#BlogTour Nothing Is As It Was: A Collection of Climate Change Fiction

I am delighted to be taking part in the BlogTour for Nothing Is As It Was. It is a collection of short stories about climate change – edited by Amanda Saint & Gillian Walker.

I believe it is an incredibly interesting topic, which these authors have managed to make relatable and interesting. Using flash fiction and short stories to get their point across is an effective way to engage the reader without them losing interest, especially because each one of them has such an individual approach.

Buy Nothing Is As It Was

About the book

A collection of short stories and flash fictions on the theme of climate change from established and emerging authors who all care about our planet.

A schoolboy inspired by a conservation hero to do his bit; a mother trying to save her family and her farm from drought; a world that doesn’t get dark anymore; and a city that lives in a tower slowly being taken over by the sea.

These stories and many more make up a poignant collection that is sometimes bleak, sometimes lighthearted, but always hopeful that we can make a change.

Climate Change Cover (1)

Review

This is a collection of flash fiction and short stories on one of the most important topics of our time – climate fiction. This collection is raising funds for the global climate action group, Earth Day Network. In the foreword Amanda Saint speaks about the importance of climate change and getting more people or readers to comprehend the importance of this topic. We are living in a world split down the middle when it comes to this particular topic. Many people, including those in the highest political positions in the world, are climate change deniers. No matter what scientific evidence is presented or even actually being able to see the difference in weather patterns, some people would rather leave the planet to self destruct instead of implementing changes to ensure our survival.

With an anthology it is important to get a flavour of what you’re getting and who you’re getting it from. I think the choice to focus on flash fiction and short stories pieces is very much in line with the topic. Just as the weather now hits us with a fierce vehemence and a violent brutality, so do these individual pieces of work. Here is just a taste of what to expect from Nothing Is As It Was:

Mirror Image by Anna Orridge – ‘Give Nature a chance, and she will return.Head held high.’ Mirror Image is anything but a pretty flash into the future we can expect. One in which the malice of our base human nature shines through in the guise of survival.

Me and the Mountain by Vicky Ridley – ‘Earth’s guttural cries of agony’- An interesting premise. Is earth speaking to us? Crying out for attention? Pleading with us to stop destroying her, using her voice to communicate the frustration she feels at the destruction.

Portal by Philip Sobell – This is definitely a tongue-in-cheek sign of the times story, and the sad thing is I can see this happening. Without any shadow of a doubt the human race would, after determining no real value or solution for the Portal, use it to dispose of a problem. Sad, but true.

No-Car by David McVey – Separating the wheat from the whey, the poor from the rich. Unfortunately this reality is already upon us. When the car becomes the luxury item, as opposed to the common item to own. Public transport being re-delegated to that of the poor, and class structures taking on more immense proportions. Begs the question, whether those who choose to save the environment now with a no-car choice and inadvertently moving themselves into that position already. Food for thought.

Sun by Wiebo Grobler – Will it descend into complete chaos? Good question, but what is more intriguing in Sun is the fact that we just stand by and accept our fate. Isn’t that what we are doing already?

Warrior by F E Clark – I love the Author’s Note on this: Written in response to reading that The Oxford Juniour Dictionary had deleted nature words – particularly the names of flowers. The eco-warrior will become one of the most important elements of our future. Just saying.

Graduation Day at the Fishmonger’s Institute by Anne Summerfield – This doesn’t just speak to climate change, it is already indicative of the times we live in now. So many career paths have disappeared and become extinct. It is a downward trend when it comes to survival. One day there will only be holographs or pictures of certain species perhaps we will be one of them.

The GoodLuck Camera by Kimberly Christensen – This story is prophetic. This is what will befall the majority of us if the water levels continue to rise. Our grandchildren or great-grandchildren may never know the abundance of food and water, or the feeling of sand between their toes.

The Other Side of Me by Norman Coburn – How important are the people who can envisage the future and are trying to change the outcome for every one of us?

Bottleneck 2048 by Neil MacDonald – ‘It was too late for precautions, much much too late.’ This is the reality of our situation. Even if everyone was less interested in profit and making the rich even richer, and the deniers were finally taken to task, the process is already well underway.

Nothing Is As It Was by Nick Ryle Wright – Nobody can protect us from Mother Nature, and there is only so much we can predict. ‘Doing nothing is not an option.’

Healng AthaBasca by Keygan Sands – Poetic and sad, with the ultimate grand gesture, albeit an empty one, but at least it is one that ignites the fire inside of the girl who sees the destruction around her.

The Arctic Commandments by Cath Barton – The desperation of knowing there is no solution, and when nature takes over is it not better to let it take you and end that sense of  your inevitable demise?

I am Stealthy, I am Swift by CJ Conrad –  Is this what awaits us in the end. Will we return to the hunter, gatherer mode? Will extreme survival remove generations of societal norms?

New Moon by Dave Murray – We are complacent and we are in denial, at least a fair number of us. At the moment we are at a stalemate, that period in time just before the next wave comes.

Like a Captain of Old, Going Down with the Ship by Fiona Morgan – We will become a collection of memories and executable files. The far-fetched notions from popular space fiction movies, where they watch back history on recorded tapes. That will be us one day.

Blue Planet Collection by Jane Roberts- It starts with one boy. Imagine if we all did our part to make sure the fish can swim unhindered in the oceans. The oceans filled with waste and plastic.

Come and Gone by Angelita Bradley – ‘Like a chance to make things better has come and gone.’ That is it in a nutshell really. We have been given enough warnings and plenty of opportunity to change the result.

The Warming by Karen Morrow – The land is being consumed by the oceans. Without it we become Waterworld. Salvation is the object we poison, and in return poisons us.

Plenty More Fish in the Sea by Luke Strachan – The thing with evolution is that the majority of species adapt to their environment, so it isn’t to far-fetched to think that some may survive over others. In that there is potential and hope.

Hasta La Vista, Babsy by Fee Johnstone – This is a cute little story, and perhaps one that explains more than just whales getting lost and being beached because the currents are changing. Species securing their survival by making their genetic strains more adaptable to the changing environment. Perhaps animals are a lot smarter than us,because they trust their instinct.

Walking with the Weather by Rob Walton- Short, poignant. What good is a petition, a piece of paper or electronic trail that no person pays any attention to?

Too Late by Ros Collins – The empty promises of politicians, who are too concerned with fame and notoriety than with the facts of the situation. You are doing yourselves a disservice if you are governed by a politician who chooses to ignore the inevitable.

Where Lies the Line by Taria Karillion – ‘Two sides of the same tool of change.’ Unfortunately the human species is a selfish one and one that secures survival before that of others. Not even faith can change instinctual behaviour patterns.

Airpocalypse by Rachel Rivett – The air we breath may soon become a commodity, an illegal one at that. Even now there are cities and countries covered in smog so thick you can cut through it with a knife. We take it for granted.

