Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Travel

A Question of Country Sue Parritt 4* #Review @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #Australia #Emigrating #Migrants #1970s LiteraryFiction #social #feminisim #women #marriage #career #family #relationships #historicalfiction #BlogTour #BookReview

On Christmas Eve 1969, a letter from Australia House, London, brings welcome news for newly-weds Anna and Joseph Fletcher.

Young and idealistic, Anna falls passionately in love with their adopted land. Seven months later, an unexpected event causes their life to take a stressful turn.

Years pass, and Anna retreats to a fictional world she has created. But when a different challenge presents itself, does she have the courage to take the risk… or will she take refuge in fantasy?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An interesting novel. Set predominately in Australia, in the 1970s, it traces the lives of a young couple who emigrated from England to Australia in 1970. Prejudice and social injustice are explored, on their voyage to their new home. The details of life as a migrant in Australia, build the world Anna and Joe find themselves in. Anna loves her new country but when her circumstances change the rose coloured glasses cloud a little.

Told in the third person, it reads like a memoir. Anna’s emotional struggles are believable, and her escape into literature is relatable. A flawed, pioneering woman, Anna highlights the forgotten in society insightfully.

This historically based novel is intrinsically interesting and thought-provoking.

Sue Parritt

Originally from England, Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories, articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:

Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2014.

Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2016.

The Sky-Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.

Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017

Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year-old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

Feed Thy Enemy, based on her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

A Question of Country explores the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity. Next Chapter (formerly Creativia Publishing), 2020.

Sue’s current project, working title: Twenty-eight Days, first in The Doorkeeper series,isset in Southern Australia in 2100. It deals with overpopulation and extended life expectancy in an increasingly climate-challenged world and the inhumane solutions adopted by a government determined to rid Australia of unproductive citizens.

Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism.  Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Humour, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Motivational, Romance

To Lahore With Love – Hina Belitz 5*#Review @Hina_Belitz @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #LiteraryFiction #humour #SelfRealisation #Lahore #Life #Family #Food #Cooking #Ancestry #Faith #motivational #recipes

A truly feel-good novel to warm the heart, tickle the taste buds and take you on the journey of a lifetime 

Addy Mayford has always struggled with her identity. Brought up in a household of stories, food and faith by her Irish mother and Pakistani Nana, she feels constantly torn between the two sides of her upbringing. Since the death of her father, she’s found contentment cooking delicious recipes from his home city of Lahore, despite the protestations of her mother that being a chef is no career for a young woman. It’s only with the love of her gorgeous husband, Gabe, that she’s truly found happiness. 

When Addy stumbles across a secret that shatters her entire world, she desperately needs to escape and is drawn to the sights of Lahore and the family she’s never known. Waiting for her there is Addy’s final acceptance of who she is, and a long-buried family secret that will change her life for ever. 

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I love to learn, and this story presents plenty of opportunities to explore a different culture. I also love to cook, and as each chapter begins with a recipe, this makes delightful reading for anyone who loves cooking. The power of food and its therapeutic qualities are a theme of this story. Each recipe has a section called, the artistry, which describes what the food achieves, and why. The story follows Addy’s young life, before and after, a traumatic event occurs. She has a multicultural upbringing, all-female, the men in her life distant memories until Gabe.

The trip to Lahore is life-affirming in the company of her only friend Jen, and her beloved Nana. There is so much of interest in this story, written with clever visual imagery that invigorates all the reader’s senses. Addy is lovely, down to earth, with a wicked sense of humour, which balances the story’s poignant moments.

The writing style is eloquent, informed and insightful. A thought-provoking way to taste life, through the power of ancestry, culture and food, as Addy takes a life journey she will never forget.

Hina Belitz

HINA BELITZ is an author and renowned equal rights lawyer. Born in Pakistan to an Indian father and a mother of Iranian, Afghan and Indian descent, Belitz was brought up in Hampshire – a place starkly different to her parent’s home city of Lahore, and where she was the only Asian person in her school. Her debut novel, SET ME FREE, was critically acclaimed and led to her being interviewed by Morgan Freeman and starring in a National Geographic documentary about love. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including the Guardian and the BBC. 

A lot of the narrative in TO LAHORE, WITH LOVE has its roots in Hina’s own life experience.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Literary Fiction, New Books, Travel

We Are Animals Tim Ewins 4* #Review @EwinsTim @EyeAndLightning @rararesources #humour #fiction #BlogTour #BookReview LiteraryFiction #LightningBooks #Friendship #Goa #Loss #Love #travel #Serendipity #multigenerational

A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.

Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and, indeed, his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.

Jan has not. In his long search, he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

Will…

Not…

Leave.

But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?

Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heartwarming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).

For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.

Amazon UK (Only 99p for a limited time)

Amazon


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

My Thoughts…

The imagery in this book is clever and enhances the everyday occurrences, making them something special. The description of the beach and its users seen through Manjan’s eyes is the first example of this. The people and the cow, all have an opinion and a purpose, as they share events from their lives. The animals’ actions and thoughts mirror the people throughout the book.

Manjan’s story is poignant and serendipitous. The author makes many of his astute observations through the man who has spent much of his life waiting. There is a balance of humour and sadness, which lets the reader appreciate the emotion and comical aspects of the story. Retrospectively, you learn how Jan ends up the beach in Goa. The people he meets along the way are diverse, and all add to his life journey. The characters are well written, they are authentic and relatable, and make this character-driven tale interesting.

