Thursday 7 December 2023

Yesini And The Daughter of Peace by Solange Burrell BLOG TOUR #YesiniAndTheDaughterOfPeace @journalish @unbounders @RandomTTours #BookExtract

 


The year is 1748. Elewa, known as ‘the Daughter of Peace’, bears a heavy responsibility on her young shoulders: to maintain the fragile truce between the warring peoples of her West African kingdom.

But as she begins to understand her role in the peace negotiations, even greater pressures emerge. Elewa discovers that she has Yeseni, a powerful gift that allows her to see events from any point in time, and to travel into the past and future.

When she experiences horrific visions of life aboard a slave ship, she realises she has to face the ultimate crossroads. She could use her gift to intervene in the past and try to prevent the transatlantic slave trade ever taking place. But that means she, as the Daughter of Peace, would be leaving her village behind at a precarious moment in the reconciliation process.

Whichever path she chooses to take, the future of her people lies on her shoulders.




Yesini And The Daughter Of Peace by Solange Burrell was published by Unbound Firsts on 30 November 2023.

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 



Extract from Yesini and the Daughter of Peace by Solange Burrell 


From a very young age, the reasons for war were explained to me in depth, or as much detail as I could comprehend at the time. Papa said that I was implying questions with my tone as soon as I could make sounds. He said that I would point at things and raise the inflection in my voice, uttering obscure non-words, then await an explanation from them. 

Papa would often joke with Mama that I even wanted to know why the breeze blew through the trees. He would do this when I asked the more difficult questions. The ones that did not really have an answer, or, at least, not one that could be articulated in a nice, neat package and finished with a bow. I think this is how Papa felt when I asked him why we had been at war with the Okena for so many years. We sat in our back yard on chairs Papa had hand-carved from an old tree stump and leftover logs from the debris of the last tropical hurricane. The sun was low in the sky, and it was nearly my bedtime, but Papa had promised me one last game of Choko before I went up. I used the game as a way to pry answers to the many questions I had, and I remember him smiling and shaking his head at me. I think I was around six or maybe seven years old at the time. After looking at me, he stood up, turned around to the faucet and loosened it to wash the blood off his hands. 

‘Pass me the cloth, Elewa.’ He pointed over to the row of clean cloths that he used as makeshift bandages: they were hanging on the washing line. The rope used for the washing line was made of plant fibres that were delicately twined or braided to form the cord. Papa nailed each end of it to the exterior back wall of our house and whenever it was full of clothes, it made the house look all festive and spruced up, but the clothes would cover the back door, so we would have to crouch to get in and out until they dried. 

Elewa was the nickname that Papa had given me; it literally meant ‘pretty’ in his native tongue. Papa always said I had a face that the world should see. Mama loved the name as well. “It means more than just pretty you know!” she’d say, but at that time I was content with ‘just pretty’.

I strolled over to the washing line, purposely dragging my feet along the red dirt to make a pattern in the ground before a gorgeous agama lizard with a bright orange head scurried through my feet. 

‘Hey!’ I yelled. 

‘If you want to play one last game before bedtime, you will have to hurry up!’ 

I jumped up underneath the washing line and grabbed a clean cloth for him. 

‘Now hold there and do not let go,’ he said. It was the first layer of the bandage to be wrapped around his wounded hand; he needed me to hold it firmly, so that it would stay in place. I felt so important and proud that I could assist my papa in this way. The wound was quite deep and just off the centre of his palm. As Papa wrapped the cloth around his hand, my finger, which was holding the first layer of cloth started to feel trapped. 

‘So, your question was, why do we go to war?’ he asked. 




Solange Burrell grew up in Bristol and then moved to London to study journalism at
university. 

She has worked in HR and as a building surveyor. 

She currently lives in Canada with her husband, and Yeseni and the Daughter of Peace is her first novel.

X/Twitter @journalish








Wednesday 6 December 2023

Swimming For Beginners by Nicola Gill BLOG TOUR #SwimmingForBeginners @Nicola_J_Gill @bedsqpublishers @RandomTTours #BookReview

 


Loretta has life under control.

