#Blogtour Ahead of the Shadows by A.B. Kyazze

It’s my turn on the Blogtour Ahead of the Shadows by A. B. Kyazze.

About the Author

A.B. Kyazze is a British–American writer and photographer. She spent nearly two decades writing and taking photographs around the world in conflicts and natural disasters – in Africa, Asia and Southern Europe. Her photographs and non-fiction work have been published in travel magazines, The Huffington Post, The Washington Times, The International Review of the Red Cross, and by Oxfam, Save the Children, and the British Red Cross. 

Into the Mouth of the Lion, A.B. Kyazze’s debut novel, was published in May 2021. Set in the final days of Angola’s civil war, it is the story of a young photographer looking for her missing sister in a very dangerous landscape. This is followed by Ahead of the Shadows, published in September 2022. Ahead of the Shadows is set in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan (Darfur) and Paris. It is the continuing story of humanitarian workers labouring under intense conditions, and how this can strain relationships to breaking point. It is also about the impact on the next generation, and how one unconventional boy might be able to break the cycle. 

A.B. Kyazze has also published the Humanity in the Landscape photography book series, and a number of flash fiction short stories, articles and book reviews. Today, she lives in southeast London with her young family, writing, mentoring other writers, and running a freelance editing business. 

In May 2022 A.B. Kyazze was awarded a London Borough of Culture grant as part of the We Are Lewisham initiative, in order to facilitate creative writing workshops in schools and libraries. She is a trustee for a new creative writing charity, the Oxford Centre for Fantasy. Follow @abkwriting on Twitter

About the book

When a photographer witnesses war crimes, will she have to abandon her calling to save herself?

As Lena and Kojo work in conflicts across East and Central Africa, there is immense psychological pressure, and it’s not certain if their relationship will survive.

Eighteen years later, Bene walks the gritty back streets of Paris for one night in a music festival. He is on his way to meet his father in Kenya, a man he’s never met.

Ahead of the Shadows is about the intense relationships that come from work in war zones, the transmission of trauma from one generation to the next, and how one unconventional boy might be able to break the cycle.

Review

I recently read another book about a person who volunteered in a war zone and in deprived areas. I think it’s easy to experience awe in the presence of selflessness or when you are around someone who has ventured into the mouth of the beast. – I’d just like to point out that I know that sounds very much the response to white saviour actions, because it is in a way. The human beings who live in these situations and areas are often forgotten; despite the fact it is their reality.

This story, as does the first by this author, follows Lena, this time as she navigates the difficulty of working and volunteering in a war-torn country. It speaks to the trauma, the PTSD, the frustration and the helplessness people feel when they try to change the outcomes for so many vulnerable people and yet it is never enough.

Aside from the fear that becomes a constant companion there is also the apathy that sinks in after a while. The realisation that one person can do very little to change the status quo.

This time Lena connects in a variety of ways. She finds passionate love and simultaneously she feels deep guilt about leaving behind such pain and misery. The story for the reader begins with her son Bene starting his own journey to meet the father he has never met. 

It’s mixed bag of emotions, which have to be separated to some extent. There is the Lena who wants to change life for the victims of war, and then there is the Lena who has to make the best decision for herself – the two decisions overlap in no way other than Lena is on the middle of both scenarios.

The author opens the door to the uncomfortable and brutally frank moments behind the headlines the rest of the world often reads about but can never quite fathom what that means for victims or for the volunteers. It’s a topic with a wealth of information and a story that is a riveting read.

Buy Ahead of the Shadows at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Publisher‏: ‎Humanity in the Landscape Publishing; pub date 30 September 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour Discipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Discipline is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control by Ryan Holiday. Further below there is also an extract of the book!

Ryan Holiday is the world’s best-selling living philosopher, sharing the wisdom of ancient Stoicism to help us navigate 21st century life. He has sold more than 5 million books in 40 languages. With insights that are as relevant to the boardroom as to everyday life, Ryan’s books have proved hugely influential with sports coaches, business leaders, aspiring and established entrepreneurs, and self-help and smart thinking readers.

