Posted in Biography, Book Review, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Travel

The Oshun Diaries – Diane Esguerra 4* #Review @DianeLEsguerra @EyeandLightning #NonFiction #Biography #SocialBiography #Culture #religion #Africa #BookReview #GuestPost @rararesources #memoir

#TheOshunDiaries

High priestesses are few and far between, white ones in Africa even more so. When Diane Esguerra hears of a mysterious Austrian woman worshipping the Ifa river goddess Oshun in Nigeria, her curiosity is aroused.

It is the start of an extraordinary friendship that sustains Diane through the death of her son and leads to a quest to take part in Oshun rituals. Prevented by Boko Haram from returning to Nigeria, she finds herself at Ifa shrines in Florida amid vultures, snakes, goats’ heads, machetes, a hurricane and a cigar-smoking god. Her quest steps up a gear when Beyoncé channels Oshun at the Grammys and the goddess goes global.

Mystifying, harrowing and funny, The Oshun Diaries explores the lure of Africa, the life of a remarkable woman and the appeal of the goddess as a symbol of female empowerment.

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Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 30% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOUROSHUN

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#TheOshunDiaries – #BookReview

I received a copy of this book from Eye Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The cover of this book draws you in, it is vibrant and interesting and makes you want to see what’s inside.

The book is in two parts, the first associated with the meeting with the Austrian Oshun priestess in Africa, and the second with other worshipers in Florida. The professional writing style is easy reading, even if some of the content, especially in the second part is complex. The prose reads like a fictional story, full of vivid imagery, authentic characters and amazing content and events. Its historical details provide a believable setting for the diaries and it resonates.

The African experience is insightful and political, it gives meaning to some of the headlines of the time that I recall. The meeting with the charismatic, dedicated priestess, is enthralling, and it is a page-turning read.

The second part of the book is equally as honest and detailed, this is where the author truly understands what she is exploring. It is an interesting read, with the first part with its astute political comment, is the best part of the book.

A recommended read, if you enjoy adventure, culture and spiritual experiences.

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Guest Post – Diane Esguerra – Goddess for the #MeToo Era

Looking for a ballsy, bewitching goddess with green credentials to follow? Then look no further: Oshun, the ancient river goddess of the Yoruba people of West Africa, is the one for you.

        Sure, there are plenty of cool female deities around to choose from – if goddess worship is what you’re into. Amaterasu No Kami, the Japanese Goddess of the Sun and theAborigine Holy Goddess Mumuna -Who-Made-Us-All, have sizeable followings. Even old favourites like the European Great Mother and Diana and Isis the ancient deities of Rome and Egypt still appeal to a surprising number. So, what is it about Oshun that makes her so special?

Well, for a start she’s not only a goddess of love but also of female empowerment. And she’s prepared to defend to the death women’s right to be respected by men and treated as their equals. If she sees them being given a hard time her anger can be volcanic. Yet with her love of gold, honey, bathing and carrying a mirror around to admire her beauty, Oshun is quintessentially feminine and proud of her abundant sensuality.

She’s a hard worker, too, who played a key role in the Yoruba creation myth. According to the legend, primordial male gods pushed aside the female ones – including Oshun – and decided they would go about creating the earth themselves. They failed miserably. Oshun set herself up as the ringleader of the female deities and protested vigorously on their behalf to the chief deity, Olodumare. He/She gave the order that the female deities should be given the chance to have a go at creation, too. And as it turned out they made a much better job of it, and the earth as we know it came into being.

Indeed, the chief divinity was so impressed with Oshun’s efforts that He/She issued an oracle to the effect that only stupid people think a woman won’t amount to anything in life, and that negative language should never be used against women. The divinity even goes so far as to say that men should kneel and prostrate themselves before women as they have to shoulder the massive responsibility of giving birth to humankind.

Compare this respectful, life-affirming ancient African myth to the creation myth in the bible. Here, not only is Eve held responsible for tempting Adam, and therefore triggering humanity’s fall from grace, God also decides to make her well and truly suffer for it – giving the green light to the patriarchal societies that inevitably followed:

To the woman, he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain, you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:14-16)

While we’re on the subject of children, Oshun is also a fertility goddess who has the power to grant them. During the annual Oshun Festival which is held in the goddess’s birthplace – the Sacred Groves of Oshogbo in Oshun State, Nigeria – women come from as far away as China in search of a cure for infertility.

