#Blogtour A Hundred Years to Arras by J.M. Cobley

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour A Hundred Years to Arras by J.M. Cobley.

About the Author

J. M. Cobley was born in Devon of Welsh parents and now lives in Warwickshire with his wife and daughter. Jason studied English Language and Literature at university and is currently Head Teacher at a hospital school in Coventry.

Jason is otherwise known for his work writing scripts for the long-running Commando comic and graphic novel adaptations of classics such as Frankenstein and An Inspector Calls, as well as the children’s novel The Legend of Tom Hickathrift. Jason also hosts a weekly show on Radio Abbey in Kenilworth, where he indulges his passion for classic and progressive rock. The central character of A Hundred Years to Arras is based on his relative Robert Gooding Henson. Follow @JasonMCobley on Twitter, Visit jmcobley.wordpress.com

About the book

On a painful, freezing Easter Monday in 1917, Private Robert Gooding Henson of the Somerset Light Infantry is launched into the Battle of Arras. Robert is twenty-three years old, a farmer’s boy from Somerset, who joins up against his father’s wishes. Robert forms fast friendships with Stanley, who lied about his age to go to war, and Ernest, whose own slippery account betrays a life on the streets. Their friendship is forged through gas attacks, trench warfare, freezing in trenches, hunting rats, and chasing down kidnapped regimental dogs. Their life is one of mud and mayhem but also love and laughs.

This is the story of Robert’s journey to Arras and back, his dreams and memories drawing him home. His story is that of the working-class Tommy, the story of thousands of young men who were caught in the collision between old rural values and the relentlessness of a new kind of war. It is a story that connects the past with the present through land, love and blood.

Review

I wonder what Private Robert Gooding Henson of the Somerset Light Infantry would think if he read this thoughtful, emotional homage to his life and death. Cobley has captured the essence of the nostalgia, the fear, the hopes and what the possible journey towards the end could have been like for Robert, and simultaneously a small part of the horror of the Great War. Even that small part suffices to give readers an idea of the impact war had on those serving their country, the people caught in the middle and of course the loved ones waiting at home for the inevitable.

The story moves smoothly between past, present, real and imagined. The fragility of the body and soul, when confronted with the worst aspect of humanity. The damage caused by warfare and the lack of understanding, compassion and of course medical research in regards to shellshock and PTSD. Men were considered weaklings, and of course that includes the ultimate crime of being a coward. Too many men were slaughtered by firing squads for simply being afraid or cracking under the pressure of war. A firing squad served as a warning to others, but it also destroyed the morale and mental health of the soldiers.

I think this is a wonderful way to remember the many fallen and returned. Robert’s story is one of many and although the author does due diligence when it comes to remembering and paying respect, this is a heartwarming and gently woven tribute to both him and others.

Buy A Hundred Years to Arras at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Unbound Digital pub date 19 Aug. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Dolly Considine’s Hotel by Eamon Somers

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Dolly Considine’s Hotel by Eamon Somers.

About the Author

Eamon Somers was born and grew up in inner city Dublin. He was a campaigner and spokesperson for Ireland’s fledgling lesbian and gay rights movement in the early 1980s. During the economic downturn he was made redundant and, having moved to London, spent two years working in Haringey’s Lesbian and Gay Unit until Clause 28 and Council Tax cuts sent him into the charity housing sector where he continues to work.

Eamon’s story Spring in the Country won the Carmarthen short story  competition sponsored by BBC Wales. Other stories have been published in Chroma, Tees Valley Writer, and ABC Tales. Eamon is a graduate of the certificate in creative writing at Birckbeck College London – the forerunner of the current MA. He is the father of three wonderful children. He and his Civil Partner (Tomás) are very proud of their three-year-old grandson Daragh. 

Follow @mustbeeamon on Twitter, Visit eamonsomers.com

About the book

Julian Ryder (aka Paddy Butler) is an eighteen-year-old aspiring writer fleeing a life unlived. Dolly McClean (née Considine) is knee-deep in running a hotel populated by family secrets and Irish republicans. They seem to have little in common – until Julian rescues Dolly’s barmaid-cum-cleaner from a supposed IRA thug. It doesn’t take long for him to embroil himself in the gossip of the bar and the guests’ bedsheets. Dolly and her entourage quickly become fodder for his literary ambitions and soon it becomes impossible to extricate reality from fantasy…

Moving fluidly between the 1950s of Dolly’s youth and Julian’s 1980s summer of unrequited love, Irish recession and emigration, the hotel becomes a stage for farce and tragedy. As statues give birth to fully grown men while swordwielding Irish dancers perform for party politicians, Julian’s fictions, Dolly’s secrets and political intrigue threaten to tear them and Ireland itself apart in the run up to the Pro-life Constitutional Amendment of September 1983.

Review

Okay, there is a lot to unpack here and unfortunately I can’t do that to the extent I would like to because it would spoil the read for others. I absolutely think this is the kind of story readers return to and in doing so discover hidden nuances and perhaps parts of the story that flow quietly alongside, whilst the other storylines and characters march pounding through the pages.

One of those marchers, rebels, voices of resistance and change, is of course Dolly herself. A woman, much like many other in the world, who is defined by what profits and pleasures others, as opposed to the changes she is trying to invoke. Take away the hotel for instance and make Dolly a 24/7 stay at home mammy who has played her part in political change or skirmishes, and you will find she will always be defined by the term mammy and housewife. It’s this inequality of perception due to gender, well it really burns and enrages Dolly. Just how much, and what type of hardened steel she is made of, is evident in the last few chapters

The story itself is an interesting conundrum of fact, fiction, truths and misconceptions. No matter who takes on the role of narrator they are usually unreliable. With a wee bit of a Hotel New Hampshire vibe, which is taken up a notch to mirror the political hot cauldron of the times, the story also questions the boundaries of artistic licence.

Somers delivers a deep multi-layered piece with an avant-garde approach when it comes to the style. I enjoyed it. I have left my review blank of the majority of details, so readers can experience it as unbiased as possible.

Buy Dolly Considine’s Hotel at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ Unbound Digital pub date 8 July 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour In Other Words edited by Mainspring Arts

An anthology of lively and imaginative short fiction by eight autistic writers, with a foreword by David Mitchell and introduction by Joanne Limburg. It’s my turn on the BlogTour  In Other Words edited by Mainspring Arts.

About the Author

Mainspring Arts, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to making the arts inclusive, diverse, and accessible to all, was founded in 2015 by Katya Balen and Miranda Prag. They were frustrated by the lack of diversity in the arts, where neurotypical and non-disabled actors or writers frequently assume the roles or voices of neurodivergent people, or those with disabilities. Katya and Miranda  believe those people should be able to tell their own stories, and Mainspring Arts exists to help them do it. Follow @mainspring_arts on Twitter

About the book

A shift in the nature of light reveals an eighth colour in the visible spectrum. A boy befriends the last tree in the natural world. A single mother finds help at the darkest point of her life. A young man finds himself trapped in a university overrun by crows.

These stories and more form In Other Words, an anthology as diverse as the writers themselves. Some cover trauma, societal issues and stigma; others offer fragments of hope and light. Some reach back in time while others transport us to another dimension altogether. There is heartbreak, wit, humour, poignancy and above all a mastery of the imagination.

What these transcendent stories share is that they were created by autistic writers, people often dismissed as unimaginative or incapable of creativity – a myth that has persisted for generations. This collection hopes to shatter those stereotypes, those misconceptions and misunderstandings, and the perception that one must be neurotypical to be afforded a voice in the arts.

Review

The introduction makes a valid point. The majority of successful books and screen versions of autism are written by non-autistic individual. These stories are written by autistic writers. The difference is vast, the first describing the experience from the outside as an observer and the second writing as a first-hand experiencer.

