Parents and Teachers by Sara Madderson #BookReview

It’s my turn on the blog tour today for this fabulous new book from Sara Madderson ‘Parents and Teachers’. Thank you so much to Sara for my gifted copy of the book and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my space on the blog tour.

The blurb …

At two of London’s most exclusive prep schools, there are strict rules against parents fraternising with teachers.

Well, that’s the theory, in any case.

Jenna, a Year 3 teacher at St Cuthbert’s, catches the eye of the school’s highest-profile parent, a world-famous action movie star, with far-reaching consequences.

Meanwhile, over at Chiltern House, Astrid is still licking her wounds after her husband left her. Her daughter’s PE teacher, Callum, may be her best chance of rediscovering her joie de vivre.

Astrid’s friend Natalia, whose life revolves around motherhood these days, finds herself questioning everything she’s taken for granted when her husband becomes embroiled in a #MeToo scandal.

Really, the only ones behaving themselves are the kids …

My review …

I was a little apprehensive about reading Sara’s latest book because I loved her first novel ‘Food for Thought’ so much, I was worried that this one couldn’t be as good, but my fears were unfounded and I loved it!

Parents and Teachers opens with a letter from the headteacher of Chiltern House to it’s staff, the main crux of which is that Chiltern House has a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual relationships between teachers and parents, which clearly falls on deaf ears and sets the tone of what is to come.

This fun and romantic story unfolds from the perspective of four main loveable characters; parents Astrid and Natalia, and teachers Jenna and Callum and we’re given a glimpse into their lives as they all struggle through the highs and lows of their various relationships and careers.

I found the story to be completely addictive, as along with envy inducing descriptions of lavish hotels and expensive restaurants, some very steamy sex scenes and beautiful romances, the writing is so classy and goes beyond the surface of passion and glamour to explore the deeper issues within the female characters’ lives.

I think the beauty of Sara’s books is that they are perfect escapist reads, they transport me into a different lifestyle that I can only dream of. In Parents and Teachers we’re given a glimpse of London’s most fabulous hotels and restaurants such as The Savoy, Claridges and Scotts. What a treat! It’s that taste of the high life and celebrity that reels me in with Sara’s books but what I love most is the technical knowledge and intelligence that runs through her writing. The detail in this book regarding the fashion industry and trading is very impressive indeed.

Sara is definitely now one of my ‘go to’ authors for women’s fiction, although she does make me feel the need to buy several lottery tickets!

About the author …

Sara Madderson is an author, entrepreneur, wife and mother. She was born in Ireland and moved to the UK with her family when she was ten years old. She lives in London with her husband Chris, their two children, Paddy and Tilly, and their cocker spaniel Charlie.

Before turning to writing, Sara worked in finance for a decade and then ran her own fashion brand, Madderson London, for eight years. She earned her MPhil in Early Modern History from the University of Birmingham.

‘Parents and Teachers’ is Sara’s second novel. She has previously published ‘Food for Thought’ as well as a non-fiction book focused on personal development ‘Metamorphosis’. Given that she spent most of her childhood writing and designing clothes, she’s now seen both of her childhood career dreams come true! She’s enjoyed the adventure of publishing independently as much as she’s enjoyed the writing process itself. She’s now completely hooked on writing!

Purchase link …

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Parents-Teachers-only-ones-behaving/dp/1916353045

Follow the tour …

Thanks for reading!

💗

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim #BookReview

I’m taking a break from some very boring home decorating and DIY jobs to write up my review of this beautiful book. I was over the moon to receive a copy to review as I’d seen that it was a Reese’s Book Club pick and the cover is so gorgeous that I just can’t stop admiring those sunset colours!

The blurb …

Margot Lee’s mother is ignoring her calls. Margot cannot understand why, until she makes a surprise trip home to Koreatown, LA. What she finds there makes her realise how little she knows about her mother, Mina.

Thirty years earlier, Mina Lee steps off a plane to take a chance on a new life in America. Stacking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing she expects is to fall in love. But that moment will have shattering consequences for Mina, and everything she left behind in Seoul.

Through the intimate lens of a mother and daughter who have struggled all their lives to understand each other, Margot and Mina’s story unravels the unspoken secrets that can drive two people apart – or perhaps bind them closer together.

