#BlogTour Under the Cloud by B.R. Erlank

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

About the Author

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

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

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

About the book

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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#Blogtour The Invisible by Michelle Dunne

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

About the Author

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

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

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

About the book

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

#Blogtour Life and Death Decisions by Dr Lachlan McIver

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

About the Author

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

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

About the book

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

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

#Blogtour Redspace Rising by Brian Trent

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

About the Author

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

About the book

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Blogtour Lessons by Ian McEwan

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

About the Author

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

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

About the book

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

#Blogtour All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

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

About the Author

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

About the book

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Blogtour Song for Ria by Michelle Shine

It’s my turn on the Blogtour Song for Ria by Michelle Shine.

About the Author

Michelle Shine was born in London in 1956 and lives in Hampstead. She is the author of Mesmerised, a historical novel about the Impressionists, narrated by their friend, fellow artist, doctor and homeopath, Paul Gachet, and The Subtle Art of Healing which was long listed for the Cinnamon Press novella award in 2007. Her short stories have appeared in Liars League, Grey Sparrow, Ephiphany and several collections. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck. Follow @MichelleShine15 on Twitter, Visit michelleshine.co.uk

About the book

Renowned composer Alison Connaught is grieving. Her high-profile, Hollywood-based daughter, Ria, has died of an overdose of the OxyContin that Alison had no idea she was taking. 

Despite the fact that Ria was 27, living thousands of miles away in the US, with a successful acting career, Alison blames herself. What kind of mother doesn’t even know her child is taking opiates?

Alison finds that her grief has muted her. She can no longer play or enjoy her music. She has lost her daughter, and now it seems her career as an award-winning composer for some of the biggest names in the industry is over. On top of this her marriage to Ria’s stepfather, Harvey, is suffering. 

By travelling to the States, meeting Ria’s friends and colleagues, and gaining an insight into the gruelling challenges of Hollywood she begins to form a bridge to both her daughter and her musical muse. She learns that a docu-soap about Ria is in the making. One of Ria’s rivals will be both a producer of the programme and the star.

Gradually Alison begins to make music again but this time she is insistent the music will be hers. Her album is released and   advertised in the docu-soap’s commercial breaks and the accompanying publicity gives Alison the opportunity to tell her side of the story to the world. 

There is still one person she needs to speak to and she confronts Joshua – Ria’s inconstant boyfriend – and Alison can finally reconcile her place in Ria’s story. 

This is a visceral and deeply moving tale of grief and regret. Michelle Shine’s skill as a storyteller brings Alison’s thoughts and actions to life in this stunning novel.

Review

This is the story of a mother searching for an explanation for the death of her daughter. It’s about grief and subjective opinions about relationships. It’s also one about the ability to express and lighten your weight by creating beauty in art – in this case music.

There is always this constant inner dialogue of regrets and what-ifs. If I had or hadn’t done xyz then this would never have happened. Guilt is an overwhelming burden to carry, despite there often being no reason to feel it. In this story that sentiment really comes to a head when Alison is confronted by Ria’s version of their relationship or at the very least the version now told by those left behind to mourn her. The two images are different sides of the same coin – one the glossy image of the reared child and the other the unknown woman she became.

The young woman who dulled the pain, silenced the doubts and hid her real self with an alarming adeptness at deception. Addicts tend to be skilled manipulators and masters of deceit. How hard is it for Alison to accept a certain scenario and simultaneously her own role in it, and I write that with a wee bit of tongue in cheek, because it seems quite fashionable to tell tales of a difficult parent and awful childhood instead of taking some accountability for one’s own actions.

I found this a little hard at times from a pure grief perspective. Fiction and speculation read a certain way when researched well and empathy takes centre stage, however reality and fact would make it a more poignant exploration of grief, guilt and loss.

Buy Song for Ria at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎RedDoor Press pub date 13 Jun. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton. This is the second book in The Adventures of Phyllo Cane series, the first book is Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder.

About the Author

Sharn W. Hutton is the author of The Adventures of Phyllo Cane series, the first of which, Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder, was hailed by the judging panel of The Booklife Prize to be ‘dizzyingly bewitching, articulate and intoxicating.’ The next adventure, Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie, is set for release July 31st 2022.