Nature is deemed precious in Oshun’s Sacred Groves. Hunting is forbidden, fishing too – even the trees can’t be chopped about. Woe betide the person who attempts to do so!

To get a closer idea of how this goddess might appear in human form look no further than Beyoncé. The most famous black female singer on the planet once appeared at the Grammy’s channelling the goddess. This multi-talented, beautiful and sensuous woman isn’t afraid to speak out for women’s rights and against injustice. And in the video which accompanies the track Hold Up on her Lemonade album, she writhes around and levitates in water before emerging in torrents of it and descending a long flight of steps in a golden gown. She then proceeds to roam the neighbourhood smashing open fire hydrants with a baseball bat in Oshun-like anger at her husband Jay Z’s alleged infidelity.

But you don’t have to be a famous singer to tap into the power of this very special goddess. Dress yourself in yellow or gold, light a candle, place a few of Oshun’s favourite items nearby: a bowl of water; a mirror; peacock feathers; honey; a couple of oranges, and then summon the goddess with the following incantation: Yeye, Ye Ye O…Yeye, Ye Ye O…Oshun.

Sit back and enjoy!

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#DianeEsguerra

Diane Esguerra is an English writer and psychotherapist. For a number of years, she worked as a performance artist in Britain, Europe and the United States, and she has written for theatre and television. She is the recipient of a Geneva-Europe Television Award and a Time Out Theatre Award. She is previously the author of Junkie Buddha, the uplifting story of her journey to Peru to scatter her late son’s ashes.

She lives in Surrey with her partner David.

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*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Posted in Book Review, Free Book, Holiday Romance, Novella, Romance, Short stories

From Antigua with Love #FreeBook #Summer @MillsandBoon @mayablake @AuthorAnnMc @Sophie_Pembroke @HeidiRomRice @AnnieONeilBooks #Antigua #HolidayReads #LetsTalkRomance #Mills&BoonModern

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Free book sent from Mills and Boon.

My Thoughts…

A lovely collection of shorts, about romance in Antigua.

Despite the brevity of the stories, the authors manage to capture the holiday island ethos and the intensity of holiday romance. All have hopeful endings, that let you imagine what comes next. Lovely Summer reading.

#LetsTalkRomance
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Romance

Being Someone Adrian Harvey 4* #Review @UrbaneBooks @ade_harvey @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #Romance #SelfDiscovery #Adventure #BlogTour#LifeChoices

#BeingSomeone #Paperback

Being Someone is a life story, a love story, a human story. 

James has fallen through life, plotting a course of least resistance, taking each day as it comes and waiting for that indefinable something to turn up, to give his story meaning. His journey lacks one vital element a fellow traveller. Then he meets Lainey. Confident. Beautiful. Captivating. And James rewrites himself to win her heart. Lainey gives James a reason to grow, paints a bright future, promises the happy ending he has sought so keenly. But when we discover we can live the greatest story of all, are we able to share the pages with someone else? 

Being Someone is an emotive tale of love, of self-discovery and adventure a story of the eternal search for happiness in another, without ultimately losing ourselves.  

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I received a copy of this book from Urbane Books in return for an honest review.

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My Thoughts…

A thought-provoking contemporary story, about life choices, and the mystery that is love.

The story begins with a story told to James, one of the protagonists, about an elephant and his mahout. The story is one of love, respect and trust, which is shattered by one careless, almost unconscious action. Leaving the elephant guilty and lonely, seeking solace by honouring his dead mahout, until his own demise. Whilst this is a beautiful, poignant tale, you, like James, question what relevance it may have to his life story until it does.

James is a twenty-first-century man, entitled, and content to let life come to him until he meets the one, Lainey, who unsettles him and makes him want more. She is a vital, passionate woman, and their love story is epic, but then life happens, and the cracks appear.

The story explores their love, the conflicts they face, both internal and external, and the consequences of the life choices they make, for their forever happiness. It is brutal in parts, and honest, and James’ often appears cold and unfeeling, but it is interesting to explore his emotions and motivations.