My review …

(Contains a spoiler)

This incredible story is told from the points of view of Mina and her daughter Margot from two different timelines, however this very much remains Mina’s story. We are introduced to Mina Lee back in 1987 as she hesitantly steps off a plane into LA airport to start a new life in Koreatown after suffering so much tragedy in Seoul that she describes it as being like a graveyard to her. She has rented a room in an apartment block and she soon finds work at a Korean supermarket.

We meet her daughter American born Margot in Fall 2014 as she is helping her friend Miguel relocate from Seattle to LA. She is also using this as a chance to check in on her mom, whom she hasn’t been able to contact for two weeks, and because the last time she actually saw her was the previous Christmas. Sadly as Margot arrives at her mom’s flat she discovers that she has died, lying undiscovered for a few days, in what looks like an accidental fall. But as Margot is sorting through her mother’s belongings, she starts to become suspicious about the circumstances surrounding her death. There is a real air of suspense about the story as Margot goes in search of the truth and she comes to realise that there is a lot she didn’t know or understand about her mother.

Mina raised Margot alone, but despite this there is a terrible disconnect between them. There was a huge language and cultural barrier between the two and Margot spent her older childhood being ashamed of her mother’s language, their home and their poverty. It was fascinating to read about the complexities of this mother/daughter relationship and warming to see Margot slowly starting to feel more emotion and empathy for her mother, as she learned more about her life and their family history.

I thought that this was such a beautifully written and sad story. Mina’s life and the pain and suffering she had to endure, from the devastating effects of the Korean war to the harsh realities of life in America as a Korean immigrant, was truly heartbreaking. As Mina says, she worked so hard for so little with the constant fear of deportation hanging over her. She lived a very lonely life and simply worked to survive.

Food was a big part of this story and I was tempted by all the mouthwatering descriptions of traditional Korean cuisine. such as banchan, kimchi jjigae and doenjang. The food was like a comfort blanket for Mina when she arrived in America and it was used to show love and affection in many different ways throughout the book as well as adding to the whole cultural vibe of the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Story of Mina Lee, I think this is a stunning debut novel. I adored the author’s voice and writing style whilst the descriptive and emotive language, and analogies were absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend this book and I will definitely be looking out for more of Nancy Jooyoun Kim’s work.

About the author …

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nancy Jooyoun Kim is a graduate of UCLA and the University of Washington, Seattle. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, NPR/PRI’s Selected Shorts, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Asian American Writer’s Workshop’s The Margins, The Offing and elsewhere. The Last Story of Mina Lee is her first novel.

http://www.nancyjooyounkim.com

Instagram and Twitter: @njooyounkim

Published by Headline Review on 1st September 2020

Thank you so much to Emily Patience at Headline Publishing for my gifted copy of the book.

Thanks for reading!

🧡

Under the Warrior’s Protection by Ella Matthews (The House of Leofric Series) #BlogBlitz

The blurb …

Letting down her guard…

Might save her life…

With their family name in tatters, Katherine Leofric and her sister are headed for a new life at their brother’s estate. They are escorted by the hardened Jarin, Earl of Borwyn, whom Katherine believes is only after her dowry! Then her sister is abducted on their treacherous journey, and Katherine mustrely on Jarin’s protection. Now, seeing a different side to the man she’s sworn to hate, it’s her heart that’s most at risk!

Purchase links …

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Under-Warriors-Protection-House-Leofric/dp/0263277321

US – https://www.amazon.com/Under-Warriors-Protection-Historical-Leofric-ebook/dp/B0875K43GB

My thoughts …

Under the Warrior’s Protection is the new book in The House of Leofric series but works well as a standalone story.

The latest instalment follows sisters Linota and Katherine Leofric in the year 1331. The family is in disgrace after their father was executed for treason and their mother is becoming increasingly abusive. Their brother Braedon is marrying into the Ogmore family and has managed to secure a place for his sisters within the estate.

The sisters must make the journey to the Ogmore Estate but they need to be escorted on the long journey for their protection, and Jaryn Ashdown Earl of Borwyn and his men are tasked with this job.

