Thursday, 29 November 2018

TLC BOOK TOUR: The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister

Title:  The Long Way Home
Genre: Historical Fiction, Based on Real Events
Author:  Kevin Bannister
Format:  Digital
Publication Date:  September 15, 2016
Follows the lives of Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele who are friends, former slaves, fellows-in-arms and leaders of the Black Brigade. Their real-life story is an epic adventure tale as they battle bounty hunters, racism, poverty and epidemic in their adopted country after the war.

'The Long Way Home' has resonated with readers around the world as an unforgettable account of courage, hope and determination triumphing over despair and injustice. Thomas Peters, thoughtful and charismatic, and Murphy Steele, strong and impulsive, lead their followers on an inspirational search for a place where they can  be free.

My Thoughts
In an impetuous spur of the moment a young Murphy Steele runs with Thomas Peters in an attempt to escape their slave owner. Naivety and lack of planning result in their speedy recapture and sadistic scarring punishment. Quietly seething with resentment and vengeful notions Murphy is obsessed with murder and escape. He has become a frighteningly dangerous, powerfully strong brooding young man. Quite the reverse in attitude has happened to Thomas, now he wants to stay out of trouble and live as safe a life he can, even if that means being an obedient slave...One day circumstances will be right for them to run again.

It is through Murphy’s, at times, rather dry narrative but engaging conversational style that their experiences are shared with us as we follow them in pursuit of regaining freedom.  Two runaway slaves, two unsung heroes, with promises of becoming freemen with land of their own, fought bravely alongside the British Army in the American Revolutionary War. As soldiers they led their men in the ‘Black Pioneers’ unit into horrific bloody battle.  Victory was not delivered and the men who survived faced a difficult choice, to remain as slaves or leave for an uncertain future with the British.

I’ve read a few different titles, fiction and non fiction about the slave trade but not one which gives such a vivid in-depth enlightening perspective from two men such as Thomas Peters who had an influence on many fellow freed slaves some of whom he persuaded to return to Africa where they founded the state of Freetown; and Murphy Steele who was a key component in rounding up Black volunteers to accompany him to Nova Scotia where, once again promised by the British, they would be supplied with everything needed to build a new free state for themselves. This is where the sequel (currently in progress) will pick up from. I sincerely hope it won’t be too long in coming to publication.

Unquestionably brave, charismatic and highly influential men of their time, Bannister’s well researched historical novel gives them a real presence and voice to speak to and remind us about injustice prejudice and the cruelty of enslavement, of denying a race basic human rights and who are deemed an expendable piece of property, of the horror of war, and the reminder that as humans we are fundamentally a selfish animal which will usually choose the best course of action to benefit us personally, culturally and racially, that we will utilise treachery, betrayal or indifference as a means to that end.

The times they haven’t changed that much !

Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary digital copy of the book for my thoughts to be included in this tour. Thank you to the author and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and take part.

Similar reads:
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
KINTU, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Sugar Money, Jane Harris
Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
Underground Airlines, Ben E Winters
12 Years a Slave, Solomon Northup (memoir)
Black Boy, Richard Wright (non fiction)
The Free State of Jones, Victoria E Bynam (non fiction)

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Random Things Tours: The Black Prince by Adam Roberts

The Black Prince
Adam Roberts
Pages: 310 (Hardback)
Source: Publisher
Publisher Unbound (4th October 2018)

A kaleidoscopic historical novel based on unpublished material by Anthony Burgess, from the prize-winning author Adam Roberts

‘I’m working on a novel intended to express the feel of England in Edward III’s time ... The fourteenth century of my novel will be mainly evoked in terms of smell and visceral feelings, and it will carry an undertone of general disgust rather than hey-nonny nostalgia’ – Anthony Burgess, Paris Review, 1973

The Black Prince is a brutal historical tale of chivalry, religious belief, obsession, siege and bloody warfare. From disorientating depictions of medieval battles to court intrigues and betrayals, the campaigns of Edward II, the Black Prince, are brought to vivid life by an author in complete control of the novel as a way of making us look at history with fresh eyes, all while staying true to the linguistic pyrotechnics and narrative verve of Burgess’s best work.

Brings to light unpublished material from one of the twentieth century’s literary titans, author of A Clockwork Orange, Inside Mr Enderby and Earthly Powers;

Adam Roberts has worked with the full cooperation of the Burgess Foundation.

Roberts is a celebrated novelist in his own right: Jack Glass (2012) won the British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel and 2015’s The Thing Itself was described by the Guardian as ‘a dazzling philosophical adventure’. Widespread review coverage is expected and the author will be available for events.

For fans of Paul Kingsnorth's The Wake, Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers, His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

My Thoughts:
My advanced readers copy of Adam Roberts visceral, extremely brutal and bloody book recanting the life of medieval King Edward didn’t arrive in time for me to finish before my scheduled tour slot. Currently 90 pages in I am able to admit that initially it wasn’t an easily immersive book for me.