New Shoes by Charlie Hill – This story is indicative of our society and the way we place property before lives, millennial are especially guilty of this. What matters the nice pair of shoes when death is looming at the front door?

Thirst by Lorraine Wilson – Wouldn’t you do anything to save your child? Break the law and steal from others to secure their survival. In a world full of bureaucrats who care nothing about black and white names on paper.

Deluge by Susmita Bhattacharya – Deluge remembers the victims of the unpredictability of Mother Nature. Climate Change is reaping lives like a wanton seeker of souls. Collecting his dues for supposed past indiscretions. She takes the innocent, the young and the blameless.

Fireworks by David Barker – The animals are encroaching upon our territory. The hunter becomes the hunted, especially when the race for survival becomes an equal one.

Ophelia Rising by Elaine Desmond – The banality of life in general supersedes the overall concern we should have for our survival. Affairs, betrayal and emotional upheaval all blitzed by the majestic power of Mother Nature rising to challenge us.

The Window Box by Stephen Connolly – This is a chapter from his current novel-in-progress. I can honestly say that based on this short introduction it is one I would pick up to read. The setting is a drab dystopian world of dog eat dog. Survival of those who abide by the rules of big brother and are threatened by the steady presence of the almighty Poseidon.

Up Above the World so High  – ‘The distinction between night and day is disappearing in the most heavily populated regions of the Earth.’ Knowing what we do about biological clocks and the impact it has on physical and mental health, I am surprised this isn’t a better known fact or discussed fact.

Although the stories have a common denominator, they are all incredibly different. The fact that they are short actually helps the reader to take on board more information. It is like watching an art display of flashbacks or photographs being projected onto a wall for five minutes at a time.

In a time where the masses are being given conflicting information about climate change, and it has certainly fallen prey to the false news propaganda groups, it is important to try and change the perspective of this issue.

The global companies who control our energy resources are really invested in trying to convince the common man and woman, that climate change doesn’t exist. That the extreme weather, the change in seasons, the change of climates is but merely a natural evolution of earth.

It isn’t. We are destroying our habitat, our species and other species. We have probably already passed the point of no return and the inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. We should at least try to sustain the planet we live on for future generations.

Nothing Is As It Was is an ode to the planet and at the same time a call to rise up and do something, even if it is just that one small thing you can do for your environment.

Buy Nothing Is As It Was at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by Retreat West on 3 May 2018 Follow @RetreatWest

Retreat West Books is an independent press publishing paperback books and ebooks.

Founder, Amanda Saint, is a novelist and short story writer. She’s also a features journalist writing about environmental sustainability and climate change. So all Retreat West Books publications take advantage of digital technology advances and are print-on-demand, in order to make best use of the world’s finite resources.

Retreat West Books is an arm of Amanda’s creative writing business, Retreat West, through which she runs fiction writing retreats, courses and competitions and provides editorial services.

Initially started to publish the anthologies of winning stories in the Retreat West competitions, Retreat West Books is now open for submissions for short story collections, novels and memoirs. Submission info can be found here.

Nothing Is As It Was – About the Authors

Mirror Image by Anna Orridge – Anna Orridge has a BA in English Literature from York University and an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from the University of East Anglia. Her short story, “Rook”, was shortlisted for the Bedford Prize in 2013. The synopsis and opening for an adult novel “Assemblage” made the shortlist for the 2015 Flash 500 competition. Another story, “Number Four”, appeared in the Spring edition of Mslexia in 2016. She is currently writing a Middle Grade novel and was a winner in this year’s #pg70pit competition, which judges the strength of the voice of a novel’s 70th page. The novel has also been selected for the longlist of the 2017 Flash 500 competition. Anna has worked in Spain, Slovakia and Bolivia as an English language tutor, but now lives with her husband and two children in Croydon. Follow @orridge_anna

Me and the Mountain by Vicky Ridley – Vicki Ridley is an author of speculative and young adult fiction and is currently studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University. She has worked for twenty-five years in schools, youth and community organisations, and universities and is now following her ambition of writing genre and graphic fiction. A passionate advocate of protecting the environment, Vicki is a member of the Scottish Green Party. She avoids writing dystopian climate fiction, remaining hopeful that we can achieve a positive environmental future if we work together in the here and now. Vicki is currently working on her first novel, which will feature utopian climate fiction as well as dead Romans. Follow @VickiRidley1

Portal by Philip Sobell – Philip Sobell has been writing short stories (science fiction, horror and fantasy) for several years. ‘Portal’ is his first publication and he recently joined Retreat West as an intern, working on the social media platforms and contributing content ideas. Follow @PhilipSobell

No-Car by David McVey – David McVey lectures in Communication at New College Lanarkshire. He has published over 120 short stories and a great deal of non-fiction that focuses on history and the outdoors. He enjoys hill-walking, visiting historic sites, reading, watching telly, and supporting his home-town football team, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy FC.

Sun by Wiebo Grobler – Born in South-Africa and raised in a small farming community, Wiebo only had his imagination to keep him occupied, till he discovered the magic of books. He fell in love with the characters within from an early age. Soon he created his own worlds and stories in his head. These stories developed voices, which clamoured to be heard. So, he writes. Shortlisted for his Flash Fiction and Poetry for the Fish Publishing Prize he has various stories published in Molotov Lit, National Flash Fiction Day, Reflex Fiction and more. Follow @WieboG

Warrior by F E Clark – F.E. Clark lives in Scotland. She writes and paints, and takes much inspiration from the natural world where she lives. The changing weather and seasons are of great concern to her. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, read her words at: Molotov Cocktail Literary Magazine, Poems for All, Occulum, Moonchild Magazine, Ink In Thirds, Poems for All, Folded Word, Ellipsis Zine, Story Seed Vault, Luna Luna Magazine, and The Wild Hunt. Follow @feclarkart Visit feclarkart.com

Graduation Day at the Fishmonger’s Institute by Anne Summerfield – Anne Summerfield writes short and long fiction and poetry. Her most recent publications include stories in Sleep is a Beautiful Colour (NFFD Anthology 2017) and Flash Fiction Festival One. She has work online and forthcoming in Spelk, Ellipsis, New Flash Fiction Review and Jellyfish Review. Her story ‘Lamb’ was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2018. Se is based in Hampshire, England. Follow @summerwriter

The GoodLuck Camera by Kimberly Christensen – A resident of the Pacific Northwest, Kimberley Christensen writes about all things sustainable-from organic gardening to breastfeeding to waste reduction. After a number of years working for CoolMom, Seattle’s first climate nonprofit focused on women and families, she recently left her position to write in climate fiction. She hopes to introduce readers to the personal side of climate change.

The Other Side of Me by Norman Coburn – Norman Coburn is a novelist and short story writer based on the East coast of Scotland. Steering clear of crime fiction, he writes mystery stories anchored in nature and Scotland’s rich mythology. Living and working by the sea he’s watching the gradual affects of climate change through changing patterns of bird and fish migration. He likes his stories to be gritty but seasoned with hope.

