Posted in Blog Tour, Suspense

The Fallen Persimmon Gigi Karagoz 4* #Review @gigi_karagoz @lovebooksgroup #Suspense #Japan #HistFic #1980s #lovebookstours #TheFallenPersimmon


Japan 1985 – a young English woman battles her conscience.
A page-turning suspense novel…

Money blows across a field, the notes slapping against the stubble of dry rice stalks. Mr Ito walks towards the irrigation ditch at the end of his field, his rubber boots kicking up dust.

Standing at the ditch, he remembers the rumour; the one about the missing English woman.

But this is Mari’s story. She knows it’s her fault that her sister died, and trying to move on, she takes a dream job teaching English in small-town Japan. It turns into a nightmare when Mari learns that she’s employed by the yakuza (Japanese mafia), and that the man she loves has his own dark secrets. When the yakuza play their final hand, Mari believes that once again, it’s all her fault.

If you like a novel that builds suspense, is set in an exotic location, has a strong female lead, and a pinch of romance; then this book is for you.

AmazonUK

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

My Thoughts…

You get a definite sense of time and place in this story. The descriptions are detailed and vivid and immerse the reader into Mari and Kate’s world. Two young women travel to Japan to teach English, Mari is running from her secrets, but they form a friendship and become flatmates. Not everything is as it seems, and the suspense builds as they try to escape their predicament.

The gently paced story written in a literary rather than commercial fiction style engages the readers’ senses with its vibrant imagery and relatable characters. The plot has surprises, and the impactful ending resonates.

Gigi has spent most of her life living and working in countries all over the world. Her big passion is travel, especially in Asia, and India is a favourite destination. Giving up a career in tourism, she qualified as a holistic therapist and worked in yoga retreats in the Mediterranean for twelve years. Currently, Gigi lives in Wiltshire with Isabella, the cat she rescued from the streets of Fethiye, in southern Turkey.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Political Thriller, Romance

Settlement Anne Stormont 5*#Review Rachel&Jack: The Skye Series @writeanne @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #motivational #Settlement #Love #BookReview #BookTour #Skye

Can love truly heal old wounds? Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest?

Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty. She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?

When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.

But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.

Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.

Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence? Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?

Will they get the chance to put things right between them?

Settlement is the sequel to literary romance novel, Displacement, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An excellent sequel to Displacement, although the story is complete and so can be read as a standalone. However, Jack and Rachel’s story is compelling, emotional and realistic, so read the first book too.

The story begins at a devastating time for Jack, his life hangs in the balance, and he regrets how he left it with Rachel. Rachel learns about Jack, and she relives her former loss of her son.

The story then reverts to the recent past from Rachel and Jack’s point of view, so the reader understands how they got to this dramatic point in their relationship. The story explores what happens after you fall in love, especially if you have emotional baggage. Jack’s track record with long-term relationships impacts on his and Rachel’s. Rachel is constantly moving forward, and is a positive person despite the loss she’s known.

There’s politics and crime as Rachel and Jack pursue their lives independently, and they add to the story’s depth and realism.

This is an addictive read, maybe because the characters are older and have lived.

I look forward to the final instalment in their love story.

Anne Stormont was born in Scotland and although she has travelled all over the world – including a teaching exchange to South Africa, four trips to Australia and several visits to the Middle East – it’s where she still lives.

She began making up stories as a child in order to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult, being busy with motherhood and working as a teacher, it took a long time and a mortality wake-up call for her to get that first book written.

She’s a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and enthusiastic gardener. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and being with her grandchildren.

Change of Life was her first novel and she has since published three more. Her books are all set in Scotland and are contemporary romances where the main characters may be slightly older but are not necessarily wiser.

You can find out more about Anne and her books at her Website 

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour

Midsummer Dreams Ian Riddle @riddleian 4*#Review @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours @MTP_Agency #MidsummerDreams

Midsummer Dreams is a lyrical history of the lives, loves and, in particular, the dreams of several of the inhabitants of the small village of Treddoch Harbour. Treddoch, as it’s referred to locally, is a fictional, atypical, once fishing, now touristy, community situated on Cornwall’s southern coast. Everybody has their dreams, though none more so than the inhabitants of Treddoch. In their case, and this is where they differ from the mainstream, as well as having their own, personal dreams, the residents of Treddoch Harbour also have the one dream, the overarching dream, that singular dream that binds them as a community. This is the dream of having a ‘good Season’. For many of them, who rely on the tourists for their income, their money’s only to be made in the summer, when the tourists are abroad. Winter months can be dire. 

The action is set on the one day, Midsummer’s Day, starting at dawn and ending with dusk. The story’s told through the voice of a tour guide as he takes the reader around the village, introducing the characters one by one, starting with the late Butcher and his Wife, now interred in the local cemetery!

