#BlogTour Wahala by Nikki May

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Wahala by Nikki May.

‘Nikki’s debut novel WAHALA will be published around the world and is due to be turned into a major TV serial for the BBC by Bafta-nominated writer Theresa Ikoko.’

About the Author

Born in Bristol and raised in Lagos, Nikki May is Nigerian-British. At twenty, she dropped out of medical school, moved to London, and began a career in advertising, going on to run a successful agency. Nikki lives in Dorset with her husband and two standard Schnauzers. Follow @NikkiOMay on Twitter, Visit nikki-may.com

Nikki says: “This is a novel about the power of friendship and the stories we inherit. The inspiration for Wahala came from a long (and loud) lunch with very good friends in a Nigerian restaurant. I wanted to read a book that had people like me in it. The first scene was drafted on the train journey home. The characters became flesh and wouldn’t let me go.” 

About the book

Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London. They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English, though they don’t all choose to see it like that.

Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they look to the future – Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Simi supposedly wants a child (well, her husband does); Boo is frustrated and unfulfilled, caught in a whirl of school runs and lustful dreams. When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.

As cracks in their friendship begin to appear, it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may have just repeated itself.

A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on love, race and family, Wahala will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Boldly political about class, colorism and cooking, here is a truly inclusive tale that will speak to anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.


Ronke, Simi, Boo are long-time friends, and it would seem that they are have an unbreakable bond of friendship, which is cemented through their dual identities in regards to culture and the fact they are all mixed-race. Their experiences of racism have been consistent – systemic, and yet also defined by their surroundings and their individual experiences.

When a unexpected fourth person inserts herself into their group the boundaries of their friendship and loyalties begin to move and crumble. A pretty face and a flashy personality can’t hide a venomous snake with vicious intentions for long.

I enjoyed the way this read evolved from the complexity of friendships, the nuances of racism and cultural expectations, into a dark domestic story. Quite unexpected, but it does the job when it comes to keeping readers on their toes. May shows the often extreme balancing act those generations have to deal with when it comes to having to pander to two cultural identities. The family has expectations and society often quite a different set of the same.

I’ll be looking forward to more interesting reads by this author.

Buy Wahala at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Doubleday Uk, pub date 6th January 2022 | Hardback | £14.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour London Clay by Tom Chivers

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour London Clay: Journeys in the Deep City by Tom Chivers

About the Author

Tom Chivers is a poet and publisher. He is the author of two pamphlets and two full collections of poetry to date, and is the director of the independent press Penned in the Margins. 

In 2008 he was the Bishopsgate Institute’s first writer in residence, and has appeared widely at events and made a number of contributions to radio, including presenting a 30min documentary for Radio 4. He has collaborated with the climate arts organisation Cape Farewell and conducts immersive walking tours of London. Chivers is currently an Associate Artist of the National Centre for Writing. Follow @thisisyogic on Twitter, Visit thisisyogic.com

About the book

Part personal memoir, part lyrical meditation, London Clay takes us deep in to the nooks and crannies of a forgotten city: a hidden landscape long buried underneath the sprawling metropolis. Armed with just his tattered Streetfinder map, author Tom Chivers follows concealed pathways and explores lost islands, to uncover the geological mysteries that burst up through the pavement and bubble to the surface of our streets.

From Roman ruins to a submerged playhouse, abandoned Tube stations to ancient riverbeds, marshes and woodlands, this network of journeys combined to produce a compelling interrogation of London’s past. London Clay examines landscape and our connection to place, celebrates urban edge lands: in-between spaces where the natural world and the city mingle, and where ghosts of the deep past can be felt as a buzzing in the skull. It is also a personal account of growing up in London, and of overcoming loss through the layered stories of the capital.

Written in rich and vivid prose, London Clay will inspire readers to think about what lies beneath their feet, and by doing so reveal new ways of looking at the city.


Chivers, perhaps inadvertently, hits on something that is sliding into mythical status – childhood curiosity and exploration of surroundings. The children of the 21st century are so captivated by the world of gadgetry and online presence, that they do not venture outside with the same recklessness and hunger for geo knowledge as previous generations. Go boldly where no person has gone before or you think no one has gone before.

I think it’s hard for many to imagine historical footprints in real time, especially under own foot. The concept of others existing, breathing and surviving in the same place or area, whereas when faced in real time with a cultural and historical relic or area of significance you can actually behold, wander around and see – it’s an entirely different experience.

This book brings back those feelings of excitement at discovering forgotten buildings, ruins, tunnels, bunkers and just in general the thought of people treading the same path during different centuries. It is very much a book of echoes of energy, shadows of experiences, memories and knowledge gained through oral and written historical narratives.

The prose is an interesting balance between experience and lyrical description. The combination results in a visual journey as you walk along beside him, feel his energy – as if you are the silent observer. The voyeur of time, travel, space and presence.

I wonder if decades or centuries from now others will experience the same hunger for pyscho-geology and the energies that have gone before them and perhaps still linger in an attempt to connect.

Buy London Clay at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday; pub date 9th Sep 2021 – Hardback £20. Buy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour Diving for Pearls by Jamie O’Connell

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Diving for Pearls by Jamie O’Connell.

About the Author

Jamie O’Connell has had short stories highly commended by the Costa Short Story Award and the Irish Book Award Short Story of the Year. He has been longlisted for BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines Short Story Competition and shortlisted for the Maeve Binchy Travel Award and the Sky Arts Futures Fund. He has an MFA and MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin. He has worked for Penguin Random House, Gill Books and O’Brien Press. Diving for Pearls is his first novel.

Follow @jamieoconnell on Twitter, Visit blackwaterwriting.com

About the book

A young woman’s body floats in the Dubai marina. Her death alters the fates of six people, each one striving for a better life in an unforgiving city…

A young Irish man comes to stay with his sister, keen to erase his troubled past in the heat of the Dubai sun. A Russian sex worker has outsmarted the system so far – but will her luck run out? A Pakistani taxi driver dreams of a future for his daughters. An Emirate man hides the truth about who he really is. An Ethiopian maid tries to carve out a path of her own. From every corner of the globe, Dubai has made promises to them all. Promises of gilded opportunities and bright new horizons, the chance to forget the past and protect long-held secrets. 

But Dubai breaks its promises, with deadly consequences. In a city of mirages, how do you find your way out?O’Connell expertly weaves a delicate web of intertwining stories, combining dark wit, and devastating emotional truth as fates collide and lives are shattered.


What Diving for Pearls most definitely isn’t is a crime novel. It’s a contemporary read, a bit like a fractured tandem plot – equally weighted stories constructed around a slip of a narrative. The actual catalyst event, which is the death of the young local girl, becomes entirely inconsequential to all the surrounding stories and yet is the reason for all of them. 

Without Hiyam there is no story or connecting thread, and yet she is the least important aspect of the read. I have to admit letting go of the not knowing was a bit of a task, but then I also think that was the point. The lack of closure is synonymous with the lack of power, voice and control all of the characters have in common in relation to where they are and who they are.

A symbol of cultures dividing and simultaneously the acknowledgement that the East will not bend and the West must be submissive to their rules with the West and others bending until breaking point. I often wonder about the Westerners who like to play loose and fast at their own peril overseas – diving for those pearls, they are pandered to until it no longer suits the narrative. 

This is also evident in the stories of Lydia, Siobhan and Aasim. All three of them recognise the danger of being an outsider and being trapped in the claws of a regime that appears to be the picture of opulence, modern society and the face of the future. The truth is its the dark ages hidden behind a layer of gold, diamonds and a fantastical mirage.

It’s literary fiction, a snake devouring its own tail, a beginning without an end.

Buy Diving for Pearls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday Uk; pub date 3rd June 2021 | Trade Paperback | £13.99. Buy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour Final Cut by S.J. Watson

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Final Cut by S.J. Watson.

About the Author

S. J. Watson’s first novel, Before I Go To Sleep, became a phenomenal international success and has now sold over 6,000,000 copies worldwide. It won the Crime Writers’ Association Award for Best Debut Novel and the Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year. The film of the book, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong, and directed by Rowan Joffe, was released in September 2014. S. J. Watson’s second novel,

Second Life, a psychological thriller, was published to acclaim in 2015. S. J. Watson was born in the Midlands and now lives in London.

Follow @sj_watson on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazon, Visit sjwatson-books.comBuy Final Cut

About the book

S.J. Watson writes: ‘In writing Final Cut I wanted to move away slightly from the entirely domestic, urban and claustrophobic feel of Before I Go To Sleep and open the story world a little. I’m returning to my preoccupations of memory, narrative and identity, though bringing a fresh spin and new maturity to them.

The story follows a young ambitious documentary film maker whose first film was lauded and her

second less so, and who is struggling with her third film. She hits on the idea of making a film about life in a small, northern village and is persuaded, against her better judgement and for reasons unknown, to film in Blackwood Bay. Once there she discovers a town shrouded in mystery and full of secrets, that threaten to engulf and ultimately destroy her. She has to dig deep to save herself, as well as the lives of others.

In researching the book, I was drawn to the idea of the way we document our lives now, on Instagram and Twitter etc., and the downsides of that, as well as the darkness that can hide in plain sight and the abuses that people can visit on their fellow humans. The sad fact is I had to tone down some of the horrific atrocities I read about, or else the book would’ve been too dark, even for me.


Alex is an ambitious filmmaker, who is under pressure to deliver the same kind of quality work she has previously. Living up to her own hype isn’t as easy as it sounds. An anonymous tip-off leads her to Blackwood Bay, and a world of pretence, lies and a very dirty underbelly of such a pleasant place on the surface.

For me this had a Gothika vibe, not sure if anyone remembers that excellent example of small-town gothic horror. This story has the same kind of underlying insidious feeling that seeps through the quaint rural village. Watson combines that with the vulnerability we expose ourselves to with our dependency on social media and digital footprints.

‘The sad fact is I had to tone down some of the horrific atrocities I read about, or else the book would’ve been too dark, even for me.’ – I thought about this sentence a lot. It kind of captures that baser instinct of humans that we like to overlook, ignore and deny. Powerless to change the fact that some people are willing to cross boundaries without a thought. Be cruel, destructive and intentionally cause pain just because they can. I think it’s important to consider that when horrendous acts and atrocities are written about, especially those in an historical context, that the true level of inhumanity is always watered down for future audiences or generations.

On that note I’d just like to add that the fact Watson can inspire dialogue and thoughts of such depth in a mere comment on his own blurb and his work, is a testament to his talents as an author.

Buy Final Cut at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday; pub date 6th August 2020 | Hardback | £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Stray Cats of Homs by Eva Nour

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Stray Cats of Homs by Eva Nour, translated by Agnes Broomé.

About the Author

Eva Nour is a journalist writing under a pseudonym. She was inspired to write The Stray Cats of Homs, her debut novel, by meeting and falling in love with the real ‘Sami’.

Follow on Amazonon GoodreadsBuy The Stray Cats of Homs

About the book

Sami’s childhood is much like any other – an innocent blend of family and school, of friends and relations and pets (including stray cats and dogs, and the turtle he keeps on the roof). But growing up in one of the largest cities in Syria, with his country at war with itself, means that nothing is really normal. And Sami’s hopes for a better future are ripped away when he is conscripted into the military and forced to train as a map maker.

Sami may be shielded from the worst horrors of the war, but it will still be impossible to avoid his own nightmare…

Inspired by extraordinary true events, The Stray Cats of Homs is the story of a young man who will do anything to keep the dream of home alive, even in the face of unimaginable devastation. Tender, wild and unbearably raw, it is a novel which will stay with you for ever.


This is a semi-biographical story written for and with the person behind the voice of Sami. The story of a country oppressed, tortured and destroyed by its own regime.

The people, in particular Syrian refugees, are gravely misunderstood. If you haven’t lived under a regime that gives you no freedom or rights and any dissent means death, disappearance or worse – it’s hard for someone raised in a Western democracy to comprehend the reality of living under a regime like that.

For me the true strength of the story, the message and voice of Sami which permeates through both consciousness and soul, is the way Nour doesn’t venture beyond borders and countries. It’s a singular experience in their home environment. Sami doesn’t experience the world, the political interactions outside of his environment. He experiences the repercussions of decisions made above his head but for the greater part the author has made a smart tactical decision to deliver this story as an encapsulated experience. One of many bubbles floating through the air – each with a different path and outcome. A story from within, about one of the world’s toughest dictatorships.

The most poignant point Nour makes is the animal vs human one of course. When presented with the horrendous reality of war and conflict, especially when the outside world is given a window into the inner world of tragedy, trauma and death – how does the majority of humankind react especially those on the righteous pedestals of social media.

