#BlogTour The Change by Kirsten Miller

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Change by Kirsten Miller.

About the Author

Kirsten Miller is an outstanding feminist author in the YA and children’s space, who spent twenty-five years as a strategist in the advertising industry. During that time, she worked for some of the largest agencies in the world – including J Walter Thompson, DDB, Lowe, and Ogilvy & Mather – as well as boutique agencies and an eight-person start-up. 

She’s proud to have quit a senior job at one of the most famous ad agencies in America over an ad that’s described in The Change. The Change is her first adult novel. Follow @bankstirregular on Twitter

About the book

Nessa: The Seeker, Harriett: The Punisher, Jo: The Protector – with new-found powers the time has come to take matters into their own hands…

After Nessa is widowed and her daughters leave for college, she’s left alone in her house near the ocean. In the quiet hours, she hears voices belonging to the dead – who will speak to her.

On the cusp of fifty Harriett’s marriage and career imploded, and she hasn’t left her house in months. But her life is far from over – in fact, she’s undergone a stunning metamorphosis.

Jo spent thirty years at war with her body. The rage that arrived with menopause felt like the last straw – until she discovers she’s able to channel it.

Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio discover the abandoned body of a teenage girl. The police have written off the victim. But the women have not. Their own investigations lead them to more bodies and a world and wealth where the rules don’t apply – and the realisation that laws are designed to protect villains, not the vulnerable.

Review

This has got to be one of the most interesting melding of genres I have read in a long time. It’s a tale of empowerment, of sisterhood, and of being invisible in plain sight. It’s also a tale of the biological monster that lurks within us and how easy it is to dismiss women when they hit a certain age, and of course how many girls and women sink into the pages of history without leaving a footnote behind. there’s a reason for that of course, one that is ingrained deep into society.

Jo, Nessa and Harriett couldn’t be more different, and yet there is a common denominator. The kind of bond that links all women, because although some elements may be different there is no escaping certain biological changes or womanhood in general.

Harriett is considered to be the betrayed woman, who has lost her sanity and acquired a bit of a reputation in town. Jo has always been at odds with the way her life has been controlled by her body, now it’s time to channel the rage that burns within her. Then there is Nessa, the woman with a gift of bringing members of the sisterhood home, when they are lost.

If this is optioned for the screen, and it absolutely should be, then I hope that the powers that be cast women of an appropriate age-range, and not younger women acting said age. If not, the whole concept and story would be submerged in the industry norm, and it would lose the power it contains and emits.

I enjoyed it so much I have bought copies for women who need to read this – it hits a lot of the right notes when it comes to reaching a certain age as a woman, and indeed when they start to navigate the erratic and bountiful nuances of the change. Yes, I am being simultaneously polite and facetious when it comes to the great biological power of the menopause.

Even if this is a story filled with magical realism, built upon a foundation of women and their individual experiences, which are often similar in tone and nature, it is also a riveting story of mystery and murder. A crime read with the frank intensity of Blackwell’s Sound of her Voice. The truth about the worth of girls, women and their lives, and how expendable they are. It gives this read the feel of an intense thriller.

The true intensity however is driven by the power within each woman. The comparison between the powers and the upheavals women go through during life and the change is really well written. Ah, were we but able to throw off the invisible chains of societal norms and misconceptions, to avert the labels of crazy, angry or vengeful.

I can’t recommend this enough – it is an incredible read. 

Buy The Change at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Harper Collins.

Blogtour The Halfways by Nilopar Uddin

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Halfways by Nilopar Uddin.

About the Author

Nilopar Uddin was born in Shropshire to Syleti parents, who like the fictional family in The Halfways owned and ran an Indian restaurant in Wales. Every summer her family would travel for their holidays to Bangladesh to visit extended family, and this affection for the country has continued into adulthood; in 2009 she spent some months in Dhaka volunteering for BRAC, one of the largest NGOs in the world.

About the book

Nasrin and Sabrina are two sisters, who on the face of things live successful and enviable lives in London and New York. When their father, Shamsur suddenly dies, they rush to be with their mother at the family home and restaurant in Wales, and reluctantly step back into the stifling world of their childhood.

