Sunday, 27 September 2015

Cover Reveal - Make a Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

It's Official ! The new Christmas books are dropping into my inbox and that must mean it's time to get shopping for the big day. I'm delighted to share this cover reveal for the first one. The synopsis sounds good and I can't wait to read it. My review will follow shortly.

Last Christmas, when Livvy was knocked down in the supermarket car park, she certainly wasn’t ready to actually be dead! For months now she’s floated on the edge of the afterlife, generally making a nuisance of herself.

And she’s not ready to go just yet! She’s furious about the new woman in her husband’s life and she’s worried about her beloved son who doesn’t seem to be adjusting to life without her at all.

This Christmas, Livvy is given one last magical chance to make everything right. Will she take it and give her family the perfect Christmas?


The kindle edition will be released on 1st Oct  and will be followed in Nov by the paperback
download for kindle can be pre ordered for 99p here

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Gori's Daughter by Shazia Hobbs

With the fullest cast of characters, The Gori's Daughter isn t just about understanding mixed race unions and identity, or even the turmoil of the polygamous household. Hobbs also shines a bright light on why some cross cultural marriages happen and ultimately fail, but touchingly also demonstrates the elements of care, loyalty and desperately sought love that bind people from disparate heritages together. Hobbs debut isn't a criticism, not of Islam, not of Pakistani culture, wider White society, or even her family. It is a fair and compassionate exposé of all of these dynamics and more, and a unique accomplishment for that. Whilst readers eagerly await the forthcoming sequel, The Gori's Son.

It took me longer than usual to read this book. The reason for this is it affected me deeply and I just had to put it down and read something lighter for a few days.
 Based on a true story it tells of Aisha who has a Scottish white mother and a Pakistani father. Her father also had a Pakistani wife he brought over from Pakistan with their children to live with his white wife and her children. As you can imagine such an arrangement was never going to work out and Aisha bore the brunt of this.
At the age of three her father sent her to live with her grandparents in Pakistan and that was the only time in her childhood that Aisha felt loved only to be torn from them five years later and brought back to Glasgow and a loveless life. From believing she was a Pakistani child to being told she wasn't and only a Gori's ( white woman's) daughter, Aisha never fitted in.

This book brought out all kind of emotions in me. 
Nostalgia, as I read about places in Glasgow I have known all my life, Dennistoun,Thornliebank, Polllokshields, Govanhill, etc.
Fear, at times I feared for Aisha's life as she pushed herself to the limit with drugs and moved from place to place.
 Sadness, that her mother did not have the gumption to leave the father and build a life for her children. 
Disbelief, that a father could treat a child as if she was nothing and push her kicking and screaming into a forced marriage. 
I felt anger at Aisha too, at her constant yearning for approval for her parents. Her father had already dis-owned her and said she was dead to him. Her mother was so apathetic she could do nothing without approval from her husband and his other wife.
Aisha's father's attidue had a snowball effect on all members of the family. The brothers and sisters, step brothers and step sisters and it spread to the wider family and neighbours. He ruled the house and his word was law. All the time he was gambling and seeing other women. His laws clearly didn't inculde him.
Apart from Aisha I don't think there was anyone in book I liked except for Aunt Wilma and of course Ben who deserves a sainthood for waiting for Aisha to find her Pakistani roots again only to find out that nothing had changed in her family and the community's attitude towards her.

The author has opened a window into the Glasgow Pakistani way of life. Her book starts in the sixties and it's to be hoped that things have change since then, but I'm not so sure.
Aisha's life is one none of us would want and I wanted to hug that beautiful child and tell her that eventually life would be good. It made me appreciate the happy childhood I had. The story kept me awake at night preying on my mind. I think you've written a worthwhile book if you can keep someone awake thinking about your story.
If this is based on a true story then I hope that Aisha is still enjoying her life with Ben and her children and loves the ones who love her back. 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Inside The Crocodile : The Papua New Guinea Journals by Trish Nicholson

In the wilds of the most diverse nation on earth, while she copes with crocodiles under the blackboard and sorcery in the office, Trish Nicholson survives near-fatal malaria and mollifies irascible politicians and an ever-changing roster of bosses – realities of life for a development worker. 

With a background in anthropology and a successful management career in Europe, five years on a development project in the remote West Sepik province of Papua New Guinea more than fulfils Trish Nicholson’s desire for a challenge. In extreme tropical conditions, with few only sometimes-passable roads, travel is by a balus – an alarmingly tiny plane, landing on airstrips cut with grass knives and squeezed between mountains. Students build their own schools, babies’ weights are recorded in rice bags and women walk for days, carrying their produce to market. 

I'm always drawn to books about people who've made life changing choices, done the unusual and had experiences that I will only ever read about.
Trish Nicholson writes memoirs like this. Her other books about Butan and the Philippines were fascinating and this one more than equals them. 

We all hear and see through the media of television how people live in different parts of the world but back in the eighties to think of visiting such a place would never enter our head.

Trish broke the mould, she accepted a job in Papua New Guinea in a place called Sandaun. She brought order to the chaos that was the Department of Personal Management,obeyed the local customs and endeavoured to work around bureaucracy within the local government.
This is an adventure story too. Trish didn't just relax during her free time, she risked her life in small planes which sound like they were held together with blue tack to explore the surrounding islands. Walking across bridges made with vines which were fraying in the middle, swimming  in rivers shared with crocodiles and shrugging off her repeated bouts of malaria as if they were the common cold.  Each one of her adventures in the book is a story in its own right. You just never know whether she'll make it back to her home in Sandaun in one piece. The writing in this book is so descriptive that I felt I was walking alongside Trish frequently telling her not to get on that plane or cross that rickety old bridge.
Dr Trish Nicholson

I enjoyed reading about her work colleagues, Jim, Martha,Sinur, Clarkson and I fell in love with Jim's dog Frisbie. The local lanuague was mostly Pidgin which I had fun trying to work out what it meant but a glossary at the end of the book helped.
Local politics meant constant changes of staff with some being promoted or demoted frequently. Trish coped with it all with her pragmatic common sense and won the respect of the locals and politicians.

Eventually the continuous bouts of Malaria catch up with Trish and it becomes a life or death situation. One of her colleagues makes a phone call which ultimately is a lifesaver.
One thing I didn't expect from this book was for it to make me shed a few tears. At the end when Trish's time working there is over I felt sadness at her having to leave all the friends she had made over the years. I also wondered just how hard it would be for her to return to normal life with all the modern conveniences after living so frugally. 
More tears came when we are told what happened over the years to the friends who worked alongside her. I'm sure I'm not the only one who read this part and felt some sadness. 
I enjoyed this book so much and I'm so glad that Trish scribbled away in her diaries to bring us these memoirs. 
So Trish if you're reading this, "Tenk yu tru."
Paperback or for kindle- here 
paperback from The Book Depository, free worldwide postage

This is Trish's video of the people of Papua New Guinea


The Mum Who Got a Her Life Back by Fiona Gibson

When her 18-year-old twins leave for university, single mum Nadia’s life changes in ways she never expected: her Glasgow flat fee...