Monday 15 July 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Virtue Season - L.M. Nathan


The world didn't end all at once but drip by drip...

Manon Pawlak has just turned eighteen, a debutant at the start of the Virtue Season: a process that will result in a match with a suitable genetic mate. Her best friend, Agatha, has been decommissioned, forbidden to partake in the season and unite with the boy who has had her heart since they were children.

When Manon's mother wades out into the waters of Penn Vale with stones sewn into the lining of her coat, Manon's genetic purity is called into question and she's forced to rely on the fisherman's son, Wick, to keep her secret. But as they dance, the truth about their world starts to unravel, and Manon finds herself at the centre of it all. And the council is watching.
 

What did I think?

The Virtue Season is an incredibly thought-provoking and highly entertaining YA novel that challenges the concept of perfection.  Only those without flaws will be matched with a mate to ensure the purest bloodlines will prosper.  

Manon and her friend Agatha are coming of age and will partake in the Virtue Season unless any flaws are found.  Agatha takes a fit that sees her decommissioned and Manon has to bury a family secret to ensure she is matched.  I can feel my blood boiling just thinking about these so called flaws and I think that's exactly the point that L.M. Nathan is trying to make.  We are all flawed!

There's a lot going on in the book to keep the reader entertained with plot lines of family secrets, forbidden love and rebellion.  It has hints of The Handmaid's Tale and The Hunger Games to provoke debate and it would be a great book club book.  I'd like to see it made into a film as there are some incredible scenes painted by L.M. Nathan's vivid writing.

Powerful, thought-provoking and entertaining, The Virtue Season is a dystopian YA novel than both teens and adults will enjoy.  It's well worth a read.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:
Amazon




About the author:
L.M. Nathan grew up in the East Midlands, flitting from there to Bristol where she studied English and Drama and then to Malta where she completed an MA in Literature. She also has an MA in Journalism which she studied for in Manchester. She now lives in rural Lancashire in the shadow of Pendle Hill. The Virtue Season is her debut YA.











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Sunday 14 July 2024

The Croaking Raven: 1 (The Shakespeare Murders) - Guy Hale


Stratford-upon-Avon, May 1972

DC Toby Marlowe has just landed his dream posting but the quiet streets of Shakespeare's Stratford are about to suffer a reign of terror. A name from the past has returned, intent on revenge.

A series of murders go unsolved but Toby realises that the killer seems to be following the plot of Hamlet.

Can Toby and his boss, DS Fred Williams, find the killer before all the actors at the RSC are dead? The Croaking Raven doth bellow for revenge.

 

What did I think?

Guy Hale may well have come up with the most ingenious plot for a book!  The Croaking Raven is absolutely brilliant and although I'm not overly familiar with Shakespeare's plays, I loved spotting the clues that our clever killer has left behind.

If DC Toby Marlowe hadn't transferred to Stratford, I think the police (DS Fred Williams in particular) would have been beating up a lot of suspects and getting lots of fake confessions while the body count continued to rise.  Toby very astutely notices that the clues relate to Hamlet so the police just need to read the play to predict where the killer will next strike.  This killer is very clever though and is intent on revenge.

I loved everything about this book: the ingenious plot, the 1970s setting, the engaging and compelling writing and the wonderfully well-developed characters.  I think anyone who has read Shakespeare will pick up lots of references to the Bard's plays but even if you're only vaguely familiar with Shakespeare (like me), it's still a hugely enjoyable novel.

It's also interesting to take a step back into the past and see how different is it to today.  It doesn't seem that long ago (for me, anyway) but it's quite shocking to think how discriminatory people were.  Whilst we may have made leaps and bounds in tolerance, I think we've taken a step back in humanitarianism with our ability to wound others through thoughtless comments on social media.
 
Incredibly clever and surprisingly witty, The Croaking Raven is an exciting start to a new and highly unusual series.  Very highly recommended.

I received an ARC to read and review for the Love Books Tours readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Thursday 11 July 2024

BLOG TOUR: One Summer - Taylor Cole


Two people. Two pasts. One summer to fall in love.