Katherine and Linota are very different. Linota is young, sweet and pretty whilst Katherine is plain, strong willed and has no regard for her own safety. This makes Jaryn’s job much more difficult, as does the fact that he finds himself falling in love with her, despite the fact that she clearly hates him.

However, as they undertake the journey to Ogmore Estate, tragedy strikes and Jaryn and Katherine must overcome their feelings and work together to save themselves and their loved ones.

The story was well written and easy to read with a loveable hero as the lead. There is plenty of action with ambush and treachery at every turn as well as a slow burning passionate romance between the main characters. Fans of historical romance will love this story and it would be interesting to read the rest of the series.

About the author …

Ella Matthews lives and works in beautiful South Wales. When not thinking about handsome heroes she can be found walking along the coast with her husband and their two children (probably still thinking about heroes but at least pretending to be interested in everyone else).

Social Media Links – 

http://www.ellamatthews.co.uk

Twitter: @ellamattauthor

https://www.facebook.com/ella.matthews.524381

Follow the tour …

Thanks for reading!

🖤

Margate Bookie

Today on my blog I’m very excited to tell you all about Margate Bookie and some of the fantastic online literary events that they have put together.

Over the next couple of months, Margate Bookie is bringing what it’s best at – community and connection – throughout Kent and into the rest of the world at a time when, lets face it, we could all do with a bit of cheering up.

Known as the friendly lit fest by the sea, Margate Bookie’s open, welcome vibe will be transferred online, with a series of ‘Fireside chat’ events throughout November. With a mix of local authors and those from outside Kent, including Dean Atta and William Shaw topics range from female friendships to feminism, diversity and inclusion to translated fiction, crime writing to bibliotherapy. There really is something for everyone and I’m so happy to be able to grab a glass of wine and join in from the comfort of my own home!

Here’s the line up:

And here’s the link to the program so that you can book the events which take your fancy: https://margatebookie.com/book-events/

Personally I’m really looking forward to joining Helen Lewis and Abiola Bello for their chat on diversity and inclusion on Thursday 19th November at 7.30pm and I’m very pleased to say that in the next couple of days I will be running a giveaway on Twitter, so that you can win a ticket to join in with this event. So keep your eyes peeled for that and also keep up to date with the latest news and events by following @MargateBookie and @LiterallyPR on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and do let me know which events you’re excited about!

📚

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton #BookReview #ThreeHoursNovel

Today its my turn on the blog tour with Viking Books to celebrate the paperback release of Three Hours on 29th October. I’m a big fan of Rosamund Lupton and so I jumped at the chance of being involved in this tour. Thank you so much to Ellie Hudson of Viking Books for kindly sending me a gifted copy of the book.

The blurb …

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens; a school is under siege. Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news. In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

My review …

What can I say about this book except … OH MY GOD!!!! It is amazing.

I’ve never read a book where my heart has been pounding and I’ve held my breath from start to finish.

The action begins straightaway as Old School in Somerset is under siege by two masked gunmen. The headmaster has been wounded and children are hiding in the theatre, library, a classroom and in a pottery art class in the woods of the vast school grounds. We are told the story from the perspectives of various different children, teachers, parents etc alternately as the siege continues. And it is terrifying. Who are these gunmen and what are their motives?

The pace of this thriller is astonishing as the story unfolds over three hours. It is obviously well researched and draws inspiration from real life cases and current affairs. The psychological insight from the police investigation is fascinating and I was completely gripped.

The writing is startlingly precise and professional but at the same time beautiful, perceptive and heartwrenching. The characters, especially the teachers, are all so brave and inspirational. From the stoic drama teacher Daphne trying to keep everyone’s spirits up by practising their play in the theatre to the gorgeous and courageous student Rafi, who having already risked his life escaping from hell in Aleppo, will do anything to save his little brother again (Rafi is now one of my favourite fictional characters of all time!).

Alongside all the action there is a wonderful theme of literature where the characters draw upon their favourite books for comfort and inspiration to stay strong and be brave and even for protection. The children practice their Shakespeare play in the theatre so that you have the ominous story of Macbeth playing out in the theatre, which is mirrored by the terrifying siege taking place in the school corridors, which I thought was extremely powerful.

