Anne Bonny #BookReview Into The River by @mb_randi 4* #PsychologicalThriller #LiteraryFiction #Noir #Mystery #Australia @Legend_Press

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Into The River by Mark Brandi
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

WINNER OF THE CRIME WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION DEBUT DAGGER
WINNER OF THE 2018 INDIE DEBUT FICTION AWARD
SHORTLISTED FOR LITERARY FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR, ABIA AWARDS 2018
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MATT RICHELL AWARD FOR NEW WRITER OF THE YEAR, ABIA AWARDS 2018
SHORTLISTED FOR THE NED KELLY AWARD FOR BEST FIRST FICTION 2018

Growing up in a small country town, Ben and Fab spend their days playing cricket, wanting a pair of Nike Air Maxes and not talking about how Fab’s dad hits him, or how the sudden death of Ben’s next-door neighbour unsettled him. Almost teenagers, they already know some things are better left unsaid.

Then a newcomer arrived. Fab reckoned he was a secret agent and he and Ben staked him out. He looked strong. Maybe even stronger than Fab’s dad. Neither realised the shadow this man would cast over both their lives.

Twenty years later, Fab is going nowhere but hoping for somewhere better. Then a body is found in the river, and Fab can’t ignore the past any more.

My Review ~

Into The water tells the story of childhood friends Ben and Fab. It is a small town story, featuring small town characters but it packs one hell of a punch to the feels.

The novel jumps between the past and the present as Fab tries to come to terms with his story as he relays it to his friend Lucy.
‘He knew he couldn’t tell her everything though. There were some things that were without a doubt, better left unsaid’

Ben’s neighbour Daisy (14yrs) commits suicide via hanging in her backyard. Her family quickly move away and in moves Ronnie to the neighbourhood. Ben is intrigued by Daisy’s suicide and what drove her to take her own life. He is also suspicious of his new neighbour Ronnie.

The novel’s location is rural Australia and depicts a 1980s childhood. As the readers you witness the boy’s exposure to racial harassment and domestic abuse. Which only tightens their bond. Then Ronnie begins to confide in Ben about what really happened to Daisy. A story that will become all too relevant to Ben soon.

‘It wasn’t until years later that he would realise that the cold, twisting feeling in his guts that day was something like grief’

This is a victim centred crime drama. My heart really went out to Ben and Fab, their childhood choices and futures. 4*

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Mark Brandi
Website
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author @NatalieGHart #PiecesOfMe #NewRelease #DebutAuthour #DebutNovel @Legend_Press

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Pieces Of Me by Natalie Hart
Review to follow
Synopsis:

Emma did not go to war looking for love, but Adam is unlike any other.

Under the secret shadow of trauma, Emma decides to leave Iraq and joins Adam to settle in Colorado. But isolation and fear find her, once again, when Adam is re-deployed. Torn between a deep fear for Adam’s safety and a desire to be back there herself, Emma copes by throwing herself into a new role mentoring an Iraqi refugee family.

But when Adam comes home, he brings the conflict back with him. Emma had considered the possibility that her husband might not come home from war. She had not considered that he might return a stranger.

Q&A:

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

A) Hello! Thanks for having me on the blog. I am currently based in London, but I often spend time travelling for work. Wherever I am in the world, I like to start my day by writing. My first job out of university was in Baghdad, which is where part of my novel is set.
My book follows protagonist British woman Emma, who meets and falls in love with US soldier Adam while she works in Iraq. Eventually she moves to the US to be with him, but when Adam is redeployed their relationship starts to struggle. My book explores the impact that conflict has on individuals and personal relationships, and the way that the effects of war linger long after the battle is over.

