#BlogTour Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty. It’s a fantastic read and Geraghty is a great writer.

About the Author

Ciara Geraghty was born and raised in Dublin. She started writing in her thirties and hasn’t looked back.

She has three children and one husband and they have recently adopted a dog who, alongside their youngest daughter, is in charge of pretty much everything.

Ciara is available to write features. Potential subjects include: Dementia and Ciara’s experience of caring for her father, Mother/daughter relationships and how caring for Ciara’s father brought her and her mother closer together, The right to die (Ciara undertook extensive research for the book), Female friendships, particularly the rewards of those made later in life.

Follow @ciarageraghty on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit ciarageraghty.comBuy Rules of the Road

About the book

When Iris Armstrong goes missing, her best friend Terry, wife, mother and all-round worrier, is convinced something bad has happened. And when she finds her glamorous, feisty friend, she’s right: Iris is setting out on a journey that she plans to make her last.

The only way for Terry to stop Iris is to join her, on a road trip that will take them and Terry’s confused father Eugene onto a ferry, across the Irish sea and into an adventure that will change all of their lives.

Somehow what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best.

Honest and emotional, Ciara Geraghty examines family, ageing parents, marriage, life and loss with warmth in a book that grown-up readers will adore.

Review

Sometimes you just know. Is there a slight change in the energy, were there hints Terry ignored up to this point? Either way when Terry realises that her best friend Iris has disappeared and has lied about where she is going – Terry knows something is wrong. Iris is on her way to meet death on her own terms. She wants dignity in death.

Terry is determined to change her mind, which is how she ends up on a road trip with her father Eugene, who has dementia, and an unwilling Iris. The road trip is only a few days, but those few days change life as Terry knows it.

I have to hand it to Geraghty, she tackles a controversial topic in this book and does so with empathy, humour and incredible emotional depth. Then she tops it by weaving the fragile elderly parent with dementia and the complexity of friendships, specifically friendships between women, into the story.

Aside from the fact the writing is excellent, I loved the way Geraghty wrote with such passion and complete vulnerability. And how each element or separate storyline becomes part of a very intricate and painful puzzle. Her main character is pulled in multiple directions by a variety of people and responsibilities, but the importance of doing what is right for both Iris and herself comes first. ‘This is my truth and I own it – accept it and my decision.’

I really enjoyed the simplicity of it, which sounds like a strange thing to say, especially when death is both the competitor in her personal race and the companion. Nothing is simple about choosing the right to die or caring for a parent with dementia and it certainly isn’t simple to support someone to whom death is  an unfulfilled wish, and yet the author makes it simple. There is a grace and humility, whilst courting the jovial moments of the story, that make this story a spectacular read.

In a way it is an homage to friendships between women. Deep, honest, painful and willing to accept choices, even if it means being torn apart. It’s a platonic love letter from one woman to another. Not everyone gets to experience that kind of friendship in their lifetime.

I’ll leave it on this note: We have a right to choose – our bodies our choice.

Buy Rules of the Road at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins; pub date 20th February 2020 Paperback Original | Ebook pub date May 2019 | Audio |£7.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum. It’s a poignant tale of oppression and also women’s empowerment.

About the Author

Etaf Rum was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, by Palestinian immigrants. She teaches college English literature in North Carolina, where she lives with her two children. A Woman is No Man is her first novel.

Follow @EtafRum on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit etafrum.comBuy A Woman is No Man

About the book

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen -year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naive and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children – four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path tht leads her to shocking truths about her family – knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman is No Man is a story of culture and honour, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and close cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.

Review

Why wasn’t this on some of the best book and prize lists of the year in the Uk? It has seriously remained almost invisible, despite winning recognition and accolades in the US. It should be compulsory reading for all girls and women, regardless of their background.

It speaks truth to the lies that are spoken by both men and women defending tradition, culture and religion. Tell us again how you revere women. How they aren’t treated like sub-humans and second class citizens. Tell us again how keeping women silent and submissive is simultaneously cementing and honouring their place in society.

I came away a few times from this read, but ultimately when I finished it I was both enraged and saddened.

I think what many of us forget, and that includes the families who put children, and especially girls, in this position, is the difficult position they end up in when they grow up in Western cultures. The two contradicting cultures must be incredibly difficult to navigate at the same time. One culture is steeped in medieval and oppressive traditions and rules, whereas the other culture allows freedom in all areas. How are children and young people supposed to be true to both?

The story begins with Isra, a young Palestinian Arab girl who is married off to a family and moved to Brooklyn. Then we hear the story of her eldest daughter Deya as her grandmother Fareeda starts to pressure her into upholding the family honour and her duties by accepting a suitor.The stories of the two women play out at the same time as Deya discovers the truth about the parents she believes were killed in a car crash.

It’s women’s fiction and a poignant contemporary read about empowering women in a culture of systemic abuse and oppression. The author gives us a compelling and infuriating look behind closed doors. Girls born and bred to be nothing more than brood-mares, cleaners, cooks and objects of abuse – that’s if they are allowed to live at all. No wonder Isra sinks into despair.

I think it’s particularly tragic that her love of reading is what ultimately destroys what is left of her hope that there is more out there for her and her daughters other than pressure, oppression and pain.

I loved and hated this book in equal measures. It is an incredibly tragic and beautiful story, but it is also indicative of the systemic abuse and oppression of women in certain cultures.

One last thing – although it pains me to say this – the role other women play in both the oppression and abuse shouldn’t be underestimated. Fareeda plays a leading role in this story, as do other mothers, wives, sisters and daughters who condone and contribute to the never-ending cycle of oppression. Excusing it by labeling it tradition, culture or part of a devout upbringing is a farce and makes a mockery of any culture that sustains, welcomes and continues to uphold oppressive and abusive behaviour.

This is an excellent read.

Buy A Woman is No Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ: Published on 12th December 2019 – Paperback £8.99 – Available in eBook and Audiobook. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Hive.co.uk Buy at Waterstones

#BlogTour Unprotected by Sophie Jonas-Hill

Today it is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Unprotected by Sophie Jonas-Hill.

About the Author

Sophie has had what might be politely described as a varied career, which has seen her be a black-smith, silver-smith, jewellery designer, pattern-cutter and wedding dress designer, home help, teacher, extreme knitter, burlesque performer, artists and various combinations of the above. Her one abiding passion alongside drawing has always been writing, from her early work in year four producing hand bound novellas mostly written in crayon to the inevitable fantasy epic which pushed 500 pages, and thank goodness has never seen the light of day.

She began focusing on her writing after the birth of her first child, and has been working on it ever since, losing hand’s down to the publishing industry’s gatekeepers and Gorgons, until she met fellow traveller Amanda Saint, who as the name suggests, was something of a shining light on the path.

She is currently studying an MA in illustration and discovering how much she hates academic writing, and what a wise move it was to give someone else the task of designing the cover for her first book with Retreat West, Unprotected. She lives in Kent with her long suffering husband, two children and a very handsome cat.

Follow @SophieJonasHill and @RetreatWest on Twitter, on Goodreadson Facebook,Visit sophiejonashill.com , Buy Unprotected

About the book

She’s fighting to save everyone else, but will she have anything left to save herself?

Witty, sharp and sarcastic tattoo artist Lydia’s life is imploding. Her long-term relationship has broken down after several miscarriages and she’s hiding from her hurt and loss in rage. After a big night out she wakes beside a much younger man who brings complications she could really do without.

As her grief about her lost babies and failed relationships spirals out of control, she obsesses about rescuing a wayward teenage girl she watches from her window and gets more involved than she should with her charming but unstable young lover.

Unprotected is a raw and punchy story of love, family and accepting yourself for who you really are.Review

It’s raw, unfiltered and brutally frank at times. The author lays her main character bare and autopsies her mind, body and soul right in front of the reader. There is no unicorn fluff to bolster the hardness or any candy floss moments to make you melt inside. It’s just life as it happens to be for many people – sometimes it’s bleak and full of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Lydia is probably her own worst enemy when it comes to enjoying what she has achieved, as opposed to dwelling on what she considers to be her failures. She feels isolated, misunderstood and quite frankly often patronised by those who are supposed to be her friends and family.

When her boyfriend demands a break, because he he is unable to cope with her obsession and need to have a child, which is exacerbated tenfold by her history of miscarriages, she feels abandoned. Lydia spirals and ends up picking up a romp buddy who turns out to be just on the right side of legal and dealing with his own baggage.

Simultaneously her instincts, as the mother she would like to be, start to scream when she notices something odd going on with a young girl in her neighbourhood. Everything starts to escalate and culminates in a conclusion Lydia could never have anticipated.

It’s women’s fiction and urban crime, it shines a light on the children who fall through the cracks of the system, which makes them vulnerable and targets for predators. At the same time the author presents the hypocrisy of society when it comes to motherhood, ageism and women embracing their sexuality and desires.

