Anne Bonny #BookReview Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer 5* Genius #LiteraryFiction @headlinepg @KelRimmerWrites

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Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer
Review Copy
Synopsis ~

Your sister or her baby. Who do you choose?

A moving page-turner with a heart-pounding dilemma. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes will love Kelly Rimmer.

As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leather-bound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict – a thief, a liar and unable to remain clean. When Annie’s new-born baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

My Review ~

Before I let You Go, is another novel that is emotional and hard hitting, that I have read recently. It covers the theme of sisterhood and also the darker theme of drug addiction. It is so much more literary than you would guess from the cover of the novel.

The title opens with older sister Lexie receiving a call at 2am. She instantly knows WHO the call will be from. The distant drug addicted sister she hasn’t spoken to in 2yrs. But nothing can prepare her for what is about to be revealed. . .
‘You have to help me – I think I’m dying’ – Annie

With those few words, Annie comes railroading back into Lexie’s neat and perfect little life.
Lexie is a GP, she has worked very hard to drag herself up from her lonely start to adult life. With a dead father and no real mother figure Lexie has done her best to raise Annie until she could no longer manage life at their home, in the ‘community’.

Annie is a down on her luck drug addict and by that; I mean this girl has had one hell of a rough life. She was 12yrs old when Lexie left the community to pursue her own education and career in medicine. With Annie not able to escape until a few years later.
The sisters haven’t spoken since Annie’s theft nearly got Lexie fired from her medical practice.

The sister’s relationship is better explored in the novel. But it is incredibly deep; and I found myself moved to tears numerous times. I am the oldest of eight siblings, I am the oldest girl and when my mum died in 2005. I felt an overwhelming urge to mother my siblings especially my sister’s; much to their delight, I am sure.

Lexie arrives at the trailer park in the dead of night with her fellow doctor partner Sam in tow. She is horrified at the sight of her sister who more resembles a pregnant corpse than a live human being.
‘I’m not seeing my sister – I’m seeing a wasteland after war’

That being said the novel does go on to humanise the impact of drug addiction and especially on the expectant mother and new-born baby. The medical/legal details are fully explained to the reader. As we read on in shock and also largely in hope.
I have never rooted for a character as much as I rooted for these sisters and the unborn baby.

Personally, I am lucky enough to have never had to watch someone I love, go through the sheer hell of drug addiction. Something I felt very lucky for, as I read on. It also became quite clear, how it is based more upon luck and life experiences; than personal choice and disregard for one’s own health.
I think this novel should be made available in all schools/colleges and university settings. It is also perfect for book groups.

An incredible novel and I am HUGELY impressed with this author. 5* Genius
‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Do you know how loved you are?
In the morning.
In the night.
I’ll love you with all my might.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star. . .’

KR
Kelly Rimmer
Twitter

#BlogTour #Review Q&A The Future Can’t Wait by @AngelenaBoden @urbanepub #NewRelease 99p #BookGroupQuestions

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review. I read/review and write Q&As, before I agree to organise a blog tour*

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The Future Can’t Wait by Angelena Boden
Synopsis:

The Future Can’t Wait is a contemporary novel set in multicultural Birmingham against a background of growing radicalisation of young people sympathetic to Islamic State.   Kendra Blackmore’s half Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her cutting off all contact with her family. Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers – and to bring her estranged daughter home….

My review:

The novel opens in contemporary, multicultural Birmingham. With its mix of cultures and heritage, the location provides the perfect backdrop. Kendra Blackmore a lecturer at the Darwin Academy; is delivering a guest speech, in a lecture regarding psychology. She is widely respected in her field. The crowd are in awe of her ability to relate sympathies to the Islamic State with neuroscience and an individual’s susceptibility to make certain choices.

Kendra returns home to her husband David. He is quite an oddball in his nature but a loving stepfather to her two children. Eldest son Adam is a respected Dr himself, currently living in Boston, USA. Daughter Ariana (Rani), is quite complex young madam! She is currently in the final months of her Astrophysics degree and facing huge exam pressure/stress. She is cleverly a very bright and talented young woman, at the beginning of her adult life. However, she is often moody, immature and prone to outburst towards her mother. I found the mother and daughter relationship, very intriguing!
The way Kendra smothers her daughter, whilst allowing her to be so verbally abusive towards her.
But we have all known such relationships exist.

