Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary

Author: Jody A. Forrester
Published: Kindle and Paperback – Sept 2020
Publisher: Odyssey Books

I’d like to say a massive thank you to author Jody, and Henry from Odyssey Books, for my review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb…
It is 1969 and Jody A. Forrester is in her late teens, transitioning from sixties love child to pacifist anti-Vietnam War activist to an ardent revolutionary. Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary revolves around her three years in the Revolutionary Union, a Communist organization advocating armed overthrow of the ruling class. In readiness for the uprising, she sleeps with two rifles underneath her bed.
One of millions protesting the war, what sets Jody apart her from her peers is her decision to join a group espousing Mao Tse Tung’s ideology of class war. But why? How does she come to embrace violence as the only solution to the inequities inherent in a capitalist empire? To answer that question, Jody goes into her past, and in the process comes to realize that what she always thought of as political is also deeply personal.
More than a coming-of-age story, this memoir tells the more universal truths about seeking a sense of belonging not found in her family with themes of shame, pride, secrecy, self-valuation, and self-acceptance explored in context of the culture and politics of that volatile period in American history

My review…
Wow! As I was reading this book, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t just a story, it was the author’s life. It’s such a raw and heartfelt piece of writing.
In the prologue, Jody comes across some old documents from her time spent in the communist Revolutionary Union (RU). This prompts the idea that she should look more closely at how she spent her time during those years. The memoir moves back and forth through her recollections as she grows up during the revolutionary era. It’s clear that there were things she understood and some things she only thought she had a grasp on.
As background to the retelling, we also receive some precious glimpses into Jody’s younger years and the way in which her relationships with family members shaped the path she found herself taking. Traumatic experiences also have an impact on ones future self and it is with stark honesty that the author describes particular memories. Guns Under the Bed is written in a way that is both interesting and informative, especially if like me you have little knowledge of RU and the era in which it was prevalent.

Even though she was totally committed to RU, Jody really demonstrates through her writing the pressures which she faced to conform with all the rules laid out for her. Whether they were consciously, or subconsciously, difficult to absorb, it definitely showed through her reluctance for recruiting new members and speaking about the cause in a positive way to others. Paranoia and uncertainty seemed to be a strong characteristic theme running throughout the groups she moved in. She definitely managed to hold her own at many demonstrations and with members in senior positions. The years in which RU was all consuming for her seemed an exciting but potentially dangerous time!

Despite no longer being an active member of RU, Jody struggled to shift her reputation and connection to the group; making it extremely difficult for her to meaningfully move on from the cause. She eventually found that taking herself out of the country may be a good option, but despite the stigma of communism falling away, she then found herself battling racism again. I feel that the unwillingness to broadcast her time as a revolutionary was compounded by other previous feelings of shame, which may be considered as an unhelpful filter to look through. Personally I feel that in writing her story, she has accepted those years for what they were and can hopefully feel some pride in her commitment to something bigger. I found myself fully immersed in Jody’s story, especially how she made the transitions into her life now. As previously mentioned, Jody didn’t always have the best of relationships with her parents, and I was particularly touched by the nature of her final conversations with them.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for something real and engrossing. Thank you again to Henry, for the opportunity to read this fantastic book, and to Jody for giving us a piece of herself so fully!

About the author…
Jody A. Forrester was born and raised in Los Angeles during the uneasy Fifties and tumultuous Sixties. She graduated from high school in 1969, while the Vietnam War was raging and the country increasingly divided along racial and class lines. When a freshman at San Jose State University, she joined a communist organization advocating armed overthrow of the United States government. In Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary, Jody reaches into her past to understand how she came to embrace such a violent culture.
A chiropractor by profession, she was forced into retirement by a hand injury requiring surgery. With her time suddenly open, Jody was able to return to her first love, writing fiction and nonfiction stories. She pursued a BA in literature and writing at Antioch College/Los Angeles (2007), and a MFA, also in literature and writing, at Bennington College (2010).
Jody’s essays and short stories have appeared in the Sonora Review, Two Hawks Quarterly, WriteRoom, Dreamers Writing, Citroen Review, Gazelle and several others. A story received an honorable mention in the Anderbo/Open City Competition (2009) and another story was featured in the 6th Annual Emerging Voices Group Show (2010) in Los Angeles.
She lives in Venice, California with her husband, John Schneider and Australian Shepherd Charley, in the house by the beach where they raised their two daughters, Emily and Erin.