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

A) I started writing the novel on a writing workshop in Mexico in January 2015. I had been thinking about the idea for a while, but the writers leading the workshop (particularly Magda Bogin and Owen Sheers) gave me the confidence to start it.
I met my agent, the wonderful Ella Kahn, at the London Book Fair where I won the Write Stuff competition in April 2016. Having an agent made the writing process both more focused and more enjoyable. Ella encouraged and reassured me every step of the way.
Legend Press bought my manuscript in February 2018. I got the call while I was at an airport in Morocco and promptly burst into tears because I was so overwhelmed. From the first time I met my editor I knew that she was totally on board with my vision of what I wanted the novel to be.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) My favourite book this year has been When the Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú, which is the memoir of a US border patrol agent. It resonated with me as a book that gives a real human experience to an international political issue, as I have tried to do myself. Cantú’s writing is a delight and his descriptions of the vast, beautiful and treacherous landscapes of the desert on the US Mexico border evoked feelings that have lingered long since I finished the book.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Dick King-Smith’s Sophie series were my favourite books as a child. The series follows a young girl who spends lots of time in the countryside and constantly works towards her ambition of being a ‘Lady Farmer’, which was also my goal at the time! I remember having an intense feeling of familiarity and being understood while reading those books. I think it’s the first time I experienced how writing can reflect and make sense of people’s realities, which is a major motivator for me in my writing today.

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

A) When I was a teenager I worked in a small bookshop in East Sussex called Barnett’s of Wadhurst, owned by a man called Richard Hardy-Smith. My favourite moment of the publishing journey was telling Richard that he would finally be able to sell my book in his shop. I think my next favourite moment will be when I actually see my book on the shelves there!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) I am very, very lucky to have so many people who have supported me through the writing process. Different people offer me different things. I rely on some for emotional support, others for writing advice, and others still when I need a voice of reason. My family are particularly good at teasing me and reminding me not to take life too seriously.

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Natalie Hart
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author @clarnic #TheReckoning #NewRelease #WW1 #WW2 #Romance @Legend_Press

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The Reckoning by Clar Ni Chonghaile
Review to follow
Synopsis:

I have a story to tell you, Diane. It is my story and your story and the story of a century that remade the world. When we reach the end, you will be the ultimate arbiter of whether it was worth your time. You will also sit in judgment on me.

In a cottage in Normandy, Lina Rose is writing to the daughter she abandoned as a baby. Now a successful if enigmatic author, she is determined to trace her family’s history through the two world wars that shaped her life. But Lina can no longer bear to carry her secrets alone, and once the truth is out, can she ever be forgiven?

Chonghaile stuns in her second book for Legend Press weaving a complex narrative covering conflict, secrets, judgement and what it takes to sever family ties.

Q&A:

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

A) Hello, and thank you for hosting me. The Reckoning tells the story of Lina Rose, a successful if enigmatic author in her 70s, who has come to Lion-sur-Mer in Normandy to reflect upon the conflict that broke her husband and drove her to turn her back on convention with a recklessness that demands a reckoning. While in France, Lina decides to write to the daughter she abandoned as a baby. She wants to set the record straight after a lifetime of obfuscation. And she wants to do it in the place where her husband lost his innocence during the Second World War.

As Lina crafts a letter that may never be read, she relives the horrors of the 20th century’s two wars and she is forced to face her own complicity in what happened to her. As she writes, she tries to figure out whether she was compelled by the general chaos to live the way she did, or whether her decision to abandon her child was more a reflection of personal failings? Sensing the hand of time on her shoulder, Lina is determined to tell the truth, if such a thing exists. She wants to explain herself, insofar as she understands what happened. She is seeking forgiveness, from Diane and possibly from herself.

As you might be able to tell from my name, I am Irish and I grew up in An Spidéal in County Galway. I left home when I was 19 to join Reuters in London as a graduate trainee journalist. I then worked as a reporter and editor in Europe and Africa for around 25 years, mainly for Reuters, The Associated Press and the Guardian. My first novel, Fractured, was published in 2016. My second, Rain Falls on Everyone, came out in 2017. The Reckoning is my third. I live in St Albans with my husband, our two daughters and our naughty and very vocal golden retriever, Simba.

