Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Suspense, Thriller

Razia by Abda Khan

Today I’m delighted to be the final spot on the Random Things Tours #BlogTour for Razia by Abda Khan.

From the exclusive residences of Knightsbridge to the filthy brick kilns of Lahore, Razia reveals the human cost behind a world of glamour and wealth. Written by the lawyer, domestic violence campaigner and novelist Abda Khan, it gives a unique insight into global power and corruption as they impact on one young woman’s life. Did you think that slavery is something that only happens to other people in faraway places and distant times? Read Razia, and think afresh.

Farah is a young lawyer living and working in London. She’s just ended a long relationship, and her parents are looking for a husband – whether Farah wants one or not. So far, so normal. But at a work dinner, hosted by a dangerously powerful man, she comes across a young woman called Razia, who Farah soon realises is being kept as a domestic slave.

The novel follows Farah’s daring investigations from the law courts of London to the brick kilns of Pakistan, uncovering the traps that keep generations enslaved. She encounters deep-rooted oppression and corruption everywhere she turns; when the authorities finally step in, their actions have tragic results.
Farah teams up with a human rights lawyer, Ali, and the two become close… but can she trust him; can they help Razia and others like her; will they ever discover the explosive secret behind these disastrous events?

Razia is a literary novel based on years of research, but with the pace and intrigue of the best kind of thriller. Abda writes with authority, sympathy and a heart-stopping plot that will have readers gasping until the very last page.

This is Britain’s darkest secret, made human. This is Razia’s story.

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‘The Home Office estimates that there are currently around 13,000 slaves in the UK, though other sources suggest this is a gross underestimate).’ – Can you even imagine it?  When you hear the word slave you think of the past before those oppressed and forced into servitude were made free.  I know that is naive and  that possibly, at times, I look at the world through rose-tinted glasses but I was shocked when I read this.  I mean this is in the UK! Really!  I was compelled to read more and so I embarked on Razia’s story.

Abda’s careful consideration and research is evident throughout the novel.  It is a thrilling yet disturbing read.  She shows us the stark contrast of the very rich, powerful and corrupt, to the victims who suffer at their hands; the victims who desperately need someone to fight their corner. Farah is a muslim women raised in the UK.  She is strong, independent and has a loving family behind her who are willing to let her live her life the way she sees fit… within reason.  She is supported and has been raised with empathy and kindness.  As she begins to uncover more and more about Razia and the suffering she has experienced it puts her own difficulties and concerns into perspective and she embarks on a dangerous journey from London to Pakistan as she seeks to bring justice and freedom for Razia and her family.

Abda brings the streets of Pakistan to life showing both great poverty and wealth.  For a young muslim woman there is danger around ever corner and as Farrah seeks to take on the rich and powerful she risks everything to help Razia.

It is an interesting journey, and at times chilling, as you see just how brutal human beings can be to one another.  I did enjoy this novel and it took me somewhere that I have never been before and made me question the things that are sometimes hidden away from view.  Corruption is an evil that can seep it’s way into the most powerful and it take bravery to take it on.

Published to coincide with World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July, Razia is a novel that reminds us that slavery is still very much a part of our present no matter how much we try to keep it buried in the past.

About the author

Abda Khan

1-8Abda Khan is an author and lawyer, and a passionate advocate for women’s rights. She won the Noor Inayat Khan Muslim Woman of the Year Award 2019 and was highly commended in the 2017 NatWest Asian Women of Achievement Awards in the Arts & Culture category.

Her first novel, Stained, was published in 2016. She writes fiction that deals with challenging and often taboo subjects, such as rape and ‘honour’ abuse (as featured in her novel Stained), and modern day slavery in Razia.
Abda also undertakes voluntary work as a Trustee with Birmingham & Solihull Womens Aid, as a mentor, and as a Lloyd’s Bank Women of the Future Ambassador. She is dedicated to bringing awareness to the issues she writes about, and to empowering others, as a speaker engaging with schools, youth groups, women’s organisations, community groups, prisons, and community radio and television. – excerpt taken from Unbound

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2+, 3+, Picture Books

Beautiful Bananas by Elizabeth Laird and Liz Pichon

Today I have made my first video review. :). I hope you enjoy it. My production skill etc WILL get better I promise. Happy Viewing

Beautiful Bananas by Elizabeth Laird and Liz Pichon

Beatrice is taking a bunch of beautiful bananas to her grandad, but on the way a giraffe flicks them into the stream – SPLASH!

How will Beatrice get the bananas back? Find out and, on the way, met hungry bees, playful monkeys, and even a sneezing elephant!

Many thanks to Oxford University Press for my beautiful review copy.