#BlogTour: Fatal Fix

#FatalFix @GrahamMorse5 @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours

Author: Graham Morse
Published: Kindle and Paperback September 2020
Publisher: Shipstone Publishing

Today is my stop on the #BlogTour for Fatal Fix. I’d like to say thank you to Graham Morse and Anne Cater, from Random Things Tours, for the opportunity to read this fantastic book in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb…
Chasing the story of a lifetime can get you killed.
When Premier League manager Tony Barker is found hanged in his home, the police declare it a suicide. But Tony’s old friend, investigative journalist Matt Riley, isn’t buying it. Matt discovers that Tony was about to expose a huge match fixing scandal, and a police insider tips him off that key evidence has gone missing.
Suspecting murder, he launches his own investigation. His editor orders him to drop the story. Matt refuses and gets fired. Determined to find the truth, he goes freelance and soon penetrates a labyrinth of greed and corruption that leads to an underworld gambling syndicate in Singapore. He believes he is about to solve the murder and break the biggest story of his life, but others have a different idea…
The shadowy figures he’s been tracking have their sights turned on him.
Matt Riley is in a desperate race against time – to find Tony Barker’s killers before he becomes their next victim.

My review…
Fatal Fix is a fast-paced whirlwind of intrigue, mystery and danger.

Matt ‘Stinger’ Riley is a feisty ex-footballer, with a passion for the truth. Now working as an investigative journalist for The Daily Chronicle, he is always on the lookout for a hard-hitting story. With his editor’s threat of cutbacks in the forefront of his mind, Matt is out on a bike ride when the next call he receives changes everything.
Premier League Manager Tony Barker has been found hanged in his home. This isn’t just any story for Matt, this is the death of his former colleague and close friend. When the police rule the hanging a suicide, Matt refuses to believe it and starts doing some digging of his own. As he uncovers certain rumours that are actually very true, Matt knows he must find the evidence to cement his story.
As time goes on and it seems more likely that Tony has been murdered, it consumes Matt. When the evidence which could prove his theory goes missing, he knows this is even bigger than he first suspected; someone wants to keep the story quiet. He calls in favours from friends and colleagues to help him and decides he wants to break the story, but they don’t all feel as strongly as he does. When his editor, Bill Wickes, gives him an ultimatum to drop the story or get fired, Matt gets fired!
His determination to find justice for Tony takes him far from home and into some seriously dangerous situations. With match fixing being the prominent cause of the cover-up, he infiltrates a gambling syndicate to try and find the key players involved. His own survival also ends up hanging in the balance as he begins to cause waves with his persistent hunt for answers.

Matt is a complex character and the subplots highlight the trials a competitive journalist faces to stay on top of their game. His estranged wife Susie and son Callum are often victims to his workload, which Matt knows is wrong but isn’t readily willing to change. Things deteriorate further with Susie as Matt lets Callum down on a promise to watch him play his first football game. Tony’s death also resurfaces issues from his own childhood that Matt must battle internally, whilst still trying to keep his investigation moving forward.

I had my heart in my mouth on more than one occassion and was actually quite worried for Matt. The story was really well written and extensively researched. Not only does Morse keep up the tension throughout, but he takes you to multiple destinations on Matt’s journey too. I liked the fact the story wasn’t just based in London, to really uncover the seedy underworld of top level sport, you have to factor in the far-reaching implications of corruption. Plenty of shady characters make a great cast for this highly plausible thriller. As a football fan myself, I was really excited when I read about this book and it doesn’t disappoint. With the huge amount of public interest in celebrity lifestyle, Fatal Fix isn’t a far cry from the things we see in the newspapers on a regular basis. There is a perfect mix of sport and drama running through the book. Even if you don’t like football, please don’t be deterred, Graham hasn’t left anything unexplained and the football theme is a great addition to a modern-day crime thriller. This has become one of my favourite books of 2020 and I look forward to reading more of Graham’s work in the future.

In a recent Q and A, Graham mentioned one readers’ suggestion that Tom Hardy should play Matt Riley’s character on screen – having read Fatal Fix I completely agree, he would be perfect and I have my fingers firmly crossed for this adaptation! He also floated the idea we may see Matt Riley again soon – we can only hope…
If you missed Portable Magic’s Q and A with author Graham Morse, you can find it here.

About the author…
Graham was born in Swindon, England, and educated at Abingdon School. He began his career selling advertising for the Sunday Times. He then worked in sales and marketing with Unilever before leaving to set up his own advertising and promotions agency.
He married his wife Janet in 1963 and they have four children. Graham has always been a keen sportsman, playing football, rugby, tennis, squash, golf, and, sailing with his family.
He retired from his business interests to pursue the passion he shared with Janet for sailing. They crossed the Atlantic in 2002, and after four years exploring the Caribbean sailed across South Pacific from Panama to New Zealand. The experience of visiting remote islands and cultures inspired Graham to write his first book, The Islands Time Forgot, which was published in 2010.
His biography of his father-in-law, Sir Walter Winterbottom, The Father of Modern English Football, was published in 2013, and was short listed for British Sports Book of the Year in 2014.
Fatal Fix, Graham’s first work of fiction, takes readers into the criminal underbelly of greed and corruption in the world of international football.
Graham and Janet have travelled extensively for business and pleasure and currently live in the Caribbean.

Social Media
Twitter: @GrahamMorse5

Author’s Website

Purchase Link

Find your next stop on the tour…

#BlogTour: The Snow Fox Diaries

#TheSnowFoxDiaries #JanMazzoni @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours

Author: Jan Mazzoni
Published: Kindle and Paperback – Revised and with Author Notes August 2020

Today is my stop on the #BlogTour for The Snow Fox Diaries. A massive thank you to Jan Mazzoni and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for my review copy in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb…
When passion becomes obsession, anything can happen…
Chic, intelligent, highly motivated and unexpectedly unemployed. AND soon to be forty. Not a situation Katie Tremain finds easy to cope with, especially as it gives her time to notice that she and husband Ben seem to get on better together when they’re apart. So when the opportunity to escape the city and work on a dilapidated house on Exmoor comes her way, how can she refuse?

Then, one misty morning, she comes across something so bizarre that she can’t believe her eyes. A fox with fur so white it sparkles, like snow. A very rare albino vixen.

From that moment Katie’s days – and her life – change completely. And as the fate of her faltering marriage becomes entwined with that of the fox, Katie must decide just what she’s prepared to risk to save this beautiful but vulnerable creature.

Her sanity? Her marriage? Even her life?

My review…
This is the heart wrenching story of Katie Tremain – struggling after losing her job she is lost. Her motivation and drive have vanished and she isn’t coping well. When husband Ben offers her the chance to take herself to Exmoor to oversee the restoration of an old house, she is reluctant at first. She eventually agrees to taking on the project and begins to create a new reality for herself, away from the hustle of everyday life. Whilst Katie is out walking, she stumbles across a beautiful albino vixen and her cubs. Her instant love for the fox family transforms her time in Exmoor into something she isn’t prepared to give up.

The Snow Fox Diaries delves into the nastier side of country life, including some scenes of animal cruelty – which nearly had me done for! It also explores Katie’s choice not to have children and the impact this has on Ben. They seem like a couple for who life has carried on regardless, but their relationship has ground to a halt. Even though it was his idea for Katie to get away from London, Ben soon begins to resent the fact she would rather spend her time there. She often stays for long periods of time on her own and refuses to be bowed when Ben suggests she should return to London with him, on more than one occasion. Her obsession with the foxes becomes a major issue for Ben.