“Polperro very much inspired this novel,” admits the author. “I wanted to take people beyond the daytrips they experience in these villages, to really get to know the people and what they strive for – which is a strong summer season that allows them to keep their families buoyant all year. There’s a massive collective spirit among the locals, that outsiders seldom see.”

Continuing, “I’m so thrilled that many people have likened the book to Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’. It’s a story that will capture the hearts of people from all walks of life, with its innocent undertones and deep longing for stability among forces the locals can’t control.”

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story has a quaint, quirky style which draws the reader into the Treddoch Harbour residents’ world. The reader has an omnipotent view of the village and its inhabitants, even those who are dead, through the information imparted by the tour guide.

Its originality is engaging, and it captures the tourist coastal village’s ethos perfectly. The season’s success is the Treddoch Harbour’s inhabitants’ collective dream and underpins the events on Midsummer Day.

There’s a list of players with chapters corresponding to acts in a play. Insightful character portraits and vivid descriptions make this a treat for all the senses.

Ian Riddle

I was born a long time ago now and like both Mary Wesley and Sir Christopher Bland have taken to writing rather late in life.

Following graduation from the University of East Anglia (UEA), which has subsequently become something of a literary mecca since my days there, I worked, briefly, as an Economist in London but soon moved to Cornwall, where, together with my wife, I ran my own business for many years. We lived in the small Cornish fishing village of Polperro which has provided a rich source of material for my first novel, Midsummer Dreams, due to be published Spring 2019.

I began work on the novel last January and eight months later had a rough draft ready but feeling the need of a break from it I put the manuscript to one side and thought to write just a couple of short stories. Twelve months and fifteen stories later it became clear that it was time to put this volume, Collected Writings to bed and return to where I left off, one year past, especially as I can already feel a second volume of shorts tugging at my sleeve.

After over forty years in Cornwall I crossed the Tamar and moved back to England (!) a short while ago, although only as far as Devon, where I still maintain a ‘day job’. How much longer this will last though, I’m not sure. Writing can become a seductive and powerful mistress for which one can easily develop an all consuming passion.

With thanks to Michael Terence Publishing www.mtp.agency

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

The Bitch Pilar Quintana 4*#Review #Translator Lisa Dillman @pili_quintana @WorldEdBooks @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #womenintranslation #WITmonth #FridayReads

In the jungle, dreams and nightmares coexist

Colombia’s Pacific coast, where everyday life entails warding off the brutal forces of nature. In this constant struggle, nothing is taken for granted. Damaris lives with her fisherman husband in a shack on a bluff overlooking the sea. Childless and at that age “when women dry up,” as her uncle puts it, she is eager to adopt an orphaned puppy. But this act may bring more than just affection into her home.

The Bitch is written in a prose as terse as the villagers, with storms―both meteorological and emotional―lurking around each corner. Beauty and dread live side by side in this poignant exploration of the many meanings of motherhood and love.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The expression in the female dog’s eyes, on the book cover, captures the essence of this book. There’s a sense of hopelessness and inevitability. The puppy adopted by Damaris becomes the focus of her existence. When she chooses freedom over devotion, Damaris feels cheated. This emotion darkens and turns to hate with a terrible outcome.

Full of disturbing imagery, the scenes of cruelty and despair are harrowing to read, but they resonate.
An essay on deprivation, poverty and the position of women in society, this story is a stark reminder of what’s wrong in the world.

Pilar Quintana Image Credit -Retratos en su casa en Bogota Foto Danilo Costa Cangucu Revista Semana

Pilar Quintana lives in Colombia.  She debuted with Cosquillas en la lengua in 2003, and published Coleccionistas de polvos raros in 2007, the same year the Hay Festival selected her as one of the most promising young authors of Latin America. Her latest novel, The Bitch, won the prestigious Colombian Biblioteca de Narrativa Prize, and was selected for several Best Books of 2017 lists, as well as being chosen as one of the most valuable objects to preserve for future generations in a marble time capsule in Bogotá. The Bitch is the first of her works to be translated into English.

This book has been selected to receive financial assistance from English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme supported by Bloomberg and Arts Council England. English PEN exists to promote literature and its understanding, uphold writers’ freedoms around the world, campaign against the persecution and imprisonment of writers for stating their views, and promote the friendly co-operation of writers and free exchange of ideas.

