#Blogtour Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian @sanjenasathian @simonschusterUK @simonschusterPR @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Simon Schuster UK gust 19th 2021

The Blurb

ANYONE CAN BE EXTRAORDINARY. BUT IT COMES AT A PRICE…

Neil Narayan’s parents moved to America for a better life, and his perfect older sister is now headed to an elite university. Neil is funny and smart, but he is not living up to his parents’ dream. While he tries to want their version of success, mostly, Neil just wants his neighbour across the street, Anita Dayal.

Once a lot like Neil, Anita is truly thriving academically, athletically and socially. Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewellery’s original owner. Anita just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. When Neil – who needs a whole lot more – stumbles onto their secret and joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart.

Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned history grad student studying the California gold rush. Anita has given up her high-flying tech career and is working as an event planner, just for now. Anjali, the woman who gave them both so much, is in trouble, and only gold can save her. What choice do Anita and Neil have but to pull off one last heist?

Gold Diggers is a dazzling coming-of-age story that speaks to anyone who ever wondered quite how they belong, and who ever dreamed of being the very best they could be.

My Review

Gold diggers would, I am sure, resonate with many who have made the move from one country to another in the hopes of a better future. For Neil it was all about the expectation, the constant pressure from parents to live up to their dream of the perfect education, marriage, the American dream. Did Neil want and even live up to that American Dream?

Neil didn’t appear to be fulfilling his potential, no matter how hard he tried nothing was good enough, his sister the star. And that is where the trouble or indeed the real crux of the novel lay and what a brilliant job, Sathian did in showing a young teenager exploring his own culture and the complete misalignment with America.

As high school progressed so did his up and down relationship with neighbour, Anita. He was a teenager besotted and it was an admiration that never left but when Neil came across strange goings on in her mothers basement, it became even more interesting. The bubbling pot on the stove, the mutterings of ancient words had my imagination whirling into overdrive. You felt the same astonishment as Neil when the goings on were explained, you felt his belief in the old ways, ways that would bring him the success he needed and indeed the admiration of his parents. Of course it was never going to be plain sailing and as their paths diverged and they lost touch Neil’s obsession with gold and the gold rush became the tool by which Sathian examined in more detail his juxtaposition in life. Sathian gave us the early immigrants treated with suspicion, with scorn, punished because their intelligence, determination, brought them wealth but never respect. But had anything really changed? Did Neil and Anita find it any easier? For Sathian that was a definite no, the prejudice, the expectation, the work ethic was still altogether so much more than the average American. It was no wonder that the two characters lost their way, forged headlong into a gold heist driven by misguided traditions and a need to save themselves and those around them. It provided a suitably hair raising and exhilarating finale.

Gold diggers was that perfect dissection of the big American Dream, of a clash of cultures, of parents only wanting the best for their children. The children themselves were the ones caught in the middle, never destined to please anyone, forced to ride the waves until finally clarity and that feeling that maybe what they really needed to do was find their own success and happiness no matter what that may have been.

I would like to thank Simon Schuster U.K. for a copy of Gold Digger to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Sanjena Sathian is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an alumna of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, and a former Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. She has also worked as a journalist in San Francisco and in Mumbai.

Her award winning short fiction appears in Conjunctions, Boulevard, Joyland, Salt Hill, and The Master’s Review. She’s written nonfiction for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vox, TIME, Food and Wine, and more.

She has taught creative writing to high school, college, graduate, and post-graduate level students in Iowa, Alaska, India, and New Zealand.

#Blogtour A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris @Joannechocolat @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #ANarrowDoor

Orion August 4th 2021

The Blurb

Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.

My Review

Time to admit I haven’t read the other two St Oswald novels that make up the trilogy. Did it matter? Absolutely not, it never stopped my enjoyment nor did I feel I had missed anything that would have added more to the story.

And what of the story? Hugely interesting and intensely fascinating as new head of St Oswald’s, Becky threw open the doors to girls, merged with rival St Henry’s but most importantly carried the weight of the past on her shoulders.

An then a dead body, the catalyst to recriminations, to the past, but who did it belong to. Only one person knew, and were they going to reveal all or would it cost them and the school too much?