The settings add to the story by echoing their relationship status, The first story’s relevance becomes clear as the story progresses.

An engaging contemporary love story, and insight into relationships in the twenty-first-century.

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Posted in Book Review, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Passport to Happiness – Carrie Stone 4*#Review @CarrieStoneUK @0neMoreChapter_ #RomCom #Travel #Self-Realisation #Romance #Bermuda #Bali #NewBeginnings #BookReview #SummerRead #PassporttoHappiness

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An inspiring and escapist read – Eat, Pray, Love meets Bridget Jones!

 Will the trip of her dreams…

Everly Carter is bored.

With her job, with her single status and with the never-ending line of rubbish men on Tinder.  Tired of going through the motions of seeming happy, Everly wants to be happy!
 
So, in a spontaneous moment of bravery (perhaps spurred on by a few cocktails) Everly books a holiday.  Time away, alone, to find out what she really wants from life.

Become the journey of her lifetime?

Everly’s search for happiness takes her to picturesque Swiss villages and the sunsets of glamourous Bermuda.  But with every new stamp in her passport, Everly still feels as though something is missing…

Could it be that true happiness is hard to find until she finds herself?

Amazon UK 

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Everly isn’t happy, she’s a teacher, and she’s good at it, but after her boyfriend’s betrayal, there has to be more to life right? A spur of the moment holiday shows how unfulfilled she is, and then a friend from her past suggests an experience of the lifetime in Bermuda.

Despite the beauty of her destination, and the island’s intrinsic interest, she finds out that her friend only wants to party, which is not what she seeks. Volunteering gets Everly closer to the real Bermuda, and she likes it, but her journey isn’t done.

Heading home, a series of incidents change her mind, and she instead takes a flight to Bali, where her journey of self-realisation takes off.

This is an enjoyable book, with lovely locations, full of vivid imagery, complex characters, who mirror Everly’s progress on her journey of personal discovery, and lots of romance. Easy to read, with a lovely main protagonist, this the perfect holiday escape novel.

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Carrie was born and raised in London, but her love for travel and adventure has seen her spend the last fourteen years living and working internationally. She is currently based in Spain alongside her husband, young daughter and adopted Indonesian dog, Bali. 

Carrie is a traditionally published author with Harper Impulse, as well as an independently published author. When not writing, she works as a Psychic Medium & Spiritual Coach (www.carriebattley.com). To find out more about her, connect on Facebook (Carrie Stone) or Twitter @CarrieStoneUK

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Travel

Villa of Sun and Secrets Jennifer Bohnet 5* #Review @jenniewriter @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodblogtour #multigenerational #familydrama #AuthorInterview #SouthofFrance #VillaofSunandSecrets

It’s never too late to live the dream…

Carla Sullivan’s 50th birthday is fast approaching when her whole world is turned upside down. Discovering her feckless husband is having yet another affair and following her mother’s death, she is in need of an escape. Finding an envelope addressed to her mother’s estranged sister Josette in the South of France gives Carla the perfect plan.

Seizing the moment, she packs her bags and heads to Antibes to seek out the enigma known as Tante Josette. But as the two women begin to forge a tentative relationship, family secrets start to unravel, forcing Carla to question her life as she has always known it.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The author’s knowledge and love of France come through clearly in this story. The setting is vivid, beautiful, and sometimes in sharp contrast to the revelations at the villa.

This is a multi-generational story, a family drama, which unfolds in Tante Josette’s villa in Antibes. Carla’s life has not been easy, an unfaithful husband, looking after her sick mother, and now an empty nest, something needs to change. Finding something in her mother’s possessions gives her the opportunity of a break from her life and uncharacteristically she takes it.

This is a story of love, lies and secrets, new relationships and forgiveness. The chance to see an ending as a new beginning. The issues explored are emotionally draining, but the outcome is hopeful and makes the angst worthwhile.

The characters are flawed, sometimes they lack the courage to take the first step to something better, but they are easy to empathise and believable. The setting is a lovely contrast to the drama and emotions and the story’s ending is heartwarming.

I

Author Interview – Jennifer Bohnet – Villa of Sun and Secrets

What are the inspirations behind your story?