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

A) I started writing The Reckoning a couple of months after the publication of Rain Falls in July 2017. I pitched the idea to my wonderful editor, Lauren Parsons at Legend Press, and sent her a few chapters. She was very enthusiastic but Lauren knows me too well and suggested I might need a deadline to focus my mind. She’s always right! I promised to deliver the manuscript by April 2018. Thus began a frenetic phase of researching and writing, some of it joyful, some of it desperately hard. I had a clear vision of where the book was going but I never like to plot too precisely – I like my characters to lead me through the story and my favourite part of the whole process is when they head off on a tangent and do something unexpected. In reality, I suppose, it’s my subconscious being naughty but even knowing that, I find the whole thing quite magical. In any case, after some hand-wringing, hair-pulling and tears, I got it done and The Reckoning was on its way. I am extremely lucky to have had such incredible support from Legend Press since they first requested the full manuscript for Fractured in August 2014. I had submitted a sample of that work to well over 40 agents and publishers and a handful had requested the full manuscript, but none felt able to take the project forward. I was beside myself when I got an email from Lauren asking me to meet for a coffee that September. The rest is history. Legend Press took a chance on me and I will be forever grateful.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I have so many! And the list gets longer every month. I love Margaret Atwood and I think my favourite book of hers is Oryx and Crake. I really enjoyed the sequels too but that first book has a luminous quality. I loved Robert Wilson’s Bruce Medway novels about a hard-boiled detective in West Africa. I found them so original and also hugely entertaining. In my early 20s, I was deeply moved by Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus. Another one of my Africa-based all-time favourites is The Darling by Russell Banks, a poignant story built around coups and wars in Liberia during the 70s and 80s. I recently raced through some of David Downing’s World War 2 spy novels – all named after train stations in Berlin. I admire his skill in capturing both the extraordinary chaos of war and the humdrum of daily life. I read all six books in the Station Series back-to-back and I wanted more. I have always been drawn to books about the wars, partly because I have never quite managed to get my head around the enormity of those tragedies. One of my favourite books is Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I devoured Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy and I loved Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven. This fascination with that period was also behind my decision to write The Reckoning, although in my darkest hours, I wondered how I could dare explore the territory of some of my writing heroes. Nonetheless, I persevered in much the same way, I suppose, as sprinters still train even though they know Usain Bolt is out there. I am reading Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife at the moment and I am totally bowled over. I also love Lisa McInerney’s lyrical and lush The Glorious Heresies and its sequel The Blood Miracles and Anne Enright’s blistering and beautiful social commentary in The Gathering and The Green Road. I am a huge fan of Tim Winton, and would unreservedly recommend his books, starting, perhaps, with Cloudstreet.
This list is whatever the opposite is of comprehensive!

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I used to love My Naughty Little Sister, which my mother read to me. As I grew up, I devoured books by Enid Blyton, from Amelia Jane through to Malory Towers. I also loved the Chalet School books by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. As the eldest of seven children, I thought boarding school would be paradise! As a teenager, I loved Agatha Christie – I read every single one of her books in the library in An Spidéal. Later, I lapped up the exotic settings in Wilbur Smith’s novels. It still tickles me today that I did actually end up living in Africa for nearly 10 years. If you had told that to my 11-year-old self, she would have died laughing at the outlandishness of it all. Another teenage favourite was Maeve Binchy – for many years, she was my ultimate writing hero. I started with Echoes and then The Lilac Bus and on through her many others. When I moved away from Ireland, my mother used to send me all her new releases – in hardback! Maeve had such an ear for dialogue and such a gentle way with incisive social commentary. But it was the story and the characters that got you. I felt bereft at the end of each of her books. She pulled you so deeply into her characters’ worlds that finishing her books felt like a bereavement.

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

A) It’s all been a dream come true. But if I had to choose the best bit, I’d say it’s welcoming dear friends and family to book launches. If you can provide a reason for people to come together, to talk and laugh and have fun, I think you’re winning at life. What else is there, really? If some of them like the book, it’s a bonus.

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

A) Long before I sit down to the blank page, my husband David is hard at work as Supporter-in-Chief. He’s the one who has to listen to my semi-coherent, stream-of-consciousness plotting; he’s the one who has to inject that critical dose of reality into my more hare-brained scenarios. He’s also always my first reader. I have huge respect for his opinion, I know he’ll be honest and it helps that I can’t cut him out of my life in a fit of pique if he says something I don’t like! David also loves his little red pen and he is a pernickety (in a good way) editor. It helps that he is a journalist too with a keen eye for misplaced apostrophes and those dreaded split infinitives.
Our daughters, aged 14 and 11, are vocal supporters, even though they are too young yet to read my books. Their constant encouragement and, possibly misplaced, faith in my ability to become the next JK Rowling are balms for the soul.
My parents, two brothers and four sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins have all been hugely supportive. It means so much when they tell me what they thought of the books, and which passages they particularly liked. The same goes for reviews on Goodreads or Amazon. Yes, even the less favourable ones. I am always so grateful that people have read my books and then have taken the time to review or rate them. I still blush reading my reviews (I don’t think that will ever change) but I hope I learn from each one and hopefully take that knowledge onto the next novel.
I have also found great support online from a group called #writerswise, which was set up by Dr. Liam Farrell and Sharon Thompson. The regular chats with host writers on Twitter are hugely entertaining and very informative. The website is: https://writerswise1.wordpress.com/ More generally, I’ve met a lot of writers, especially Irish writers, online and they are full of support and perfectly-timed kind words.

