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 #BlogTour #GuestPost Brand New Friend by @k8vane Kate Vane #CrimeFiction #Political #Thriller #NewRelease You know he’s a liar but is he a killer?

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane
Brand New Friend by Kate Vane
Synopsis:

Friend. Liar. Killer?

BBC foreign correspondent Paolo Bennett is exiled to a London desk – and the Breakfast sofa – when he gets a call from Mark, a friend from university in eighties Leeds. Paolo knew Mark as a dedicated animal rights activist but now a news blog has exposed him as an undercover police officer. Then Mark’s former police handler is murdered.

Paolo was never a committed campaigner. He was more interested in women, bands and dreaming of a life abroad. Now he wonders if Mark’s exposure and his handler’s murder might be linked to an unexplained death on campus back when they were friends.
What did he miss?

Paolo wants the truth – and the story. He chases up new leads and old friends. From benefit gigs and peace protests, to Whatsapp groups and mocktail bars, the world has changed, but Mark still seems the same.

Is Mark the spy who never went back – who liked his undercover life better than his own? Or is he lying now? Is Paolo’s friend a murderer?

Guest Post: Inspiration

The inspiration for Brand New Friend

Do you ever look up friends from years ago online to see what they’re doing now? Not to get in touch, not because you want a big reunion with a mobile disco or an ill-advised affair, just out of curiosity?

I must admit I’ve done it. It’s fascinating to see where people I knew as a student in eighties Leeds have ended up. I was on the fringes of animal rights and other political campaigning (I wouldn’t go so far as to call it activism, most of it was social and inactivity seemed a big part of our lives then.) A lot of my friends were on the dole after graduation, some living in squats.

Now, many of them are in responsible jobs or running creative businesses or writing for national media. Ironically, it could be the downtime that helped them get to where they wanted, because they had the space to think about what mattered to them.

I wanted to write a novel that captured the mood of that time, featuring a group of fictional characters who would be my contemporaries, and see where they are now. The hook for the story came when I read about the undercover officers who infiltrated animal rights groups in the eighties. I wondered how it would be if my characters had known someone like that.

The story is told from the point of view of Paolo, who is a BBC journalist. He is already grappling with a crisis in his career and dealing with significant change. He has barely thought about his student years until he learns that someone who was a key influence on him was actually an undercover officer. Knowing that his ‘friend’ Mark lied to them leads him to reassess not just his past but the present.

For me writing a novel is about asking a lot of questions. And answering some of them – crime fans tend to want to know who committed the murder! But I think the themes can be more open, leaving the reader to make up their own mind. How much are we shaped by our memories? What if everything we thought we knew about a significant time in our past was thrown into doubt? How does that change what we believe in now?

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Kate Vane
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with @IPatrick_Author #RubiconBook #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural @fahrenheitpress Where truth and lies collide. . .

Rubicon Cover
Rubicon by Ian Patrick
Synopsis:

Two cops, both on different sides of the law – both with the same gangland boss in their sights.

Sam Batford is an undercover officer with the Metropolitan Police who will stop at nothing to get his hands on fearsome crime-lord Vincenzo Guardino’s drug supply.

DCI Klara Winter runs a team on the National Crime Agency, she’s also chasing down Guardino, but unlike Sam Batford she’s determined to bring the gangster to justice and get his drugs off the streets.

Set in a time of austerity and police cuts where opportunities for corruption are rife, Rubicon is a tense, dark thriller that is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Q&A:

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

A) I left school at sixteen and joined the Civil Service, in Nottingham, as an Admin Clerk. After a few years I decided to apply for the Police. I joined the Metropolitan Police at nineteen and served for twenty-seven years, the majority of which was in Specialist Crime as a Detective Sergeant. I’ve investigated most crimes ranging from Theft to Murder. I’ve also worked in intelligence. My retirement was due to disability. I found out eight years ago that I have Muscular Dystrophy. Retirement led to writing!

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

A) I’ve written for years but never taken it seriously until a few years ago. No Exit press had a short story competition and the prize was a publishing contract. I had no expectation but wrote a short story and sent it in. I made the final three! But never won, (Boo!). However that short story became the first chapter of Rubicon and the rest developed from there. I had the usual round of rejections from publishers and agents until Chris McVeigh, at Fahrenheit Press, picked it up and loved it! In addition the BBC have also felt the same way and optioned it for TV, beginning with a six part series.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I read widely and rarely read a series, however I do enjoy: George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Ed McBain, Lynda La Plant, Cormac McCarthy, Chuck Palahniuk, Colin Bateman, Saira Viola and Jane Issac. If I were to recommend two books they would be: Fight Club By Chuck Palahniuk and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Both have strong narrative but entirely opposite in terms of structure and story. Both evoke a strong feeling of ‘what have I just experienced?’ That to me is the mark of a great book. One that leaves the reader marvelling at the storyline and the journey they’ve been on.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I read all the Sven Hassel books as a child. I was mesmerised by the cruel reality of war he portrayed as he had served as a tank driver. In addition to that, James Herriot was another favourite of mine. I didn’t get Famous Five or any of the ‘classic’ children’s reads. I wanted realism in my fiction. This has stayed with me, hence writing crime.