I wholeheartedly fell into this beautiful story, which is interspersed with glimpses of the diary entries Katie has made about her time with the rare albino foxes. While she is doing up the house she seems to find a peace within herself and her surroundings. She makes friends with some other locals and they soon become a great help to Katie when things begin to look bleak for the vixen. I raced through the chapters to find out how things would turn out.

There is a sensitivity running through the writing that really highlights the author’s research and love for the places she is describing. Mazzoni also uses Katie’s naivety, regarding authentic country life, to show how distressing it can be to learn of the many ways wild animals often meet their end. For anyone who loves nature and wildlife this is a must read – but I would recommend it to everyone, as the range of emotions I went through really connected me with the characters and the engaging plot.

About the author…
It was only recently that Jan Mazzoni found that – surprise, surprise – there IS a genre where her writing fits perfectly. It’s ecofiction. And having been writing fiction that combines her passion for the natural world with a gripping tale for many years, she’s over the moon to find a place where the stories she so loves to tell are completely at home.
Not that ecofiction is new. But as concern for the planet and its inhabitants grows, so does the popularity of novels that pick up today’s environmental concerns, toss them into real-life situations with Ordinary People, and then stand back to watch what happens next. In principle ecofiction is much like any other genre  – historical, thrillers, even romances – in that they all need the protagonist to go through some kind of hellish situation and challenge before reaching the (hopefully) happy ending. Ecofiction just tends to have prettier locations!
It’s her yearning for wilderness that encouraged Jan to move to a little house hidden in a large, rambling garden on the edge of Exmoor, a windy, bleak but beautiful part of the UK. Here, with husband George and four Romanian rescue dogs, she leads the simple life she’s always wanted to live. She calls herself a recluse-in-training. As an only child she long ago grew up living inside the stories in her own head, and is quite happy there. She can control that world. And when the ideas that come seem like they’re worth putting down on paper, she retreats to the shed at the top of the garden and taps away at the PC. Sadly the dogs don’t usually go with her. It’s too cold up there.

Find your next stop on the tour…

#BlogTour: The Choice

#TheChoice @Alexlakeauthor @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours

Author: Alex Lake
Published: Out now!
Publisher: Harper Collins

Today is my turn on the #BlogTour for The Choice. A massive thank you to Alex Lake, Harper Collins and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for my early review copy.

From the blurb…
A kidnapping…
Matt Westbrook only turned his back for a moment. But when he looks around, his car – with his three young children inside – has vanished.
A ransom…
Panicked, Matt assumes a car thief has got more than he bargained for, but then he starts to receive text messages: This is a kidnapping. If you want to see your children again, you will exchange them for your wife.
A choice…
Matt and his wife Annabelle are horrified. They can’t involve the police, or their children will be killed. Which means they have to choose: Annabelle, or their children. Either option is unthinkable. But one is inevitable. And they have only hours to make their decision…
The gripping new thriller you won’t be able to put down!

My review…
I absolutely love this book! A modern day thriller which turns one innocent decision into The Choice of a lifetime…

Annabelle Westbrook is nursing a cold, waiting at home for her family. The country is in the midst of a new virus and husband Matt Westbrook has popped to the shops in search of some last minute groceries. There’s no reason to take the kids into the shop with him for the sake of a few minutes, they’ll be alright in the car while he runs in…
He’s quickly running back out again; the car has gone. Along with the children. Matt panics and comes up with every possible scenario he can think of – but the answer comes soon enough, in the form of a ransom.

When Matt turns up at home on his own, Annabelle can’t quite grasp what he is telling her. But things are not as simple as they seem. As they rack their brains for answers, knowing calling the police is not an option, they must decide whether they can go through with the kidnapper’s request; a trade – the children will be returned in exchange for Annabelle!

I loved the style of writing and how the story unravels with different timelines and narrators. Glimpses into the couples’ past offer up plenty of suspects. I had my suspicions about a few of the characters, especially when it turned out to be quite a personal attack on the family. With some innovative ideas and plenty of suspense, I couldn’t put it down until I knew how it would end.
A stand out 2020 psychological thriller.