I enjoyed the honesty and the lack of need for approval. This is Lydia and she isn’t even going to try to be sorry for embracing herself. Why should she? Why would anyone want her to? Kudos to the author for this captivating and daring piece of work.

Buy Unprotected at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Retreat West Books; pub date 24 Nov. 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Retreat West.

#BlogTour Stay Mad, Sweetheart by Heleen Kist

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Stay Mad, Sweetheart by Heleen Kist. It’s the kind of read you don’t want to miss.

About the Author

Throughout her life, Heleen Kist has been fondled, patronised and ordered to smile by random men. So she wrote ‘Stay Mad, Sweetheart’, a feminist tale of revenge, out November 19th 2019.Whilst her professional knowledge of technology start-ups fed the novel’s setting, its theme of insidious harassment and discrimination required no research: it is familiar to all women.

Heleen was chosen as an up and coming new author at Bloody Scotland 2018. Her first novel, ‘In Servitude’ won the silver medal for Best European Fiction at the Independent Publishers Book Awards in the USA and was shortlisted for The Selfies awarded at London Book Fair.

A Dutch strategy consultant living in Glasgow and married to a Scotsman, she’s raising their son to be a good man and their daughter to kick ass.

Follow @hkist on Twitter, on Facebookon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit heleenkist.comBuy Stay Mad, Sweetheart

About the book

There’s a fine line between innocence and guilt. An even finer line between justice and revenge.

Data scientist Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits.

Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she’s leading the acquisition of Edinburgh’s most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.

Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up’s annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She’s determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn’t playing ball.

As the women’s paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily’s tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who’ve wronged them. But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?Review

Not a crime. Not a crime. Not a crime.

I think, for me at least, these words will be forever connected to this read. How many actions and words aren’t considered criminal, despite being the catalyst for pain, fear and often even death. Has our society become lost in the anonymity of technology, perhaps to the point of actively ignoring all feelings of empathy towards our fellow human beings?

It’s easy to shout about freedom, wave placards demanding our democratic rights and become indignant at the thought that someone may be trying to control our output, regardless of how damaging it may be. There is no accountability and there should be.

The story begins with Emily and the way she is hounded and maligned after speaking out about a sexual assault. Her subsequent actions lead us to her best friend Laura, her work colleague Claire, and Suki, who is involved with both of the aforementioned on a professional level. What they all have in common is the lack of gender equality, the way they are perceived and treated because they are women, and their desire to change the patriarchal status quo.

Aside from the on point subject of the story in the Me Too era, there was also another element of the story that I found quite fascinating. In fact if it is feasible, doable or perhaps already something being coded into systems, then it is also something that is simultaneously awe-inspiring from a technological point of view and deeply concerning when looked at from the aspect of the human it effects. Then again when you look at it from the position of a possible victim or someone vulnerable it could be a positive tool.

From a purely business perspective being able to not only see connections, reactions and then even preempt them to ensure a more effective workplace environment and scheme, it’s the future. Using the same code to safeguard and identify certain behaviour and problems – it’s both invasive and a spectacular advancement.

It’s a poignant piece on sexual violence activism, gender equality politics, a statement about behaviour in an anonymous world of technology, but this story is foremost about culpability and holding ourselves and others accountable for both words and actions.

Kist has written an incredibly compelling and clever piece of fiction, which is unfortunately far too close to fact than is comfortable.

I think I will finish the review on this thought – harassment and abuse has become the norm – it’s systemic, which is why complacency has crept in. Stay safe, take note and stay mad. You’re not alone.

Buy Stay Mad, Sweetheart at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Red Dog Press; 19 Nov. 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Red Dog Press. Buy at Hive.co.uk.

Connect with Red Dog Press on Facebook, on Twitter @reddogtweets -Visit reddogpress.co.uk

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.

#BlogTour Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou. It’s a murder mystery with the vibe of a psychological thriller, and it’s women’s fiction.

About the Author

Laurie Petrou has a PhD in Communication and Culture, and is an Associate Professor at Ryerson’s RTA School of Media in Toronto, where she is also the Director of the Masters of Media Production program. She has given several TEDx talks on subjects including gender and rejection. Laurie was the inaugural winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award in 2016, a prize that honours unpublished work featuring female protagonists, for her novel Sister of Mine. She now lives in a small town in Ontario wine country with her husband, a wine maker, and their two sons.

Follow @lauriepetrou on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Facebook, Visit lauriepetrou.com

Buy Sister of Mine

About the book

Two Sisters. One Fire. A Secret that won’t burn out.

The Grayson sisters are trouble. Everyone in their small town knows it. But no-one can know of the secret that binds them together. Hattie is the light. Penny is the darkness. Together, they have balance.