This is absolutely one of the best books I’ve ever read, I loved it and felt every minute of those three hours. The fear of the children, the responsibility upon the police and the anguish of the parents was incredibly moving as was the theme that love is the most powerful thing there is. I think everyone should read this book and not just for entertainment value, but also because there are some very poignant and important themes within these pages.

About the author …

Rosamund Lupton is the author of Sister, a BBC Radio 4 ‘Book at Bedtime’, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and winner of the Richard and Judy Book Club Best Debut. Her next two books Afterwards and The Quality of Silence, also Richard and Judy Book Club choices, were Sunday Times bestsellers. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages.

Out in paperback on 29th October 2020

Thanks for reading!

❤️

The 12 Christmases of You and Me by Jennifer Joyce #BookReview

It’s a bumper day of reviews to kick off the blog tour for The 12 Christmases of You and Me and you can find details of the other bloggers posting today in the tour banner below. Thank you so much to Jennifer Joyce for my gifted copy of the book and also to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

The blurb …

What if you could go back in time and fix the biggest mistake of your life?

Two years ago, Maisie’s best friend walked out of her life and she hasn’t heard from him since. When she wakes up in 1994, she naturally assumes she’s dreaming. But when she finds herself in the past again the next night and her actions in the dream alter her present-day life, she begins to wonder if she’s somehow hopping back in time. And if she is time-travelling, can she save her friendship with Jonas?

When Maisie is forced to relive Christmases of the past, will she face up to her mistakes, or make them all over again? The 12 Christmases of You & Me is a magical tale of friendship, first loves, and learning to live in the present.

My review …

We meet unlucky in love, single mum, Maisie in mid November as she is waiting for her best friend, and bride to be Lily, at her wedding dress fitting. Later that evening after reminiscing over a photo album with Lily, and a few too many wines, Maisie falls asleep and wakes up at Christmas time in 1994. She is 14 years old and after moving with her family is about to start a new school and meet her two new best friends, Lily and Jonas. After a couple of days spent in 1994 it is not until somebody takes a photograph with a flash that Maisie is transported back to the present day and this is when a pattern of travelling back to past Christmases begins.

Maisie soon realises that these episodes are more than just dreams and that this could be her chance to mend the broken relationship with her beloved friend Jonas. But she has to tread very carefully so that she doesn’t change the course of her life and risk not meeting the father of her daughter Annabelle.

During Maisie’s trips back in time it’s was so interesting to see her reliving her past moments but with her forty-year-old head on. As a mother herself now, she appreciates her own mother more and the effort she used to put in at Christmas time when Maisie and her brother and sister were little and I found these realisations really touching. She also remembers what it was like to be fourteen and this helps her in understanding her own teenage daughter and prompts her to be more understanding and patient.

While Maisie is reliving the highs and lows (and cringiness) of her teenage years, there were some really funny moments, especially where Lily was concerned, she was such a fun character and a great friend and I loved the way that she hardly changed throughout the years.

I really enjoyed Maisie’s travels back to the nineties because we are the same age, so the references to things like music, the Whigfield, Friends, hangovers in front of Hollyoaks and the Millennium bug really struck a cord with me and Maisie took me right back with her.

This story is so well written and cleverly plotted and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is engaging, fun, tense and emotional all wrapped up with a festive theme. I only wish that I could go back to the nineties and tell myself not to over pluck my eyebrows!

About the author …

Jennifer Joyce is a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with her husband and their two daughters. She’s been scribbling down bits of stories for as long as she can remember, graduating from a pen to a typewriter and then an electronic typewriter. And she felt like the bee’s knees typing on THAT. She now writes her books on a laptop (which has a proper delete button and everything).

Social Media Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jenniferjoycewrites

Twitter: www.twitter.com/writer_jenn

Instagram: www.instagram.com/writer_jenn

Follow the tour …

Purchase links …

UK -https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B086T3LKB7/

US -https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086T3LKB7/

Thanks for reading!

🎄

Christmas Reunion in Paris by Liz Fielding #BookReview

Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for this lovely festive romance. I would like to say thank you very much to Liz Fielding for my signed gifted copy of the book and the lovely little extras 💗 and also thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

The blurb …

Parisian reunion … With the one that got away!