Bottleneck 2048 by Neil MacDonald – Neil MacDonald has published short stories in Structo, Gold Dust, and other magazines, and articles about writing in Writer’s Forums. His historical fantasy novel A Prize of Sovereigns was serialised by an online publisher. He won the 2017 Plot of Gold competition and was awarded a Cinnamon Press mentorship in 2018 for his novel The Tears of Boabdil. He is the creator and administrator of the Farnham Short Story Competition. Drawing on experiences working in international aid, he has also published six non-fiction books. Born in Scotland, he was raised in Jamaica, and has lived and worked in England, The US and South Africa. He now lives in a cottage in Surrey, England together with his wife and the obligatory cat and dog. Visit neilmacdonaldauthor.wordpress.com

Nothing Is As It Was by Nick Ryle Wright – Nick Ryle Wright is a writer of short fiction, currently based in the New Forest, Hampshire. He has had stories published in various magazines and journals, both online and in print, and is a first reader for The Nottingham Review. Follow @nickrylew

Healng AthaBasca by Keygan Sands – Keygan Sands is an MFA candidate at the Iowa State UNiversity’s Creative Writing and Environment Program. Prior to that, she earned a B.S. in marine science and was a naturalist at a cave. Her writing explores the reciprocity that exists between human and natural systems. She has previously been published in Cold Mountain Review. Follow @dracoaestas

The Arctic Commandments by Cath Barton – Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmericCymru Prize for the novella 2017 for Th Plankton Collector, which will be published in September 2018 by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. She has been awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Enhanced Mentoring Scheme and is currently working on a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. Active in the online flash fiction community, she is also a regular contributor to the online critical hub Wales Arts Review. Follow @CathBarton1 Visit cathbarton.com

I am Stealthy, I am Swift by CJ Conrad – CJ Conrad is a deaf, overweight forty-something who believes he will be forever seventeen. He likes dogs, food and welding but not in combination! C also believes that tea is the greatest drink in the world, and that the world would be a far more peaceful place if everyone made room for a brew and a biccy!

New Moon by Dave Murray – Dave Murray is a Manchester based writer of plays , poems and short stories.

Like a Captain of Old, Going Down with the Ship by Fiona Morgan – Fiona Morgan is a reluctant lawyer by day, n enthusiastic writer by night. She loves common sense, history, and bee. She doesn’t like anchovies or climate change deniers. She is currently working on her first novel about a woman who becomes a pilot for the Air Transport Auxilary in WW2. Follow @gosquatkey

Blue Planet Collection by Jane Roberts – Jane Roberts is a freelance writer living in Shropshire, UK. Her fiction is published  in a variety of anthologies and journals including; Litro, Bare Fiction Magazine, The Lonely Crowd, Wales Arts Review, LossLit Magazine, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, NFFD Anthologies, 100 Stories for Haiti, Stories for Homes, Refugees Welcome Anthology, and Unthology 9 (2017); Bridport Prize Flash Fiction (2013/2016), Fish Short Story Prize (2015/2016) and Flash Prize (2016). She is one third of Literary Salmon (Saboteur Awards Longlisted, “Best Anthology” 2016) and is a participant in the Writing West Midlands’ Room 204 Writer Development Programme 2017/2018.

Follow @JaneEHRoberts Visit janeehroberts.wordpress.com

Come and Gone by Angelita Bradley – Angelita Bradney is the winner of the 2017 National Memory Day story competition. Her short fiction has been published by Litro, Stories for Homes, Retreat West, Ellipsis Zine and The Occulum, and has also been shortlisted in several competitions including the Fish Prize. She lives in south east London and is currently writing a novel at the Faber Academy. Follow @AngelBradn

The Warming by Karen Morrow – Karen Morrow is a writer from the South Coast of NSW, Australia. Along with essays and articles, her short fiction has been published in a number of literary journals including Vine Leaves, Kindling Vols 1 and 2 (Writers Edit), Great Ocean Quarterly and Kids Book Review. She has appeared on several literary award short lists including: Launceston Tasmania Literary Award (2014), Shoalhaven Literary Award (2013), Cowley Literary Award (2013) and Writer’s Web Literary Award (2013). Karen has a degree in Social Science, is a member of the Shoalhaven City Council Arts Board and Director of the Shoalhaven Writer’s Festival. Visit karenmorrowwriter.com

Plenty More Fish in the Sea by Luke Strachan – Originally from the highlands of Scotland, Luke Strachan is a London-based illustrator, artist and author. Luke has a deep love of nature and wildlife, enjoying trekking, scuba diving and anything else that immerses him in the natural environment. A keen traveller, Luke has spent time working and living in Tibetan Monasteries in India and the remote coral atolls of the Marshall Islands. Since moving to London, Luke has published his first graphic novel as well as founding an art and design business. Follow @lucasstrachan Visit rooftopfox.com

Hasta La Vista, Babsy by Fee Johnstone – Fee Johnstone is managing editor of a medical journal and lives in Scotland. She enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction and came third in the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, ‘the greenest writing competition on the planet’ in 2016 but is still convinced this was an admin error. She has a few pieces scheduled for publication in some awesome zines (Paper and Ink, Razur Cuts, Ellipsis and Ghostland). To combine her love for cats and craft beer, she’s working on teaching her feline friends to pour the perfect stout.

Walking with the Weatherby Rob Walton – Rob Walton grew up in Scunthorpe, and now lives in North Shields. His short fiction and poetry for adults and children appears in various magazines and anthologies. His flashes have been published by 101 words (US), Bangor Literary Journal, Flash Frontier (NZ) Ham, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Number Eleven, Paper Swans, Popshot, Pygmy Giant, Reflex, Spelk and others. He is a past winner and current judge of the UK’s National Flash Fiction Day micro-fiction competition.

Too Late by Ros Collins – After twenty-five years of teaching, Ros retired to the seaside town of Felixstowe with her husband, where she enjoys her hobbies of writing, reading, tennis and blustery walks. She as been short listed in several competitions and came second in the inaugural Reflex Fiction competition. The subject of climate change holds both a fascination and a horror for her.

