The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Review

Education equals louding voice, which in turn will enable Adunni to make decisions and speak for herself. It’s what her mother always told her, but her mother is dead and Adunni has taken her place in the family. With a family to feed and rent to pay Adunni becomes the only commodity her father has, so he sells her to a local man. A third wife to be, her dreams wither and die.

Things come to a head and fourteen-year-old Adunni runs away and ends up in the hands of a scrupulous criminal who sells her into servitude. There she again works as an unpaid skivvy and is mistreated by her mistress. No matter where she turns there seems to be the same result.

At first she doesn’t question the girls who have trodden in her footsteps before her, but there is something about the last girl that doesn’t quite sit right. What really happened to Rebecca and is there something or someone Adunni should be afraid of?

One of the saddest and most poignant moments in the book is when you realise that the story of Adunni isn’t set in the past. It’s set in modern day Nigeria, and because of that it is absolutely heartbreaking. Her status as a girl means living as the subservient daughter, the obedient wife and lastly as the servant who is treated worse than a stray dog. Such is the life of her gender. No power, no choice and no voice.

I loved the use of language as a tool to show progress and oppression in the same breath. Daré keeps the entire story on the level of the teenage girl, and yet it simultaneously screams out the unfairness of the adulthood which has been forced upon her.

It’s a contemporary cultural read – a strong reminder of the stark contrast of life for women outside of the high walls of Western civilisation.

Buy The Girl with the Louding Voice at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: Sceptre; pub date 5 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @abidaré_author on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon,

#BlogTour A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell.

About the Author

Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard University and Stanford Law School. She worked at a prestigious Manhattan law firm before spending eight years fighting crime in NYC as a federal prosecutor. Her debut novel It’s Always the Husband was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller.

Follow @MCampbellBks on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit MicheleCampbellBooks.com

About the book

There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aidan, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aidan for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, he life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

Review

Poor Caroline is being played for a fool by her supposedly loving hubby. Not only is he straying from the marital bed he also has the audacity to bring the harlot to their home and parade her in front of their friends and family.

In her despair Caroline ends up having a drunken fling with a younger man. She has no idea that he has a dark and volatile past, and that he might be dangerous. He starts to stalk, threaten and scare her. It’s all too much to deal with as she has to watch the life she loves slowly disintegrate.

Then the coin is flipped and the reader follows Aiden and his perspective on the story, which can in all honesty often come off as stalkerish, possessive and creepy. Simultaenously you get short moments of the desperation he feels to be accepted by family, friends and society in general. Is his connection to and concern for Caroline real? He certainly seems to be unusually invested in keeping her safe. Or is it keeping her to himself?

The story is very much a he said/she said scenario. Should the reader believe Caroline or Aiden? Their stories are so different and yet at times very similar. It’s hard to determine who is telling the truth or who is telling great big fat lies. Well I’m not telling you – you will have to read it and find out.

It’s a psychological thriller, a tense game of half-truths and betrayal. Campbell keeps the narrative of both parties flowing seamlessly – with only tiny glimpses of the actual truth here and there.

Buy A Stranger on the Beach at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; eBook £2.99 pub date 23 July 2019 – Paperback £7.99 pub date 9 Jan 2020 – Audiobook £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Review

Now I get the hype. This really is an absolutely cracking read.

Alicia has remained silent since her conviction and transfer to a locked mental health facility for the brutal murder of her husband. She, or rather her condition, has become an enigma to the professionals treating her. The problem with that is the possibility of her becoming too interesting or a challenge, which then clouds judgement.

From the very beginning Theo shows a lack of ethical judgement. Admittedly he acknowledges this when he takes certain steps in his therapy plan for Alicia, but he crosses the line way before those transgressions.

Theo wants to help Alicia move forward in her treatment and healing. Her silence has become a challenge of sorts, both professionally and psychologically, which of course in itself is quite unprofessional from a therapeutic point of view.

It’s a superbly plotted and executed psychological thriller. The author presents the inadequacy of psychological science. It’s flawed, because of the human factor. There is no such thing as being a blank slate for a patient or client, only the attempt to be blank and not let our own frame of references colour therapeutic treatment.

What really makes it an incredible crime read is the way the author manages to spin the truth and the lies in a way that absolutely leaves the reader thinking they know where the story is headed. Not sure they will though, which ultimately is what makes this a great read.

Buy The Silent Patient at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orion: Paperback pub date – 12 Dec. 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Hive.co.uk.

Follow @AlexMichaelides on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Instagramon Amazon,

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

Review

To be completely frank I found it dark, depressing, I disliked it and it made me angry. Why? Because O’Porter is just spot on with the portrayal of her characters. Too real. She hits the nail on the head when it comes to the judgmental and toxic atmosphere women live in and with.

Believing they have to adhere to physical, emotional and psychological standards set by a patriarchal society, and what’s often worse when those standards are demanded of them by other women.

As the story evolved I found myself nodding and snarking at the words ‘so lucky’ throughout. It’s what society tells us we are supposed to be and supposed to feel. The implication being that we shouldn’t dare to want more than we have or dare to ask for the fulfillment of our needs, wishes, dreams and desires. No, we should be lucky with our lot, no matter how that may look and regardless of whether we are happy or not.

Ruby is caught in a vicious cycle of emotional neglect, which she is repeating with her young daughter Bonnie. She hates her body, has no self-esteem and spends her entire life pushing people away and battling anxiety.

Beth has to cope with a husband who seems to have lost interest in her since she gave birth to her baby. She is a working mother with a raging libido. Is it only a question of time until her marriage starts to implode?

Watch out for the mother-in-law in Beth’s part of the story. I would be burying the woman in the back garden – no doubt about it.

