Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Truth & Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr

Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . . 

Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.

And realises her life has been a lie.

Her mother and father aren't hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they'll never think to look - the favelas.

But there she learns a terrible secret - the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago.

This book is classed as YA fiction but I don't care I love the stories Emiy Barr tells. 

I would imagine that the moral of this story (if there is one) is ...If your parents decide there are some things you are best not knowing then please believe them because things could be much worse if you find out. 

When we meet Ella we realize that something is not quite right. Ella is trying to suppress a voice from inside her that wants her to do bad things. She doesn't want this to happen but sometimes she can't help it. One day Ella is taken out of school by her parents and taken straight to the airport. Her phone is taken from her and soon all three of them are on a flight to Rio,no explanation given. Once there Ella needs to take matters into her own hands and find out why her usually dull,quiet and over protective parents have moved her to a foreign country and are acting very strange. 

Wow! What a roller coaster ride this story is. I was so afraid for Ella when she found out what she wasn't supposed to know. I was also surprised at how resourceful she became especially when she had the stress of keeping the other voice inside her satisfied. 

I can't say much more without giving the plot away. This book is not just for the YA market it is for anyone and it kept me turning the pages. Once again Emily Barr has came up with a cracking good story. 

I think I would go for the paperback over kindle this time as there's not much difference in price.

The Woman at 72 Derry Lane by Carmel Harrington

On a leafy suburan street in Dublin, beautiful, poised Stella Greene lives with her successful husband, Matt. The perfect couple in every way, Stella appears to have it all.
However at number 72 however, lives Rea Brady. Gruff, bad-tempered and rarely seen besides the twitching of her net curtains, rumour has it she’s lost it all…including her marbles if you believe the neighbourhood gossip.
But appearances can be deceiving and when Stella and Rea’s worlds collide they realise they have much in common. Both are trapped in a prison of their own making.
Has help been next door without them realising it?

This is my first read with this author and I wasn't disappointed. This book provoked all kinds of emotion in me. I laughed at the Irish humour, I was angry at  how some people have to live and I cried at the very sad parts of the story. The book tackles domestic abuse,agoraphobia and a live changing disaster. 
My favourite character was Sky,I was amazed at the strength and compassion she found when she needed it. Rea's story was sad but fixable and only she knew how to fix it. My heart went out to Stella and I willed her to stand up for herself. Charlie was hilarious, kind,lovable and an asset to anyone's life. Matt? Well the less said about him the better although I would have liked to have known a bit more about his back story.

My only complaint would be that the author seemed to think that sixty was old ! How very dare she! 
I must say she made me feel old when she described Rea at sixty, but I'll give her that that might have just been because of Rea's problems. 
I enjoyed this story, couldn't put it down and shed tears,what more can you ask from a book? 

Out now for kindle or paperback.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman with extract.

Meet Jay.
Small-time dealer.
Accidental jihadist.
The one man who can save us all?
Javid – call him Jay – is a dope dealer living in West London. He goes to mosque on Friday, and he’s just bought his pride and joy – a BMW. He lives with his mum, and life seems sweet.
But his world is about to turn upside-down. Because MI5 have been watching him, and they think he’s just the man they need for a delicate mission.
One thing’s for sure: now he’s a long way East of Hounslow, Jay’s life will never be the same again.

