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

The Vagabond Mother Tracey Scott- Townsend 4*#Review #BlogTour @authortrace @Wildpressed @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #LiteraryFiction #Travel #Family #Relationships

#TheVagabondMother

Not every Vagabond is a Castaway…

Maya Galen’s oldest son, Jamie, left home eight years ago after a massive row with his parents and now Joe, her youngest child and apple of her eye, has cut off all contact with them too.

Called to Australia to identify the body of a young man, Maya is given her son’s journal. After a sleepless night, she decides that the only thing she can do is follow in Joe’s footsteps and try to discover her most basic human self. Eschewing a monetary lifestyle, from now on she must rely on her physical and emotional strength to survive.

Following Joe’s hand-drawn maps and journal entries, she travels from Australia to Denmark and beyond, meeting many other travellers along the way and learning valuable lessons.

Eventually, a crisis forces her to return home and confront the end of her marriage, but also a new understanding of what family, in the widest sense, really means.

Amazon UK

#LoveBooksTours

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

#Paperback

My Thoughts…

It’s clear from reading this book that the author has done her research, I read that the story is inspired by her young son’s travels. ‘The Vagabond Guide’ at the end of the book is provided, courtesy of his experience and the author’s thoughts as a mother. She also includes travel and work experiences from other family members, as well as her own travelling exploits.

As someone who has travelled very little, I found the book enlightening. Whilst, it didn’t give me the vagabond travelling bug, I can understand why people do this, especially someone like Maya, the main protagonist. Maya’s previous life was totally different from her travelling experience. It was losing contact with her youngest son and then recovering his journal that made her follow in her son’s footsteps.

This story is partly a travelogue, with fascinating experiences retold, of places Maya sees, the people, her fellow travellers and the food. It is also an emotional journey, feeling closer to the young son, she lost touch with. His journal guides her and us, and this is an emotional journey as much as a geographical one. This is a journey for the senses and the spirit and needs to be read with this in mind. I enjoyed it.

Relationships are an important part of this story, and it’s interesting that Maya’s daughters value her more in her absence as if they are seeing her for her true worth. Her relationship with her husband is also explored, as her independence strains the previous roles in their marriage.

Topical and timeless, if you are looking to escape and are prepared for a gamut of emotions this story is for you.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Leaves John Simmons 4*#Review @JNSim @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksTours #LiteraryFiction #UrbanFiction #1970 #HistoricalFiction #London #Community

#Leaves

Ophelia Street, 1970. A street like any other, a community that lives and breathes together as people struggle with their commitments and pursue their dreams. It is a world we recognise, a world where class and gender divide, where set roles are acknowledged. But what happens when individuals step outside those roles, when they secretly covet, express desire, pursue ambitions even harm and destroy? An observer in the midst of Ophelia Street watches writes, imagines, remembers, charting the lives and loves of his neighbours over the course of four seasons. And we see the flimsily disguised underbelly of urban life revealed in all its challenging glory. As the leaves turn from vibrant green to vivid gold, so lives turn and change too, laying bare the truth of the community. Perhaps, ultimately, we all exist on Ophelia Street.  

Amazon UK

#Leaves #BlogTour

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

#Leaves

My Thoughts…

Set mainly in 1970, in London, on a typical cul-de-sac, of the time. The story’s narrator is a young reporter, who is new to Ophelia Street, and the story, divided into the four seasons of 1970 are his impressions of the people and households he shares the street with. The narrator is a shadowy character, you don’t think about him, as the story draws you into its urban tale.

The book is beautifully written, lyrical, but what it depicts and explores is often poignant, and sometimes horrifically violent. The tragedy and violence creep up. You are not prepared for something so terrible, in amongst live’s relentless ordinariness. The impact of these events resonates.

Many of the characters are not easy to like, but you do empathise with their situation. Some of the relationships are strange, and sometimes sinister, and gut-wrenchingly sad.

