#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 Stars Among Us by Sanja S. Jungic

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour The Stars Among Us by Sanja S. Jungic.

About the Author

Sanja S. Jungic’s bestselling debut novel, Zvijezde medu nama (The Stars Among Us) was published in Croatian in 2019. The novel was inspired by Sanja’s real life experience on the set of mega-popular show Game of Thrones, gaining a lot of press interest. 

This prompted Sanja to write her second novel, Ti si moje sve (You are My Everything), whilst having Zvijezde medu nama translated into English by the renowned Croatian translator Neven Divjakinja. 

Sanja is very excited to see her bestselling debut published in English for the first time. She lives in Zagreb with her husband Saša and their pets Toya, Cecilije and Egidije. You can find out more about Sanja at sanjasjungic.com. Connect with Sanja on Facebook sanjasrdicjungic, Twitter @ssshedreams1988 and on Instagram @sanjasjungic

About the book

Nora is as shocked as her friends and family when she quits a perfectly good job to become an extra in a Hollywood movie being filmed in Dubrovnik. She hopes it will help her move on from a painful break-up and give her breathing space to find out what she wants to do with her life.

To Nora’s delight she discovers that she loves every minute in her new “temporary” career. It doesn’t hurt either that the handsome assistant director, Ivor, takes more than a passing interest in her. But then events take a dramatic and unforeseen turn when Lucas Winter, world-famous actor and Nora’s teenage heartthrob, unexpectedly arrives on set…

The Stars Among Us is inspired by the author’s real-life experience of being an extra on the set of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Review

Nora is probably braver and more reckless than a lot of her peers. Discarding everything to follow what others consider to be a pipe dream, but isn’t it better to have tried than to always regret not trying at all. There she is in a strange country, struggling financially, and having her first taste of the world of show business. 

The work of an extra on a movie set isn’t very glamorous, however things start to look up when Nora connects with the assistant director. That in itself brings certain complications to the table, but nothing like the whirlwind of emotions heading her way when destiny charts her life with the possibilities of two endings.

The writing was a little he said, she said and a bit YA-ish at times which may or may not be the lack of voice coming through via translation, or the style of the author. An emerging voice with a strong premise though.

I think the sentiment that I took from this book, and indeed it is a lens through which I would view my own choices in life, is that: without your story there, wouldn’t be our story. It’s hard to navigate emotional minefields and baggage to get to the specific details and core of your emotions, and said emotional baggage, where you can accept the aforementioned and view it with such simplicity.

Sometimes you have to wade through the forest to get to the tranquil beach. Do you forget the trek, the scratches or the journey – no, but it fades with time as you enjoy the destination you ultimately chose. Nora embarks on a turbulent adventure indeed.

Buy The Stars Among Us at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#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 Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

It really is a pleasure to welcome back Melanie Blake with Guilty Women, which is the sequel to the fantastic Ruthless Women. ‘The cast of Ruthless Women is back, and this time they’re in trouble…’

About the Author

Melanie Blake is the bestselling author of Ruthless Women, which became a Number 4 Sunday Times hardback bestseller and an ebook bestseller in 2021, selling over 150,000 copies. Guilty Women is her second novel about the cast of Falcon Bay, and her first with HarperFiction. 

Growing up in a working-class household with severe dyslexia, Melanie has her own Rags to Riches story, just like that of her characters – at 15 she was told by her school career advisors that her decision to work at a record shop was ‘a clear example that she wouldn’t go far in her career’. They were wrong. 

By 19 she was working at the BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops show and by 26 she had built a reputation as one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers. She also created her own acting agency from scratch which became the most successful independent boutique agency in the UK. Melanie still represents a high-profile stable of actresses, but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a author, playwright and producer. Follow @MelanieBlakeUK on Twitter

About the book

Can they get away with murder? On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather. Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed.

As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high. The women are determined that the show must go on – whatever the cost. But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no soap opera in the world could survive this scandal…

All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they all guilty?

Review

The Ruthless Women are back, and now it’s all about making sure none of them get caught and get punished for the events in the first book. If you haven’t read it yet and have just found this hot new Collinesque like series, then I can only recommend you start at the beginning to get the full gist of it all.