I'm delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for East of Hounslow the debut novel by Khurrum Rahman. I was slightly hesitant when I was asked to review this book. It is nothing like my usual read and way out of my comfort zone but I'm so glad I said yes.
At first I didn't know what to think of Jay. He was a small time drug dealer always ducking and diving. 
He used bad language, he was violent, irreverent, loyal,funny, he was lost in a life that if you scraped the surface you would find he didn't want. The funniest part of the book is when he realizes that he has actually been asked to work for MI5, no joking around, they have really asked him. 
Although the subject matter of this book is serious it is peppered with humour throughout. At times I was on the edge of my seat, reluctant to turn the page in case what I feared would happen did happen.
The book takes the reader on a journey of how some young men are  indoctrinated into terrorist organizations, sometimes being part of something is better than being part of nothing.
There are other characters in the story we get to know well like, Jay's best friend Idris who is a police officer and Parvez, Jay's childhood friend and neighbour who is the cause of Jay getting into a whole lot of trouble.
There are a few surprises and twists in the book especially at the end when the author pulled the rug from under me and upset me greatly.
I said at the beginning that I didn't know what to think of Jay but by half way through the book I had grown to love him and when you read it you will understand why. It is a book relevant to the times we live in. 
Even if this is not the usual genre you read I recommend you give this book a chance as I'm sure like me you will say it's a really good read and a great debut novel.
The paperback is large and I thought it would take me ages to read it but the print is big and it was easy to read.
I have just read that the author is writing a follow up book to this story and hopes to make it a trilogy.
That makes me happy as I'm now thinking there is another twist to the story....fingers crossed.

The publishers have very kindly sent me an extract from chapter one of the book. Enjoy! 
Published tomorrow in paperback or kindle here and I'm sure all bookshops.

Part One
An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
– Mahatma Gandhi 
My name is Javid Qasim. I am a Muslima British born Muslim. Do you know how many times I have been pulled over by the police since 9/11? Once. And that was because I was nonchalantly jumping lanes without indicating my intentions to my fellow drivers. I got a ticking off from the Fuzz who were quite happy to forego the paperwork and give me a friendly warning. They didnt even search my careven though the stench of skunk was unmistakeable. To this day I am proud to say that I've never had my fingerprints taken.

Do you know how many times I have been racially abused
since 7/7? Not even once. I get called Paki every daybut not in the – what the fuck did you call me? – way. In my circle its a term of endearment. You seewe know who we are. And what some may see as an insultwe see as a badge of fuckinhonour. The word Pak means pure and the word Pak means clean. And if you didnt know thatthen consider yourself educated.
Im not stupid or naïve. I am aware of exactly what is happening around me but youve got to play the game otherwise you might as well carry a big fat kick me sign on your back. Dont walk around wearing a sodding shalwar and kameez with a great big dopey beard and drive around in a fuckinHonda. Thats when you get pulled over and thats when you get racially abused. But not me. Why? Cos I play the game.
I know the plight of my Brothers and I know the struggle of my Sisters and I feel for themevery fuckinone of them. But what do you want me to do about it? Noman. Its not my war. Call it religion or call it politics or call it greed. It all amounts to the same thing: bloodsheddevastation and broken homes. Why would I want to get my head into something like that? Especially since my life has basically been one sweet ride – not too different 
from my latest acquisitiona black BMW 5 series. Its only two years oldless than thirty on the clock and its comfortable as fuck which is essential in my line of workas I spend a helluva lot of time in my car. Its my mobile office. I picked it up for a cool twenty G. I paid over the odds but fuck itI could afford it as business was ticking.
I was sitting in my ride at the back of Homebase car park in IsleworthWest Londonwaiting on a customer. He was late which would normally piss me off but I was otherwise distracted by all the shiny buttons and gadgets on my new whip. The speakers sounded sik and my nigga Pac never sounded so good as he rapped about dying young. I clocked my patron approaching and I couldnt help but frown. This was exactly what I was talking about. Hes wearing a plain white suit shirt tucked into his tracksuit bottomsfinished off with a pair of Bata flip flopslooking like he just stepped off the fucking boat. I know for a fact that hes forever being targeted because he looks like a fucking freshy. No-one likes a freshy. He looked around the car park and I realised I hadnt told him that Id replaced my Nova. I flashed my lights at him and his smile widenedat the sight of my Beemer. He approached and walked around it whistling appreciativelytaking special notice of my customised rims. I slid my window down and told him to get the fuck in. He did and he slammed the doorhard. I bit my tongue.
Youre late‚’ I said.
SorryBrotherI just came straight from the Masjid. Didnt
see you there. Then I remembered its only Thursday. You only ever come for Friday PrayersJavid‚’ he saidlaughing at the unfunny observation.
We shook hands and the deal was done. He left with a fistful of Hounslows premium and I with a fistful of dollars. He slammed my door and toddled off in his ridiculous outfit. I hate that fuckinsanctimonious prick. In the space of a minute he vexed . We shook hands and the deal was done. He left with a fistful of Hounslows premium and I with a fistful of dollars. He slammed my door and toddled off in his ridiculous outfit. I hate that fuckinsanctimonious prick. In the space of a minute he vexed me twice. Firstlyhe took a swipe at me because I dont go the Masjid day in day out. It doesnt make me any less of a Muslim than he is. So what if he decides to grow a beard and I decide to grow marijuana? Im still a Muslim. I couldnt care less if you sit in Aladdins eating your Halal Inferno Burger whilst I sit in Burger King eating a Whopper. I am still a Muslim. Ill drink when I wantIll curse and Ill fuck and Ill gamble and Ill get high. So what!? Read my lips. I. Am. Still. A. Muslim. I believe in Allah and only He can judge me. Not you. Or anyone else who walks this land.
Secondlyhe called me Javid. No-onebut no-onecalls me Javidnot even my Mum. No self-respecting drug dealer is called Javid. No playa is called Javid. Girls dont wanna be giving out their phone number to a guy called Javid.
Seriously. Call me Jay. 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Return of the Magi by P.J. Tracy