Villa of Sun and Secrets was inspired by the french word for memories – souvenir. Everyone has memories, some good, some bad, some unforgettable and some pushed into the deepest recess of the mind until something, somehow, draws them to the front. Some souvenirs are shared with other people, others are private to the individual and yet sometimes when other people’s private memories begin to be shared it can affect everything you’ve ever known.

What made you choose France for your setting?

I’ve lived in France for twenty years now – for a lot of the time down on the Cote d’Azur, which is a place I realised people love reading about. I’m probably more familiar with the way things are over here than I am with life in the UK these days.

Your story focuses on older women, do you find older or younger women easier to write? Why is this?

A character is a character and you have to get to know them whatever age they are and sometimes they are easier to understand and write than others. But basically, I have to admit I prefer writing about characters who have had some life experience.

When you write what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why is this?

It’s usually the setting for me – swiftly followed by the characters I place there, then they help me to work out the storyline and the plot.

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

It’s a mixture of both but probably 85% imagination. And I really don’t know the answer to the last part of the question although I do try and ensure that they have flaws which hopefully makes them realistic in the reader’s eyes.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

There are so many authors out there I enjoy reading, but there are a few whose new books I look forward to and buy without hesitation. Veronica Henry, Erica James, Marcia Willett, Jill Mansell are four writers I admire hugely. They draw you in from the first page, their characters are superbly drawn and their stories just flow.

When did you start writing? What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

It feels as though I’ve never, not written to be honest, but it was coming to France that really gave me the time and the space to start writing short stories, serials and finally novels. Before that, I wrote features and lifestyle pieces for various papers. I love finally being able to write full-time. The worst?  Social media to be honest – so much promo has to be done and it takes away from writing time.

 
What are you currently writing?

My next book which is again set in France, tells the story of 4 women, strangers to each other, on holiday on the Riviera, is currently with my editor and I’m awaiting edits. In the meantime, I’m starting to re-edit my backlist which Boldwood Books will be re-issuing soon.

Jennifer’s bio – Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 10 women’s fiction titles, including Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera and The Little Kiosk By The Sea. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance

An Elegant Solution Anne Atkins 4* #Review @anne_atkins @malcolmdown #Mystery #crime #friendship #romance #autism #BlogTour #BookReview #LoveBooksTours #LiteraryFiction @LoveBooksGroup #MondayBlogs #Cambridge

#LoveBooksTours – An Elegant Solution – Anne Atkins

When someone mentions the City of Cambridge you probably think of an iconic building, its four corners stretching out of the once medieval mud and into the arms of everlasting heaven, its white limestone yearning into eternity… and without even knowing exactly what ephemeral joys or permanent wonders the vision brings to mind, it’s a safe bet that the one thought which does not occur to you is that the Chapel might not be there by Christmas.

Theo (Theophilus Ambrose Fitzwilliam Wedderburn to his friends) is a Junior Research Fellow in Number Theory. Prompted by a supervisee to demonstrate how to trace the provenance of bitcoins, Theo happens across a shocking revelation, with embarrassing ramifications for the whole University. Meanwhile, he is being stalked unseen by someone from his childhood. To his annoyance, Theo falls for a cheap con… and discovers a horror set not only to rock the very seat of power itself but to change the face of Cambridge and its beautifully iconic image forever.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This book is on one level, like its title, elegant, the setting in Cambridge draws you into the iconic place, where, in some ways, nothing has changed. The criminal threat and technological mystery, impose the contemporary world on the academic establishment, causing ripples and threatening the people and ancient buildings.

The characters are what makes this story stand out. I did find it difficult to get into initially, but Theo and Charlotte have an intriguing relationship, that faces both internal and external conflict. Theo’s character is significant and gives an honest portrayal of autism and how it affects the individual’s perception of the world, and those around him.

The detailed theory will not be for everyone, but even if that is not for you, there is still a lovely character-driven drama to enjoy.

Anne Atkins

Anne Atkins is a well-known English broadcaster and journalist, and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. She took an involuntary, and long, break from writing fiction when her son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, their daughter repeatedly hospitalized with a severe illness, and finally, the family was made homeless. Thankfully those dark days are now behind her and she and her husband Shaun along with some of her children now live happily in Bedford, England.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post

The Time of Our Lives Abby Williams 4* #Review @fionajourno @Aria_Fiction @HoZ-Books #MultiGenerational #Friendship#SecondChances #NewBeginnings #BlogTour #GuestPost

Two women from two very different generations are brought together through dramatic circumstances and help each other to forge new paths.