The tension of their shared secret has an impact on each one of the women, but they all deal with it individually. The need to share and air, name and shame is quite strong with certain women. On the other hand what they all agree with is that none of them, their lives or careers should be destroyed because of a minor fish incident. So cover-up and carry-on it is.

Is it just me or was there a wee homage to soap opera, and the hilarious improve soap opera blow-up by Tootsie. A little pop culture reference there. I think that is the fun of this drama filled crime come contemporary women’s fiction. It brings the spice, the unpredictable and it also brings a specific kind of sisterhood to the table.

I think there might be a third book, there should absolutely be a third book – how about vengeful women? And let’s start casting! The actresses who slayed Jackie Collins mega dramas would be the right age for this, the potential is huge.

Buy Guilty Women at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HarperCollins pub date 28 April 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy via HarperCollins Uk.

#BlogTour The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan.

About the Author

Sarah Morgan is an international bestseller and the Top Ten Sunday Times bestselling author of The Christmas Sisters and A Wedding in December. She has sold over eighteen million books worldwide.

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

Follow @SarahMorgan_ on Twitter, on Goodreads, on facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan, Visit sarahmorgan.com

About the book

Kathleen is eighty years old. After she has a run-in with an intruder, her daughter wants her to move in to a residential home. But she’s not having any of it. What she craves—what she needs—is adventure.

Liza is drowning under the daily stress of family life. The last thing she needs is her mother jetting off on a wild holiday, making Liza long for a solo summer of her own. Martha is having a quarter-life crisis. Unemployed, unloved and uninspired, she just can’t get her life together. But she knows something has to change.

When Martha sees Kathleen’s advertisement for a driver and companion to share an epic road trip across America with, she decides this job might be the answer to her prayers. She’s not the world’s best driver, but anything has to be better than living with her parents. And traveling with a stranger? No problem. Anyway, how much trouble can one eighty-year-old woman be?

As these women embark on the journey of a lifetime, they all discover it’s never too late to start over. ..

Review

Kathleen is determined to grasp what’s left of her life with both hands and live life to the fullest. To do so she needs someone as a companion and to drive her down Route 66. Martha seems like the perfect person, except Martha is a little generous when it comes to describing her many talents, including being able to drive properly. Kind of a prerequisite for being a driver though.

At the core of this story is a mother-daughter relationship. Liza and Kathleen are on two different wavelengths, both struggle to understand the other, which makes the emotional distance between them even greater. Liza doesn’t understand why her mother would want to do something so risky at her age and she definitely doesn’t understand why she is having this experience of a lifetime with a complete stranger.

I liked the way the stranger becomes the surrogate daughter and the friendship that blossoms between them is what should be between mother and daughter. You have the parallel drawn between the two relationships and clearly one is lacking.

It’s a gentle, funny and emotional read. I can imagine a few mothers and/or daughters recognising the similarities and difficulties in their own relationships. Morgan really delivers the depth of emotion and in the characters, whilst keeping it light at the right moments. It’s never too heavy and yet digs deeper when it has to.

Buy The Summer Seekers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : HQ pub date 27 May 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Just Between Friends by Rosie Nixon

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Just Between Friends by Rosie Nixon.

About the Author

Rosie Nixon lives in London and is Editor-in-Chief of Hello! magazine, where she has worked for over a decade. She is a mother of two and the author of two previous novels, The Stylist (2016) and sequel, Amber Green takes Manhattan (2017), which have been published around the world. the Stylist is in development as a major motion picture. Her third novel, Just between Friends is published by HQ November 2020.

Follow @Rosie_Nixon on Twitteron Goodreadson AmazonBuy Just Between Friends

About the book

Aisha Moore is eight months pregnant. She’s thrilled, and a little scared. Not least because her husband Jason hasn’t quite wrapped his head around the fact.

Lucy is having her first child too. She has finally got her wish – although the circumstances aren’t quite what she had hoped. Oscar will be a great dad though, won’t he?

When the two women join the same baby group, they quickly become friends and before long they’re confiding in each other. Only there’s one thing Lucy hasn’t told Aisha. And while a baby may turn your life upside-down, a secret this big will change everything.

Review

Aisha is nearing the end of her pregnancy and has decided to try and connect with other mums-to-be. Her partner Jason doesn’t seem so enthusiastic about joining. Luckily she instantly makes a friend called Lucy, who is equally invested in getting to know someone also looking forward to being a mother, but also a little fearsome of what that might entail in its entirety.

