Saturday, 30 November 2019

Roaring Girls by Holly Kyte


Roaring Girls: The forgotten feminists of British history by Holly Kyte
Published in the UK by HQ on the 28th November 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A Roaring Girl was loud when she should be quiet, disruptive when she should be submissive, sexual when she should be pure, ‘masculine’ when she should be ‘feminine’.

Meet the unsung heroines of British history who refused to play by the rules.

Roaring Girls tells the game-changing life stories of eight formidable women whose grit, determination and radical unconventionality saw them defy the odds to forge their own paths.

From the notorious cross-dressing thief Mary Frith in the seventeenth century to rebel slave Mary Prince and adventurer, industrialist and LGBT trailblazer Anne Lister in the nineteenth, these diverse characters redefined what a woman could be and what she could do in pre-twentieth-century Britain.

Bold, inspiring and powerfully written, Roaring Girls tells the electrifying histories of women who, despite every effort to suppress them, dared to be extraordinary.

I love books which link and advance ideas and concepts I have already discovered through previous works so Roaring Girls was a perfect read for me. Holly Kyte's eight chosen women include (arguably) Britain's first science fiction author Margaret Cavendish who was brought to my attention through Monster, She Wrote and whose novel The Blazing World I went on to read, and Antiguan slave Mary Prince whose autobiography, The History of Mary Prince, I've also read. Kyte also tells the stories of Mary Frith, Mary Astell, Charlotte Charke, Hannah Snell, Anne Lister and Caroline Norton. I had vaguely heard a couple of these names before, but knew little of their lives or importance to women's history and was eager to learn.

Kyte gives well researched biographies of each of these women, exploring how the lives they led were considered outrageous and scandalous in their times, and showing how their influence had a profound effect on women's lives in the centuries to follow them. She writes in a lively and engaging style so Roaring Girls is actually quite the page-turner! I was interested in her cautions to see each woman in the context of the times in which she lived. Certainly, in several cases, their words or actions have problematic aspects when viewed from a twenty-first century perspective. However we interpret them today, these women were often intensely disliked by their peers, female as well as male. I was reminded of Zeba Talkhani's thoughts on her experience of female misogyny and how it is often women who cannot or will not oppose patriarchal systems themselves who are the most destructive towards their sisters who do threaten the status quo. Kyte shows us that this is nothing new.

As Kyte says, it is important for women today to remember our forebears' fights and to ensure these early feminists maintain their place in our history. The stories we tell ourselves and our children inform our understanding of the world. If we want to live in a balanced and tolerant society, we need to ensure all women's lives are portrayed in these stories, not just a narrow view of us as demure, submissive ornaments. We Need New Stories showed me just how shockingly wide the gaps are and Roaring Girls is an excellent resource to help fill them in.


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Friday, 29 November 2019

Cold Fear by Mads Peder Nordbo


Cold Fear by Mads Peder Nordbo
First published in Danish as Kold Angst by Politikens Forlag in 2018. English language translation by Charlotte Barslund published by Text Publishing in October 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads

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

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


When Danish Journalist Matthew Cave’s half-sister Arnaq disappears, leaving behind only a trail of blood, he realises they are both pawns in a game of life and death.

As a young US soldier stationed in Greenland, their father took part in a secret experiment with deadly consequences. Accused of murder, he was forced into hiding.

Desperate to discover the link between these two disappearances, Matthew is joined by Tupaarnaq, a young Inuit woman, who returns to Nuuk to help her only friend—and to settle a few scores of her own.

But, as things begin to unravel, Matthew begins to wonder: Is the father he has been searching for his entire life actually a cold-blooded murderer? And is Tupaarnaq really who he thinks she is?

Cold Fear is the second of two new sequels I was looking forward to this month. You might already know how underwhelmed I was with Daughter Of The Tigris which is Muhsin Al-Ramli's follow up to The President's Gardens. Well, unfortunately I found Cold Fear to be even more disappointing! I'd rated its predecessor, The Girl Without Skin, as a 4-star thriller, but it seemed to me that all the aspects I'd appreciated in that novel were glaringly absent from this one. I did just about manage to read through to the end, all the time hoping for a glimpse of Nordbo's previous style.

Cold Fear is all about its violent action scenes, most of which are graphically vicious. Male characters rush about being generally nasty to each other, but without sufficient depth to the character portrayals or much of a coherent narrative I struggled to understand their motivations or reasoning. Women only exist to be abused and even Tupaarnaq - a strong enigmatic female role in the first novel - is now reduced to an object for Matthew to continually leer at.

I would still recommend reading The Girl Without Skin, but as a standalone novel without continuing on to Cold Fear.


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Thursday, 28 November 2019

Wingless And Beautiful by Jerilee Kaye + #Giveaway


Wingless And Beautiful by Jerilee Kaye
Published in America by KIX Creative Publishing House on the 21st November 2019.


Beautiful Allison Harley is far from perfect. She was a victim of domestic violence that left her physically scarred and emotionally broken.

Hunter Vaugh was handsome, rich and brilliant. He was a golden boy who thought he was invincible until a tragedy took away his perfect life… along with his ability to see.

When they met, Allison was running away from her nightmares, and Hunter thought he had no reason to undergo the treatments needed to recover his eyesight.

He was blind, but he saw how beautiful she was, and she gave him a reason to live… a reason to see again. She was his angel, and he was hers.

Hunter went away with a promise that once he returns, he will be able to see her, protect her… be the guardian angel she deserved.

But once he got his eyesight back, can he look past the scars that her nightmares left her? Will he keep the promises he made her? Or will he go back to his perfect life and leave her in the hands of the new angel, who took care of her when he left?





Meet the author:
Jerilee Kaye was born under the sign of Leo in the year 1979. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Legal Management from De La Salle University. She has post-graduate qualifications in the fields of Product Management, Project Management and Procurement. She is a Certified Senior Professional in Supply Management from NLPA, Pennsylvania and is currently working her way to an MCIPS certification from CIPS UK.

She manages a global supplier portfolio for multi-national and government entities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. She is also an entrepreneur, managing a photography and printing company with her husband.

She is married to her first love, Sam, who she's been dating since she was 16. They are blessed with two beautiful angels, MarQuise Justine Jerilee and Sir Alfred IV.

When she's not buried under stacks of paper at work, or engrossed with her writing, she spends some down time playing golf, kicking her husband's butt on a judo match and learning to play the piano.

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

Enter the Giveaway!  

Win 2 ebooks, Jerilee Kaye's INTERTWINED and ALL THE WRONG REASONS (one winner)
Ends December 11th, 2019

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by Wise Gal Customs in
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Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Distant Memory by Maureen A. Miller + #Giveaway + Excerpt


Distant Memory by Maureen A. Miller
Published in America on the 25th November 2019.


Add Distant Memory to your Goodreads

Whose life does Hollie Musgrave recall? Is it even her own?

Dreams of a house Hollie has never been to plague her. They haunted her since childhood when her mother used to joke about reincarnation. Now, as an adult, the dreams have returned. Desperate for relief she seeks out a hypnotist to pry any clues from her latent memories. One notion leads her to a farmhouse hundreds of miles away.

Todd Hewitt bought the farmhouse in Pennsylvania in search of seclusion after the drama of the past three years. When a woman shows up on his doorstep he assumes she is just another reporter looking for an interview, however, her tale is too absurd to be a hoax.

Together they try to piece together her missing past.
And someone has been anticipating that.
Someone has been waiting for Hollie to remember.


Excerpt

“I could go back to the hypnotherapist. Maybe there’s more–” She tapped the side of her head. “More in here.”

“Oh, I’ve got no doubt there’s more going on inside there,” he chuckled. “But seriously, that might not be a bad idea.”

Hollie gripped the steering wheel, relieved that his response seemed sincere and not judgmental. Drawing in a deep breath, she added, “I don’t know how long you can stay, but if I can get an appointment tomorrow or the next day, would you come with me?”