About the author…
Alex Lake is a British novelist who was born in the North West of England. After Anna, the author’s first novel written under this pseudonym, was a No.1 bestselling ebook sensation and a top-ten Sunday Times bestseller. The author now lives in the North East of the US.

Find your next stop on the tour…

#CoverReveal: Say Goodbye When I’m Gone

Author: Stephen J. Golds
Published: 21 October 2020
Publisher: Red Dog Press

Today I have the fabulous cover reveal for #SayGoodbyeWhenImGone
#CoverReveal @RedDogTweets @SteveGone58

From the blurb…
1949: Rudy, A Jewish New Yorker snatches a briefcase of cash from a dead man in Los Angeles and runs away from his old life, into the arms of the Boston mob.
1966: Hinako, a young Japanese girl runs away from what she thought was the suffocating conformity of a life in Japan. Aiming to make a fresh start in America, she falls into the grip of an Hawaiian gang dubbed ‘The Company’.
1967: Rudy and Hinako’s lives collide in the city of Honolulu, where there is nowhere left for either of them to run, and only blood to redeem them.

About the author…
Stephen J. Golds was born in London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His novel Say Goodbye When I’m Gone will be released by Red Dog Press in October 2020 and another novel Always the Dead will be released by Close to The Bone Press January 2021.

Available for pre-order now…

#BlogTour: The Assistant

#TheAssistant @CathrynGrant #InkubatorBooks @damppebbles

Author: Cathryn Grant
Published: 27 September 2020 (Kindle)
Publisher: Inkubator Books

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Assistant and I would like to thank Cathryn Grant, Inkubator Books and Emma from Damp Pebbles for my early review copy.

From the blurb…
Two women. One office. A fight to the death.
Laura has sacrificed a lot for her high-powered career – her marriage, the chance to have kids. Now, finally, she’s in line for a big jump up the corporate ladder – all the way to the boardroom.
But there’s a fly in the ointment in the shape of beautiful Vanessa, a lowly assistant who seems to have it in for Laura.
Vanessa is PA to Hank, the most powerful executive in the company, a man whose support Laura desperately needs if she is to secure the job of her dreams. Repelled by Laura’s naked ambition, fiercely possessive of her boss, Vanessa deliberately sabotages Laura’s every attempt to make a good impression on Hank.
Laura threatens and cajoles but Vanessa just won’t play fair. Soon their mutual dislike escalates to an all-out war.
But career-obsessed Laura has always been willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. And if Vanessa stands in her way… she’s going to pay the ultimate price.
The stunning psychological thriller from the author of The Guest.

My review…
The Assistant is like a deep dive into the slighted mind! The prologue is a quick flash of what’s to come and instantly builds the drama. The story is then told in alternating chapters from Vanessa and Laura.

We first meet Vanessa at work, she’s glamorous and she knows it. She is personal assistant to Avalon bigwig Hank. She has his ear and runs his work life meticulously. Despite being very full of herself, she is feeling the strain of not being part of the bigger picture – she certainly feels like she should be given more respect by her colleagues. Laura is culprit number one. She is introduced whilst putting Vanessa in her place, after she tries to join a conversation between Laura and her manager. Despite Vanessa backing Laura’s opinion, she is shutdown immediately. The very tenuous connection between the two breaks completely – and then the gossiping starts!

Vanessa is seemingly bored with life, despite being in a relatively decent job, she’s lacking excitement. Her run of the mill relationship with Matt is no different. She wants more than he, and Hank, can give her. So she resorts to other ways of getting a buzz. Vanessa uses Hank like a plaything throughout the book, directly and indirectly. She actually begins to revel in the office gossip she persistently denies.

Laura is derogatory to pretty much everyone she encounters and has serious entitlement issues. Adamant that she’s not only in the running, but the only viable candidate for the new executive job, she makes her feelings clear to everyone. She decides to stir a few pots to help move up the ladder. When playing dirty doesn’t work, she changes track and tries her hand at niceties; everyone but Laura can see it’s a futile attempt at salvaging herself.

Laura and Vanessa are both women filled with self-delusion. They’re actually quite similar in many ways; in another life they could’ve even been friends – they sure as hell both need one. Fighting for the attentions of Hank, for very different reasons, it’s not long before things take a turn for the worse. Things start to spiral out of control quite quickly in and out of Avalon. It becomes apparent that Laura is more unhinged than first impressions suggested and Vanessa has her own secrets to hide.

A pacy read with lots of tension building. Pre-order now to find out who makes it to the top…

About the author…
Cathryn Grant writes psychological thrillers, psychological suspense, and ghost stories. She’s the author of twenty-three novels. She’s loved crime fiction all her life and is endlessly fascinated by the twists and turns, and the dark corners of the human mind.
When she’s not writing, Cathryn reads fiction, eavesdrops, and tries to play golf without hitting her ball into the sand or the water. She lives on the Central California coast with her husband and two cats.
Cathryn is the author of The Guest, The Good Mother and other psychological thrillers. THE ASSISTANT will be her fourth novel published with Inkubator Books.

The Bowery Slugger – Alex Cohen#1

Author: Leopold Borstinski
Published: Kindle and Paperback 2019
Publisher: Sobriety Press

I’d like to start by saying a massive thank you to Leopold Borstinski and Emma from #damppebblesblogtours for my copy of the book. I’ve been lucky enough to start the series from the beginning in the run up to the release of Casino Chiseler – Alex Cohen#4 which is published on 30th September 2020. Don’t miss the fantastic blog tour starting on Monday 2nd November!

From the blurb…
A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.
When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?
The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.

My review…
Oh wow, this book is so action packed! I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started reading, but I ended up loving it. After I updated my knowledge of the Jewish language used throughout, I got into the story pretty quickly.
I won’t ruin the beginning for you by explaining how we meet the characters, but I will say this – I couldn’t put it down. An exploration into surviving, providing for your family and making tough choices in a bid to make it big.

When Alex and his family arrive in America from the Ukraine, they don’t speak the language and they have very little. After spending time in a shelter, the family move into a tenement building in the heart of the Jewish ghetto. The Bowery is a pretty rough neighbourhood, located in Lower East Side, Manhattan. Alex’s dad, Moishe, pays one month’s rent and their new lives begin.
While Alex is out exploring, he makes a few acquaintances with the locals. After some quick talking and proving himself valuable to have around, he finds himself embroiled with some unsavoury characters. With things looking up, he seems quiet pleased with himself.

After a chance encounter in the doorway of her apartment, Alex meets Rebecca. She quickly fills a lot of his head space and he hopes they can start dating. Rebecca’s family live in the same building as Alex and both sets of parents become friendly. With his family struggling to make any more rent money, Alex steps in to cover it. Things progress quite quickly with his new ventures and he is soon rising through the ranks of the underworld.

Alex is a lovable rogue, who exudes charisma, but he definitely has a darker side to him; there are a few hints to his former life in the old country too. He is clever and calculating, always looking for the advantage in any situation. One thing is for certain though, he doesn’t like to be crossed. I was shocked to find out how old he actually is.
Unfortunately, his exploits soon become local gossip, despite the fact he tries to keep his home and work lives separate. This does not have a good bearing on his chances with neighbour Rebecca. I definitely found myself routing for him, even when I possibly shouldn’t. As he struggles with his own vulnerabilities, he always keeps his goals in sight and keeps moving forwards.

One of my favourite characters is Sarah. She is a strong woman and has a no nonsense attitude. I love her happy nature and the way she is written; she definitely tells it like it is. We don’t see too much of her to begin with, but she features more as the years go on and her dealings with Alex become more frequent.

The Bowery Slugger is certainly full of drama and shows how tough life was for newcomers to the Freeland. It is fast paced and has some fantastic fight scenes. The story finished in a really good place and left me dying to start the next book, which I did straight away. With the cliffhanger ending still buzzing in my brain, I was not prepared for the opening scenes of book#2. Look out for my review coming soon.

An Alex Cohen prequel, The Broska Bruiser, is kindly available on Leopold Borstinski’s author website here, so you can see for yourself how good this series is. Be warned though, once you make that connection with Alex, you’ll be hooked too! The writing style is really easy and it’s hard to stop once you have started.

