Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost by @RuthEstevez2 #Diversity in #YA fiction #NewRelease YA #Literarture Jiddy Vardy @ZunTold #UKYA #JiddyVardy

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Jiddy Vardy by Ruth Estevez
Full review to follow
Synopsis:

Jiddy is a survivor. Rescued at birth, she grows up in Robin Hood’s Bay, a village harbouring a dangerous secret. Just as romance blossoms and Jiddy finally feels like she belongs, figures from the past threaten to tear her world apart… A thrilling tale of one girl’s search for identity and love, set against a backdrop of smuggling and viole.

Guest post:

Diversity in YA Fiction

I believe there are many young people who aren’t reading because they don’t see it as an option. This could be for many reasons, access to books, difficulties reading, economic, it’s not a tradition in a family or environment to read, there are no role models who love reading, or you just can’t find anything you want to read.
Often, you just want to find a book that you relate to but can’t find it. A character with the same name as you can be enough to pick up that particular book. It could be set where you’re from. I picked up The Ballroom by Anna Hope because it was set in an old Victorian Mental Institution, as they were called, near where I used to live. My friend’s mum went in to do the inmates’ hair as they were called then. My friend Andy, used to drive us in his mini into the courtyard and out under the bridge to scare us. From what, I’m not sure, but it was dark at night and it was a thrill. So, to find a story set High Royds, made me want to read it. I picked up Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, Ruth in a second hand bookshop, because well, I’d not seen another book called Ruth and that name’s special to me!
I’d like to think everyone out there could find a book with a name the same as theirs or a friend’s name. Or that it’s set in a place they know. Or it’s about how they are feeling and experiencing the world.
We love to say, ‘Yes! I feel exactly like that!’ It’s important in YA fiction for readers to be able to see characters and scenarios that you are going through so that you can see choices, solutions and how others cope with similar dilemmas.
And for books to be authentic, we need authors from diverse backgrounds, whether that be culturally, economically, socially, gender and sexual orientation, size, shape, skin colour, health-wise, in all ways. Personal experience makes a story ring true.
So…diverse writers need finding and encouraging. And how do we do that? Readers shouting what we want?! Writers writing about what’s important to them? And people in the publishing industry listening to that call.
With The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time all best-sellers, to name a few, and Meredith Rosso’s If I was your Girl, the first book written by a trans-gender author, the diverse stories featuring diverse characters are opening out. There are still many unheard voices out there of course.
I used my own experiences to write my YA novel, Jiddy Vardy, which is about a girl who is a foreigner in a tight knit community. I know my mum felt like this when we moved from the city of Bradford to a small rural village, when I was two. I felt like this when I was the only girl who went from my primary to secondary school. I could translate the feelings I felt to how Jiddy fought to belong.
One of the reasons, one of my main characters in my next book, The Monster Belt, is a redhead is because I am a redhead. Or, I should say, was – because my hair has changed colour, grown darker and duller over time. No actually, I change that back to ‘am.’ I am a redhead because I hold in me as an adult, all that being a redhead as a child and teenager has made me. And I’m not writing about a redhead that I so often see in fiction, plucky and fiery and not much said about her skin. Dee is a redhead who burns in the sun and I’m going to talk about it. And she is a brilliant character though I say so myself! There. Got that off my chest! Everyone needs representing and I have plenty of insider information on redheads. We want writers with plenty of insider information about their specialist subject! Because readers need to see themselves authentically in print.
There is also another reason why we need diversity in YA fiction… ‘no-one is an island.’ (Something my mum used to keep telling my sister and me.)
This can be translated as, we want and need to learn about other ways of being, other places and experiences, so that we can feel connected to everyone else. Reading outside our own experience and comfort zone helps us expand as human beings. We all want to grow and see other worlds, so that we can understand each other, don’t we?
Whichever way you look at it, it’s a win-win situation to have diversity in YA fiction. YA audiences are hungry to read about themselves and about different worlds and lives as well. And we need writers of all diversities to provide readers with that. So, publishers, nourish these writers. Please think long term and help these writers to grow and share their unique voices for all the unique readers out there.
And for those of you who don’t see anything for you right now, take up the challenge, pick up your pen, or start tapping on that keyboard and get writing yourself. There are organisations like We Need Diverse Books and Diversity in YA who work to give opportunities to those interested in publishing from minority backgrounds. Manchester’s new publishing company, ZunTold is engaging with young people through interactive story-telling on their website. Everywhere, there are initiatives. Find them. Let’s really make sure there is something for everyone and so readers can find a book they want to read.

RE
Ruth Estevez
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ZunTold  – TwitterWebsite

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Anne Bonny #Author Q&A with @monro_m276 Mary Monro #StrangerInMyHeart #NonFiction #NewRelease #WW2 #Biography #Extract

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Stranger In My Heart by Mary Monro
Review to follow
Synopsis:

John Monro MC never mentioned his Second World War experiences, leaving his daughter Mary with unresolved mysteries when he died in 1981. He fought at the Battle of Hong Kong, made a daring escape across Japanese-occupied China and became Assistant Military Attaché in Chongqing. Caught up in Far East war strategy, he proposed a bold plan to liberate the PoWs he’d left behind before fighting in Burma in 1944. But by the time Mary was born he’d become a Shropshire farmer, revealing nothing of his heroic past.

Thirty years after his death and prompted by hearing him described as a ‘20th Century great’, Mary began her quest to explore this stranger she’d called ‘Dad’. Stranger In My Heart skilfully weaves poignant memoir with action-packed biography and travels in modern China in a reflective journey that answers the question we all eventually ask ourselves: ‘Who am I?’

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new book?

Biography
I have written numerous technical and academic articles and I am an experienced lecturer and presenter, but this is my first book. I live in Bath and practice as an osteopath treating humans of all ages as well as animals, mostly horses and dogs. I was formerly a marketing consultant and began my marketing career with Cadbury’s confectionery. I enjoy learning languages and studied Mandarin before retracing Dad’s escape route across China. I would say that I reached toddler level (some spoken language but unable to write), which was surprisingly useful.
I was born and raised at a farm on the edge of the south Shropshire hills, the youngest of four children. I spent much of my childhood on horseback, which left me with permanent damage to my right eye, a broken nose, broken knee-cap and broken coccyx. I have been bitten, kicked, rolled on, dragged, and have fallen off too many times to recall, but I still ride racehorses for fun.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

Well you’d better make a cup of tea and sit down – that was a long journey! Initially I was just exploring my father’s life and trying to process his loss. Then I became spellbound by China and decided to recreate my father’s escape route from Hong Kong to Chongqing. I was reluctant to go to a country where I don’t speak the language, so I spent a couple of years learning Mandarin. When I eventually arrived in China (5 years into the journey) I wrote a blog to keep everyone back home up to date with my travels. The trip raised as many questions as it answered and made me realise that my experience might resonate with a wider audience. People who’d lost their parent at a young age; people who want to understand how their personality was shaped by their forbears; or people who have a war hero undiscovered in their past. I delved further into the context of Dad’s story and decided to turn it into a book. Eventually I had a manuscript that I was happy with and tried to find a publisher, some hen’s teeth and a unicorn. Unbound generously picked me up when everyone else had rejected me and a year later, after a brilliant edit, here we are!