Not, will you go to dinner with me?
Will you go to a movie with me?
Will you stroll along the beach with me?
No. Will you go to the hypnotherapist with me? 
Yeah, you’re a real catch, Musgrave.



Meet the Author 
USA TODAY bestselling author, Maureen A. Miller worked in the software industry for fifteen years. She crawled around plant floors in a hard hat and safety glasses hooking up computers to behemoth manufacturing machines. The job required extensive travel. The best form of escapism during those lengthy airport layovers became writing.

Maureen's first novel, WIDOW'S TALE, earned her a Golden Heart nomination in Romantic Suspense. After that she became hooked to the genre. In fact, she was so hooked she is the founder of the JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE website. Recently, Maureen branched out into the Young Adult Science Fiction market with the popular BEYOND Series. To her it was still Romantic Suspense...just on another planet!

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a $25 Amazon gift card.
Open internationally until the 5th December.

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by Stone Foxes UK in
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Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Me and the Japanese Beauty Standards by Tomomi Tsuchio


Me and the Japanese Beauty Standards
by Tomomi Tsuchio
First written in Japanese. English language translation by Angelli Angara and Tomomi Tsuchio self published in America in July 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Ever feel like you’re not enough? That no matter what you do it seems that you always fall short in society’s expectations of you in terms of looks? How about your relationships? Does it seem that insecurities get the best of you? 
The author of this book, Tomomi Tsuchio, went through the same battle and fought that journey. Today, she stands strong yet vulnerable, sharing her most intimate stories in finding herself.

You will feel as if you are not alone. This book will help to show you that the insecurities, struggles, mistakes, and shames we face in life are expected things, that we all go through. It is not about being perfect! It is about being YOU!!!! 
You will understand that the beauty we see on TV, in magazines, and on social media is not the only kind of beauty. 
You will learn how essential it is to know who you are. If you are struggling in with relationships, self-love or just the trials of life, this book may provide a bit of advice to help you through the hard times. 

Tomomi Tsuchio's very personal memoir, Me and the Japanese Beauty Standards, tells of her emotional journey from low self-esteem, bullying and bulimia, to her current life as a successful personal trainer in her own gym. This is a short book so Tsuchio doesn't go into great detail on how this transformation came about, rather she gives general advice on spotting how outside social pressures affect our ability to accurately view ourselves. It is much easier to allow negative comparisons with cultural standards or magazine models to cloud our judgement than it is to appreciate our individual beauty.

I was interested to learn how beauty standards change according to the opinions of different countries, or even within the same country in the case of somewhere as large as America. I could also empathise with Tsuchio's maturing view of herself as she approaches the age of forty. At only a few years older myself, I have found a similar acceptance of my own appearance as I have aged. Some of this is, of course, learning to present ourselves to our best advantage, but also - and more importantly - it's realising that confidence and self belief actually have a far greater effect on attractiveness than even the most expensive of makeup items or surgeries! Thank you to Tomomi Tsuchio for opening her heart in this memoir and allowing her experiences to reassure and help women the world over.


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Monday, 25 November 2019

Snowfall at Moonglow by Deborah Garner + #Giveaway


Snowfall at Moonglow by Deborah Garner
Published in America by Cranberry Cove Press on the 22nd November 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and a Book With Vegan Characters
I am linking this post up with November's Foodies Read at Based On A True Story


Add Snowfall At Moonglow to your Goodreads

Each holiday season, new and returning guests gather in the small town of Timberton, Montana, to celebrate Christmas at the Timberton Hotel. Resident artist and chef Mist’s unique way of offering exceptional cuisine, exquisite décor, and a touch of the unexpected, has a way of bringing visitors and local townsfolk together in heartfelt camaraderie.

As this year’s guests arrive with hopes of a white Christmas, unseasonably warm weather hints at a less-than-wintery wonderland. But whether the snow falls or not, one thing is certain: with Mist around, there's bound to be a little magic. No one ever leaves Timberton without renewed hope for the future. 


*Cookie recipes included!