She's good at avoiding things that make her uncomfortable, she's chasing a big promotion at work, and she's marrying a man whose five-year plan aligns perfectly with her own.

Children do not come into the mix.

This all changes, however, when a stranger in an airport asks Loretta to keep an eye on her sleeping six-year-old, Phoebe. The stranger never comes back.

Loretta knows that Phoebe's life will change forever from that moment. But so will hers.

This strange little person in fairy wings will turn Loretta's world upside down and cause her to question everything she knows about herself.

Dive into Nicola Gill's heart-warming and relatable journey into the power of a child's love and its ability to transcend motherhood.



Swimming For Beginners by Nicola Gill was published on 14 September 2023 by Bedford Square Publishers. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 


Sometimes a book comes along that just grabs you and give you the biggest and most welcome of surprises. Swimming For Beginners is one of those books. I've had my copy for months, but have only just got around to reading it. The beauty of a book is that you are never too late, it doesn't have an expiry date. The book is there, forever, to pick up and read whenever you can.

I'm very fond of a quirky character and Nicola Gill has created two of the warmest, funniest and so multi layered characters here. Loretta has a great job in advertising, but she's desperate for promotion. Whilst the advertising industry is about people pleasing and interacting with others, Loretta is one of a kind. Excellent at her job and very driven, she finds socialising with her colleagues very difficult. For Loretta, everything needs a purpose, and listening to her work mates talk about their sorry love lives and their attempts at motherhood are, for her, just tedious. 

Loretta has an important pitch to present in New York. She's organised and ready, sitting at the airport with much to do and read through. This is when Loretta's life implodes and changes dramatically. This is when six year old Phoebe enters her life and changes everything that she thought she was. 

Loretta and her fiancé Robert have no plans to start a family. The upheaval and mess caused by a small person is not something that they are prepared to even entertain. Loretta has scant knowledge of small girls, despite the fact that she was one once. 

However, Loretta cannot get Phoebe out of her mind. A six year old should never have to go through what little Phoebe experienced at that airport, and despite her misgivings, Loretta makes contact with Phoebe's family. 

This is a beautiful, heart felt and deeply moving story of one woman's discover of self. The reader becomes aware that Loretta herself is engulfed in both sadness and guilt and sees a little of herself in Phoebe. The growing relationship is wonderfully created. Phoebe is forthright, funny and unique and her presence in Loretta's life changes both of them so much. 

I laughed and I had a little sob, all the way through. I despaired at Loretta's boyfriend Robert, I cheered on her colleague Chris and I fell totally in love with Phoebe. 

It takes a long time, but eventually Loretta realises that her original life plan wasn't what she really wanted, or deserved. It takes a six year old girl to teach her about herself and to make her recognise that sometimes well laid plans are not always the way, and that fate is often a blessing in disguise. 

A touching, wonderful story that should be treasured and remembered. 



Nicola Gill lives in London with her husband and two sons. At the age of five, when all of the other little girls wanted to be ballet dancers, she decided she wanted to be an author. Her ballet teacher was very relieved.

When she’s not at her desk, you can usually find Nicola reading, cooking up vast vats of food for friends and family or watching box sets. Occasionally she even leaves the house...

X/Twitter @Nicola_J_Gill

Instagram @nicolagillauthor






Monday 4 December 2023

The Last Resort by Heidi Perks BLOG TOUR #TheLastResort @HeidiPerksBooks @PenguinUKBooks @RandomTTours @Rachel90Kennedy #BookReview

 


Two people.
Two sides of the story.
Whose do you trust?

When Erin and Will start having couples therapy, they hope it will fix the rift that has appeared out of nowhere in their marriage.

But their therapist Maggie can't work out whose version of the truth she can trust.

Then Erin is brought into hospital in a critical condition following a hit-and-run accident. Now everyone is desperate to unravel the truth.