Ryan follows an ancient school of thought but has a huge digital following: his Daily Stoic brand has 400k subscribers to its daily email. In 2019 the Instagram had 350K followers, now it has 1.5 million; its YouTube channel has over 585K subscribers and its TikTok account has 341.1k followers and over 10 million views. Since starting The Daily Dad in June 2019, Ryan has amassed 12.9k followers on the Daily Dad Twitter channel and 82.8k followers on the Daily Dad Instagram platform, and the email newsletter reaches over 50k people.

About the Author

Ryan Holiday is one of the world’s foremost writers on ancient philosophy and its place in everyday life. His books, including The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, The Daily Stoic, and the #1 New York Times bestseller Stillness Is the Key have sold millions of copies and been translated into over 40 languages. He lives outside Austin, Texas, with his wife and two boys… and cows and donkeys and goats. He founded a bookshop during the pandemic called The Painted Porch, which features a carefully curated selection of Ryan’s favourite books and a stunning fireplace display made from 2000 books. Follow @RyanHoliday on Twitter

About the book

In Discipline is Destiny bestselling philosopher and life-hacker extraordinaire Ryan Holiday explores the power of temperance, which along with courage, justice and wisdom formed the four virtues of Stoicism. Yet these other virtues would be impossible, worthless even, without self-discipline to bring them about.

Self-discipline is the moderating influence against the impulse of all other things. Cultivate it in every deed, and it will enable us to become the best that we are capable of being. With self-discipline, we can find balance, focus and fulfilment, resisting the distractions that can quickly take over our lives; without self-discipline, all our plans fall apart.

In this latest book, Ryan Holiday shows us how to cultivate willpower, moderation and self-control in our lives. From Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius to Toni Morrison and Queen Elizabeth II, he illuminates the great exemplars of its practice and what we can learn from them. Moderation is not about abstinence: it is about self-respect, focus and balance. Without it, even the most positive traits become vices. But with it, happiness and success are assured: the key is not more but finding the right amount.

Excerpt of Discipline is Destiny

Practice . . . Then Practice More

It is said that the master swordsman Nakayama Hakudo would practice drawing his sword some two thousand times a day. At the Hayashizaki temple, in one marathon of endurance training, he was recorded drawing his sword ten thousand times in a single twenty-four-hour period.

We can imagine the sheer speed required to do this . . . and also the deliberateness to do so many reps in so little time. But why would do such a thing at all? Because, as the Stoic Arius Didymus said, “Practice over a long time turns into second nature.” We don’t rise to the occasion; we fall to the level of our training.

The samurai Musashi was once challenged by a warrior named Miyake Gunbei, a man who thought himself one of the best in the world. On his third attack, frustrated by his lack of success, Gunbei charged at Musashi in an aggressive lunge. Musashi, having prepared for this exact scenario countless times, replied, “That is not what you should do,” then parried the blow with one sword and watched as the man gashed his own cheek against Musashi’s other sword. How had he known? Practice.

Cho tan seki ren was Musashi’s phrase. Training from morning to night. Oh, you’ve done that? Okay. Do it some more. And after that? More. More. More.

“A thousand days of training to develop,” Musashi would write, “ten thousand days of training to polish.” For a samurai, there was no such thing as pretty good. If a pretty good swordsman met a better fighter . . . he would die. It’s like the basketball Hall of Famer Bill Bradley observation: When you are not practicing, refining, working, somewhere, someone else is . . . and when you meet them, they will beat you. Or kill you.

Gunbei was lucky enough to learn this lesson and live to tell about it. In fact, after Musashi treated the man’s wound, Gunbei accepted that he was outmatched and became Musashi’s student, training and practicing under him until he was no longer prone to the mistakes that come from such rashness.