 ‘The Black Prince’ is ambitiously different with a unique writing style and several narratives relayed through a medium of diverse voices. Sections are in the third person narrative while other accounts are verbalised in the present tense. Newsreels, ‘camera eye’, and prose inserts all add a modernistic and unusual element to the mix. To begin with, I confess I found it rather confusing but with perseverance I am delighted and thrilled to admit that with speedy polemic swing, I now absolutely love the ingenuity of its distinctive style, and unique (art)form of historical storytelling.  I would not be at all surprised if it wasn’t amongst the nominations (and a worthy contender) for one, or even more prestigious book awards!

Brutal, bold, magnificently majestic, ‘The Black Prince’ promises to be a compulsive read for anyone interested in a sensory experience encountering gruesome bloody battle scenes, witness abhorrent behaviour towards victims as ‘spoils of war’, imagine the miserable harsh reality of men, women and children living (surviving), and dying during this brutal medieval period in history, all from a safe distance and comfort and safety of their modern environment.

A more in-depth review will follow at a later date upon completion of reading. In the meantime do read what other bloggers on the tour have to say about this remarkable book. Please stay with us for the duration of the tour.

Thank you to Ann Cater for inviting me to take part in the ‘Random Things Tour’, and to Unbound publishers for sending me a complementary ARC of the book to take part in the tour. I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to read it before the planned publication date of, Thursday, 4th October 2018.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

October ‘Halloween’ Reads

It’s almost October and I can’t believe we’re almost 75% through another year and into the ‘retail’ Christmas period once again.  Anyway back to October which begins the spooky season on Monday.

Throughout October for this Halloween season, I have decided to read the scariest horror, gothic and ghost stories (fiction and non fiction) I could find on my shelves. Not a fan of reading one genre for more than two books in a row, this will certainly test my staying power, but I want to see if I can do it.  Also I want to find out if any of them can genuinely creep me out for the spookiest time of the year.

I’m struggling to decide on my first read, but I think I’m almost there and will probably ‘kick off’ with, ‘A Head Full of Ghosts’ by Paul Tremblay... just want to see if it’s really as scary as it’s rumoured to be...mmm but then again it might be, ‘The Hunger’ by Alma Katsu...

...anyway here’s what I’ve tried to minimise the list down to give or take a few digital ARC’s as well...

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
The Black Prince by Adam Roberts
Tasty Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Alice by Christina Henry
The Magic Shop &The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
The Bird’s Nest by Shirley Jackson
Member of the Family by Dianne Lake
Kindred by Octavia E Butler
The Machine by James Smythe
The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James

What are the rest of you spooky readers planning on reading this month ? Drop a comment as I’d love to know and maybe add another read to my list.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

TLC Book Tour Between The Lies by Cynthia A. Graham

Author: Cynthia A. Graham
Source: Digital ARC
Publisher: Blank Slate Press
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Paperback: 220 pages

When the corrupt sheriff of Broken Creek, Arkansas detains a young black boy on charges of accidental homicide, his sister asks Hick Blackburn, Sheriff of Cherokee Crossing, to investigate. Hick is reluctant at first. Not only is Broken Creek out of his jurisdiction, but Hick and Sheriff Brewster have a history, and Hick knows Brewster won’t look kindly on his interference. But Hick quickly realizes the boy couldn’t have committed the crime. With the aid of a New York attorney trying to make a name for herself and a shy new deputy who knows the boy’s family, Hick uncovers a conspiracy that goes to the heart of local corruption, nepotism, and racism. But while Hick is working to free an innocent child in Broken Creek, his beloved Maggie, pregnant with their third child, faces challenges of her own back home. This time, will Hick’s dedication to justice extract too high a price?

Heartfelt and poignant, Between the Lies by Cynthia A. Graham handles the complexities of Southern culture and the depths of its racial past with grace and finesse. The character development and plot are deep and complex. This is a novel full of heartbreak, but a story of hope is at its true heart.”–Hunter S. Jones, author of Red Stilleto Strategy

My Thoughts:
‘Between The Lies’ is book three in a southern mystery series set in Arkansas during the 1950’s about small town sheriff Hickory Blackman. In this instalment we follow Hick over the course of four days in July, in an ongoing mental fight with an influential bully in the nearby county of Broken Creek.

Sheriff Brewster has brought into custody a local black child, Thaddeus for the killing of a white man even though, obvious to any ‘dumbass’, that physically Thad is incapable of committing the crime.  Such evidential facts, however, won’t get in the way of Brewster’s objective of obtaining a guilty conviction for such a convenient scapegoat.

A conversation between Hick and Father Grant, pastor of Broken Creek, brings to light the case of George Stinney a 14 year old black boy who was tried for murder, found guilty, and executed.  Now I was intrigued and ‘googled’ George Stinney who from the southern state of Carolina was (rightly or wrongly) found guilty of murder in similar circumstances. I was deeply affected, it was incredibly upsetting and heartbreaking to read about such cruelty, inhumane treatment of a minor and ultimately the horrific execution of a child. Was this a warning of what may be in store for young Thad. Not if Hick has anything to do with it. It’s going to be a fight, but with mental ingenuity to outsmart Brewster it’s not something that Hick will easily allow to happen.

Graham’s style of writing, much like our protagonist, is calm, intelligent and measured.  In contrast to the languid pace she also manages, without being preachy or altering style or pace of the novel, to manoeuvre into place a powerful, poignant nugget of historical fact for the reader to mull over.  Awareness of this event in history added another layer, dimension and understanding of the characters living within a community steeped in racial hatred, and run by a corrupt and bigoted sheriff.  I couldn’t help thinking, with the current worldwide political climate, that we appear to be coming full circle and learned very little if anything from the past.

Now that ending ! Wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and it knocked me for six. A very sad unsettling denouement.  Just another chapter in Hicks life to be overcome and I am keen to see how his character develops and moves on from it.

‘Beneath Still Waters’ is the first book in the series, and although there is a sense of growth in Hick’s character, ‘Beneath The Lies’ could easily be read out of sequence or as a stand-alone. I havn’t yet gotten around to reading ‘Behind Every Door’ but do intend on doing so before the next book.  I highly recommended this series.

Memorable Lines

“You white folks are something else. You like to pretend you know what’s best for us, that you got our interests at heart. But at the end of the day you get to go home and be safe and white. We don’t get to leave. We always black.”

“We all had the same orders. Plant fear in the hearts of the townsfolk regarding colored people, because fear will always turn to hate. After the hate starts to grow, point out things like desegregation will cause inter-marriage and inter-marriage will create a mongrel race of half-breeds. Tell them their women are in danger and that a black man touching a white woman is an abomination.”

“...and Uncle Earl told me to never mention that man’s name again. He said for me to shut my trap and let him run the town as he sees fit. Told me I ain’t nothing but a dumbass anyway and that he only hired me ’cause my mama begged him to.”

Thank you to TLC Book Tours, and Blank Slate Press who provided me with a digital copy in order to take part in this tour.

Cynthia A. Graham’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, August 6th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Monday, August 13th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, August 15th: Broken Teepee
Friday, August 17th: Write Read Life
Monday, August 20th: Prose and Palate and @prose_and_palate
Wednesday, August 22nd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, August 23rd: SJ2B House of Books
Friday, August 24th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, 18 June 2018



New Arcadia Publishing (5 December, 2017)
Paperback; 276 Pages
Genre: Literary Fiction

Maddie is a writer of local history but wants to use her words to unlock the hidden truths that lay just below the surface of her life. But it’s magnetic words on a refrigerator door – Have dreams. Must travel – that push Maddie into the journey she must take: the search for what she has yearned for all her life: independence and freedom from the abusive fanaticism of her parents’ religious beliefs. From Vancouver in the sixties to present day Mexico and a small island on the Canadian west coast, Nine Birds Singing is a love affair with words. It weaves through past glories and youthful hubris in a search for understanding and acceptance. Profound friendship, skewed love and loss all play a role in Maddie’s search for redemption

My Thoughts:
“Where will you spend eternity?”
“The preacher begins his sermon with subdued entreaties for the lost sheep to return to the fold. There is still time, he tells them. But it’s his table-pounding diatribes on hell’s fury that send rivers of fear coursing through Maddie’s veins. There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Even the water trembles in the glass when he slams his fist against the dais...Maddie sits in heart-stopping silence, her cheeks aflame with guilt. She is more afraid of the preacher than she is of God.”

Maddie, as a child is terrified of the coming Rapture, she knows that due to her sinful ways she will be left behind to suffer for all eternity. Her father’s ferocious religious preaching compounds these fears. She, too, knows that she is different from other children at school, and that her family home life is very strange.  She feels isolated and uncomfortable around others feeling that she does not fit in.

“There’s no use pretending this isn’t about Joey too. The leaky boat that’s kept their life together afloat has been sinking for a long time and Maddie sees now that she’s been the only one rowing anyway. She can’t stay here and wait for the other oar to drop but she doesn’t want to chase Joey down like prey either.”

When, in later years her long-term partner walks out on her, Maddie takes off to visit her friend of many years in Mexico.  Thus begins Maddie’s painful, but enlightening journey for truth and of self-discovery.

Returning to heartfelt memories of her childhood, Maddie looks back at her father’s religious doctrine, her grandfather’s abuse, and her mother’s passivity and uncaring demeanour, all of which have left her feeling a powerlessness and unquestioning acceptance of how badly others have treated her over the years.

“Maddie looks out into the chilly early morning light. She imagines what it would be like to be in Mexico now. Salmon pink and scarlet bougainvillea blossoms, purple jacaranda blooms that drift from the trees like confetti in the time of the winds, the white-faced ibis arcing across the sky at sunset, winging its way toward the lake.”

Set predominantly in present day Mexico, the reader is transported to a Vancouver of the 1960’s, and back again to a small island off the Pacific west coast. Nine Birds Singing takes us on a poignant and highly perceptive journey of exploration and of self-discovery of a woman in her later years.

So compelling with more than one ‘Me Too’ moment along the way, I felt a real connection to this wonderfully inspiring woman. As a result of coming to terms with a difficult past she acquires a new found freedom from the chains of abusive relationships.  Nine Birds Singing is sure to have a recognition and poignancy with readers at a particular stage in their lives, just as I did.

