Monday, 27 September 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt


Delighted to host a stop on this blog tour today

Harper 360
16 September 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and to Random Things Tours for the invitation to the blog tour

Forbidden friendship, political conspiracy and incendiary passion draw Australian woman Annie Brand deep into the glamour and turmoil of 1920s Shanghai. Leaving behind the loneliness and trauma of her past in country Australia, Annie Brand arrives to the political upheaval and glittering international society of Shanghai in the 1920s. 

Journeying up the Yangtze with her new husband, the ship's captain, Annie revels in the sense of adventure but when her husband sends her back to Shanghai, her freedom is quickly curtailed. Against her will, Annie finds herself living alone in the International Settlement, increasingly suffocated by the judgemental Club ladies and their exclusive social scene: one even more restrictive than that she came from. Sick of salacious gossip and foreign condescension, and desperate to shake off the restrictions of her position in the world, Annie is slowly drawn into the bustling life and otherness of the real Shanghai, and begins to see the world from the perspective of the local people, including the servants who work at her husband's Club. 

But this world is far more complex and dangerous than the curious Annie understands and, unknowingly, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue and conspiracy as well as a passionate forbidden love affair she could not have predicted: one with far–reaching consequences...

πŸ“– My Thoughts...

When The Shanghai Wife opens, Annie Brand, and her new husband, Alec, are on board a river boat travelling along the Yangtze river but following the news of significant unrest, Annie is advised to get off the boat, leaving her husband, as the boat’s captain, to continue with the dangerous journey alone with his crew. 

However, returning to Shanghai isn’t what Annie had in mind but with no choice other than to do what’s expected of her, she soon finds that waiting for Alec's return, and living her life alone, in Shanghai, isn’t going to be easy. Annie soon finds that rather than be part of the gossipy nature of her fellow expats, she is drawn ore sympathetically towards the lives of the local people. However, as she gets drawn deeper into the real Shanghai, so Annie finds herself caught up in intrigue, danger and forbidden friendships.

The story flows well and the author brings everything to life with imaginative flair and a sympathetic look at the vagaries of history.  I particularly enjoyed discovering what life was like in Shanghai in 1925, and there is much to discover about the political implications of this particular time in China’s troubled past. I enjoyed how the author based the story of The Shanghai Wife on her grandmother’s experiences and so, with her authentic descriptions, 1920s Shanghai comes alive in this interesting historical novel.

About the Author

Emma Harcourt has worked as a journalist for over 25 years, in Australia, the UK and Hong Kong. In 2011, she completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and The Shanghai Wife was borne. Emma lives in Sydney with her two daughters. She is currently working on her second novel.

Twitter @emma_harcourt #TheShanghaiWife



Saturday, 25 September 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ On A Distant Ridgeline by Sam Reese


Platypus Press
14 September

My thanks to the publishers and Isabelle Kenyon for my copy of this book

In his second collection, on a distant ridgeline, Sam Reese creates twelve vivid and tenderly drawn tales with moments and memories that linger just out of reach. Between the past and present and potential reconciliations —and with a keen eye on the subtle balance of human connection—relationships and their fractured qualities are central to this new gathering of stories.

πŸ“– My thoughts...

On A Distant Ridgeline is an interesting collection of twelve short stories which are easy to dip into and out of at whim. I enjoyed the finely balanced style of writing and the creative use of language which the author offers in each of these creatively written short stories. There is much to consider and reveal but I won't spoil any of them by recounting their content except to say that I found something to enjoy and consider in each of the individual stories.

Sometimes, in my experience, short stories can be a little disappointing, containing just one or two good ones, with the rest making up the word count, but not so with On A Distant Ridgeline as all the stories deserve equal recognition and show the author's skill in making each story flow so beautifully. The author has an interesting way of saying much in a few words and blends and controls everything with fine skill.

I think the concept of small, considerate connections is what I will take away from this finely written anthology of short stories.

About the Author

Hailing from Aotearoa, Sam Reese is an awardwinning writer, critic, and teacher. Currently a lecturer in creative writing at York St John University, he is the author of the short story collection Come the Tide and non-fiction books on jazz, literature and loneliness, American short fiction, and Cold War politics.

Twitter @Svhreese #onadistantridgeline



Friday, 24 September 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ I have Something to Tell You by Susan Lewis


Thrilled to host one of today's blog tour stops

Harper Collins
16 September 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book
and to Random Things Tours for the invitation to be part of the tour

High-flying lawyer Jessica Wells has it all. A successful career, loving husband Tom and a family she adores. But one case – and one client – will put all that at risk.

Edward Blake. An ordinary life turned upside down – or a man who quietly watched television while his wife was murdered upstairs? With more questions than answers and a case too knotted to unravel, Jay suspects he’s protecting someone…

Then she comes home one day and her husband utters the words no-one ever wants to hear. Sit down… because I've got something to tell you….

Now Jay must fight not only for the man she defends, but for the man she thought she trusted with her life – her husband.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Jessica Wells is a successful lawyer who is called upon to take the criminal defense case of Edward Blake who has been accused of murdering his wife. From the beginning Jessica (Jay) firmly believes in Edward's innocence and is going to do all she can to to prove it. However, with her mind firmly fixed on the murder case Jay is then little prepared when a devastating revelation from her husband sends her own family life into free fall.

Oh, what a tangled web is revealed in this fascinating story as not only do we get an intimate sense of what really happened to Edward's wife but we also get a fly on the wall view of Jay's family dynamics and watch how this personal family drama impacts on her professional life. 

In terms of murder plot and whodunit there is much to take in, and the story overall has some clever twists and turns which I really didn't see coming. However, I have Something to Tell You is not just a murder mystery as digging deeper into the narrative an emotional story starts to emerge about Jay's fractured relationship with her husband, Tom.

In I have Something to Tell You this talented author brings to life a set of believable characters, and places them very carefully into the heart of a complicated, and emotionally, fraught story about shattered lives, which are irrevocably changed by secrets, bad decisions, deception and lies.

About the Author

Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including One Minute Later, My Lies, Your Lies and Forgive Me. Susan’s novels have sold nearly three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s.

Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s lived in Hollywood and the South of France, but now resides in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dogs.

Twitter @susanlewisbooks #IHaveSomethingToTellYou



Wednesday, 22 September 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Kinship of Djinns by Ambreen Hameed and Uzma Hameed


Fired Umber Books
Undying Book #1

My thanks to Cameron Publicity for my copy of this book

It is 1998 in South London and the Malik sisters – in their thirties and still not married – are black sheep among the local British Pakistani community. However, they are about to be reunited with their long-lost childhood playmate, Heathrow – so named for the Terminal 3 concourse on which he was discovered as an abandoned toddler. Heathrow’s heroic return is causing great anticipation in the Malik family. After all, he’s still single, and he’s even a Muslim.

As far as their long-suffering parents are concerned, it is biologist Sufya, the elder sister - the one who in Zarina’s eyes always gets first pick– who is the logical betrothed for Heathrow. But as she (to her own surprise) finds herself falling for a man approved by her family, Sufya is unaware that her younger sister has secretly loved Heathrow for years, and is no longer willing to settle for leftovers. In fact, Zarina is determined to overturn her destiny, even if it means resorting to dubious occult practices to get her man.

But there is more to their enigmatic hero than either sister knows, and when Heathrow disappears in mysterious circumstances, both sisters will have to unravel the mystery in a world where everything has changed.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Undying:The Kinship of Djinns is set during the latter part of the twentieth century when the Malik sisters, both in their thirties are still unmarried which is, according to their family, quite shameful. The only problem is that both Sufya and Zarina both love the same childhood sweetheart who they haven't seen for years.  When, Heathrow, their first love, returns to the UK after a thirteen year absence, it causes emotional turmoil for both sisters and that's when the story starts to get interesting.

To be honest it took me a while to gel with the story but overall I thought this was a refreshing read with all sorts of complicated sibling and family dynamics which is told by the two very different personalities of Sufya and Zarina. Their shared experience in a British Pakistani family comes to life in alternating chapters, some of which are quite short and snappy, whilst others are more complex. And as their individual stories continue some important family, and political issues, are highlighted.

Undying: The Kinship of Djinns is the first of two books, the story continues in Undying:My Uncle's Son.

About the Authors

AMBREEN HAMEED is a television producer and journalist. Ambreen’s career in television began at the BBC on the Asian programme, Network East, after which she worked for London Weekend Television, on its flagship current affairs show, The London Programme. She was series producer of the award-winning Channel 4 series Devil’s Advocate presented by Darcus Howe. Three of her London Programmes were nominated for Royal Television Society awards including an hour-long Special on the experiences of Black and Asian officers in the Metropolitan Police Service. Other career highlights include the award-winning series Second Chance for Channel 4, and Dispatches. She has also written for New Statesman and a short story for Radio 4’s Pier Shorts.