Even if like me, you haven’t visited the places in the book, or didn’t live through the late twentieth century, which I did. the immersive story lets you experience each place and time, through its animal and human characters, and vivid imagery.

The hopeful ending encompasses the quirky nature of the story, whilst achieving a sense of completeness.

Tim Ewins

Tim Ewins has enjoyed an eight-year stand-up career alongside his accidental career in finance.

He has previously written for DNA Mumbai, had two short stories highly commended and published in Michael Terence Short Story Anthologies, and enjoyed a very brief acting stint (he’s in the film Bronson, somewhere in the background). He lives with his wife, son and dog in Bristol. We Are Animals is his first novel.

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Posted in Book Spotlight, Literary Fiction

Mile Marker 139 Cynthia Hilston #BookSpotlight @cynthiahilston @rararesources #literaryfiction #promo

At mile marker 139 along the Ohio Turnpike, a mysterious woman named Shelley Parkinson arrives at 3:14 at the rest area every night. She sits outside at one of the picnic tables, her fragile hands clutching one cigarette after another. Troubled people swirl around her, battling their own sorrows.

Gruff old janitor Mike Popkins works third shift at the facility and has been lost since his wife died, cutting himself off from his only son and going through the motions of his job. Idealistic young Sarah Wilcox whips up drinks at the happening new coffee shop at the rest stop, but her mind whips of dreams of travelling the world and living the life her late grandpa did as he drank a coffee on all corners of the globe. Heartbroken middle-aged trucker Russ Jacobs would rather spend long hours on the road than fall in love again. They all befriend Shelley. Each one desires something different, but none of them knows why she haunts the rest area.

Unexpected death, disease, and accidents force Mike, Sarah, and Russ to make hard decisions to move forward, ripping them from their pasts. Can these three motley friends find healing in their own lives and help a woman who says she doesn’t need anyone, even as her brokenness spills onto them?

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Cynthia Hilston

Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

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Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Travel

Before The Coffee Gets Cold 5* #Review Toshikazu Kawaguchi Translator Geoffrey Trousselot @picadorbooks #Toshikazu Kawaguchi #timetravel #timeslip #LiteraryFiction #Japan #CoffeeShop #Tokyo #BeforeTheCoffeeGetsCold #BookReview

#BeforeTheCoffeeGetsCold

What would you change if you could go back in time?

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early-onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .

Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story – translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot – explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Pan MacMillan – Picador Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, in a nondescript coffee shop in Tokyo. This story has only a few characters. Everyone in the coffee shop has a story, and this follows four individuals as they travel back in time, not to change the present, but to understand someone they care about better. Or, to make themselves understood. The time travel has many rules, but for those who follow them, there are surprisingly positive results.

This story is beautifully translated, and the ambience and culture come through the characters and the setting. This is an emotional, quirky tale of discord, misunderstanding, loss and love. The time travellers are ordinary people, they want the opportunity to do something different, in the past. This makes them authentic and relatable, and the story engaging.

The rules of the unexpected time travel are fixed, and give a sense of reality, in a fantasy situation. I understood this world, and therefore enjoyed the story.

Enchanting and original, but strangely believable, because of the authentic characters and the contemporary urban setting.

Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Literary Fiction

The Beginning and End of Us Rose James 3*#Review @bookouture @RoseJamesAuthor #literaryfiction #supernatural #quest #love #Aphrodite #BookReview #SaturdayMotivation

Born in a honeysuckle-choked garden, a young woman discovers her true purpose in the world moments before she’s cast out of the only home she’s ever known.

Haunted by loneliness, she begins a journey to fulfil her destiny. It is a path that will lead her into the arms of four very different men – a dreamer, a fighter, an artist and a lost soul.

But could it be the secrets she left behind – and the one person she thought she had lost forever – that hold the answers to the questions she’s seeking? For while life may take you unexpected places, truth will bring you home…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I enjoy literary fiction for the beauty of the prose, and the off-kilter subjects it explores. This story qualifies on both of these. Despite its qualities, I find it difficult to connect with the characters and therefore my enjoyment is muted.

The story follows the destiny of Aphrodite, a supernatural being whose role is to keep love in the human world. If she deviates from her path, the human world loses love, so her mission is vital for humanity. Given her role, life is a rollercoaster of emotional encounters that touch her physically and spiritually. She experiences contentment and love, but a loss is always on the horizon and these makes her journey poignant and tragic.

The structure of the plot complements the story, a series of chapters mirroring her loves. The writing style focuses on the senses and is engaging.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Political Thriller, Suspense

Three Hours – Rosamund Lupton 5* #Review @Rosamundlupton @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks #ThreeHoursNovel #politicalthriller #suspense #familydrama #thriller #literaryfiction #crimefiction #BookReview #January2020 #MondayBlogs

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16-year-old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Viking Books UK – Penguin Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

At the heart of this story is a battle of good against evil, but this is not a fantasy epic, but a believable, contemporary, real-time story, of horrific events and humanity at its best and worst.

The coastal, countryside setting intensifies the events, no one would expect this to happen in a rural idyll, but it does. Written, in an adrenaline-fueled intense style, it keeps you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages. The characters are complex and relatable, you find out a great deal about them in a short space of time and most cases, they are easy to empathise. The story manages to fuse action with deep characterisation perfectly, and the underlying research makes the story authentic.

The plot twists several times to increase the suspense and awfulness of what unfolds. The poignancy of what occurs makes this immersive, the waste of life and opportunity resonates. This is a quality story, thought-provoking and topical.

Absorbing, original and memorable.