Harris brilliantly used Becky’s interactions with old classics master Roy Straitley, the traditional and the modern, locked in a battle of wills to solve a puzzle, to unravel the truth.

Becky was wonderfully complex, tough, determined that at first Harris made me hesitant, did I like her or not? Probably not to start with and then as we went back in time the real woman opened up, one blighted by the disappearance of her brother, her parents utter devotion to him and almost ignorance of her and her own troubles. It was where the psychology of trauma, of loss, of the minds ability to shut off what we cannot face came to the fore, as Harris played with Becky’s mind, her memory. I found it totally compelling and I started to feel empathy but there was always an undercurrent of something off kilter, of a woman who could or would not give into emotion, as if it were a weakness or perhaps if she did her whole world would fall apart. There was a harshness, an urge to emerge triumphant whatever the cost.

Harris made you think that bit more deeply, to question the male, female divide, the control we could have over others and indeed ourselves. Becky’s slow unlocking of her memory came with ghostly sighting, creaking of water pipes, of monsters that mired her childhood. It was a story of perception of a parents willingness to only see the good never the bullying, the damage being wrecked on another.

It was the story of a woman who, in her eyes triumphed not only over others but also herself and I had a grudging admiration for her even if she did have murderous intent.

I also admired Harris who ditched the lovely chocolate sweetness of her previous novels and plunged you into the disturbing psychological minds of her characters to create a truly immersive, intelligent and amazingly good read.

I would like to thank Orion for a copy of A Narrow Door to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

JOANNE HARRIS is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.

#Review We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz @andibartz @michaeljbooks @kalliereads #weeereneverhere

Michael J Books August 12th 2021

The Blurb

A backpacking trip has deadly consequences in this eerie psychological thriller.

Emily is having the time of her life—she’s in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip, and the women are feeling closer than ever. But on the last night of the trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she brought back to their room attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year’s trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Emily can’t believe it’s happened again—can lightning really strike twice?
Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving headfirst into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to confront their violent past. The more Kristen tries to keep Emily close, the more Emily questions her motives. As Emily feels the walls closing in on their cover-ups, she must reckon with the truth about her closest friend. Can Emily outrun the secrets she shares with Kristen, or will they destroy her relationship, her freedom—even her life?

My Review

Quoted as a slow burn thriller, I knew this would be the type of thriller I would like and I wasn’t disappointed. Bartz’s two main characters Emily and Kristen were wonderfully complex, Emily the less confident, perhaps more naive of the two, Kristen the dominant one.

Their trip to Chile seemed perfect until it wasn’t, until one dead backpacker hurriedly buried in a rocky outcrop and a lifetime of worry seemingly followed them back home. For Emily is appeared to be deja vu, so similar to her own trauma in Cambodia that it only seemed to increase her anxiety and worry. And this was where the novel really took off, as Bartz brilliantly used Emily’s voice to show a woman tied up in knots, who continually looked behind her shoulder waiting for the axe to fall.

You could feel her mind constantly whirling as Bartz made her question her friendship with Kristen. Was Kristen really who she appeared to be, why had so many people around her died? Bartz dug extraordinarily deep not only into Emily’s psyche but also Kristen’s as she revealed a woman hell bent on control, on manipulation, intent of having everything and everyone at her beck and call, on her own terms.

It was utterly fascinating to read and it created a brilliant intensity that pulled you in to the narrative, into the minds of Emily and Kristen. As Emily found more answers so the stakes appeared to rise, and in some respects the danger and the ensuing drama were superbly compelling.

The conclusion was perhaps the most intriguing part and left me with more answers than when I began. I was left with lingering questions that I mulled over but couldn’t quite decide what the answers were. I am almost certain this was Bartz’s intention and I admired her writing skills even more for it.

We Were Never Here definitely deserved it’s selection in Reese Witherspoon Book Club. An utterly fascinating look into the minds and relationship between two women, that created one fantastic thrilling story.

I would like to thank Micheal Joseph for a copy of We Were Never Here to read and review.

About the author


ANDREA BARTZ is a Brooklyn-based journalist and author of The Lost Night and The Herd. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Martha Stewart Living, Redbook, Elle, and many other outlets, and she’s held editorial positions at Glamour, Psychology Today, and Self, among other publications.
Instagram:@AndiBartz

#Blogtour The Great Silence By Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Orenda Books 19th August 2021

The Blurb

The investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself.
Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: the mysterious circumstances of a dying woman have led them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has a devastating experience.
Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.
Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series.