The time period is faithfully represented. The sexual discrimination, misogyny and social class divide are evident. The depth of despair this period represents, with its collapse of Britain’s industrialisation, strikes and mass unemployment, add to the sense of hopelessness and inevitability this London street represents.

The literary fiction lovers will appreciate the purity of this book, the characters are complex and real, the exploration of community and humanity under pressure is engaging. If you enjoy reading, to experience how others feel and live, this book will meet your needs.

John Simmons
Image Credit:
Stuart Keegan, Bloomsbury Festival

John Simmons is an independent writer and consultant. He runs Writing for design workshops for D&AD and the School of Life as well as Dark Angels workshops. He has written a number of books on the relationship between language and identity, including The Writer’s Trilogy We, me, them & it, The invisible grail and Dark angels. He’s a founder director of 26, the not-for-profit group that champions the cause of better language in business, and has been writer-in-residence for Unilever and Kings Cross tube station. In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Falmouth in recognition of outstanding contribution to the creative sector. He initiated and participated in the writing of a Dark Angels collective novel Keeping Mum with fifteen writers. It was published by Unbound in 2014. He is on the Campaign Council for Writers Centre Norwich as Norwich becomes the first English City of Literature. John also wrote the compelling novel Leaves, which was published by Urbane in 2015

Spanish Crossings was published in March 2018 and The Good Messenger in September 2018.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

The Travelers Regina Porter 4*#Review @ReginaMPorter @JonathanCape #LiteraryFiction #TheTravelers #FamilyDrama #BookReview #Life #Time #USA

#TheTravelers

When the boy was four, he asked his father why people needed sleep. His father said, ‘So God could unfuck all the things people fuck up.’

As America recovers from the Second World War, two families’ journeys begin. James Vincent, born in 1942 to an Irish-American family, escapes his parents’ turbulent marriage and attends law school in New York, where he moves up the social ladder as a prosperous and bright attorney. Meanwhile, Agnes Miller, a beautiful black woman on a date with a handsome suitor, is pulled over by the police on a rural road in Georgia. The terrible moments that follow make her question her future and pivot her into a hasty marriage and new life in the Bronx.

Illuminating more than six decades of sweeping change – from the struggle for civil rights and the chaos of Vietnam to Obama’s first year as President – James and Agnes’s families will come together in unexpected, intimate and profoundly human ways.

Romantic and defiant, humorous and intellectually daring, Regina Porter brilliantly explores how race, gender and class collide in modern-day America – and charts the mishaps and adventures we often take to get closer to ourselves and to home.

Amazon UK Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK- Vintage Publishing -Jonathan Cape via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This book has sat on my virtual to be read pile all Summer, maybe I subconsciously knew that it would be a challenging read, and this weekend I found out I was right, it was. Though, not the way I thought.

It is an epic story, a family saga spanning an iconic period in USA history. It focuses on family, racism, sexuality, sex discrimination, as well as a myriad of other politically and socially significant themes, but it explores them through two families. One black, one white, and the ways they interconnect, sometimes intimately, other times just for a moment in time. This is an intensely personal way of exploring the modern-day history of the USA. It brings it to life, recalling memories for some, and making it real for the younger generation, who didn’t live through it.

Six decades are covered and the cast of character is plentiful, but it is the way the story is written that I find challenging. It is best described as a series of short stories, each featuring members, of the two families, often at a notable historical time point. Many of the scenes are retold more than once, being seen from another point of view. Whilst, this reinforces the effect of the historic event, it does make the reader feel they are experiencing a groundhog day.

If you can accept the unusual structure, which would work seamlessly in visual media, not surprisingly, the author is a playwright. The story is enlightening, humourous, poignant and romantic, illuminated with rich historical detail. Full of vivid imagery, the reader can visualise what is happening, how it affects the participants, and the story as a whole, very easily.