Then there is Lauren, the Insta-famous and Insta-perfect celebrity living her best life and well on her way to marrying a global celebrity. Interjected intermittently are her Instagram feeds and comments, which really set the tone for the level of perfection everyone expects and simultaneously are willing to fake to get followers, likes and fame.

O’Porter has her hand on the pulse of femininity, women, sexuality and also how conflicted women are at times. It’s not easy being pulled in so many different directions at the same time or being judged for every choice and decision.

It’s pithy and brutally frank women’s fiction. The author takes no prisoners, and kudos to her for the honest approach. It’s a gritty, moving and sincere piece of fiction. There is never a dull moment when you read a book by O’Porter. She wants her readers to laugh, to cry and to get angry. It’s pure empowerment, even if it doesn’t appear to be anything like that at the beginning.

Buy So Lucky at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins/HQ; pub date 31 Oct. 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Hive.

Follow @hotpatooties on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreadson Instagram,Visit Dawnoporter.co.uk

Read my review of The Cows by Dawn O’Porter.

The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

Review

It takes a talented scribe to write about mathematics and keep non-maths enthusiasts captivated. Luckily Chung does so quite successfully by weaving the facts with the fiction and the complex theories of mathematics. Chung manages to take the world of numbers and meld it perfectly with history, and with the turmoil of emotions we humans bring to the table.

In essence this a story about a woman achieving recognition in a man’s world and simultaneously about Katherine discovering her true past and heritage. Even in the face of pure talent the majority of her peers and tutors refuse to acknowledge said talent, which leads to betrayal, disappointment and defines her path in life.

Without giving too much of the plot away, there is a moment in this story, which is filled with gender inequality, misogyny and oppression of intelligent women and women in general, when the betrayal comes from someone who knows firsthand how hard it is to succeed as a woman in a patriarchal society. I think this moment is one of the most poignant, because Katherine bows down and accepts the oppression out of a false sense of loyalty towards a fellow woman.

In a way the fate of her parents becomes like one of the unsolved mathematical problems. Riemann’s hypothesis becomes a metaphor for the unsolved mystery of Katherine’s parents.

It’s historical fiction, women’s fiction and a mystery to boot. Chung wades through oppression and ventures into empowerment, whilst weaving in and out of the secrets of the past.

Buy The Tenth Muse at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group – ebook pub date June 2019 – Hardback pub date 7 November 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @chung_catherine on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit catherinechung.com

The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis

Review

This book should without a doubt be on some prestigious lists. It is a superbly told story and Paulson-Ellis is a spectacular storyteller. The way she weaves the individual threads through the timelines and the story, is done in such a subtle way you almost don’t realise she is doing it.

The story takes place in the present with the heir hunter Solomon Farthing and in the past with his grandfather in the First World War. Whilst the story bounces back and forth it also takes pit-stops in the years in between. Connections are drawn from the small group of soldiers to the same men in the future and their offspring. The result is a well-plotted narrative about guilt, brotherhood, loyalty and a question of conscience.

There is a parallel between the betting games the soldiers play to pass the time and to fight the fear and anxiety, and the veterans who connect with each other after the war, specifically the items they place as bets. Each one of them brings something, leaves an item and then takes another thing with them. A spool of thread, buttons, walnuts, fruit, cap badges and a pawn ticket. Anything can become one man’s treasure in a setting where every single item can become as precious as a cave full of gold.

At times I had tears in my eyes, it’s emotional and nostalgic, especially because the author brings realism and authenticity to the table. As a reader you can’t help but think about the young boys and men who died under appalling circumstances. Often following the orders that meant they knew they were nothing but bullet fodder for the enemy. Nothing but numbers for their own country.

Would you lead your brothers in arms into death – on a suicide mission? Would you risk death to ensure others cheat death? Of course disregarding an order meant death by firing squad. The crimes of cowardice, pacifism and just pure trauma took far too many victims in the war.

It’s historical war fiction, literary fiction and simultaneously a story filled with unanswered questions and mysteries. It is an excellent read. A book that belongs on best books lists.

Buy The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Mantle; pub date 5 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @mspaulsonellis on Twitter, Visit marypaulsonellis.co.uk

The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

augusta hopeFor me the story is about all of us being connected at some level, regardless of where we are in the world. Six degrees of separation. It’s also about fate and small pieces of a large puzzle fitting together to create a bigger picture. One could say it’s coincidence, one could also say there is no such thing as coincidence.

Augusta  and Julia are twins, but they couldn’t be more different. Julia is everything her parents expect her to be and more, and Augusta dances to her very own music. She loves words. Words are life, discovery, mystery and knowledge. Words lead to people, things and places. They are doors to other worlds.

Simultaneously the reader is introduced to Parfait on the other side of the world. His life is a complete contrast to that of Augusta, and there is no connection between the two, barring a wish and a dream of places far away.

The juxtaposition of the two lives of these two young people is relevant to our day and age, especially that of Parfait. His fate as a refugee and that of his brother is tragic. Glen wants us to see the way we live our day-to-day lives, whilst men, women and children risk their lives to reach a safer country in an attempt to escape their war-torn countries and the violence.

In a way Julia becomes the guilty conscience the author hopes our society will develop. We need to stop acting as if we see nothing, hear nothing and then speak nothing. A visceral connection needs to be strung from us to them.

Both Parfait and Augusta experience and have to deal with incredible grief and guilt. It is one of the bridges that connects and leads them to each other. In fact they become the hypothetical bridge of connection.

It’s a profound and emotional piece of literary fiction. The main character has shades of Eleanor Oliphant, and the story is introspective with politics and family dynamics woven into this beautiful contemporary read.

Buy The Other Half of Augusta Hope at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: The Borough Press; pub date 13 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @JoannaGlenBooks on Twitter