Look, this is not a drill. There is no greatness without practice. Lots of practice. Repetitive practice. Exhausting, bone-crunching, soul-crushing practice.

And yet what emerges from this practice is the opposite of those three feelings. Energy. Strength. Confidence. You deserve that. Yes, your body will burn, but that’s the evidence. From that burning comes real heat, heat you can apply to your craft, to your work, to your life.

The cellist Pablo Casals practiced continually late into his life, even long after he was widely considered a master, because he believed he was still making progress. In fact, we might say that progress and practice are synonyms. You can’t have the former without the latter. And the latter is worthless without the former.

Drawing the sword from the scabbard. Thrusting. Blocking. To build up your stamina for those skills, you lift weights, you do conditioning. To put it all together, you spar. It’s the same with music. You can jam with other talented musicians; you can put all those sessions together to learn new songs. But before all that, as Casals did, you can simply practice your scales in your bedroom for hours upon hours. What are those scales for you? You better know and you better be doing them. No matter what you do, practice will make you better. 

Florence Nightingale wanted young nurses to understand that nursing was an art that required “as hard a preparation as any painter or sculptor’s work. Churchill spent many evenings practicing his “impromptu” performances.

Only you know what it will look like to train in your art like a samurai, an Olympic athlete, a master in pursuit of excellence. Only you will know what you need to practice from morning until night, what to repeat ten thousand times.

It won’t be easy, but in that burden is also freedom and confidence. The pleasure of the flow state. The rhythm of second nature. The quiet calmness of knowing that, from the practice, you’ll know exactly what to do when it counts . . . the pride and the dependability of doing it too.

Review

This is the sequel to Courage and the second book in the Stoic Virtues series. The hardcopy versions are lovely.

The can versus the should, the higher versus the lower self. Two versions in constant battle with each other. It’s any interesting concept, perhaps even more so when the inner battle is taken to an external level and the stimulus determines which one wins. In a way the external manages to circumvent the internal choice – or does it?

Are the two selves not silenced or dimmed by the external input, one more than the other. The way trauma, PTSD, depression speaks to one rather than the other. Magnifies the lower, and of course vice versa.

I thought this was slightly darker than the previous book. More introspective, but it also had a path of ups and downs. A deeper search within the folds of self, which may have been both an interesting and eye-opening experience at times.

I had a mixed reaction to the book or content. Not that the principle is wrong, and the results can equal the difference between success and being mediocre. Between succeeding and exploring full potential, perhaps most of all it’s about the perseverance in life. Teaching yourself to be focused, to find the best path, and most importantly putting thought to action to achieve your goals.

All of that is commendable, but what happens if those paths aren’t achievable depending on the person walking said path. If discipline is something that is in direct conflict with skill set, upbringing, environment, support and possible neurodiversity. Does that mean discipline and therefore success is unachievable? Either way it is a read that gives food for thought.

Buy Discipline is Destiny at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Profile Books, pub date 27 September 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour After Dad by Claire Shiells

It’s my turn on the Blogtour After Dad by Claire Shiells.

After the Author

Claire Shiells grew up in rural Northern Ireland during the Troubles where she had the best of times and the worst of times. She calls herself Northern Irish except on St Patrick’s Day when she is inexplicably full on Top-Of-The-Morning-To-You Irish. Claire now lives in London and in her last life (before the longest maternity leave ever) was a journalist and magazine editor. After Dad is inspired by a true event and is her first novel. Follow @claireshiells on Twitter

About the book

A bittersweet love story exploring why good people sometimes do bad things… – Millie Malone, a spirited, thirty-something journalist returns home to Northern Ireland after a life-changing decision leaves her London life in ruins.

A family reunion soon unravels, opening old wounds and igniting new grievances regarding the murder of her father by the IRA decades earlier. Retreating to the family cottage in Donegal, Millie soon meets Finn McFall, a fisherman originally from west Belfast, who loves to paint and recite Irish poetry.

In the new modern Ireland, Millie believes religion is no longer a barrier for love. But she soon finds home is a place still struggling with a fragile peace and simmering sectarianism.

As events unfold, Millie is forced to decide between love and loyalty, eventually having to ask herself the ultimate question: can love really conquer all?

Review

If anything, this story lays bare the fragile hold on the anger, resentment, passion and in general the multitude of complex emotions framed in a tumultuous history, that exists even now in 21st century Ireland. I think in that sense Millie is overly optimistic. Old grievances die hard and there is such a thing as generational trauma.

The trauma she herself has experienced is a little bit like a bomb thrown into the midst of a family, and the shockwaves reverberate decades after. Violent death always leaves scars and living under the umbrella of constant threat of harm or death influences people in a way that is personal to them. No one experience is the same.

In a way I also think the ending of this book speaks to exactly that fragility, and the fact some people are unable to move beyond what they prioritise as more important than more menial things, such as relationships and family. Recognising that is a coming-of-age moment and includes the ability to move as one, as opposed to moving as an entity of a greater idea, ideology or even sense of identity.

I want to give credit to the sub-plot, which in the grand scheme of the story may appear minor but is poignant in its own way. Perhaps because the author addresses a controversial issue, and for a moment there I thought it was going to go a bit right field, in a way that shines a light on how difficult it is for women to make certain decisions and how the world gaslights them by saying it is a lightweight and inconsequential one made out of convenience. Just want to point out that the why is irrelevant, as is the way each individual feels about said choice. None of your business or my business for that matter.

This is a poignant and heartfelt read; I hope to read more by this author in the future.

Buy After Dad at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎The Book Guild; pub date 28 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Under the Cloud by B.R. Erlank

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Under the Cloud by B.R. Erlank.

About the Author

Boris Erlank grew up in Southern Africa and Namibia. He has lived and worked in places as diverse as Luanda, Cape Town, Singapore and San Francisco. Boris recently gave up his job as Global Privacy Manager with a Fortune 100 company to focus on writing full-time. 

He has an extensive background in IT, data privacy and cybersecurity, and has drawn on that experience to craft his latest novel, “Under the Cloud”. 

Boris lives with his family and two dogs in the foothills of Mount Diablo, east of San Francisco. In his spare time, he likes to cycle, hike, sing in a choir, and listen to audiobooks. Visit brerlank.wordpress.com or B.R. Erlank on Facebook

About the book

They call themselves The Settlement Bureau. A faceless, soulless organization coercing Americans with threats to expose their improprieties and vulnerabilities. Inhumanely persistent, they’ve secretly driven hundreds of victims into bankruptcy, despair – and several even to suicide.

But when this organization tries to blackmail IT expert Terry Reynolds, they make a serious mistake. Terry is down on his luck. He is penniless, divorced and in a dead-end job. Yet, the abuse of his personal information stirs Terry out of his lethargy, and he fights back. He embarks on a digital game of cat-and-mouse with the cold, calculating minds behind The Settlement Bureau – and in doing so, uncovers a sprawling criminal conspiracy.

Review

At the core of this read is religion and the fine line drawn between Christians and the posers using religion it to earn a dime. Zealous pseudo-Christians and in particular the big Evangelists – the TV evangelists. Talk about the world’s greatest con. People want to believe and are eager to send their money. Talking of fine lines – there is also an invisible one many of these pseudo religious groups cross, and often it isn’t even invisible – the line into being a cult.

I think the author makes some interesting comparisons to already existing groups and individuals who are willing to be ruthless, criminal and blatantly devoid of any morals or suggested religious values. People are easy pickings for those working the long con under the guise of a religion – willing to give or do anything only to be embraced by the faux lord and get a key to the door in the sky.