Where Lies the Line by Taria Karillion – Taria Karillion grew up in a tiny cottage in the grounds of a castle, and is supposedly descended from an infamous pirate ( much to the amusement of her fencing coach at the time of discovery). Despite her historical background, however, and thanks to an accident involving the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a staircase and a nasty attack of gravity, she became a thoroughly addicted fan of science fiction. Her work has won a Hagrid-sized handful of awards and enough publications to fill his other hand. Her future plans include a solo collection and a quest for World Peace and a calorie-free chocolate. Not much to ask, really…

Airpocalypse by Rachel Rivett – Author of three picture books, Little Grey and the great Mystery, Are You Sad, Little Bear? and I Imagine, and shortlisted for SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices 2014, Rachel Rivett has an MA in Writing for Children. Her short stories appear in the Mother’s Milk anthologies, The Forgotten and the Fantastical and she is currently working on several projects – in snatched and borrowed moments – while she home-educates her children. Visit writewild.weebly.com

New Shoes by Charlie Hill – Charlie Hill is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, a pamphlet of short stories and a novella, about which Nicholas Royle – writing in his introduction to Best British Short Stories 2017 – said: ‘An engrossing piece that…were the author French and his readers all French, might well have been regarded as a worthy late edition to the school of existentialist literature.’ Visit charliehill.org.uk/about/

Visit wordsforthewild.co.uk/?page_id=935

Thirst by Lorraine Wilson – Having spent many years working in remote corners of the world, Loraine Wilson now lives by the sea n Scotland and writes stories that are touched by folklore and the wilderness. She has had her short stories published in magazines and anthologies, and tweets about science, writing, cats and weirdnesses. Follow @raine_clouds

Deluge by Susmita Bhattacharya – Susmita Bhattacharya was born in Mumbai. She teaches creative writing at Winchester University and leads the SO: Write Young Writers project in Southampton. Her debut novel, The Normal State of Mind (Parthian), was published in 2015. Her short stories, essays and poems have been widely published and also broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She won the Winchester Writers Festival Memoir prize in 2016. She lives in Winchester with her family. Follow @Susmitatweets

Visit susmita-bhattacharya.blogspot.co.uk

Fireworks by David Barker – David was born in Cheshire but now lives i Berkshire. he is married to an author of children’s picture books and they have a daughter who loves stories. David spent 26 years working in the City as an economist, trying to predict the future. His first novel, Blue Gold, was published by Urbane last year and the sequel, Rose Gold, comes out in May. the final part of the trilogy is due in 2019.

David appears on Radio Berkshire’s monthly show, Radio Reads, discussing books with host Bill Buckley and author Claire Dyer. He loves reading, especially adventure stories, sci-fi and military history. Outside of family life, his other interests include tennis, golf, surfing and board games. Follow @BlueGold201 Visit davidbarkerauthor.co.uk

Ophelia Rising by Elaine Desmond – Elaine Desmond is a full-time author based in Ireland. She holds a degree in Psychology and Business, as well as a PhD in Sociology. Elaine is the author of a number of academic articles on risk and democracy and, in 2017, published a non-fiction book with Palgrave Macmillan. Legitimation in a World at Risk: The Case of Genetically Modified Crops in India is based upon a year’s research in the politically volatile and economically vulnerable region of Telangana. She lectures on Environmental Sociology and Globalisation and Development at University College Cork, and is affiliated with the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge University. Details of her academic work can be found at cambridge.academia.edu/ElaineDesmond

Elaine has a Certificate  in Creative Writing from the Writers Bureau in the Uk and has had articles published in newspapers and magazines. Her short stories and poems have been runners-up in a number of literary awards. In 2008, she wrote a one-act play entitled A Footprint of Roses about WOZA, a women’s civil movement in Zimbabwe. This was produced throughout Europe and the United States and is available online. Elaine is a member of the Virgin Slate Writers Group and the Corccodorca Theatre Development Company, both in Cork.

The Window Box by Stephen Connolly – Stephen Connolly grew up in Canada, Scotland and the Republic of South Africa. He has published a number of short stories and his pays have been performed in Bath, Brighton, London and Salisbury. In 2015 he graduated with an MA in Scriptwriting from Bath Spa University. Off The Rock Productions will record his radio play ‘The Destiny of Shoes’ in 2018. He was at school with the Proclaimers who probably don’t remember him. His story The Window Box is a chapter from his current novel-in-progress. Visit stephenconnollywriter.com


Up Above the World so High by Rose McGinty – Rose McGinty is the author of Electric Souk, published in 2017 by Urbane Publications. Rose lives in Kent and works for the NHS in East London, and has worked overseas, including the Middle East. She is an alumni of Trinity College, Dublin, and the Faber Academy. Rose has won several writing competitions and had short stories selected for anthologies. Se’s now working on he second novel, a thriller that has taken her to some rather gothic hospital  corridors. Follow @rosemcginty

edited by Amanda Saint Follow @saintlywriter and Gillian Baker

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Nothing went as planned, but hey I’m back!

images-19I just thought I would explain my online absence over the last 10 days…

I had to have surgery and it didn’t exactly go the way I expected it to.

Unfortunately I think I am superwoman sometimes and was convinced that major surgery would be a minor setback.

In my head I had it all planned out. In one day, have surgery and out the next day, which is quite the norm in the UK even for major surgery. In theory it sounded great.

In reality I had to beg, wiggle and worm my way out of a longer stay due to the fact I hadn’t ticked all the medical boxes for my release. Then I completely underestimated the pain, the fact the pain meds didn’t work and how much time I would spend in a semi-unconscious mode.

Again, my great plan also said I would be catching up with all my reading and reviews. None of that happened either. ‘Sigh’ I think I managed a grand total of one and half books over a 10 day period, as opposed to the at least one a day I usually read.

My brain has been a bit like scrambled eggs on toast without a slice of bread in sight. So much for best laid plans eh?

Anyhoo, I’m back and have a pile of reading and reviews to catch up with!

The past is a murky cloud of nothing and the present a hot empath

Forbidden Fruit (Corine Solomon, #3.5)Forbidden Fruit by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This novella fits in between book 3 and 4 of the Corine Soloman seriesBlue Diablo: Corine Solomon: Book One.
Shannon and Jesse are given an avenue to explore the possibility of a relationship.
I got a teeny weeny bit fed up of the whole Shannon has the hots for Jesse and Jesse can ‘feel’ just how much because he is an empath. Once or twice I get and possibly a third time but it got to the point of repetitive.
You can clearly tell the author has the gift of gab, however the gab must have been bored and overtired in this little excursion. The little content that was there was drawn out like a rubber band and it lacked both detail and character depth.
Novellas are supposed to entice the reader to read the full novel. They need to be hard hitting and leave the reader with a curiosity born of needing to know what happens next. Even an add on to a series novella.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley

View all my reviews

#BlogTour The Word for Freedom: Short Stories Celebrating Women’s Suffrage

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour – The Word for Freedom: Short stories celebrating women’s suffrage and raising money for Hestia and UK Says No More.

About the Authors

Authors that have donated stories:

Isabel Costello is a London-based author and host of the Literary Sofa blog. Her debut novel Paris Mon Amour was published in 2016 and her short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies. She teaches Resilient Thinking for Writers with psychologist and author Voula Tsoflias. @isabelcostello www.literarysofa.com

Christine Powell lives in County Durham and is a member of Vane Women, a writers’ co-operative dedicated to the promotion of the work of women writers in the north east of England ( www.vanewomen.co.uk ). Her stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines.

