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.

Etsy Find!
by Power Up Pins 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.

Etsy Find!
by B M Framer in
the UK

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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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Etsy Find!
by Wise Gal Customs in
Pennsylvania, USA

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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.

Etsy Find!
by Flora Collection in
London, England

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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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Ending on Sunday 15th December at 11.59pm EST
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Etsy Find!

by Marzipops in
Michigan, USA

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Saturday, 23 November 2019

Mambo by Melanie Munton + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Mambo (Sultry Nights #5) by Melanie Munton
Published in America on the 19th November 2019.

Add Mambo to your Goodreads

Mambo (n): a spicy, sensual dance with a high energy level, sometimes described as raunchy; characterized by a free and spontaneous style

Sophie Fuentes didn't get her family out of Miami. Now, el diablo has the most precious thing in the world to her. She has to put all of her trust in DEA agent Max Romano--trust that has been severely tested--in order to keep those she loves alive. But it's not easy when the bullets start flying and cars start exploding. 

Max has already risked his life to protect Sophie, and he'll risk it over and over again until she's safe. This all started because he couldn't keep his hands off her, and it will end because he's too obsessed to ever let her go. Her enemies are now his enemies. And taking them down is nothing short of a life or death scenario. 

But those enemies also have no idea what lengths he'll go to in order to protect the woman he can't live without.
Whether he actually lives through it or not.


Max studies me for another moment, his amber gaze piercing something deep inside me. Then he surges forward and seals his mouth over mine. 
When he takes me by the upper arms and lifts me to my feet, I realize what he’s doing. With this kiss, he’s telling me he’ll always be here to let me fall when I need to, but he’ll also be ready to pick me right back up and put together whatever pieces of myself have broken off. He’ll shoulder the weight of my burdens and grief whenever I need a reprieve. And he’ll hand them back over when I’m ready because he knows that’s what I need. He respects that I need to be responsible for myself.
This man is perfect for me.
For this brief moment in time, I lose myself to that revelation and to his kiss. 
I fling my arms around his neck, taking him by surprise, and thrust my tongue into his mouth. After his feet have regained their balance, he meets my eagerness with similar gusto. He slides his tongue over mine and cradles my head with his big hand. Noises come from the back of my throat when he tightens his hold on me, shoving me harder against the wall. I suck in a much-needed breath when he rips his mouth away to trail open-mouthed kisses down my neck. They’re not exactly hungry kisses—more like reverent ones. They’re kisses that let me know he cherishes me. That he’ll always take care of me the way I need to be cared for. 
When he pulls away, I understand why.
And I love him even more for it.
If he keeps going, he’s going to want more. And I’m just not in the right frame of mind to be fully invested in any love making, which wouldn’t be fair to him. He knows all of this, probably before I even knew it myself. 
“Let’s get you in the shower,” he says in that deep timbre I love.
With heart-wrenching tenderness, he slowly undresses me. Starting with my tank top, he lifts the hem and draws it over my head. His eyes noticeably heat when they fall on my lacy black bra, but he remains focused on his task and reaches around me to undo the clasp without touching my breasts. After he drops the bra to the floor, I think he purposely avoids looking at them altogether.
I guess a man, even in the midst of chaos, can handle only so much temptation.
Which means he must experience pure torment when he lowers himself to his knees to pull down my skirt. His breathing turns ragged, sounding loud in the otherwise quiet room. His movements speed up after the black material pools at my feet. His fingers quickly remove my underwear and toss them aside, as if he can no longer look at them without doing something about it. But before he pushes back to his feet, he lays a sweet kiss on my thigh.
My hips jolt forward at the contact.
The action isn’t intentional. Just a reflex to feeling his mouth anywhere near my inner thighs. 
He freezes. 
His eyes dart up to mine, questions brewing in them. My only response is to bite my lip because I’m not even sure what I want or need right now. 
But as always, Max already knows.
He lowers his gaze and swallows. “I’ve got you, baby,” he whispers against my mons. “Hold on to me and let me take you away for a minute.”

Meet the Author 

Traveler. Reader. Beach-goer. St. Louis Cardinals fan. Pasta-obsessed. North Carolina resident. Sarcastic. Bit of a nerd.

Author of the Cruz Brothers, Possession and Politics, and Timid Souls series, Melanie loves all things romance, comedies and suspense in particular because it's boring to only stick to one sub-genre! From light-hearted comedies to sexy thrillers, she likes to mix it up, but loves her some strong alpha males and sassy heroines.

Go visit Melanie's website and sign up for her newsletter to stay updated on release dates, teasers, and other details for all of her projects!

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a $10 Amazon gift card.
Open internationally until the 28th November.

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Etsy Find!
by Frivolous Tendencies in
Oregon, USA

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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.

Etsy Find!
by Sognoametista in
Alice Castello, Italy

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Books by Muhsin Al-Ramli / Contemporary fiction / Books from Iraq

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

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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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