So, if you enjoy historical literary fiction, and are prepared to let it absorb you without worrying about who did what, and why do you have to see it, from so many perspectives. This is a story that will sweep you away, in time and place, whilst also illuminating the political and social struggles of the USA’s citizens in an influential sixty-year period.

Posted in Book Review, Folk Tales, Friendship, Indie, Literary Fiction, Magic, Mystery

The Seagull’s Laughter Holly Bidgood 4*#Review @Wildpressed @HollyBidgood @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #LiteraryFiction #Friendship #Magic #Folklore #Greenland #Shetland

TheSeagullsLaughter

Born in 1973 to a Greenlandic mother and an English-Explorer father, Malik has always been something of a misfit. He has one black eye and one blue. As a child, his mother’s people refused to touch him and now his own baby daughter’s family feel the same way.            

On his own now, Malik’s only companion is a guiding spirit no-one else can see, but one day a white man with a nose like a beak and a shadow like a seagull appears on his doorstep and invites him to England.

Martha has had enough of living with domestic abuse. She compares bruises with her friend Neil, who regularly suffers homophobic attacks. With Martha’s baby, they go on the run to Shetland, where Martha has happy childhood memories of summers spent with her aunt.

On their way up north in a camper van, they come across a dejected Malik, alone again after a brief reconciliation with his father’s family.

They arrive safely together in the Shetland Isles, but Malik still needs answers to the identity of the beak-nosed man who casts a shadow over his life, and must now embark on a further journey of his own.

The Seagull’s Laughter is an immersive read, intertwined with nature and the magic of Greenlandic folk tales.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I love the colourful cover of this book. It makes you want to pick it up and read it, but what lies within, is even more enticing.

An original tale of differing cultures, family, friendship, magic, myths, prejudice and self-realisation. Set in the 1970s, with flashbacks to the late 1940s, it has so many layers. Each one has a purpose, and all it demands from the reader is time to absorb and enjoy it.

To begin with, this is Malik’s story, he lives in Greenland in the early 1970s. His life isn’t easy, but he accepts it, even though his people, don’t embrace him. You realise early on that he has a differing set of beliefs to an urbanised man. He has a spirit guide, and it is his importance that leads Malik on a journey that covers many miles geographically, culturally and spiritually.

Mythical quests are never easy, and neither is Malik’s journey of self-discovery, he encounters misunderstanding and prejudice. Emotionally raw, he meets two similarly, damaged people Martha and Neil, who share part of his journey and make him appreciate true friendship. He realises that family is sometimes not only those you share blood with.

The appearance of a strange man who resembles a seagull plagues Malik. The last part of his journey is solitary and demands the most courage. The descriptions of the cultures, settings and time periods are vivid and illuminate Malik’s story. The ending is powerful and uplifting.

#HollyBidgood

Holly grew up in Derbyshire but has always been drawn to the sea. She has written from a young age. Her love affair with island landscapes was kick-started on a brief visit to the Faroe Islands at the age of eighteen, en route to Iceland. She was immediately captivated by the landscape, weather, and way of life and it was here that she conceived the idea for her first novel, The Eagle and The Oystercatcher.

Holly studied Icelandic, Norwegian and Old Norse at University College London. She also studied as an exchange student at The University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands) and spent a memorable summer working in a museum in South Greenland.

She decided to start a family young and now has three small children. Holly helps run Life & Loom, a social and therapeutic weaving studio in Hull.  She likes to escape from the busyness of her life by working on her novels and knitting Icelandic wool jumpers.

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The Seagull’s Laughter will be published in November 2019.

Posted in Cover Reveal, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

Cover Reveal The Vagabond Mother Tracey Scott- Townsend @AuthorTrace @Wildpressed #TheVagabondMother #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup

#TheVagabondMother

Not every Vagabond is a Castaway…

Maya Galen’s oldest son, Jamie, left home eight years ago after a massive row with his parents and now Joe, her youngest child and apple of her eye, has cut off all contact with them too.