Victoria Richards is a journalist and writer. In 2017/ 18 she was highly commended in the Bridport Prize, came third in The London Magazine short story competition and second in the TSS international flash fiction competition. She was also shortlisted in the Bath Novel Award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and long listed in the National Poetry Competition. Find her at @nakedvix and www.victoriarichards.co.uk

Carolyn Sanderson has worked in a number of fields, including teaching, training, counselling and working for the Church of England. She has written articles, reviews and a number of hymns. Times and Seasons, her contribution to the Hometown Tales series was recently published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Sallie Anderson is a writer living in Gloucestershire. She now works as a bookseller, but has had many jobs, including election polling clerk, which provided the inspiration for this story. Her short stories have been published in magazines and short-listed in a number of competitions. @JustSalGal

Abigail Rowe lives and writes in Cork, Ireland. Currently completing her first novel, she delights in honing her craft writing short fiction, flash and the odd poem. Abigail’s passions include bees, decent coffee, history, her granddaughters and looking for beauty everywhere and anywhere she goes. @RoweWrites and ismidlifeliminal.wordpress.com 

Rosaleen Lynch is an Irish community worker and writer in the East End of London. She pursues stories whether conversational, literary or performed, keen to explore them as part of the learning cycle of everyday life. @quotes_52 and www.52quotes.blogspot.com

Sophie Duffy is the author of The Generation Game, This Holey Life, and Bright Stars. She has won the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Luke Bitmead Bursary, was runner-up for the Harry Bowling Prize and longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker. She also writes as Lizzie Lovell and is part of the team of CreativeWritingMatters who administer the Exeter Novel Prize. She lives in Devon.

Kate Vine is a graduate of the MA Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Her short fiction has been published by Dear Damsels and she is a recent winner of the City Writes competition. She is currently working on her first novel. @Kate_ElizabethV and deardamsels.com/ 2018/ 02/ 16/ he-loves-that-story

David Cook’s stories have been published in the National Flash Fiction Anthology, Stories For Homes 2 and a number of online journals. He lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at www.davewritesfiction.wordpress.com and @davidcook100.

Helen Irene Young is the author of The May Queen (Crooked Cat Books) and a digital editor for a book publisher. She attended the Faber Academy six-month novel writing course. She splits her time between London and Colombia, when she can get there. Her next novel, set in 1940s Bogotá, is about a broken architect trying to build something new. @helenireneyoung and www.helenireneyoung.com

Katherine Blessan is the author of Lydia’s Song: The Story of a Child Lost and a Woman Found (Instant Apostle, 2014), a hope-filled story about sex-trafficking in Cambodia. As well as writing her second novel, Katherine is a screenwriter and short story writer. She lives in Sheffield with her Indian husband and two children where she works as an English tutor and examiner. www.katherineblessan.com and @kathblessan

Anna Orridge has a Masters in Creative Writing with Distinction from the University of East Anglia. Her short stories have appeared in Mslexia, Paper Cuts and the Retreat West anthology Nothing Is As It Was. She is currently writing a Middle Grade Fantasy novel in collaboration with Kickback Media.

Julie Bull lives in South London and Sussex, where she also studied English Literature many moons ago. She is a recovering civil servant and now writes full time. Her first novel lives under the bed. Her short fiction has previously appeared in MIRonline. @juliebu72 instagram: juliebu72 Facebook: Julie Bull.

Karen Hamilton caught the travel bug after a childhood spent abroad and worked as cabin crew for many years. The Perfect Girlfriend is her first novel. It is a psychological thriller about a sociopathic flight attendant, Juliette, who will stop at nothing to win back her pilot ex-boyfriend. @KJHAuthor

Angela Readman’s stories have won The Costa Short Story Award, The Mslexia Story Competition and been on Radio 4. Her debut collection Don’t Try This at Home (And Other Stories) won The Rubery Book Award and was shortlisted in The Edge Hill Prize. She also writes poetry and is published by Nine Arches.

Anna Mazzola is an award-winning writer of historical crime fiction. She has published two novels (The Unseeing and The Story Keeper) and several short stories. She is also a human rights solicitor. She lives in South London with two children, two cats and one husband. @Anna_Mazz and www.Annamazzola.com

Anne Hamilton is a writer, tutor and editor of fiction, and the editor of online magazine, Lothian Life. Her stories are published in several journals and anthologies, and she has read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Her travelogue A Blonde Bengali Wife, inspired the charity, Bhola’s Children, and she is now working on her second novel. Anne lives in Edinburgh, with her young son. www.writerightediting.co.uk and @AnneHamilton7

Dane Divine is an emerging writer from Plymouth, UK, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing. She now lives in Wellington, New Zealand where she works at an art college. Dane creates short stories and flash fiction. She is also working on a novel. instagram.com/ dane_divine 

Cath Bore is based in Liverpool. Her fiction and essays are published in Mslexia Magazine, Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class (Dead Ink), National Flash Fiction Day Anthologies, I Hope You Like Feminist Rants, Fictive Dreams, Spontaneity and more. She also writes about music, books and pop culture. @cathbore and cathbore.wordpress.com

Taria Karillion – As the daughter of an antiquarian book dealer, Taria grew up surrounded by far more books than is healthy for one person. A literature degree, a journalism course and some gratuitous vocabulary overuse later, her stories have appeared in a Hagrid-sized handful of anthologies, and have won enough literary prizes to half-fill his other hand. Despite this, she has no need as yet for larger millinery.

Emily Kerr is proud to be a feminist. Her day job is as a journalist for ITV News and she spends her spare time writing fiction. Her novel Who Does He Think He Is? was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award 2017. She is currently working on her second book. Twitter: @EmilyKerrWrites and www.emilykerrwrites.com

Angela Clarke is the award-winning, Sunday Times bestselling author of the Social Media Murders, including Follow Me, Watch Me, and Trust Me. Her new novel is a gripping psychological thriller that highlights the plight of pregnant women in UK prisons: On My Life is out March 2019. www.AngelaClarke.co.uk

Rachel Rivett – Author of three picture books, Little Grey and the Great Mystery, Are You Sad, Little Bear? and I Imagine, Rachel Rivett has an MA in Writing for Children. She is happy to have short stories in anthologies with Mother’s Milk and Retreat West. www.writewild.weebly.com

Editors:

Amanda Saint founded and runs @RetreatWest, providing creative writing competitions and courses, and in 2017 launched Retreat West Books indie press. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, was a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016. Her new novel, Remember Tomorrow, is coming in 2019. Her short stories have been widely published and been long and shortlisted for, and won, various prizes. @saintlywriter

Rose McGinty is the author of Electric Souk. She lives in Kent and is a creative writing tutor and editor at Retreat West. Previously she worked for the NHS. Rose has won a number of writing competitions and had short stories selected for anthologies. She also enjoys running creative writing workshops in support of social causes. @rosemcginty

About the book

A collection of 24 short stories celebrating a hundred years of women’ suffrage, from both established and emerging authors, all of whom have been inspired by the suffragettes and whose stories, whether set in 1918, the current day or the future, focus on the same freedoms that those women fought for so courageously.