Each year, a dedicated committee of professionals selects books that are translated into English from a wide variety of foreign languages. We award grants to UK publishers to help translate, promote, market and champion these titles. Our aim is to celebrate books of outstanding literary quality, which have a clear link to the PEN charter and promote free speech and intercultural understanding.

www.englishpen.org

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

The Eliza Doll by Tracey Scott – Townsend 4*#Review @authortrace @Wildpressed @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #TheElizaDoll #1980s #FamilyDrama #Love #Friendship #relationships #SelfRealisation #BlogTour #BookReview

Ellie lives in a campervan with her dog, Jack, selling her handmade dolls at craft fairs. There is one doll that she can’t bear to finish until she comes to terms with the truth of what has happened.

The Eliza Doll is an uncompromising family drama about upheaval, off-grid living and living on the dole in 1980s England.

Set in East Yorkshire and Iceland from the eighties to the present.

WildPressedBooks Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a poignant story of a women’s life. It is part historical as it traces her time as a young woman in the 1980s with elements of family drama and relationships too. This is a relatable story of hardship, love and loss. It shows the relentless push forward of time and the fleeting quality of life.

Ellie appears to have muddled through life, but when she suffers unbearable tragedy and feels her best years have gone, she is easy to empathise. The grief process and the need to be valued for yourself underscores this story.

The flashbacks to the 1980s brought back memories for me too.

This engaging, lyrical story is full of angst and love with a believable and hopeful ending worthy of the main character.

Tracey-Scott-Townsend is the author of six novels — the most recent The Vagabond Mother (January 2020) and Sea Babies (May 2019) — all published by Wild Pressed Books and Inspired Quill Publishing. Reviews often describe her novels as poetic or painterly.

She is also a poet and a visual artist. She has a Fine Art MA and a BA (Hons) Visual Studies. She has exhibited paintings throughout the UK (as Tracey Scott). She has a long career as a workshop facilitator with community groups and in schools.

Tracey is co-director of an up-and-coming small independent publisher, Wild Pressed Books, which has a growing roster of authors and poets.

Mother of four grown-up children, Tracey spends as much time as possible travelling the UK and Europe in a camper van with her husband and two dogs, writing and editing while on the road. 

Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Spotlight, Literary Fiction

Midsummer Dreams Ian Riddle @riddleian @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours @MTP_Agency #MidsummerDreams

Midsummer Dreams is a lyrical history of the lives, loves and, in particular, the dreams of several of the inhabitants of the small village of Treddoch Harbour. Treddoch, as it’s referred to locally, is a fictional, atypical, once fishing, now touristy, community situated on Cornwall’s southern coast. Everybody has their dreams, though none more so than the inhabitants of Treddoch. In their case, and this is where they differ from the mainstream, as well as having their own, personal dreams, the residents of Treddoch Harbour also have the one dream, the overarching dream, that singular dream that binds them as a community. This is the dream of having a ‘good Season’. For many of them, who rely on the tourists for their income, their money’s only to be made in the summer, when the tourists are abroad. Winter months can be dire. 

The action is set on the one day, Midsummer’s Day, starting at dawn and ending with dusk. The story’s told through the voice of a tour guide as he takes the reader around the village, introducing the characters one by one, starting with the late Butcher and his Wife, now interred in the local cemetery!

“Polperro very much inspired this novel,” admits the author. “I wanted to take people beyond the daytrips they experience in these villages, to really get to know the people and what they strive for – which is a strong summer season that allows them to keep their families buoyant all year. There’s a massive collective spirit among the locals, that outsiders seldom see.”

Continuing, “I’m so thrilled that many people have likened the book to Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’. It’s a story that will capture the hearts of people from all walks of life, with its innocent undertones and deep longing for stability among forces the locals can’t control.”

Amazon UK

Ian Riddle

I was born a long time ago now and like both Mary Wesley and Sir Christopher Bland have taken to writing rather late in life.

Following graduation from the University of East Anglia (UEA), which has subsequently become something of a literary mecca since my days there, I worked, briefly, as an Economist in London but soon moved to Cornwall, where, together with my wife, I ran my own business for many years. We lived in the small Cornish fishing village of Polperro which has provided a rich source of material for my first novel, Midsummer Dreams, due to be published Spring 2019.

I began work on the novel last January and eight months later had a rough draft ready but feeling the need of a break from it I put the manuscript to one side and thought to write just a couple of short stories. Twelve months and fifteen stories later it became clear that it was time to put this volume, Collected Writings to bed and return to where I left off, one year past, especially as I can already feel a second volume of shorts tugging at my sleeve.

After over forty years in Cornwall I crossed the Tamar and moved back to England (!) a short while ago, although only as far as Devon, where I still maintain a ‘day job’. How much longer this will last though, I’m not sure. Writing can become a seductive and powerful mistress for which one can easily develop an all consuming passion.