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

In no particular order these are some of my favourite books: The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, The Heart of the Hunter by Laurens van der Post, Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood, Perfect Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, West with the Night by Beryl Markham, The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson, The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra, A Pattern of Islands by Arthur Grimble, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

My reading was mostly pony related as a child (Ruby Ferguson, Anna Sewell) along with magical books such as AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, Gerald Durrell’s The Talking Parcel and Kipling’s Just So Stories. I became a bit more adventurous as a teenager and was lucky to live in a home where interesting reads were left lying about as hand me downs from my parents or older siblings. I’ve always had a thing about justice and, looking back, a lot of my reading in my late teens was about justice for the underprivileged, minorities and the planet. I was also exploring epistemology (not that I knew what that meant at the time), seeking guidance on how to think and what to think about. I also read a ton of other books but in the ensuing 35 years I have forgotten most of them – these writers are some that have stood the test of memory: John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Alan Paton, John Irving, Robert Pirsig, Joseph Heller, AS Byatt, Margaret Atwood, Jan Morris, Fritjof Capra, Laurens van der Post, Nadine Gordimer, Franz Kafka, Voltaire, Albert Camus, George Orwell, Tom Wolfe, Maya Angelou.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

I am overwhelmed by the reviews I have received – knowledgeable book lovers who don’t know me writing lovely, insightful things about my book. It seems miraculous!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

My husband Julian Caldecott, who is a brilliant writer himself, has been endlessly supportive and encouraging and didn’t even mind when I took off to China without him! I also have to give a special mention to my fellow authors at the Unbound Social Club (our Facebook Group) who happily support, advise, listen, share and inspire in equal measure. They are the best bunch of mates I’ve never met and I doubt I’d have survived the process without them. Being an author is a lonely business and I have author friends, with traditional publishers, who have been rightly envious of the Unbound community.

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.

Extract from Stranger In My Heart (final chapter):

And who am I? Apart from being immensely proud of my father and even more upset than before that he’s not here to talk to, I have an expanded sense of self. Since completing my journeys to China and writing this book, I have become more confident of my place in the world. I am doing more writing and teaching, speaking up. I have something to say and the confidence to say it. It seems that reliving my father’s experiences has added a perceptible strength to my being. As though the flow of courage from parent to child was interrupted in its flight but has now landed. At last I understand and can internalise the Monro family motto – alis et animo – wings and courage, indeed.

So many of us share this experience – the loss of a parent or grandparent without knowing them as a person rather than just as a role. We often don’t realise that their life contributes to ours in diverse and subtle ways; that if we had had the opportunity to really talk with them, they could have taught us so much about ourselves . The generation who saw the Second World War are steadily leaving us and they have a tendency to remain silent about their experiences. This reserve seems to me to be modest and protective, preserving their own sanity and hiding horror from us like a clutch of deadly eggs under a serene and soft-feathered facade.

The modern habit of sharing every thought and feeling is alien to them at the least, offensive at worst. But this is an enormous loss to us, even if we don’t fully appreciate it. Those who were non-combatants have just as much to teach us about resilience in adversity and how to live well in difficult times. The two-minute silence on Remembrance Sunday helps to make many people pause and reflect, and maybe, now that research is so much easier to do, it will also encourage more people to enrich their lives by delving further into their family history. Bereavement is never easy, but it has been truly joyful getting to know Dad and feeling the full force of his personality. It’s been like falling in love.

MM
Mary Monro
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Foyles Bookshop Girls by @RobertsElaine11 #WW1 #Saga #NewRelease @Aria_Fiction ‘The clever story of three very different women’s journey through The Great war’

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The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts
Review Copy
Synopsis:

London, 1914: one ordinary day, three girls arrive for work at London’s renowned Foyles bookshop. But when war with Germany is declared their lives will never be the same again…

Alice has always been the ‘sensible’ one in her family – especially in comparison with her suffrage-supporting sister! But decidedly against her father’s wishes, she accepts a job at Foyles Bookshop; and for bookworm Alice it’s a dream come true.

But with the country at war, Alice’s happy world is shattered in an instant. Determined to do what she can, Alice works in the bookshop by day, and risks her own life driving an ambulance around bomb-ravaged London by night. But however busy she keeps herself, she can’t help but think of the constant danger those she loves are facing on the frontline…

Alice, Victoria and Molly couldn’t be more different and yet they share a friendship that stems back to their childhood – a friendship that provides everyday solace from the tribulations and heartbreak of war.