One message or interpretation I took from the book was that as a child the responsibility of others’ abuse or neglectfulness is not yours, and that it’s never too late to take control of your life, to choose your own path and not accept whatever fate throws at you. That, even with the passing of time, it is still possible to throw off the shackles which have bound you for far too long.

An uplifting literary novel of a woman’s coming of age in her older years, Nine Birds Singing is a highly recommend read.

A complementary digital copy of Nine Birds Singing was provided in exchange for an unbiased review and to take part in this TLC Book Tours.

About the Author
Edythe Anstey Hanen has published prize-winning short stories and poetry in literary magazines including Room Magazine and anthologies across Canada, in addition to articles in the Globe & Mail, National Post and the Hamilton Bay Observer and is a regular contributor to Mexconnect, an online travel magazine. She lives on Bowen Island in British Columbia, Canada, where for many years she was the editor of the Bowen Island Undercurrent.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018


It is very easy to play along:
Grab your current read and open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page being careful not to include any spoilers!  Share the title and author, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this week:
“What you say your name was again? …What, you his cão de guarda or little bitch?  I’m kidding, caralho, relaxa.”
GRINGA by Joe Thomas
Genre: Grit-lit, crime-noir, 
Pages: 280
Publisher: Arcadia Books Ltd (Feb 2018)

São Paulo, 2013: a city at an extraordinary moment in its history.

Gringa, with shades of Don Winslow and James Ellroy, is a portrait of São Paulo in all its harshness and dysfunction, its corruption and social divisions, its kaleidoscopic dynamism, its undercurrent of derangement, and its febrile, sensual instability, executed with a deep knowledge of the city’s anatomy.

My Thoughts:
I requested a copy of Gringa from NUDGE-New Books for reviewing as the description, depicting a dark gritty storyline, and dangerous encounters with mean gringoes, certainly appealed to my darker reading side whereby I could experience it all-be-it from the safety of my sunny summer house and comfort of my sofa. Having just finished my previous ‘teaser’ read, I’ll be starting Gringa sometime this afternoon and can’t wait to get started.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

TLC BOOK TOURS: The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa

The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa
Genre: Literary, Fiction, Gothic, Suspense, Psychological
Publisher: Underland Press (April 2018)
Pages: 244

Disclaimer: A digital review copy was supplied by the author to participate in the tour

Perfect for fans of horror, psychological and suspense thrillers

“Ominous, fantastic, and wonderfully malevolent…. I felt the spirits of Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Albert Camus’ Meursault, whispering to join the fun.”— Alice Sebold, best-selling and award-winning author of The Lovely Bones
A car lies at the bottom of an icy ravine. Slumped over the steering wheel, dead, is the most critically acclaimed horror writer of his time. Was it an accident? His son Milo doesn’t care. For the first time in his life, he’s free. No more nightmarish readings, spooky animal rites, or moonlit visions of his father in the woods with a notebook and vampire make-up.
Or so he thinks.

Milo settles into a quiet routine—constructing model Greek warships and at last building a relationship with his sister Klara, who’s home after a failed marriage and brief career as an English teacher. Then Klara hires a gardener to breathe new life into their overgrown estate. There’s something odd about him—something eerily reminiscent of their father’s most violent villain. Or is Milo imagining things? He’s not sure. That all changes the day the gardener discovers something startling in the woods. Suddenly Milo is fighting for his life, forced to confront the power of fictional identity as he uncovers the shocking truth about his own dysfunctional family—and the supposed accident that claimed his parents’ lives.

My Thoughts
Milo is pleased that his sister Klara has returned home after the failure of her marriage and attempted escape from their parents hold. There is a real sense of creepiness and unease which seeps from within the claustrophobic familial walls, and of an unnerving comprehension of impending doom.  Shortly after Klara’s homecoming their parent’s are killed in a car accident on their way to a book reading.

‘The bodies were in the basement, on slabs of steel—Mother with shards of her sunglasses still nestled in her platinum bob and Father in his tweedy, seedy best. "I think I see Father breathing," I whispered to Klara. She gave me a stern look and told me to hush. I would not. Instead I began poking him in the face to wake him up. Even when his head flopped to one side and his jaw hung open crookedly, I laughed and said: "What an actor!" I didn't trust his death. Father was an author. He was words. You can't kill words—can't lock them up and drive them off a cliff.’

Full of foreboding benevolence ‘The Garden Of Blue Roses’ is interspersed with a playfulness and dark humour displayed through the odd behaviour and interaction of its socially inept narrator. Milo is naive and unable to function ‘normally’ outside of his family environment. He just doesn’t understand the rules of social engagement and its certainly apparent, almost immediately, that there’s something just not right about him. Is he a creation of his father’s twisted nurturing? Or, perhaps his mother’s distant and neglectful aloofness? Maybe both have played a part.

“Beauty without context. I saw how Klara hung on his every word, how her breath fluttered like an excited bird’s.”

I simply adored the stylishly beautiful writing and above is an example of just one sentence which froze me in motion as I too felt the heart flutter and breath trembling of Klara and her idolatry emotions.

