#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 Island of Dreams by Harry Duffin

It’s my turn on the Blogtour Island of Dreams by Harry Duffin.

About the Author

I am an award-winning British screenwriter, who was on the first writing team of the BBC’s Eastenders and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial for Coronation Street. I was Head of Development at Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, producing seven major television series, including ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ starring Richard ‘John Boy’ Thomas, and ‘Twist in the Tale’, featuring William Shatner. I was co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘The Tribe’, which ran for five series. Follow @duffin26 on Twitter or @duffinharry on Instagram, Visit harryduffin.co.uk

About the book

In May 1939, when Professor Carl Mueller, his wife, Esther, and their three children flee Nazi Germany, and find refuge on the paradise island of Cuba, they are all full of hopes and dreams for a safe and happy future.

But those dreams are shattered when Carl and Esther are confronted by a ghost from their past, and old betrayals return to haunt them. The turbulent years of political corruption leading to Batista’s dictatorship, forces the older children to take very different paths to pursue their own dangerous dreams.

And – among the chaos and the conflict that finally leads to Castro’s revolution and victory in 1959, an unlikely love begins to grow – a love that threatens the whole family. Having escaped a war-torn Europe, their Island of Dreams is to tear them apart forever.

Review

Out of the fire and into the frying pan – I expect that’s what the Mueller family felt like when the path to freedom ends up landing them in a political inferno, one that threatens to swallow up dissenters whole.

The older children are already set on different paths by the time the family reaches their new destination. When it comes to ideals, politics and beliefs – even at such a young age core memories have left their mark. Those differences lead to further division as they settle into a life in a new country, which has its own powder keg waiting to implode.

Hans is what I would call a disenchanted idealist, brainwashed to believe he is superior and less inclined to believe he is what the Nazi’s would call tainted. He loses himself in the anger and disappointment he aims towards his own family. A typical teenage response to events that suspend belief and shapes the man he becomes. Anna has fire in her belly, her circumstances open her up to the rebellion of her new home.

The children live under the dysfunctional umbrella of a strained relationship – their parents having made the right choices to save them, but perhaps would have made other decisions about their relationship under less dangerous circumstances. Their problems cast long shadows on their children.

The author only touches slightly on the tenuous grasp on possible safety dangled like carrots before so many innocent victims of the Nazi regime. Imagine believing you have done everything possible to escape persecution, only to be confronted with closed doors and a lack of help from the world, and to be returned to certain death.

It’s an interesting premise, because the surrounding circumstances and trauma take a secondary position in regard to the story. In essence you get the life lived if you managed to escape by a mere fraction of time and a lot of luck, but it also means living with the guilt, whilst simultaneously having to hide the fact you are glad you escaped a destiny written for you by others. I also think it’s very much a story of how each life can leave an impact in a different way and perhaps create paths others will follow – imagine if they hadn’t.

War, trauma, fractured relationships and the way each family unit creates a tentacled system of connections and relationships. It would probably make a great mini tv series.

Buy links coming soon.

#BlogTour Small Deaths by Rijula Das

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Small Deaths by Rijula Das. – Winner of the 2021 Tata Literature Live! First Book Award – Fiction Longlisted for The JCB Prize for Literature 2021.

About the Author

Rijula Das received her PhD in Creative Writing/prose-fiction in 2017 from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she taught writing for two years. She is a recipient of the 2019 Michael King Writers Centre Residency in Auckland and the 2016 Dastaan Award for her short story Notes From A Passing. Her short story, The Grave of The Heart Eater, was longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2019. Her short fiction and translations have appeared in Newsroom, New Zealand and The Hindu. She lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand. Follow @RijulaDas on Twitter

About the book

In the red-light district of Shonagachhi, Lalee dreams of trading a life of penury and violence for one of relative luxury as a better-paid ‘escort’. Her long-standing client, Trilokeshwar ‘Tilu’ Shau is an erotic novelist hopelessly in love with her.