Celebrity chef James Harrington never expected to find himself face-to-face with Chloe, his first love, again… Especially, with her working as a chambermaid at his luxury hotel! Their chemistry’s as strong as ever, but she’s hiding a secret. Can James convince Chloe that their love is worth taking a chance on – again?

Katie Fforde wrote, when honouring her with the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2019 said -“Liz Fielding’s books, with their warmth, humour and emotion, have charmed millions of readers. She is a true star of the romantic fiction genre.”

My review …

Michelin starred celebrity chef Jay, is trying to revive his family’s business at the Harrington Park Hotel with the help of his brother and sister. While he is in Paris looking for a new head chef, he is astonished to run into his first love Chloe working as a maid at the hotel where is he staying. The pair fell in love ten years ago while they were still at school, but were forced apart by Chloe’s controlling father, who had made arrangements for Chloe to marry into a wealthy and powerful family. Jay can’t understand why Chloe would be working as a maid when surely she must be very wealthy?

As he learns the truth of what has happened to Chloe since they parted he is devastated and vows to look after her from now on. But even though they still love each other and the chemistry is definitely still there, do they want the same things in life and will it work out second time around?

I really enjoyed this festive romance and I especially loved the Parisian setting as it’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit. It was wonderful following the couple sightseeing and dining through Paris at Christmas time as the characters take us on an emotional journey. Jay’s character was kind and caring and it was heartwarming to see how he wanted to take care of Chloe but his tendency to take control was his downfall, as he underestimates her strength of character and determination. One of the best things about this book is seeing Chloe stand up for herself and follow her own dreams after all the heartbreak that she has suffered.

I was left feeling very warm and fuzzy, yet slightly envious at the ending, so if anyone needs me, you’ll find me on Rightmove searching for a reasonably priced Chateaux.

About the author …

Best selling author, Liz Fielding worked as a secretary in Africa, the Middle East and the UK before writing full time. Her award winning books are published worldwide in multiple languages and she has more than 15 million books in print. Katie Fforde wrote, when honouring her with the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2019 said -“Liz Fielding’s books, with their warmth, humour and emotion, have charmed millions of readers. She is a true star of the romantic fiction genre…”

Follow the tour …

Purchase links …

Purchase Links

Amazon – https://mybook.to/ChristmasReunion

iBooks  – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/christmas-reunion-in-paris/id1508284570

Google   https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Liz_Fielding_Christmas_Reunion_In_Paris_Mills_Boon?id=DgPdDwAAQBAJ

Nook  – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-reunion-in-paris-liz-fielding/1136637305

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/christmas-reunion-in-paris-mills-boon-true-love-christmas-at-the-harrington-park-hotel-book-1

Mills and Boon – Harlequin –

https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335556462_christmas-reunion-in-paris.html

Mills and Boon Australia

https://store.millsandboon.com.au/products/christmas-reunion-in-paris?_ga=2.190695592.2088628603.1594193836-1074301285.1594045585

Thanks for reading!

💗

Love Orange by Natasha Randall #BookReview

I would like to say a huge thank you to Riverrun Books for very kindly sending me a copy of Love Orange and for having me along on the Buddy Read, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was great getting to know the other bloggers on twitter and chatting all about this brilliant book.

The blurb …

Jenny Tinkley lives to mother her two complicated sons and prop up her technology obsessive husband Hank, who has installed gadgets, cameras and voice recognition devices in their smart house. When she hears of an outreach opportunity at her church, she feels that hand-writing letters to John, inmate 6587 at Flainton Correctional Facility, will be an antidote to her high-tech isolation.

Letter by letter John pinches Jenny awake from the marshmallow numbness of her life. In their exchanges she expresses tenderness, unexpected affection. Constantly under surveillance, their letters chart a secret rebellion, a bid for freedom. But Jenny is becoming curiously dependent on the sweet orange glue that seals John’s envelopes and their lives begin to converge with toxic consequences.

Love Orange explores the ascendancy of technology, the predicaments of masculinity and the epidemic of opioid addiction in American society.

My review …

In Love Orange we are introduced to the dysfunctional and fascinating Tinkley family; Jenny, Hank and their sons, Jesse and Luke and I enjoyed getting to know all about them enormously.