Caleb is a former professional surfer trying to build his life after a career-ending accident.

Lindy has moved to Loor island to start a new life, combing the shores for sea glass to weave into jewellery.

When the two meet, sparks fly – but not the good kind. Then they discover they’re neighbours, and they’re stuck with each other for one, long summer.

As they slowly learn to trust each other, and find themselves sharing their stories that brought them to Loor, their dislike begins to unravel into friendship, then maybe something more.

But will the weight of their pasts ruin their chance of a future?
 

What did I think?

One Summer is a Cornish novel with a difference: it's set on the fictional island of Loor.  I actually thought this was a real place but I was getting mixed up with Looe.  The characters feel very real too and I loved all of them, both human and animal.

Lindy is really bad at her publishing job in London, she's just so easily distracted and it's made worse when she breaks up with her boyfriend Max.  As if her heart wasn't broken enough, she torments herself by watching Max's mudlarking videos that now feature his new girlfriend.  I mean, we've all done it...a bit of online stalking is harmless but Lindy is OBSESSED!!

So, when a pet sitting job comes up in Cornwall she decides a fresh start is a good idea...but she still watches those blooming videos!  Although Loor island is predominantly made up of old and very old islanders, there are a couple of hot guys to show Lindy that there are plenty more fish in the sea.

I really enjoyed watching Lindy and Caleb's relationship grow but I have to say that it was little dog Ted who captured my heart.  Taylor Cole paints Ted so vividly that it makes me smile just thinking of him now.  I would have liked Nemo, Max's Maine Coon cat, to feature a bit more but I loved how Lindy rescued him when Max cruelly abandoned him.  I did worry that she was doing it to keep a link to Max though as Nemo doesn't seem that fond of her...but that's cats!

Rather like the waves lapping the shore, One Summer has a relaxed, gentle pacing that ebbs and flows like the tide but like any island, the wind can blow in a storm at any moment.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




About the author:
Taylor Cole grew up on a council estate in Devon and is of Armenian heritage, via her maternal grandmother who survived the Armenian genocide as a child refugee. When she was twenty-one, Taylor left university to run away to Cyprus and live in a men's barrack block with her military boyfriend, but returned the next year to finish her BA in English, which she followed with a master's degree in Creative Writing. She lives in Newquay with the military boyfriend-turned-husband, two daughters and an eighty-year-old tortoise called Shelley who was found wandering the streets of Plymouth in 1958.

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Saturday 6 July 2024

BLOG TOUR: Thank You, Next - Kathryn Freeman


I'm delighted to be taking part in the Rachel's Random Resources blog tour for Thank You, Next by Kathryn Freeman.  Scroll down to find out more about the book, read my review and win a paperback copy in the fabulous giveaway.



In this game of hearts, the stakes have never been higher…

Molly Harris is used to being left. Parents, boyfriends – she’s the queen of rejection. Her latest boyfriend, gym-fanatic Duncan, dumps her to go on reality dating show The One which sets up hot singletons to date for four weeks before meeting at the altar to say, ‘I do’.

But Duncan was the one who picked Molly up and put her back together the last time her heart got broken, so, determined not to let ‘The One’ get away, she follows Duncan onto the show. If she can prove that they’re meant to be, she might just get the happily ever after of her dreams…

But on the first day of filming, another reminder of her painful history walks into Happily Ever After Towers: Ben Knight, her it’s-not-you-it’s-me heartbreaker. The one she loved before Duncan.

In four weeks’ time, who will she meet at the altar? Duncan, the first person who ever made her feel loved, or Ben, the first person who made her feel?
 

What did I think?

If you follow my blog, you will know that I love Kathryn Freeman books and her latest novel, Thank You, Next is fun, flirty and a little bit racy.  It certainly had me blushing at times!

Molly loves watching reality dating show The One with her boyfriend Duncan and the romance on TV has Duncan hinting at marriage and children.  So, Molly is shocked when Duncan decides to join the show 'to gain more followers' or so he says.  Well, two can play at that game and Molly joins the show too.  Molly is sure that she will be matched with Duncan anyway and she starts dreaming of her wedding...until she is matched with her ex Ben.