My Review

So much seemed to have happened to the Skelf household that it was hard to know what lay in store for them next. We needn’t have worried as Johnstone had plans, plans that were none he less exciting than previous episodes yet had a more personal feel to them. I felt as if Johnstone was truly getting under the skin of his characters, that he was more comfortable being that bit more up close and personal. The women had all had to deal with so much but this felt like a settling of scores, of putting aside the old and moving onto the new.

Johnstone gave them their own individual case to investigate, as though each were tailored to their strengths but also their weaknesses, to bring out their vulnerabilities, to test them

Dorothy, still the eccentric Californian now happy in her relationship with detective Thomas, still bashing the drums and also my favourite. Johnstone thrust her into the mystery of the dead foot, and the sleek black Jaguar brilliantly named Whiskers. We followed her on the hunt for seriously bad embalmers and big cat keepers fascinated by that weird and wonderful underground world of Johnstone’s creation. Her own brush with Whisper led to heartbreak but also a final conclusion to the mystery of waif Abi’s father.

Jenny was one angry woman who skulked around determined to find her escapee ex husband, Craig, who still reeled from her break up with boyfriend Liam. When Craig’s daughter disappeared Johnstone teamed her up with Mum Fiona as they twisted and twirled with myriad dead ends to find her. I loved Johnstone’s Fiona, a distraught mother hell bent on truth, angry, without reasonable thought who bulldozed her way through Craig’s past associates and the police. Johnstone gave them a truly explosive end, a door shut, new possibilities that I cannot wait to read.

And what about Hannah, Jenny’s daughter, Dorothy’s granddaughter? Johnstone was more gentle, gave her Jose, PHD student obsessed with planets and extraterrestrial life. Could the messages he was receiving be from another world or as Hannah soon discovered was it something more complex, more personal. You felt she deserved the happjness she found with Indy, her girlfriend that finally life was exactly where she needed it to be.

Edinburgh was its own character, the leafy parks, the streets and coast provided the perfect setting for the Skelf’s as they whizzed around the city in pursuit of people and answers. It was a city you knew Johnstone loved, the place his characters felt so comfortable in as they guided us around, the perfect tourist guides, a great advertisement that made you want to visit.

All three women seemed to have to dig that more deeply into their own feelings, to confront demons that had hung over them for so long. It was Johnstone tying up the loose ends, closing a door and opening a new chapter that I am so desperate to read and shall be clogging up his Twitter feed telling him to hurry up.

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

About the author

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve previous novels, most recently The Big Chill (2020). Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade – including at a funeral parlour ahead of writing A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com.

#Blogtour The Hunt and The Kill by Holly Watt @holly_watt @BloomsburyRaven @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #TheHuntAndTheKill

Raven July 8th 2021

The Blurb

When acclaimed undercover journalist Casey Benedict is asked to interview a young woman with cystic fibrosis, the patient’s doctor alerts her to the looming threat of antibiotic-resistant infections, tipping her off about a potential new wonder drug. If the rumours are true, this new antibiotic could save millions of lives, but no one wants to admit that the drug even exists.

As Casey investigates, she follows the trail from the Maldives to a game reserve in Zimbabwe, using her undercover skills to probe the truth and find out why the discovery of this new drug is being covered-up. When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, Casey suspects that someone is trying to silence her, but she is not prepared to let the story drop, no matter how much danger she – or those she loves most – are put in.

A searing, page-turning, pulse-racing thriller that sees Casey on a hunt around the globe as she pursues a major exposé into pioneering medical research and drugs that could change the world.

My Review

I work in a GP practice and the number of calls we receive asking for antibiotics is huge, many patients see it as a magic wand, the cure for everything. Do they actually realise that antibiotic resistance will one day become a real issue, that the less we prescribe the more chance we have of staving off that day? I had some knowledge but Watt truly opened my eyes.

What she wrote was utterly fascinating, the science narrated in such a way that I understood the complexities, entwined within a novel that zigzagged across the world.