When a young girl who lives next door to Lalee gets brutally murdered, a spiral of deceit and crime begins to disturb the fragile stability of this underworld’s existence. One day, without notice, Lalee’s employer and landlady, the formidable Shefali Madam, decrees that she must now service wealthier clients at plush venues outside the familiar walls of the brothel. But the new job is fraught with unknown hazards and drives Lalee into a nefarious web of prostitution, pimps, sex rings, cults and unimaginable secrets that endanger her life and that of numerous women like her. 

As the local Sex Workers’ Collective’s protests against government and police inaction and calls for justice for the deceased girl gain fervour, Tilu Shau must embark on a life-altering misadventure to ensure Lalee does not meet a similarly savage fate.

Set in Calcutta’s most fabled neighbourhood, Small Deaths is a literary noir as absorbing as it is heart-wrenching, holding within it an unforgettable story of our society’s outcasts and marking the arrival of a riveting new writer.

Review

This is very much a read between the lines story, despite the fact the brutal reality of these scenarios couldn’t be presented in a more precise and clear way. With that in mind, and the fate of the vulnerable, the disposable and those who have no one to miss them when they disappear without a trace – the title of small deaths takes on an entirely different meaning.

In the midst of the degradation, the abuse and the lack of control over her life Lalee accepts help from one of few who have shown her kindness. Is it kindness though, when Tilu is just another customer? Sometimes you just have to grasp at straws, especially when you are in the midst of a whirlpool of expendability.

When you take a close look at the frame of the premise you can take it and place it in multiple countries – the structure is always the same. You take the desperate, the innocent, the vulnerable and those who are easy victims and create a profitable base for criminals and deviants. In Shonagachhi you see the way these specific areas become their own cosmos – a community within the wider societal community.

It’s literary fiction, the retracing of what led to a crime, and the attempt to change just one small iota – one life – of the many held captive by the depravity of the criminals and collaborators of Calcutta and its red-light district. It’s a bleak reality check and an excellent read. Kudos for the last chapter.

Buy Small Deaths at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Amazon Crossing; pub date 13th September | Paperback: £8.99 UK | €9.99 EU. 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 The Forgotten Promise by Paula Greenlees

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Forgotten Promise by Paula Greenlees.

About the Author

Paula has lived in various places, including Singapore, where she was based for three years. It was while living in Singapore that the first seeds of her debut novel, Journey to Paradise, developed. The crumbling buildings and the modern high-rises popping up almost overnight seemed to be a metaphor for the social diversity and change in Singapore at that time. However, as a young mother living there, she wondered what it must have been like as a post-war colonial wife living miles away from the familiarity of home. Despite the gloss and glamour of colonial living, women were frequently stuck in unhappy marriages, often unable to follow careers or have the independence to divorce if things went wrong – which they inevitably did. 

Her writing, although set against exotic backgrounds, is set on the cusp of change – the shift from colonial dominance to independence. She likes to dig into a variety of issues and her main protagonist is, in many ways, a metaphor for the political and social events surrounding her at that time. It isn’t always an easy journey, but in the end, success comes her way. 

The Forgotten Promise tells the story of Ella, a young Eurasian woman, whose life is turned upside down by the Japanese occupation of Malaya, and it is through her lens and that of Noor, her cook, that the narrative is revealed.

As for Paula – she has always wanted to be a writer. As a little girl she used to spend hours writing stories and turning them into books, even using flour and water as paste to stick the pages together.  She spent hours writing poetry and plays as a teenager and has always written short stories in her spare time. It is this need to write and a love of reading that led her to take a degree in English and European Thought and Literature, and later a Masters Degree in Creative Writing.

Apart from her writing, Paula hosts a regular author interview on her website. You can find out more about new and existing historical fiction authors, such as Liz Trenow, Frances Quinn and Louise Fein, by hitting the ‘author interview tab.’ 

As a writer, she feels it is important to have a wide range of interests – not only does it adds flavour and layering to prose, but allows it allows time for ideas to mull and to percolate. People watching in cafés is one, long walks is another. And food! Good food is essential to her and she loves to cook using the best ingredients she can find.  As well as a love of travel, she is a keen amateur photographer and her next trip takes her to Cambodia where she is hoping to discover an exciting hook for a new book – you can find out more about her progress there by following her on Instagram.