Fractured Author - Clar Ni Chonghaile
Clar Ni Chonghaile
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author @TraceyJEmerson #SheChoseMe #NewRelease #Psychological #Thriller #DebutAuthor @Legend_Press

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She Chose Me by Tracey Emerson
Review to follow
Synopsis:

‘Not having a child can change your life as much as having one.’

Grace has returned to London after twenty years abroad to manage her dying mother’s affairs. When she receives a blank Mother’s Day card in the post, she is confused and unsettled. Who could have sent it to her and why? She isn’t a mother.

Another Mother’s Day card arrives. Then come the silent phone calls. Haunted by disturbing flashbacks, Grace starts to unravel. Someone is out to get her. Someone who knows what she has done. Someone who will make her face the past she has run from for so long.

Q&A:

Thanks so much for your interest and great questions! Best wishes, Tracey.

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

A) As an army kid, I spent my childhood moving between military bases in the U.K., Germany, the Middle East and South-East Asia. After school, I went to Bretton Hall College, which was part of Leeds University. I trained as an actor there and went on to work in theatre and community arts before turning to fiction writing.
She Chose Me is a psychological thriller about a single, childless woman, Grace, who has returned to London after 20 years abroad to care for her dying mother. The mystery begins when Grace receives a blank Mother’s Day card in the post. Who could have sent it to her and why? She isn’t a mother. When another card arrives, followed by a spate of silent phone calls, Grace begins to unravel. Haunted by disturbing flashbacks, she realises someone is out to get her, and she knows the only way she will survive is by confronting the dark past she has run from for so long.

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

A) I had the original idea some years whilst out walking—this is always when the ideas seem to arrive! Soon afterwards, I embarked on my Creative Writing PhD at the University of Edinburgh and decided to write the novel as the PhD’s creative component.
The journey from idea to publication was a long one. I thought at first that in order to make the original idea work, I would have to set it in the future and write a dystopian novel. 90,000 words later, I realised the idea didn’t fit the genre and had to start again. By the end of my PhD I had a two-viewpoint literary novel called Choose Me. Another draft later, I had the thriller version that got me my agent. We came close with our first round of submissions to publishers and then I revised the novel yet again. This version got me my publishing deal.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) There are too many brilliant ones to pick from so I’ll focus on novels that shaped my thinking while I was writing She Chose Me: Doris Lessing’s Memoirs of a Survivor, Surfacing by Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison’s Beloved were all influential. As were Nina Todd Has Gone by Lesley Glaister, Disclaimer by Renée Knight and The Offering by Grace McCleen. I also re-read Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley. Highsmith is so skilled at writing twisted but sympathetic anti-heroes.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I grew up in the 70’s, so Enid Blyton’s books dominated my younger childhood, in particular the Malory Towers and The Wishing Chair series. I also loved The Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Later, The Wind in The Willows, Tales of The Arabian Nights and Little Women were particular favourites, along with classics like Lorna Doone, The Swiss Family Robinson and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I was a teenager before YA fiction came along, so I read a combination of the good commercial fiction my parents had at home and the literary works I studied at school. I devoured Stephen King in my teens and remember loving V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic series. Favourite books from school included Lord of The Flies and All Quiet on the Western Front. In my late teens, I read a lot of plays, poetry, books by and about Jim Morrison and like all my friends, I obsessed over The Bell Jar and cried over Jonathon Livingston Seagull. And let’s not forget Viz magazine and comedy classic, The Daily Sport!

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

A) Holding a finished copy of She Chose Me for the first time was pretty special. But I’m really enjoying this part of the process—getting to engage with readers and share the book with them.

