for a child with her reluctant partner Lindsey.

They may have had childless in common, but it was the fact that McPartlin portrayed them as so completely separate, never mixing outside of the group, never engaging properly with one another that puzzled me until a new member of the group, Ronnie appeared. Ronnie was like a low rumbling earthquake that McPartlin sent in to stir things up. She was bold and brash, outspoken, but exactly what was needed as she opened eyes, made them look outside their enclosed narrow world. At times she felt unreal, almost as if the women imagined her, a conscience or small fairy that sat on their shoulder, that niggled at them, pushed them out of their closeted comfort zones.

Ronnie, herself, was a closed book a mystery to us and the women, and it niggled as I came up with various possibilities, trying to read between the lines of narrative hoping McPartlin had left some clues.

It wasn’t until the story progressed that I began to piece the jigsaw together but not before the author took me back to 1976 and a very different time, a young girl, Catherine, hopelessly in love with the local rich boy, Justin. She was naive, unaware of the dangers of sex, of what might happen until the inevitable, an out of wedlock pregnancy, the shame of her family, Justin’s parents eager to be rid of her, to protect their son at all costs. This was Ireland and there was only one place for fallen girls, the dreaded convent with nuns who were cruel uncaring, who sold the babies, worked the girls to skin and bones, extracted money from relatives for release. Now the surprise for me was that I thought such places had ceased to exist by 1976, How wrong I was. McPartlin’s narrative was raw and unflinching, the horrors of birth, the complete disregard for the young girls astonishing, but what shone through was Catherine’s strength and utter determination to not let them win, to have a life. It may have taken her some time, the obstacles, the ease with which her family disowned her were at times insurmountable, but you knew deep down that Catherine would get there, would prove them all wrong.

The last great mystery was how the two timelines were linked, what or who connected them. I think I had guessed but not the reasons and when McPartlin revealed all it was heartbreaking, but so poignantly written. Yes I felt sadness, but there was also admiration for the courage McPartlin instilled in her characters, for the hope and happiness that loomed large on their horizons and the overriding feeling that whatever obstacles life puts in our way there can be a way through even if that journey has many false starts and unhappiness along the way.

I would like to thank Zaffre for a copy of Waiting For The Miracle to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Anna McPartlin is a novelist and scriptwriter from Dublin, who has written for TV serial dramas featured on BBC UK, RTE Ireland and A&E America. She has been writing adult fiction for over ten years, and also writes for children under the name Bannie McPartlin. She lives with her husband Donal and their four dogs.

To learn more about Waiting for the Miracle follow Anna on Twitter at: @annamcpartlin & Instagram: @mcpartlin.anna

Waiting For The Miracle Zaffre June 10th 2021

#Blogtour The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig @FrancescaHaig @AllenandUnwinUk @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheCookbookOfCommonPrayer

The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig

The Blurb

When Gill and Gabe’s eldest son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth.

Told through alternating perspectives, and moving between Tasmania and London, this is a novel about family, food, griefand hope.

My Review

This wasn’t an easy read and I don’t mean that in a detrimental way. It was uneasy in that the subject matter, the death of a son would never be a topic you would necessarily like to think about or dwell upon but that is exactly what Haig did.

Haig didn’t just concentrate on one person but the whole family as they came to terms with the death of beloved elder son, Dougie. There was the initial collective shock, the parental flight to England to recover the body before slowly Haig crept into the minds of Gabe, Gill, Sylvie and Teddy.

For father, Gabe it was the practicalities, the how, what, if, when, why. It became his obsession as Haig sent him on a journey of text books, internet searches and the people close to Dougie. His relationship with Dougie’s girlfriend Rosie raised questions, were they seeking comfort in each other, was something else simmering below the surface.

For Mum, Gill it was all about denial as she flew back to Tasmania to hold the fort, to wrap herself in cooking and recipes that represented her state of mind. Her need to protect daughter, Sylvie, an inpatient in an eating disorder clinic over took everything else, the lies that Dougie was merely injured, not dead, the letters she wrote on his behalf engulfed her, but kept Dougie alive. You wondered when it would end, the impact, the consequences often too terrifying to contemplate.

There was Sylvie, daughter, whose bones protruded from her body, wrapped up in her own self, almost unresponsive to the outside world. I admired Haig’s ability to understand her sense of entrapment, a body that betrayed her, a death that seemed so far away, unattainable.