Oooh I loved Ben even though he tries to keep Molly at arms length the attraction virtually sizzles off the page.  Ben doesn't have any desire to get married though and that's something that Molly really wants, due to being abandoned in her past by her parents and Ben himself.  Is Duncan 'the one' for Molly or should she give Ben another shot?

This is a really fun read and I really enjoyed following the couples on the dating show.  I was worried that Molly would get her heart broken again, either by Ben or Duncan, as Ben has a past he has yet to reveal and Duncan loves himself so much that he has no love left to give anybody else.  Who will be standing at the altar and what will happen next?  I couldn't read fast enough to find out!

Hugely entertaining, pulse-racing and very enjoyable, Thank You, Next is classic Kathryn Freeman and I absolutely loved it.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:
Amazon US




About the author:

A former pharmacist, Kathryn now writes romantic comedies. Feel good books that are sexy and sweet, funny yet heart-warming. Mr Right Across the Street won the RNA Award for Romantic Comedy in 2022. 

With a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), the romance in her own life is all in her head. Then again, his unstinting support of her career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises.

Social Media Links – 




GIVEAWAY!!!
Win a Paperback copy of Thank You, Next (Open Internationally). 

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.



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Friday 5 July 2024

BLOG TOUR: New Beginnings at the Cosy Cat Cafe - Julie Haworth


New Beginnings at The Cosy Cat Café tells the story of Tori who, after being dumped and left stranded by her long-term boyfriend Ryan on a trip of a lifetime to Asia, returns home to the sleepy Sussex village of Blossom Heath with her tail between her legs and her dreams shattered. Donning her frilly apron to help her Mum, Joyce, behind the counter at The Cosy Cup Café, Tori starts to believe – with the help of a hunky fireman and a clowder of rescue cats - that perhaps the secret to her future happiness might lie closer to home than she ever thought possible.
 
If you love your romance with a side order of cake, cats and cosy community dynamics, this is the purrfect uplifting, feel-good read from the winner of the RNA Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year 2023.
 

What did I think?

This gorgeous novel is the purrfect pick-me-up that warmed my heart and uplifted my spirits.  It's a fabulous book in its own right and can be read and enjoyed as a standalone but it's even better if you've visited Blossom Heath before in Julie Haworth's delightful debut novel, Always By Your Side.  It was so lovely to see some of the characters I'd met before and it felt like catching up with old friends.

New Beginnings at The Cosy Cat Café is Tori's story and it's not going quite how she planned.  I was so upset (and mad) for her when her boyfriend Ryan decided he 'wasn't a relationship guy'...perhaps he should have mentioned that a tiny bit earlier during the four years of their relationship.  What a snake!

Tori returns home to Blossom Heath to help her mum in her cafe and her visit to Asia inspires her to change the cafe into a cat cafe.  With the help of the wonderful community, Tori's dreams are sure to become a reality and maybe the man she's really supposed to spend her life with is just around the corner.

There's a lot going on in the book to keep the reader interested and entertained from start to finish.  I think I read it far too fast, devouring every word as if it was the last book I'd ever read, so I do plan to read it again when I next fancy a trip to Blossom Heath.

Uplifting, heartwarming and simply delightful, New Beginnings at The Cosy Cat Café is a real gem of a book and it is one I will treasure.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:
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Monday 1 July 2024

Cat Society - Ray Sadri


Cat Society is a witty and bonkers story of life and politics in Westminster – reimagining the debates, events and headlines of recent years had the world been run by cats. A lot changes. A lot doesn’t.


The country is on the brink of bankruptcy, and backbencher Douglas Schnitty is disappointed with the thousands of homeless cats sleeping by the bins. He gets frustrated with higher powers who only seem to care about their own interests and preserving the country’s finances.

He schmoozes and sabotages his way through the political elite, from assisting the bombastic Hector Perp Pahpousson to disrupting the plans of the Prime Minister. Can his conscience save him, and the slum cats, as events spiral out of control?