Emil Rice has a silver tongue and sticky fingers, the only problem is that his charm always gets him into trouble and he's never been very good at not getting arrested. Twenty-two times he's been caught and twenty-two times he's sworn never to steal again, but it's on his twenty-third arrest when Emil realises he may have picked up more than he bargained for. Sentenced to community service at a secure mental health facility, Emil is unwillingly befriended by two elderly female patients who believe he is the final part of a big cosmic plan that will change their lives forever...

I promised myself I wasn't going to read any Christmas books this year as I find they are all very similar but this one breaks the mold. A Christmas story about a thief ? Well that's different! 
The story begins with Emil who's eight years old being driven by his mum to spend Christmas at his grandparents house. He comes across as a kind little boy so when we next hear of him years later it's such a surprise to find out that he's a repeat offender and has been in and out of prison most of his life. I'm not going to go into what the rest of the story is about as there are plenty of spoilers on Amazon without me adding to them. Especially since this is a short story.
I'll just say that I really enjoyed it and it made me laugh out loud. I liked Emil even although he was his own worst enemy. I liked the other characters in the book and their own stories of what they are doing at Christmas. I could see this as a film with Eddie Murphy playing Emil and Maggie Smith as one of the two sisters Emil meets. A book that will warm your heart and make you laugh. I would love to read more about Emil. 
Out for kindle download at 99p.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Betrayals by Fiona Neil

None of them would forget that week on the wild Norfolk coast.

Best friends Rosie and Lisa's families had always been inseparable.

But that summer, Lisa had an affair with Rosie's husband Nick.

And now, after years of silence, she sends Rosie a letter begging for help. A letter which exposes dark secrets.

Daughter Daisy's fragile hold on reality begins to unravel.

Teenage son Max blames himself for everything that happened that long hot summer.

And Nick must confront his own version of events.

Lisa has betrayed her best friend Rosie in the worst possible way, she has stolen her husband.

The two couples and their children holiday together every year until the year when Lisa and Nick develope a liking for each other. 

Rosie's daughter Daisy has anxiety and OCD and these events are the start of a downward spiral for her  and it nearly kills her mother coping with it. Her brother Max has always been her protector but as he gets older he realizes that by helping her he is also enabling her continue with her OCD.

Years later and Daisy is well again but a letter that comes in the post from Lisa to her mum sets off her illness and no one feels able to cope with it all over again.

