#BlogTour Re-Navigation by Sue Parritt

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Re-Navigation by Sue Parritt. It’s a story of self-exploration, passion and faith. A tale of what God means to each person on an individual level and how to navigate faith or loss of faith.About the Author

Originally from England, Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories, articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:

Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2014. Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2016. The Sky Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016. Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017

Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

Feed Thy Enemy, based on her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

Sue’s current project, A Question of Country, is a novel exploring the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity.

Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism.  Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.

Follow Sue Parritt on Facebook, Visit www.sueparritt.comBuy Re-navigation

About the book

A gloomy seascape is of little consequence to Julia, as a ferry transports her to an isolated Welsh island to undertake a Spiritual Development course.

Soon, Julia finds herself surrounded by new friends and questions. As relationships deepen, so does Julia’s feeling that something crucial is missing from her life.

As passion ignites and deep-buried secrets surface, Julia faces choices that will forever change the direction of her life. But at what cost?Review

When Julia treats herself to a spiritual retreat she doesn’t expect her entire life and relationships to be questioned, by herself of all people. Her vulnerability is exposed which opens up a quagmire of emotional turmoil.

Parritt addresses a lot of controversial issues in her story. I believe her intent is to inform, make aware and get readers to think about a variety of issues. I couldn’t decide whether they were purposely presented in a way that comes across as offensive white privilege and ignorance, which is exactly the way it happens in real life, ergo gives her character more of a realistic feel. Or is there a lack of awareness in the tropes and how ignorant some of the dialogue and thoughts are?

That isn’t meant in negative way at all. Having read something about the author I know her intent is to engage. My concern is that readers without that extra info could just see the often offensive characters and not the intent. It’s a provocative way to show the problems in thinking and reactions. Will people recognise themselves in these racist beliefs, sexist presumptions, religious affectations? Or will it just be a case of – that’s the norm.

Spirituality, faith and religion play a large part in the plot. In particular when Julia loses her faith during her time at the spiritual retreat. Loss of self or a complete re-navigation is quite common in an environment where one is asked to delve into emotions, memories and structure of self.

It’s a story of self-exploration, passion and faith. A tale of what God means to each person on an individual level and how to navigate faith or the loss of it.

Buy Re-Navigation at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Creativia; pub date 14 May 2019. Buy at Amazon.comAmazon auBuy at Book Depository.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

anything you do sayFair warning *Possible Spoilers*

This is the kind of story which evokes a lot of emotions, controversy and discussion. So it probably isn’t any surprise that I want to have a really good chin-wag about it.

There are so many elements of this story that are hot topics at the moment. The systemic abuse of women, cross-race effect, the morality of her actions, why self-defence is negated in cases of severe force and the whole decision whether or not to act or help.

The behaviour Joanna encounters in the bar is fairly atypical unfortunately. The fact it happens so frequently probably explains her lack of response, which is in no way meant to sound like victim-blaming. Women have become so used to the systemic abuse that they tend to brush it off or ignore it, because making a big deal or speaking up can lead to escalations.

Joanna is on edge when she leaves the bar and almost expects Sadiq to follow her home, and of course this assumption of bad intentions is part of the problem. Then there is the issue of cross-race effect, ergo being able to recognise faces of ones own race easier and finding it more difficult to differentiate the faces of different races. This phenomenon causes a lot of misidentification when it comes to crimes.

Then there is the issue of self-defence, and I can guarantee the majority of people will think they have the right to defend themselves with any force necessary, however the truth is the legal situation isn’t as simple as it may seem. Reasonable force is the important factor and whether or not the victim believes they are in imminent danger, but it must be proportionate to the supposed danger. If the response causes injury or death it can be ruled as excessive force, ergo the victim then becomes the perpetrator.

The story follows Joanna in two scenarios simultaneously, the Joanna who reports the incident and the Joanna who tries to cover it up. Put yourself in her shoes for a minute, ask yourself what you would do in the same set of circumstances. Would you leave, watch him die, call for help or pretend it never happened at all?

This book is an excellent read because it challenges our perception of this event and possible scenarios we might encounter. I think the foremost question on my mind, whilst reading this story, was what I would do in the same situation. The answer to that particular question will be different for every single one of us and based on our own frame of references.

McAllister likes to present readers with complex characters and the kind of situations that are neither black or white. The grey areas become murky and distorted, which is what makes her stories so compelling.