***

The Westminster Cats are here! And if you like cats and politics with a dose of humour, this comic novel is for you. Check out the reviews:

“I’m sure most cat owners have looked over at their sometimes mysterious, scheming-looking furry friend and at some point quietly wondered whether they’re planning on taking over the world. This “claws out” paw-litical drama takes that idea and runs with it. From how the Government spends its British Mews and interacts with journalists at The Meowington Times, to its rocky relationship with the Global Cats Alliance, it’s a hilarious and somewhat realistic insight into what life could look like if our beloved felines did take the reins.”
 

What did I think?

With the way that people pander to their dogs, I've always said that dogs will be our overlords one day, but maybe it's the cats that are biding their time.  In this hugely entertaining and ingenious novel, Ray Sadri imagines what would happen if the cats were in charge.

You would think it was all highly imaginative fiction but, rather embarrassingly for us Brits, the plot is inspired by some true stories.  Who could ever forget Labour's plans to pledge £300,000 to pay 10,000 new police officers a salary of £30 per annum?  I'm not a great fan of politics but I love the way that Ray Sadri has taken some real events and made them more entertaining by amplifying, or perhaps just highlighting, the absolutely craziness of our politicians.

While the country is overrun with homeless cats, politicians feast on fountains of cream, sleep for 18 hours a day and love their gold décor as much as Donald Trump.  The backbenchers are crying out for the Prime Minister to take action but she has a lot on her plate with backstabbing and treachery afoot, as well as an underhand plan to topple the PM and take Britain out of the Global Cats Alliance.

Amusing, entertaining and very insightful, Cat Society is a tongue-in-cheek look at politics over the last few years and I'm not sure whether the book or the true story is more bonkers.

Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy to read and review; and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Friday 28 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Stand-Up Mam - Kay Wilson


Georgie Chancellor has worked hard to have a perfect life, and it is, on the outside. She has a beautiful home, successful husband and two wonderful children. Everything she dreamed about as a girl is hers. Not that she ever thinks about her past, anymore.

But when her family enters her into a stand-up comedy competition. Georgie finds on stage, only the truth will do.

Encouraged by Jaz, her handsome mentor, she riffs about her family and what life is really like behind the facade. Audiences love it, and Georgie's star begins to rise.

Will stand-up success destroy everything she has created?
 

What did I think?

As soon as I saw 'Mam' in the title, I knew I had to read The Stand-Up Mam to support a local author.  Kay Wilson's debut novel is fabulous and a lot darker than you'd expect from the title, but it's filled with heart and north-east wit.

Georgie Chancellor feels invisible; she's like a house-slave for her family, preparing meals and doing laundry without a word of thanks or appreciation.  It's quite a surprise when her family enter her into a stand-up comedy competition and I don't think they expected her to do so well and the joke is on them when it takes her out of the home and into the comedy clubs.

It's cathartic for Georgie to vent her frustration on stage, with her family life providing most of her material.  Finally, somebody is listening to her and she can reveal her dark heart in all its nasty glory.  As the competition progresses, so does the drama in Georgie's life and she has even more to talk about on stage.  Her family are so self-centred and disinterested in what's going on with Georgie, other than how it affects them, so they have no idea what Georgie talks about on stage.

I loved seeing Georgie's confidence grow throughout the book and I was torn between thinking she should be honest with her family and thinking that it serves them right for taking her for granted.  Set in comedy clubs, there is obviously a sprinkling of humour but there's a whole lot of drama when Georgie rencounters a face from her past.

Powerful, inspirational and very entertaining, The Stand-Up Mam not only encourages you to follow your dreams but also to tell someone you appreciate them.  I loved it and would definitely recommend giving it a read.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon




About the author:
Kay Wilson lives in South Tyneside. Her novel features many of her own experiences of stand-up comedy - a bucket list ambition she achieved after surviving a near-fatal brain haemorrhage.

She has worked in PR for 30 years and won the New Writing North/Journal Flash Fiction competition. She has had short stories published in various anthologies.

"I would love my book to empower women to make each day the best it can be for them and, it might sound trite, to challenge themselves and follow their dreams."




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Thursday 27 June 2024

The Days of Our Birth - Charlie Laidlaw

 
Theirs was the most important relationship of their life...