My Review:

What makes this saga so unique?
Aside from its absolutely gorgeous cover and brilliant synopsis?
For me personally it would have to be that this novel focuses on The Great War as opposed to most of my saga reading is ww2 fiction. The novel opens in London 1914 and I really think the author did an outstanding job of finding a niche in the saga genre. The genre is heavily dominated by ww2 fiction and I think The Foyles Bookshop Girls offers a welcome break and exploration of the ww1 era.

The Foyles bookshop girls are Alice, Victoria and Molly. They come from very different backgrounds and have their own unique life experiences. Yet they compliment each other perfectly.
Alice is who I would class as the central protagonist.

The novel opens amongst the backdrop of the ‘votes for women’ although the suffragette movement is not heavily featured within the novel. I was glad that the theme was present and included. Alice’s younger sister Lily is heavily involved in the movement and I think of all the characters, I would have liked to have been Lily. She is a rebel with a cause and doesn’t fear a fight for what she believes is right.

Mr Leadbetter is the manager of the bookshop where the three young women work. Alice Taylor, Victoria Appleton and Molly Cooper. Their pasts are explored and they each struck a chord with me or various reasons.
Molly has a new boyfriend Tony Fletcher. The only problem is, Tony has a roving eye and Alice and Victoria are sure it’ll end in tears. But as friends do, they vow to be there for Molly when the time comes.

Victoria has known the greatest struggle, having lost both parents she is solely responsible for raising her younger siblings Stephen (16yrs) and Daisy (18yrs). An unfortunate situation that cost her the love of her life. . . .

‘Her brother and sister had taken her life, just as the rail crash had taken her parents’

Alice has the most upbeat situation, she is currently courting a young police officer named Freddie. She hopes he will propose. Freddie certainly has an announcement to make. Alice’s father is a domineering bully, one that often makes life at the Taylor household unbearable.

In the background to the central storyline of the girls. The political and community pressure faced by young men to enlist, is explained. With many facing accusations of cowardice if they do not enlist. Eventually several of the men very close to the women enlist and we see the friendships tested by the strain of war and personal loss.

‘War is about innocent people
Killing innocent people’

The clever story of three very different women’s journey through The Great war. 4*

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Elaine Roberts
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Giveaway 5 Ebook copies #International #TheGildedShroud by @lizbwrites #NewRelease #Murder #Mystery #Historical @SapereBooks

The Gilded Shroud
The Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey – A Lady Fan Mystery #1
Review to follow
Synopsis:

When a murder is committed a lady’s companion finds herself as an amateur sleuth…

1789, London

When Emily Fanshawe, Marchioness of Polbrook, is found strangled in her bedchamber, suspicion immediately falls on those residing in the grand house in Hanover Square.

Emily’s husband – Randal Fanshawe, Lord Polbrook – fled in the night and is chief suspect – much to the dismay of his family.

Ottilia Draycott is brought in as the new lady’s companion to Sybilla, Dowager Marchioness and soon finds herself assisting younger son, Lord Francis Fanshawe in his investigations.

Can Ottilia help clear the family name? Does the killer still reside in the house?

Or could there be more to the mystery than meets the eye…?

Elizabeth Bailey (002)
Elizabeth Bailey
Twitter
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Giveaway:
To be in with a chance of winning one of five Ebooks. Simply RT the pinned Tweet or comment on the original FB post or comment on this blog post!

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The Gilded Shroud (1)

 

 

 

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Shores Of Death by @PeterRi13759572 Peter Ritchie #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #GraceMacallan #Series @bwpublishing ‘An absolutely EPIC read!’

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Shores Of Death by Peter Ritchie – Grace Macallan #3
Review copy
Synopsis:

Detective Grace Macallan is at crisis point. She’s unsure of her future, of whether she has the strength to continue with her role in serious crime. Events are threatening to run out of control, and this new investigation will test her to the limit.