Prior to this foray into the realms of upper middle grade/YA magical fantasy, Sharn wrote cozy mystery based around the irrepressible Angel Drake, in Angel Drake is Going Solo and the short story, Nothing Ventured. Her first novel, It’s Killing Jerry, was a standalone mystery.

Based in Bushey, Hertfordshire, Sharn works from home in the tiny office at the back of the house, which makes up for what it lacks in size and warmth with a rather nice view of the garden. When she isn’t hitting the keyboard (laptop, not piano) she does enjoy a trip to the theatre or cinema and pretends to use the very expensive exercise machine rusting in the summerhouse.

One day she plans to also learn how to play the piano. Visit sharnhutton.com, Follow @sharnious on Instagram

About the book

Magically magnificent, fantastic and ferocious at least, that’s what you’d expect of a fire-breathing dragon. But what if yours won’t come out of its pen to perform? What if the Ringmaster thinks it’s worth more in the apothecary chop-shop than as part of the troupe?

The Beast Whisperer of the Circus of Wonder must bring her beloved dragon back up to its performing peak fast, if she’s to save it, and she thinks she knows what to do.

The unhappy creature needs a mate, but the male sand dragon is a rare beast indeed, and she’ll never be able to catch one alone.

Time for Phyllo to become the Beast Whisperer’s apprentice… Join Phyllo on his next apprenticeship with the Circus of Wonder – a brand new adventure with the fantastic beasts of the Magical Menagerie and a race against time to save their lonely dragon from destruction.

Review

This is the second book in the Phyllo Cane series, and although both books can be read separately, I would recommend reading the first to get the gist of the story. It’s also a good read. 

Phyllo still hasn’t found his place in the Circus as we start this book, unfortunately he thinks he has returned home to perhaps take a place in their small unit. Instead, the Ringmaster wants him to continue on his quest to find the right apprenticeship and finding the right one will also determine whether he can stay near his family. It’s a way to finetune or simply find his own talents and his place in the world of magic.

It’s a story both younger (10 plus) and older readers will enjoy. Filled with magic, wonderfully strange creatures and a circus community that is family in its own strange way. It’s a series with plenty of potential, partly because Phyllo hasn’t quite found his own particular corner and talent yet. And of course, the last sentence of this book is not only a cliff-hanger of sorts – it also promises another great read. 

It’s also the kind of book that speaks to the spark of wonder and imagination we carry within us – worlds full of magic, hidden treasures, and darkened corners full of mystery and surprises. Just the right kind of read to create a lifelong reader. Looking forward to more adventures with Phyllo, and of course seeing where his path leads him, although I have a certain suspicion that his journey of Jack of all trades will culminate in a very specific path.

Buy Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Star City Press pub date 31 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

Amazon International Booklink to Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie: mybook.to/PCATMagicalMenagerie

Amazon International Booklink to Series page: mybook.to/PhylloCane – Current Kindle price: £3.99 – Current Paperback price: £9.99

#Blogtour A Dark Steel Death by Chris Nickson

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Dark Steel Death by Chris Nickson.

About the Author

Chris Nickson is the author of nine previous Tom Harper mysteries, seven highly acclaimed novels in the Richard Nottingham series, and four Simon Westow mysteries. He is also a well-known music journalist. He lives in his beloved Leeds. Follow @ChrisNickson2 on Twitter

About the book

Tom Harper must catch a traitor intent on disrupting the war effort and bringing terror to the streets of Leeds in this page-turning mystery. Leeds. December 1916. Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper is called out in the middle of the night when a huge explosion rips through a munitions factory supplying war materials, leaving death and destruction in its wake. A month later, matches and paper to start a fire are found in an army clothing depot. It’s a chilling discovery: there’s a saboteur running loose on the streets of Leeds.

As so many give their lives in the trenches, Harper and his men are working harder than ever – and their investigation takes a dark twist with two shootings, at the local steelworks and a hospital. With his back against the wall and the war effort at stake, Harper can’t afford to fail. But can he catch the traitor intent on bringing terror to Leeds?