Paula has a grown up daughter and lives in Warwickshire with her husband and an extremely friendly Labrador. Follow @PGreenlees on Twitter, Visit paulagreenlees.com

About the book

Malaya, 1920: Two girls make a promise in the shadows of the jungle. A promise that life won’t let them easily keep.

Malaya, 1941: Ella is running her late father’s tin mine in the Kledang hills, while Noor works as her cook. When the war that felt so far away suddenly arrives on their doorstep, Ella is torn apart from her family. Her daughter Grace is left in Noor’s care as Japanese soldiers seize the mine.

Ella is forced to make an impossible choice that takes her to England, thousands of miles from home. She is desperate to be reunited with her loved ones. But will the life she returns to be anything like the life she left behind?

Review

We meet Ella as a child, when the first invisible boundaries between herself and her friend become visible to herself and others. Then later as she lives the life of a tin mine owner, her friend now the family cook. The two of them separated by social and class structures. As the story progresses we return to the two, who have had to make extremely difficult choices to ensure their survival as their home and country is invaded during WW2.

Although the title references the bond between two young girls and a promise they make in all innocence, it is also about the way we deal with curveballs in life. Adapt and survive. Making hard decisions, sometimes at the expense of others and often made in the moment.

Despite the fact Ella is Eurasian, she is very much a product of white colonisation and privilege. I think it is frequently evident in her reactions when she returns to Malaya – the lack of understanding of a place and people who have had to adjust to extreme conditions of an oppressed country.

The destruction, pain, torture and war crimes committed by the Japanese during WW2 often take a second place to the atrocities and warfare in Europe during the same period. This opens a small window to some of it, whilst maintaining the essence of the family saga and dynamics. It was a pleasure to read.

Buy The Forgotten Promise at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ Penguin pub date 1 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

Blogtour #Audiobook Women Like Us: A Memoir by Amanda Prowse

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour for the Audiobook – Women Like Us: A Memoir by Amanda Prowse.

About the Author

Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty-six novels, non-fiction title and seven novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart topping No.1 titles What Have I Done?, Perfect Daughter, My Husband’s Wife, The Girl in the Corner and The Things I Know have sold millions of copies across the globe.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘The queen of family drama’ Amanda’s novel, A Mother’s Story won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award while Perfect Daughter was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016. Follow @MrsAmandaProwse on Twitter

About the book

Amanda Prowse has built a bestselling career on the lives of fictional women. Now she turns the pen on her own life. From her childhood, where there was no blueprint for success, to building a career as a bestselling novelist against all odds, Amanda Prowse explores what it means to be a woman in a world where popularity, slimness, beauty and youth are currency – and how she overcame all of that to forge her own path to happiness.

Sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious and always entirely relatable, Prowse details her early struggles with self-esteem and how she coped with the frustrating expectations others had of how she should live. Most poignantly, she delves into her toxic relationship with food, the hardest addiction she has ever known, and how she journeyed out the other side.

One of the most candid memoirs you’re ever likely to read, Women Like Us provides welcome insight into how it is possible – against the odds – to overcome insecurity, body consciousness and the ubiquitous imposter syndrome to find happiness and success, from a woman who’s done it all, and then some

Review

I thought it was interesting how Amanda simultaneously gives the reader, the audience, this trifecta of reasoning and emotion that pings off itself. Acknowledging the truth of her family, upbringing and all the nuances of the working class background and feeling the societal guilt the world (very much a British thing, sorry) forces into our very psyche at the same time. You’re supposed to feel inferior and as if those around you are too. Somehow feel ashamed for who you are.

When you take that invisible burden and it is weighed down by layers of remarks and what people like to refer to as banter, however the way the target receives it can be completely different. In this case it has created a foundation of almost self-loathing and doubt, which leads to seeking comfort in external sources.

It’s a frank and open dialogue about herself and her life, one that is a rollercoaster of emotions. As a reader you go on that ride and often find correlation in situations, thoughts and experiences. It’s brave to open yourself up in such a way, even if it is a self-examination of sorts. It’s definitely an audiobook I would recommend to others.

On a side note – the author narrates the story herself and does so extremely well, but what I wanted to mentioned is what a perfect voice for audio she has – deliciously soothing with a hint of sultry. Combined with her story, which I think most women will be able to relate to in one way or another, it makes it such an easy listening experience.