They seem to have a lot in common. Absentee partners, concern about the impending births and how ridiculous the birthing course is.

For me the strongest element of the book wasn’t the main plot, but rather the way Nixon brings the critical role of motherhood and how controversial each decision can be when it comes to birthing, babies and doing what you feel is best for your child. 

Women are pitted against other women like gladiators in an arena. The breast or bottle battle comes to mind straight away, but one of the most bizarre arguments has to be inane comments made by women who say only Vag-birthers are real mothers and a C-section mother isn’t. Judgemental, critical to the point of being unkind, which is perhaps the saddest thing to see, hear and experience in a world where women should be supporting each other. Clearly sisterhood is just a theoretical concept to so many.

Aside from the relationship chaos of certain characters, the division between men and women as the relationship a woman has with her body changes creates conflict between a couple.

Overall it’s a read that brings real issues to the table, whilst delivering conflict, betrayal and the reality of complex relationships.

Buy Just Between Friends at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 12 Nov. 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at HiveBuy at Bookshop.org.

#BlogTour Daughters of Cornwall by Fern Britton

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Daughters of Cornwall by Fern Britton.

About the Author

Fern Britton is the highly acclaimed author of eight Sunday Times bestselling novels.

Born in London, into a theatrical family, Fern started her professional life as a stage manager. Theatre life was great fun but within three years, in 1980, she graduated to television and became a presenter on Westward Television. Here she achieved her ambition of living in Cornwall. Since then television has been her home. She spent 14 years as a journalist before presenting Ready, Steady, Cook for the BBC. This Morning for ITV came next where she won several awards and became a household name.

Her interview programme Fern Britton Meets had guests including Tony Blair, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dolly Parton and Cliff Richard. Fern presented The Big Allotment Challenge (BBC2), For What It’s Worth (BBC1), Culinary Genius with Gordon Ramsay (ITV)

Fern’s novels are all set in her beloved Cornwall. Her books are cherished for their warmth, wit and wisdom, and have won her legions of loyal readers. Fern was a judge for the Costa Book of the Year Award and a supporter of the Reading Agency, promoting literacy and reading.

Fern turned her talents to acting last year when she starred as Marie in Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s award-winning musical Calendar Girls.

Fern has twin sons, two daughters and lives in Cornwall in a house full of good food, wine, family, friends and gardening books. She has a motor cycle licence, an honorary doctorate for services to broadcasting and charity, and is a member of Mensa!

About the book

1918. – The Great War is over, and Clara Carter has boarded a train bound for Cornwall – to meet a family that would once have been hers. But they must never discover her secret…

1939. – Hannah has always been curious about her mother’s mysterious past, but the outbreak of the Second World War casts everything in a new light. As the bombs begin to fall, Hannah and her brothers are determined to do their bit for the war effort – whatever the cost.

2020. – Caroline has long been the keeper of her family’s secrets. But now, with her own daughter needing her more than ever, it’s time to tell the truth – to show Natalie that she comes from a long line of women who have weathered the storms of life, as hardy and proud as the rugged Cornish coastline…

Review

This story has multiple narrators and takes place over various timelines. Clara just after the Great War – the war to end all wars. Hannah just before the start of the Second World War and Caroline in 2020. Clara, Hannah and Caroline all have something in common. They are either keepers of secrets or women who suffer the repercussions of them.

I enjoyed the whole Caroline and the trunk part of the story. It’s very much like finding hidden treasures and secrets when someone you know really well passes away. It just shows you how little we really know about each other when all is said and done.

What Britton does brilliantly is weave her own emotional burdens from her secret keepers into her characters. It gives the characters and the story an air of authenticity, but perhaps it wouldn’t be remiss to think of it in a different way entirely. Her own story is like a dramatic fictional setting for a novel and this book gives both the forgotten and the silent voices an opportunity to be heard and finally acknowledged.

I think it’s important to remember the stigma attached to Clara’s predicament in 1918. There wouldn’t really have been much choice, whereas nowadays it is the norm. Many women have moved forward with that kind of secret. I think it’s fair to say it changes the person in question, perhaps not everyone in the same way though. For me the other side of the equation is the one left behind in all of this secret keeping. It’s a moving story about family and secrets that have been passed on or simply forgotten over the years.

Buy Daughters of Cornwall at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher:  HarperCollins pub date 11th June 2020| £12.99 | Hardback. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan

Today it’s also a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan.

About the Author

Sarah Morgan lives near London, England with her family. When sheisn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike.

Follow @SarahMorgan_ @HQStories @HarperCollinsUK on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, on Facebook www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan, Visit sarahmorgan.comBuy Family for Beginners

About the book

Who says you can’t choose your family?

When Flora falls in love with Jack, suddenly she’s not only handling a very cranky teenager, but she’s also living in the shadow of Jack’s perfect, immortalised wife, Becca. Every summer, Becca and Jack would holiday with Becca’s oldest friends and Jack wants to continue the tradition, so now Flora must face a summer trying to live up to Becca’s memory, with not only Jack’s daughter looking on, but with Becca’s best friends judging her every move…

The more Flora tries to impress everyone, the more things go horribly wrong…but as the summer unfolds, Flora begins pushing her own boundaries, and finding herself in a way that she never thought she needed to.

And she soon learns that families come in all shapes and sizes.

Review

The author doesn’t paint Flora as the nasty interloper, which is what often happens when a new partner is introduced to the family. Instead she presents both sides of the difficult situation. On one side there is Flora, who has never experienced being part of a family, which is probably why she overcompensates in certain situations. Then the family unit who are reluctant to accept someone new stepping into the role the mother used to inhabit.

It’s very much an intense emotional minefield, as Flora tries to navigate the pain and distress of the two young girls that are the entire world to her boyfriend. Molly thaws with each genuine moment of love and attention, but Izzy is determined to get rid of Flora.

To make things even more difficult the awkward foursome reluctantly spend a holiday with the best friend of a dead and very perfect mother and wife. It brings feelings both old and new to the surface, which means there is no choice but to face the truth.

It’s women’s fiction – a story of upheaval, grief and broken families.

In the last few years Morgan has successfully moved from romance to more complex contemporary fiction for women. She takes her characters to greater depth and her stories cross into more complex topics.

It’s a beautiful read, uplifting and incredibly sad at times. Full of genuine emotions and vulnerable people. Morgan hits the mark once again.

Buy Family for Beginners at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 2 April 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum. It’s a poignant tale of oppression and also women’s empowerment.

About the Author

Etaf Rum was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, by Palestinian immigrants. She teaches college English literature in North Carolina, where she lives with her two children. A Woman is No Man is her first novel.

Follow @EtafRum on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit etafrum.comBuy A Woman is No Man

About the book

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen -year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naive and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children – four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path tht leads her to shocking truths about her family – knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman is No Man is a story of culture and honour, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and close cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.

Review

Why wasn’t this on some of the best book and prize lists of the year in the Uk? It has seriously remained almost invisible, despite winning recognition and accolades in the US. It should be compulsory reading for all girls and women, regardless of their background.

It speaks truth to the lies that are spoken by both men and women defending tradition, culture and religion. Tell us again how you revere women. How they aren’t treated like sub-humans and second class citizens. Tell us again how keeping women silent and submissive is simultaneously cementing and honouring their place in society.

I came away a few times from this read, but ultimately when I finished it I was both enraged and saddened.

I think what many of us forget, and that includes the families who put children, and especially girls, in this position, is the difficult position they end up in when they grow up in Western cultures. The two contradicting cultures must be incredibly difficult to navigate at the same time. One culture is steeped in medieval and oppressive traditions and rules, whereas the other culture allows freedom in all areas. How are children and young people supposed to be true to both?

The story begins with Isra, a young Palestinian Arab girl who is married off to a family and moved to Brooklyn. Then we hear the story of her eldest daughter Deya as her grandmother Fareeda starts to pressure her into upholding the family honour and her duties by accepting a suitor.The stories of the two women play out at the same time as Deya discovers the truth about the parents she believes were killed in a car crash.

It’s women’s fiction and a poignant contemporary read about empowering women in a culture of systemic abuse and oppression. The author gives us a compelling and infuriating look behind closed doors. Girls born and bred to be nothing more than brood-mares, cleaners, cooks and objects of abuse – that’s if they are allowed to live at all. No wonder Isra sinks into despair.