But one night the balance is toppled. A match is struck. A fire is started. A cruel husband is killed. The potential for a new life flickers in the fire’s embers, but resentment, guilt, and jealousy suffocate like smoke. Their lives have been engulfed in flames – will they ever be able to put them out?Review

The relationships between sisters are often complicated and fraught with emotion. When it comes to Peggy and Hattie it is also a bond created through guilt, anger, fear and the need to protect each other.

Peggy always feels as if she has to keep Hattie safe, despite being the typical older sister who finds her little sister annoying. Hattie is the unpredictable hothead with a penchant for getting into trouble.

They have a dysfunctional codependent relationship, which starts to disintegrate when the secrets they share start to take their toll on the two of them. What are they hiding? Will Peggy let Hattie blackmail her into the ultimate sacrifice?

Petrou delivers a nice little double-twist at the end, which puts the whole story into perspective. It’s a whirlwind of emotions and filled with haunting feelings of inadequacy, but also takes on difficult topics like domestic violence, misogyny and surrogacy.

It’s a murder mystery with the vibe of a psychological thriller, and it’s women’s fiction.

It’s an engrossing read, especially in regards to the sister’s relationship. The animosity, bitterness and paranoia is countered by the sisterly bond the two of them share. It’s definitely a book I recommend, because I know exactly what it’s like to share that type of bond. Messed up and hard to sever.

Buy Sister of Mine at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: No Exit Press pub date 20 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at No Exit Press.

#BlogTour How To Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour How to Say Goodbye by Katy Colins. It’s women’s fiction with a lively tone and an emotional thread woven throughout.

About the Author

Katy Colins is a qualified journalist with articles published in Company Magazine and The Daily Star she crossed sides to work in Public Relations before selling all she owned to backpack solo around South East Asia and finally put her thoughts into words, writing as she travelled.

Her experiences inspired her to pen ‘The Lonely Hearts Travel Club’ series and saw her labelled the ‘Backpacking Bridget Jones’ by the global media.

Katy currently lives by the sea in France where she is on a one woman mission to educate the French about the necessity and technicalities of making a good cup of tea. When she is not writing about romance, travel and adventure, she loves travelling, catching up with family and friends and convincing herself that her croissant addiction isn’t out of control – just yet.

You can find out more about Katy, her writing and her travels on her blog www.notwedordead.com

Follow Katy Colins – @Notwedordead on Twitter, on Goodreads, on AmazonBuy How To Say Goodbye

About the book

No-one is ever happy to see Grace Salmon.

As a funeral arranger, she’s responsible for steering strangers through the hardest day of their lives. It’s not a task many would want – but, for Grace, giving people the chance to say a proper goodbye to the ones they love is the most important job in the world.

From the flowers in the church to the drinks served at the wake,Grace knows it’s the personal touches that count – and it’s amazing what you can find out about someone from their grieving relatives … or their Facebook page. But when she accidentally finds out too much about someone who’s died, Grace is finally forced to step out of the shadows… and start living.

Review

I’m not sure a lot of us give any thought to the people who ensure our loved ones get a good send off. It’s really the last thing you want to think of. The thought of somebody you love dying and then having to arrange how everyone else gets to say goodbye to them. In a way the funeral isn’t for the dearly departed, but rather for the living who grieve them.

I’ll admit I have asked my mother to plan her funeral. I was pulling her leg a little, but it actually gave her the chance to think about the way she wanted people to say goodbye to her. Her playlist is something else I tell ya! Saying that, lately she has been telling me it’s perfectly fine to pop her in a cardboard box and whip her round to the crematorium and Bob’s your uncle. (Apparently that’s legal here).

Grace is the kind of character readers tend to warm to, because she is like all of us. She is perfect with all of her imperfections. Part of her is afraid to live and to love. Hindered by the memories of a lost love and unwilling to confront what is keeping her from moving on.

I’m intentionally not going to go into the most emotional part of the book. I think It’s best readers experience that for themselves. What I will say is that it makes this more than just Chick Lit and it ventures soundly into women’s fiction.

The group meeting aspect of the story is emotional and heartfelt. In fact the whole book is, despite the light-hearted humour and the realistic characters. It’s women’s fiction with a lively tone and an emotional thread woven throughout.

I think one of my favourite paragraphs by far is the last one. It just speaks volumes about how far Grace has come and the difference in the way she sees life and lives it. Something so simple, and yet perfect in every way. It’s a lovely read.

Buy How To Say Goodbye at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.