With thanks to Michael Terence Publishing www.mtp.agency

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Noir

The Big Chill Doug Johnstone 4*#Review doug_johnstone @Orendabooks #TheSkelfs #BlogTour #TheBigChill #CrimeFiction #PI #noir #humour #BookReview #literaryfiction @RandomTTours

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver ’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s
ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Stories centred around funeral directors always seem to combine darkness and humour with the possibility of crime and this, in essence, is what’s going on here. This is an atmospheric novel. It has vivid imagery and vibrant characters. It’s easy to imagine the events as they unfold, and this makes it addictive reading.

The second book in the series it reads well as a standalone but if you like to know the minutiae of the characters perhaps read book one first? Told from the three main characters’viewpoints it gives the reader an omnipotent view of the story. The plot is complex and detailed but seen through the characters’ eyes riveting reading.

Character-driven you get to know each of the women well and their familial relationship. This story explores love and loss with a poignant intensity relieved by insightful touches of humour. It’s an engaging fusion of family drama, and crime detection, which works well. The Edinburgh setting is evocative and gives the story a unique edge.

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is the author of more ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a
songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s alsoplayer-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Hashim & Family Shahnaz Ahsan 4*#Review @shahnazahsan @johnmurrays #HashimFamily #literaryfiction #hisfic #Manchester #1960s #1970s #1980s

It is New Year’s Eve, 1960. Hashim has left behind his homeland and his bride, Munira, to seek his fortune in England. His cousin and only friend, Rofikul, introduces Hashim to life in Manchester – including Rofikul’s girlfriend, Helen. When Munira arrives, the group must learn what it is to be a family.

Over the next twenty years, they make their way in the new country – putting down roots and building a home. But when war breaks out in East Pakistan, the struggle for liberation and the emergence of Bangladesh raises questions about identity, belonging and loyalty.

Waterstones Hive Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

‘Hashim & Family’ is an educational and emotional journey back in time to Britain and Pakistan during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It explores the reasons for migration. What is left behind? The concept of family and home. The story captures the brutality and hope of a migrants’ life. The tenacious spirit of Hashim and his family portrayed through authentic and believable characters. The characters are flawed and vulnerable, but mostly easy to empathise.

The political and social history aspect of the story is fascinating. The imagery is often graphically detailed to emphasise the horror and terror of racial and religious war. In contrast, the ordinary family bonds which Hashim’s family share is heartwarming and uplifting. Life is challenging and often cruel, but Hashim sees only the positives.
This story is insightful and memorable.

Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Cover Reveal, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

The Eliza Doll by Tracey Scott – Townsend #CoverReveal @authortrace @Wildpressed @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Ellie lives in a campervan with her dog, Jack, selling her handmade dolls at craft fairs. There is one doll that she can’t bear to finish until she comes to terms with the truth of what has happened.

The Eliza Doll is an uncompromising family drama about upheaval, off-grid living and living on the dole in 1980s England.

Set in East Yorkshire and Iceland from the eighties to the present.

WildPressedBooks Amazon UK

Tracey-Scott-Townsend is the author of six novels — the most recent The Vagabond Mother (January 2020) and Sea Babies (May 2019) — all published by Wild Pressed Books and Inspired Quill Publishing. Reviews often describe her novels as poetic or painterly.

She is also a poet and a visual artist. She has a Fine Art MA and a BA (Hons) Visual Studies. She has exhibited paintings throughout the UK (as Tracey Scott). She has a long career as a workshop facilitator with community groups and in schools.

Tracey is co-director of an up-and-coming small independent publisher, Wild Pressed Books, which has a growing roster of authors and poets.

Mother of four grown-up children, Tracey spends as much time as possible travelling the UK and Europe in a camper van with her husband and two dogs, writing and editing while on the road. 

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery

This Lovely City Louise Hare 4*#Review @LouRHare @HQStories #London #histfic #literary #Mystery #Social #BookReview #1950s #MondayBlogs #mondaythoughts #ThisLovelyCity

The drinks are flowing.
The music is playing.
But the party can’t last.

With the Blitz over and London reeling from war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Fresh off the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door.

Touring Soho’s music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home – and it’s alive with possibility. Until, one morning, he makes a terrible discovery.

As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And, before long, the newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart.

Atmospheric, poignant and compelling, Louise Hare’s debut shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects. But, also, that there is always hope.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This atmospheric and insightful story set in London in the 1950s captures the ethos of post-war Britain still in the grasp of rationing. Lawrie is a young man drawn to England with promises of a better life. The welcome banner in the skies above the Windrush proves to be a cynical publicity stunt. The reality? Prejudice, poor housing and no jobs.

Lawrie’s secures work as a postman and works as a musician in a Soho club when he can. He has a girlfriend and a future until he offers a helping hand, and his life changes forever.

This is a well-written story with events and characters that resonate.