Watt threw journalist Casey into the melee, a woman who once onto a story never gave up as she uncovered corruption and murder. Who knew a seemingly straightforward interview with a cystic fibrosis patient would send her zigzagging across the world, or the personal cost to herself.

Watt didn’t let us take breath for one second, the litany of clues, of twists and turns never ending, until finally in South Africa the pieces slowly began to fall into place.

And what an Africa Watt painted, the heat, the wealth and the poverty. Antibiotics sold on the open market, hospitals that struggled to save the tiniest of babies. Casey defied her bosses stayed firmly on the trail, took risks that had you biting your nails as you wondered if she would actually emerge alive.

What she uncovered was truly shocking and whilst Watt may have used dramatic licence her afterword made it very clear that much of what she wrote was based on fact.

The selfishness of pharmaceutical company owner, Elias Bailey was astounding even if Watt did attempt to give him a redeeming feature. I still could not find empathy or sympathy.

As for Casey, Watt gave us not only a determined tenacious journalist but a woman sent to the edge who managed to find inner strength and a bravery to defy the odds. I cannot wait to see what Watt has in store for her next.

I would like to thank Raven for a copy of The Hunt and The Kill to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

As an investigative journalist, Holly Watt worked on MPs Expenses and the Panama Papers. She has written for the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian. She lives in London.

Follow on Twitter @holly_watt

#Blogtour No Honour by Awais Khan @AwaisKhanAuthor @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #NoHonour

Orenda Books 19th August 2021

The Blurb

In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.
When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore – only to disappear.
Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

My Review

It was only in the last few years that we truly began to understand the trauma many women from various parts of the world suffered at the hands of male family members. From forced marriages, to punishment and even murder for holding hands, sex and pregnancy outside of marriage it shocked the wider community.

Khan took all of those aspects and literally ripped apart a Pakistani family, a family in a small village in rural Pakistan lorded over by a local Pir who ruled with fear and rhetoric. His use of the individual voices of Jamil and his daughter Abida was, I think the only way he could have got across to the reader the abject fear, and emotion of his characters.

Abida, forbidden love, a pregnancy, the horror of mob rule as they bayed for her death, for her father to give the nod. Khan’s narrative had me right there, made me sense her fear, but also the anger, the absolute disgust that a community could be so vicious in their intent.

Jamil’s absolute desperation, the unbelievable decision Khan had him make was breathtaking yet there was more to come, not only for Jamil but for Abida.

The contrast between rural Pakistan and the big city of Lahore was striking, and I revelled in Khan’s descriptions of its sights and sounds. Abida’s naivety, her faith in her new husband were to some extent her downfall but I loved that Khan also used it to show a young woman who somehow found inner resolve, and a strength that was astounding as events led her further and further into the abyss.

The cruelty, the absolute hell she endured was difficult to read and Khan didn’t spare any details. It was a narrative he had to use, the only way he could truly reflect what Abida and indeed other women must suffer.

For me it was Jamil’s voice that struck a chord, a husband, a father who had to walk a tightrope between the modern and the traditional world, who needed to protect his family but the love for his daughter became all encompassing. Khan gave him a steely resolve, a willingness to put his family at stake, to fight for what he knew in his heart was right. It was perhaps his past, memories of his own mothers experiences that drove him, that made him defy so many of his male compatriots.

The ensuing drama was full of heart in your mouth moments, of betrayal and violence and even in the aftermath their safety was never guaranteed.

It was dark, brutal and violent but Khan never lost sight of the story he was trying to tell, of the need to protect a family name, to tie women to the worst part of the male psyche. Yes, it was tradition but was it a tradition that fit in today’s society, were women to be kept as virtual slaves, illiterate, downtrodden, enveloped in constant fear?

To our western eyes obviously that would be a no, and as Khan’s novel so blatantly told us, it’s a battle we must fight with education, and support.

No Honour was truly eye opening, fascinating and very very good.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of No Honour to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Awais Khan is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Durham University, and studied creative writing with Faber Academy. His debut novel, In the Company of Strangers, was published to much critical acclaim, and he now regularly appears on TV and radio. Awais also teaches a popular online creative writing course to aspiring writers around the world. He lives in Lahore and is currently working on his third novel.

Follow Awais on Twitter @AwaisKhanAuthor.