A clerk of works at the Palace of Westminster encounters Emily Davison in a broom cupboard; a mermaid dares to tread on land to please the man she loves; a school girl friendship makes the suffragette protests relevant to the modern day; a mother leaves her child for a tree; an online troll has to face his target; and a woman caught in modern day slavery discovers a chance for freedom in a newspaper cutting.

These stories and many more come together in a collection that doesn’t shy away from the reality of a woman’s world, which has injustices and inequalities alongside opportunities and hard-won freedoms, but always finds strength, bravery and hope.

Through this anthology Retreat West Books is proud to support Hestia and the UK Says No More campaign against domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Review

The stories are inspired by the suffragettes and also by stories of women and oppression. The tip of the iceberg was fighting for the right to have a voice and vote, but the fight for all the other freedoms is still a raging battle.

Each one of the stories comes at the topic of oppression, domestic abuse, rape, sexual abuse, neglect, slavery and inequality from a completely different angle. The importance of that might not be relevant until you read each story and perhaps recognise a factor or a character you can personally relate to in a few or just in one story.

That in itself is an important statement, because the authors don’t purport to be the same as you or I or to have lived the same lives, but they do want each of us to connect with what we have in common. On some level or another each one of us will have experienced something in life that has tried to or still tries to define us as being the weaker gender, the prey, the never quite equal player in business, sport, politics or the world in general. Somewhere out there, there is always someone thinking or acting upon the concept of ‘but you’re just a girl’ – and that is certainly one of our common denominators in life.

Women, and I have said this before, are often their own worst enemy and greatest opposition, because they have been raised to believe the misconceptions and the rule created by the patriarchal systems and society we live in – that woman is less than man. Everything about women is based upon that archaic thought. When society created a layered hierarchy they created it with women as the plus one at the table.

The only way we can alter the thought-process, the system and the way we are treated and perceived is to link together and support each other. Stand up, speak out and be counted. Don’t let men, and women wearing rose-tinted glasses, steal your voice and allow them to take us back into the Dark Ages. Let me tell you that you will be sneered at, ridiculed, abused and denied your rights, but one day change will come. Women like Sarah Parker Remond, Elizabeth Stanton. Alice Paul, Emmeline Pankhurst, Sushama Sen and PL Roy fought for their voice and ours, and we have to fight to keep it.

The book contains the following:

The Word For Freedom, Counting For England, Below The Line, Women Don’t Kill Animals by, One Woman – One Vote, Cover Their Bright Faces, My Mother Left Me For A Tree, Myopia, The Colour Of Sunflowers, Enid Is Going On A Journey, To The Sea, Sayyida Nanda, Relevant, Those Who Trespass Against Us, Past Present Future, Tiny Valentines, The Silent Woman, Not Our Kind Of Girl, Treading On Needles, The Second Brain, The Servitude Of The Sudaarp, Out Of Office, Gristle and Brick.

It’s full of distinctive and powerful voices. In some of them you can feel the anger, the disillusionment, the concern that it may never change, but you can also feel and read the fight. Never lose the will to fight for what is rightfully yours. The right to be safe, to be heard and be equal unto others.

Buy The Word for Freedom at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by Retreat West on 1 November 2018

Retreat West Books is an independent press publishing paperback books and ebooks.

Founder, Amanda Saint, is a novelist and short story writer. She’s also a features journalist writing about environmental sustainability and climate change. So all Retreat West Books publications take advantage of digital technology advances and are print-on-demand, in order to make best use of the world’s finite resources.

Retreat West Books is an arm of Amanda’s creative writing business, Retreat West, through which she runs fiction writing retreats, courses and competitions and provides editorial services.

Initially started to publish the anthologies of winning stories in the Retreat West competitions, Retreat West Books is now open for submissions for short story collections, novels and memoirs. Submission info can be found here.

Mr (Not Quite) Perfect by Jessica Hart

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Suddenly Mr not so perfect is looking kind of yummy…

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could change all the imperfections on your not quite so perfect man?
Allegra decides to take on that challenge for an article she is writing. Her unfortunate victim is plain old fuddy dudddy Max, her best friends brother.
Allegra hasn’t really thought her plan through properly and when Max starts looking rather yummy she gets second thoughts, especially when other women start looking at him as if he is a chocolate eclair on two legs.
Max is being a good sport about all the prodding, poking and people using him as a walking billboard advertisement.It does come with some fringe benefits like lingerie models for example. What kind of hot-blooded male would say no to that? He doesn’t of course and yet at the same time finds himself wondering and thinking about Allegra all of the time.
Events unfold, tempers fray and suddenly nothing is as it was before.
What I really enjoyed about this story was the simplicity. It is a story that could happen to anyone in real life. Best friends become closer and suddenly you wonder why you never noticed the person you have been looking for has been right next to you the whole time.
A really enjoyable read.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mills & Boon.

Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen

I am delighted to welcome Owen Mullen to the blog today and his crime fiction novel Out of the Silence. Don’t miss the brilliant Q&A with Owen!

About the Author

Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist.

Owen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; he still loves to perform on occasion. His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home in the Greek Islands where In Harm’s Way and the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’ were created and written. His latest novel Out Of The Silence is an epic revenge thriller set in Pakistan.

Follow @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook on Twitter, on Instagramon Facebookon YoutubeAmazon Author pageGoodreads Author pageBookbub page,

Buy Out of the Silence

About the book

A compelling revenge thriller

Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there. When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Seven years later in the city of Lahore, members of a prominent family are being brutally murdered, one by one. The only clue is a hand-carved wooden bangle left at the scene of each crime. As the list of suspects grows and the tension mounts, Ralph realises the answers might be closer to home than he ever thought possible.

Solving the mystery will put him back on top but at what cost? Only when the smoke clears will the killing stop and honour be satisfied…

Q&A with Owen Mullen

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know)Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? Calibre…great Scottish drama

Writers or books who have inspired you to put pen to paper?Stephen King and James Lee Burke

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?Jesus Christ…that would be an interesting conversation!

A famous declutterer a la Marie Kondo has decided to help you organise your home – you have to get rid of all but three of your books (the ones you have written yourself are exempt) which three would you pick and why?Firstly I’ve got my own version of Marie at home! The Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes – my all-time favourite detective, A Bend In The River by V.S. Naipal – it’s a slow burner but I love his use of language and Brideshead Revisited – an old boss switched me on to Evelyn Waugh

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about Out of the Silence.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by your book. It blends the often stringent boundaries of crime and women’s fiction. I would love to know all about your inspiration for Out of the Silence?Several years ago I watched a horrific documentary on the treatment of women in Pakistan; it stayed with me. Some years later, my wife Christine and I were travelling in the region for the third time and the idea started to form for an amazing crime thriller set in this wonderfully colourful environment. When we ventured into the Thar dessert we came across a young woman selling salt: when she looked up at me from behind her hijab Afra was born.

The use of the bangles as a plot device to connect the threads is both clever and emotional. Again, I am intrigued by the inspiration to use the bangles in this way.The idea just arrived from wherever it is they live.