Called to Australia to identify the body of a young man, Maya is given her son’s journal. After a sleepless night, she decides that the only thing she can do is follow in Joe’s footsteps and try to discover her most basic human self. Eschewing a monetary lifestyle, from now on she must rely on her physical and emotional strength to survive.

Following Joe’s hand-drawn maps and journal entries, she travels from Australia to Denmark and beyond, meeting many other travellers along the way and learning valuable lessons.

Eventually, a crisis forces her to return home and confront the end of her marriage, but also a new understanding of what family, in the widest sense, really means.

Exploring the big questions at the heart of human existence, The Vagabond Mother shares territory with books and films such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Way, starring Martin Sheen, Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Amazon UK

#TheVagabondMother
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance

Two Tides To Turn R.R.Gall 4*#Review #Guestpost #RRGall @rrgall1 @rararesources #historicalfiction #Mystery #LiteraryFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Scotland #BlogTour #BookReview

#RRGall

A family ripped asunder.
A terrible secret lurks in a thrilling novel of love, grief, and mystery.

Patrick thought his grandfather, John, died before he was born.
In later life, he finds out that it wasn’t true. For the first five years of Patrick’s life, they stayed in the same small village.
So why were they kept apart?

Patrick wishes to search the past to find the reason – but only if he can be united with his young daughter first.
And that means bringing her home to Scotland.
It means journeying to France to take her away from the care of her mother, Patrick’s ex-wife.

In 1915, with the war raging in Europe, John is a young man working on the family farm. Not yet old enough to enlist but aware of its looming threat, he meets Catherine. But his attempts at courtship end suddenly when an accident rips his life apart.

Told in alternate chapters, set, mainly, in South-West Scotland, this is the dramatic story of Patrick, interwoven with John’s traumatic life.

AmazonUK

Amazon

#TwoTidesToTurn

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

My Thoughts…

Two men, in two time periods, both battle against their demons and life’s injustices. Patrick and John are related, and Patrick is on a quest to explore the mystery surrounding his grandfather.

Patrick is confused and unhappy, his marriage to a younger woman ends badly, and he loses contact with his daughter. His plan to reunite with her is the focus of his story. His need to find out what happened to his Grandfather equates to his need to find parallels and assume some control in his own life.

John’ story is set in Scotland during the early twentieth century. The setting and historical details of this time period are interesting and bring John’s character to life. His story is poignant. The ominous presence of World War 1, is another claustrophobic element in this part of the story.

The stories are well written and the mystery is carefully revealed, in a plot that has many twists. The male characters are complex and realistic. The female characters are much more simply drawn, perhaps because they are seen from John and Patrick’s point of view, and they both lack an intrinsic understanding of what motivates them?

A deep, and sometimes dark story of two men’s lives, with a good mystery to solve and an overriding theme of sadness and loss.

Guest Post – RR Gall – Two Tides To Turn
How Stressed Are you?

The candle is wicked. The man is rugged. The dignitary is present to present the present to the present champion. It is the timekeeper’s job to record the latest record.

This has been bothering me for a while now – the lack of guidance. And I take my hat off to anyone trying to come to grips with the rather tricky, awkward language of English. It must be extremely difficult when given no direction on where to stress certain words. In some ways, it is amazing how this language has become so prevalent. At the moment, more people speak it than any other – approximately 2 billion – with native speakers by far in the minority.

A quick scan through other languages shows that many have steady rules on where the emphasis should be. In Spanish, unless indicated by an accent, the stress is on the penultimate syllable if the word ends in a vowel, or if there is a vowel followed by the letter ‘s’ or ‘n’. If not, the stress will be on the last syllable.

In Italian, again if there is no direction, the stress tends to be on the penultimate syllable.

And in Greek, it appears they take no chances, shovelling on more accents than coal on the Flying Scotsman, but with the rule that only the last three syllables are ripe, and can be picked, for stressing.

In English, we are left to fend for ourselves.