When you combine that with cyber-crime, which is one of the biggest threats the world is confronted with in this era, then you have a perfect collusion between crime, vulnerability and the manipulation via media outlets.

I thought this was quite clever, especially when it waded into more controversial topics. Giving both sides or positions without taking a definitive stand, very diplomatic indeed and yet simultaneously also presenting a no-holds-barred picture of the issue. It’s an engrossing and fast-paced read.

Buy Under the Cloud at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Khanya pub date 15 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

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#Blogtour The Invisible by Michelle Dunne

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour – The Invisible by Michelle Dunne.

About the Author

Born and raised in the harbour town of Cobh, Co Cork, Michelle joined the Irish army at the age of 18, where she went from recruit to infantry soldier, to Peacekeeper with the UN, to instructor back home in Ireland.

During her time in Lebanon, she got to experience first-hand the camaraderie between soldiers and the sense of humour that got them all through some frightening situations. She also got to experience how ordinary families tried to live in conflict zones and these experiences have inspired so much of her work to date.

The Invisible is Michelle’s fourth book, but the second in The Lindsey Ryan series, following on from While Nobody is Watching, which is currently in development for television and inspired by her military experiences and the types of relationships that form within army ranks. Follow @NotDunneYet on Twitter, Visit michelledunnebooks.com

About the book

A migrant crisis. A corrupt harbour town. Who will stand for those who have become invisible to the rest of the world?

People have become one of the world’s most valuable commodities. Trafficked on the promise of a new life only to be hidden away as modern-day slaves. When Lena, a raped and badly beaten Syrian woman, literally falls into Lindsey Ryan’s life, she’s left with no choice but to find her part in this new war and play it as best she can.

But before she can work out a safe plan to get Lena away from her very own hell at the hands of Patrick Adebayo, Lindsey hears of an unconscious child being smuggled into Patrick’s building just two doors up. Despite having Patrick’s unwanted attention, she has to help the child and get Lena to safety regardless of the cost. In doing so, she finds herself face to face with the worst of humanity.

Added to her own private battle with PTSD, former soldier Lindsey Ryan is in a race against time and must once again fight for her life. But if she fails to protect those around her, what if anything, will that life be worth?

Review

This is a raw experience. There is no unicorn fluff to pad the brutal truth and soften the blow, which is what makes this a great read.

Lyndsey is followed by flashbacks, day mares linked to past trauma. It’s hard to keep them at bay in order to function, and yet they are also equally responsible for the inner ear that listens to the extra layer of gut instinct. 

Those instincts serve her well when she is tasked with dealing with the bottom-feeders who traffic the vulnerable and desperate. Lives are expendable and worth only what they can used for. The lives of children and young people included – something Lyndsey won’t turn a blind eye to.

Although the thriller and crime story in the midst of this is a good read, the world and character building of the main character is the more poignant element. It cocoons the story in its entirety, which is perhaps a metaphor in itself. When a person is dealing with PTSD it can become a tentacled being that wraps its arms around every interaction and situation, sometimes with disastrous results. Daily life can be a constant adapting of coping mechanisms.

Buy The Invisible at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎ Bad Press Ink pub date 25 April 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour Life and Death Decisions by Dr Lachlan McIver

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour – Life and Death Decisions: Fighting to save lives from disaster, disease and destruction by Dr Lachlan McIver. ‘An action-packed tale of medicine in the most remote, poverty-torn areas of the globe from a Médecins Sans Frontières doctor.’

About the Author

Dr Lachlan McIver is a rural medicine and public health specialist with a PhD in the health impacts of climate change. He currently works as the Tropical Diseases and Planetary Health Advisor at the headquarters of Médecins Sans Frontières in Geneva. Lachlan is an Associate Professor at James Cook University and is the founder and past Chair of Rocketship Pacific Ltd – an international non-profit organisation dedicated to improving health in Pacific Island countries. 