Adult Fiction, Debut, Giveaway, Literary, Review, Summer Reads

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

Today I’m delighted to chat about the wonderful debut novel from Alyson Rudd, the First Time Lauren Pailing Died. AND there is a giveaway at the end so do keep reading. 🙂

I remember a time when if fate had allowed I could have died.  It was many years ago now but the details are still as clear as if it happened only yesterday. It was Mother’s Day and I was cycling over to my parents house. I fell off my bike. I can still see myself falling and feel how I seemed to tumble in slow motion as I lost control of my bike and it toppled over. It was pretty busy that day and I fell to my right, straight into the path of the cars travelling alongside me. I still realise how lucky I was that the driver of the car was not distracted at that very moment or driving too fast. If he had been then Mothers Day could have ended very differently indeed and many things that now exist in this world, including my rather wonderful son, would not be here.

The possibility leaves me with a chill every now and then when I think of it. We all have those moments when life stands at a very obvious crossroads and can veer off into different directions. Of course we may not always notice them but they are often there. I found this a very interesting aspect of The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd. It’s something that has always fascinated me. Sliding Doors, a 1998 film staring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah that looked at different choices or situations taking us on different paths leading to a very different or possibly ultimately the same outcome – questioning if our fate is set to be the same no matter what route we take. It is a question that has been explored many times on stage, screen and in the written form and always inspires pause for thought.

In The First Time Lauren Pailing Died Lauren Pailing is a girl with an ordinary childhood but there is also something quite unusual about her which we discover as we gradually get to know her.  I loved the historical details weaved into the story as we watch her grow up as a much adored only child.  It brought back memories from my own childhood.

Alyson explores the different realities of Lauren’s life and what happens after she dies as a thirteen year old girl. I found her technique fascinating and loved the way the story was built around the parallel timelines.  She portrayed reactions to grief and loss in an incredibly touching and, at times, heartbreaking way.  The only constant between each life was the disappearance of Peter Stanning and gradually as the story unfolds we begin to understand what happened to him.  There are so many comparisons I could equate this story to but Alyson has created something wonderful and unique.  Because although at times the story can be sad, dark and thought provoking,  there is always a sense of hope and that resounding feeling that we leave our mark on this earth, no matter how short or long our stay here.

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is published now by HQ and is available in Hardback, eBook and Audiobook, and would make a fantastic read this summer.

GIVEAWAY…

Now,  I have a hardback copy of this beautiful book to giveaway.  To be in with the chance to win please like AND comment on this post before Friday evening at 8pm UK time.  Your comment could just be to say hi but you need to do both to have your name put in the hat. 🙂  I’m afraid this giveaway is just for residents in the UK.

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The First Time Lauren failing Died by Alyson Rudd

Synopsis

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties,

And a child of the seventies.

She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to being found…

Perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson and Maggie O’Farrell, The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is a book about loss, grief – and how, despite it not always feeling that way, every ending marks the start of something new.

About the author

Alyson Rudd

Alyson Rudd was born in Liverpool, raised in West Lancashire and educated at the London School of Economics. She is a sports journalist at The Times and lives in South West London.

She has written two works of non-fiction. The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is her first novel.

Find out more by visiting the HQ Stories website here.

Thanks so much to the lovely HQ Stories team for my review copy and for inviting me to discover more about their amazing titles at Destination HQ.

Thanks so much for reading.

 

 

 

Adult Fiction, Bookish Post, Debut, Fiction, Giveaway, Literary, Publisher Showcase

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd ~ Giveaway!

Last month I was lucky enough to visit #DestinationHQ for their summer showcase. The event has now been running for two years and I’ve been lucky enough to attend on both occasions. It’s a great evening where we get to hear about some fantastic new books and meet some equally fantastic authors (plus the lovely people at HQ). Oh and I get to enjoy this view…

There are some great titles coming this year, many of which I look forward to talking about on my blog over the coming weeks and months. One that immediately stuck out for me was The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd. Not only does it have the funkiest cover I have seen in quite some time but it also sounds incredibly intriguing. I’ll share the synopsis with you in a moment but suffice to say my ears pricked up when I heard that Lauren dies… lives again, dies… lives again, and so on. My interest was definitely piqued.

This is Alison’s debut novel and when I listened to her speak (having the nerve-wracking job of kicking off the author pitches) I was struck by how unassuming she was. Her story stood out and I immediately wanted to know more. At these events there are quite often proofs or advance reading copies of the books being chatted about. Unfortunately I missed out on the one of those on that evening but team HQStories responded to my desperate plea for a copy and, well to cut a long story short, I have ended up with two of these beautiful books. Now, even I, book hoarder extraordinaire, cannot justify keeping two copies and so I am going to give the extra away to one of you lucky lot. Generous gal aren’t I?

So if you fancy being the lucky recipient of this rather fabulous novel then read on dear reader and all will be revealed.

But first here is the synopsis…

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties,

And a child of the seventies.