I think it’s particularly tragic that her love of reading is what ultimately destroys what is left of her hope that there is more out there for her and her daughters other than pressure, oppression and pain.

I loved and hated this book in equal measures. It is an incredibly tragic and beautiful story, but it is also indicative of the systemic abuse and oppression of women in certain cultures.

One last thing – although it pains me to say this – the role other women play in both the oppression and abuse shouldn’t be underestimated. Fareeda plays a leading role in this story, as do other mothers, wives, sisters and daughters who condone and contribute to the never-ending cycle of oppression. Excusing it by labeling it tradition, culture or part of a devout upbringing is a farce and makes a mockery of any culture that sustains, welcomes and continues to uphold oppressive and abusive behaviour.

This is an excellent read.

Buy A Woman is No Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ: Published on 12th December 2019 – Paperback £8.99 – Available in eBook and Audiobook. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Hive.co.uk Buy at Waterstones

#BlogTour Stay Mad, Sweetheart by Heleen Kist

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Stay Mad, Sweetheart by Heleen Kist. It’s the kind of read you don’t want to miss.

About the Author

Throughout her life, Heleen Kist has been fondled, patronised and ordered to smile by random men. So she wrote ‘Stay Mad, Sweetheart’, a feminist tale of revenge, out November 19th 2019.Whilst her professional knowledge of technology start-ups fed the novel’s setting, its theme of insidious harassment and discrimination required no research: it is familiar to all women.

Heleen was chosen as an up and coming new author at Bloody Scotland 2018. Her first novel, ‘In Servitude’ won the silver medal for Best European Fiction at the Independent Publishers Book Awards in the USA and was shortlisted for The Selfies awarded at London Book Fair.

A Dutch strategy consultant living in Glasgow and married to a Scotsman, she’s raising their son to be a good man and their daughter to kick ass.

Follow @hkist on Twitter, on Facebookon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit heleenkist.comBuy Stay Mad, Sweetheart

About the book

There’s a fine line between innocence and guilt. An even finer line between justice and revenge.

Data scientist Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits.

Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she’s leading the acquisition of Edinburgh’s most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.

Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up’s annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She’s determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn’t playing ball.

As the women’s paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily’s tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who’ve wronged them. But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?Review

Not a crime. Not a crime. Not a crime.

I think, for me at least, these words will be forever connected to this read. How many actions and words aren’t considered criminal, despite being the catalyst for pain, fear and often even death. Has our society become lost in the anonymity of technology, perhaps to the point of actively ignoring all feelings of empathy towards our fellow human beings?

It’s easy to shout about freedom, wave placards demanding our democratic rights and become indignant at the thought that someone may be trying to control our output, regardless of how damaging it may be. There is no accountability and there should be.

The story begins with Emily and the way she is hounded and maligned after speaking out about a sexual assault. Her subsequent actions lead us to her best friend Laura, her work colleague Claire, and Suki, who is involved with both of the aforementioned on a professional level. What they all have in common is the lack of gender equality, the way they are perceived and treated because they are women, and their desire to change the patriarchal status quo.

Aside from the on point subject of the story in the Me Too era, there was also another element of the story that I found quite fascinating. In fact if it is feasible, doable or perhaps already something being coded into systems, then it is also something that is simultaneously awe-inspiring from a technological point of view and deeply concerning when looked at from the aspect of the human it effects. Then again when you look at it from the position of a possible victim or someone vulnerable it could be a positive tool.

From a purely business perspective being able to not only see connections, reactions and then even preempt them to ensure a more effective workplace environment and scheme, it’s the future. Using the same code to safeguard and identify certain behaviour and problems – it’s both invasive and a spectacular advancement.

It’s a poignant piece on sexual violence activism, gender equality politics, a statement about behaviour in an anonymous world of technology, but this story is foremost about culpability and holding ourselves and others accountable for both words and actions.

Kist has written an incredibly compelling and clever piece of fiction, which is unfortunately far too close to fact than is comfortable.

I think I will finish the review on this thought – harassment and abuse has become the norm – it’s systemic, which is why complacency has crept in. Stay safe, take note and stay mad. You’re not alone.

Buy Stay Mad, Sweetheart at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Red Dog Press; 19 Nov. 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Red Dog Press. Buy at Hive.co.uk.

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