Klara becomes fixated with Henri a gardener she’s hired to transform ‘the grounds’ into something spectacular in remembrance of their parents.  Milo doesn’t like Henri. He doesn’t trust him. He knows he’s an evil character who has climbed out from the pages of his father’s infamous novel about a psychotic murderer.

Barsa has created a haunting, ambiguous tale that kept me second guessing right the way through with such a highly dysfunctional family and unreliable characters. It was impossible to know who or what to believe. This is an exceptionally well written ‘literary’ debut comparable to such titles in the modern gothic genre as, Andrew Michel Hurley’s ‘The Loney’, and the chilling ‘A Headful Of Ghosts’ by Paul Tremblay.

‘The Garden of Blue Roses’ is a gothic novel with a difference.  The subtle fun element lifts the mood in parts. It worked brilliantly and I absolutely loved its uniqueness.

Michael Barsa’s TLC Book Tours Stops:

Tuesday, May 29th: SJ2B House of Books

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

TEASER TUESDAY Nine Birds Singing by Edythe Anstey Hanen

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
Grab your current read and open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page being careful not to include any spoilers!  Share the title and author, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Maddie sits in heart-stopping silence, her cheeks aflame with guilt. She is more afraid of the preacher than she is of God.”
Nine Birds Singing by Edythe Anstey Hanen
Genre: Literary, Historical Fiction
Pages: 278
Publisher: New Arcadia Publishing (Dec 2017)

Praise for Nine Birds Singing
“In Nine Birds Singing, Edythe Anstey Hanen’s appealing narrator Maddie recalls and examines her own search for independence from her parents’ restrictive values. The writer and Maddie, together, gather the reader in to share an intimate, wise, and moving tale.” -Jack Hodgins, Author of Spit Delaney’s Island

“Nine Birds Singing is a finely written book, lovingly crafted, poignant and perceptive. A tale of gradual self-understanding, awakening and ultimate release.” -Nick Bantock, Author of the The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy

“If, like me, you despair for the collapse of the English language take comfort. In Nine Birds Singing you will discover a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of delights. Edythe Anstey Hanen not only uses the basic blocks of language, words, to propel her characters and her story, each word has been selected with meticulous care with attention to its meaning and its ability to resonate. The work is a symphony for the logophile. Don’t miss it.” -Patrick Taylor. USA Today, New York Times and Globe and Mail best-selling author of the Irish Country Doctor series

“Readers will enjoy the unique views and poetic pacing of Nine Birds Singing by Edythe Anstey Hanen. She savours and survives landscapes and relationships in teasing but tasty quick episodes. Her novel takes readers via circular time travelling through decades of Maddie’s life in Canada and Mexico. Enjoy this new voice!” -Bernice Lever, Small Acts, Black Moss Press, 2016

My Thoughts:
My thoughts will be posted as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours on 8th June, 2018.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
Grab your current read and open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page being careful not to include any spoilers!  Share the title and author, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Did the officers sense anything amiss, anything strange about the scene? No, they were dull and provincial—they just wanted to get things over with. One of them silently drove Klara and me to the station.”
The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa
Genre: Literary, Fiction, Gothic, Suspense, Psychological
Publisher: Underland Press (April 2018)
Pages: 244
“Ominous, fantastic, and wonderfully malevolent…. I felt the spirits of Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Albert Camus’ Meursault, whispering to join the fun.”— Alice Sebold, best-selling and award-winning author of The Lovely Bones

A car lies at the bottom of an icy ravine. Slumped over the steering wheel, dead, is the most critically acclaimed horror writer of his time. Was it an accident? His son Milo doesn’t care. For the first time in his life, he’s free. No more nightmarish readings, spooky animal rites, or moonlit visions of his father in the woods with a notebook and vampire make-up.

My Thoughts:
A very creepy and foreboding atmospheric tale which I’m totally absorbed in, when I get the chance to read what with my job change right now rendering me mentally exhausted by the end of the day.

My review will be kicking off the TLC Book Tour on 23rd May, 2018.
See here for my review See here for the tour schedule.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


My book blog and reviewing has been pretty erratic of late due to rather a lot happening in my personal life. For quite some time I had been very unhappy at work. I spent a lot of time soul searching and looking at what the problem areas were in my life in order for me to take control and do something about it. Surprisingly quickly I managed to change my working environment and am now looking forward to an exciting new venture. Oh, and get back to enjoying what I love, reading and sharing my thoughts on the fabulous and not so fabulous books I’ve been reading.

So, with no further ado, here are my updates for this edition of ‘What’s on your Nightstand’.