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

A) Without doubt the reader feedback. I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response Rubicon has received. There’s no better feeling hearing that you’ve made a moment, in a person’s day, pleasurable. For me that’s why I write.

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

A) My wife. She has to take the strain with the family while I crack on getting words down! She also speaks sense and is the first reader of anything I’ve written. My greatest source of support, outside of home, has been Jane Isaac. She’s guided me along the way and given advice but never dictated what I should do. She’s a fantastic, established, writer and it’s been wonderful to have her friendship and support.

IP: I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Abby, and all the book blogging community who support writers’ and keep the world of reading and literature alive.

ian patrick
Ian Patrick
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Motherland by @garry_abson #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Russia #NatalyaIvanova #NewSeries #Debut @TheMirrorBooks ‘Darkest crimes in the deepest of pasts’

9781907324833
Motherland by G.D Abson
Natalya Ivanova – Thriller #1

Review copy
Synopsis:

Motherland is the first in a gripping series of contemporary crime novels set in contemporary St Petersburg, featuring sharp and intriguing policewoman, Captain Natalya Ivanova.

Student Zena Dahl, the daughter of a Swedish millionaire, has gone missing in St Petersburg (or Piter as the city is colloquially known) after a night out with a friend. Captain Natalya Ivanova is assigned the case, making a change for Natalya from her usual fare of domestic violence work, but, because of the family’s wealth, there’s pressure for a quick result. But as she investigates she discovers that the case is not as straightforward as it may seem. Dark, violent and insightful, Motherland twists and turns to a satisfyingly dramatic conclusion.

My Review:

Modern day Russia is an unusual setting and era for a crime fiction novel. Yet it really works, it adds to the mystery and intrigue of organised crime and citizens being silenced.

The novel opens in St Petersburg 1999, new years eve night. With Sasha, Kristina, Vova and 2yr old Ksenia. It is a vague prologue and we are given snippets of information. We become aware a character named Yuri left 3 months ago to serve on in a prison colony. But we are left wondering how these characters fit into the main plot, of the story.

The novel then jumps to June 2017, with Zena Dahl from Ostermalm (near Stockholm) Sweden. She is enjoying a night out with friend Yulia, when she is accosted by some males and nearly raped. Is this where Zena goes missing?

Natalya Ivanova is our protagonist for this series. She is currently a police officer working predominately with domestic violence. But in a country where the harshest sentence for such crime is 3hrs detention, she is fighting a losing battle. Natalya works for the criminal investigations directorate, dealing with serious crimes. She is a tough and ambitious cop and one you instantly like. Her husband Mikhail is also a senior detective and he has a son Anton now 18ys old. There is family drama regarding Anton’s future. No university placement means conscription!
Something the couple are keen to avoid for their son.

When Natalya is called out to a recent domestic assault, we see the true nature of her day to day case load. With 14 thousand women murdered by their partners every year, domestic violence is a prevalent problem in modern day Russia.

Natalya is pulled of the routine case to assist with the missing teenager. Zena Dahl maybe 19yrs old but she has a wealthy father and that makes her case top priority. Zena interviews her neighbours and alleged best friend, but the leads don’t point to some serious harm having come to Zena. Natalya knows if she cannot prove this, the case will be dropped. Zena’s welfare rests solely with Natalya.

Zena’s father Thorsten Dahl with his lawyer Anatoly Lagunov. We learn that Zena was adopted by Throsten at 18 months old, as a single father. He has links to the orphanage she was residing in due to the death of her parents. She took an instant shine to Thorsten and he decided to adopt her and give her opportunities she never would have had with a life in care.
“Zena is all I have and I am all she has” – Thorsten Dahl

This is a complex case at its heart. The story of a missing woman in a country that appears not to care too much for its female citizens. Natalya Ivanova is feisty and fiery, she refuses to be overlooked by or for her male counterparts. She refuses to tow the line in a country where money and bribes talk. . .

“It’s always about the money and yet you call yourselves patriots” –  Natalya Ivanova

Darkest crimes in the deepest of pasts. 4*

Garry Abson
G.D. Abson
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Gravity Of Love by @NoelleHarrison #NewRelease #Saga #Romance @bwpublishing #Arizona #Soho #Ballycastle

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The Gravity Of Love by Noelle Harrison
Synopsis:

In love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence …

Scottsville, Arizona, 1989

In small-town America, Joy Sheldon loves the plants that bloom in the desert but longs too for the sea’s elemental wildness. It’s a dream never realised – and now, facing the brutal truth that her husband is a cheat, Joy learns of unimaginable secrets in her early life. Riven by betrayal and loss, a chance encounter with the enigmatic Lewis, Joy embarks on a journey to seek her true identity – and to discover why the sea pulls so strongly at her heart.