Because if this isn't an accident, then someone close to Erin must be responsible . . .



The Last Resort by Heidi Perks is published on 7 December 2023 by Penguin. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 



I'm not sure how Heidi Perks' books have escaped me in the past, this is her seventh novel, and the first of hers that I've read. I'll certainly be checking out more from this author as this story kept me gripped and intrigued throughout. 

This is the second book that I've read recently that has featured a couple whose marriage is in difficulty, and the impact that their counselling sessions have on them. It's a great way of exposing the intricate plot lines, whilst learning more about the individual characters. 

Perks tells this story through a dual time line, not far apart, there's the now and then we are taken back around six months to discover a little more about what led the the current situation. 


The story opens at a hospital as a patient is blue-lighted into A&E. Erin has been seriously injured in a hit and run accident, she was found on a dark roadside alongside some woodland. 

Erin and Will appear to be very happily married, they have a small child; Sadie and Erin has given up work to care for her. However, just recently Erin has begun to feel uneasy in Will's presence, in fact she feels a little bit scared, but has no idea why or where these feelings have stemmed from. Determined to save their marriage, they enlist the help of counsellor Maggie. 
Maggie appears to be the perfect person to help, she has very high ethics, prides herself on her ability to stay focussed and not get personally involved. However, Maggie has issues of her own, and there's something about Erin and Will's case that bring those to the fore. 

Nipping back and forth, from Erin's hospital bed and the mystery of why she was in a place that she vowed never to return to, and then being aware of the previous counselling sessions and their impact on both the couple, and on Maggie is a clever way to keep the reader intrigued. I was trying to second guess what was happening all the way through, but this author is clever and the final reckoning was an utter shock. 

Not just a thriller, The Last Resort is a dark and telling tale of domestic noir, of hidden secrets and repressed memory. It's pacing is perfect, fast and furious at times, but slowly uncovering truths at others. 

Cleverly structured, gripping and at times, very intense. Recommended by me. 






Heidi Perks is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Now You See Her, which was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, Come Back for Me, Three Perfect Liars, The Whispers and The Other Guest.

She is a graduate of the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative Online Novel Writing Course and lives in Bournemouth with her family where she sets almost all of her novels.

Follow Heidi on Twitter @HeidiPerksBooks and join in the conversation with #THELASTRESORT






Wednesday 29 November 2023

Tell Me Your Secrets by Mel McGrath #TellMeYourSecrets @mcgrathmj @HQStories #BookReview

 


A devastating loss

When Meg and Marc lost their daughter, their family collapsed in on itself. Nobody could understand the trauma that they carried so it made sense when they turned to a therapist, Janette to help process their grief.

A new start

Desperate for some distance from their grief, they relocate to a small town where they know no one. They’re sure it’s a happy coincidence that Janette has moved there too, and at first it feels reassuring to have a friendly face nearby.

A past that won’t be silenced

But in those dark, desperate days after the accident, they shared everything with her. Secrets they haven’t even told each other. And it seems Janette doesn’t want to just be their therapist anymore. Or even their friend…

Dark, sharp and sinister, this novel will make you question those whom you trust most, and the final twist will shock you to your core.


Tell Me Your Secrets by Mel McGrath was published in hardback on 28 September 2023 by HQ. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

This is an intense and gripping psychological thriller that kept my attention during a five hour flight. The hours slipped by very quickly as I was consumed by this twisty tale that constantly throws up questions. 

I've read Mel McGrath in the past and she's an expert at dissecting her characters and exposing the frailties of the human mind.  This story features vulnerability and manipulation, teamed with an eerie setting with a tragedy at it's heart. 

Meg and Marc have suffered the worst pain that any parents can feel. Their young daughter Lily was killed in a hit and run accident, the driver of the car has never been found. Both Meg and Marc have dealt with the aftermath in different ways, they are both broken, but Meg carries such a sense of guilt about what happened, as she was with Lily at the time, and every mother should protect their child. 