An undercover officer is missing and a woman is washed up, traumatised and barely alive, on the shores of Berwickshire. She has witnessed horror on the dark waters of the North Sea, and her subsequent ordeal to survive turns her life into a nightmare.

As she untangles the woman’s story of trafficking and abuse, Grace is drawn into the world of organised crime in Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. At their head is Handyside, a brutal gangland boss who’s fought hard and dirty to control his territory. But there’s a traitor in his midst, and soon the most cold-blooded criminals in the North East of England and Central Scotland turn on one another in a desperate race to destroy the evidence that will lead Grace to them.

Grace must pit her wits against Handyside, knowing he’ll stop at nothing to protect his criminal empire. She knows, too, that one wrong move could end in tragedy.

My Review:

The Grace Macallan series had really grown on me, the characterisation in this novel and Evidence Of Death is brilliant. The ‘baddie’ characters are described brilliantly, very reminiscent of Stuart MacBride who also does this to an outstanding degree.
This particular case deals with themes of trafficking and modern-day slavery. Whilst also giving us, the reader, a real insight into the organised crime gangs that run such criminal enterprises. But the one thing these gangs have underestimated is the sheer driving force that is, Grace Macallan.

The novel opens with a heavily pregnant Grace taking down prolific career criminal Tony Capaldi; real name Hugh Elvis Mcnally. He is a known con man with the gift of the gab and is quickly ceased by Grace and her team.
Before Grace decides it is time for maternity leave.

Meanwhile, a trafficking network is in operation between the various gangs of Scotland and Newcastle. The novel details how the criminals manipulate not only their victims, but others into joining their network. Three petty criminals are tasked with disposing of four female sex slaves. When something goes wrong and one of the women Ingrid escapes into the freezing sea. The harsh reality of the life of modern day sex slaves is laid bare. They are simply to be exposed of when their owners tire of them. The three petty criminals aboard the ship, know this error within their task will land them in big bother with their boss Pete Handyside. They all fear being on the wrong side of their boss!

Pete Handyside and his right-hand man Maxi Turner call a meeting with various leaders of the criminal gangs. We are reunited with Eddie & Pat Fleming of the Edinburgh gang. We also meet Bobby ‘crazy horse’ McMaron and his sister Brenda ‘the bitch’ of the Glasgow gang. They are aware of DCI Jimmy McGovern’s police operation; that searched the boat once docked in hopes to locate drugs. Pete is convinced they have a snitch in their midst!
Which won’t bode well for someone.

When Rob ‘Dixie’ Deans undercover cop, does missing. Police Scotland become aware that his fate may mean death. With various clues leading here, there and everywhere. The police need solid evidence and links they can work with. They need Grace.

After the birth of her son Adam and enjoying family life with her partner Jack Fraser. Police work is the furthest thing from Grace’s mind. It is at this point that Grace begins to have serious doubts about if she will even return to be a police officer.

At Chief Superintendent John O’Connor’s request, Grace does return to work. But she makes it fundamentally clear, this maybe her last case. As O’Connor hands Grace the case files, I must admit I had a huge buzz of excitement. With the theme from 1990s TV show cops going through my mind.
Bad boys, bad boys, what ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when they come for you?

Ingrid Richter’s body is discovered on a beach. She has a story to tell and it is one that will shock everyone whom hears it.
‘You keep thinking you’ve heard it all and the next case proves you wrong’ – McGovern

Ingrid relays her story to specialist cop Fitzgerald.
‘Fitzgerald did the job, but she would remember her time with Ingrid Richter for the rest of her life!’

Betrayal, back-stabbing and merciless killers of the organised crime world, this novel has it all. The gritty organised crime of Martina Cole mixed with the characterisation of Stuart MacBride. An absolutely EPIC read! 5*

PR
Peter Ritchie
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My review of, Cause Of Death – Grace Macallan #1
My review of, Evidence Of Death – Grace Macallan #2

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