It was a perfect relationship until time pulled them apart. A beautiful story sensitively told about how love and friendship can conquer everything, including time, to a point.

“The Days of Our Birth” delves into the intricate bond between Peter and Sarah as they navigate their formative years. Spanning from their sixth birthday through two decades, the narrative unfolds against the backdrop of Sarah’s placement on the autism spectrum. With a blend of humour and poignancy, the book intricately weaves together themes of love and friendship, unravelling the tale of two individuals who grapple with their emotions for each other, even though they remain unacknowledged.


What did I think?

This beautiful book surprised, delighted and almost broke me.  I have to say that I wouldn't have picked it up simply from looking at the plain cover, however, I've read Charlie Laidlaw's books before so I knew I was in for a treat and I was not wrong.  The cover may be simple but the story is very deep and meaningful.

Peter and Sarah aren't just next door neighbours, they are also the best of friends who coincidentally share the same birthday.  I felt very privileged to watch them celebrate over the years as I got to know these beautiful characters.  As each year passes, the two characters work their way further and further into my heart and I shall never forget them.

It's heartbreaking to see how Sarah is treated as school, just because she thinks differently to others.  Kids can be so cruel and it's no wonder that people with autism retreat further into their own minds where they can make sense of things.  Peter doesn't see Sarah's autism, he just sees Sarah but when Sarah is sent to a new school the pair start to drift apart.  Will they ever find their way back to each other?  You'll just have to read the book to find out!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear or two whilst reading this beautiful book.  I was so completely invested in Sarah and Peter's lives that I felt as if I knew them personally, thanks to Charlie Laidlaw's outstanding character development.  Friendship is at the heart of the novel and once you make such a firm friendship, time or distance can never break it.  

Prepare to feel all the feels with this one; The Days of Our Birth is a stunning and completely unforgettable novel.  Very highly recommended - please don't judge this book by its cover, it really is a hidden gem.

Many thanks to Charlie Laidlaw for sending me an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday 25 June 2024

What Lies Between Us - John Marrs


Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.
 

What did I think?

My name's Michelle and I'm a John Marrs addict.  WOW!  What Lies Between Us is another absolute belter from the dark and twisted mind of John Marrs.  I'm gradually making my way through all of John Marrs' novels and What Lies Between Us is classic Marrs with a tense, addictive storyline that blows the reader's mind.

Maggie and Nina have a very unconventional mother/daughter relationship and I didn't know whose side to be on: the one who has been lied to and irrevocably damaged or the one who was incarcerated in the attic.  With two incredibly unreliable narrators the reader is in for a real treat in this impossible to predict, unputdownable novel.

I simply couldn't read it fast enough and it's not only a fantastic fast-paced rollercoaster ride, it's like visiting a whole fairground with a perplexing house of mirrors, a chilling ghost train and a twisty helter skelter.  As fast as I was reading it, What Lies Between Us is also a ride I didn't want to get off.  I absolutely LOVED IT!

Shocking, twisty and deliciously dark, What Lies Between Us is an unmissable book for fans of dark, domestic noir.  An easy five stars - I really can't recommend it highly enough.

I received a paperback for the Tandem Collective Readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Friday 21 June 2024

Wheel of Fortune: 1 (The Tarnished Crown) - C.F. Dunn


1469. England is in turmoil. For almost ten years, the attractive and charismatic Edward IV has ruled with the Earl of Warwick’s support, but now rebellion threatens the fragile peace.

Strong-willed and single-minded, heiress Isobel Fenton is determined that nothing will separate her from her beloved manor of Beaumancote even if she does have to marry to stay there. But as unseen witness to a summary execution, she is propelled into the world of personal feud and national politics, and her life will never be the same.

Left in the protection of the formidable Earl, Isobel soon discovers that she is much more than the daughter of his loyal retainer, but holds the key to the power base in a troubled region.

And she is about to marry Thomas Lacey – heir of the Earl’s enemy for whose peremptory execution he had been responsible.

The Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence foment rebellion. With the Midlands in uproar, King Edward wants peace in the shires and the last thing he needs is potential trouble in the form of an unwed heiress.

Isolated and alone, Isobel turns to the Earl’s younger brother, Robert Langton - newly sworn to Richard, Duke of Gloucester - and as unrest boils into war, she is drawn into the very heart of the conflict.

Facing extremes of courage and moral ambiguity, Isobel has to predict the motivations of those who decide her own and England’s fate. Caught between two men and a lie, and with nothing left to lose, which way will she turn?
 

What did I think?

I knew I was going to love Wheel of Fortune as soon as I opened it and saw not only a map but a family tree and a list of characters too.  It's little things like this that make a good book great and Wheel of Fortune is an outstanding piece of historical fiction and a riveting start to an exciting new series.

I absolutely loved the main character of Isobel; she is so feisty and strong-willed but unfortunately, lives in a time when women should be seen and not heard.  Isobel is betrothed to Thomas Lacey and is looking forward to her wedding, but when her father dies she is transferred into the care of the Earl.  No longer the mistress of the house, Isobel is treated like a servant and tasked with looking after the Earl's daughters.  She thinks it's only temporary until her wedding, but the Earl has other ideas: the wedding is cancelled and Isobel's future is thrown into doubt.

Set during the reign of Edward IV and in the midst of the Wars of the Roses, everybody must choose a side and nobody can be trusted...least of all those who should be protectors.  I really felt for Isobel, having her whole future mapped out and then suddenly vanishing before her eyes on the death of her father.  Women, even those of high birth, had no rights even if they were more than capable of managing estates without a man by their side.

Wheel of Fortune is a captivating step back in time as the 15th century is brought vividly to life through C.F. Dunn's wonderful writing.  I am so pleased that it is the first of a new series as I didn't want the story to end and I can't wait to read more.  Very highly recommended.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon




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Thursday 20 June 2024

Redemption - Jack Jordan


Aaron Alexander has just been released from jail after serving eleven years for causing the death of Joshua Moore in a hit-and-run. Now a free man, all he wants to do is stay on the straight and narrow and leave his troubled past behind him.

But for Joshua’s mother Evelyn, eleven years in jail isn’t nearly enough. Consumed by grief and rage, she has been waiting for Aaron’s release, counting down the days until she can exact the revenge he deserves. And now that time has come.

But as Evelyn and her husband Tobias embark on a road trip to track Aaron down, they find themselves caught on two different sides of a gripping game of cat-and-mouse. Because Tobias knows what Evelyn is planning, and he will do anything to save her from herself.

Even if it means protecting the man who killed their son.

Locked in a collision course set in motion eleven years ago, Aaron, Evelyn and Tobias are about to find out whether the road they have chosen leads to redemption . . . or to retribution.
 

What did I think?

You'll always find me at the front of the queue when a new Jack Jordan book is released and I had very high expectations when I picked up Redemption.  Not only was I not disappointed, Jack Jordan saw my expectations and raised them to a whole new level.  WOW!  

Jack Jordan isn't called the Master of the Moral Dilemma for no reason and whilst there is an absolute belter of a moral dilemma in Redemption, there's also a thought-provoking twist that reminds us that there are two sides to every story.  But which side will each reader be on?  Team Evelyn or Team Aaron?

No parent would ever want to be in Evelyn and Tobias Moore's position; their beautiful 9-year-old son Joshua went off to camp and never returned after being killed in a hit-and-run.  Justice was served and the man who killed Joshua went to prison...but only for eleven years.  I could totally understand Evelyn's fury - Joshua's life was cruelly stolen and eleven years of prison is simply not enough for his killer to pay.  As soon as the sentence was delivered, Evelyn decided to make Aaron Alexander pay the ultimate price: a life for a life.

I couldn't help but feel sympathy for the Moores; their marriage has been under a considerable strain since Joshua's death as Evelyn single-mindedly planned her revenge.  Tobias has his own plan though: he wants to stop Evelyn from becoming a murderer and if that means protecting Aaron, then that's what he'll do.