Lachlan’s work has taken him to thirty different countries, and he has published over fifty scientific articles and textbook chapters. He regularly speaks at international conferences on health. For more information, visit drlachlanmciver.com or follow @lachlan_mciver on Twitter

About the book

Lachlan was sixteen when he found his father dead on the side of a dirt road in North Queensland, Australia. He had suffered a sudden heart attack and died alone. It was this tragedy that motivated Lachlan to train as a doctor specialising in providing medical care for people living in remote, resource-deprived locations.

Lachlan’s work with the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières has taken him to some of the world’s most extreme environments from the sinking islands of the Pacific to epidemics and war zones in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

In this no-holds-barred memoir, Lachlan recounts his experiences treating patients ravaged by tropical diseases, managing war wounds with drug-resistant infections, delivering babies by the light of a head torch, dealing with the devastating effects of climate change and narrowly avoiding being kidnapped by militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tackling such impossible problems day in and day out inevitably takes a personal toll. Lachlan is ultimately forced to face his own battles with depression, alcohol abuse and bankruptcy.

Life and Death Decisions is a deeply human look at the personal cost of our broken global health system and a vital call to action.

Review

Lachlan presents the good, the bad and the uncomfortable in this frank memoir. It’s not just a facts, experiences and accomplishments. It’s a stripping bare of emotions, of choices, and an examination of consequence of actions.

I found the most interesting aspect of this read was the way the author relates to his achievements. It’s as if it is a never-ending race to save and help as many people as possible, and yet never feeling a true sense of accomplishment, perhaps because the underlying trauma of a death he had no way of changing always sits on his shoulders as a constant companion.

There appears to be a lack of acknowledgement of his impact on the world and the people he endeavours to help and has helped throughout the years. The drive, the selflessness and often reckless regard for his own life and his close relationships. Even the last pages are a testament to how he wants to live life by example to change the path we have created, which is at odds with saving lives at this moment in time. 

It’s a remarkable read, perhaps more so because he makes the hard work and dangerous situations look like second nature. It is food for thought – small steps for some of us, which will lead to bigger ones.

Buy Life and Death Decisions at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Endeavour pub date 1 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Turkey Shed Gang by Ruth Young

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Turkey Shed Gang by Ruth Young.

About the Author

Ruth has been a teacher for a very long time. She loves being in the classroom making learning fun and specialises in teaching reading and spelling.  Now retired, Ruth teaches children with learning difficulties at her home, and it doesn’t matter how old they are, she loves to help!

Ruth has always told stories to the children she teaches. Her book, The Turkey Shed Gang, is for 7–8-year-old independent readers. She also writes for dyslexic children in mind so that they can read a book, maybe with a little help, which is age appropriate for them.

When she’s not teaching, Ruth loves walking in the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, who is a retired airline Captain. They take every chance to travel worldwide and it’s on trips away that Ruth comes up with her ideas for her books, always scribbling notes down in her purple notebook which she carries everywhere.

Ruth loves baking bread and cakes and is always in the kitchen with her vast collection of cookery books. She has been interviewed by the BBC three times about writing, environmental issues and her work with dyslexic children, and had an article published in a national magazine for parents. Follow @ruthyoung6 on Instagram or ruth.young.127 on Facebook.

About the book

Joe had a bad day at school. Everything went wrong…

FIRSTLY, he had to read to the class and that was his worst nightmare, reading in front of everyone. THEN, he scored an own goal in football. LATER, after eating three chocolate eclairs at Gran’s house, she tells him about a raid in the bank this morning. The robbers had guns and monster masks! To Joe it sounded exciting, if only he could have been there too!

But his opinion soon changes when he realises the danger his Gran is now faced with. She shows him a bag full of money that she picked up by mistake, thinking it was her shopping after the raid. Joe decides the only thing to do to keep her safe is for them to go on the run. They must go before the police come to arrest her or worse still, the robbers find out she has their money. To add to his problems, Gran wants to take Mr Percival with them, a talking parrot she inherited from a neighbour.