One bright aspect though, I hope I’m right in saying, is that our lack of rules makes English ideally suited for cryptic crosswords. Such crosswords do exist in other languages, but only in a handful of them – German, Hebrew, Italian, Hindi, and a few others.

Back to the start then. How did you get on with the sentences?

The candle has a wick. The candle is wicked(1) (one syllable, pronounce like tricked).

The man has a rug (or toupee, hairpiece). The man is rugged(1) (like hugged).

(Are there any rugged(2) men who are rugged(1)? Perhaps not – or maybe is a matter of taste. I’ll leave you to come to a conclusion on that.)

Is beloved always a (3) or can it go to (2)? What about crooked and aged? You might be able to come up with a few of your own. If you do, I wouldn’t mind hearing them as I am preparing a more extensive list.

Wait a minute! Oh, no. Just as I was about to pat myself on the back with my new aid to indicate pronunciation, up steps the next sentence, and my method falls flat on its face, no use to anyone. Why didn’t I just write: the dignitary is here to hand over the gift to the current champion? It would have saved any confusion. Never mind.

But don’t get me started on some other baffling pronunciations.

In 1875, the Punch Magazine highlighted the number of different ways the letters ‘ough’ could be said in English with this sentence: “A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode, coughing and hiccoughing, thoughtfully through the streets of Scarborough.”

So am I stressed about all this? A little. And I’ll say again, to anyone taking on my native language, I doff my hat to those learning or learned – now is that ‘learned’ with a (1) or a (2)?

#RRGall

RR Gall lives in Scotland and is the author of:
The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit,
The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts,
The Case of the Hermit’s Guest Bedroom
Two Tides To Turn,
A Different Place to Die,
Only the Living Can Die.

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#TwoTidesToTurn
Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

His Secret Family Ali Mercer 5*#Review @bookouture @AlisonLMercer #FamilyDrama #LiteraryFiction #Lies #Secrets #Control #Loss #BookReview #bookbloggers

#HisSecretFamily

It’s a beautiful day for a wedding. White roses scent the air and the summer sunlight streams in. A spoon chimes against a champagne flute and the room falls silent. And there he is – my husband – getting to his feet to propose a toast. He’s still handsome. His new wife is next to him, gazing upwards, oblivious.

I’m not supposed to be here. All these years in the same town and I had no idea until I saw his name on the seating plan. He lived with me, once. Loved me. Small-town memories are long, but the people in this room don’t want to remember.

They say the healing is in letting go, but after what he did, he needs to know we haven’t gone away just because he’s shut his eyes.

So I take Daisy by the hand and step forward from the shadows. He notices us and his eyes widen. The champagne glass falls from his hand and smashes. Then he sags forward, making a terrible sound – a sort of strangled scream…

A powerfully emotional novel with a dark secret at its heart. This family drama will keep you hooked until the very last page.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An enthralling family drama told from four female perspectives that reveals a story that is emotional, honest, poignant and shocking.

Beginning with a wedding and two uninvited guests, and a seemingly tragic event, you may be forgiven for thinking you know what this story is about before it begins, but you’re probably wrong.

The story begins with Paula and the wedding. Then the time frame slips into the past and Jenny (Mother,) Ava(Eldest Daughter), and Ellie(Youngest Daughter) begin to tell their stories. The plot reveals events that change their lives and shape their futures. The appearance of Mark gives hope to Jenny, but disruption for the daughters. Gradually you learn Mark’s secrets and his controlling personality traits. The major plot twist confirms my opinion of Mark.

The story’s pace, keeps the reader engaged. The twists are subtle but resonate. The complex plot, never loses its way, even as detail and layers are added.

The characters are complex and authentic. It is easy to empathise with all the female characters, excepting Ingrid(Mark’s Mother). Ellie’s character is particularly well written, and I enjoyed the added dimension she brings to the story.

The ending is satisfying, being both hopeful and realistic.