This story is told from four different viewpoints so we get perspective on how things are interpreted by each person. I learned quite a lot about O.C.D which must be horrific to live with. Nick,in the story is doing research on memory and how it works and it fitted in with the story well as we learn about false memory and how people who recall everything in great detail from the past aren't always right.

I sympathized with Max and the heavy weight that his sister's illness has placed upon him as well as his own grief over his parent's divorce. 

I did find this hard to put down and I enjoy books where I learn something. It also has a surprising ending. This is the first book I've read by this author but she has a few published on Amazon. 

Out in paperback or kindle .

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Snow Globe by Judith Kinghorn

As Christmas 1926 approaches, the Forbes family are preparing to host a celebration at Eden Hall. Eighteen-year-old Daisy is preoccupied by a sense of change in the air. Overnight, her relationship with Stephen Jessop, the housekeeper’s son, has shifted and every encounter seems fraught with tension. Before the festivities are over, Daisy has received a declaration of love, a proposal and a kiss – from three different men. Unable to bear the confusion she flees to London and stays with her elder sister. 

By the following summer, Daisy has bowed to the persistence of the man who proposed to her the previous year. When the family reunite for a party at Eden Hall and Stephen is once more in her life, it is clear to Daisy she is committing to the wrong person. Yet she also believes that family secrets mean she has no choice but to follow her head instead of her heart. Will love conquer all, or is Daisy’s fate already written?

Daisy, daughter of the big house thinks her father is wonderful but when she overhears that he has had a mistress for years her life suddenly feels very different. The treasured snow globe given to her by her him and put on display at Christmas becomes an object of loathing. Things escalate when  her father's mistress is invited for Christmas dinner and three men make Daisy the object of their affection. 

As Daisy's mother leaves for an extended European trip,Daisy,not wanting to be left with her father and deciding between the three men runs to her sister in London where more secrets are revealed to her.

If you're missing Downton Abbey then this book could be for you. The rich owners,the servants, the class system, adultery and of course,love are all there in this book. 

A great read by Judith Kinghorn. This is the first of her books I have read. I don't know why she has escaped my notice as I love books set during the war as are hers. I better sort that out right now. 

Out for kindle £1.99

Ella's Journey by Lynne Francis

Ella is trying to put the past behind her, but the past won’t always stay hidden.

The truth is, Ella is hiding from a scandal. A scandal that drove her family out of their beloved Lane End Cottage in the tiny Yorkshire village they had lived in all their lives. A scandal that her sister Alice was blamed for.

But Alice is no longer here. So it’s up to Ella to pick up the pieces and do the best she can for the family she loves so dearly.

Ella’s luck finally changes when she gains work in service at Grange House, a gentleman’s residence on the outskirts of York. But can Ella keep her position there? Or will she follow in her elder sister’s footsteps…

I love a good trilogy, it means I can revisit the characters in a book I have grown to love. Ella's Journey,a debut novel by Lynne Francis is part of a trilogy called The Mill Valley Girls and I'm looking forward to the second book.

Set in Yorkshire just before,during and after the First World War this book is a story of love,injustice,class, but most of all it's about families. 
Leaving her mother and siblings behind in their small Yorkshire village  Ella has to take up a position in a big house on the outskirts of York. Ella's family is poor,living in a small cottage and relying on money sent back to them from Ella. 

She can't believe the grandeur of the big house as she is shown the rooms she will clean and lay fires in. I almost felt I was there myself while reading the description of the house. I could feel Ella's sadness at missing her family and being thrust into a strange environment. She settles in but fears that the scandal her sister was implicated in back home may be found out by her employers.

War comes along and changes things. Male servants  leave to fight, females join the land army or leave to work in munition factories for better pay. The rich families are having to learn that they can't have it all their own way any more as class barriers are broken down.
I really enjoyed this story. It did take a few chapters for me to settle into it but after that I couldn't put it down. Quite a surprising ending rounded it off for me.
 A really great first novel by Lynne Francis and I'm looking forward to book two in the trilogy. 

In Kindle ...99p..... and paperback