When Shamsur’s will is read, a devastating secret is revealed that challenges all that people thought and loved about him. It also profoundly changes the lives and identities of the sisters, and creates an irreparable family rift…

Review

The death of a loved one can often mean you get a glimpse into all of their secrets after their death. The kind they sit on and then let you deal with, because they no longer have to and in death you can’t hear the reactions. When Shamsur dies his daughters, Nasrin and Sabrina, are confronted with decades old secrets and the intricate cover-up, which has left terrible scars and caused emotional turmoil. The face of their family will never look the same again.

Personally I thought the choice to include a lot of the words and phrases in the story in the origin language was both a bold choice, there are plenty of readers who find things like that a stumbling block, and one that lent an essence of atmosphere to the story. An air of authenticity, which pulls the reader into the very important cultural aspect of this family saga. Glossary at the front will probably solve any grumbles.

Towards the end in the last few chapters the author manages to create this very visceral connection to the vulnerability of one of the characters – a connection that is a common denominator in all cultures. The small gestures of reassurance, the internal fear of abandonment, but above all the invisible woven emotional web of familial ties.

The difficulty of balancing dual nationalities, cultures and identities is really driven home in this story. The Western values clash with the heritage and culture, old and new generations try to bridge these gaps in different ways or not at all. Often this happens in countries where colonialism is the foundation upon which society has been built.

It’s a nuanced read, and the author tells the tale through multiple narrators in a way that brings empathy, passion and the cold hard truth of the aftermath of decisions made in the echo chamber of restricted and power hungry societies. Looking forward to more by this author.

The Halfways at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ pub date 7 July 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Harper Collins.

#Blogtour Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan.

About the Author

Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. She has sold over 21 million copies of her books and her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe.

Sarah lives near London, England and when she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike.

Join Sarah’s mailing list at sarahmorgan.com for all book news. Follow @SarahMorgan_ on Twitter

About the book

A marriage in the spotlight – Joanna Whitman’s high-profile marriage held more secrets than she cares to remember, so when her ex-husband dies, she doesn’t know what to feel. But when she discovers that he’s left behind a pregnant young woman, Joanna is forced to act. She knows exactly how brutal the spotlight on them both will be…unless she can find a way for them to disappear.

A beach house hideaway – Ashley Blake is amazed when Joanna suggests they lie low at her beach house in her sleepy Californian hometown. Joanna should be hating her, not helping her. But alone and pregnant, Ashley needs all the support she can find.

A summer of new beginnings – Joanna’s only goal for the summer is privacy. All Ashley wants is space to plan for her and her baby’s future. But when an old flame reappears, and secrets spill out under the hot summer sun, this unlikely friendship is put to the test…

Review

Are you supposed to feel sad if your philandering ex-hubby has a fatal accident and just happens to be in the company of young, attractive woman when it happens. What is the emotional protocol, and what is the public expectation when he is a celebrity, and because of that you are too? The world is eager to know what Joanna knows about his death and the mysterious woman who was with him when he died.

It’s an interesting topic to wade into, the question of fame and whether being a public figure gives the media and fans the right to demand access to each moment of their lives. Does being in the limelight mean you automatically sign away your right to privacy? Does wanting a story or a headline warrant hounding a celebrity, perhaps even to the point of distress or worse?

I think there is a common misconception about public persona and interaction being part of their job, as opposed to the world understanding that a star, celebrity and public figure also has a right to privacy. Possibly even more so, when the majority of their lives is out there to be gawked at and commented on.

The author captures the invasive nature of the press, the lack of trust in the people around them, and the fragility of the person in the midst of news hungry media and gossipmongers. It must be incredibly difficult to realise that close friends and family will happily sell your intimate moments, your photos and your secrets for money or moment of fame.

I thought it was a little dialogue heavy and repetitive in the middle, however it is still a good read. The core is, for me at least, understanding that there is always a way forward even when your heart breaks, your trust in people is destroyed and every door seems to be locked. They aren’t. It’s also about misunderstandings and the way relationships can be redefined as we grow older, and as we enter new periods of our lives. Morgan always delivers a premise that gives plenty of food for thought.

Buy Beach House Summer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ pub date 26 May 2022. Buy at Amazon comAt Harper Collins.

#BlogTour The Unravelling by Polly Crosby

An absolutely brilliant novel – it should definitely be on some award lists this year! Welcome to the BlogTour for The Unravelling by Polly Crosby.

About the AuthorPolly Crosby lives in Norfolk with her husband and son, and her very loud and much-loved Oriental rescue cat, Dali. The Illustrated Child is her first novel. Her second novel, The Unravelling, is out on 6th January ‘22. To Find more about Polly’s writing, visit pollycrosby.comSign up to Polly’s newsletter here. Follow @WriterPolly on Twitter

About the book

When Tartelin Brown accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne Stourbridge, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history.

Tartelin is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne’s research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures that inhabit the landscape. Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left its scars, and some terrible secrets.

As Tartelin pieces together Marianne’s connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them so tightly to the past?

Atmospheric and deeply emotional, The Unravelling is the captivating novel from the author of The Illustrated Child.

Review

Marianne is crotchety solitary figure, who is bound to her home in both physical and an emotional way. The memories, experiences and relationships that lack the right kind of closure, which will allow her some peace, are destined to remain grains of dirt under her skin. Irritations that can be dismissed, but never quite forgotten.

She has hired yet another young girl as an assistant to aid her in the accumulation of a variation of species, mainly butterflies, in order to examine and prove a theory she is working on. Tarteline finds herself a little shell-shocked by her new residence and employer. Apparently living without the common comforts of a 21st century home and a wee bit like society over a century ago, is quite the norm on this peculiar and yet beautiful island.

A story told over the span of Marianne’s lifetime, we encounter her as the curious child eager to be the apple of her father’s eye, the young woman coping with mistakes borne out of hurt pride, and the older woman filled with dreams and regrets. Can young Tarteline, who is still grieving her own loss, begin to understand her remarkable and demanding employer.

I absolutely adored this book. Crosby is an amazing writer with an innate ability to create literary and storytelling magic, as she navigates emotions, nature, memories, trauma and the fragility of human relationships. I can only hope this book is recognised as the gem it is going forward. It will definitely be going on my best reads of ’22 list. I can’t wait to read whatever she comes up with next.

Buy The Unravelling at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ pub date 6 Jan. 2022. Buy at Amazon comAt Harper Collins.

#BlogTour Femlandia by Christina Dalcher

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Femlandia by Christina Dalcher and I couldn’t be more stoked. I loved this book!

About the Author

Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specialized in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and taught at universities in the United States, England, and the United Arab Emirates.

Her short stories and flash fiction appear in over one hundred journals worldwide. Recognitions include first prize in the Bath Flash Fiction Award as well as nominations for The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions.

After spending several years abroad, most recently in Sri Lanka, Dalcher and her husband now split their time between the American South and Andalucia, Spain.

Her debut novel, VOX, was published in August 2018 by Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Random House) and has been translated into twenty languages.  The success of Vox was followed up by the equally successful novels Master Class, Q and now Femlandia. 

Follow @CV_Dalcher on Twitter, Visit christinadalcher.com

About the book

A chilling look into an alternate near future where a woman and her daughter seek refuge in a women-only colony, only to find that the safe haven they were hoping for is the most dangerous place they could be.

Miranda Reynolds always thought she would rather die than live in Femlandia. But that was before the country sank into total economic collapse and her husband walked out in the harshest, most permanent way, leaving her and her sixteen-year-old daughter with nothing. The streets are full of looting, robbing, and killing, and Miranda and Emma no longer have much choice—either starve and risk getting murdered, or find safety. And so they set off to Femlandia, the women-only colony Miranda’s mother, Win Somers, established decades ago.

Although Win is no longer in the spotlight, her protégé Jen Jones has taken Femlandia to new heights: The off-grid colonies are secluded, self-sufficient, and thriving—and Emma is instantly enchanted by this idea of a safe haven. But something is not right. There are no men allowed in the colony, but babies are being born—and they’re all girls. Miranda discovers just how the all-women community is capable of enduring, and it leads her to question how far her mother went to create this perfect, thriving, horrifying society. 

