#BlogTour River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

 It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer.

About the Author

Eleanor Shearer is a mixed-race writer and the granddaughter of Windrush generation immigrants. She splits her time between London and Ramsgate so that she never has to go too long without seeing the sea. For her Master’s degree in Politics at the University of Oxford, Eleanor studied the legacy of slavery and the case for reparations, and her fieldwork in St. Lucia and Barbados helped inspire her first novel. Follow @eleanorbshearer on Twitter

About the book

Powerful, moving and redemptive, River Sing Me Home tells of a mother’s desperate search to find her stolen children and her freedom.

We whisper the names of the ones we love like the words of a song. That was the taste of freedom to us, those names on our lips. Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. These are the names of her children. The five who survived, only to be sold to other plantations. The faces Rachel cannot forget. It’s 1834, and the law says her people are now free. 

But for Rachel freedom means finding her children, even if the truth is more than she can bear. With fear snapping at her heels, Rachel keeps moving. From sunrise to sunset, through the cane fields of Barbados to the forests of British Guiana and on to Trinidad, to the dangerous river and the open sea. Only once she knows their stories can she rest. Only then can she finally find home.


The thought of finally being able to grasp freedom, the wisp of the possibility is whisked away just a quickly, as plantation owners exchange one type of slavery for another. It sets something in motion in Rachel, who has endured loss and grief, and in a moment of unimaginable bravery she sets forth on a journey.

She runs. For herself and her children. She listens for them in the leaves, the people, the land that is both prison and presentation of creation. She searches for the connection she has lost. The only thread to herself and in a way to a past she will never be able to return to. This is a story of love, of heart and above of strength.

What I take away from this is the author’s thought that women decide not to let themselves be defined by the cruelty they have experienced. It would be so simple, and understandable, for these men and women to scorch the earth with their pain. Indeed is there really any way, especially for the perpetrators and their descendants to ever comprehend what has been wrought upon victims of slavery. That the roots of their families, cultures, heritage, sense of safety and belonging were severed and destroyed beyond recognition. Their path and history forever changed.

It’s a beautifully written story enmeshed in the harsh truth of ruthless profiteering. The stories living in the fractured reality and core strength of the survivors. It is simultaneously a painful open wound – a reminder of the atrocities, and a hauntingly melodic song of connection and recognition.

Buy River Sing Me Home at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Headline Review, pub date 19 Jan. 2023. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Headline.

#BlogTour Razia by Abda Khan

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Razia by Abda Khan. It’s a contemporary read with a modern crime, a heartfelt attempt to raise awareness.About the Author

Abda Khan is an author and lawyer who works with victims of domestic violence. She was born in Bradford in 1969 to Pakistani parents, and she now lives and works in the West Midlands. He first novel Stained, was published in 2016, and described by Booklist as ‘a contemporary Tess of the d’ Urbervilles’. She was Highly Commend as a finalist at the 2017 NatWest Asian Woman of Achievement Awards, in the Arts and Culture category.

Follow @abdakhan5 on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit abdakhan.com, Buy Razia

About the book

Farah is a young lawyer living and working in London. She’s just ended a long relationship, and her parents are looking for a husband – whether Farah wants one or not. So far, so normal. But at a work dinner, hosted by a dangerously powerful man, she comes across a young woman called Razia, who Farah soon realises is being kept as a domestic slave.

We follow Farah’s daring investigations from the law courts of London to the brick kilns of Lahore, as she begins to uncover the traps that keep generation after generation enslaved.Everywhere she turns there is deep-rooted oppression and corruption, and when the authorities finally intervene, their actions have dire consequences.

Farah teams up with a human rights lawyer, Alia and the two become close… but can she trust him: can they hep Razia and others like her: and will they ever discover the explosive secret behind these events.


It’s such a bizarre and difficult thing for women of certain cultures, both religious and from an race and ethnicity perspective, to have to walk a tightrope between a modern life and cultural traditions.

Farah appears to walk through modern life with confidence, and yet as soon as she hears the beating of the biological clock she scarpers back to the haven of cultural traditions. It seems like such a contradiction, especially given the fact she isn’t exactly a shy wallflower. In her work and when she feels she has to step up to the mark, she does so with gusto and passion.

So the contradiction and clear imbalance is a woman who asks her parents to fix an arranged marriage for her and in the same breath she fights for the rights of a modern slave. Can she even see the hypocrisy of bowing down to an oppressive and patriarchal society, and trying to help the victim of the same society at the same time?

Aside from the modern slave angle, Khan also ventures into plenty of areas of oppression, maltreatment and sub-human treatment of women. She lays the cultural differences, and of course the religious ones, on a plate to be taken on board and observed.

Unfortunately modern-day slavery has become quite common in our era. Cheap labour forces who are coerced into working for nothing or ridiculous compensation, it isn’t a new type of crime, but it is a very lucrative one. Personally I think it’s the same as trafficking and should receive high punishments. It’s also not a crime bound by gender or age.

It’s a contemporary read with a modern crime, a heartfelt attempt to raise awareness.