A new start in a cottage in the country feels like it could be the answer. Marc's father has left Covert Cottage to him, and even though he feels that his sister Helen should have benefitted too, he and Meg decide to move in and renovate the property, hoping to pay Helen some money later on.  Marc continues to commute to work whilst Meg stays at home in the cottage. She does her best to get to know the people in the local community, but there's certainly something a little odd about the place. The house feels as though it's alive too. Meg experiences noises and strange feelings, especially from the loft area. When she bumps into Janette in the village, she is delighted to see someone that she knows, and who knows everything about her. Janette was their therapist, both she and Marc had regular sessions with her after Lily's death. Janette is looking for somewhere to stay, and it seems obvious that Meg should offer her their little garden room.

What follows is a sinister, creepy tale that gave me goosebumps at times. Meg and Marc really do suffer over the coming weeks, but thank goodness for Janette; a listening ear, someone to give advice ...... but what does Janette get out of this?

The reader sees far more than either Meg or Marc do, and at times, it feels so obvious what is happening, but I was never quite sure why it was happening. Both Meg and Marc become dependant on a woman who uses her professional skills to manipulate them both, almost pitching them against each other. Yet Marc and Meg don't tell each other, they don't feel able to open up and discuss what is happening. Meg is terrified of being labelled as mentally ill, and Marc seems to just flounder around, not really having any idea what is happening. 

It's a long and quite complex story, but it's also a clever and tense look at how a tragedy can shape people, how long-time grudges and events can manifest themselves years later, creating chaos and unhappiness for all. 

Tell Me Your Secrets is chilling and unsettling. The characters can appear naive at times, but this makes them appear human and more realistic. A study in grief, trauma and also a great thriller. Recommended.


Mel McGrath is an Essex girl, co-founder of Killer Women, and an award-winning writer
of fiction and non-fiction. 
As MJ McGrath she writes the acclaimed Edie Kiglatuk series of Arctic mysteries. 
As Melanie McGrath she wrote the critically acclaimed, bestselling memoir Silvertown. 
As Mel McGrath she is the author of the bestselling psychological thrillers Give Me the Child, The Guilty Party and Two Wrongs.

Twitter / X @mcgrathmj

Instagram @mcgrathmelj






Tuesday 28 November 2023

Upstairs At The Beresford by Will Carver BLOG TOUR #UpstairsattheBeresford @will_ carver @OrendaBooks #BookReview #CarverCult #NoPlaceLikeHome

 


There are worse places than hell…

 Hotel Beresford is a grand, old building, just outside the city. And any soul is welcome.

 Danielle Ortega works nights, singing at whatever dive bar will offer her a gig. She gets by, keeping to herself. Sam Walker gambles and drinks, and can't keep his hands to himself. Now he's tied up in a shoe closet with a dent in his head that matches Danielle's broken ashtray. 

 The man in 731 has been dead for two days and his dog has not stopped barking. Two doors down, the couple who always smokes on the window ledge will mysteriously fall.

 Upstairs, in the penthouse, Mr Balliol sees it all. He can peer into every crevice of every floor of the hotel from his screen-filled suite. He witnesses humanity and inhumanity in all its forms: loneliness, passion and desperation in equal measure. All the ingredients he needs to make a deal. 

 When Danielle returns home one night to find Sam gone, a series of sinister events begins to unfold. But strange things often occur at Hotel Beresford, and many are only a distraction to hide something much, much darker…


Upstairs At The Beresford by Will Carver was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 9 November 2023. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour 



As much as I adore Will Carver and his extraordinary books, he is that one author who makes me reconsider my aim to review every book that I read. It's not often that I'm lost for words, but Carver often silences me with his often grotesque, but always perfectly formed characters. Upstairs At The Beresford is a prequel of sorts. For anyone who entered the doors of The Beresford in his 2021 novel of the same name, this is a enrapturing look at how that place came to be. Do not worry if this is the first time that you've checked into the Beresford though, it's also a fabulous stand-alone story. 