Read my reviews of the earlier books in this series:




I'm feeling particularly Christmassy right now even though it is still only November and that's because I have just finished reading Deborah Garner's newest annual Timberton novella, Snowfall At Moonglow. This series has become one of my eagerly anticipated Christmas traditions and I am delighted to be able to tell you how much I enjoyed visiting Mist, Betty and all the regulars again. This year it initially looks as though the seasonal atmosphere might be marred by a lack of snow as the Montana town is experiencing an unseasonably warm December. But of course the weather wouldn't dare to defy Mist's plans for her guests so everything is picture perfect before long!

I could particularly identify with the story in Snowfall At Moonglow this year because not only does the annual cookie exchange take centre stage for a while (and lots of recipes are included for us readers to bake up later), but also two of the hotel's guests are vegans! I loved how Garner has Mist intersperse vegan dishes with omnivore ones especially when they are so well received and enjoyed by everyone. There certainly is more to veganism than lettuce and reading about Mist's breakfast tofu scramble reminded me that I hadn't made that for myself in ages. Guess what my brunch was today?!

I did feel as though perhaps we didn't get to know the new guests as well as we had done in previous years and I would have liked to know more about Allison and Kinsley's history. However I loved losing myself in the build-up to Christmas at the Timberton Hotel with all that this involves. It almost feels like a home from home - although do Americans really not pull crackers at Christmas? Where do you all get your miniature sewing kits from if not out of a cracker?!

Thank you to Deborah Garner for this lovely seasonal tale. I'm going to put our Christmas music playlist on now and veganise a couple of those tempting cookie recipes!

Meet the author

Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

Author links: 
Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads

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Win your choice of $25 Amazon.com Gift Card or Paypal
Ending on Sunday 15th December at 11.59pm EST
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by Marzipops in
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Sunday, 24 November 2019

Murder in the Multiverse by R.E. McLean


Murder in the Multiverse by R.E. McLean
Published in the UK by Catawampus Press on the 22nd November 2019.


Add Murder in the Multiverse to your Goodreads

The Multiverse Investigations Unit - fighting crime across the Multiverse.
Alex Strand is finding her way as the newest and most ginger member of the University of Berkeley Physics Faculty.
But when the murder of reclusive internet billionaire Claire Pope proves insoluble, she’s recruited to the top-secret Multiverse Investigations Unit.
Hidden in the parking lot of San Francisco Police HQ, the unit investigates murders by sending officers to parallel universes in which the victim is still alive – for now.
Alex needs to prove herself. With the help of the mysterious Sarita Jones, the bizarrely-bearded Sergeant Mike Long and Schrödinger the quantum cat, can she track down the murderer, prevent the same crime from happening in a parallel version of San Francisco, and get back before closing time?


Excerpt

This is the third chapter in the novel. So far, we have witnessed the mysterious murder of reclusive internet billionaire Claire Pope and met our protagonist Alex Strand, a Scottish quantum physicist working at the University of Berkeley, San Francisco. Alex is working on the Cheshire Cat experiment and has discovered something that could change the way humanity views the universe. Now she’s arriving home to see her somewhat unusual cat.

Alex opened the door to her apartment block. She took the steps two at a time, desperate to talk to someone. Schrödinger wouldn’t understand a word she was about to tell him, but at least he made a good listener. That is, if he’d chosen to be alive today.

The first time Schrödinger had died was the second worst night of Alex's life.

She'd had a tough day at work, just two months into her new job and learning how to find her way through the maze of Berkeley’s faculty politics. She hadn’t made any friends yet, and was sure when people looked at her they imagined not a small, geeky physicist but the girl from Brave. She’d heard mutters of ach, wee lassie follow her around the building.

She arrived home looking forward to a long, hot bath and a beer or three. The streets were dark and chilly; it was early November and Hallowe’en still hovered in the air.

"Shrew?" she'd called as she fell through the front door. "Puss, puss?"

Schrödinger—or Shrew as she had taken to calling him after realizing that his name made her look like a bit of a dork—was an old-fashioned kind of cat who would respond to all the silly, clichéd noises and mewings she could direct at him. Even in French, which she found impressive.

But that night, there was no response.