The contrasting effect of seeing how the lives of Jameel and Afra go in such different directions is an excellent example of the stark difference in opportunities and development when it comes to gender. Do you think giving a voice to the silent will help to end or at least level out the inequality a little?I’m going to be honest here: I didn’t set out to change things. I simply wanted to write a thrilling crime fiction novel. That said however, if anything I ever write can help someone in any way I would be more than delighted.

As I mentioned above I enjoyed the fact that this fits firmly into both crime and women’s fiction. Did you know your crime story would end up being a silent call to arms for the abused and oppressed or did it just evolve that way as the story progressed?The story arrived almost complete for me, so I always knew that Dr Simone would take up the cause.

What’s next for Owen Mullen? Are you already working on something new?Almost finished the follow up to In Harm’s Way, then there are several ideas fighting for my time!

Thanks for answering all of my questions, even the odd ones!Thanks for inviting me here today…I really enjoyed it. – Owen

Review

Although the blurb suggests that the investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan is the main character and takes centre stage, the truth is he is a mere bit-player in the story of Afra and Jameel. Saying that, aside from the important connection and emotional significance of the family heirloom Jameel gives to his love, even he doesn’t play as much of a pivotal role as Afra.

This story belongs to her, every disillusioned moment, every injury and each second of silence. In turn her story belongs to every woman and girl, who have been and still are treated as a sub-humans. Treated with contempt, abused and used for pleasure and/or pain.

Unfortunately there are still plenty of countries that still do nothing to combat the abuse, molestation, torture, rape and murder of girls and women. Not that our western society has a stellar record, but the country in which this is set, Pakistan, still lives in the dark ages in regards to women’s rights and the abuse of women. Don’t even get me started on India.

An intriguing and emotional element of the story is the way Mullen connects all the threads of the story with the bangles, and indeed they become an integral part of the plot. They become synonymous with the image of Afra, every time they are mentioned it conjures up images of the young girl before, when her world existed only of her family, the village and Jameel. The innocent girl experiencing the first blushes of young love, before life submerges her into a quagmire of systemic and cultural abuse.

It’s a crime thriller combined with a poignant plot about the abuse and neglect of girls and women. This is so much more than a crime thriller, perhaps because the story of Afra takes precedence over the murders, despite the fact everything leads back to her. She is always there in the background, watching and waiting.

Buy Out of the Silence at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy Out of the Silence at Amazon com.at Waterstonesat FoylesBook Depository,

Publisher: Bloodhound Books; pub date Paperback – 21 Jan. 2019pub date ebook edition 28 Jan.2019

#BlogTour It’s No Secret: Thriving after Surviving by Danielle Downey

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour It’s No Secret by Danielle Downey. It’s a personal account of emotional and physical survival.

About the Author

Danielle lives in Devon with her children and husband. Her own experiences in overcoming adversity allow her to be a positive role model, inspiring others that thriving after surviving is truly possible.

Follow Danielle aka @crazykids48 on Twitter, Visit danielledowney.co.uk

Buy It’s No Secret:Thriving after Surviving

About the book

Danielle knew early on that she was not like most children at her school.With a chaotic home life riddled with violence, neglect, abuse and poverty she learned early on how to survive and adapt. Every challenge taught her a valuable lesson about resilience and self-motivation allowing her to develop an unshakable positive mindset, along with a sense of humour.

This book takes the reader on a journey detailing the life-changing events which tested Danielle’s resilience and willpower. She bravely shares the difficult choices she was forced to make in order to safeguard her precious family as long-forgotten secrets are revealed.This uplifting, shocking and empowering book chronicles Danielle’s story and her determination to never let her past define her future.It promises to inspire the reader that change and choice are absolutely possible and that nothing is ever insurmountable.

Review

For me this book is written closure, it’s packed in the guise of helping others, but it is closure. Putting the thoughts, pain, fractured memories in black and white for everyone to read is a way of making it real. A way of making it something you can physically touch and see, instead of a dark cloud of thoughts sitting on your shoulder like a heavy invisible burden.

See my pain, read my pain, feel my pain. Now look at me and see the woman I have become, despite all the pain, abuse, disappointment and lack of support. That is the message that comes through on every single page.

The most important thing to note is that this story doesn’t belong to any other person other than Danielle. Let’s be absolutely one hundred percent clear on that. This is her truth. This is what she felt and feels. 

There is one element of the story I need to address, because giving advice and showing people a way forward is admirable, however some of it verges into the medical parameters, which is a whole different matter.

If you are on anti-depressants please do not come off them cold turkey or reduce your tablet dosage without consulting your doctor. This is incredibly important. If you are being treated for depression or a condition which necessitates anti-depressants, reducing the dosage or coming off them alone without medical advice can have serious repercussions, especially from a physical perspective.

Danielle chose to do so, but this isn’t something a medical professional would ever suggest and certainly not without a treatment plan or supervision. It is also equally important to note that anti-depressants do not work like aspirin, it takes weeks for the body to adjust and for the medication to work. Also not every combo of meds works for every person and condition or mental health issue, and they don’t make every person feel like a zombie. 

The author says herself that the most important aspect, for her, of writing and publishing this book is trying to help others in similar situations. To give them support and show them that there is a way forward, through and a life beyond abuse. 

It’s a personal account of emotional and physical survival. How a woman has come to terms with her difficult childhood and come out on the other side to live her best life. Books and messages like this are important. Sometimes society is so full of negative and painful stories, so it is important to hear from someone who has survived and has managed to face the demons in her head and in her life.

It sometimes reads very factual and disconnected, which is quite common for abuse victims, but the most important thing is that this gives Danielle the closure she needs.

Buy It’s No Secret: Thriving After Surviving at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Independently published; pub date 15 Nov. 2018, Buy at Amazon com

#BlogTour A Rebel at Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Rebel at Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble. It blends romance with historical facts to create a powerful read.

Don’t forget to enter the Giveaway below to win a £15/$15 Amazon Gift Certificate (Open Internationally).

About the Author

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest.

When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Connect with @RachelBrimble @Aria_Fiction on Twitter, on BookBubon Goodreads, And with Rachel Brimble on Facebook, 

Rachel’s Readers Group on Facebook, 

Visit rachelbrimble.com and rachelbrimble.blogspot.com

Buy A Rebel at Pennington’s

About the book

One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridgeand The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.

Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.

With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

Review

Esther is a character driven by her passion for equality. It surpasses nearly everything else in her life. Her involvement has caused an estrangement and disagreements within her family, and threatens to ruin her budding career at Pennington’s. All of those reasons are still not enough to persuade Esther to change her position on achieving a world where both women and men have the legal right to vote.

She is part of a suffragette movement, who believe in peaceful protests and making their point without resorting to hurting anyone else in the process, and yet it feels as if she isn’t doing enough to promote the vote for women. She is thinking about joining the Cause, the more militant part of the suffragette movement.