If you loved The Bowery Slugger too…
Alex Cohen#2, East Side Hustler, was published earlier in the year, so you can jump straight into the next decade of Alex’s life.

About the author…
Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.
There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.
He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

The Anonymous Bookaholics Tag

Hey! Something slightly different from me today as I haven’t done a tag post before. I saw this one posted on A Bookish Chick and Ashleigh had kindly left it open-ended, so I thought I would have a go – head on over to her blog if you haven’t already!

1) What do you like about buying new books?
I can’t think of anything NOT to like about buying books! The excitement of protecting them all the way home so they don’t get damaged, finding new homes for them on my shelves and the smell (this is a thing, right?). I know it states new books but I’m also a fan of new-to-me books and knowing that someone has owned and loved the book before me.

2) How often do you buy new books?
The short answer is: too often! I have decided to try a ‘No Spend September’ though, so I may finally whip through some of my TBR before it grows again.

3) Bookstore or online book shopping: which do you prefer?
I choose bookstore every time. It’s so nice to be surrounded by all of the different books; it’s too easy to miss things online and you don’t get to hold the books until they arrive. Saying this, I have recently started using my Kindle again and it’s easy to fall into a one-click-buy rabbit hole for eBooks.

4) Do you have a favourite bookshop?
British Bookshops & Sussex Stationers and Waterstones always make me feel nostalgic as they were the ones I used to visit as a youngster. These days any bookshop is a treat and I love discovering new ones!

5) Do you pre-order books?
I do and everyone should if they can. Waiting for them always feels like an eternity though.

6) Do you have a monthly buying limit?
*Laughs uncontrollably*
What’s this, how does it work and who enforces it?

7) How big is your wishlist?
Gigantic. Seeing all the upcoming releases for this week hasn’t helped either. I strongly believe it would be impossible to achieve all of my wishes in this lifetime – the list will always get bigger.

8) Which three books from your wishlist do you wish to own right now?

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – I’ve heard such lovely things about this book it’s a must buy for me
  • Little Bones by N V Peacock – This is a Halloween pre-order and I can’t wait for it to zip into my Kindle App
  • The Winds of Winter by George RR Martin – It doesn’t exist in print. It’s not even finished yet. But I am desperate for it and I have waited *patiently* since before GoT went off

I’m tagging
Ellie Mai

Does this classify me as a bookaholic? It might do.

See you all again soon x

#BlogTour: The Arrangement

#TheArrangement @MirandaRijks #InkubatorBooks @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Author: Miranda Rijks
Published: 30 August 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Arrangement and I would like to thank Miranda Rijks, Inkubator Books and Emma from Damp Pebbles for my early review copy.

From the blurb…
How well do you know your daughter?
Grace is living through every mother’s worst nightmare. Her student daughter Abi went away on a dream vacation to South Africa – and was murdered.
Overwhelmed by grief, and fighting off old demons which have resurfaced, Grace tries to make sense of it – who would want to kill her beautiful girl?
But as she learns more about Abi’s life in the UK, she realises she didn’t know her own daughter very well. How did Abi acquire all those designer clothes? And what was she doing on those mysterious trips to London?
Grace desperately needs to find answers. But soon it becomes clear that someone doesn’t want her digging into Abi’s secret past. Someone who knows how to use Grace’s own weaknesses against her, sending her on a journey to the darkest hell…

My review
Grace is going about her normal mundane routine, when a knock at the door changes her life forever. The police come in and inform her that her eldest daughter Abi has been murdered. There can be nothing worse than losing a child, right? Wrong! – Abi was on holiday in South Africa at the time, leaving Grace with a lot of unanswered questions. As with most international inquiries, the local police have their hands tied and have to rely on their overseas colleagues to conclude the investigation. Meaning Grace has to rely on them too. Whilst trying to hold herself together and look after her younger daughter Ella, Grace’s grief threatens to consume her and she begins to drink, again. On her mission to find some answers for herself, she stumbles across information that causes her to reassess how well she new her daughter at all. As her habits become more of an issue she loses the trust of those around her, but she is determined that something else is at play.