The background of Kendra’s first marriage is fully explored. With Kendra wondering if this is why, Rani is so distant. Does rani blame her mother for the divorce and having an absent father? Rani continues to push her mother away and Kendra’s desperate attempts to bring her closer only lead to further rows. With Rani becoming suffocated, until the day she leaves. Rani sends her mother a note, cutting off all contact.
It is quite spitefully done and has the reader, questioning Rani’s motives for such a malicious act.

The note and abandonment dominate Kendra’s life. She becomes obsessed and her life slowly unravels. It was at this point I questioned the dynamics, they have the appearance of the perfect middle class family but under the surface, there’s a lot going on! No-one truly knows what goes on in another person’s family. Their inner secrets and shared pain. From the viewpoint of family relationships, this novel offers up, much food for thought!

“The past can be dangerous territory”

Kendra’s obsessions about her daughter build and build. Upon finding some leaflets, in her daughter’s bedroom. She becomes convinced her daughter has been at risk of radicalisation. Messages in Arabic and friendship with a Persian student, add fuel to Kendra’s fire!
She becomes a woman on a mission to find her daughter at all costs………..

As Rani is an adult, she cannot consult the police or authorities until she learns more and gathers more proof. This leads her to an almost breakdown and the devastation of her family.

There are themes of fascism, vulnerability, miseducation, isolation, risk, unity, innocence and maturity within this novel. They are tactfully and sensitively explored. I felt the young adults ‘coming of age’ in this novel are really struggling. With the dark side of the disenfranchised youth of today, fully demonstrated. Kendra struggles to assess how she missed or failed to notice her own daughter’s unhappiness.
But how well do we ever know, those whom we profess to love the most, our children!

What sort of mother does that make me then?”

This novel follows the story of an intelligent woman, whom appears to have it all. We watch her lose something so precious to her, her daughters love and understanding. The aftermath proving so traumatic, it sets off a chain of events. Kendra won’t always make the choices, you think she will or have the thoughts you think she should and that is what makes this novel perfect for book groups. There are a wealth of issues/themes up for debate. The characters are relatable and believable. I would urge book groups to focus on the responses of those in the family and what they themselves would do.

“Ego is the only requirement to destroy any relationship”

Q&A:

Q) The novel opens in contemporary multicultural Birmingham. What made you decide on this location and era, to tell this story?

A) I lived in different areas of Birmingham for almost thirty years and raised my dual heritage children there – I prefer that term to mixed race. I have seen the changes over the years and am saddened to witness today’s tensions in a city which has prided itself on fostering harmonious relationships between the many communities. I wanted to show that things are not always what the media like to make them out to be and that Birmingham is a decent city in which to live and raise a family. I chose a well-to-do suburb of the city as the setting for the book for reasons that hopefully will become clear to the readers.

Q) The mother and daughter relationship is extremely authentic. As I regard in my review, we have all known such relationships take place. What was the inspiration behind this?

A) Many mother-daughter relationships become fraught as the daughter moves into adulthood. This often coincides with major changes for the mother – physical and emotional. The empty nest can be viewed with anticipation and excitement by some but with fear and trepidation by others. I know of many mothers who have really struggled with this. Me included.

Q) The novel deals with the theme of parental abandonment and Kendra’s response to such abandonment. Was this emotionally draining to write? Did it you see the situation through the eyes of the characters themselves?

A) Very draining as I was actually writing from a degree of personal experience. I plan to write about this in more detail in a blog. It took seven drafts to get the balance of the story right for the readers. I could really feel Kendra’s shock and pain and was writing for her. I was in tears many times and had to put the book aside. David’s character was a pleasure to create as my husband is just like him J As far as Rani is concerned I could relate to being her age, many moons ago but more importantly I wrote the book when I was experiencing the tidal waves of my own daughter’s estrangement in 2012 -15.

Q) The novel also depicts family secrets and what goes on behind closed doors. This would be tricky to research, yet is the basis for many novels in this genre. I think your novel is exceptionally unique. From your point of view, as a writer, why are secrets/lies themes so intriguing to the reader?

A) I really didn’t do any research because there were so many secrets in my own immediate family surrounding both my daughters at the time but particularly the younger one that I often felt I was writing more of a memoir. Many families have the proverbial skeleton in the wardrobe and I think we, as readers, are gripped by the intrigue. However not all secrets are revealed in real life or fiction!

Q) The novel depicts Rani’s coming of age and also the disenfranchised youth of today in general, very well. What was the inspiration behind this theme?