When you open a novel by Will Carver you know just what to expect whilst also not knowing anything at all. His unique take on life, people, communities - the good, the evil and the lost and lonely is absolutely stunning. The reader may recoil when reading some passages, whilst others will leave a lump in the throat. This is real life, but Carver style. 

The Beresford sits outside the city, it could be any city; New York, London, Birmingham, Toronto, any of those. Everyone is welcome to take a room here. The manager, Carol, will not turn you away, but she will know everything there is to know about you, she will know if you sold your soul, and she will know if you did it for yourself, or to save someone else. Carol has been at The Beresford for more years than even she can remember, she runs a tight ship. She's adept in clearing away bodies, and bodily fluid and sometimes she also makes them reappear again. 

Carver has created a cast of residents staying in the Beresford, from the innocent and good Odie and his dysfunctional parents, to the soulful Danielle who flits about seeing everything and nothing, to the man in the penthouse who everyone is beholden to. 

There is so much to take away from this book. Carver's look at the toxicity that seems to rule the world, the destruction of our planet and the selfish greed and arrogance of man is just on the nail. He cleverly weaves these observations into the narrative, it never sounds preachy, it's also perfectly aligned to the character voice. 

So much happens in this trip to the Beresford, too much to detail in a review, but be warned, there are things that will stick in your mind and cast a black mark on your soul ...... if you haven't already sold it that is. 

Once more, the genius that is Will Carver has produced a novel that is laced with dark black humour, alongside characters who will haunt your dreams. This guy is so slick, so devilishly clever. The book is both horrific and gentle, an ode to humanity, and beyond.  Highly recommended. 




Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. 

He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. 
He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. 
He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. 

His title Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express.


X / Twitter @will_carver

Instagram @will_carver





Monday 27 November 2023

This Thing of Darkness by Nicola Edwards #ThisThingOfDarkness @nicanned @AderynPress @WriterForster #BookReview

 


The storm that dismantles a dynasty…

1780. Wild and windswept Yorkshire. Sixteen-year-old Heathcliff runs from the only home he has ever known in a squall of pain and fury.

Blown into an inn on the edge of the moors, sodden, rejected, and hankering for revenge, he steals a horse and sets out for Liverpool in search of answers. The town he arrives in is a brutal new world, brimming in equal measure with risk and opportunity. Here, Heathcliff might map his future, make his fortune, forge a role for himself. But at what cost…

Reimagining the three years during which Heathcliff is absent from Wuthering Heights, This Thing of Darkness traverses countries and oceans in pursuit of one of literature's best known characters.


This Thing of Darkness by Nicola Edwards was published by Aderyn Press on 2 November 2023. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Wuthering Heights, the first and only novel from Emily Brontë is considered one of the greatest novels ever written. A story of toxic love and obsession, dealing with issues around mental health and domestic violence, it has to be said that the character of Heathcliff is probably one of the most complex male leads ever imagined. 

Only Emily Brontë really knows what happened to Heathcliff during the lost three years. When he was absent from the wild moorlands, but Nicola Edwards has created a thrilling and at time brutally uncomfortable version of those missing three years. 

Told from the perspective of various characters who had an impact on his life, this is a beautifully written story that complements the original text so very well. Abe Earnshaw narrates the first part, a prequel if you like, explaining how Heathcliff initially came to the Heights, we are then taken forward to the same town of Gimmerton as Heathcliff makes his escape. From the streets of Liverpool, to the slave ships in the Caribbean, Nicola Edwards vividly describes the different landscapes and allows her readers to experience Heathcliff's journey so very well. 

Heathcliff is a brutal man, damaged without doubt, with varying degrees of loyalty to those that he encounters. He leaves a legacy of cruelty and despair where ever he goes, thinking nothing of betraying those who have aided him, thinking only of a future wealth and his one big obsession; Cathy Earnshaw.

The writing is beautiful, it is stark and vivid, with characters who are so completely and wonderfully created. The sense of place and atmosphere is wonderfully presented, layered with the violence and toxicity that is Heathcliff. 

