Friday, 22 November 2019

Daughter of the Tigris by Muhsin Al-Ramli

Daughter of the Tigris by Muhsin Al-Ramli
First published in Arabic in November 2019. English language translation by Luke Leafgren published in the UK by MacLehose Press on the 14th November 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and a Book With A Vegetarian Character

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the sixth day of Ramadan, in a land without bananas, Qisma leaves for Baghdad with her husband-to-be to find the body of her father. But in the bloodiest year of a bloody war, how will she find one body among thousands?

For Tariq, this is more than just a marriage of convenience: the beautiful, urbane Qisma must be his, body and soul. But can a sheikh steeped in genteel tradition share a tranquil bed with a modern Iraqi woman?

The President has been deposed, and the garden of Iraq is full of presidents who will stop at nothing to take his place. Qisma is afraid - afraid for her son, afraid that it is only a matter of time before her father's murderers come for her.

The only way to survive is to take a slice of Iraq for herself. But ambition is the most dangerous drug of all, and it could just seal Qisma's fate.

I was impressed by Muhsin Al-Ramli's novel, The President's Gardens, when I read it in 2017 so eagerly requested a review copy of its sequel, Daughter Of The Tigris. Unfortunately I could not see that Daughter Of The Tigris repeated the gripping storytelling of the first novel so I have ended up being quite disappointed with it. Al-Ramli centres his tale around the political and financial carving up of Iraq's assets and infrastructure in the years following the war and focuses on Tariq and Qisma, a couple who married for convenience and who, during the course of the novel, forge ahead with attempts to secure their own slice of success and power.

Daughter Of The Tigris does start out well, but I felt that the characterisations swiftly ran out of steam. Even Tariq and Qisma felt two-dimensional and I soon got weary with many of their conversations being summarised to readers. Their establishment of an anodyne political party gets repetitive and I am sorry to say that I was often bored by this story. I feel my lack of connection with the narrative was due to excessive telling, rather than showing, because this is a writing style which doesn't really work for me. It's a shame because I could understand important points that Al-Ramli wanted to make about Iraq's social and political situation. I would still highly recommend readers to The President's Gardens, but sadly I am only lukewarmly enthusiastic about Daughter Of The Tigris.

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by Sognoametista in
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Thursday, 21 November 2019

The Veiled Threat by Sophia Menesini + #Giveaway + Excerpt

The Veiled Threat (The Veiled Duchess Series Book 1) by Sophia Menesini
Published in America on the 30th June 2019.

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Captain Shea Lara is the current leader of The Veiled Duchess. The most feared pirate ship in all of Neried. And now, after completing her former mentor's final score, she's retiring. Everything seems to be coming to an end... Until a mysterious stranger drags her back into the fold with an offer for a score she can't refuse. All she has to do is kidnap the crowned princess of the northern Queendom, Princess Joana
of Arethusa. The prize is just within reach. But sparks fly as the two women collide. And an obscured threat that could upturn Shea's entire world storms on the horizon. She'll face it alone unless she can allow herself the support she needs from old and new allies alike. Something's coming and Shea is at the center of it.


 “Tattle tail,” Shea whispers, but her one good eye is glued to the impossible vision in front of her. 
Where she was expecting a black hole where her left eye used to be, she sees it still intact. 
Her eyelid is there as well as if magic has stitched it back together. There’s a long gash that stops right above her brow and below her upper cheekbone. But what shocks her is the color, her normal vibrant green has completely bled away and in its place is pure white. No pupil, just white. 
It’s unnerving, yet, Shea is mesmerized by the fact that in forty-eight hours after an impossible injury her body has healed itself to extraordinary lengths. 
“Caen!” Jo shouts again. 
The doors to the bedchamber fly open and in storms Caen with Nol directly behind him. 
“What’s wrong?”
 Jo points to Shea who has since broken her transfixion on her new appearance and is back to struggling to get her boots on. 
“How are you-“ Nol starts but Caen cuts him off.
“So the first thing you do after being pardoned is chain the future queen of Arethusa to the bed?” 
“When you put it like that it makes it sound dirty,” Shea winks, smirking over at Jo who rolls her eyes in exasperation. 
“Caen, she shouldn’t be up,” Jo demands. 
But Caen is already helping. 
“You need me to carry you?” Caen asks. 
“I’m going to try walking first.” 
“Don’t worry your majesty, I’ll make sure she gets plenty of rest,” Nol tells Jo, bowing while also staring at Shea curiously. 
Shea slips on her last boot and Caen reaches out his hand to help her when she sees her gold sword at his waist. 
“My sword,” Shea coos, “you really do always come back to me.”  
Shea caresses it. 
“Don’t do that when it’s attached to me,” Caen exclaims. 
“Sorry,” Shea mutters and clears her throat. She’s about to limp out of the room when Jo calls after her. 
Shea turns back to her with a smirk, “Yes my love?” 
“You really want to do this?” 
“I really do." 
Jo looks up at the ceiling of the bedchamber as if weighing her options and then she stares Shea down from under her eyelashes, “One last kiss for the road, darling?” 
“Oh I don’t think so, it’ll give you something to look forward to,” Shea curtsies the best she can and Jo laughs in frustration. 
They’re down the hall as quick as they can be as Jo’s last scream echoes after them.  