She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to being found…

Perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson and Maggie O’Farrell, The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is a book about loss, grief – and how, despite it not always feeling that way, every ending marks the start of something new.

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd has been sitting in my tbr pile since then. My reviewing pile has been pretty full of late but she has been whispering to me, urging me to pick her up and discover how Lauren died, how she came to live again and who the mysterious Peter Stanning is?

I am right in the middle of reading it now and it’s every bit as wonderful as I imagined it. Quirky, unusual with a very distinctive voice, at the moment I can’t see what where this story will go but Lauren has certainly got a hold of me and I am absolutely loving it!

So, a few weeks ago, as I stood at @DestinationHQ listening to the authors speak, my reading list gradually growing and growing, I realised what a fortunate young(ish) lady I am. This may no longer be my day job but I absolutely love it and I love writing about these wonderful books! And I also love that I’m now able to share this wonderful novel with you guys with a giveaway.

How do I win a copy!? I hear you cry. It’s simple… just like this post and pop a comment down below. If you’d like to give me a follow and share this post too then that would also be fabulous. That’s it except…

* This giveaway is open to residents of the UK only. One winner will be drawn at random on Monday 15th July 2019. Good luck!

About the author

Alyson Rudd

Alyson Rudd was born in Liverpool, raised in West Lancashire and educated at the London School of Economics. She is a sports journalist at The Times and lives in South West London.

She has written two works of non-fiction. The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is her first novel.

Find out more by visiting the HQ Stories website here.

Thanks so much to the lovely HQ Stories team for my review copy and for inviting me to discover more about their amazing titles at Destination HQ.

Thanks so much for reading.

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Summer Reads, Suspense, Thriller

Don’t Tell Teacher by Suzy K Quinn

Today I am thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Don’t Tell Teacher by Suzy K Quinn.

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Ever since Tom started his new school, something’s changed. He doesn’t seem like my little boy anymore, and I’m frightened…

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For Lizzie Riley, switching her eight-year-old son Tom to the local academy school marks a fresh start, post-divorce. With its excellent reputation and outstanding results, Lizzie knows it’ll be a safe space away from home.

But there’s something strange happening at school. Parents are forbidden from entering the grounds and inside, there are bars across the classroom windows.

Why is Tom coming home exhausted, unable to remember anything about his day? What are the strange marks on his arm? And when Lizzie tries to question the other children, why do they seem afraid to talk?

Tom’s new school might seem picture-perfect. But sometimes appearances can be deceiving…

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A chilling psychological thriller for anyone who loved Behind Closed Doors, Sometimes I Lie and The Couple Next Door.

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Oh. My. God.  That was the only words that came to mind after I finished this very excellent thriller.  It literally had me on tenterhooks throughout. Lizzie is running from Ollie, her violent ex-husband.  Both she and six year old Tom are moving on and starting again where he can no longer hurt them.  Starting again isn’t easy though but Social Services has secured Tom at the local academy school, a school that has excellent reputations – and should be a safe haven for Tom.  There’s a lot of things that start to ring alarm bells for Lizzie though and she begins to feel that the happy, healthy child she knows and loves is disappearing.  Something is going on inside those walls and she’ll do anything to get to the bottom of it.

I read this pretty much in one sitting.  It was absolutely gripping and, as a mother of a young boy, absolutely terrifying but I just could not look away.  There is a sense of menace and tension running throughout and so many twists and turns!  I was absolutely stunned as the ended unfolded and things became clearer.  I honestly did not see it coming.  I felt so wretched for poor Lizzie and what she was going through.  The School and it’s slightly sinister staff added so much suspense and a little fear to be honest.  We send our children off to a place where we expect them to be protected and what if that trust was abused?  Social Services and their difficult job was also very well portrayed in exhausted, work stretched Kate.  Without wanting to give to much away I will say that the small note she held towards the end sent an absolute chill down my spine.

This is a chilling read that was completely absorbing and one that I thoroughly recommend.

Don’t Tell Teacher is available on both Audiobook and eBook.  The paperback edition is published today! (July 11th 2019).  Go get it!

About the author

Suzy K Quinn

91d4yprsxEL._SY200_Suzy K Quinn is a British fiction author, and writes in three different genres: psychological thriller, comedy and romance.

She was first published by Hachette in 2010 with her debut novel Glass Geishas (now Night Girls), then self-published a romance series, the Ivy Lessons, which became an international bestseller and a #1 Kindle romance bestseller in the US and UK.

After her second daughter was born in 2013, she self-published the Bad Mother’s Diary series, which also went on to become a #1 Kindle romantic comedy bestseller.

Suzy K Quinn’s novels have been translated into 7 languages and her books have sold over ¾ million copies worldwide.

Suzy lives in Wivenhoe, Essex, with her husband Demi and two daughters, and travels to Mexico every year to write and study Mayan story telling.

