#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

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 Remember Tomorrow by Amanda Saint

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Remember Tomorrow by Amanda Saint. It’s post-apocalyptic fiction with a futuristic flair.

About the Author

Amanda Saint’s debut novel, As If I Were A River, reached #3 in the WHSmith Travel charts; was selected as a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month; and chosen as a Top 20 Book of 2016 by the Book Magnet Blog.

Her short stories have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, twice appearing on the Fish Flash Fiction longlist and the Ink Tears Short Story shortlist. She runs her own creative writing business, Retreat West, through which she runs writing courses and competitions; and an independent publishing house, retreat West Books. Amanda also works as a freelance journalist writing about climate change and environmental sustainability.

Follow @saintlywriter @RetreatWest on Twitter, on Facebook, Visit amandasaint.net

Buy Remember Tomorrow

About the book

England, 2073. The UK has been cut off from the rest of the world and ravaged by environmental disasters. Small pockets of survivors live in isolated communities with no electricity, communications or transportation, eating only what they can hunt and grow.

Evie is a herbalist, living in a future that’s more like the past, and she’s fighting for her life. The young people of this post-apocalyptic world have cobbled together a new religion, based on medieval superstitions, and they are convinced she’s a witch. Their leader? Evie’s own grandson.

Weaving between Evie’s current world and her activist past, her tumultuous relationships and the terrifying events that led to the demise of civilised life, Remember Tomorrow is a beautifully written, disturbing and deeply moving portrait of an all-too-possible dystopian world, with a chilling warning at its heart.

Review

It doesn’t matter how far into the future we go, we can always rely on humans to never learn from history or their past. The human race excels at destroying themselves. For some reason they seem particularly talented at repeating the most heinous acts of the past centuries. The title of the book is therefore quite apt.

Instead of moving forward and evolving, a community in the future has reverted back to the days when the mere whiff of suspicion could mean the difference between living in peace and being burnt at the stake for witchcraft. Healing becomes spells, witchery and the devil’s work. This places Evie in the unfortunate position of being a target.

The fact that religion always seems to make an appearance in some way, shape or form is definitely part of the problem in this dystopian, post-apocalyptic and futuristic story. A once thriving community set in the year 2073 in England is facing increasingly harder struggles to survive. Food has become scarce, which makes people desperate.

Her own family uses religion to make Evie seem like a threat and the guise of her being a danger to the community is probably just hiding the fact it is a way to rid themselves of community members. Less people equals less mouths to share food with.

Humans tend to target the vulnerable, the different and the non-conformists to deflect from their own failings or hidden agendas. Evie and any other person refusing to become part the fanatical religious group have a big bullseye painted on their back.

It’s post-apocalyptic fiction with a futuristic flair. Given the rise of certain radical groups and the attacks upon specific religious groups and ethnicities at the moment, despite prior tragedies and atrocities in the last century, this isn’t a far-fetched premise at all.

Saint captivates the mass hysteria of religious zealots, which supersedes any common sense or prior knowledge that questions the beliefs of the fanatics. It’s a recipe for violence and disaster.

Buy Remember Tomorrow at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Retreat West Books; Ecopy pub date 21 Mar. 2019. Paperback pub date 17 March 2019.

Read my review of The Word for Freedom and Nothing is As it Was.

#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.

#BlogBlitz The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows by Jenni Keer

Today it’s my turn on the BlogBlitz The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows by Jenni Keer. It’s magical realism with poignant storylines, vibrant characters and a romance that brews like nice cup of tea.

About the Author

Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker was published in January 2019. The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows is out in July 2019.

Follow @JenniKeer on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit jennikeer.co.uk

Buy The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows

About the book

When Maisie Meadows finds herself single and jobless on New Year’s Day, she resolves that this will be the year she focuses on bringing her scattered family back together. Romance is all very well, but it’s the people you grew up with that matter the most.

But a new job working at an auction house puts her in the path of Theo, a gorgeous but unattainable man who she can’t help but be distracted by. As their bond begins to grow, Maisie finds herself struggling to fulfil the promise she made to herself – but the universe has other ideas, and it’s not long before the Meadows family are thrown back together in the most unlikely of circumstances…

Can dealing with other people’s treasures help Maisie to let go of the past, and teach her who she ought to treasure the most?

Review

I loved the idea of the inanimate object having an underlying magic. Nothing tangible or written in ceramic, just something special out there in the universe. I also thought it was beautiful how the tea set became a synonym for family. The compelling premise of the tea set being incomplete also equating to a family being broken or torn apart.