Teddy, youngest child was my absolute favourite, the one on the periphery who no one noticed, who quietly and determinedly set out to unlock his sister, to mend his family. Oh how Haig made my heart ache for this lovely young boy, his relationship with his dementia sufferer Grandfather beautifully portrayed. All I wanted was to shake his parents, tell them to open their eyes, to see what this lovely sweet, caring young boy was trying to do.

Haig knew that there was only so long before the barrier came down, before the pretence had to stop, and when it did we were wrapped in a maelstrom of emotions, of eyes being opened, of a realisation that life had to continue, grief confronted.

I liked that Teddy and Sylvie were the instigators of change, the ones who woke up the adults, who forced them to emerge from their grief like shells to appreciate that, yes one son may have died but that two other children survived who needed their love and support who could help heal their fractured lives.

What stood out throughout the whole of the novel were the distinct voices of each of Haig’s characters, the decision to alternate the chapters between each of them gave the reader multiple perspectives. You felt more engaged and immersed in their feelings and emotions, understood the individual impact of grief and death, the misunderstandings and assumptions. What the novel did have were rays of hope, of the possibilities of a brighter future, of a family that you hoped would be able to pick up the pieces and emerge better and stronger.

I would like to thank Allen and Unwin for a copy of The Cookbook Of Common Prayer to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Francesca Haig grew up in Tasmania and is an academic and writer, whose poetry and YA/crossover fantasy have been widely published. She lives in London with her husband and son. This is her first novel for adults.

The Cookbook Of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig Allen and Unwin Uk June 3rd 2021

#Dead Ground by M.W Craven @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK #DeadGround #TeamPoe #TeamTilly

Dead Ground
Dead Ground by M.W. Craven Little Brown UK June 3rd 2021

The Blurb

Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken . . .

My Review

When you know Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are due for another outing there is that wave of anticipation as you wait to be invited onto the blogtour, get accepted and then the excitement when the book finally hits the door mat.

You never know where or what Craven will conjure up for them but there is always the certainty it will be damn good.

Dead Ground was no exception, yet this time it was different, it felt like a step away from the gruesomeness we would normally expect. Yes there was a murder or two but it felt more considered, in depth and definitely more complex.

The research was meticulous, Cravens knowledge of the military, police procedure, MI5, Al Qaida and Isis was a powerful tool he used brilliantly. It never swamped or drowned out the story but showed the hard work and determination Poe and Tilly needed to crack the investigation.

And what of the investigation? At first I wasn’t quite sure exactly where Craven was heading, the opening chapter almost comical as he plunged multiple James Bonds into a bank heist. Next stop a dead body in a brothel and an enamel rat. Throw in feisty American FBI agent Melody Lee and MI5 officer Hannah Finch and you knew Poe and Tilly had their hands full.

I was pleased to see that Poe had lost none of his grumpy, no nonsense manner, a man who didn’t mince his words, knew his limitations and cut through red tape with what felt like a knife. Tilly was also at her absolute best, and Craven has done a wonderful job developing her character, the rough edges still visible but none of her tenacity and intelligence diluted

Tilly and Poe struggled, almost felt defeated as Craven upped the complexity, a myriad of layers, people, subterfuge as the horrifying tragedy and selfishness of conflict and war emerged. It was tense and utterly enthralling, and a tad frustrating as Poe and Tilly met dead ends, obstacles and people that stood in their way.

But hey, this was Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw, the dream team, the team that are almost invincible, that don’t care for procedure, only for truth and justice. Now Craven may have less blood and gore but that didn’t stop him giving us his trademark dramatic and tense ending, the final pieces of the jigsaw finally in place and the true culprits revealed.

It may have been a departure for Craven but it was a welcome one, one that showcased Craven’s diversity, skill and technique. The relationship of respect and deep friendship between Poe and Tilly was further cemented, Poe’s vulnerability and search for the truth of his parentage again questioned and his search for answers seemed to be a little closer.

I cannot wait for the next instalment ans I do hope it will not be a long wait.

I would like to thank Little Brown for a copy of Dead Ground to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, returning after 31 years to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals. His first novel featuring Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw, The Puppet Show, was published by Constable to huge acclaim, and it has since won the CWA Gold Dagger Award and been shortlisted for the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards: Best Crime Novel, the Goldsboro Glass Bell Award and the Dead Good Reader Awards. M. W. Craven lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

%d bloggers like this: