#Blogtour Dawnlands by Philippa Gregory

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Dawnlands by Philippa Gregory. ‘Political intrigue, rebellion, and scandal in the royal court of the Stuarts, brought to life by one of the nation’s foremost historical novelists’

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognised authority on women’s history. Her Cousins’ War novels, reaching their dramatic conclusion with The King’s Curse, were the basis for the highly successful BBC series, The White Queen. 

Philippa’s other great interest is the charity that she founded over twenty years ago: Gardens for the Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for over 200 wells in the primary schools of this poor African country. Philippa graduated from the University of Sussex and holds a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 at Edinburgh University. In 2016, she received the Harrogate Festival Award for Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction. Philippa lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire. Follow @PhilippaGBooks on Twitter

About the book

In a divided country, power and loyalty conquer all… It is 1685 and England is on the brink of a renewed civil war against the Stuart kings with many families bitterly divided. Alinor, now a successful businesswoman, has been coaxed by the manipulative Livia to save Queen Mary from the coming siege. The rewards are life-changing: the family could return to their beloved Tidelands, and Alinor could rule where she was once lower than a servant.

Inspired by news of a rebellion against the Stuart kings, Ned Ferryman returns from America with his Pokanoket servant to join the uprising against roman catholic King James. As Ned swears loyalty to the charismatic Duke of Monmouth, he discovers a new and unexpected love.

Meanwhile, Queen Mary summons her friend Livia to a terrified court. Her survival, and that of the Stuart kings, is in the balance, and only a clever and dangerous gamble can save them… 

A compelling and powerful story of political intrigue and personal ambition, from one end of the empire to another, set between the palaces of London, the tidelands of Fowlmire and the shores of Barbados. 

Review

This is the third book in the Fairmile series, all of them can be read as standalone, but I would recommend reading Tidelands and Dark Tides just because they are great reads. They are also for the majority based on a set of fictional characters entwined with certain historical facts – a tad different from previous series.

What remains the same is the way this author in particular puts historical women at the forefront of her stories. The women who tend to be written out of history, forgotten and are often falsely portrayed. Their subtle manipulations from the side-lines, their importance as political tools, and perhaps most underestimated their power to drive the agenda as mothers, daughters and wives.

Moving slightly away from the usual political intrigue and power plays at court, although the court of the Stuarts gives plenty of fodder for those who seek it. The story also moves into other areas that carry the stamp of colonial oppression – the slave trade and the sugar industry for instance. 

I’m not going to go through all the characters we know and love (or dislike) from the previous books – needless to say Livia is doing what Livia does best, Ned follows his heart and a keen sense of justice or rebellion, depending on where you stand. At the core of this is a family, how they are tied to each, their experiences and home.

The author always delivers a riveting historical read – story and reader come before all else.

Buy Dawnlands at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Simon & Schuster, pub date 8th November | Hardback – £20.00. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Simon and Schuster.

#BlogTour The Imposter by Leona Deakin

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Imposter by Leona Deakin.

About the Author

Leona Deakin draws inspiration for her writing from her own experiences having started her career as a psychologist with the West Yorkshire Police and her successful work in psychology since. Leona was part of a team responsible for designing methods of selection for recruiting and promoting officers from PC to Chief Superintendent. 

Her role was to create realistic policing scenarios – from personnel issues to large scale incidents (plane crash, terrorist bomb etc) – that could be used to test leadership skills. To do this she spent a great deal of time interviewing and observing officers at various ranks and reviewing cases. This gave Leona an insight into the police culture that helps her to write authentic character interactions in her novels. 

Leona is now an occupational psychologist and lives with her family in Leeds. She has written four novels in the acclaimed Dr Augusta Bloom series: Gone, Lost, Hunt and The Imposter. Follow https://twitter.com/LeonaDeakin1 on Twitter

About the book

The Imposter is the fourth gripping thriller by Leona Deakin with a truly brilliant, mind-bending twist! While each of Leona’s thrillers can be read as a standalone, The Imposter delivers all the pace, plot and expert psychological insight that her devoted fan base have come to expect.

Dr Bloom is faced with her most challenging case yet as she races to catch a highly unpredictable murderer in London. He doesn’t just want your identity. He wants your life… – No one sees him coming.

A stock-market trader is pushed from a high-rise balcony and falls to his death on the street below. The only clue the police can find is a box of matches. – No one survives for long. The decomposing body of a member of the Saudi Royal Family is discovered in a car. Evidence suggests the killer took the man’s life, then stole his identity, wore his clothes and lived in his hotel room – before vanishing into thin air like smoke.

Nothing but matchsticks are left behind. – Dr Bloom realizes the only thing linking these murders is a trail of burnt matches and broken lives. Time is running out – and if she isn’t careful, she might be the next to burn …

Review

This is the fourth book in the Dr Bloom series, and despite recurring characters and certain sub plots, they can be read as standalone novels. I think it makes the series a wee bit more enticing. You can read the rest of the series because they are good books, and you get the gist of the underlying tension and manipulation between Bloom and Seraphine, but you can equally discover and enjoy each book individually without thinking you are missing out on a part of the story.

In this book Bloom is brought in, not because there has been a sequence of peculiar deaths or alleged accidents that suggest a third party is enjoying a masquerade process before killing them. Bloom is there because Seraphine appears to be part of the bigger picture, and she knows exactly how she ticks.    

Is it bad that I really enjoy Seraphine? Her character is written in a way that makes her pathology, her intelligence and the ability to stay ten steps ahead of everyone around her quite intriguing. The character you know is capable of anything without feeling an inch of remorse, and yet as a reader you’re still quite invested in whatever dangerous mischief she may get up to.

It’s also an interesting way to drive a double thread plot. You pay attention to one but are also looking over your shoulder for the variable that is at best manipulating the scenario and at her worst she is directly involved and has her wicked fingers in all the pies – just for the fun of it.

Buy The Imposter at Amazon UK. Publisher:  pub date 24th November 2022 | Paperback Original | Penguin (Transworld) | £7.99 – Ebook available from 3rd November 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour Betty Boo by Claudia Piñeiro

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Betty Boo by Claudia Piñeiro – translated by Miranda France.

About the Author

Claudia Piñeiro, formerly a journalist and playwright, is the author of prize-winning literary crime novels that are all bestsellers in Latin America and have been translated into many languages. She lives in Buenos Aires. Follow @claudiapineiro on Twitter

The Translator – Miranda France is the author of two acclaimed volumes of travel writing: Don Quixote’s Delusions, a Cervantean tour through the Spanish psyche; and Bad Times in Buenos Aires, which explored the psychological condition of sullen resignation and impotent rage the Argentinians know as bronca. She has also written the novel Hill Farm and translated Claudia Piñeiro’s other novels into English. Follow @MirandaFrance1 on Twitter

About the book

When a Buenos Aires industrialist is found dead at his home in La Maravillosa, an exclusive gated community, the novelist Nurit Iscar (nicknamed Betty Boo after Betty Boop) is contracted by a former lover, the editor of a national newspaper, to cover the story. Nurit teams up with the paper’s veteran, but now demoted, crime reporter. Soon they realize that they are falling in love, which complicates matters deliciously. 

The murder is no random crime. Five members of the Argentine industrial and political elite, who all went to the same boarding-school, have died in apparently innocent circumstances. The Maravillosa murder is just the last in the series and those in power in Argentina are not about to allow all this brought to light. Too much is at stake. 

Review

This is probably one of those reads where less is more in the review. If you don’t read or pay attention to the blurb and just read and enjoy based purely on what your presented with, as opposed to the assumption and the expectation, then I think you get a much more interesting read.

A businessman is found dead in an exclusive gated community – one with stringent rules when it comes to entering and exiting. Not a big suspect pool, right? Until Nurit – also known as Betty Boo – starts to uncover a bigger picture. A violent conspiracy of death and crime.

I think perhaps there is a lot more to say about the author and writing style than the actual plot – it’s really interesting how the style is completely different depending on which book. To the point of thinking it is a different author entirely. In this book I found it fascinating the way everything was constructed in an anti-norm structure. The minor characters take centre stage and minutiae rules.

The result is this snow globe version of a crime story where the falling snow keeps the eye focused on the world around the plot and the main characters are their own microcosm. Definitely an author to read.

Buy Betty Boo at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press: pub date 14 January 2016. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Bitter Lemon Press.

#Blogtour Life and Death Decisions by Dr Lachlan McIver

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour – Life and Death Decisions: Fighting to save lives from disaster, disease and destruction by Dr Lachlan McIver. ‘An action-packed tale of medicine in the most remote, poverty-torn areas of the globe from a Médecins Sans Frontières doctor.’