Now this is where the story takes an unexpected turn as I was fully prepared to hate Aaron but peeling back the layers of his story broke my heart.  One tragic event changed the course of his life - he didn't plan to kill Joshua unlike Evelyn plans to kill Aaron.  The character of Aaron is so beautifully portrayed and I found his story incredibly poignant and emotional.  I will never forget him and the lessons his story taught me.

There appears to be no limit to Jack Jordan's talent and imagination so prepare for a long night of reading when you pick up Redemption as you won't be able to put it down.  Set out in sections representing the stages of grief, Redemption is an absolute masterpiece.  Once again, Jack Jordan scoops all the stars for his unmissable new book.

Unmissable, unputdownable and unforgettable - do not miss Redemption: one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the year and one that will not disappoint.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Monday 17 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: Narcoball: Love, Death and Football in Escobar's Colombia - David Arrowsmith


Pablo Escobar had one obsession. Not drugs, not money, not power... football.

Narcoball uncovers the incredible story of Colombian football during the early 1990s - shaped by drug lords, rivalries, and ambition. With untold insights from the players and politicians, it uncovers a football empire backed by cartels - where victory was a currency of its own, and defeat, a matter of life and death.

This is a different story of Pablo Escobar and his rival. A tale of clandestine deals that reshaped Medellin's football clubs, where fortunes were won and lost. It unveils the extraordinary bonds that Escobar forged with football's luminaries and why his influence reached unprecedented heights, leading to the astonishing 5-0 victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires, the murder of referees, and the ruthless coercion of officials culminating in the killing of Andres Escobar - the Colombian defender who paid the ultimate price for an own goal in the 1994 World Cup. It is also an examination of a people's relationship with both the sport and the nefarious leaders that brought both pride and terror to their communities.

Set against the U.S War on Drugs, international threats, and government clampdowns, this is a gripping exploration of Colombian club football under Escobar's rise and fall.

 
What did I think?

As a longstanding football fan, I was immediately drawn to Narcoball.  I mean, who could forget Carlos Valderrama in Italia '90?  Not just for his impressive hair but for his silky footwork. Then there's Andrés Escobar whose coldblooded murder shocked the world of football in 1994.  This is as much their story as it is Pablo Escobar's and it is absolutely fascinating.

I didn't know much about Pablo Escobar before reading Narcoball so it was really interesting to read about his life and to understand more about the man beneath the famous drug lord.  One thing I'll say about Pablo Escobar, he really loved football.  It is both eye-opening and jaw-dropping to read about the lengths he went to in order to see and play the beautiful game.

Colombia were one of the most exciting teams in Italia '90 and were tipped for the title in USA '94, but what the world didn't know was that the players had a huge weight on their shoulders.  As if the pressure of playing in the World Cup wasn't enough, their lives were at risk if they didn't perform well.  Andrés Escobar was the unfortunate player who lost his life after scoring an own goal and I think it's important to remember him as it's such a waste of a young life and he should still be alive today.

If I didn't know that this was a true story, I would think it was a Hollywood blockbuster filled with guns, drugs, gangs, bribery, prison and a relentless chase for the capture of a wanted man.  It's absolutely astounding that all of the things in the book actually happened.  There is also a photograph section in the middle of the book to really bring the story to life.

David Arrowsmith's research is meticulous and his love of the game is evident throughout this engrossing book.  Narcoball is a must-read for both football fans and true crime fans.  I really enjoyed it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About the author:

David Arrowsmith was the Director of Development at leading UK factual TV producer Zig Zag Productions. He has worked in television for over 20 years - developing unscripted ideas and acting as Executive Producer on key projects for companies such as October Films, DSP, Channel 5, Granada Television, and the BBC. He is passionate about history, and just some of his key commissions include '1966: Who Stole the World Cup?', 'Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty', '8 Days That Made Rome', and 'Adolf & Eva: Love & War'. He was also involved in the development of the award-winning, Nobel Peace Prize-nominated documentary 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields'.

David was born and raised in London but is proudly half-Colombian. In fact, he is the great-grandson of a former president and directly descended from four more. He has played football for over 35 years and has no plans to stop just yet.




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