Hank is a brilliant character even though most of his actions and opinions infuriated me. He’s a paranoid, anxious technophile who, emboldened by his viking heritage, is obsessed with his masculinity and teaching his boys how to be ‘real men’ whether they like it or not.

Meanwhile, thirteen-year-old Jesse’s use of technology is becoming problematic, whilst the youngest of the family, inquisitive and misunderstood, eight-year-old Luke, is left to his own devices in his basement play room.

Jenny is lonely, frustrated and disconnected from her husband. It speaks volumes about her relationship with him that she gains more comfort and understanding from her correspondence with John, her prisoner penpal, than she does from Hank. She feels trapped and undermined by the ‘smart home’ that Hank has created and she resents the way that technology has taken over their lives – even their church has a smartphone. That is until she becomes curious about the sweet orange substance that John has used to seal his envelopes, whereupon her life takes a drastic change in direction and the story delves deeper into themes of addiction and imprisonment.

It is testament to the author’s incredible talent that she has produced a work of literary fiction covering many complex issues, that is not only highly readable and relatable, but also very amusing. So many of Jenny’s feelings and fears resonated with me as a mother, and the descriptions of the minutiae of family life and the characters’ inner ponderings were brilliant.

Love Orange is a modern, original, powerful and thought provoking story that I didn’t want to end and I already want to read it all over again – I loved every page!

About the author …

Natasha Randall is a literary translator whose translations include Notes from an Underground by Dostoyevsky, A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov, and We by Zamyatin. She has edited a volume of Gogol for Riverrun, Quercus. Her articles and reviews have appeared in the TLS, LA Review and the NYT. She lives in London with her husband and young children.

#LoveOrange

🧡

Diary of a Prison Officer by Josie Channer #BookReview

The Diary of a Prison Officer blog tour starts today and I am pleased to be sharing my review. Thank you so much to the author and Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and for my gifted and signed copy of the book.

The blurb …

It’s 2003, Tony Blair is still Prime Minister and a shy loner from London, Amber Campbell, joins the prison service searching for purpose.

Behind the walls of the women’s prison Amber is determined to prove that she has what it takes. She makes a pact with two close friends to support each other no matter what. However, the three Black women struggle when they experience discrimination and disappointment at every turn. 

There is rising racial tension in her home town when twelve far right local councillors are elected. Amber reflects on the prison system in her blog and takes an emotional journey off the beaten track through Africa to find love.

My review …

Diary of a Prison Officer is a combination of diary entries and blog posts from fictional character Amber Campbell and which draws on the author’s real life experiences as a prison officer.

The story starts in 2018 as Amber is taking a tour of East Africa to explore a deeper understanding of her identity as a black woman of caribbean heritage living in London. As she travels Amber reads some of her diaries from her time as a prison officer starting in 2003. While she is reading she hopes to remind herself of why her job once meant so much to her, and also how she fell in love with her husband. It was interesting to follow Amber’s travels to the different African countries each with their own different cultures, landscapes and way of life.

The diary entries give a fascinating insight into the role of a prison officer at women’s prison, HMP Holloway, but particularly the difficulties of a black female prison officer starting at the bottom and trying to rise through the ranks. She and her fellow black colleagues are constantly overlooked for promotions, treated like ‘gophers’, bullied and rejected and if they complain are told they have an attitude problem. She wonders why 100% of cleaning staff are black but 0% of senior officers? As Amber becomes more confident in her role, she becomes an advocate for her friends and slowly starts to see some change.

She not only advocates on behalf of her BAME colleagues but also on behalf of the prisoners. She sees a vicious circle of drug addiction and reoffending and a frustrating lack of support for mentally ill and disabled prisoners. She really cares and goes above and beyond her duties to try to help these women while she herself struggles with dyslexia and shows the detrimental effect this has on her career. Amber also becomes involved in local politics and encouraging the black community to use their vote as she is alarmed to see the rise of the BNP party in her borough.

With several unnerving stories of life within the prison as well as on Amber’s African travels this was an entertaining yet thought provoking read with some emotional scenes. It’s so sad to read about women who are trapped in the cycle of drug addiction, broken homes, prostitution and crime and a probation and rehabilitation service that just doesn’t work. I thought that Amber was an inspirational character fighting back against institutionalised racism in the prison service and I was rooting for her throughout to receive the recognition she deserved.