Soho, London, 1967

Lewis Bell, abandoned by his mother and responsible for his wayward sister, is now living the dream. An ambitious young graphic designer, he’s aiming for the big time – if only he can keep his creative spark. His talented girlfriend Marnie adds pressures of her own and, as Lewis’s troubles intensify, sixties London fast shows its darker side.

Ballycastle, Ireland, Easter, 1989

Unexpectedly drawn together, Joy and Lewis fly across the Atlantic to the Irish coast. She’s in search of a lost mother; he’s looking for a lost love. They need to make peace with the past, with themselves and others. But the truths they encounter and connections they create will transform everyone’s lives forever.

Bold, intimate and joyful, this glorious novel deftly interweaves decades, continents and lives to tell a story of the irresistible gravity of love.

Extract:

The words on the back of the postcard were written in block letters, a neat black print.

EVENTUALLY THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT

Lewis read the words again, and again, until they brought him back to the morning upon which they had been said. He could almost hear her voice. He imagined her soft Irish lilt, and it took him back in time, transported him to another world altogether, when he was a different man.
He placed the card gently on the counter in front of him then looked out of the window at the star-strewn night hanging above the dark silhouette of the McDowell Mountains. He was right on the edge of the desert and its vast sky, like those words, gave him hope.
He leaned on the sink, gazing out into the Wild West. He still felt a sense of awe at being an Englishman, an outsider, in cowboy country.
He was about to pull the blinds down when he saw a shimmering red light in the desert sky. It intrigued him for the sun had long set. The red light turned into swathes of fuchsia, and bright green, moving in waves above the mountains. He’d never seen anything like it.

 

*

It was the darkest hour before dawn. Joy was sitting on her old Navajo blanket spread upon a rocky mound on the Papago Butte. Eddie had refused to drive out to the desert. He’d told her he was too tired and warned her not to go on her own.
‘Anyone could be lurking out there,’ he’d said.
She hadn’t told him that she went out to the desert on her own all the time, although maybe not at night.
When they’d gone to bed, she’d tried to give up on the idea. But she’d been unable to sleep. Her daddy had told her about the wonder of the Northern Lights – that she must see them. And here they were on her doorstep. She never went anywhere. It was now or never.
She’d waited until Eddie’s breathing shifted to a deep sleep and slipped out of bed. Made herself a thermos of hot coffee and crept out the house before she had a chance to change her mind.
Now, in the desert, she was not alone. There were several couples nearby, arms around each other, as they waited. A few whispers, but nothing more. There was a hush of anticipation as she looked up at the sky again. Was she imagining it, or was the dome of the night sky crackling with a kind of electricity? Shivering, she pulled the blanket tight around her shoulders and cradled her hands around her cup of coffee. She was going to sit here all night if she had to, for Joy had faith in her daddy’s words.

*

It was only when Lewis had pulled in at the side of the road and begun to climb up Papago Butte that he realised he should have woken Samantha and brought her with him. He had taken off on the spur of the moment, but surely this vision was something he should share with his wife. Would it not have been the perfect symbol for their twenty-first wedding anniversary?
But the truth was he was glad to be on his own. Samantha would know exactly what was causing this light display in the desert sky. She would take all the magic out of it with her scientific explanations, and for the moment he didn’t want to know.
He drank in all the colours in the sky. Deep shudders of purple, ecstatic pink and luminous green shot through him. It felt like a message. Things could change. The unexpected could happen. The postcard could be just the beginning.
If only he was brave enough.
Lewis kept climbing up Papago Butte, his way illuminated by the fantastical lights, his heart pounding. He felt exposed, thrilled to be doing something out of the ordinary.

*

 

Joy looked up and what she saw took her breath away. It was beyond anything she could have imagined. Clouds of vivid reds and purples, shot through with a mystic green, shifting high in the sky, shimmering over the distant desert.
She was aware of those around her standing up. The clicking of cameras as they tried to capture this rare Arizona moment.
Joy took a step away from the flash of cameras, bumping into someone as she did so.
‘Excuse me,’ she said, losing her balance slightly as she stumbled.
A hand reached out, caught her by the elbow and steadied her. ‘Careful – you don’t want to fall.’
It was a man’s voice. An English accent.
Something about it reassured her. He was tall, but she couldn’t make out his face in the dark.
‘This is amazing,’ he said.
‘I know,’ she whispered.
They watched in silence. She realised they were the only two not taking photographs. She wanted to tell the other people to put their cameras down. By creating that barrier between themselves and the experience of the lights, she felt they were missing it.
She glanced at the man standing beside her. He was still, as if held in a spell.

Noelle Harrison 1 (c) Chloe Martina Salvi - cropped low res
Noelle Harrison
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