Twenty-six-year-old Erin has everything she’s ever wanted – a good job, a gorgeous fiancé and a best friend who’s always there for her. But suddenly her life comes crashing down around her. Unable to return home to her parents, she takes a room in a house nearby and her life starts over in the most unexpected of ways…

Seventy-six-year old Lydia, who, shocked by the sudden death of her husband, is devastated to discover that he has left her in crippling debt. With no choice but to take in a lodger, Erin comes into her life. When they find a letter hidden in the attic old secrets come to light and, with Erin by her side, Lydia finds herself going on a trip of a lifetime.

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A delightful multi-generational story of love, loss, friendship and new beginnings.

Erin’s life implodes, when she is betrayed by those she loves, she needs to escape, to rebuild her life. Lydia still in shock from her sudden bereavement, finds that loss isn’t the only emotion she has to contend with. Her financial security is compromised, and taking in lodger seems the only way to make ends meet. The unlikely pair, find that material security isn’t the only benefit of living together, and they forge a friendship that opens up a new lease of life for both.

A chance discovery, reveals more family secrets, and a chance to experience something special for both women.

This is a story full of emotion and poignancy, but there are plenty of humorous moments too. Lydia is a witty woman, and Erin soon realises that age is no barrier to a true friend.

A lighthearted, emotional read, with characters who you can empathise and a heartwarming ethos.

#TheTimeofOurLives
Naked Saunas – The Inspiration behind The Time Of Our Lives– Abby Williams

I’ve always enjoyed running. Not only is it a great stress reliever, it’s great for allowing you to eat lots of cake, and also great for me, as I usually find all my best novel ideas come to me when I’m pounding the pavement.

The idea for The Time Of Our Lives was no different. One summer’s evening, I was out with my running club, when Nella, my lovely Finnish friend started telling us all about the naked saunas she and her fellow Finns all enjoyed back home! Cue much hilarity amongst us British girls who were positively squeamish at the thought of showing off our bits and pieces to all and sundry. Not so for Nella. She said she thought it was a good thing – young and old came together to enjoy simple pleasures. Inhibitions and modesty were left at the door she said, and real, lasting connections were formed, regardless of age.

She was right. It was us Brits that were repressed. After that conversation, I couldn’t get the idea of these generations coming together and although I didn’t really want to write about naked saunas, (Sorry Nella, it was a step too far), what did strike a chord was the idea of age being no barrier to friendship. It was then I knew that what I wanted to write about next was the power of friendship.

And so I found millennial Erin and almost-octogenarian, Lydia. Two women who come to need each other more than they can ever realise after their lives implode in very unexpected ways.

The moment I hit upon the idea I found I couldn’t wait to spend time with my characters. Lydia and Erin became as real to me as any of my friends and family, and I found their friendship as charming and inviting as any relationship I’ve experienced in real life. It was funny because even though I never wrote about naked saunas the image Nella created for me that day was so strong, I only had to shut my eyes and I could see young and old coming together, laughing, sharing, joking and confiding about all manner of things to bond Lydia and Erin.

And so no, there are no naked saunas in this book, but there’s still lots of running for me. The last time I ran with the girls we started talking about the best places to go to the loo on a long run…someone mentioned the bushes and Paula Radcliffe. Safe to say, that hasn’t inspired anything in me quite yet.

Fiona Ford – Abby Williams

Abby Williams is the pseudonym for Fiona Ford, writer of romantic up-lit and historical fiction. Fiona started out as a freelance journalist for titles such as Grazia, Sunday Mirror and Stylist before realising her passion lay in novels. Now she spends her days immersed in made-up worlds and reckons she has the very best job in the world. When she’s not writing, Fiona is a gym nut, but only so it means she can eat lots of cake and drink lots of wine – not necessarily in that order. She lives in Berkshire with her husband and two cats who she sometimes thinks she might love just a little bit more than all the humans she knows. The Time of Our Lives is her first romantic novel and she is now busy scribbling away her second.

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