#BlogTour The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain

Today it’s my turn and also the end of the fantastic BlogTour The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain.

About the Author

Sairish Hussain was born and brought up in Bradford, West Yorkshire. She studied English Language and Literature at the University of Huddersfield and progressed onto an MA in Creative Writing. Sairish completed her PhD in 2019 after being awarded the university’s Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship. The Family Tree is her debut novel and she is now writing her second book.

Follow @sairish_hussain on Twitter, on Amazonon GoodreadsBuy The Family Tree

About the book

Amjad never imagined he’d be a single father. But, when tragedy strikes, he must step up for his two children – while his world falls apart.

Saahil dreams of providing for his dad and little sister. But his life is about to take an unexpected turn.

The baby of the family, Zahra, is shielded from the worst the world has to offer. But, as she grows up, she wonders if she can rely on anyone but herself.

There’s no such thing as an easy journey. But when life sends the family in different directions, will they take their own paths – or find their way back to each other?

Emotional and real, The Family Tree is the story of one ordinary family – and how it’s the extraordinary moments that define us all.

Review

This story moves through the decades as Amjad and his two young children come to terms with the death of his wife, their mother. As Saahil’s life is destroyed by another tragedy and then as Zahra faces her own difficulties as a young woman.

At the very core this is a story about family. About their love for each other and how their culture defines, cultivates and both strengthens or weakens it. How family relationships change when they are put under immense pressure or go through a traumatic experience.

Hussain doesn’t stop there though – she uses this story of family to broach topics that are at the very heart of societies that struggle with multicultural identities.

Privilege, specifically white privilege, can’t be changed if those with privilege are unable to comprehend what their privilege entails or what it means in the grand scheme of life. I often see comments saying that it isn’t the job of minorities or non-whites to teach white people what privilege means. My answer to that is – you can’t expect them to acknowledge something they aren’t even aware of, because they don’t have to deal with oppression, racism or discrimination on a daily basis.

They have no clue what it’s like to not even make the shortlisting pile because the colour of their skin is too dark, their name sounds too foreign, their religion or race conjures up stereotypical tropes. To be the token person that a company needs to have to show they are diverse.

The author blends these issues that define the professional lives of both Zahra and Saahil into the story, as they also struggle to survive the anger and misconceptions of the trauma that keeps them apart.

It hit the right emotional tone for me. It has the frank and honest feel of a family in the midst of a struggle. It hurts at times, it brings tears to the eyes and it also makes you smile. It’s a contemporary cultural read about family.

Buy The Family Tree at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Published by HQ: pub date 20th February 2020, Hardback £12.99 – Available in ebook and Audio. Buy at Amazon com.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Review

Education equals louding voice, which in turn will enable Adunni to make decisions and speak for herself. It’s what her mother always told her, but her mother is dead and Adunni has taken her place in the family. With a family to feed and rent to pay Adunni becomes the only commodity her father has, so he sells her to a local man. A third wife to be, her dreams wither and die.

Things come to a head and fourteen-year-old Adunni runs away and ends up in the hands of a scrupulous criminal who sells her into servitude. There she again works as an unpaid skivvy and is mistreated by her mistress. No matter where she turns there seems to be the same result.

At first she doesn’t question the girls who have trodden in her footsteps before her, but there is something about the last girl that doesn’t quite sit right. What really happened to Rebecca and is there something or someone Adunni should be afraid of?

One of the saddest and most poignant moments in the book is when you realise that the story of Adunni isn’t set in the past. It’s set in modern day Nigeria, and because of that it is absolutely heartbreaking. Her status as a girl means living as the subservient daughter, the obedient wife and lastly as the servant who is treated worse than a stray dog. Such is the life of her gender. No power, no choice and no voice.

I loved the use of language as a tool to show progress and oppression in the same breath. Daré keeps the entire story on the level of the teenage girl, and yet it simultaneously screams out the unfairness of the adulthood which has been forced upon her.

It’s a contemporary cultural read – a strong reminder of the stark contrast of life for women outside of the high walls of Western civilisation.

Buy The Girl with the Louding Voice at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: Sceptre; pub date 5 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @abidaré_author on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon,

#BlogTour Beyond the Margin by Jo Jackson

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Beyond the Margin by Jo Jackson.

Enter the Giveaway below to Win signed copies of Beyond the Margin and Too Loud a Silence by Jo Jackson. (UK only)About the Author

Jo Jackson reads books and writes them too.

Having worked with some of the most vulnerable people in society she has a unique voice apparent in her second novel Beyond the Margin.

She was a nurse, midwife and family psychotherapist and now lives in rural Shropshire with her husband. She loves travelling and walking as well as gardening, philosophy and art.

Her first novel Too Loud a Silence is set in Egypt where Jo lived for a few years with her husband and three children. Events there were the inspiration for her book which she describes as ‘a story she had to write’.

About the book

Is living on the edge of society a choice? Or is choice a luxury of the fortunate?

Joe, fighting drug addiction, runs until the sea halts his progress. His is a faltering search for meaningful relationships.

‘Let luck be a friend’, Nuala is told but it had never felt that way. Abandoned at five years old survival means learning not to care. Her only hope is to take control of her own destiny. The intertwining of their lives makes a compelling story of darkness and light, trauma, loss and second chances.

Review

Nuala is abandoned to starve and die as a five-year-old. Her experiences as a child and in care define her character and choices, which aren’t always the right ones. Both Nuala and her choices are driven by her fear of abandonment, the fury about being powerless and the confusion she feels about her father. Love is mixed in equal measures with anger and longing.

Joe is a drug addict running away from his past and his life in general. He stumbles upon an elderly couple, who live an isolated life on an island. They recognise a young man in need of support. Joe struggles with inner demons – the call of the drugs that help him forget, and with his own difficult childhood.

Jackson has her finger on the pulse when it comes to the emotional depth and rawness of her characters. There is no sugar-coating of the truth or over-hyping of the same. It’s just out there – to be accepted or not. It’s uncomfortable, but the truth often is when it isn’t being hidden or glossed over. Our care systems are inadequate and children fall through the huge cracks all the time, and yet colour us surprised when they grow up to become the criminals, addicts and vulnerable adults of our societies. Children in care are jobs to over-worked, understaffed, and desensitised social workers who also lack the resources to help them when they need it the most.

It’s an emotional hard-hitting contemporary read. To some it might highlight the fact that we shouldn’t give up so easily on those who struggle or are difficult and don’t fit into the norm society dictates. Second chances can be given, but are often rejected because it’s hard to believe someone could actually care enough when those who are supposed to didn’t or weren’t capable of doing so.

This book will be going on my stand-outs of the year list. Jackson writes with such compassion and brutal honesty – the result is a breathtakingly down-to-earth and compelling read.

Buy Beyond the Margin at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Apedale Press; pub date 23 Oct. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Enter the Giveaway to Win signed copies of Beyond the Margin and Too Loud a Silence by Jo Jackson. (UK only)

Click here to Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  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 A Degree of Uncertainty by Nicola K. Smith

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour A Degree of Uncertainty by Nicola K. Smith.

Enter the Giveaway below to Win 10 x A Degree of Uncertainty (Open to UK Only)About the Author

Nicola K Smith is a freelance journalist contributing to a number of titles including the The Times, Guardian.co.uk, BBC.co.uk, BBC Countryfile and Sainsbury’s Magazine. She lives in Falmouth, Cornwall, a town which inspired A Degree of Uncertainty, although it is set in the fictional Cornish town of Poltowan.

Follow @NicolaKSmith on Twitter, on Instagramon Facebook, on GoodreadsBuy A Degree of Uncertainty

About the book

A Cornish town is slowly fracturing under the weight of its growing university…

Prominent businessman, Harry Manchester will not stand by and see his beloved hometown turned into a student ghetto — and many residents and students are relying on him.

But Harry’s stance sets him on a collision course with Dawn Goldberg, formidable Vice Chancellor of Poltowan University, who is set on doubling its size and cementing her career legacy.

As Harry’s marriage falls apart, his business comes under threat, and fellow traders accuse him of halting progress, Dawn is battling her own demons, not least the need to live up to her late father’s expectations and erase the memory of his tragic death.

There can only be one victor in this battle for the soul of a close-knit community…

Review

Although Harry fights a valiant battle to preserve the sanctity of his town, which makes him an upstanding citizen and hero in the minds of many people, there is another side to him though. The man with a crumbling marriage, although one could say he has his cake and is eating it too with a wife he returns to for comfort and the girlfriend for all his other needs.

It’s easy to view Harry as the most pivotal character in the story, but in the background lurks the all consuming depression of his wife. It’s something Harry doesn’t quite comprehend and indeed has run away from in a way. The author doesn’t let the depression take position as a main character. Instead there is this sense of encroachment, of powerlessness and futility. Those moments aren’t demanding per se, but they are powerful.

His nemesis, Dawn, is fighting to expand the housing situation for a growing population of students at the university – in direct opposition to what Harry and the majority of the town wants. It’s a bit like a reading a gossipy article in a local newspaper.

It’s a contemporary read about the shadow of depression and the fight for a small town.

I was a little surprised by the sexist tropes used by the author to define both Harry and Dawn as characters. They don’t serve any purpose other than to detract from the more poignant storylines.

Smith makes valid points about the way a growing university town changes the way of life for the non-uni residents. When the landscape is changed to make space for more students than there are rooms or housing, the retailers and shops accommodate young people instead of the year round population. Things change in a way that makes life more difficult or not sustainable for non-uni residents. Giving both sides of the argument helps put things into perspective for people who don’t have to deal with this.

Buy A Degree of Uncertainty at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Compass Publishing; pub date 29 Nov. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Enter the Giveaway to Win 10 x A Degree of Uncertainty (Open to UK Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  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.

#BookBirthdayBlitz Perfect Match by Zoe May

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Book Birthday Blitz for Perfect Match by Zoe May.About the Author

Zoe May lives in southeast London and writes romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She worked in journalism and copywriting before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

Perfect Match was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading! She adores animals and if she’s not taking a photo of a vegan meal, she’s probably tweeting about the dairy industry. She is half Greek and half Irish and can make a mean baklava. Zoe has a thing for horror films, India, swimming, hip hop and Radiohead. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of handbags having spent several years working in fashion copywriting and could probably win Mastermind if this was her specialist subject!

Follow @zoe_writes and @HQDigitalUK on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagram, Visit zoemayauthor.co.ukBuy Perfect Match

About the book

Can you ever find true love online?

Sophia Jones is an expert in all things online dating: the best sites, how to write a decent bio, which questions to ask and the right type of photos to use. The only thing she’s not so great at? Picking the guys…

After sitting through yet another dreadful date with a man who isn’t quite what she expected, Sophia is just about ready to give up on the whole dating scene. But her flatmate, Kate, persuades her to give it one more chance, only this time she must create a profile describing her ‘perfect’ man.

Yes, he must look like Robert Pattinson and needs to own a multi-million pound business, but there are a couple of other deal breakers, too! So, when a guy comes along who ticks every box, surely there’s got to be a catch?

Review

There is a chapter in this book that had me in stitches, because it reminded me of a similar faux pas I once made, except mine was mistaking a small heated fluffy hand-towel for a dessert. I was crying tears of laughter when I read it.

What May hides really well in this humorous story is the serious question of our expectations vs reality when it comes to relationships and love, and if that wasn’t enough the author also takes a subtle pop at online dating. It has become the 21st century approach to meeting a potential mate. It has opened up opportunities, but it also brings certain safety concerns with it. Connecting with other people is now as easy as breathing air thanks to app, smartphones and technology in general.

Sophia has used nearly every website she can think of to find the right man. So far she has only met duds, bores and freaks. Then again she is extremely finicky. No one is handsome enough, rich enough, smart enough and certainly not entertaining enough for her.

In an act of desperation she writes a profile for yet another website with what can only be described as fantastical requests. In return she gets a lot of weird replies, but one of them is different, one of them matches the profile perfectly.

The moral of the story is you should never judge a book by its cover. Nothing could be more true in this case. As is the saying that you don’t want something or someone until somebody else has it and it is no longer available to you. Sophia definitely suffers from wanting what she can’t have and not wanting what she can have.

Perfect Match is a light-hearted rom-com with a frank take on 21st century dating and our inability to appreciate what we have, and to see what is often right under our noses. May entertains without losing sight of the point she is trying to make, and brings the serious tone when the story requires it.

It isn’t often that a scene in a book makes me laugh out loud, so kudos to May for that.

Buy Perfect Match at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital, pub date 12 Jan. 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Cake Fairies by Isabella May

Today it’s also my turn on the BlogTour The Cake Fairies by Isabella May.

About the Author

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, churros, ice cream and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s rules. The Cake Fairies is her fifth novel.