SNAP, Belinda Bauer (crime/thriller with spades of humour…loved it!) 4.5 stars. This was an entertaining and fun infused read from a crime author I’ve followed since her debut novel ‘Blacklands’ back in 2010. SNAP is a fast paced, creepy tale set in Cornwall, England about a young boy trying to do his best to look after his siblings since his mother was killed. There are doses of implausibly in the plot, but as I already said, it’s such a great read.  Review forthcoming
Paper Ghosts, Julia Heaberlin (crime, thriller…loved it!) 5 starts
Not quite as dark as ‘The Black Eyed Susans’, which I loved, but still tackles a difficult subject matter with a wry sense of humour and two highly unreliable main characters. ‘Paper Ghosts’ demonstrates adaptability and versatility in Heaberlin’s genre writing skills and I enjoyed every moment and looking forward to what she comes out with next.  Review forthcoming
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebald (Audio) 4 stars
Why I took so long to read/listen to this I do not know, well I do…too many books. So glad I finally got around to reading this compelling magical ghost story written in the voice of a murdered young girl.
The Invisible Guardian, Delores Redondo (thriller) 3.5 stars
A good entertaining story set in Spain’s Basque region, incorporating the folk lore and superstitions of the community as well as fraught family dynamics  in this well written and translated murder mystery thriller. Part of a trilogy that I’ll probably read at some point in time as it left some unanswered questions I want answering.
The History of Bees, Maja Lunde (dystopian fiction) 3 stars
A beautifully (but rather dull in my opinion) written tale about three character’s whose lives revolve or have been affected by bees. Told over three different timeframes in three indistinct narratives which unfortunately is why I didn’t feel as wowed by it as others have been. Review forthcoming.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland (literary fiction) 4.5 stars
With gorgeous prose this is a mesmerising heart breaking tale about loss, guilt, love, sacrifice and redemption. Simply stunning story. Review forthcoming.
I Stop Somewhere, T C Carter (YA, ) 5 stars
Raw, brutal, emotive but also infused with a caltenderness at the denouement of the story. This book is easily one of the best I’ve read this year in the YA/teen genre. Review forthcoming.
Dear Martin, Nic Stone (YA, current US political climate) 4 stars
Another awesome young adult novel with fabulous writing and intense character development. Timely and extremely thought provoking. One to read after Angie Thomas’ THUG (The Hate U Give). Review forthcoming.

Drift, Stumble, Fall, M Jonathan Lee
Unfortunately it wasn’t one I could get into and I didn’t manage to finish it.
Need to mull over this one before making further comment.

Reading Now:
VOX, Christina Dalcher
Oh I’m loving this fabulous cautionary dystopian tale about men and their disturbing control of power over women in every area of their lives. One to definitely read if you enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaids Tale’. Review to follow.

Next in Line:
The Garden of Blue Roses, Michael Barsa
Nine Birds Singing, Edythe Anstey Hanen

Update 2018: The Martian by Andy Weir

UPDATE: May 2018

Oh boy did I get this one wrong by saying I would recommend it for hard core sci-fi readers.
At the time of it’s publication back in 2014, I was surprised at how well it was selling...(as a bookseller I should really have known better and believe me I did learn from this oversight).

Then, then... after the successful film adaptation, sales of the book were phenomenal and I started to realise how badly wrong I’d gotten this one.  Due to the rave reviews, and partly because ‘ I LOVE MATT DAMON’ (purely on his acting skills I’ll have you know),  I went along with my husband to watch ‘The Martian’ and was pleasantly surprised...I loved it, so did he.  This, I think was due to just the right amount of focus being placed on the mathematical calculations the incredibly intelligent, resourceful Mat..sorry Mark makes desperately to remain alive for as long as possible. The humour and unrelenting optimism of our hero who finds himself in such a perilous predicament made for a far greater tense, thrilling and entertaining experience.

In conclusion, The Martian by Andy Weir is one I would now, without reservation, recommend to anyone wanting an exciting, intelligent and informative read, but to maybe skip the intensive ‘science bits’ if , like me, you're not a mathematician.

Artemis, Weir’s second novel is on my to be read list.

The Martian by Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: (digital) Publisher via NetGalley
Pub Date:  (H/B) Feb 11 2014
"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

My Thoughts: (original posting Nov 2013)
What do I say about this one apart from I could not finish it !
Loved the idea of Robinson Crusoe on Mars but just couldn't get into it.

Obviously in the minority with my opinion because of many other reviewers giving a rating of 4 or 5 stars.

Too techie/nerdie, geeky for me. Full on successive problems and solutions with math calculations about how the guy could survive 430 something days before possible rescue.  I felt that I should have a degree in chemistry or physics to get it.  In the end I just didn't care enough to find out if he survived or not.

Would recommend to hard core sci fi fans.

I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this title.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: VOX by Christina Dalcher

It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Lorenzo, I whisper inside my head, and kick the three delicious syllables away before they hurt too much. My self is becoming more and more separate.”
VOX by Christina Dalcher
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkeley (21 August 2018)
“VOX is intelligent, suspenseful, provocative, and intensely disturbing - everything a great novel should be.” Lee Child

Silence can be deafening.
Jean McClellan spends her days in almost complete silence, limited to a daily quota of just one hundred words.  Now that the new government is in power, no woman is able to speak over this limit without punishment by electric shock.

Perfect for fans of Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid's Tale’, don't miss the thrilling debut that everyone will be talking about this summer!

My Thoughts:
This is another extremely promising dystopian read and very akin to The Handmaid’s Tale atmospherically and frighteningly all too plausible in our current political climate.