I would recommend this interesting and timely story in light of the BLM movement and the current popularity of vocational memoirs, but I do feel that a little bit of editing would improve the flow of the book and really help it to stand out.

About the author …

Josie worked as a prison officer at Holloway Prison for many years and has a unique and specialist knowledge of how a prison is run. 

Josie likes to write about criminal justice system, politics, women’s issues and Black British history. Her work has been published with online political magazines a number of times. She is passionate about addressing the barriers that women of colour face.

Social Media Links – @JosieChanner

Follow the book tour …

Purchase links …

Station Helix by Ash Greenslade #BookReview

Today is my turn on the blog tour with Love Books Tours for the brilliant new book from Ash Greenslade. Thank you so much to Love Books Tours for the invitation to join in and also huge thanks to the author for my gifted and signed copy of the book together with a posh bookmark 😊

The blurb …

“I DON’T WANT YOU TO FEEL PARANOID ABOUT ME LYING TO YOU.”

An inexplicable suicide… A devastating car wreck… A secret Ministry of Defence facility…

Told with pace and tension, STATION HELIX is an exciting and modern novel rooted in the tradition of British thrillers.

Alex Hannay makes a shocking discovery which draws him into a perilous world of conspiracy and murder. As operatives from the CIA pursue their own operation on the streets of London, Alex is torn between protecting those who share his secret and seeking retribution for a terrible crime.

My review …

Conspiracy thrillers are not a genre that I usually read but I thoroughly enjoyed this book which is the first in a trilogy featuring Alex Hannay and centred around a Ministry of Defence secret genetic research lab called Station Helix. I would describe it as a cross between James Bond and The Line of Duty and it was a great change of scene for me.

This is an action packed and fast paced story right from the first chapter with a whole host of intriguing and untrustworthy characters. While the subject matter is complex I found it easy to follow.

The writing is very intelligent, with lots of detail and information as you’d expect from a conspiracy thriller and it’s so convincing because the author obviously knows his stuff.

I would highly recommended this tense, page turner and I’d be interested in reading the next book in the trilogy to see what Alex Hannay gets up to next! 

About the author …

Ash Greenslade is a former police officer and trainer who became hooked on thrillers after reading David Morrell’s THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE. Despite dabbling with numerous writing projects since his schooldays, it took over two decades from reading Morrell’s landmark book for Ash to finally take writing seriously. Determined to accomplish an original novel, he embarked on STATION HELIX, a conspiracy thriller inspired by a visit to Orford Ness. Originally intended as a standalone novel, STATION HELIX prompted another two books, THE ELZEVIR COLLECTIVE and TORUS, plus the RYAN KERREK spin-off series (SINISTER BETRAYAL, DEADLY ACQUISITION, BLACK SCARAB and HUNTING CARACAL).

Ash credits his love of words to weekly spelling tests from the age of four, an incredibly enthusiastic English teacher who wrote children’s stories in the 1960s, and his collection of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis and Willard Price books. Captivated by the escapism of stories, the young Ash wanted to become a children’s author, and he still has a few early projects hidden away which might resurface one day. But it was the thriller genre which grabbed him as an adult. Although Morrell remains his favourite author, he’s a fan of the old-school British stalwarts such as Buchan, Ambler, MacLean, Bagley and Higgins.

Despite his working background, Ash doesn’t write crime thrillers, preferring the more secretive and enthralling world of espionage for his stories. Betrayal and conspiracy are recurring themes. And while he avoids revealing too much of his own character through his pages, some aspects of Ash’s books are very personal, such as the scuba diving scenes in BLACK SCARAB. (Ash worked as a divemaster in the Red Sea before qualifying as an instructor in Grand Cayman.)

When time permits, Ash researches his family tree and takes photographs. Several family surnames feature in his books, and he took the cover shots for the STATION HELIX series. And while he enjoys the occasional trip to London to meet friends, visit the theatre or conduct some research for his books, he’s more at home exploring the solitude of rural Essex in search of wildlife.

He can be found online at www.ashgreenslade.net

Twitter @ashthrillers

Buy Link 

Thanks for reading!

🖤