Follow @IsabellaMayBks on Twitter, on Goodreadson Instagramon Facebook, Visit isabellamayauthor.comBuy The Cake Fairies

About the book

1960’s Somerset is no fun for cousins Polly and Annabelle Williams. Mourning their non-existent love lives, and the mundanity of village life, their only pleasure is baking – until a chance encounter has them magically transported to the bright lights of London… in 2019!

Promised a chance of love, first they must teach the people of the future about the simpler pleasures of life by becoming Cake Fairies. Over the course of a year they set off on a delectable tour of the UK, dropping off cakes in the most unexpected of places and replacing the lure of technology with much sweeter temptations.

But will their philanthropical endeavours lead them to everlasting love? Or will they discover you can’t have your cake and eat it?

Review

May has certainly created a whole other sub-genre just for readers who love their fiction and/or romance with a bit of food porn. Foodie romance fiction for the people who enjoy it when their sweet-tooth and tastebuds are treated like one of the gang.

I loved the idea of cake becoming the connecting factor between people. The gesture of reaching out and bringing people together with a little sweetness. It’s cake – what’s not to like? I think the aspect of them having to sprinkle their sugary goodness here, there and everywhere in the future to ensure their happiness in the past, is a delightful premise.

Polly and Annabelle are cousins, who are transported to the future, with the help of a bizarre psychic come fairground attraction. Their desire to find love, happiness and a fulfilled life is in reach, but only after they have embarked upon a mission of sorts.

Creating a chain or sequence of events to connect and bring people together with kindness and beautiful gestures. Perhaps in a way infusing the 21st century with something that has become lost to a time period where technology has superceded face-to-face human communication and actual contact. Taking a slice of what was still the norm in the 1960s that we have somehow all let disintegrate.

It’s a contemporary read, one of love and understanding, and friendship. It’s important to hold on to relationships that bring you joy, strength and the sense of feeling safe. Those types of relationships aren’t easy to come by, especially when it is family.

Buy The Cake Fairies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of The Ice Cream Parlour and Costa del Churros by Isabella May.

#BlogTour A Year of Chasing Love by Rosie Chambers

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour A Year of Chasing Love by Rosie Chambers.

About the Author

Rosie Chambers loves writing uplifting, feel-good stories set in sun-filled locations around the world. Her stories are filled with fun, friendship and foodie treats, which Rosie hopes will bring a smile to her readers’ faces.

She’s always in the market for quirky stationery and is never happier than with a pen in one hand and a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit in the other. A Year of Chasing Love is her debut novel.

Follow @RosieCbooks on Twitter, on Goodreadson AmazonBuy A Year of Chasing Love

About the book

One moment can change a lifetime…

The last thing top divorce lawyer Olivia Hamilton ever expected was to be served her own divorce papers! To escape her marriage troubles, she agrees to go on a year-long trip to find the ultimate guide to love.

Travelling the world, surrounded by stories of love and happiness, it’s not long before her thoughts turn to Nathan, her soon-to-be ex-husband, and she starts to take note of her own lessons in love…

But with Nathan over a thousand miles away, will it be too late?

Review

Olivia is a highly successful divorce lawyer, so it comes as a bit of a slap in the face when she is served divorce papers by her own husband, rather viciously in fact, in front of her entire firm.

After being asked to take a long sabbatical Olivia goes on a long trip to research why people divorce and why they stay together. It’s a journey that opens her eyes to everything that led to the demise of her marriage. It also helps her to understand that she has neglected herself, her family, her friends and her husband.

This is a contemporary romance with an Eat, Pray, Love vibe. A journey of self-discovery and exploration. The main character believes her research is a way of distracting herself from her pain and disappointment and doesn’t realise she is about to dissect her own failed relationship by looking inwards from the outside.

I think the premise is rather interesting from a work-life balance and gender perspective. Women who work are often received and treated quite critically for putting their careers first, and yet a man can neglect family, friends and themselves without drawing the ire of the same critics.

I enjoyed the way Chambers made this story into a learning experience of sorts and not just a good read. Learning about the divorce statistics and the statistics on marriages with longevity, especially the differences depending on the country, was interesting.

It makes you take a long hard look at what is really important in life, and perhaps in a way also throws in a friendly suggestion about enjoying what life has to offer.

Buy A Year of Chasing Love at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; pub date 6 Jan. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.