Review

I remember reading a crime novel set in Germany or Austria, either pre/post or during wartime and thinking – why would I think crime and murder stops just because of war. The truth is the chaos and desperation of war creates the perfect scenario for certain depraved minds. The situation lends itself to situations where one would rather remain invisible.

It makes Harper’s task all the more difficult. Try finding a needle in a haystack in the midst of WW1 at home with a city full of people doing their bit for the war effort – including his young daughter. It was interesting to read about the lack of compassion for men who were reluctant to fight, and of course at the time mental health and PTSD were considered weaknesses and a way to get out of the duty expected of them.

Harper and his team are tasked with trying to find a killer, a traitor intent on causing as much damage as possible. Someone who has no regard for the innocent people they kill, as long as the end justifies the means.

It’s a good read that has a vibe of historical war fiction, crime, mystery and simultaneously it also has the emotional depth of a wartime story. Normal people with normal problems, who have to deal with them, whilst dealing with the trauma of war.

Buy A Dark Steel Death at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Severn House pub date 6 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com

#Blogtour Island of Dreams by Harry Duffin

It’s my turn on the Blogtour Island of Dreams by Harry Duffin.

About the Author

I am an award-winning British screenwriter, who was on the first writing team of the BBC’s Eastenders and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial for Coronation Street. I was Head of Development at Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, producing seven major television series, including ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ starring Richard ‘John Boy’ Thomas, and ‘Twist in the Tale’, featuring William Shatner. I was co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘The Tribe’, which ran for five series. Follow @duffin26 on Twitter or @duffinharry on Instagram, Visit harryduffin.co.uk

About the book

In May 1939, when Professor Carl Mueller, his wife, Esther, and their three children flee Nazi Germany, and find refuge on the paradise island of Cuba, they are all full of hopes and dreams for a safe and happy future.

But those dreams are shattered when Carl and Esther are confronted by a ghost from their past, and old betrayals return to haunt them. The turbulent years of political corruption leading to Batista’s dictatorship, forces the older children to take very different paths to pursue their own dangerous dreams.

And – among the chaos and the conflict that finally leads to Castro’s revolution and victory in 1959, an unlikely love begins to grow – a love that threatens the whole family. Having escaped a war-torn Europe, their Island of Dreams is to tear them apart forever.

Review

Out of the fire and into the frying pan – I expect that’s what the Mueller family felt like when the path to freedom ends up landing them in a political inferno, one that threatens to swallow up dissenters whole.

The older children are already set on different paths by the time the family reaches their new destination. When it comes to ideals, politics and beliefs – even at such a young age core memories have left their mark. Those differences lead to further division as they settle into a life in a new country, which has its own powder keg waiting to implode.

Hans is what I would call a disenchanted idealist, brainwashed to believe he is superior and less inclined to believe he is what the Nazi’s would call tainted. He loses himself in the anger and disappointment he aims towards his own family. A typical teenage response to events that suspend belief and shapes the man he becomes. Anna has fire in her belly, her circumstances open her up to the rebellion of her new home.

The children live under the dysfunctional umbrella of a strained relationship – their parents having made the right choices to save them, but perhaps would have made other decisions about their relationship under less dangerous circumstances. Their problems cast long shadows on their children.

The author only touches slightly on the tenuous grasp on possible safety dangled like carrots before so many innocent victims of the Nazi regime. Imagine believing you have done everything possible to escape persecution, only to be confronted with closed doors and a lack of help from the world, and to be returned to certain death.

It’s an interesting premise, because the surrounding circumstances and trauma take a secondary position in regard to the story. In essence you get the life lived if you managed to escape by a mere fraction of time and a lot of luck, but it also means living with the guilt, whilst simultaneously having to hide the fact you are glad you escaped a destiny written for you by others. I also think it’s very much a story of how each life can leave an impact in a different way and perhaps create paths others will follow – imagine if they hadn’t.

War, trauma, fractured relationships and the way each family unit creates a tentacled system of connections and relationships. It would probably make a great mini tv series.

Buy links coming soon.