A school boy, his gran and a parrot on the run, what could possibly go wrong?

Review

Joe has it tough. He is ridiculed, laughed at and then he gets a little overeager at a football match. Overall, not a very good day at all, so it’s a relief to take a time out with his Gran – oh and her newly acquired friend called Mr Percival.

Mr Percival is a bit of a wild card – he says the first thing that pops into his little head, often with hilarious results. He does make the perfect getaway companion for the double act of Joe and his Gran though. They are on the run, because that’s what criminals do – they run and hide.

It’s a read I would recommend to advanced readers 8-plus, however I would be mindful of the bullying, discrimination and lack of support the main character receives from his peers at the beginning of the story, and the lack of support from adults who are supposed to be keeping him safe. They are learning moments but could be upsetting to some younger readers. 

Aside from that it is a funny adventure with endearing characters. What’s lovely is the way young Joe is willing to do anything to keep his Gran safe – it becomes an exercise in character and confidence building. Just because you may not be perfect at one thing it doesn’t mean you won’t excel at something else or find a new way to achieve your goals.

Buy The Turkey Shed Gang at Amazon Uk. Publisher: ‎Blossom Spring Publishing pub date 14 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour Redspace Rising by Brian Trent

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Redspace Rising by Brian Trent.

About the Author

Brian Trent’s speculative fiction appears regularly in the world’s top speculative fiction markets, including ANALOG, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, Apex, Escape Pod, COSMOS, Galaxy’s Edge, Nature, and more. Trent lives in New England. Follow @BrianTrent on Twitter, Visit briantrent.com

About the book

Harris Alexander Pope is the man who ended the Partisan War on Mars. All he seeks now is solitude and a return to the life that was stolen from him. Yet when he learns that the worst war criminals are hiding in other bodies, he is forced into an interplanetary pursuit.

Teaming up with other survivors eager for their own brand of vengeance, Harris begins to suspect a darker truth: Maybe what he remembers about the war isn’t what happened at all…

Review

This is most definitely the kind of book that needs a ‘be careful what you say review’ – don’t want to give anything away.  Saying that I’m not sure I could do the truth of the plot real justice even if I did.

Harris is notorious for being a warrior, for changing the course of a volatile war. Now he is on a mission that can only be considered impossible, but that’s why he is the man for the job. The only problem is he isn’t quite sure whether he is the man he thinks he is. 

The information he is given seems to jar an instinct, a subconscious thought process – a resurfacing of memories perhaps. The problem is that they don’t gel with what he is being told in the moment, so what to do? Go with the information you think is correct or with the information that is trying to reach the surface. Who can you trust when your inner self doubts motives and memories, and more importantly when the people around you might not be who they seem to be.

This starts with an awakening and goes full throttle till the very last page. Of course, after that ending the real question is whether readers will get another taste of the world inhibited by survivors, deceivers and those willing to use anyone to get what they want – oh, and let’s not forget the others.

It’s a riveting sci-fi and speculative read – the author definitely deserves a seat at the table with the big guns.

Buy Redspace Rising at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Flame Tree Press pub date 13 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com

#Blogtour Lessons by Ian McEwan

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Lessons by Ian McEwan.

About the Author

Ian McEwan is the critically acclaimed author of seventeen novels and two short story collections. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; The Cement Garden; Enduring Love; Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize; Atonement; Saturday; On Chesil Beach; Solar; Sweet Tooth; The Children Act; Nutshell; and Machines Like Me, which was a number-one bestseller. 

Atonement, Enduring Love, The Children Act and On Chesil Beach have all been adapted for the big screen.

About the book

When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has descended, young Roland Baines’s life is turned upside down. 2,000 miles from his mother’s protective love, stranded at an unusual boarding school, his vulnerability attracts his piano teacher Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.