Meet the Author 

Sophia Menesini lives in Martinez, CA with her husband, and their two small Chihuahuas, Ziggy and Zeppelin. The Veiled Threat is her first novel and the first book in The Veiled Duchess Series. Sophia is an avid tea connoisseur and lover of Scotland with an unconventional memory for obscure Disney and Broadway song lyrics. You can find her blog, updates, and other entertainment at her website

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a $10 Amazon gift card and 3x ebook copies of The Veiled Threat by Sophia Menesini.
Open internationally until the 28th November.

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Etsy Find!
by Lurcher Gallery in
Camarthen, Wales

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Wednesday, 20 November 2019

My Beautiful Detour by Amy Oestreicher + #Giveaway

An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful by Amy Oestreicher
Published in America by Singing Tree Publishing in November 2019.

An estimated 70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives and up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. An estimated 5 percent of Americans—more than 13 million people—have PTSD at any given time. Amy Oestreicher was one of them. So, what happens when an ordinary teenager has to turn into a warrior just to survive? And can the journey through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder really become an “adventure?”

Amy had ambitious plans for college and a Broadway career, until her stomach exploded the week before her senior prom. Months later, she awoke from a coma to learn that she might never be able to eat or drink again. After years on IV nutrition, her first bite of food awakened her senses to life's ordinary miracles but also brought back memories of being sexually abused by a trusted mentor for months, just before the unexpected rush to the emergency room that fateful Passover night. With determination, imagination, relentless resilience, and an inner “hunger” for life, Amy created a roadmap where none existed. Her journey through life's unthinkable detours is nothing short of miraculous, but the creative path to healing she forged is accessible to anyone. As a survivor—and “thriver”—of abuse and extensive medical trauma, Amy discovered sources of resilience she didn’t know she had but it turns out we all possess. In this book, she creates a tapestry made from each of each thread of her journey, empowering others to find gratitude in every setback and discover their own infinite inner strength. Amy’s search for “home” proves to be the greatest test of cultivating resilience after near-death, and reclaiming identity after both sexual assault and medical trauma. Amy’s journey is ultimately a celebration of ordinary and extraordinary challenges and miracles.

In this coming of age story, Amy shares her struggles and discoveries living with both visible and invisible illness, the tremendous gifts to be reaped from trauma, its lessons which have illuminated her path, and how these gifts can be discovered as a unique, yet universal way to navigate any kind of uncertainty.

Interwoven through her remarkable story are insights on navigating any kind of uncertainty, including:
• What is a “detourist”– and why is it important to take those detours?
• The importance of detours for college students
• How to transition from being a “survivor” to a “thriver”
• Amy’s” Four Hardcore Skills” to resilience
• Finding your own uniqueness not through what’s happened to you, but what you choose to do with it
• The power of art to heal
• Our innate ability to be artists, and why creativity is an essential mindset
• How sharing your story becomes imperative to healing
• How humor is a way through
• Turn messes, mistakes and setbacks into creative detours

My Beautiful Detour offers practical strategies for individuals and unexpected tools for the families of trauma survivors, helping communities build new, limitless futures. The book includes numerous “trauma insights,” and is enriched with humor, art, poetry, and useful takeaways for readers. Reading one woman’s heroic adventure through trauma, recovery, and discovery of new directions in healing the body and the mind is an empowering tale of not just getting through, but thriving.

