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

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

Dark Chapter by Winnie M Li

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!*****

#BlogTour #Review 4.5* #TheWintersChild by @cassandrajaneuk Cassandra Parkin @Legend_Press #NewRelease

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*
The Winter’s Child by Cassandra Parkin

Five years ago, Susannah Harper’s son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.

But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.

As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family’s past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.

A ghostly winter read with a modern gothic flavour. A tale of twisted love, family secrets and hauntings.

My review:

I knew reading this novel would be eerie for me, as my youngest son is also called Joel. However, even I could not be prepared for how eerie. The novel jumps between the respective years and so we see Joel at various stages of his childhood. The descriptions of Joel at 5yrs old, matched my son to a tee. All of a sudden I felt a huge feeling of unease. So much so that I decided to finish the novel that day and only did so, in the same room as my son!

Susannah Harper is the protagonist, she is a broken and damaged soul after the disappearance of her teenage son Joel. The disappearance occurred 5yrs ago, since then Susannah has started a blog about the dangers of psychics and how they target vulnerable individuals. The novel details her own accounts of incidents with psychics, including the one that finally pushed her husband to leave her.

The novel opens at Hull fair, where a Roma fortune teller informs her that on Christmas eve she will see her son’s face again. Susannah is at the fair with her sister Melanie and her niece and nephew. Joel disappeared one day, after leaving school at lunchtime and has never been seen since. The pain, grief and anguish of the mother is evident on every page. It feels so real and I began to be absorbed by her story.
But that is exactly what she had intended………..

“This will be the last Christmas eve you’ll see his face again” Psychic

Susanah’s blog entries are scattered throughout the novel. The make for fascinating reading. There are taunting and malicious comments from the ghouls and trolls of the internet world. Also details of her relationship with her son. They offer an insight into her most inner thoughts and show how she is barely coping under the strain. Through her blog she meets local mum Jackie whose son Ryan has also gone missing. A friendship forms and it is as bizarre as it is intense. The blog details the way psychics fool people and provides points for readers to take note of.

“They thrive off our belief, we’re what keep their profession alive” Susannah

As the plot unravel we learn more about Susannah’s marriage to John, Joel’s father. We also learn there was a strange family dynamic throughout Joel’s childhood. One of competitive loving and control. We learn that Joel was an unhappy and depressed teenager, struggling with life at every turn. The novel details the day of the disappearance. The police officers who worked the case DI Armstrong (Nick) and DC Wood.

“John always loved me the best, but the one I loved the best was Joel” Susannah

When Susannah begins to have visions of Joel, everywhere she goes. Her sister Melanie fears for her sanity and urges her to seek help. Instead Susannah finds comfort in the arms of married police officer Nick. The friendship with Jackie, is intensified when Susannah tricks her into visiting psychic James O’Brien. James offers cryptic clues and misinformation, then finally he has an announcement that left me gobsmacked………..

The visions increase as Christmas approaches and I really feared for Susannah, she is a vulnerable woman, with so many untrustworthy people surrounding her.
Susannah is desperate for the truth and she wants it at any cost……..

The novel moving around Joel’s lifetime really adds to the plots depth. The confusion and mystery is on overload and this novel has ending that will rip your heart out!
*You have been warned! 4.5*

Cassandra Parkin
Authors Links:
Twitter: @cassandrajaneuk
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5419377.Cassandra_Parkin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cassandra.parkin


Blog tour: The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister. Review- 5*

The Magician's Lie Blog Tour Banner

The Magicians Lie by Greer Macallister

The synopsis:

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. But one night she swaps her trademark saw for an axe.

When Arden’s husband is found dead later that night, the answer seems clear, most of all to young policeman Virgil Holt.

Captured and taken into custody, all seems set for Arden’s swift confession. But she has a different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless, and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding.

My Review:

I previously requested the authors other novel girl in disguise from Netgalley (which I really enjoyed) but that is not what drew me to this novel. As a bookworm I have a teeny tiny confession, I have never read Harry Potter or any novel that involves magic at all. This is something I am hoping to change & for this reason I decided to give this book a go! Not my usual cup of tea but a new one I was telling myself I was going to love. I was not let down…….one bit!

This novel starts out with the arrest of Arden a famous illusionist in 1905 USA. Her husband has been found dead and policeman Virgil Holt has her in the custody of his office, tied to the chair with several pairs of handcuffs for good measure! What follows is reflective chapters that tell us all about Arden’s life and what brought her to be in this situation, a suspect likely to hang for a murder she says she did not commit. There are also chapters with the story set in the Virgil’s office. These are insanely gripping, as Arden delivers her story to Virgil it becomes a battle of wits & minds games between the two. What I absolutely loved about this was that it became an almost Keyser Soze type situation. Will Arden talk her way out of it? What are Virgils’s intentions? Is Arden a liar & killer? Where will this story take us?

Arden’s story continues on with epic pace, it is a life well lived & she has known great hardships. It is a story of betrayal & brutality also one of love & strength. The novel is so very well written, I started to ponder if Arden was based on a factual person! The stories of a magician’s life are atmospheric. We truly see how Arden Thrived in this environment and how it enabled her to become the woman she is. It also describes the energy, buzz & mystery of Arden’s magic so well. We learn all about her introduction into the world of magic and her mentor the great Madame Herrmann. Who is quite the character herself! There are some really poignant phrases/dialogue within the novel. I read due to a spinal injury which leaves me in chronic pain so I found “even when life is full of pain, it’s better than the alternative” very touching!

Don’t want to say too much more for fearing of leaving spoilers! But the story of Amazing Arden with her fairy eye & travelling show is 5* & one not to be missed!

Authors links:
Twitter: @theladygreer
*Kindle edition currently available for just £2.84 in the UK.

*I received an Arc via Netgalley in return for an honest review.