Maisie Meadows love a planned life, an organised life and everything has a place. After an unfortunate break-up she finds a new job, new friends and an item from her past. An old teapot of an elderly neighbour turns up in the auction house. It causes flashbacks and she spends a lot of time reminiscing about her family and childhood.

In her mind they were the perfect family with the perfect sound-bite memories, but perhaps that is just the way the little girl Maisie wants to remember it. The truth is her family split in so many directions and has been for many years.

Maisie feels a pull to reunite the pieces of the tea set. She isn’t quite sure why it is so important, but she is determined to figure out the secret. Maybe she will find more than she ever hoped, perhaps it will help her to reconcile with some unacknowledged subconscious inner pain.

It’s a story that will resonate with many readers, because family is something the majority of us share, and unfortunately a lot also have broken ones. Broken can also mean far apart or growing apart.

It’s magical realism with poignant storylines, vibrant characters and a romance that brews like a nice cup of tea. I have to admit it made me laugh out loud quite a few times. Stickergate, that’s all I’m saying. It also made me thoughtful and sad sometimes, but overall it is a brilliantly loving read. It’s refreshingly perky and thought-provoking.

Buy The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Enter the Giveaway below to win a signed copy of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker,  pack of Scratbag notelets,  pretty purple pen and a Maisie bookmark (Open to UK Only)

Click here to Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions – UK 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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

#BlogTour Razia by Abda Khan

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Razia by Abda Khan. It’s a contemporary read with a modern crime, a heartfelt attempt to raise awareness.About the Author

Abda Khan is an author and lawyer who works with victims of domestic violence. She was born in Bradford in 1969 to Pakistani parents, and she now lives and works in the West Midlands. He first novel Stained, was published in 2016, and described by Booklist as ‘a contemporary Tess of the d’ Urbervilles’. She was Highly Commend as a finalist at the 2017 NatWest Asian Woman of Achievement Awards, in the Arts and Culture category.

Follow @abdakhan5 on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit abdakhan.com, Buy Razia

About the book

Farah is a young lawyer living and working in London. She’s just ended a long relationship, and her parents are looking for a husband – whether Farah wants one or not. So far, so normal. But at a work dinner, hosted by a dangerously powerful man, she comes across a young woman called Razia, who Farah soon realises is being kept as a domestic slave.

We follow Farah’s daring investigations from the law courts of London to the brick kilns of Lahore, as she begins to uncover the traps that keep generation after generation enslaved.Everywhere she turns there is deep-rooted oppression and corruption, and when the authorities finally intervene, their actions have dire consequences.

Farah teams up with a human rights lawyer, Alia and the two become close… but can she trust him: can they hep Razia and others like her: and will they ever discover the explosive secret behind these events.

Review

It’s such a bizarre and difficult thing for women of certain cultures, both religious and from an race and ethnicity perspective, to have to walk a tightrope between a modern life and cultural traditions.

Farah appears to walk through modern life with confidence, and yet as soon as she hears the beating of the biological clock she scarpers back to the haven of cultural traditions. It seems like such a contradiction, especially given the fact she isn’t exactly a shy wallflower. In her work and when she feels she has to step up to the mark, she does so with gusto and passion.

So the contradiction and clear imbalance is a woman who asks her parents to fix an arranged marriage for her and in the same breath she fights for the rights of a modern slave. Can she even see the hypocrisy of bowing down to an oppressive and patriarchal society, and trying to help the victim of the same society at the same time?

Aside from the modern slave angle, Khan also ventures into plenty of areas of oppression, maltreatment and sub-human treatment of women. She lays the cultural differences, and of course the religious ones, on a plate to be taken on board and observed.

Unfortunately modern-day slavery has become quite common in our era. Cheap labour forces who are coerced into working for nothing or ridiculous compensation, it isn’t a new type of crime, but it is a very lucrative one. Personally I think it’s the same as trafficking and should receive high punishments. It’s also not a crime bound by gender or age.

It’s a contemporary read with a modern crime, a heartfelt attempt to raise awareness.

Buy Razia by Abda Khan at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound; pub date 11 July 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogBlitz How NOT to Write Female Characters by Lucy V. Hay

Today it’s the BlogBlitz How NOT to Write Female Characters by Lucy V. Hay. It’s educational non-fiction, an add-on guide for writers.