Meet the author:
AMY OESTREICHER is an international keynote speaker, Huffington Post columnist, actor, artist, songwriter, playwright, Audie Award-nominated PSTD peer-to-peer specialist, and author. A survivor of extensive medical trauma, including 27 surgeries, and sexual assault, she shares her life story and creative strategies with therapists, medical professionals, patients, sexual abuse victims, and general audiences nationwide. Creator of the #LoveMyDetour movement to inspire individuals to thrive because of, rather than in spite of, obstacles, she has been featured on the Today show, delivered three TEDx talks, and performed her one-woman musical, Gutless & Grateful, in more than 200 venues across the country. She is also a passionate voice in the ostomy community and presents narrative medicine workshops.

Connect with the author:
Website  ~  Twitter  ~ Facebook  ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!  

Win one of three hardback copies of
My Beautiful Detour by Amy Oestreicher
(three winners)
Open to the USA and Canada only.
Ends December 24th, 2019

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Etsy Find!
by Wonderland By Clarice in
the UK

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Books by Amy Oestreicher / Biography and memoir / Books from America

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Cecilia House by Simon Gandossi + #Giveaway

Cecilia House by Simon Gandossi
Published in Australia by Xlibris in September 2019.

Life is a precious gift and it can change within the blink of an eye, something Patricia discovered at a young age. After an extremely tragic event her loving family, good friends and many dreams and aspirations were all gone. An unwanted child was sent to what was supposed to be a place of lovingness and warmth. Instead she soon discovered that those responsible for her care added so much more pain and sadness to many lives. What occurred within the walls of Cecilia House was one of the most despicable and unimaginable acts to ever happen within an organization whose duty it was to protect innocent children.

Meet the author:
Born and raised in Western Australia, author Simon Gandossi grew up on a small quiet farm. Very early on in his life he began to visit museums. As he looked at the various antiques, he created stories about each of them in his mind. When his father bought him his first computer, those stories came to life. That passion for history grew over the years making him one of the best up-and-coming historical fiction writers.

His first two books Elsa and For Beau – The Sarah Ashdown Story have gained outstanding reviews from several major bookstores and critics. His unique perspective shocks and inspires those who read them. This has carried over into his newest novel Cecilia House when yet again Simon has created a confronting and powerful story.

Simon will continue to write on that same peaceful farm from which he wrote his first story so that for a long time to come we all will be captivated by his work.

Connect with the author:
Website  ~  Twitter  ~ Facebook  ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!  

Win a $25 Amazon gift card
Open internationally.
Ends December 13th, 2019

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Etsy Find!
by Marlenes Jewel Box in
the UK

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Monday, 18 November 2019

Two Thousand Lines by Michelle Jester + #Giveaway

Two Thousand Lines by Michelle Jester
Published in America on the 21st November 2019.

Add Two Thousand Lines to your Goodreads

Olivia Brooks has been able to keep her life in Sugar Mill, Louisiana held perfectly together, far away from the small town where she grew up. Even though her past still haunts her, she has found a perfect process of surviving, until a string of events brings Luke Plaisance to Sugar Mill and turns her organized life upside down. While Olivia fights to hold on to the life she's created, unraveling it may be exactly what it takes for her to truly survive. She must accept her past in order to live, or let it threaten the only future she's ever wanted. Because some secrets can't stay buried - and shouldn't. An inspiring and heartbreaking tale of abandonment, survival, and purpose. A harrowing journey of self-discovery and perseverance.

Meet the Author 

Michelle Jester lives in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana with her husband, high school sweetheart and retired Master Sergeant. Together they have a son and daughter. She is a hopeless romantic and has been writing poems and stories for as long as she can remember. One of her prize possessions is a bracelet with only a yellow, Rubber Duckie charm on it; which she wears every day to remind her to enjoy the fun and happy things of life!

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is 2x $20 Amazon gift cards.
Open internationally until the 28th November.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Etsy Find!
by Bookish Oasis in
Acton, Canada

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Books by Michelle Jester / Young adult fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 17 November 2019

The Raided Heart by Jennifer C Wilson + #Giveaway + Excerpt

The Raided Heart by Jennifer C Wilson
Published in the UK by Ocelot Press on the 10th October 2019.