A) Young people in the 18-25 age group have never had things so difficult in many respects despite the technology and material stuff many of them have. Parents generally want to see their children do better than they have done – jobs, homes, quality of life but for many this isn’t happening. Frustration and anger has been building up for a while, especially in cities where there has been a target for this – often a minority group gets blamed. In addition we have a generational clash, greater than ever, as my generation had free university education, career progression and the chance to own our own houses from an early age. As a specialist in behaviour I have been tracking these sociological changes for a number of years. More young people present with depression and anxiety at a time they are starting out in life. The pressure to succeed and compete is greater than ever.

Q) One thing that fascinated me, was that Kendra never responded to a situation as I would have predicted. She often made irrational and confusing choices. Was this intentional, to show how we react when emotions are involved?

A) We are really looking at a grief reaction and as you know it is different for everyone. Some cope by blocking it out and getting on with their lives. Others feel the pain more deeply and become paralysed by it. All of us need support when tragedy strikes.

We are all capable of descending into a sort of madness or obsession when we lose something very precious. To answer the last part of your question – yes it was intentional. I hope to encourage more empathy and understanding from those who might say – “I would not have reacted in that way.” There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

It’s a good topic for discussion!

Q) Finally, what are you working on next? Will we see more of Kendra and Rani’s story?

A) Edna’s Death Café is finished and is resting on my desk for the second edit. The main character is an 80 year old woman who goes to university in her seventies and studies Philosophy and Death. She runs a café in a village in my own county of Derbyshire and sets up meetings to talk about death and dying. It’s a light take on a serious, still taboo, subject. The Death Café movement is growing around the UK.

I do have Rani’s story in mind if readers are keen to find out what has happened to her. It wasn’t planned as a sequel but I would feel very privileged to write it if readers requested it.  

AB: Thank you so much Abby for this opportunity to talk about The Future Can’t Wait and for the blog tour.

Book club discussion Questions:

1) How well did you engage with the book?
2) What were your feelings about the main characters? Kendra, David, Rani, Adam, Marco. How authentic were they?

3) The key theme is the mother-daughter relationship. Why is this so fraught? If you don’t have a daughter, think about the relationship with your mother/mother-figure.

4) Did Kendra act/react to her daughter’s disappearance in the way you expected? Why/Why not? How would you have handled it?

5) Where did Kendra’s main sources of support come from? How did they help?

6) What are your impressions of David? Is he just a grumpy old man in his shed or is there something else about him?

7) Another theme is the struggle of young people into adult hood. Why is this such a problem these days? Think back to when you were young. Compare the challenges.

8) What are your thoughts on turning to psychics and mediums for help during difficult times? Have you ever done this?

9) We often jump to conclusions when faced with a shock as our emotions are heightened. What did you conclude about Rani’s disappearance?

10) Were you disappointed that the author didn’t reveal Rani’s story in this book? Would you be interested in a sequel?

AB2
Angelena Boden

Author Bio:
Angelena Boden (M.Soc.Sc PGDE) has spent thirty five years as an international training consultant, specialising in interpersonal skills and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.

Since retiring from training, she runs a coaching practice in Malvern for people who are going through transition periods in their life; divorce, empty nesting, redundancy or coping with difficult situations at work, home and within the wider family.

Angelena has two half Iranian daughters and has extensive experience of helping mixed nationality couples navigate problems in their marriages.

She is the author of The Cruelty of Lambs, a novel about psychological domestic abuse. Her new book, The Future Can’t Wait tackles the breakdown of a mother and daughter relationship within a cross cultural context. It is published by Urbane Publications and is out in November 2017.

Author Links:
Web: http://www.angelenaboden.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelenaBoden @AngelenaBoden
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bodenangelena/

*The Future Can’t Wait, is available for just 99p on Kindle Ebook and is free to members of Kindle Unlimited*

 

Q&A with #Author @mbennett_author #GrannyWithBenefits @matadorbooks

My little sister Lois, is not only a huge Harry Potter fan but she absolutely loves contemporary women’s fiction and #ChicLit. This made me determined to give such novels a spot on my blog and when the opportunity came, to feature a Q&A with Marilyn Bennett, I jumped at the chance. Here goes!

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Granny With Benefits by Marilyn Bennett
Synopsis:

Grace is thirty-nine and not remotely convinced that life begins at forty.

When her grandmother dies she volunteers to pick up her belongings from the sheltered accommodation. It is the last place she expects to have a chance encounter with the first man she has been instantly attracted to in a very long time, particularly as she is dressed almost head to toe in her grandmother’s clothing and accessories.

Grace’s granny alter ego elicits a conversation with the man about love, death and the universe, which she is convinced would not have happened otherwise. This inspires her to throw caution to the wind and turn what should have been a simple case of mistaken identity into a dating introduction opportunity for the real her. A decision which sets Grace on a rollercoaster adventure of lies, secrets and lust, making her thirty ninth year one she won’t forget, but might well regret…

Q&A:

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

A) I have worked in television production for the past 23 years. My role is very much behind the scenes and not remotely glamorous unfortunately. I mainly count the pennies and help support everyone who needs to spend them.

Granny with Benefits is about a woman called Grace, who when her Grandmother dies, volunteers to clear out her sheltered accommodation. Grace has her eye on a few coats and some jewels. She is playing adult dress up, including wig and glasses, when a very attractive man comes to view the room for his father. Instead of Grace simply confessing she pretends to be an elderly woman, as a means to engineer a date for the real her. Things do not go according to plan, as the man thinks the “little old woman” he has met would be a good match for his father, which has far reaching consequences.

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

A) It’s been a long old journey! The idea started off as a short film script in 2013. I never expected to write a book. I think working in telly made script writing seem like the natural home for my writing. I work in a creative industry, but because of the job I do I have never actually felt very creative in my role. I decided that I was going to write a script and make the film.   When I started writing notes it became pretty obvious to me that it should be a novel, so I went to WH Smith and bought five notebooks, just in case I made a habit/hobby out of writing and also because they were quite pretty and I couldn’t choose. I ended up writing the entire novel by hand in those notebooks. Absolute lunacy because I had just bought a shiny new computer!!

When I finished the first draft in April 2014 I thought I would step away from it. The reason being, that I had attempted to write a novel about ten years prior when I came across a new writers competition.   Abby, when I completed the first draft and read it, it was soooo bad, I had to DNF my own book!! I decided having time away from Granny with Benefits would give me a fresh pair of eyes. I picked it back up in September 2014 and the break really helped. I also read Stephen King’s On Writing over the summer, which was just fantastic. It provided a lot of clarity on how I should work on the next draft. So, when I attended a friend’s wedding in Greece I used the time away to sit on a lounger with my trustee red pen and axed one third of the draft and re-wrote huge chunks. I think the first draft was two parts story and one part brain dump.

 

Once I got the draft to a stage where I knew I couldn’t make it any better on my own, which was February 2015, I enlisted the help of an Editor, who was a godsend. My draft came back massacred, but it all made complete sense. I would have looked like a total amateur had I not brought my Editor, Joy, on board.

Once I had created the third draft and after Joy’s final read-through, I had the draft proofread and voila, here I am.

I decided to go down the self-publishing route. I wanted to stay true to the promise I made to myself when the idea was a script, write something, then make it. Only time will tell if this was the best decision. I knew very little about the publishing industry and that is still the case today, but what I now know without question is that it is ridiculously hard to get your book in front of readers if you don’t have an agent, publicist or the support of a large publisher. It’s not impossible, but it is very hard in such a busy marketplace. The first book has been a very steep learning curve, which will definitely help me navigate a better route for future books.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) My favourite authors are from my childhood, when I was an absolute bookworm, Roald Dahl and Judy Blume. When I was ten years old my Mum took me to see Flash Gordon at the cinema after that books got unceremoniously bumped!

My adult reading recommendations would be: –

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume is my absolute all time favourite, but anything written by Roald Dahl would also do the trick.

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

A) It’s been so great to get such fantastic reviews of the book. I don’t have many, but by and large they have been wonderful. It serves as justification for all the lonely days in my torn tracksuit bottoms wondering what I’m playing at trying to write a book! It really has been the light at the end of the tunnel for me.

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

A) My Editor, Joy Tibbs was my main source of support. I wrote the book pretty much in isolation. I was never quite sure if what I had written was even the right way to go about it. I just knew it felt right to me. When I received her initial response after reading it I actually felt emotional. It was a relief. The idea that I might have spent nearly two years writing something that didn’t make sense to someone with industry experience would have been a bit depressing. It gave me encouragement to believe that I didn’t need to seek permission to be a writer, but I definitely needed support.

*Huge thanks to Marilyn for taking part in a Q&A on my blog and I wish her every success with her novel 🙂

MB
Marilyn Bennett
Authors links:
Web: http://www.marilynbennettauthor.co.uk/home/4592939770
Twitter: @mbennett_author