Maimed and disfigured man, raped and defiled woman, dead child – oh no wait, save the kitty. Is the kitty safe, show me a picture. In one sentence a decision is made, a judgement is cast, a denial is thrust forth and ultimately a choice is made. In a way an interesting parallel to draw when it comes human reaction, accountability and bystander apathy on a global scale.

It’s an incredibly poignant book and a voice that should be heard.

Buy The Stray Cats of Homs at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday; pub date 13th August / Hardback / £12.99. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce.

About the Author

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her books have been translated into thirty -six languages and two are in development for film.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 201 2 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’201 4. Rachel was a Costa prize judge and University Big Read author in 2019.

She has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.

Follow on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit rachel-joyce.co.ukBuy Miss Benson’s Beetle

About the book

It is 1950, two unlikely women set off on a hare-brained adventure to the other side of the world to try and find a beetle, and in doing so discover friendship and how to be their best of themselves. This is quintessential Joyce: at once poignant and playful, with huge heart and the same resonance, truth and lightness of touch as her phenomenally successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Britain, post Second World War. I n a moment of madness Margery Benson abandons her sensible job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.

Enid Pretty, in pink hat and pompom sandals, is not the companion she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all expectations. They must risk everything, break all the rules, but at the top of a red mountain they will discover who they truly are, and how to be the best of themselves.This is a novel that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.


Miss Benson finally reaches her limit and decides to put all her resources and hopes into finding a golden beetle in the middle of nowhere. It’s the last fond memory she has of herself and her father – learning about the beetle. She recruits an assistant, which leads to an unusual pairing and a relationship that teaches her more about herself and life than she ever expected.

I loved this book. It has echoes of Eleanor Oliphant and The Other Half of Augusta Hope, both of which feature women who learn to love themselves as they are instead of being burdened by the way society expects them to look, behave and live. Miss Benson embarking upon her journey and seeking that particularly elusive beetle, thereby discovering herself, her worth, friendship and true sisterhood – it’s also a story of a woman accepting herself.

There is this interesting part of the story where Joyce actually confronts the reader, albeit subtly, with the foursome of roles in regards to being a woman. You have Miss Benson, the worn down spinster. Enid, the loose woman and rule-breaker. Dolly, the subservient woman itching to break free, and Mrs Pope the diplomat’s wife – the woman who becomes the foe of other women in an attempt to appease the patriarchal society. Judging other women instead of aiding and understanding, fitting in instead of standing up and being counted.

The quest to find the beetle becomes synonymous with acceptance of self, with a final confrontation with loss and with an acknowledgement of peace. The highest bar set by others takes on a note of irrelevance when the realisation dawns that you, or in this case Miss Benson, should be more interested in what makes you happy.

Joyce is a wonderful storyteller, who has a knack of capturing the absurd, the pain, the honesty and the core of humanity. Life isn’t clean – it’s dirty and it hurts, but now again we see the joy and feel the peace through the mists of life.

Buy Miss Benson’s Beetle at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday pub date 23 July 2020 | £16.99 | Hardback. Ebook – Transworld Digital; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour Shelf Life by Livia Franchini

Today it’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Shelf Life by Livia Franchini. It’s an incredibly introspective and clever piece of literary and women’s fiction.About the Author

Livia Franchini is a writer and translator from Tuscany, Italy, whose work has been published in numerous publications and anthologies. She has translated Michael Donaghy, Sam Riviere and James Tiptree Jr. among many others. In 2018, she was one of the inaugural writers-in-residence for the Connecting Emerging Literary Artist project, funded by Creative Europe.

She lives in London, where she is completing a PhD in experimental women’s writing at Goldsmiths.

Follow @livfranchini on Twitter, Buy Shelf Life

About the book

Ruth is thirty years old.

She works as a nurse in a care home and her fiancé has just broken up with her. The only thing she has left of him is their shopping list for the upcoming week. And so she uses that list to tell her story.

Starting with six eggs, and working through spaghetti and strawberries, and apples and tea bags, Ruth discovers that her identity has been crafted from the people she serves; her patients, her friends, and, most of all, her partner of ten years.

Without him, she needs to find out – with conditioner and single cream and a lot of sugar – who she is when she stands alone.


I do hope this read gets the recognition it deserves. It’s an incredibly introspective and clever piece of literary and women’s fiction. Part of me thinks it would make more sense or rather be more self-explanatory if given a visual medium, which probably sounds quite bizarre given the fact it’s a book.

Think Eleanor Oliphant with a more keen sense of self and survival. A woman, Ruth, who we follow as she goes through the process of grief and finding herself after the end of a long-term relationship. Franchini uses each relationship and interaction Ruth has – then connects them via the objects, her job and her thought processes to build and create the story of Ruth. Each part becomes a lego brick as they are placed one by one to complete the picture we have of her.

I loved the whole shopping list aspect of the story. It’s done in such a subtle way, an afterthought even, you don’t realise how clever the concept is until you get to the end of the story. For me the items became the metaphors, coping mechanisms and at times idiosyncrasies.

Sometimes literary fiction can take the path of think more write less and presumes the reader will be able to anticipate meaning and aspiration. The reader can then get lost in the process. I think this verges on the precipice of that now and again.

It’s an intriguing and innovative piece of fiction. I expect to read much more by this author in the future.

Buy Shelf Life at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday; pub date 29th August 2019 | Hardback | £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Body Lies by Jo Baker

Today it is my turn, and also the end of this fantastic BlogTour The Body Lies by Jo Baker. It’s a literary crime thriller, but also fits into the category of a contemporary psychological thriller.About the Author

Jo Baker is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling Longbourn and A Country Road, A Tree.

Her new novel, The Body Lies, is a thrilling contemporary novel that explores violence against women in fiction but is also a disarming story of sexual politics.

Jo Baker lives with her family in Lancashire.

Buy The Body Lies

body lies

About the book

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote countryside, it’s meant to be a fresh start, away from the big city and the scene of a violent assault she’s desperate to forget. But when one of her students starts sending in chapters from his novel that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognises herself as the main character in his book – and he has written her a horrific fate.

Will she be able to stop life imitating art before it’s too late?


This was a cracker of a read. It delves into the world of sexual politics in the workplace and in this case specifically in a university environment. The boundaries are clear when you’re in a school environment, but what happens when it’s consenting adults instead?

There were so many things about this book that I liked. The subtlety, which gave it a more realistic feel. The style and the element of writing as a tool to intimidate, scare and malign. Then having the woman in a position of authority, thereby being in a position to abuse the power in an unequal relationship, but also being a potential target for someone willing to manipulate the system.

The boldest move however was writing the story in first person and leaving the narrator unnamed. In doing so the author allows her main character to become all women, her thoughts and fears are synonymous with women all over the world.

This is especially evident in the first part of the story, when she is assaulted in front of people in a public area. This event sets certain coping mechanisms in motion. Her inability to comprehend her trauma, including the assault, chips away at her life and relationships. Her reaction or lack of it, says a lot about the systemic violence and abuse against women in our society. The reactions of those around her speaks volumes.

It’s a literary crime thriller, but also fits into the category of a contemporary psychological thriller. The author gives us the depth and style of literary fiction, and simultaneously the thrill of a more contemporary read. A perfect combination of the two.

Buy The Body Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.Publisher: Doubleday; pub date 13 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Secretary by Renee Knight

Today it really is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Secretary by Renee Knight. It’s a contemporary story with the vibe of a psychological thriller. 

About the Author

Renée Knight worked as a documentary-maker for the BBC before turning to writing. She is a graduate of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, and lives in London with her husband and two children. Her widely acclaimed debut novel, Disclaimer, was a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller. The Secretary is her second novel.

Buy The Secretary

About the book

Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and betrayal. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .


Even though the reader technically knows who the bad guy is, for me the lines are a little skewed. No matter what separates Christine and Mina, whether it is status, money or goals in life, they also have a lot of similarities. Neither of them recognises that fact in the other though.

Mina is used to being at the top of the food chain and expects everyone around her to act accordingly, especially those closest to her. She also expects Christine to put everything and everyone, including family members, way behind what Mina wants and needs. Of course this leads to Christine neglecting those closest to her.

Christine is meticulous when it comes to the finer details of her work. She is everything a PA is supposed to be; punctual, takes care of things before her employer thinks she needs it and loyal to a fault. She admires Mina, and in a way she perhaps wants to be her. 

This story pits two very different women against each other, and yet they are also two peas in a pod. Willing to sacrifice everything to excel at their own personal goals, whilst pretending to the world to be something they are not and never will be. It’s an ode to the insincerity in our society, the hunger for fame and the willingness of the public to lap it all up. 

Simultaneously it also speaks to the fragile nature of trust and loyalty, and the impact on relationships with an imbalance of power. They become a breeding ground for unhealthy obsessions and accusations.

I particularly enjoyed the ending. It was satisfying, It wasn’t what I expected, which is always a plus, but in general it just felt as if the author managed to bring the story full circle. It’s a contemporary story with the vibe of a psychological thriller. 

Buy The Secretary at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday; pub date 21 Feb. 2019, Buy at Amazon com

Follow @DoubledayUK @TransworldBooks

#BlogTour Turning for Home by Barney Norris

I am absolutely delighted to be part of the #BlogTour for this incredibly talented author. Believe you me the hype is not only worth it, it is also absolutely accurate. Barney Norris has a knack for storytelling and is a scribe worth watching.

About the Author

Barney Norris was born in Sussex in 1987, and grew up in Salisbury. Upon leaving university he founded the theatre company Up In Arms. He won the Critics’ Circle and Offwestend Awards for Most Promising Playwright for his debut full-length play Visitors. He is the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford. Barney’s new play Nightfall is one of the three inaugural productions at Nicholas Hytner’s new Bridge Theatre, beginning early 2018.

Follow @barnontherun @DoubleDayUK

Buy Turning for Home

About the book

Once a year, every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house in the country to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, grandchildren, distant cousins – it is a milestone in their lives and has been for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Robert is determined that this will be the final party. But for both him and Kate, it may also become the most important gathering of all.

As lyrical and true to life as Norris’s critically acclaimed debut Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, this is a compelling, emotional story of family, human frailty, and the marks that love leaves on us.

Barney’s debut novel, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain was bestselling and critically acclaimed – the Guardian called it a ‘state of the nation novel’, and ‘deeply affecting’, and the Mail on Sunday praised it as ‘outstanding…a moving, strangely uplifting novel…Superb’. It featured as Waterstones Book of the Month, and was shortlisted for prizes including the RSL Ondaatje Prize and Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards.

In Turning for Home, Barney tackles the issue of eating disorders, a very personal subject that has affected someone close to him. Barney has much to contribute to current discussion around how mental health and eating disorders in particular are handled by our health services.


It isn’t often one finds an author self-assessing their own novel at the end of said novel, and then pinpointing exactly what my thoughts are on the story in question.

Norris himself says that initially this started out as a story about the Boston Tapes. They started out as a series of frank interviews given by former loyalist and republican paramilitaries that chronicles their involvement in the Troubles, in an attempt to create an oral history of those times. In return for names, dates, places and details, the former paramilitaries made a deal that the interviews wouldn’t be made public until after their deaths.

Including the frank admission that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams had his own squad within the IRA, who were responsible for the so-called ‘Disappeared’ of the Troubles. The people who were targeted, kidnapped, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA.

I digress.

Turning for Home is like reading two stories in one, and I am sure both would make excellent stand-alone novels. Together they become something special. A spark ignites and weaves its way through this poignant tale of pain, grief and control.

The reader follows Robert and Kate, grandfather and granddaughter. Their individual tales collide at the annual celebration for Robert’s birthday. A family reunion that has an air of finality to it, especially since the loss of Robert’s wife.

Robert is dealing with the implications of the Boston Tapes. The possibility of secrets being aired has some of his connections running scared, and after so many years the past has the power to insert itself into the future.

Kate’s story is a wee bit more complex. She suffers from anorexia nervosa, which comes under eating disorders in the DSM. Norris gives the reader a candid look into the thought process of someone with an eating disorder, and how many misconceptions there are about how to help someone with the disorder. Even so-called mental health professionals have difficulty really comprehending the grip it can have, and the impact it has on entire families.

It’s all about control and loss of control. When you experience loss of control it is a normal response to try and regain it. You start to look for the one thing no one else can control but you. Food, fat and calories become the enemy and you start to fight them with every inch of your body.

Aside from the obvious familial connection, the thread that connects both Robert and Kate, and their stories, is coping with loss and feelings of guilt. Unresolved emotional distress, trauma and conflict are the equivalent of malignant tumours in our bodies. Sometimes the inner enemy is evident and sometimes it is a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.

Norris writes with a finesse and wisdom beyond his years. He has the gift of gab, a knack for telling a story and pulling his readers along with him on a journey even he doesn’t have the directions for. Eventually he brings himself and us home, regardless of wherever that may be.

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