Review

I loved this book! This is going on my best of the year list. I enjoy the way this author has no qualms about venturing into areas a lot of authors steer clear of. There is no fear of treading into controversial topics and crossing boundaries, and in this case calling some bluffs.

Let’s talk Femlandia, and believe me there is plenty to talk about. Miranda and her teenage daughter find themselves in the ruins of their previously privileged life and the breakdown of society as the world knows it. Food shortages, Mad Max dystopian violence is rampant, and the two of them decide to make a run for it before it’s too late.

Enter the world Miranda’s long estranged,and now deceased mother, Win created many years ago. Compounds filled only with girls and women. Miranda and Emma head for the closest one, but the safe harbour appears to be a shallow facade for something for sinister.

The author takes the concept of a woman only world and points out the obvious missing link – if you want to have a continuation of said concept you need men. In a destroyed civilisation without technology how do you ensure only women survive? There are also a few arrows aimed in the general direction of radical feminists and gender – it’s a red hot topic at the moment. I think it’s fair to say … nah I’m not even going to go there. What I will say is the ending of this book speaks volumes about the core of women’s rights and voices being silenced, by the patriarchy and those raised in and supporting said system.

I could talk about this book and the premise for ages. I can’t wait to tell people about it and get their take on it. That’s something you always take away from a book by Dalcher – plenty to talk about. Once again it’s another cracking read. A grenade tossing, minefield dodging exploration of radical feminism, societal constructs and that good old chestnut – patriarchy.

Buy Femlandia at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon comAt WaterstonesAt HarperCollins.

#BlogTour The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt.

About the Author

Emma Harcourt has worked as a journalist for over 25 years, in Australia, the UK and Hong Kong. In 2011, she completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and The Shanghai Wife was borne. Emma lives in Sydney with her two daughters. She is currently working on her second novel. Follow @emma_harcourt on Twitter,

About the book

Forbidden friendship, political conspiracy and incendiary passion draw Australian woman Annie Brand deep into the glamour and turmoil of 1920s Shanghai.

Leaving behind the loneliness and trauma of her past in country Australia, Annie Brand arrives to the political upheaval and glittering international society of Shanghai in the 1920s. Journeying up the Yangtze with her new husband, the ship’s captain, Annie revels in the sense of adventure but when her husband sends her back to Shanghai, her freedom is quickly curtailed.

Against her will, Annie finds herself living alone in the International Settlement, increasingly suffocated by the judgemental Club ladies and their exclusive social scene: one even more restrictive than that she came from. Sick of salacious gossip and foreign condescension, and desperate to shake off the restrictions of her position in the world, Annie is slowly drawn into the bustling life and otherness of the real Shanghai, and begins to see the world from the perspective of the local people, including the servants who work at her husband’s Club.

But this world is far more complex and dangerous than the curious Annie understands and, unknowingly, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue and conspiracy as well as a passionate forbidden love affair she could not have predicted: one with far–reaching consequences… 

Review

Moving to 1920’s Shanghai is a big stretch for Annie, having to deal with the curious and judgemental creatures called ex-pat – throwbacks of the old world on the cusp of change and a new awakening. Thrust into the gossipy world full of sharp retorts and a visible shallowness, Annie starts to reach out into her new surroundings, but encounters more than she ever thought possible.

I imagine it will appear to many that Annie is impulsive and naïve in her actions. Her desire to learn, to help and discover her surroundings is dangerous to the observer, and yet it is completely in keeping with her societal position and her heritage. It’s called white saviour complex, which although is still prevalent today, was and is very much a product of colonialism. She is fearsome in certain situations and simultaneously convinced her position and her good intent will keep her safe. The invisible bubble of privilege if you will.

Harcourt draws the reader in with the vivid imagery and historical setting, to the point where the more adventurous aspect becomes the obstacle, the dam that keeps the other genre voices slightly tamed. It’s a story driven by the vivid imagery, the accurate settings and the due diligence given to the characters. The author blends and weaves to create a riveting tale of self-discovery and times gone by.

Buy The Shanghai Wife at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Fiction, pub date 16. Sep 2021 – £.8.99. Buy at Amazon com.