About the Author

Dr Lachlan McIver is a rural medicine and public health specialist with a PhD in the health impacts of climate change. He currently works as the Tropical Diseases and Planetary Health Advisor at the headquarters of Médecins Sans Frontières in Geneva. Lachlan is an Associate Professor at James Cook University and is the founder and past Chair of Rocketship Pacific Ltd – an international non-profit organisation dedicated to improving health in Pacific Island countries. 

Lachlan’s work has taken him to thirty different countries, and he has published over fifty scientific articles and textbook chapters. He regularly speaks at international conferences on health. For more information, visit drlachlanmciver.com or follow @lachlan_mciver on Twitter

About the book

Lachlan was sixteen when he found his father dead on the side of a dirt road in North Queensland, Australia. He had suffered a sudden heart attack and died alone. It was this tragedy that motivated Lachlan to train as a doctor specialising in providing medical care for people living in remote, resource-deprived locations.

Lachlan’s work with the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières has taken him to some of the world’s most extreme environments from the sinking islands of the Pacific to epidemics and war zones in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

In this no-holds-barred memoir, Lachlan recounts his experiences treating patients ravaged by tropical diseases, managing war wounds with drug-resistant infections, delivering babies by the light of a head torch, dealing with the devastating effects of climate change and narrowly avoiding being kidnapped by militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tackling such impossible problems day in and day out inevitably takes a personal toll. Lachlan is ultimately forced to face his own battles with depression, alcohol abuse and bankruptcy.

Life and Death Decisions is a deeply human look at the personal cost of our broken global health system and a vital call to action.

Review

Lachlan presents the good, the bad and the uncomfortable in this frank memoir. It’s not just a facts, experiences and accomplishments. It’s a stripping bare of emotions, of choices, and an examination of consequence of actions.

I found the most interesting aspect of this read was the way the author relates to his achievements. It’s as if it is a never-ending race to save and help as many people as possible, and yet never feeling a true sense of accomplishment, perhaps because the underlying trauma of a death he had no way of changing always sits on his shoulders as a constant companion.

There appears to be a lack of acknowledgement of his impact on the world and the people he endeavours to help and has helped throughout the years. The drive, the selflessness and often reckless regard for his own life and his close relationships. Even the last pages are a testament to how he wants to live life by example to change the path we have created, which is at odds with saving lives at this moment in time. 

It’s a remarkable read, perhaps more so because he makes the hard work and dangerous situations look like second nature. It is food for thought – small steps for some of us, which will lead to bigger ones.

Buy Life and Death Decisions at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Endeavour pub date 1 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour Song for Ria by Michelle Shine

It’s my turn on the Blogtour Song for Ria by Michelle Shine.

About the Author

Michelle Shine was born in London in 1956 and lives in Hampstead. She is the author of Mesmerised, a historical novel about the Impressionists, narrated by their friend, fellow artist, doctor and homeopath, Paul Gachet, and The Subtle Art of Healing which was long listed for the Cinnamon Press novella award in 2007. Her short stories have appeared in Liars League, Grey Sparrow, Ephiphany and several collections. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck. Follow @MichelleShine15 on Twitter, Visit michelleshine.co.uk

About the book

Renowned composer Alison Connaught is grieving. Her high-profile, Hollywood-based daughter, Ria, has died of an overdose of the OxyContin that Alison had no idea she was taking. 

Despite the fact that Ria was 27, living thousands of miles away in the US, with a successful acting career, Alison blames herself. What kind of mother doesn’t even know her child is taking opiates?

Alison finds that her grief has muted her. She can no longer play or enjoy her music. She has lost her daughter, and now it seems her career as an award-winning composer for some of the biggest names in the industry is over. On top of this her marriage to Ria’s stepfather, Harvey, is suffering. 

By travelling to the States, meeting Ria’s friends and colleagues, and gaining an insight into the gruelling challenges of Hollywood she begins to form a bridge to both her daughter and her musical muse. She learns that a docu-soap about Ria is in the making. One of Ria’s rivals will be both a producer of the programme and the star.

Gradually Alison begins to make music again but this time she is insistent the music will be hers. Her album is released and   advertised in the docu-soap’s commercial breaks and the accompanying publicity gives Alison the opportunity to tell her side of the story to the world. 

There is still one person she needs to speak to and she confronts Joshua – Ria’s inconstant boyfriend – and Alison can finally reconcile her place in Ria’s story. 

This is a visceral and deeply moving tale of grief and regret. Michelle Shine’s skill as a storyteller brings Alison’s thoughts and actions to life in this stunning novel.

Review

This is the story of a mother searching for an explanation for the death of her daughter. It’s about grief and subjective opinions about relationships. It’s also one about the ability to express and lighten your weight by creating beauty in art – in this case music.

There is always this constant inner dialogue of regrets and what-ifs. If I had or hadn’t done xyz then this would never have happened. Guilt is an overwhelming burden to carry, despite there often being no reason to feel it. In this story that sentiment really comes to a head when Alison is confronted by Ria’s version of their relationship or at the very least the version now told by those left behind to mourn her. The two images are different sides of the same coin – one the glossy image of the reared child and the other the unknown woman she became.

The young woman who dulled the pain, silenced the doubts and hid her real self with an alarming adeptness at deception. Addicts tend to be skilled manipulators and masters of deceit. How hard is it for Alison to accept a certain scenario and simultaneously her own role in it, and I write that with a wee bit of tongue in cheek, because it seems quite fashionable to tell tales of a difficult parent and awful childhood instead of taking some accountability for one’s own actions.

I found this a little hard at times from a pure grief perspective. Fiction and speculation read a certain way when researched well and empathy takes centre stage, however reality and fact would make it a more poignant exploration of grief, guilt and loss.

Buy Song for Ria at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎RedDoor Press pub date 13 Jun. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton. This is the second book in The Adventures of Phyllo Cane series, the first book is Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder.

About the Author

Sharn W. Hutton is the author of The Adventures of Phyllo Cane series, the first of which, Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder, was hailed by the judging panel of The Booklife Prize to be ‘dizzyingly bewitching, articulate and intoxicating.’ The next adventure, Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie, is set for release July 31st 2022.

Prior to this foray into the realms of upper middle grade/YA magical fantasy, Sharn wrote cozy mystery based around the irrepressible Angel Drake, in Angel Drake is Going Solo and the short story, Nothing Ventured. Her first novel, It’s Killing Jerry, was a standalone mystery.

Based in Bushey, Hertfordshire, Sharn works from home in the tiny office at the back of the house, which makes up for what it lacks in size and warmth with a rather nice view of the garden. When she isn’t hitting the keyboard (laptop, not piano) she does enjoy a trip to the theatre or cinema and pretends to use the very expensive exercise machine rusting in the summerhouse.

One day she plans to also learn how to play the piano. Visit sharnhutton.com, Follow @sharnious on Instagram

About the book

Magically magnificent, fantastic and ferocious at least, that’s what you’d expect of a fire-breathing dragon. But what if yours won’t come out of its pen to perform? What if the Ringmaster thinks it’s worth more in the apothecary chop-shop than as part of the troupe?

The Beast Whisperer of the Circus of Wonder must bring her beloved dragon back up to its performing peak fast, if she’s to save it, and she thinks she knows what to do.

The unhappy creature needs a mate, but the male sand dragon is a rare beast indeed, and she’ll never be able to catch one alone.

Time for Phyllo to become the Beast Whisperer’s apprentice… Join Phyllo on his next apprenticeship with the Circus of Wonder – a brand new adventure with the fantastic beasts of the Magical Menagerie and a race against time to save their lonely dragon from destruction.

Review

This is the second book in the Phyllo Cane series, and although both books can be read separately, I would recommend reading the first to get the gist of the story. It’s also a good read. 

Phyllo still hasn’t found his place in the Circus as we start this book, unfortunately he thinks he has returned home to perhaps take a place in their small unit. Instead, the Ringmaster wants him to continue on his quest to find the right apprenticeship and finding the right one will also determine whether he can stay near his family. It’s a way to finetune or simply find his own talents and his place in the world of magic.

It’s a story both younger (10 plus) and older readers will enjoy. Filled with magic, wonderfully strange creatures and a circus community that is family in its own strange way. It’s a series with plenty of potential, partly because Phyllo hasn’t quite found his own particular corner and talent yet. And of course, the last sentence of this book is not only a cliff-hanger of sorts – it also promises another great read. 

It’s also the kind of book that speaks to the spark of wonder and imagination we carry within us – worlds full of magic, hidden treasures, and darkened corners full of mystery and surprises. Just the right kind of read to create a lifelong reader. Looking forward to more adventures with Phyllo, and of course seeing where his path leads him, although I have a certain suspicion that his journey of Jack of all trades will culminate in a very specific path.

Buy Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Star City Press pub date 31 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

Amazon International Booklink to Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie: mybook.to/PCATMagicalMenagerie

Amazon International Booklink to Series page: mybook.to/PhylloCane – Current Kindle price: £3.99 – Current Paperback price: £9.99

#BlogTour A 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 My Name is Ten by Colleen MacMahon

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour My Name is Ten by Colleen MacMahon. I loved this book and can’t wait to read more by this author.

About the Author 

Colleen MacMahon is an English actress, artist and award winning author of short stories. She has narrated audiobooks, designed book covers, written plays for theatre groups and taught and mentored children, young adults and so-called grown ups. She lives in the beautiful Devon countryside with three dogs, a lot of wildlife, and a (mostly) patient partner who spends an unreasonable amount of time sorting out her technical messes. 

My Name Is Ten is her debut novel and she is currently working on its sequel. Follow @CollMacMahon on Twitter, Visit colleenmacmahon.com

About the book

If only the perfect are entitled to live, who chooses the ones that should die? – By 2092 the world has been left scorched by the catastrophic solar eruptions of 2025 and turned largely into desert. The competition for resources is fierce and often brutal. The young, healthy and fertile are commodities prized for their resilience and reproductive potential; they are bred, bought and traded by the wealthy elite and discarded when no longer of use.

When 17 year old Akara – once a pampered and highly valued Protégé – loses both her physical perfection and her proof of pedigree, she is incarcerated in The Kennels. If she is not adopted she is condemned to die. Damaged, alone and woefully unprepared for survival beyond her gilded cage, Akara must begin to learn both humility and true self worth, before she can start to fight for her right to exist.

Review

Not going to lie, I love the premise and the story – in a omg that is really terrible for the main character and the future sucks eggs kind of way – that is the joy of reading work by someone who is able to bring something invigorating, fresh and intriguing to the table.

Ten knows her worth and demands to be acknowledged as the asset she is or was, however she is no longer the picture of flawless beauty and lacks any bargaining chips because of it. She finds herself in what we would ironically call a kill shelter in our day and age. There is no difference, aside from the fact the inmates are human, and the only way to cheat the inevitable death sentence is to be adopted. In their lonely prison the inhabitants are dehumanised by reducing them to numbers instead of names. This is the story of the journey that brought Ten to this place and whether or not she can escape her fate.

I found the subtle parallels drawn between our current society and a desolate future one very perceptive. The throwaway culture in regards to humanity or rather certain people in our society, and the fight for survival as vital resources slowly disappear. The lack of respect for human life, the eradication of parental bonds as each life born is considered in monetary value, and the emphasis on perfection equating to worth. A lot of painful realities lurking in this dystopian story. 

I also found it hard to remember that it was set in the future – it often had a medieval era vibe to it with the occasional stark remember of the desolate surroundings, which I assume was intentional. The sad realisation that humanity is doomed to repeat history and their destructive patterns.

Incredible debut, excellent premise and writing. I am really looking forward to the next book – definitely an author to watch.

Buy My Name is Ten at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published, pub date 1 May 2022. Buy at Amazon com

#Blogtour By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour By Her Own Design: A Novel of Ann Lowe, Fashion Designer to the Social Register written by Piper Huguley. I loved this book!

About the Author

Piper Huguley is the author of the Home to Milford College and the Migrations of the Heart series. She is a multiple-time Golden Heart finalist. Piper blogs about the history behind her novels on her website. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and son. Follow @piperhuguley on Twitter, Visit piperhuguley.com

About the book

The incredible untold story of how Ann Lowe, a Black woman and granddaughter of slaves, rose above personal struggles and racial prejudice to design and create one of America’s most famous wedding dresses of all time for Jackie Kennedy.

1953, New York City – Less than a week before the society wedding of the year where Jacqueline Bouvier will marry John F. Kennedy, a pipe bursts at Ann Lowe’s dress shop and ruins eleven dresses, including the expensive wedding dress, a dress that will be judged by thousands. A Black designer who has fought every step of the way, Ann knows this is only one struggle after a lifetime of them. She and her seamstresses will find the way to re-create the dresses. It may take all day and all night for the next week to accomplish the task, but they will do it.

1918, Tampa – Raised in Jim Crow Alabama, Ann learned the art of sewing from her mother and her grandmother, a former slave, who are the most talented seamstresses in the state. After Ann elopes at twelve with an older man who soon proves himself to be an abusive alcoholic, her dreams of becoming a celebrated designer seem to be put on hold. But then a wealthy Tampa socialite sees Ann’s talent and offers her an amazing opportunity—the chance to sew and design clothing for Florida’s society elite. Taking her young son in the middle of the night, Ann escapes her husband and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

Based on the true story of one of the most famous designers of the twenties through the sixties who has since been unjustly forgotten, By Her Own Design is an unforgettable novel of determination despite countless obstacles and a triumph celebrated by the world.

Review

Although the story of Ann begins at the end of her life, it perhaps does her more justice, because the battles she fought and the hills she had to climb to achieve her dreams and goals – the reader thinks they know how her journey will progress or at least they think they do. 

The reality of course is that the hardships endured, the racism faced, and the courageous and dangerous decisions made, are the norm for her because she is a black woman. The white privilege she is surrounded by is a pill to be taken daily with a portion of steadily controlled seething anger. And yet at the core is the child, the girl who is plucked from innocence and thrust into the stark reality of womanhood. The girl, who learns to covet and embrace the bonds of sisterhood, maternal strength and the protection of those who endured and survived the same before her.

This is the story of an artist, a woman with an incredible talent for design and fashion, who wrote history and yet has been forgotten by those who wrote it.

I absolutely loved this book and I really hope someone makes a screen version of it – Oscar material right here. The author has fixed an injustice by bringing the important story of Ann to the forefront of our minds, and in doing so ensures that she receives her rightful place in the history of design and fashion. Kudos to the author for the storytelling, the excellent writing and for sharing this story with us all.

It is a travesty that the voices, the achievements, designs, inventions, and their pivotal input and influence on our developments and history in general, of women – especially women who belong to marginalised and oppressed groups – have been erased from historical narratives. Whitewashed from history. This is a perfect example of every detail being known to the world, except the part where a black woman designed the wedding dress of one of the most well-known historical figures of the 20th century, and yet somehow it has become the one detail that is never mentioned. I highly recommend this book – it’s an excellent read.

Buy By Her Own Design at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : William Morrow PB, pub date 21 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour The Yellow Kitchen by Margaux Vialleron

It’s my turn on the Blogtour The Yellow Kitchen by Margaux Vialleron. ‘Expectation meets Julie & Julia, The Yellow Kitchen is a brilliant exploration of food, belonging and friendship.’

About the Author

Margaux Vialleron is a French-born, London-based writer, self-taught cook and co-host of the The Salmon Pink Kitchen book club, culinary community and podcast. The Yellow Kitchen is her first novel. 

Find out more at her website margauxvialleron.com or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @margauxvlln.

About the book

London E17, 2019. A yellow kitchen stands as a metaphor for the lifelong friendship between three women: Claude, the baker, goal-orientated Sophie and political Giulia. They have the best kind of friendship, chasing life and careers; dating, dreaming and consuming but always returning to be reunited in the yellow kitchen.

That is, until a trip to Lisbon unravels unexplored desires between Claude and Sophie. Having sex is one thing, waking up the day after is the beginning of something new. Exploring the complexities of female friendship, The Yellow Kitchen is a hymn to the last year of London as we knew it and a celebration of the culture, the food and the rhythms we live by.

Review

It’s an interesting one. I think it’s the kind of story that every reader – specifically women, will relate to – or not, through their own frame of reference. A very specific frame of reference – the relationship and bond between daughters and mothers. 

On the periphery it’s also about friendships, close friendships between women, especially long-term ones. The author captures an often overlooked and forgotten aspect of close friendships, when the boundaries of the bonds are slightly adjusted, which can solidify or make them slowly dissipate. The author also captures the minutiae of interactions, micro aggressions, passive aggressive subconscious moves. When two become three it can become a ticking timebomb of emotions.

Claude, Sophie and Giulia ultimately find themselves exploring their own identity, their first bond with another woman, and in a strange way a second sort of coming-of-age. When a woman enters an age of reflection and introspection, when the similarities between the mother and evident in the woman the daughter has become.

The writing style reminded me at times of flash fiction or performance art – many messages and thoughts thrown out into the universe in the hopes that some will provoke, others will make you pause and think. I found it refreshing and innovative.

Buy The Yellow Kitchen at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Simon & Schuster UK; pub date 7 July 2022 | Hardback | £14.99. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Simon and Schuster.