Buy Women Like Us at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher – Audible UK: pub date: 6th September 2022 | Paperback: £8.99. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Audible Uk.

Listening Length – 12 hours and 16 minutes, Author – Amanda Prowse, Narrator – Amanda Prowse, Audible.co.uk Release Date – 06 September 2022, Publisher – Brilliance Audio, Program Type – Audiobook, Version – Unabridged, Language –  English.

#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 The Secret of Elephants by Vasundra Tailor

It’s a pleasure to kick off this fantastic Blogtour The Secret of Elephants by Vasundra Tailor.

About the Author

Vasundra Tailor was born in India and was just a few weeks old when her parents brought her to Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) in 1954. Though set against a backdrop British colonial rule and segregation in the area, Vasundra had a happy childhood, surrounded by a large extended family.

She qualified as a pharmacist in 1977, and was eager to leave Zimbabwe for the UK to escape the fighting between the minority white government and local freedom fighters. She arrived at Heathrow in the Spring of 1978, and moved to Strathclyde for her Masters in Pharmaceutical Microbiology, before settling in London a year later, where she is still based today.

Vasundra started writing in 2016, after enrolling onto an online Creative Writing course, joining book groups and local writing groups, which gave her the feedback and confidence to tackle her first book. Fascinated by human relationships, Vasundra’s writing is interested characters from diverse backgrounds and explores how people connect with those around them.

The Inspiration for The Secret of Elephants, Vasundra’s debut novel, came from the families currently living in a property in India which once belonged to her father. In November 2019, an extract of The Secret of Elephants won the second runner-up prize for the Mo Siewcharran Fiction Competition, to help discover unpublished fiction writers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Follow @vasundrajay on Twitter

About the book

Two sides of the same family – one living in luxury in a magnificent mansion, the other penniless in its shadow. Could a mysterious letter from the past help Nirmala and her young son take back what is rightfully theirs?

Navsari, India. Penniless and trapped in a loveless marriage, Nirmala spends her days anxiously caring for her sick young son, Varun. Looming over Nirmala’s impoverished home is an imposing mansion built by her grandfather, and from its balcony her cruel aunt scorns them, refusing to help in any way.

But when a mysterious letter addressed to her long-dead father arrives from Zimbabwe, it opens a door to a past Nirmala never knew existed and a future she never imagined possible. If the contents of the letter can be believed, not only does she have family in Africa, but they might also hold the answers to a family mystery that spans three generations.

While travelling to Zimbabwe might lead to a brighter future for Nirmala and her son, it could also reignite the bitter family feud that condemned her family to poverty. Nirmala is ready to risk it all to uncover the truth, but how will she cope when this journey changes her life forever?

Review

Nirmala has spent the majority of her life in the shadow of her family and their wealth. She is the poor relative, the one they look down upon, the one who lives in a little ramshackle place across the road from their impressive mansion.

Living a life in fear of the displeasure of a man she never wanted, doesn’t love, and who treats her with disdain. A man who thinks her son – their son – is a weakling because he is unwell. When by pure chance a letter addressed to her deceased father  falls into her hands and reveals a secret she was unaware of, she starts to wonder whether life for herself and her son could be different.

The gift of being a natural storyteller isn’t one that all writers possess – they all tell stories, but there is a difference between telling a story and being a storyteller. The author leaves lines in the sand as she pulls her rake behind her, with an almost peaceful quality, and compels the reader to follow the patterns of the story being unfolded before them.

It’s a tangled web of emotional baggage and trauma. Decisions made in the blink of an eye with no regard for the majority of the people involved, they cast dark shadows over the generations of this family. They influence paths taken, chances missed and how connections are made between family members.

I think one of the most poignant relationships in the story is the one between Kanta and Suresh. The way her lack of emotional attachment creates this wave that devours everyone in their close vicinity. Does the damage inflicted become justifiable when weighed with the truth?

The author pulls in moments from history, surroundings, and politics to give context to the places the story is set in, but does so in a way that never overshadows the main plot and characters. It’s a nice wee slow burner of a read.

Buy The Secret of Elephants at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Lake Union pub date 1 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#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.