Actually, I’d forgotten I had this on my list to read but fortunately Jin from Berkley jogged my memory and I started it today.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Reynolds loved being a police officer. He’d always had a finely honed sense of right and wrong, and felt it his duty not to waste it. It wasn’t a complicated thing: he was right and everybody else was wrong.

... (Marvel) addressed Reynolds. ‘I’m a homicide detective,’ he said. ‘When I’m rushed to the scene of a crime, I expect a murder victim, not a broken TV and a shit on the rug..”
SNAP by Belinda Bauer
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Penguin Random House (17 May 2018) / Grove Atlantic (13 July 2018)
Pages: 352
'The best crime novel I've read in a very long time.' - VAL MCDERMID
'Snap is the best kind of crime novel - it gives you chills, it makes you think, and it touches your heart. I loved it!' SARAH PINBOROUGH, No.1 bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes


On a stifling summer's day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack's in charge, she said. I won't be long.

But she doesn't come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, Jack, now fourteen, is still in charge - of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they're alone in the house, and - quite suddenly - of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .

'Original, pacy and thoroughly entertaining . . . a cracking read.' CLARE MACKINTOSH, bestselling author of I Let You Go

'No one writes crime novels like Belinda Bauer, with a rare blend of darkness, humour and heart. She's a crime writing genius.' C. L. Taylor, bestselling author of The Missing

My Thoughts:
At 18% and so far this is a tense and very humorous mystery thriller. The opening scene totally demands your attention and curiosity about what happened and what will happen next.

That’s all for now…

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Whether or not anyone likes me—whether or not I like me—I don’t want to blame myself anymore. I only wanted to belong. I wanted so badly to be taken in—by someone, someplace. Anyone. Anyplace. I wanted it enough to screw up and lose myself, but I am still not to blame...I didn’t deserve this.”

I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter
Genre: Teen/YA
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd (19th April, 2018)
Pages: 320

Trigger Warning: Rape and violent content contained and as a result of the authenticity and raw style of writing may be one to be cautious about reading particularly for anyone with very recent experience of rape.
“When the world breaks you into pieces, sometimes you find what’s left scattered among other people’s broken parts.”

Ellie Frias has never wanted to be popular, she just wants to blend in, to be accepted. But then Caleb Breward, tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it.

Ellie loves Caleb, but sometimes she’s not sure she likes him that much – his awkward smile, the possessive way he touches her, his harsh tone, how he ignores her one minute and can't get enough the next. And then, on one black night, Ellie discovers the monster her boyfriend really is.

The Lovely Bones meets Asking For It - this is the searing, heartbreaking story of a lost teenager, and the town she leaves behind.

My Thoughts:
I’m not going to say very much about it here. I’m almost done reading it and want to save it for my review which will be added very soon. In the meantime here are some notes I made at various stages of reading:

March 18, 2018
40.0% "I remember the rape and murder of a young girl in my town where a school has been built on the wasteland where her body was found and the poignancy of this line is heartbreaking. ‘He’ll bring his friends home and they’ll play soccer over where I am.’

“This is teen/YA that demands to be read by all ages."

March 18, 2018
43.0% "This is so incredibly powerful and so obviously written with personal experience of from either the author or someone close. I feel devastated and on the verge of howling with sheer disgust and devastation. I feel wrung emotionally and want to cry so much for Ellie and what she has gone through"

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“An army post in peacetime is a dull place. Things happen, but then they happen over and over again.

There is a fort in the South where a few years ago a murder was committed. The participants of this tragedy were: two officers, a soldier, two women, a Filipino, and a horse.”
Reflections in a Golden Eye Carson McCullers
Genre: Novella, Literary Fiction
Published by Penguin Modern Classics
Pages: 128
'A masterpiece . . . as mature and finished as Henry James's The Turn of the Screw'.

Time Set on a Southern army base in the 1930s, Reflections in a Golden Eye tells the story of Captain Penderton, a bisexual whose life is upset by the arrival of Major Langdon, a charming womanizer who has an affair with Penderton's tempestuous and flirtatious wife, Leonora.

Upon the novel's publication in 1941, reviewers were unsure of what to make of its relatively scandalous subject matter. But a critic for Time magazine wrote, "In almost any hands, such material would yield a rank fruitcake of mere arty melodrama. But Carson McCullers tells her tale with simplicity, insight, and a rare gift of phrase."
Written during a time when McCullers's own marriage to Reeves was on the brink of collapse

My Thoughts:
After hearing McCullers novella being discussed amongst the guest writers Nina Stibbe (Love, Nina; Paradise Lodge) and Kit de Waal (My Name is Leon; The Trick to Time) on this afternoon’s BBC Radio 4 program, (‘A Good Read’), I had an overwhelming urge to hunt amongst my hoard of books to find it, and having just started reading, I’m rather eager to get on with it.

So that’s it for this week. Will say more about soon.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

TEASER TUESDAY: The Lost Flower's of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by
It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers this month:
“Some days Alice’s mother disappeared from her body altogether. There were no stories or walks to the sea. There was no talking with flowers. Her mother would stay in bed with the curtains drawn against the blanching light, vanished, as if her soul had gone somewhere else entirely.”