This is such a fabulous piece of historical fiction and one that kept me turning the pages eagerly to find out just what terrible things Heathcliff would do next. Highly recommended.



Nicola Edwards is a PhD candidate at the University of Bangor and teaches English and Classics in a school in North Wales. 
Nicola has worked as a journalist and has lectured on race and representation in the media for Race Council Wales. 
Her non-fiction writing has appeared in Wales Arts Review. 

This Thing of Darkness, her first novel, won the Michael Schmidt Prize at the Manchester Writing School.


X / Twitter @nicanned

Instagram @nic_writes



Thursday 23 November 2023

What I Hid From You by Heleen Kist #WhatIHidFromYou @hkist #BookReview

 


After the death of a patient in her care, Radha begins taking Valium to control her anxiety.

She tells herself she’s fine, but as the pressures of being a perfect wife, mother and daughter mount, her little habit spirals into addiction.

When she’s forced to find a new source of pills, she stumbles into the blackmailing clutches of Glasgow’s underworld.

A mistake that could cost her everything.

They give her an impossible choice: face personal and professional ruin or have blood on her hands by helping them deal.

As she fights to protect all she holds dear, can she protect herself?


A gripping and emotional suspense novel about a woman who risks it all to juggle it all.



What I Hid From You by Heleen Kist was published in June 2022. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review. 

This is one of those thrillers that you settle down with, and a couple of hours later you are still hooked. I read this on holiday, and it was the perfect choice for a bit of escapism, with a lot of tension whilst enjoying the luxury of being able to read for hours in the sun. 

I don't think I've ever read a thriller where the lead character is a dentist, it's certainly something a little different and Radha is certainly that. She's Indian heritage, living and brought up in Scotland, married to her business partner and watched constantly by her elderly father Gunbir. The practice that Radha and her husband Arjun own and manage was passed on to her by Gunbir, and he finds it hard to let go. 

Radha and Arjun have one son who attends an exclusive school locally.  Radha seems to take on the weight of the world whilst Arjun floats around, performing cosmetic procedures on his private wealthy patients. Radha treats ordinary, everyday people, she also has to ensure that Gunbir is OK, that her son is doing what is supposed to and be part of the glamour wife and mother set too. She's also battling a secret addiction to prescription painkillers. 

An elderly woman died in Radha's chair and whilst the investigation into the incident has shown that she wasn't to blame, she cannot bear the flashbacks and the feelings of guilt. Forging the odd prescription for Valium seems to be the answer. Every time she does it, she tells herself that it's the last time ....

Eventually Radha realises that she can no longer risk the reputation of the surgery and turns to the dark web to order more drugs. She feels dirty and ashamed, but feels absolute terror when she realises that these are not some anonymous dealers from far away. No, this gang know her, they know her family and they hold a grudge. Radha has no idea about the history between the dealers and her own father, but it's really not nice and now they are all in danger.

This novel is cleverly structured. We hear the point of view of both Radha and Gunbir throughout and this ties together the present day, and the historical events so very well. I enjoyed the author's insight into the world of a woman of colour, in business and also in motherhood. Radha tries her very best but is constantly exhausted by the effort of just being herself. 

The tension increases towards the latter quarter of the book and all of the streams of the story are woven together well to create a revelatory ending.  This is great crime fiction, populated with some fabulously drawn characters in a setting that is away from the norm. Recommended by me. 



Heleen Kist is a Dutch, formerly globetrotting career woman who fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its people from her garden office in Glasgow. 

She was chosen as an up-and-coming new author at Bloody Scotland 2018. 

Her novels have been finalists in a range of awards, both in the UK and USA. 

She yearns to one day 'be the bride'. 

Heleen hopes you enjoy her writing and would love to hear from you on twitter (@hkist), Faceboook (@heleenkistauthor) or Goodreads. You can also sign up to her newsletter on www.heleenkist.com.