Add The Raided Heart to your Goodreads

Meg Mathers, the headstrong youngest sibling of a reiving family on the English-Scottish border, is determined to remain at her childhood home, caring for the land and village she’s grown up with. When an accident brings her a broken ankle and six weeks in the resentful company of ambitious and angry young reiver Will Hetherington, attraction starts to build. Both begin to realise they might have met their match, and the love of their lives, but 15th century border living is not that simple, as Meg soon finds herself betrothed to the weakling son of a tyrannical neighbour, Alexander Gray. When tragedy strikes, can Meg and Will find their way back to each other, and can Will finally take his own personal revenge on Gray?


Will was the last through the huge door. Not having been at Long Ridge that long, he was still finding his feet amongst the camaraderie of his fellow-riders, although they had acknowledged he was a good raider, despite his young age and lack of real blood-link to the village. His sister Cecily had vouched for him, having been married to a local lad, Tom Reed, for the past five years, and gained the Mathers’ trust. Now he brought in his beloved mare, fussing over her as she grew fractious at the noise around her, in such a small space. Keeping one hand rubbing her ear, he threw the reins over the nearest spare beam. He preferred to do this himself, rather than letting Meg do it; however good Meg seemed to be with the animals, Patience was his horse, and he knew how best to care for her. 
He hadn’t noticed the lady of the house approaching with another horse, seeking to tie this one up beside Patience. Hadn’t sensed her momentary distraction as she threw the reins over the beam beside him. Hadn’t noticed Patience’s hint of fear as the reins glanced her ear, spooking her. The sudden rush of fear caused her to rear up, constrained and frightened in the enclosed area, even more so as Will had already fastened her reins tightly to stop her straying. She thrashed about, with everyone rushing to calm her. 
Then, suddenly, she side-stepped into Meg. 


At first, Meg didn’t notice the pain. 
Then it began to spread: a warm sensation, rushing through her foot and ankle over the next few heartbeats, and now a strange feeling growing up the lower half of her leg. She ignored it; it was nothing but a strange reaction to the relief of the group making it home safely. A new reaction, true, but things could change over the years, she told herself. 
Only when the movement around her slowed for a moment did she realise she wasn’t able to put her foot wholly on the floor, with pain shooting through her whole body. Unable to stop herself, she cried out loud and grabbed at the nearby doorframe to keep herself upright, as Robert and the young raider rushed to her side, albeit with very different expressions on their faces. 
“It’s nothing! It’s nothing!” Meg cried, hoping neither would make a fuss over her. She just needed to get to her bed, to rest. She couldn’t afford to be injured. She could work through the pain. 
It was too late, as her brother took charge, turning on the young lad at his side. “Will, what the hell do you think you’re playing at, letting your animal knock her flying? If this is broken…”
“I didn’t ‘let’ my animal do anything, Sir – she was spooked, that’s all, by the reins going over the beam.” Will spoke back, probably more strongly than he intended. 
“So it’s Meg’s fault, is that what you’re saying?” Robert snapped back. “No other horse has ever sent her flying.” 
“Gentlemen, please, I was not sent flying anywhere. I’m fine.” Meg tried to argue, but Robert was having none of it, insisting that Will apologise for something he evidently didn’t even see as his fault. 
Even so, the young man made an attempt to put things right, already shrugging off his jacket and wrapping it clumsily around Meg’s foot. “Is it broken?” 
Meg could see that even as he asked about her ankle, one eye was on Patience. The mare was being calmed by Judd, who had shooed the other men out of the way. 
 “I can’t tell. I don’t think so. Probably just a sprain,” replied Meg between gasps through her teeth. She hoped she was right; a broken ankle was the last thing any of them needed at the start of the winter. 
Without allowing her another word of complaint, Robert had hoisted her into his arms, and carried her up to her bed. Unable to stand the growing pain any further, Meg slumped against him, heartbroken that in that moment, she didn’t have the strength to fight the faint she knew was coming.

Meet the author

Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history and historical fiction whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England for work reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her time-slip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, by Ocelot Press. She lives in North Tyneside, and is very proud of her approximately 2-inch sea view.

Author links: 
Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Website

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is one of two x e-copies of timeslip novella The Last Plantagenet? by Jennifer C Wilson
This giveaway is open Internationally until the 25th November 2019.

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  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.

Etsy Find!

by Peter Philips Art in
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Books by Jennifer C Wilson / Historical fiction / Books from England