UZMA HAMEED is a writer, director and dramaturg, working in theatre and dance. In 2015 she was dramaturg to choreographer Wayne McGregor on the Royal Ballet’s multi award-winning production of Woolf Works. She has since collaborated with him on Obsidian Tear (2016), Multiverse (2016) and The Dante Project - Inferno (2019) for the Royal Ballet, and on Company Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography (2017). She has also worked with choreographer Cathy Marston on Northern Ballet’s Victoria (2019), which won the Sky Arts/South Bank Show award for dance.

In 1997 she founded The Big Picture Company, a theatre company which quickly gained a reputation for its innovative visual style, combing new writing with choreography and film. For Big Picture, she wrote and directed plays which toured extensively around the UK and enjoyed London seasons at The Young Vic, BAC and Riverside Studios. From 2002-2005 Uzma was Associate Director at Derby Playhouse.

Uzma has directed for Kali Theatre, led projects at the National Theatre Studio and given talks and workshops for a variety of organisations including The Royal College of Art, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Edinburgh International Festival and Playwrights Studio Scotland.

Both Ambreen and Uzma Hameed live in the London area.

Twitter @AmbreenHameed @UzmaHameedRexha #Undying


Tuesday, 21 September 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Whisper Cottage by Anne Wyn Clark

Avon Books UK
2 September 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

When Stina and Jack move to an old rural cottage, they’re hoping for a fresh start. Their new home is run-down compared to their neighbour’s, but generous Mrs Barley quickly becomes a friend.

Until Stina sees a mysterious figure in the widow’s garden, and her happy new life begins to unravel. And when she hears strange noises in the night, she is forced to question if Mrs Barley is what she seems.

Why do the other villagers whisper about her? Why is she so eager to help the couple? And what is she hiding in her picture-perfect home?

πŸ“– My Thoughts...

Stina and Jack move into Wisteria Cottage in an idyllic rural village where they are hoping to make a new start and with a baby on the way their life appears complete. Living next door to them is Mrs Barley, an elderly widow, who is something of an enigma but who is really very kind to her new neighbours. For a while Stina and Jack disregard the rumours which abound in the village that Mrs Barley is something of an oddity, however, when strange things start to happen, the atmosphere in Wisteria Cottage starts to become very tense indeed.

Whisper Cottage has a nice sense of mystery and there is a creepiness to the narrative which edges along quite slowly which I think only adds to the tension. The author maintains this air of suspicion throughout the story and there’s a creepy sense of unease which lasts until the end which pulls quite a punch. Mrs Barley is an interesting character and she definitely makes an impact whenever she appears in the story, however, she keeps her secrets close and as Stina and Jack discover, some secrets are better left hidden.

Whisper Cottage is an interesting debut novel with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.

About the Author

Anne Wyn Clark was born and raised in the Midlands where she continues to live with her husband and son, plus a chinchilla with attitude. She has three now grown up children and six grandchildren. Much 0f her formative existence was spent with her head in a book, and from an early age, she grew to relish the sheer escapism afforded by reading and writing fiction. 

Twitter @EAClarkAuthor #WhisperCottage


Monday, 20 September 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ A Country Village Christmas by Suzanne Snow


Delighted to be hosting the final day this blog tour today

2 September 2021

Thorndale #4

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book
and to Katrina Powers for the invitation to the blog tour

Can the magic of Christmas and the community of Thorndale bring two lost souls together in love?

Olivia doesn't have time for Christmas or for romance - she's got a demanding career and has been burned before when it comes to love. This year, she's spending the festive season in her dad's old house, packing it up now that he's moved out. Her dad failed to mention she wouldn't be spending her time there alone ...

The last thing Olivia expects is for her surprise guest to be the very man who literally ran from her after an evening of mutual flirtation. But Tom has nowhere else to go and Olivia is determined to forget the disappointment she felt at his abandonment and instead help him find his way again.

As heavy snow keeps them inside the cottage, will their enforced confinement spark romance once again - or will it push them further apart?

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Olivia and Tom are thrown together in the most unlikeliest of circumstances and although the attraction between them is there neither of them have the energy to pursue something in which they may both get hurt. Both these lovely characters have to work out what they want from life, Tom is at a particularly difficult period in his life and workaholic Olivia, with her grown up daughter making her own way in life and Olivia's father downsizing, Olivia is left to clear out her childhood home with all the associated memories. However, fate has a funny way of intervening, and with Christmas approaching Olivia and Tom find that being thrown together, in Thorndale, isn't quite so bad after all. 