Twenty-five years later Roland’s wife mysteriously vanishes, leaving him alone with their baby son. He is forced to confront the reality of his rootless existence. As the radiation from the Chernobyl disaster spreads across Europe he begins a search for answers that looks deep into his family history and will last for the rest of his life.

From the Suez and Cuban Missile crises, the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Covid pandemic and climate change, Roland sometimes rides with the tide of history but more often struggles against it. Haunted by lost opportunities, he seeks solace through every possible means – literature, travel, friendship, drugs, sex and politics. A profound love is cut tragically short. Then, in his final years, he finds love again in another form. His journey raises important questions. Can we take full charge of the course of our lives without damage to others? How do global events beyond our control shape our lives and our memories? And what can we learn from the traumas of the past?

Review

Imagine a cut being made at an early age – a slight incision, but one that leaves small indiscernible traces from that point forward. Switch the incision for the interaction with Miriam and the result is the way abuse becomes a part of the fabric of Roland’s life, being, memories and soul. There is no event or interaction after the fact that isn’t in some way tainted by that time in his life.

I really enjoyed the way the author dissects the myriad of confusing emotions Roland experiences throughout his life. There is no closure, because he feels both guilt and the elephant in the room telling him what it really was. Such is the nature of beast called grooming, that the victim is persuaded to feel and believe that they enjoyed, asked for or initiated it.

It’s both interesting and tragic that when the abuse victim is a young boy or man and the abuser a woman, that there is this narrative of applause for the big man who has managed to ‘seduce’ the older woman. Instead of seeing the female predator for what she is of course.

It’s pensive and raw, especially when the world around Roland always seems to return to the inner child. His relationships with everyone in his circle, his work and goals in life. Never quite at peace. It’s an excellent read.

Buy Lessons at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Jonathan Cape – Vintage; pub date 13 Sept. 2022 – £20.00 | Hardback | ebook. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour All That’s Left unsaid by Tracey Lien.

About the Author

Tracey Lien was born and raised in southwestern Sydney, Australia. She earned her MFA at the University of Kansas and was previously a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. All That’s Left Unsaid is her first novel.

About the book

They claim they saw nothing. She knows they’re lying. 1996 – Cabramatta, Sydney ‘Just let him go.’

Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with friends. That night, Denny – optimistic, guileless Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a refugee enclave facing violent crime, and an indifferent police force.

Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case. Even though several people were present at Denny’s murder, each bystander claims to have seen nothing, and they are all staying silent.

Determined to uncover the truth, Ky tracks down and questions the witnesses herself. But what she learns goes beyond what happened that fateful night. The silence has always been there, threaded through the generations, and Ky begins to expose the complex traumas weighing on those present the night Denny died. As she peels back the layers of the place that shaped her, she must confront more than the reasons her brother is dead. And once those truths have finally been spoken, how can any of them move on?

Review

Ky doesn’t realise her advice to give her baby brother a little freedom ultimately ends up being one of a few elements that leads to his death. Coping with his tragic death is one thing but trying to understand why the people who watched it happen are unwilling to help bring his killer to justice, is quite another. She can’t let it go.

It’s a spectacular read – nuanced and layered. When you strip away everything and are left with just the crime there is the bystander effect, the string of decisions and coincidences that lead to the event, and the emotional minefield and destruction that is left behind after a violent death.

What surrounds the event is a poignant blueprint of life as a refugee in a society that relegates you to the bottom step, because of race and heritage. The magnitude of the impact of generational trauma and PTSD on those who have lived through it, and the children born to those who have experienced it.

Those experiences determine self-imposed rules, fears, anxiety and in this case even the look away and accept the fate or hand you have been dealt with by life attitude.

I enjoyed the story surrounding the core, and to be fair the actual death is probably the least important element of the premise, which is tragic in itself. A riveting read.

Buy All That’s Left Unsaid at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher‏: ‎HQ pub date 15 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Harper Collins.