This is where things get interesting, because what Brimble really wants to explore in this story is whether it is always a valid option to use excessive force to push your agenda. Militants is a word usually reserved for what are essentially domestic terrorists nowadays. Is any cause important enough to warrant hurting the innocent and those who aren’t involved in the agenda? Or is the exact opposite true? Does the importance of the cause sometimes warrant extreme actions?

Brimble uses her comfortable Edwardian series to approach difficult cultural, political and socio-economic topics. She blends romance with historical facts to create a powerful read.

A story, which will hopefully generate discussion about supporting what is morally right and standing up for ourselves. Perhaps put more emphasis on how lucky we are that women of every persuasion and status were willing to stand up, be tortured, and be counted, so that the women of today can cast a vote without even thinking twice about it.

Buy A Rebel at Pennington’s at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Aria; pub date 5 Feb 2019. Buy at Amazon comKoboGoogle Play,

Read my review of The Mistress of Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble

Enter the Giveaway below to win a £15/$15 Amazon Gift Certificate (Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.*

#BlogTour Gallowstree Lane by Kate London

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Gallowstree Lane by Kate London. It’s the third book in the Collins & Griffiths series, but can be read as a standalone novel. It’s a dynamic police procedural with a character-driven plot. 

Kate London – photo by Tim Flach

About the Author

Kate London graduated from Cambridge University and moved to Paris where she trained in theatre. In 2006 Kate joined the Metropolitan Police Service. She finished her career working as part of a Major Investigation Team on SC&O1 – the Metropolitan Police Service’s Homicide Command. She resigned from the MPS in August 2014. Her debut novel Post Mortem was published by Corvus in 2015.

Follow @kate_katelondon @CorvusBooks on Twitter,

Buy Gallowstree Lane

About the book

Please don’t let me die. Please don’t. The final words of teenager Spencer Cardoso as he bleeds out on a London street, his life cut short in a single moment of rage.

When a teenage boy steps out of the shadows of Gallowstree Lane and asks a passer-by for help, it’s already too late. His life is bleeding out on the London street.

The murder threatens to derail Operation Perseus, a cover police investigation into the Eardsley Bluds, an organised criminal network. Detective Kieran Shaw can’t and won’t allow that to happen. But fifteen-year-old Ryan has other ideas. He’s witnessed the death of his best friend, and now he wants someone to pay…

As loyalties collide, a chain of events is triggered that threatens everyone with a connection to Gallowstree Lane.

Review

When it comes to modern day crime in Britain nothing could be more on point than the rise in knife crime in Britain, more specifically in the capital. It has become a veritable Wild West scenario, except the weapon of choice is knives and the majority of crimes are being committed by youths and teens. The MET, well the police in general are woefully understaffed and are trying to stay on top of what can only be called an epidemic at this point.

Sarah is called to the crime scene of a knife crime. A young teen has been killed as part of a gang vs gang act of revenge. His friend witnesses the stabbing and inadvertently becomes a pivotal player in a story that questions whether there is any escape from the inevitable destiny of a criminal and socio-economically depraved environment.

In this book it becomes even more apparent how much of a connection DI Sarah Collins and DC Lizzie Griffiths have. The common denominator is their gender in relation to working in what is considered to be a more masculine job. They both have to contend with having to work ten times harder to prove themselves.

Now that Lizzie is a single mother she finds it hard to reconcile the image and life she had before she was faced with finding dependable childcare and getting through her daily work commitments. She is struggling to cope and expects her baby daddy to do his bit to support, he however has completely different ideas. The kind of drastic solution only a manipulative and desperate person would come up with.

London makes a valid point about women who want both careers and children often being forced to choose one or the other, whereas their male colleagues never seem to have to make the same choices. Although society has come a long way to trying to level the playing field, it is still women who suffer when they want both worlds at the same time.

It’s worth mentioning that although this is the third in the Collins & Griffiths series and that some plot elements lead on from previous books, this can absolutely be read as a standalone novel. It’s a dynamic police procedural with a character-driven plot. 

Buy Gallowstree Lane (Collins and Griffiths #3)at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Corvus; pub date 7 Feb. 2019

#BlogTour Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz. (Translated by Rachel Ward) It’s criminal noir with characters who are bigger than the plot, which makes them the story. This is the second book in the Chastity Riley series and hopefully not the last.

About the Author

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award, and second place in the German Crime Fiction Prize, for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

Follow @ohneKlippo @OrendaBooks on Twitter, Visit simonebuchholz.com

Buy Beton Rouge

About the book

The second book in the critically acclaimed Chastity Riley series.

On a warm September morning, a man is found unconscious and tortured in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of Germany’s biggest magazines. He’s soon identified as a manager of the company. Three days later, another manager appears in a similar way.

The magazine staff were facing significant layoffs, so sympathy for the two men is in short supply. Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect, to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the hothouse world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred…monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves.

Review

I think what I enjoy most about the particular style Buchholz brings to the table, is the ‘I don’t care what is going on around me – my grasp on reality and life in general is more important’ attitude of the main character. This is what gives the Chastity Riley series a distinctive noir touch, and of course the more brusque character interaction and dialogue.

She always seems, and interestingly enough she says it herself, completely distanced from everything and everyone, including the cases she works on. Imagine the universe of Chastity and all the other characters are fellow planets circling the sun.

When she is roped into an unusual case involving a man being found naked in a small cage in a public area, she is also introduced to the person in charge of the case, Stepanovic. The meeting of the two is one of the most fascinating elements of this book.

A shout-out to the author for Stepanovic and the anti-Delorean theory. Now I finally understand the no man’s land of the mind and consciousness. Combining his baggage and thought process with that of Chastity’s very own brand of dealing with life and her relationships was a stroke of genius.

The two of them try to understand the mind-set of a perpetrator, who wants to scare and humiliate their victim, and at the same time figure out why nobody has any empathy for the victim.

The phrase Schmidt’s Cat is used quite a few times in the book. Schmidt’s Cat (Schmidt’s Katze) is a phrase used in more recent eras to describe something or someone moving at an incredibly fast speed. Historically – Schmidt derives from the German word Schmied (blacksmith). The blacksmiths would often own a cat that was used to chase the mice away, and the cat would scarper as fast it could when the blacksmith banged his hammer, hence as fast as Schmidt’s Cat.

So as it relates to the boy in the story becomes Sebastian Schmidt’s cat. A well thought out sardonic twist that gets lost in translation somewhat. So, once again with the idiomatic expressions.

I have a feeling that Buchholz is just getting started, and not just where the Chastity Riley series is concerned. She has a fresh, brash voice and isn’t afraid to use it. It’s criminal noir with characters who are bigger than the plot, which makes them the story. Definitely an author to watch out for.

Buy Beton Rouge at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda BooksPaperback pub date 21 Feb 2019Kindle pub date 28 Dec 2018

Read my review of Blue Night (Chastity Riley #1) by Simone Buchholz