Grace has some strong characters by her side, however three is usually a crowd. Her friends Natasha and Ruth are really supportive, but seem to treat Grace like she’s the ‘problem’ friend and they came across as quite overbearing towards her. As she fights for justice and truth, things start to turn sour when it appears someone is trying to stop her. With an ex-husband that thinks she is going mad and a daughter that doesn’t trust her, she really does have to go it alone despite her fears.

It’s hard not to love Grace, she remains resolute throughout, even as you feel her hurt and confusion coming off the pages. I thought the story moved along really well with plenty of twists and shifty characters to keep the pages turning. Rijks’s depiction of grief mixed with addiction was both subtle and honest. I found the ending rather poignant and would recommend everyone adds The Arrangement to their TBR. This is the first Miranda Rijks book I have read but will definitely be taking a look at her other work.

About the author…
Miranda Rijks is a writer of psychological thrillers and suspense novels. She has an eclectic background ranging from law to running a garden centre. She’s been writing all of her life and has a Masters in writing. A couple of years ago she decided to ditch the business plans and press releases and now she’s living the dream, writing suspense novels full time. She lives in Sussex, England with her Dutch husband, musician daughter and black Labrador.
Miranda is the author of Roses Are Red and I Want You Gone. THE ARRANGEMENT will be her eighth novel published with Inkubator Books.

Purchase links:
Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

Find your next stop on the tour…

Precious You

Author: Helen Monks Takhar
Published: Kindle, Audiobook and Hardback Out Now, Paperback 21 Jan 2021
Publisher: HQ

From the blurb
When Katherine first meets her new intern Lily, she’s captivated. Young, beautiful and confident, Lily reminds Katherine of everything she once was – and it’s not long before she develops a dark fascination with her new colleague.
But is Lily as perfect as she seems, or does she have a sinister hidden agenda? As Katherine is drawn into an obsessive power struggle with the intern, a disturbing picture emerges of two women hiding dark secrets – and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top…

My review
Precious You is so dark, you have to read it! It’s like seeing a horrendous accident, you know you should leave but can’t stop looking.

We first meet Katherine in the present day, and she certainly doesn’t hold her feelings back. I was quite shocked at the openness of her hatred but excited to see what would happen next. Six weeks earlier, Katharine is on her way to work, the company she has given her life to is in the midst of a takeover – insert Lily, the new intern who is definitely out to make an impact. Katherine takes a liking to Lily too quickly and trusts her, over her own instincts, on more than one occasion.

Neither protagonist is particularly likeable, but I feel that was definitely the author’s choice rather than personal opinion. It didn’t take anything away from the book for me as it was definitely a love to hate situation. The side effects of raw past experiences doesn’t bode well for either character; it becomes apparent that they find it hard to think objectively and it quickly spills over into their personal life. With woman pitted against woman in the fight of Katherine’s life, she has to overcome nepotism, ageism and favouritism with little success. The premise may seem over the top or unbelievable, but if you’ve ever been involved in, or witness to, office politics and the adverse relationships between the old and the new, the writing is effortlessly natural. Not designed to shock, but to explore the hidden struggles with oneself and others who are perceived as a threat.

Whilst a lot of the story is told as Katherine’s thoughts, expressing herself to Lily, we also see the other side of the story with Lily’s diary entries. It is clear that no one believes Katherine and her version of events, while Lily is certainly more adept at sounding believable. As the story is set over a short period of time, the events all happen in quick succession and the further in you get, the more gripped you will be. I really enjoyed the style of writing and had quite a few OMG moments along the way. Still can’t believe this is a debut. One of my favourite 2020 reads by far!

About the author…
Helen Monks Takhar worked as a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor having graduated from Cambridge in 1997. She began her career writing for financial trade newspapers in 1999 before contributing to UK national newspapers including The Times and The Observer. Born in Southport, Merseyside in 1976, she lives in North London with her husband and two daughters. Precious You is her first novel.

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