Buy Razia by Abda Khan at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound; pub date 11 July 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

I am thrilled to be a part of the BlogTour The Confessions of Frannie Langton. This book is going on my best reads of 2019 list. It is an intricate and complex piece of fiction. It’s a poignant, multi-faceted and moving story. I absolutely loved it.

About the Author

Sara Collins studied law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for seventeen years.

In 2014 she embarked upon the Creative Writing Masters at Cambridge University, where she won the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize of Re-creative Writing and was shortlisted for the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Prize for a book inspired by her love of gothic fiction.

This turned into her first novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

Follow Sara Collins aka @mrsjaneymac or @VikingBooksUK on Twitter,

Buy The Confessions of Frannie Langton

About the book

They say I must be put to death for what happened to Madame, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?

1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?


This book is going on my best reads of 2019 list. It is a spectacular, well-written and researched story. There are so many poignant quotes I would love to share, but one of the most important and indeed historically correct is this:‘Not one thing in this world more dangerous than a white woman when she bored.’

That sentence just epitomizes colonialism, slavery and the mind-set of men, women and children, who believe themselves to be superior to others because of the colour of their skin. It is also a predictor of how dangerous the white women are in this story. Frannie can be set aside, betrayed, humiliated, used and abused one moment then befriended and used as a confidante in the next minute. She is nothing more than a disposable coffee cup.

Frannie Langton is property. She is a mulatto. Her worth is determined by her owner. Her happiness is determined by the men and women who decide when she is allowed to be happy. She is drawn into the studies her Massa conducts in the privacy of his estate. Terrible experiments that would make Mengele proud. All in the name of proving that black people are inferior to white people.

Part of this story circles around the guilt Frannie has to carry around with her. She feels like a collaborator for helping and colluding with Langton, and more importantly for not trying to stop his inhumane actions.

The story begins with Frannie being tried for the brutal and bloody murder of her master and mistress. She revisits her past in flashbacks as she attempts to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of what really happened, and whether she actually did kill someone she loved.

This might be considered a controversial point of view – the book world and readers need more diversity. It definitely needs more diversity when it comes to authors. Not only does the power base and majority, which is white and predominantly the Western world, need to hear and read the voices of other ethnicities, of minorities and in general non-whites. The younger generations need to be able to see themselves reflected in literature, and of course all other media.

Why is that important in this instance? Because Collins comes at the subject matter from a completely different angle, which means you get a different read. You can feel the anger, disbelief and utter disgust at the accepted status quo and the norm at the time. The author doesn’t pull any punches whilst describing language, theories and atrocities.

The bizarre theories of eugenics and scientific racism has existed for many centuries. Many people believe the Nazi regime was the start of this belief that there is and should be a superior race. The truth is many well-known, popular and influential people were parading around these pseudo-scientific ideas many years before that. The slave trade and consistent oppression of black people is an excellent example of the result of said beliefs.

I could write about this story for ages. I don’t want to go into too many details because the readers should experience it for themselves. It is an intricate and complex piece of fiction. It’s a poignant, multi-faceted and moving story. I absolutely loved it and hope this is just the first of many for Collins.

Buy The Confessions of Frannie Langton at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Viking (Penguin). Publication date: 4th April 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

The Second Mrs Hockaday by Susan Rivers

hockadayI really enjoyed this book, and I know it seems as if I say that a lot, but it had a certain je ne sais quoi. In my defence I do have a nose for picking good reads and in general authors seem to have upped the ante just a wee bit.

Placidia, also known as Dia throughout the book, is the main character and the entire story evolves around a traumatic event that happens to her. Rivers has actually based the story on a true event, which took place during the same era. The birth, death and burial of a baby born to a woman of good social standing, during a time when her husband was at war. He was also at war during the conception of said child, hence his automatic response on his return being a trip to the local magistrate to report his wife. She was arrested and put on trial.

Rivers has taken that particular moment in time and turned it into a wonderful and captivating read.

Often when authors use correspondence to move a story along it doesn’t work. In this case it is exactly the right way to have the characters interact, despite not being in the same vicinity of one another.

The only negative for me was when the story and correspondence leapt nearly 30 years ahead. I had to go back and re-read more than once to understand why there was a jump from Dia to a new character. It wasn’t until I looked closer at the dates on the letters or correspondence that I noticed the huge leap in the dates.

I enjoyed the way the author kept the tone and voice of the story entirely as era accurate as possible. Of course that includes slavery and the treatment of men, women and children who fell into those brackets. For example there is a sexual assault at the very beginning, which is merely noted as a small incident due to the dirt on the knees of the white man in question. No outrage, no mention, just an overall acceptance of this tragic status quo. Throughout the story this treatment of slaves as chattel or animals is noted merely as normal and part of society.

In a really subtle way Rivers points out both the parallels and the paradox between the treatment of slaves and white women when it came to being treated as a sub-species in the eyes of white men. This includes domestic abuse and sexual violence. It’s rather ironic that white women, and indeed even Dia, do not recognise the similarities between all of them.

The reality and horror of war is woven into the fabric of the story and the steady but achingly slow advancement of civil rights, all while this personal family drama and heartache plays out. As I said I really enjoyed the read.

Buy The Second Mrs Hockaday at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

undergroundThe most worrying element of this story is the plausibility of this scenario. What could have been and what could still be.

The topic of racism is at the forefront of society, as we watch the civil unrest in the US rise and the topic of refugees cause conflict in Europe.

The truth is racism has always been an underlying issue in the US. The civil movement, segregation and slavery isn’t really that long ago. So this story is en-vogue in a sense, and the premise is a red flag with absolutely realistic scenarios.

In this book slavery was never abolished. in fact it has become a well oiled industry. It is also supposedly a humane industry, but hey it’s slavery and greedy men will always exploit the vulnerable.

Instead of humane treatment, the slaves, known as PBL’s ‘person bound by labour’ suffer pain and humiliation at the hands of their captors. Some of them are even killed, despite it being illegal to do so.

Victor was once a PBL who escaped the injustice of his situation only to be forced into a new kind of slavery. He is what the Kapos were to the concentration camp inmates. He is a betrayer to his own people. It’s his job to hunt down the ones who are lucky enough to escape.

I like the fact Winters has had the gumption to take the idea back to the beginning of the end and change the historical narrative. This is what half of the country wanted and what it could possibly have evolved into under a different set of circumstances.

To be completely frank the Pigmentation Taxonomies really struck a chord with me. It or the descriptions bring the inhumanity of it all to the forefront: moderate charcoal, brass highlights #41, moderate chestnut, sunflower highlights #142 or twilight, purple tone #122.  It objectifies all of them in a way I can’t even begin to fathom and could never relate to.

Underground Airlines serves as a stark reminder of the race issues that simmer under the surface and how much damage the social philosophy of eugenics has caused and continues to cause. We are one race, the human race.

As I said, it’s a powerful thought-provoking premise and read.

Buy Underground Airlines at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Memoirs of a Dead White Chick by Lennox Randon

dead whiteA middle-aged white woman from our era inside the body of teenage black boy in the late 1850’s.

An interesting premise, and one I presumed would be written with the agenda of shedding light on the plight of slaves in America.

I expected Randon to make his point with a sledgehammer and leave no stones unturned and certainly take no prisoners.

Instead Randon is subtle in his approach, and it actually does seem as if the story is written by a middle-aged white woman.

Randon depicts the struggle between North and South before the outbreak of the civil war. How different the opinions are about slavery or the plight of slaves from one state to the other. Treated like little more than property, with no voice, no rights and no possible end to their situation in sight. Families ripped apart and subject to the whims, moods and brutality of sadists.

Eleanor experiences the injustice, the decrepit conditions and the inhumanity towards her, all because the colour of her skin has now made her a second class human being. She accepts her new surroundings and circumstances without so much as a second thought. I think I would be filled with rage at the injustice of being treated like property or worse than an animal.

I often wonder what I would be able to remember if I ever ended up in the past. Would I be able to remember anything useful? How Penicillin was discovered, the lotto numbers in a certain year, what invention to invest in or how create electricity. Would I be able to resist changing the course of history?

The one element of the story that didn’t gel completely right for me was Eleanor transforming into a surgeon or medical expert at one point. Time-travel or soul travel does not equate to the acquisition of brand new skills, such as medical knowledge.

I enjoyed the idea and admit to being surprised by the way Randon decided to let the idea speak for itself instead of using the idea as a tool or a voice.

Thank you to Smith Publicity for my copy of Memoirs of a Dead White Chick.

Buy Memoirs of a Dead White Chick at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Safe Room by B. A. Shapiro


The story sways from Lee in the present to Sarah in the past. At the centre of both stories is Harden House, the house of Lee’s ancestors, which now belongs to her grandmother.

The past tells the story of a forbidden love and the hypocrisy of a person, who says one thing and thinks another. Both Sarah and Lee have to battle the repercussions of the tragic events Sarah’s father and Lee’s ancestor

Sarah’s father reacts in a way that makes her question all her beliefs about him. Silas was right after all. It is one thing to be an abolitionist and quite another to let your daughter wed a slave. That in itself is quintessential in the thought process of said person, who believes no man should be a slave and yet at the same time thinks the same slaves aren’t good enough to be part of the family.

I have to say I figured out the whodunnit fairly quickly, but the historical aspect and ghost story that played alongside the murder mystery were interesting enough to keep me captivated.

I think what I took away from this story is how little we learn about the Underground Railroad, the people who helped and those that used the network of the Underground Railroad, especially in Europe. Because it is a large part of US history it isn’t really taught in other European schools the way it should be.

The Civil Rights Movement has a well deserved important place, but the slavery and the fight against it, still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It is nothing less than admirable, courageous and extremely brave, the way the creators and users of the Underground Railway system, connected to try to save so many lives.

In its own way this story helps to inform and shine a small light on such an immensely important part of history.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.