Suzy loves her family, friends and readers, but when pushed to add more to the list, she also loves travelling, food and alcohol.

Visit Suzy’s website for more info on her numerous books (and a free one!) www.suzykquinn.com
You can follow Suzy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/suzykquinn
You can follow Suzy on Twitter at @suzykquinn

 

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Original writing, Short Stories, Time to talk

Boys Don’t Cry

Boys don’t cry. That’s what they told me. Be strong. Stand tough. Don’t be a sissy. You’re weak. Pathetic. Make us proud. Score high. Be popular. Head Boy. Be. A. Leader.

You can be ANYTHING you want to be. The world is your oyster.

Now my head is filled with their screams. Do they adore me? Have I made them proud? Is this what they wanted?

I remember when I was a small boy. The memories flicker in my mind like an old cyni film constantly projecting into the backs of my eyes. You don’t see it do you? I was extraordinary then. So filled with love. Your love.

‘Have a wonderful day my little darling. Mummy will be back in a few hours.’

And then as I cried and called out for her ‘You’ll have fun my love. It’s just for a little while. You’ll make lots of friends.’

I can still see you walking away. No backward glance. It was best for me that way, they said.

Who remembers such details of that time? I don’t really. As I said the memories just flicker in and out.

I miss that time. All that was required of me was to have fun and to make new friends.

“It’s so important for their social skills.’ Someone said.

I was ‘darling’. I was your little boy. Your everything.

So when did it change. When was I not quite enough. When did I have to try harder? Always try harder.

Reach for the stars. You can be anything you want to be. You have so much to be grateful for.

Can I be happy? Can I wake up and feel good about myself. Feel that I am enough?

There was a summer, not that long ago. We stayed at home pretty much all of the time. It rained a lot. I was bored, you said. But so much was going on. My head was full of adventure. The games I played. The films I watched. They took me to places away from being me. I could be anyone. Anyone else. Even outside with only a football for company I was being someone else. But then it was over and I went back to school.

‘Work hard and then when it’s all over you’ll be able to do what you want. You’ll be a success.’

Success criteria. We hear that all the time. What criteria do I have to follow to be successful with this task? If only we were given a success criteria list to make us successful in life. Oh but we do don’t we. It’s being drummed into us.

Work hard

Study hard

Follow the rules

Dress in this way

Don’t do that

Don’t do this

Look like this

Eat this

Don’t cry

Be strong

Make us proud

make us proud

make us proud

Are you proud now mum? Are you proud now dad?

The screaming is still there. People are shouting for me. My names carries through the crowd. There are flashing lights now too. The air is cool up here. It feels good and my hair, cut just right, moves gently in the breeze. I can smell perfume. I’m not sure where it’s coming from but it smells nice. A memory stirs. A hug. A warm embrace that made me feel safe. When I was little.

I step forward and look over the edge. The noise comes up to meet me. I think I see you there mum. Would you hug me now if you were next to me. Would you tell me not to cry?

‘Mummies here darling. Everything’s going to be okay.’

Would you dry my tears and let me feel I am enough just as I am or simply tell me to stop making a fuss and that boys don’t cry.

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A little bit about this piece – So, it’s been an age since I did any creative writing and so I wanted to give it a crack and get the creative muscles working again. Over the next few days I aim to sit down and spend a few minutes writing. These will be short snippets of stories, pockets of time that I will allow my imagination to wander in for a while. I will then share them on here. Please forgive their rawness. These are quite literally first, rough drafts but I want to allow the freedom to not worry too much about the finished result at this stage.

The inspiration for this piece came whilst listening to Boys Don’t Cry by the Cure. It’s funny where the mind goes to…

Please feel free to comment and share, and even join in and write something yourself. I sat down for 20 minutes to write this but do feel free to set your own time limit.

Adventure, Blog Tour, Fantasy, Folk Tales, Teen, YA

The Stranger’s Guide To Talliston by John Tarrow

So today’s blog tour is filled with fantasy, magic and other realms… what more could you ask for?

Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’s land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs?

Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The
Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens
dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of
adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

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A fascinating concept and with an extremely intriguing opening sentence…

THE BOY LIVED ALL ALONE in an abandoned school bus in the middle of a wooded roundabout.

A stunning cover and package holds an adventure filled 364 pages which is said to appeal to a YA readership.  It does almost feel as though it is written for younger readers though so any teen who enjoys fantasy and is not put off by the length may well enjoy it.  It’s fascinating to read about the author’s own connection with the house that inspired the story, showing that, as often is the case, a house can be the most marvellous of muses for writers.

Thank so much to Anne cater for inviting me to be a part of this Random Things Blog Tour.

The Stranger’s Guide To Talliston by John Tarrow is published by Unbound on the 11th of July 2019.

About the author

John Tarrow

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John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex-council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens.

 

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