She hurried through the apartment, calling his name in increasingly strident tones.  But he was nowhere. She tested all the window latches, checked behind the couch and under her duvet.

No cat.

Finally she arrived back in the kitchen. On the table, left there from the previous night, was a cardboard box. Maybe he'd climbed inside.

The top was closed, but not sealed. If he'd climbed in and gone to sleep, there was a chance it had fallen shut over him.

Slowly, her heart thumping in her ears, she lifted the lid.

And there he was, curled up in the bottom of the box. Lifeless, motionless. Dead.

She reached a trembling hand inside to touch his fur. He was cold. She let out a high-pitched gasp and plugged her mouth with her fist. She reached out again and laid her hand gently on the top of his head. It was still.

Nausea rose up from her stomach. Overcome by tears, she rushed to the bathroom and dry-retched into the toilet.

She sat on the bathroom floor for a few minutes, recovering her breath and checking that her stomach had calmed down, then ventured back into the kitchen.

The box was still there. It was still open. And, head poking up from it, looking confused, was Schrödinger.

"Meow", he said.

She rushed to him, pulling him out of the box and spinning him around at arm's length above her head.

"Shrew, ya wee bampot,” she crowed. "You had me going there."

He said nothing (he may be a quantum cat, but he was still a cat) but threw out a paw to hit her in the eye. She laughed and put him on the floor. He rubbed against her legs and trotted over to his bowl, munching noisily.

Alex was tempted to tell her fellow Physics postdocs—but couldn't quite bring herself to. A cat that lived in a state of quantum flux, that was both alive and dead until she actually, well, looked at him—would be a marvel, fit either for the circus or the lab.

So his strange habit of dying had become their little secret.

Tonight she was worried about him. He didn’t like it when she worked late. She crossed her fingers as she climbed the stairs, muttering an atheist’s prayer under her breath.

She heard movement behind the door to her apartment. She blew out a long, relieved breath and fell through it, ready to pick her cat up and give him a tight hug.

“Shrew?”

“Meow?” he poked his head out of his box on the kitchen table. Had he been dead until she’d called him?

“Good boy.” She kissed the top of his head. “Eww. Have a wash, boy.”

He smelled odd. Sharp, like he’d spent the afternoon gluing his whiskers together.

“Shrew?”

She shook her head. There’d been no glue in the lab, and there was none here.

She gathered him up and switched on the TV. The news was a murder. Nothing new; this was San Francisco. Sometimes she missed her sleepy hometown.

Alex grabbed a beer and slumped onto the sofa. Schrödinger jumped out of her arms and onto the coffee table, staring at the screen. Someone called Claire Pope had been stabbed. A billionaire who’d made her fortune manufacturing pet food.

“That’s your favorite, Shrew.”

He continued staring at the screen. The newsreel was showing footage of the victim’s apartment—something luxurious in Pacific Heights. Then it flipped to images of Claire Pope on her wedding day.

Schrödinger hissed. Alex put a palm on his back.

“Hey, boy. Shush, it’s ok.”

His back arched against her hand. His fur was damp, the way it got when he’d been fighting.

“You don’t like that guy’s specs, boy? Nor me.”

She flicked to the next channel and Schrödinger calmed. He sidled into her lap and she leaned back to stare at the ceiling, musing over what she’d seen on Dr Katz’s monitor last night.


Meet the author

Greetings, budding Multiverse Investigator!

My name's RE McLean and I'm the author of the Multiverse Investigations Unit books and stories.

When I'm not fighting off quantum cats, jumping between parallel universes and wondering how my character got turned into a ten-foot rabbit, I spend my time geeking out with my two sons, laughing at my (very stupid but totally unquantum) cats and planning the next story.

Do YOU have what it takes to become a Multiverse Investigator?

Join Alex Strand and her team of oddballs as they hop between universes, solve crimes, and always get back before closing time. And find out how Alex's cat Schrödinger became a quantum cat in his EXCLUSIVE origins story. All at multiverse-investigations.com.

Author links: 
Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Website



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by Garrett Cards in
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