About the Author

Lucy V. Hay is an author, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), as well as the script editor and advisor on numerous other features and shorts.  Lucy’s also the author of  writing and selling thriller screenplays  for Kamera Books’ “Creative Essentials” range, as well as its follow ups on Drama Screenplays and Diverse Characters.

Follow @LucyVHayAuthor  on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagram, on Goodreads, Visit lucyvhayauthor.com

Buy How NOT to Write Female Characters

About the book

Female characters. When fifty per cent of your potential target audience is female, if you’re not writing them in your screenplay or novel? You’re making a BIG mistake!

But how should you approach your female characters? That’s the million-dollar question … After all, women in real life are complex, varied and flawed. Knowing where to start in creating three dimensional female characters for your story is extremely difficult.

So … perhaps it’s easier to figure out how NOT to write female characters?

Script editor, novelist and owner of the UK’s top screenwriting blog http://www.bang2write.com, Lucy V Hay has spent the last fifteen years reading the slush pile. She has learned to spot the patterns, pitfalls and general mistakes writers make when writing female characters – and why.

In How Not To Write Female Characters, Lucy outlines:

•WHO your character is & how to avoid “classic” traps and pitfalls

•WHAT mistakes writers typically make with female characters

•WHERE you can find great female characters in produced and published content

•WHEN to let go of gender politics and agendas

•WHY female characters are more important than ever

Lucy is on a mission to improve your writing, as well as enable diverse voices and characters to rise to the top of the spec pile.

Review

There is nothing quite so hilarious as a Twitter thread on how men write female characters. Some of the examples are ludicrous, embarrassing and often downright misogynistic. When you take a closer look the hilarity then changes to disappointment and outrage. Then the cherry on top of the sundae is the fact women are writing their female characters in the same way.

How is this still happening in the 21st century? Ignorance, lack of experience, complacency or just unawareness? I think it depends on the writer, and their willingness to look more closely at the tropes the use ad infinitum.

It’s quite an interesting read, mainly because Hay manages to give both readers and writers a completely different perspective on certain elements of writing female characters. At times I felt myself disagreeing, but then as she went deeper into her point I found myself understanding and agreeing.

It’s an eye-opener of a read, albeit a short one. It’s educational non-fiction, an add-on guide for writers. In a way it’s also valuable for readers, because it isn’t wrong to expect more from our literature and excursions into the world of reading pleasure.

It’s written in a no nonsense and straight to the point way. Hay calls it as she sees it, which isn’t often complimentary. It’s a handy guide for the scribes and scribes to be, The question for me is whether readers will see female characters in a different way after this read.

Buy How NOT to write female characters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Other Twin, The Lynmouth Stories and Do No Harm by Lucy V. Hay.

#BlogTour Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa. It’s YA fantasy embedded with a deep sense of culture, identity and mythology.

About the Author

Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.

Julie now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two obnoxious cats, and a pair of Australian Shepherds that have more Instagram followers than she does.

Follow @Jkagawa on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit juliekagawa.com

Buy Soul of the Sword

About the book

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

Review

What the Talon series lacks in complexity and world-building the Shadow of the Fox series makes up for it tenfold. It’s quite interesting how Kagawa manages to divide the YA category into sub-categories. She can write books that appeal the readers looking for a less mind-boggling and intricate fantasy read, and then turn around and create the kind of read that appeals for those who like their fantasy hardcore complex.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko more or less the holds the key to peace or war and destruction. Her small piece of the powerful and very dangerous scroll has to be transported to the Steel Feather temple in order to avoid the worst possible scenario. Obviously there are other forces also seeking the ability to summon the Kami Dragon, so it isn’t just plain sailing for her.

For one, the demon Hakaimono has possessed Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan, someone Yumeko thought would always be there to protect and support her. Now he has inadvertently become her biggest enemy or rather the one to be the most wary of.

The author uses strong emotional ties and relationships to help drive the plot. This is especially the case with Reika, Okame and Daisuke when it comes to supporting the quest and Yumeko. The flip side of that plays out between Yumeko and Tatsumi. The struggle to reconcile with the fact her friend is in there somewhere, but powerless and at the mercy of Hakaimono. The belief she can save Tatsumi may put her in a precarious situation.

This is without a doubt the kind of series I am wont to follow. It’s YA fantasy embedded with a deep sense of culture, identity and mythology. Kagawa creates her own mythology to weave throughout and strengthen the story, albeit one that is based on the sinuous and intriguing mythology of Japan. It’s an incredibly intense read.

Buy Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Young Adult; pub date 27 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of Soldier, The Iron Warrior and The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa.