#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 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 The Real Prime Suspect by Jackie Malton with Hélène Mulholland

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Real Prime Suspect: From the Beat to the Screen. My Life as a Female Detective by Jackie Malton with Hélène Mulholland.

About the Author

Jackie Malton was a police officer for twenty-eight years. During her career she worked in the drugs squad, CID, the flying squad (famously known as The Sweeney), fraud squad and as a hostage negotiator. She rose to become one of only three female detective chief inspectors in the Metropolitan Police. 

Jackie has acted as an adviser on some of the most successful British crime dramas, including Prime Suspect, The Bill, Cracker, Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Trial and Retribution and Murder Investigation Team. In 2019 she presented the documentary series, The Real Prime Suspect in which she revisited some of the most notorious murder cases. Most recently, she was interviewed for BBC 2’s documentary Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty; she appeared in Steve McQueen’s BAFTA-award-winning documentary Uprising about the New Cross Fire; and made a guest appearance on the new BBC Sounds podcast, Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley. Jackie regularly gives talks on policing and currently volunteers in a male prison supporting offenders recovering from addiction. Follow @thursley on Twitter

Hélène Mulholland has been a journalist for over twenty years and previously worked at the Guardian as a political reporter. Hélène now works on a freelance basis. The Real Prime Suspect is her first book. Follow @Inmulholland on Twitter

About the book

The Real Prime Suspect is a jaw-dropping, gritty memoir from Jackie Malton, former DCI and the inspiration for legendary TV detective Jane Tennison in Lynda La Plante’s Prime Suspect.

Jackie Malton was a no-nonsense girl from Leicestershire who joined the police force in the 1970s. It was a time of sex segregation in the police force. Male recruits were given a truncheon; female recruits received a handbag and were assigned social work duties. But Jackie desperately wanted to become a detective. 

Feisty and determined, Jackie made her way into some of the most male-dominated departments of the police force. She worked in CID and the famous flying squad before rising to become one of only three female detective chief inspectors in the Metropolitan Police. 

In The Real Prime Suspect, Malton describes the struggles she faced as an openly gay woman in the Metropolitan Police, where sexism and homophobia were rife.

Utterly compelling, the book is rich with fascinating cases and intriguing characters from Jackie’s time on the force. Jackie dealt with rapists, wife beaters, murderers, blackmailers and armed robbers but it was tackling the corruption in her own station that proved the most challenging. Ostracised and harassed by fellow officers furious that she reported the illegality of some colleagues, Malton used alcohol to curb her anxiety. A chance meeting with writer Lynda La Plante five years later changed the course of her life.

Together they worked on shaping Jane Tennison, one of TV’s most famous police characters, in the ground-breaking series Prime Suspect. Not long after, Malton recovered from alcoholism and now works as an AA volunteer in prison and as a TV consultant.

Jackie Malton is a true trailblazer. She forged a path in a male-dominated world and through it all she remained true to herself. Jackie has spent her life working in crime. Now she’s ready to share her story.

Review

This was absolutely fascinating and it gives readers a completely different perspective on both the character we know and love, and the life of the woman behind the character of TV detective Jane Tennison – the inspiration.

Malton gives a rare insight into the world of policing many decades ago when women were little more than glorified makers of cups of tea for the real police – the men of course. A time when being openly same-sex attracted would have had consequences, so a successful career also meant living a life half lived.

Leaving aside the difficulties of working in a male dominated career, which has a curious relationship with the law when it comes to the lawlessness and infractions of its own people and the way they turn on the police officers upholding the law against their own. One of the pivotal elements of the story is what the constant stress of interacting with the dregs of society does to police officers – the inhumanity and horrors they are faced with. How do you deal with all of that without something breaking inside, without experiencing PTSD and trauma, and being able to cope with the aforementioned?

I think it’s easy for everyone to forget that aspect of policing. Luckily for us the author has come out the other side and has been able to leave a lasting legacy of her experiences and through the character of Tennison. It was a really interesting read.

Buy The Real Prime Suspect at Amazon Uk. Published by Endeavour on 25th August 2022 / £20. Buy at Amazon com. Buy here.

#BlogTour The Collective by Alison Gaylin

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Collective by Alison Gaylin.

About the Author

Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed, Heartless, What Remains Of Me and If I Die Tonight; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York. Follow @alisongaylin on Twitter

About the book

Camille Gardner is a grieving and angry mother who, fives years after her daughter’s death, is obsessed with the man she believes to be responsible. Because Camille wants revenge.

Enter: the Collective. A group of women who enact revenge on those who have taken their children.

But as Camille gets more involved in the group she must decide whether these women are the heroes or the villains. And if she chooses wrong, will she ever get out alive?

Review

Less is probably more when it comes to reviewing this, just so the way the plot unfolds remains free from spoilers. There are plenty of juicy bits to focus on though.

Camille is obsessed with the death of her daughter or more accurately her murder and the fact her murderer is allowed to enjoy life as if he were an innocent man. At the height of her destructive phase she encounters a group of women who know exactly how she feels, and more importantly they also believe the guilty should be punished.

For me the core of this story is about the grief and the way it manifests in a different way for each individual. Also how grief is experienced depending on the circumstances of the loss a person experiences. It’s such a nuanced, deeply felt, chaotic and often very destructive emotion.

I think it’s easy to feel empathy for Camille, regardless of the way she acts or reacts. Her frustration and anger are justified. The truth is there is no justice when a loved one is ripped from your life in a vicious way, especially when the perpetrator is allowed to walk away without any consequences.

I really enjoyed the way the author took this plot and ran with it and didn’t feel the need to deliver an ending tied up with a pretty bow. Instead the anger and need for vengeance that simmers throughout the book is presented on a silver platter. Nicely done. 

Buy The Collective at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orion Fiction, pub date1st September 2022 – Mass market paperback (£8.99), eBook and audio also available. Buy at Amazon com. Via Orion Books.

#BlogTour A Gypsy in Auschwitz by Otto Rosenberg

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Gypsy in Auschwitz by Otto Rosenberg, as told to Ulrich Enzensberger and translated by Maisie Musgrave.

About the Author

Otto Rosenberg was born in East Prussia in 1927 and grew up in Berlin. He was 9 when he was sent to the Roma and Sinti camp in Marzahn, ahead of the 1936 Olympic Games, and 15 when he was sent to Auschwitz. He was then detained in Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps before being freed in 1945. 

In later years, Rosenberg was the chairman of the Regional Association of German Sinti and Romanies Berlin-Brandenburg and fathered seven children. He passed away in 2001.

Otto’s daughter, Petra Rosenberg, is the current Director of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma Berlin-Brandenburg.

About the book

Otto Rosenberg is 9 and living in Berlin, poor but happy, when his family are first detained. All around them, Sinti and Roma families are being torn from their homes by Nazis , leaving behind schools, jobs, friends, and businesses to live in forced encampments outside the city. One by one, families are broken up, adults and children disappear or are ‘sent East’.

Otto arrives in Auschwitz aged 15 and is later transferred to Buechenwald and Bergen-Belsen. He works, scrounges food whenever he can, witnesses and suffers horrific violence and is driven close to death by illness more than once. Unbelievably, he also joins an armed revolt of prisoners who, facing the SS and certain death, refuse to back down. Somehow, through luck, sheer human will to live, or both, he survives.

The stories of Sinti and Roma suffering in Nazi Germany are all too often lost or untold. In this haunting account, Otto shares his story with a remarkable simplicity. Deeply moving, A Gypsy in Auschwitz is the incredible story of how a young Sinti boy miraculously survived the unimaginable darkness of the Holocaust.

Review

Otto is a mere nine years of age when he and his family are ripped from the comfort of their community and forced to fight to survive in the Marzahn camp. A labour camp with no housing or facilities that was filled with Sinti and Roma. They were targeted with a similar frenzy as the Jews were, because of their alleged racial impurity.

This is the story of a young boy who managed to survive the most vicious and deadly of concentration camps. A child who lost his family and friends, and yet despite his age was brave enough to try and stand up for himself and others by joining a revolt against his captors.

It’s not unusual for someone who has suffered extreme trauma to disassociate themselves from the events, which is why autobiographies and first-hand accounts can sometimes appear a little to be told or written with a lack of emotion. It’s a coping mechanism, keeping the memories and distress at bay, whilst making sure loved ones and victims are never forgotten.

What’s equally important is the intergenerational trauma – epigenetic trauma is fascinating and tragic. Imagine being so traumatised that it seeps into the very fabric of your being, your chemistry even. Post-war Holocaust generations are aware of this and the impact, despite often never being privy to the real details and finer details of said trauma.

It remains vital that the stories of Holocaust survivors are told and heard, regardless of whether they are alive or not. Documentation, eyewitness accounts and first-hand stories are pivotal, as the years pass and the younger generations are introduced to either a whitewashed version, alternative facts such as ludicrous denials or simply no information at all. 

I have read a lot of Holocaust accounts, and am simultaneously disappointed and disturbed that there are still so many facts and stories hidden in the folds of history. The Roma and Sinti persecution tends to stand in the shadow of the other persecuted groups. I think what really rattled my cage about Otto’s account was recognising the bureaucracy of the German nation, which is still a foundation of their structure today. The bureaucracy that stops the nomad community from receiving their financial dues, ergo still oppressing them with the efficiency of the Nazi party. 

The way they meticulously transcribed everything, and as we can see in this book those records and the use of that data, become relevant and remaining so for many years afterwards. Also that the way these war criminals, and they are criminals, just slid into important roles in every industry in the post-war era. No punishment or accountability, instead the victims were victimised further by having to watch the guilty live without the burden of trauma, and what’s worse they have to live with the murderers among them.

It’s an important read – one that should be taught in school and one we should be telling and retelling, so Otto and his experience never fall foul of the system that forgets and history that swallows up the voices of so many innocents. I won’t forget Otto, his family or his community.

Buy A Gypsy in Auschwitz at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

BlogTour This Wild, Wild Country by Inga Vesper

It’s my turn on the BlogTour This Wild, Wild Country by Inga Vesper – the captivating new mystery from the author of The Long, Long Afternoon.

About the Author

Inga Vesper is a journalist and editor. She moved to the UK from Germany to work as a carer, before the urge to write and explore brought her to journalism. As a reporter, she covered the coroner’s court and was able to observe how family, neighbours and police react to a suspicious death. Inga has worked in Syria and Tanzania, but now lives in Glasgow, because there’s no better way to find a good story than eavesdropping on the chatter in a Scottish cafe on a rainy day. Follow @wekesperos on Twitter,

About the book

Three women. An isolated town. A decades-old mystery. – They hate me down there, in Boldville. I can read it in their eyes, smell it on their noxious breaths. That dreaded little town hates everything about me: not just my personality and form, the clothes I wear, but the way I think. The things that I know.

1933. Cornelia Stover is headstrong and business-minded – not the kind of woman the men of Boldville, New Mexico, expect her to be. Then she stumbles upon a secret hidden out in the hills . . .

1970. Decades later, Joanna Riley, a former cop, packs up her car in the middle of the night and drives west, fleeing an abusive marriage and a life she can no longer bear. Eventually, she runs out of gas and finds herself in Boldville, a sleepy desert town in the foothills of the Gila Mountains.

Joanna was looking for somewhere to retreat, to hide, but something is off about this place. In a commune on the outskirts a young man has been found dead and Joanna knows a cover up when she sees it. Soon, she and Glitter, a young, disaffected hippie, find themselves caught up in a dark mystery that goes to the very heart of Boldville, where for too long people have kept their eyes shut and turned their heads away. A mystery that leads them all the way back to the unexplained disappearance of Glitter’s grandmother Cornelia forty years before . . .

Review

For me the veins of gold in this story – pun totally intended – are the moments in history that have been retold through the lens of those who write history. Predominantly white men, who speak of free love, rebellion, lack of boundaries and peace. What would those historical movements look like if told through the lens of women, but stripped down to the bare facts without the flowy, flowery, drug-fuelled unicorn fluff of that era.

How many people have shoved their own MeToo moments into a box and labelled it all part of the hippie culture and free love movement. Then swallowed those moments and the trauma eventually surfaces when the confines of those times no longer have any validity. Often things are merely in vogue or the way the voice of the people rises above the norms of society with loud murmurs of discontent.

It’s interesting how those murmurs and attempts at changing the status quo are recalled. A certain element of irresponsibility and lack of clarity, a minor blip of youth experimentation. The reality hidden behind the exterior of talk of peace and harmony.

In a way all of the main characters share their own moments in history where they are stereotyped, abused and oppressed, which is where their paths meet. It’s an interesting second book from this author, and has its place when you consider the first book. A mystery hidden in a forest full of issues, emotional baggage, and a story of women. I wonder where the story and the author will lead us next.

Buy This Wild, Wild Country at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Bonnier Zaffre – Manilla Press pub date 4 Aug. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.