Buy Anything You Do Say at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @GillianMAuthor

Visit gillianmcallister.com

Read Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

Read No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister

The Photographer’s Wife by Suzanne Joinson

photographer.jpgThis book has an English Patient feel to it. The smell of colonialism is spread like a thin layer of sweat upon the story, especially the early years of Prudence. The British as the invaders, the foreigner attempting to control the fate of another country, as usual.

The title is a little misleading, because the photographer’s wife is really just an afterthought. Prudence is the main focus throughout the story. As a child, then as a teen and as an adult.

I liked the subtle parallels between Prudence and Skip, and Prudence and her father. Whether she realises it or not she actually treats her child with the same level of contempt and neglect.

I have to say I am not sure why the rape scene was necessary. It was superfluous to the story, and there was no follow-up whatsoever, so what was the point? Just a shock factor or was it to show the carelessness of Ashton? Surely her witnessing the violence by Lofty was sufficient enough to make the same point. The way she slips into an abusive relationship and her erratic behaviour can be explained by both the neglect and the traumatic events she experiences.

In the end this is a story about politics, betrayal, spies and morality. It’s about the lines people cross in the name of war and political skirmishes. For me it didn’t come together as well as it could have.

Buy The Photographer’s Wife at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Dead Man’s Gift: part 1: Yesterday by Simon Kernick

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This is the first in a three-part thriller by Simon Kernick. Tim Horton is faced with a complex and distressing situation.

His son has been kidnapped, the child’s nanny is dead and the kidnappers are not interested in any kind of ransom. Instead they only have one demand. They want Tim dead and they want him dead at a time and place of their choosing.

Although fairly short, it does give a good idea of the flavour, pace and story in store for the reader.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

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Last Night and Today are the next parts in Kernick’s Dead Man’s Gift.

An Offer She Can’t Refuse by Shoma Narayanan

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What starts with a simple job interview, ends with a complicated friends with benefits scenario. Mallika and Darius slip slowly and surely into a relationship, which they both refuse to define as a relationship of any kind.

Mallika is coping with the fact her brother is suffering from agoraphobia, induced by the traumatic and tragic death of their parents.  She has become his parent and carer all rolled into one. Having to more or less babysit him 24/7, despite the fact he is an adult, has a negative impact or her work and her dating life.

Darius accepts all that and more, in fact he is very patient with Mallika. In return she sort of treats him with disdain, because she assumes he is not the family man she is looking for. They are both in for a surprise.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mills & Boon.


The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

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I think at the end I was holding my breath in an anticipation. Not for me, but for Queenie. I wanted her to be at peace, feel forgiven and be able to let go. At the same time I wanted her hopes and dreams to come true. For Henry to make one final gesture, which would be a signal or sign that he felt the same way. I didn’t expect the reality to be so cruel and yet it was completely realistic.

Queenie’s tale is one of death and one of a lonely life.

This is the unlikely and unexpected sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. After the commercial success of Harold’s story the odds were against the story of Queenie being just as successful, however that is exactly what happened.

Rachel Joyce has created two sides of the same story without the content being repetitive or boring. Instead, this one brings the first full circle. Although I would have to point out that each story is subjective and reflects a single persons experience, as opposed to it just being one big happy story.

I think the most vivid element and image that stood out for me wasn’t Queenie at all. It was the subtle message about forgetting the elderly, the sick and the terminally ill. How they become the rejects and the recluses of society in their last days, months and years. Hidden away in care homes or a hospice with only the carer or nursing staff to be with within their last hours.

The story is filled with a sense of guilt, sorrow, loneliness and longing. It is sad and yet at the same time a story filled with hope. The last wish of a dying woman, and whether or not it will be fulfilled.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

The G File by Håkan Nesser

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The police procedure, during the 80’s part of the story, is typical for that era. Less about the rights of the perpetrator and more about the police getting their man. In fact Van Veeteren  is 100% convinced of Hennan’s guilt, regardless of the air-tight alibi. So the interviews become a cat and mouse game between the two of them, a power play of detective and possible murderer.

Nesser brings an interesting aspect to the table, whether a person can be inherently evil. Veeteren has prior experience with Hennan and his cruel criminal mind-set, which is why he is convinced of his guilt. Regardless of the fact there is no way Hennan was anywhere near this particular crime scene at the time of the murder, Veeteren knows that he is guilty.

It took me till about three-quarter way through the book to figure out the solution. Yay, me. It sort of came to me like an epiphany.

In the second half of the book it was interesting to see how everyone still deferred to Van Veeteren with the same respect and authority, despite the fact he is retired by then and owns a bookshop. The police think nothing of including him in the investigation into the disappearance of Verlangen.

Verlangen is actually the reason the initial crime is brought back to the table after so many years. The perfect crime, which has haunted Veeteren for many years. He knows who and why, he just can’t figure out how. It is such superb irony that the failed ex-policeman Verlangen is the one who stumbles on the solution and leads Veeteren to the how of it all.

This story has the subtle, slightly dark and smooth quality, which Nesser is known for. His characters are rough around the edges, acerbic and brutally honest. It was a treat, as always.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood

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Robert Thorogood is the creator of the BBC1 TV series Death in Paradise, an immensely popular series featuring the prim and proper Brit DI Poole on the paradise island of Saint-Marie. The fourth series is due to be broadcast in early 2015.

For the first time ever Thorogood is bringing the popular characters to the world of bookworms in A Meditation on Murder. I have to say I was quite looking forward to reading this because I really enjoy Death in Paradise. In the TV series it is the combination of the cast, the dry humour, the scenery and the classic Agatha Christie like murder mysteries that bring me back for more.

Does Thorogood achieve the same element of bait and catch with his book? Absolutely. It features one of the most interesting fixtures in a classic mystery. The murder in a locked room conundrum.

One murder victim, five suspects and room no person entered or left, which means one of the five must be the murderer. Colonel Mustard in the library with a machete.

I’m not quite sure what is the most amusing thing about Richard Poole, his odd habits, his intolerance to the heat, his whiteboard fetish or his cat and mouse game with Harry the lizard. His apparent dislike of his beautiful and exotic surroundings, despite somehow being secretly pleased at being there.

His grumpy attitude and behaviour is offset by his fellow islanders and police officers. The laid back attitude of his colleagues is the perfect balance to the straight-laced and often tactless detective.

I really enjoyed the read and look forward to more by Thorogood.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mira UK.

Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

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Does it steer close to the kind of macabre horror Poe is known for? Well, it starts off with good intentions but flounders towards the end. Gregory seems to be trying to lead with two story-lines at once.

First the creepy Poe cursed tooth one, and then the family dynamic of the main character and his guilt. Pick one and go with it. You want to mess the borders between good, bad, evil and downright creepy as hell? Then do so with abandon and a little less of the dilly dallying.

There were some other issues that distracted from the Poe-esqueness of it all. Yes, I totally made that word up. The first being the strange meanderings of paedophilia both in thoughts and accusations. Sentences like ‘a cherub with baby tits’ leave an uncomfortable after-taste.

What was the point? Unless the guilt inside him has come from that core issue or the evil he is experiencing is his own lack of acceptance, hence  the disgust at his hidden desires. Then perhaps it would have made more sense, as it is it just seemed to be a touch one too many times in the wrong direction. Pardon the pun.

The second issue was the constant need for the main character to be utterly and completely naked in the majority of scenes. Who wanders round in sooty, dusty attics and book-stores with their crown jewels dangling in the wind? Who thinks it is appropriate to be completely naked with their also completely naked young daughter in the middle of the night?

Again, if the idea was to have the main character fight an internal yet subconscious battle with the idea of his own paedophilia it makes sense. The desire to be unclothed indicating his inappropriate desire for her, for instance. If not then all that nakedness makes no sense and is merely gratuitous.

Gregory appears to have an aptitude for Gothic horror and a love of Poe, however the plot needs to tighter, as does the clarity of the plot.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams by Fiona Harper

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Nicole was a true hardcore romantic when she came up with the great idea to start a Marriage Proposal Planning company. Now after watching one too many enthusiastic couples melt into each others arms she realises she is missing out on something. Something or someone who will make her heart sing like a canary on champagne.

On a night out she meets that certain someone and he not only makes her heart sing, he also makes her limbs weak, her heart pound and her body ache for the horizontal tango. Numbers are exchanged and one would think things are a go, except Nicole chickens out and that’s when things get really complicated.

One year later and the perfect solution to all their business problems has waltzed in the door. The problem with the oh so perfect solution is the unexpected complication called Alex.

Harper knows just how to twist the plot in a way that keeps readers on their toes. A man with trust issues, a gal who doesn’t trust her instincts and a delightfully spontaneous socialite called Saffron to top it all off. This is certainly a romance with more ups and downs than a roller coaster ride.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mills & Boon.