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

A) Considering writing is often thought of as a solitary process, it’s taken a huge team of people to make She Chose Me possible. I’ve had support and encouragement from my writing mentors, the Creative Writing staff at The University of Edinburgh and the other students I met whilst studying there. Then there’s my brilliant agent, Charlie Brotherstone, and all the team at Legend Press. Closer to home, I’ve had invaluable support from my family, friends and the people I share my life with. I’m indebted to them all.

Tracey Emerson
Tracy Emerson
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#BlogTour #Review Dark Chapter by @winniemli #Winner of #NotTheBooker @Legend_Press

* I received an arc copy in return for an honest review*

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Dark Chapter by Winnie M Li
Synopsis:

An astonishing and unique novel inspired by the author’s own story

Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel.
Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society.

On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence.

In the aftermath, each is forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack.

Inspired by true events, this is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.

My review:

This novel is loosely based around, the authors real-life sexual assault. I found this incredibly brave and it offered the reader an insight into the rape survivor’s inner most private thoughts. This novel begins before the attack has taken place and ends 5 years after. It is written with a raw honesty and you genuinely feel the emotions, the protagonist Vivian goes through.

“They say events like this change your life forever”

This is the opening line to this novel and very much sums up the entire novel. We meet protagonist Vivian and we see, she is a young woman with a keen interest in travel and is slightly naive when it comes to the opposite sex. We also meet soon to be rapist, Johnny. Whom lives a life of poverty, in a divided community in Ireland. His life is marred by his father’s alcoholism, domestic violence and brother’s criminality. As much as I was disgusted and horrified by Johnny’s actions. I had the sense he was destined to a life behind bars.

Vivian has a delightful optimistic outlook on life. She is rather innocent in her views of people and their behaviour. I by no means mean this, as a negative towards her character. Women should feel safe to go hiking alone in the Irish countryside. I personally and unfortunately, grew up with childhood best friend, who would also go on to become a rape victim. I think this opened my eyes at a very young age, to the dangers that can lurk behind a man’s intentions. I also think this has influenced the way in which I raise my own teenage daughter. But people are individuals and we all form our views/opinions via the life experiences we are made aware of. This novel definitely provided much room for debate and discussion around key issues such as, rape culture and victim blaming.
We see cases like Vivian’s too often, played out over the media.

One thing I knew for certain, was that when Vivian and Johnny’s lives finally collided, it would be brutal. The attack that is described in the novel, holds nothing back. It is a savage and vicious attack, one that shocks you to your core! What is also shocking, is that this was committed by a boy of just 15 years of age. When the friendly charade performed by Johnny is fully unmasked, with the words “Do you like to have sex outdoors?”.
My eyes closed with sheer dread!

The novel also goes on to detail the aftermath of the assault from Vivian’s perspective. The physical examinations, injury/medical treatment and mental anguish. As Vivian struggles to accept that she is now a rape victim. She battles feelings of shame and disgust at herself. She struggles to find the words to break the news to friends and family.
There were moments where I put myself in her shoes and winced as I imagined the horror, of picking up that phone and calling my loved ones.

The trail eventually looms and the defendant chooses a not guilty plea, which will only serve to further torment the victim. Johnny appears to show no remorse and his narrative becomes much darker. As you become fully aware, of his broken and disillusioned outlook on life.

On the whole this novel is educational, emotional and possibly the most truthful depiction of rape as a central plot. I think the author has done a phenomenal job and I applaud her courageous approach to the subject. I am sure the writing process broke her heart several times, even if, in its entirety it may help her to heal.
I shall finish this review with a quote from Vivian’s thoughts, one that I felt summed up her experiences in Dark Chapter.

“There will be violation upon violation”

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Winnie M Li
authors links:
Website: http://www.winniemli.com/
Twitter: @winniemli

Author bio:
Winnie M Li is a writer and producer. A Harvard graduate, she has written for travel guide books, produced independent feature filmes, programmed for film festivals and developed ecotourism projects. After graduating with Distinction in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, she now writes across a range of media (including the Huffington Post), runs arts festivals, and is a PhD researcher at LSE. Winnie lives in London, yet is somewhat addicted to travel

*****Winnie M Li is an activist for survivors of rape and sexual assault. I have never been more proud to host such an incredible, courageous and beautiful human being on my blog. To be part of her blog tour, is a true honour!*****