The Lost Flower's of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
Published by Pan Macmillan (28th June 2018)
Pages: 400
Flowers, fire and fairy tales are the elements that will forever shape nine-year-old Alice Hart's life, in The Lost Flower's of Alice Hart, the remarkable debut by Holly Ringland.
Alice Hart lives in isolation by the sea, where her mother’s enchanting flowers and their hidden messages shelter her from the dark moods of her father. When tragedy changes her life irrevocably, nine-year-old Alice goes to live with the grandmother she never knew existed, on a native flower farm that gives refuge to women who, like Alice, are lost or broken. In the Victorian tradition, every flower has a meaning and, as she settles into her new life, Alice uses this language of flowers to say the things that are too hard to speak.
As she grows older, though, family secrecy, a devastating betrayal and a man who’s not all he seems, combine to make Alice realise there are some stories that flowers alone cannot tell. If she is to have the freedom she craves, she must find the courage to possess the most powerful story she knows: her own.

My Thoughts at 30%
Enchanting, dreamy, mesmerising…I love this book. ‘The Lost Flower's of Alice Hart’ has introduced me to the magical language of flowers and is an absorbing heartfelt tale about grief, abandonment, loss and betrayal and about how with the love and nurturing of others any hurt can be healed, and that with time anything can be overcome.

For me this book does for flowers what Elizabeth J Church’s ‘The Atomic Weight of Love’ did for crows. Deep sigh !

Review to follow on completion.

Monday, 5 March 2018

TLC BOOK TOURS: The RainBirds by Clarissa Goenawan

The RainBirds by Clarissa Goenawan
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Soho Press (March 6, 2018)
Set in an imagined town outside Tokyo, Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut follows a young man’s path to self-discovery in the wake of his sister’s murder. 
Ren Ishida has nearly completed his graduate degree at Keio University when he receives news of his sister’s violent death. Keiko was stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate place years ago.
But then Ren is offered Keiko’s newly vacant teaching position at a prestigious local cram school and her bizarre former arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s ailing wife. He accepts both, abandoning Tokyo and his crumbling relationship there in order to better understand his sister’s life and what took place the night of her death.
As Ren comes to know the eccentric local figures, from the enigmatic politician who’s boarding him to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, captivating young female student, he delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren realizes that Keiko Ishida kept many secrets, even from him.

My Thoughts:
The cover of The RainBirds is enchanting and eye-catching, and from the description appealed to me immensely. The dream sequences are hauntingly beautiful with just a touch of magical surreal creepiness and foreboding. Think of the Japanese horror films such as The Ring’ and you’ll get a sense of the mood. However outside of these genuinely atmospheric, slightly unnerving moments the book didn’t have much hold on me and at 19% I didn’t feel invested or compelled to read any further at this time.

These are only my thoughts and so please read what others have to say from the TLC Blog Tour below.
A Bustle Most Anticipated Book of 2018
“Luminous, sinister, and page-turning all at once. I loved it.”
—Kate Hamer, internationally bestselling author of The Girl in the Red Coat and The Doll Funeral
“A beautiful mystery setup with a complex, magical love story.”
—Eka Kurniawan, award-winning author of Beauty Is a Wound and Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
“A beautiful, well-crafted story, Rainbirds is an exploration of grief, love and loss. Clarissa Goenawan has written a powerful debut novel that will leave readers craving more.”—Hollie Overton, internationally bestselling author of Baby Doll and The Walls
“Like the imaginary town in Japan in which it takes place, Rainbirds possesses a charm that is at once cloistered, quiet, and mysterious. Carefully crafted and paced, the novel captivates with its reflective, dreamlike tone. A promising debut from Clarissa Goenawan.”—Dee Lestari, award-winning singer-songwriter and author of the Supernova series
“Rainbirds is that rarest of debut novels—confident, transportive, and utterly enthralling. Clarissa Goenawan explores the mysteries of small-town Japan, drawing readers in with understated prose, then ensnaring with a subtle spell, exposing, grain by grain, the secrets behind a young woman’s death.”
—Barry Lancet, award-winning author of The Spy Across the Table and Japantown
“A hauntingly moving story of loss and alienation.”—Jake Arnott, internationally bestselling author of The Long Firm and The House of Rumour 

About Clarissa Goenawan

Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer. Her award-winning short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Singapore, Australia, the UK, and the US. Rainbirds is her first novel.

Connect with Clarissa

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Clarissa Goenawan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 5th: SJ2B House of Books
Tuesday, March 6th: Reading Reality
Wednesday, March 7th: @readingbringsjoy
Thursday, March 8th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, March 9th: @bookishconnoisseur
Monday, March 12th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, March 13th: Books a la Mode
Wednesday, March 14th: Spin a Tale Reviews and @spinatale
Thursday, March 15th: Book Chatter
Monday, March 19th: The Literary Llama and @theliteraryllama
Tuesday, March 20th: @athousandbookstoread
Wednesday, March 21st: @ladyofthelibrary
Thursday, March 22nd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, March 26th: Write Read Life