#Blogtour White Crane Strikes by Ivy Ngeow

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour White Crane Strikes by Ivy Ngeow.

About the Author

Born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, Ivy Ngeow is the author of three published novels and numerous short stories, one of which has been performed and broadcast on the BBC World Service. 

Others have been published in literary journals such as Burning Press, Lunate, Fixi Novo anthology and and also broadsheets like The Straits Times. 

Her debut novel won the 2016 International Proverse Prize, and was published in Hong Kong in 2017. She holds an MA from Middlesex University where she was awarded the University’s 2005 Literary Press Prize, an international competition, out of 1500 entrants. Most recently, she was editor of Asian Anthology New Writing Vol.1 which was published in Feb 2022 in London. 

Her latest novel was on a longlist of 12 for the 2021 Avons x Mushens Entertainment Prize for commercial fiction by a BAME writer. Ivy is a regular suburban mum who loves dogs, cake and piano-pounding. She lives in London. Follow @ivyngeow on Twitter, on Instagram @ivyngeow, on Facebook ivyngeowwriter

About the book

An enormous mansion. A Chinese restaurant. A baby on the way. Handyman Jerome “Jay Jay” Lee has landed a dream job. An underground tong seems to think so too.

Chicago, 1971. Jay Jay’s girlfriend wants a big knock-’em-dead wedding and a new bigger apartment with the whole ball of wax. Grateful when her art world schmoozing lands him a fixer-upper gig for a wealthy arts patron, he has no idea about the sleeping dragon he’s about to wake. 

His boss gets him a Chinatown side hustle, and Jay Jay looks the other way when he overhears an organized crime conversation for fear of losing the much-needed extra income and takeout treats. But when the Chinese restaurant manager vanishes, Jay Jay is trapped in threatening tong talk and the chow is now no fun. His family is now deep in hot soup. Will Jay Jay be able to save them before he’s crispier than a burnt wonton?

White Crane Strikes is a standalone. Fans of Lehane, Ovidia Yu and Naomi Hirahara, who like compelling characters, stirring settings and surprising twists, will love this smart and witty thriller.

Review

Jay is a bit here and there, but he is determined to do well for himself and his loved ones. Part of that is being responsible and getting a job, which is how he ends up being hired to rejuvenate an old mansion, the surrounding buildings and the extensive grounds. Not only does he get the job – it is also the beginning of both a mystery and a thriller that is built around it.

What I enjoyed the most about the story was the relationship, dialogue and interactions between Jay and his employer. The actions, reactions and choices Jay makes are often determined by his cultural background, his upbringing and his past experiences The same can be said about the way he interacts with his world in general. The need to succeed, whilst wanting to prove himself, and subconsciously looking for approval from what he perhaps perceives as a father figure.

There was a lot going on, and the plot went off in plenty of different directions, however the author does bring it all back together in the end. Personally I thought the plot surrounding Jay and Mr Alfred, and the discovery Jay makes, would have given enough fodder for a fascinating read. The author has a very specific voice when it comes to writing – I look forward to seeing how it evolves going forward.

Buy White Crane Strikes at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Leopard Print pub date 30 Jun. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond. It’s a fascinating literary thriller. Keep your eye on this author!About the Author

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.

Follow @GaryRaymond_ @ParthianBooks on Twitter, Amazon Author page

Buy The Golden Orphans

About the book

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

Review

Fascinating.

The narrator is a young artist, who has been invited to the funeral of his old mentor Francis. What begins as a goodbye to an old friend quickly becomes like something out of a bizarre parallel universe, where Rapunzel is replaced by a less than willing tower dweller.

Raymond writes with the skill of an old master. He creates this unusual atmosphere which has nothing to do with the surroundings per se and everything to do with the characters. He incorporates the complex and volatile history of Cyprus with the simmering unease of the present day situation.

The characters are strong and memorable, and yet simultaneously remain elusive and shallow. As a reader you think the author is about to reveal more about them, and bang a door closes in your face.

I was intrigued by the relationship between Illy, his painters and the paintings he craves. It made me wonder whether his request is physically possible or if it is something akin to chasing the Holy Grail.

Although this is a literary thriller I think this also had the potential to simply be a literary piece of fiction. The whole spiel between Illy, Francis, the narrator, and the painting would have made for a spectacular and fascinating read. It didn’t need the added layer of a thriller.

There is something about Raymond’s writing that will definitely have me looking out for more. He weaves and it flows with such a natural ease, it’s as if an old friend has invited you in for a comfortable chinwag and decides to confront you with an unexpected proposition.

It’s a mixture of literary hobnobbery and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Russian gangster vibe. What’s not to like?

Buy The Golden Orphans at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Buy The Golden Orphans at Amazon com at Waterstones Book Depository Barnes & Noble Kobo

Published by Parthian Books on 30th June 2018