In this fourth book in the series the lovely village of Thorndale comes to life and as always the little quirks of village life are there as the community comes together for a festive Christmas. The author has certainly made this series into a lovely set of stories and whilst each can be enjoyed as a standalone read it makes sense to follow the series from the start and so get to know just what makes Thorndale such an enchanting place live.

A Country Village Christmas is a delightfully, festive story, with a thoughtful romance at its heart, which is just perfect escapism for a wintery afternoon by the fireside. 

About the Author

Suzanne Snow writes romantic, uplifting fiction with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of her characters, finding inspiration in beautiful views, old houses and abundant gardens. A Country Village Christmas is Suzanne’s fourth novel in The Welcome to Thorndale series, joining The Cottage of New Beginnings, The Garden of Little Rose, and A Summer of Second Chances, all published by Canelo.

After working in financial services and then spending several years as a stay-at-home mum, Suzanne was ready for a change. Her interest in horticulture led her to study for RHS qualifications at agricultural college in Yorkshire, enabling her to pursue a new career planting redesigned gardens.

Suzanne has sung in a choir, trained as a worship leader and raised money for charity by making huge volumes of soup for anyone she can persuade to buy it. She is an infrequent horse rider after years competing in dressage, and a ranch holiday in Montana is top of her bucket list.

She lives in Lancashire with her family and loves to read, particularly historical crime and biographies of writers. She also enjoys walking, cooking for family and friends, and watching movies, especially if they have a happy ending.

Suzanne is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.

Twitter @SnowProse




Saturday, 18 September 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Khan by Saima Mir


Point Blank
1 April 2021

My thanks to Point Blank Publishing, One World Publications
and Sofia at Midas PR for my review copy of this book

Be twice as good as men and four times as good as white men.

Jia Khan has always lived like this.

A successful lawyer, her London life is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she knew as a child, where her father headed up the Pakistani community and ran the local organised crime syndicate. Often his Jirga rule - the old way - was violent and bloody, but it was always justice of a kind.

But now her father, Akbar Khan, has been murdered and Jia must return to take his place. In the past, the police relied on him to maintain the fragile order of the streets. But a power struggle has broken out amongst the various communities and now, nobody is safe.

Justice needs to be restored, and Jia is about to discover that justice always comes at a cost.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Saima Mir came to my attention when I was invited to feature the details of the Desiblitz Festival on my blog and this author's crime novel piqued my interest. She is appearing at the Desiblitz Festival on the 25th September and tickets for the event may be obtained here.

The Festival opens today and runs until the 1st October. Saima Mir's event at the festival is on the 25th September.

Jia Khan leaves her well paid job in London and returns to her home town of Bradford for a family wedding. Jia hasn't been home for fifteen years since a tragedy forced her to leave and even though there are difficult reasons for her estrangement from her family, Jia's loyalty to them is unparalleled.

Jia's wealthy family have quite a reputation, as her father, Akbar Khan is the leader of an organised crime syndicate which he rules with his own special brand of rough justice. That the Khan's are people to be reckoned with comes across loud and clear and Jia's involvement in her family's complicated politics is heightened when her father is brutally murdered. Jia, as the eldest daughter, takes over ruling the syndicate in her father's place however, being a woman in this male dominated and very dangerous world is never going to be an easy ride.

Always respectful of the Pakistani community, their beliefs and culture, The Khan moves forward in a dramatic story which brings into question politics, prejudices and power and which highlights the uncompromising nature of the criminal underworld where neither the fainthearted, nor the weak are allowed to flourish. Old resentments fester, and with Akbar Khan gone, new criminal gangs do their best to force their way into the Khan's territory.

This intelligently written debut brings a really interesting interpretation of the gangland crime genre. The mean and moody streets of Bradford, a city in turmoil, comes vividly to life  and the author's distinctive way of creating atmosphere gives the story an authentic feel. The narrative is beautifully written and so evocative of time and place I felt as if I was in the middle of the action, with a ring side seat, watching as the dramatic events unfolded.

The Khan is a tense and pacy crime novel which has at its heart the concept of loyalty. Loyalty to family, loyalty to beliefs and loyalty to culture and it is this strong code of conduct which makes The Khan such an exciting crime drama. 

About the Author

Saima has written for The Times,Guardian and Independent. Her essay for It's Not About the Burqa (Picador) appeared in Guardian Weekend and received over 250,000 hits online in two days. She has also contributed to the anthology The Best, Most Awful Job: Twenty Mothers Talk Honestly About Motherhood. Saima grew up in Bradford and now lives in London.

Twitter @SaimaMir #TheKhan





Saima Mir's event at the festival is on the 25th September

For more information click here

For tickets to the event click  DESIblitz