This contains eight stories: A Conversation of Sparrows Jon Adams, Standard Candles – Damian Sawyer, Light Revolution – J.B. Whiskey, The Crows – Kate Roy, The Last Tree – Sarah, The Clockmaker – Esther Lowery, The Beach House – Luke Matthews and Winona the Angelic Wizard – Richard Baskett.

I think Mainspring are on to something here. It breaks boundaries and threatens to dispel the many myths society has about art and writing as it is visualised and interpreted by society, and especially how its perceived as created by autistic artists and authors.

It’s a fascinating book with equally captivating stories. I think it’s one of those scenarios where you read the stories as you would any other then add on another layer of perception. The speculative element takes on another dimension.

Buy In Other Words at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Unbound pub date 24 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Embers by Josephine Greenland

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Embers by Josephine Greenland.

About the Author

Josephine Greenland is a Swedish–English writer from Eskilstuna, Sweden. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham and a BA in English from the University of Exeter. She is the winner of the 2019 Bumble Bee Flash Fiction Competition by Pulp Literature, the 2017 Fantastic Female Fables Competition by Fantastic Books Publishing, and also the runner-up in the 2018 Summer Solstice Competition by Wild Words. 

Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Dream Catcher, Literary Yard, Soft Cartel Mag, Plum Tree Tavern, Porridge Magazine, Litro and AHF Magazine. She has also been highly commended in competitions by TSS Publishing and Cinnamon Press. In 2017, she was awarded the Young Writer’s Bursary by Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival.

In August 2019, Josephine began a PGDE course at the University of Edinburgh to become a Secondary English teacher. When not writing or teaching, she enjoys playing the violin, running and hiking. Embers is her first novel and was written during her MA course. It is based on her own travels in northern Sweden two years ago with her brother. 

Follow @greenland_jm on Twitter, Visit linktr.ee/josephinegreenland

About the book

Two siblings, one crime. One long-buried secret.17-year-old Ellen never wanted a holiday. What is there to do in a mining town in the northernmost corner of the country, with no one but her brother Simon – a boy with Asperger’s and obsessed with detective stories – for company?

Nothing, until they stumble upon a horrifying crime scene that brings them into a generations-long conflict between the townspeople and the native Sami.

When the police dismiss Simon’s findings, he decides to track down the perpetrator himself. Ellen reluctantly helps, drawn in by a link between the crime and the siblings’ own past. What started off as a tedious holiday soon escalates into a dangerous journey through hatred, lies and self-discovery that makes Ellen question not only the relationship to her parents, but also her own identity

Review

Ellen is reluctant to take a holiday and even more reluctant to take her brother Simon with her. The trip becomes a journey into the past and a forest of lies. It also becomes a journey to solve a grotesque crime, a crime which is connected to their own heritage – they just don’t know it yet. The attempts to cover up a crime and pervert the course of justice are a something Simon can’t and won’t accept.

I find it interesting how both the existence and treatment of the Sámi people remain something akin to a dirty secret. The Scandinavian societies are generally perceived as forward thinking and modern in certain areas, and also often held up as examples for the rest of Europe.

The truth is that they have their fair share of problems that are kept nice and quiet, including the history of the mistreatment of their indigenous people. Unfortunately the systemic racism, irrational hatred and attempt to ignore their historical importance is still prevalent. Instead of gaining insight into the past, heritage and the mystical link they have with their surroundings – Scandinavians (not all) choose to treat the Sámi people with contempt. 

I truly hope Greenland revisits this riveting sleuthing duo and writes another book featuring the siblings. The combination of the reluctant older sister, the younger brother with a lack of impulse control and their crime solving seen through the lens of a someone with Asperger’s, really makes for a great read.

Buy Embers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Unbound Digital pub date 18 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com

#BlogTour Into The Mouth of the Lion by A.B. Kyazze

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Into the Mouth of the Lion by A.B. Kyazze.

About the Author

A.B. Kyazze is a British-American writer and photographer. She spent more than 18 years writing and taking photographs in humanitarian crises across the globe in Africa, Asia and the Balkans. Into the Mouth of the Lion is her debut novel. She recently published short stories in The Great Lakes Review, Byte the Book and The National Anthology of Flash Fiction 2019 (UK). She also writes book reviews and articles, and teaches creative writing classes for children. Follow @abkwriting on Twitter

About the book

Angola, 2002. In the last days of a vicious civil war, it is a dangerous landscape rife with rebel soldiers, land mines, corruption and deception. A suspicious explosion kills a beloved nurse, while another humanitarian worker goes missing.

Lena Rodrigues, a young photographer, flies out to Angola’s highlands to piece together the reasons behind her sister’s disappearance. But will she have the strength to bear witness to the truth, before she gets entangled in the country’s conflict for minerals and power?

Review

Lena, in all of her privileged naiveté, doesn’t really have any idea what she has let herself in for by flying halfway across the globe to look for her sister in Angola. To the team on the ground, DJ’s team, she is a liability for exactly that reason. 

DJ is more of a fleeting image or a mirage in the book. Now and again the reader gets a short chapter or paragraph of her emotional state of mind and where she is headed, but no idea when that happened and if she is still safe. The death of her friend has caused a breakdown in communication – her grief has made her an uncontrollable variable.

Kyazze creates this fictional story around the factual events of the brutal Angolan Civil war or the tail-end of the unrest. The more personal fractious relationship between two sisters is indicative of the many stories that go unheard in war zones, especially ones driven with such brutality and frenzy of opposing forces.

Kudos to the author for the way she approached the character of DJ and the way she takes part in the story. The dipping in, the almost lyrical moments that are anonymous in a sense that the reader knows but there is a lack of direct reference to whom the scenes refer. It creates this beauty and fragile moments in the midst of the reality of what is taking place with Lena and the team.

Definitely a book I would recommend, certainly an author I would like to read more by.

Buy Into the Mouth of the Lion at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ Unbound Digital pub date 6 May 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Trinity by Patrick Morgan with David Kidger

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Trinity by Patrick Morgan with David Kidger.

About the Author

Patrick and David’s first collaboration, the ‘Sega Star’ was published, by them, on A4 plain paper, at the tender age of 10. David got though university, worked for the BBC online, before starting his own web design company. Patrick abandoned his pitiful academic endeavours at 19 to work as a support engineer and designer in Indycar and Formula 1.

Years later both were running their respective businesses, David’s in user experience and interface design, Patrick’s in Historic Motorsport or ‘seeing what everyone else did’ as he calls it. Reunited over a long promised pint they talked childhood, Transformers and Starcom. It’s a fact that boys love spaceships and robots, both had stabs at novels in the past so writing together sounded like fun. Patrick worked with Jade Gurss on his highly rated book ‘Beast’ in 2014, among other motorsport and technical books and loved every moment of it.

Patrick does words, illustrations and some ideas. David does ideas, mostly the bigger ones.

About the book

A planet slowly rotates, one side perpetual sunlight the other perpetual darkness. Between these two sides lies the Divide, and the ancient city of Skala, the seat of humanity’s high council. Skala is slipping inexorably west from the divide into the harsh desert of Hellinar and to its death.

Over 1000km east, another city is on the verge of its birth, created with the aid of two ancient artificial intelligence cores. When one of the cores goes missing, a series of revealing events triggers, hinting at something rotten, and deeply linked to the founding of the new city. The loss of the core can’t be kept under wraps forever – soon a plan is put into place – forcing the rapid completion of an advanced exploratory vehicle that may be the only hope of a recovery. 

Trinity is a story of family, forgotten history, advancing technology and a twisting series of events. Follow a collection of rich characters on interconnecting paths to re-discover the truth about their small, isolationist civilisation – and something far bigger than any of them could have imagined…

Review

Nice one. Speculative science fiction fantasy with dare I say it…perhaps even a dollop of a dystopian flair. I have to say sci-fi and/or fantasy often loses out on readers when it comes to demographics that pull the masses, because it often gets too complex, technical and even outlandish in its speculation. When an author/s manages to crack that particular nut by being able to pull those readers into the middle of the vortex of complexity and a good round of grey cell smashing, then by golly they have done their job.

When it comes to reviewing the content this is one of those books where the little details give away a lot – I can imagine other reviewers feeling the same way. It’s perhaps better to experience the story in its entirety without the prior knowledge of a previous reader.

Side-note: I would like a whole Q&A with HEX and ROOT – (forget the authors I just want access to those who have the answers).

I haven’t read anything as innovative since Brown brought us the Red Rising series. I really can’t wait to see where this series goes, although I have to admit I am a wee bit invested in HEX and ROOT. The human element drives the story, but the two enigmas are just a fount of knowledge, intrigue and they are the very core of this book – the first in the series.

The concept is brought alive by the intricate detailed maps, pictures and descriptions. Given how intense and vast the world-building is, this is an added bonus for readers. I am looking forward to the next book.

Buy Trinity at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Unbound Digital; pub date 29 April 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Song by Michelle Jana Chan

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Song by Michelle Jana Chan.

About the Author

Michelle Jana Chan is an award-winning journalist and travel editor of Vanity Fair in the UK, where she presents the magazine’s digital Future Series. Formerly, Michelle was a BBC TV presenter, a news producer at CNN International and a reporter at Newsweek. She was a Morehead-Cain scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Follow @michellejchan on Twitter, on Instagram, Visit michellejanachan.comBuy Song

About the book

Song is just a boy when he sets out from Lishui village in China. Brimming with courage and ambition, he leaves behind his impoverished broken family, hoping he’ll make his fortune and return home. 

Chasing tales of sugarcane, rubber and gold, Song embarks upon a perilous voyage across the oceans to the British colony of Guiana, but once there he discovers riches are not so easy to come by and he is forced into labouring as an indentured plantation worker.

This is only the beginning of Song’s remarkable life, but as he finds himself between places and between peoples, and increasingly aware that the circumstances of birth carry more weight than accomplishments or good deeds, Song fears he may live as an outsider forever.

This beautifully written and evocative story spans nearly half a century and half the globe, and though it is set in another century, Song’s story of emigration and the quest for an opportunity to improve his life is timeless.

Review

This is the story of a young Chinese boy who believes it is his duty to take care of his family after the death of his father. His childhood is swallowed up by this fierce need to fulfill said duty, which at some point is exchanged with a determination to survive and then to take care of his own family.

There is something Song’s mother says in the first few chapters and Song then later admits to himself in the last chapters – it’s an incredibly poignant moment. It’s actually something that connects Song with nearly every person who leaves their entire world behind to find something else or better in life, even those who don’t take their paths willingly.

His mother knows, but it takes Song ages to realise she is right. It takes the threat of loss, the acknowledgement of what is really important, missed opportunities and that those on pedestals tend to stumble off them quite regularly.

It’s a beautifully lyrical at times, despite the more difficult moments. I really liked the last few pages and had to read them again just to make sure. The characters need to be given more depth, let’s see below the surface and not just wander on the periphery of poignant. The pain of his situation as a young migrant child, the trouble and not just the happy. Also to not try and out-intellect your audience, because sometimes it means some of said audience will completely miss the point. Chan clearly has the kind of story in her that readers will not easily forget.

Buy Song at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Unbound pub date 18 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Note to Boy by Sue Clark

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Note to Boy by Sue Clark.

About the Author

Sue Clark has grilled John Humphreys, quipped with Ronnie Corbett, danced with one James Bond and had a one-sided conversation with another, and penned funny lines for the likes of Lenny Henry, June Whitfield, Roy Hudd and David Jason.

She’s been a BBC radio and TV comedy scriptwriter on such shows such as Alas Smith and Jones, Weekending, The News Huddlines and The Jason Explanation, a copywriter, a PR, a journalist, a magazine editor, a writer of guidebooks, a secretary and was, briefly, paid to read books all day long for a film producer. And now she’s written a novel.

Follow @SueClarkAuthor on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazon, Visit sueclarkauthor.comBuy Note to Boy

About the book

Eloise is an erratic, faded fashionista. Bradley is a glum but wily teenager.

In need of help to write her racy 1960s memoirs, the former ‘shock frock’ fashion guru tolerates his common ways. Unable to remember his name, she calls him Boy. Desperate to escape a brutal home life, he puts up with her bossiness and confusing notes.

Both guard secrets. How did she lose her fame and fortune? What’s he scheming – beyond getting his hands on her bank card? And just what’s hidden in that mysterious locked room?

Review

What could a teenager with an attitude and an elderly woman who is incapable of looking after herself have in common? It doesn’t seem like a lot. Bradley wants the job because he is on a long road to nowhere and helping Eloise could lead to an opportunity. Helping her to write an autobiography of sorts gives him a chance to get to know the woman behind the mood swings, the erratic behaviour and he then sees the eccentric fashion icon with entirely different eyes.

I have to say that I didn’t experience this as a read full of comedic moments, but rather one full of poignant realistic moments. However I can absolutely picture this on the screen, and I hope someone sees the potential in this – The Lady in the Van kind of eccentricity coupled with a young man trying to grip the one possible straw that might take him out of his set-in-stone future of violence and deprivation.

Also the subtle note of white privilege and covert racism that is woven into the tale. It solidifies the the differences between the odd couple. The almost colonialist comments from Eloise and the teenager with a lack of education and nearly no chance of achieving anything other than a life in crime. Moments that can be overcome.

I really enjoyed this story, perhaps because it was easy to picture both main characters so well. Eloise is an excellent example of the loophole of invisibility the elderly vanish into, even when they have made their mark on the world. Even after spending their youth and primary years being successful or in the case of Eloise becoming a part of fashion history.

Clark hits exactly the right notes when it comes to the complex relationship between Bradley and Eloise. The trust issues, the need to protect and simultaneously the more selfish motivation Bradley is driven by. This is an excellent social commentary.

Buy Note to Boy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Unbound.

#BlogTour Blackwatertown by Paul Waters

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Blackwatertown by Paul Waters.

About the Author

Paul Waters is an award-winning BBC producer and co-presenter of the We’d Like A Word books and authors podcast, shortlisted for 2020 Books Podcast of the Year. Paul grew up in Belfast during ‘the Troubles’ and went on to report and produce for BBC TV and radio.

His claim to fame is making Pelé his dinner. Paul has covered US politics, created a G8 Summit in a South African township, gone undercover in Zimbabwe, conducted football crowds, reported from Swiss drug shooting-up rooms, smuggled a satellite dish into Cuba and produced the World Service’s first live coverage of the 9/11 attacks on America.

He also taught in Poland, drove a cab in England, busked in Wales, was a night club cook in New York, designed computer systems in Dublin, presented podcasts for Germans and organised music festivals for beer drinkers. He lives in Buckinghamshire and has two children.

Follow @PaulWaters99 on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazon, Visit paulwatersauthor.comBuy Blackwatertown

About the book

When maverick police sergeant Jolly Macken is banished to a sleepy 1950s Irish border village, he vows to find the killer of his brother – even if the murderer is in the police. But a lot can happen in a week. Over seven days Macken falls in love, uncovers dark family secrets, accidentally starts a war, and is hailed a hero and branded a traitor. When Blackwatertown explodes into violence, who can he trust? And is betrayal the only way to survive?

Review

The story begins with the way life is in general for Macken. Never quite on the right side of any situation and always just slightly short of a complete disaster. Banished to a backwater town he struggles to set a single foot right. Macken tries to overcome the attitude of the majority, the mob-like nature of a code of silence. Familiarity breeds contempt, especially when everyone thinks you’re the enemy. Not exactly an easy place to be in when you are trying to solve a case, and even more so when everyone thinks you’re a traitor. Poor Macken just can’t seem to catch a break.

What is Blackwatertown – a scathing commentary, a comedy of circumstance, a mystery or political minefield in the midst of a rural quagmire of religious undertones. As a reader it was sometimes a toss-up between smirking, feeling sorry for the character or anger at the entire situation.

I think prior knowledge, political and historical context are absolutely everything when it comes to this read. Without that the story can be perceived as a satirical commentary with plenty of comedic moments. It’s easy to overlook the more serious undertone that flows throughout the piece, but to be honest it’s what the world tends to do when it comes to Northern Ireland and the volatile, and divisive, history that comes with it.

Waters plays upon the above a wee bit, so depending on where you stand and interpret the story this will be a different reading experience. Blissfully unaware or acutely aware. Aware of the toxicity and hatred that flows like a mighty river underneath the people. Either way it’s a good yarn.

Buy Blackwatertown at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Surviving Me by Jo Johnson

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Surviving Me by Jo Johnson.

Enter the Giveaway to Win two signed copies of Surviving Me & five Surviving Me fridge magnets  (Open INT) – 1st Prize – 2 winners each winning a signed copy of Surviving Me, 5 Runners Up – each winning a Surviving Me Fridge Magnet.About the Author

I’m very excited that my debut novel ‘Surviving Me’ is due to be published on the 14 November. The novel is about male minds and what pushes a regular man to the edge. The novel combines all the themes I can write about with authenticity.

I qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1992 and initially worked with people with learning disabilities before moving into the field of neurology in 1996. I worked in the NHS until 2008 when I left to write and explore new projects.

I now work as an independent clinical psychologist in West Sussex.

Jo speaks and writes for several national neurology charities including Headway and the MS Trust. Client and family related publications include, “Talking to your kids about MS”, “My mum makes the best cakes” and “Shrinking the Smirch”.

In the last few years Jo has been offering psychological intervention using the acceptance and commitment therapeutic model (ACT) which is the most up to date version of CBT. She is now using THE ACT model in a range of organisations such as the police to help employees protect their minds in order to avoid symptoms of stress and work related burnout.

Follow Shrinking the Smirch on Facebook,  Jo Johnson on AmazonBuy Surviving Me

About the book

Deceit has a certain allure when your life doesn’t match up to the ideal of what it means to be a modern man.

Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’. He doesn’t exactly feel like a modern man, although his double life helps. Yet when his secret identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge.

All the while Adam has his own duplicity, albeit for very different reasons, reasons which will blow the family’s future out of the water. If they can’t be honest with themselves, and everyone else, then things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.

This book tackles hard issues such as male depression, dysfunctional families and degenerative diseases in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.

Review

In a way it was refreshing to follow the mental and physical struggles of a man, as opposed to a woman. Perhaps more so because it wasn’t just on a shallow level and really went into the nitty-gritty of both. And forgive me for the sigh of relief because it also wasn’t the normal – man sinks into deviant or salacious behaviour when life throws him a few hard balls.

Instead I can imagine readers really feeling for Tom, especially when he has flashbacks to his troubled formative years, which have made him a little less secure when it comes to believing in himself and given his self-esteem a knock.

The pressure put on Tom by his wife and his job gets to the point where he hides instead of facing his issues, a coping mechanism he has retained since childhood. What you don’t admit to never happened, right? The humiliations at work have led to a deceptive life and the race to create a baby has more or less unmanned him. It’s not a pretty picture.

It’s a contemporary read about self-worth, mental health, but ultimately one about family. Johnson gives a delicate and accurate picture, without the unnecessary dressing and gratuitous details of a man on the edge of despair and a family about to crumble with the weight of the secrets they are hiding.

I have focused more on one character and their story in my review, because his story loomed over the rest and I found myself more drawn to his emotional turmoil. Or perhaps his story was enough.

Buy Surviving Me at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital; pub date 14 Nov. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Enter the Giveaway to Win two signed copies of Surviving Me &  five Surviving Me fridge magnets  (Open INT) – 1st Prize – 2 winners each winning a signed copy of Surviving Me, 5 Runners Up – each winning a Surviving Me Fridge Magnet

Click here to Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize