Tuesday, 31 March 2020

A Question Of Country by Sue Parritt

A Question Of Country by Sue Parritt
Published by Magnus Opus on the 30th March 2020.

A Question of Country
On Christmas Eve 1969, a letter from Australia House, London, brings welcome news for newly-weds Anna and Joseph Fletcher.
Young and idealistic, Anna falls passionately in love with their adopted land. Seven months later, an unexpected event causes their life to take a stressful turn.
Years pass, and Anna retreats to a fictional world she has created. But when a different challenge presents itself, does she have the courage to take the risk… or will she take refuge in fantasy?

Meet the author 

Originally from England, Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories, articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and seven novels:

Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2014.  Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016.  Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2016. The Sky Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.

Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017

Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

Feed Thy Enemy, based on Sue’s father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

A Question of Country explores the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity. Next Chapter (formerly Creativia Publishing), 2020.

Sue’s current project, working title: Twenty-eight Days, first in The Doorkeeper series, is set in Southern Australia in 2100. It deals with overpopulation and extended life expectancy in an increasingly climate-challenged world and the inhumane solutions adopted by a government determined to rid Australia of unproductive citizens.

Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism.  Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.

Author links: 

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Monday, 30 March 2020

One Last Shot by Stephen Anthony Brotherton + free #ShortStory

One Last Shot by Stephen Anthony Brotherton
Published by Book Guild Publishing on the 28th February 2020.


One Last Shot concludes the trilogy of Freddie and Jo-Jo, which has moved through time in a series of flashbacks, showing how the couple fell in love as teenagers, why they drifted apart, what happened in their lives away from each other, and what happens when they meet up again over three decades later. At the end of the second book, An Extra Shot, Jo-Jo tells Freddie about her dark secret. Confused, vulnerable and in a state of shock, he says he needs time to think about what to do next. Jo-Jo’s right to be worried. Freddie doesn’t react well... 

First Mate

An original, unpublished short story by Stephen Anthony Brotherton, Author of the Shots trilogy.

‘Over there,’ I said. ‘The one with the black gypsy curls and the dark, sleepy eyes.’
 ‘He’s young,’ said Emma. ‘And he looks exactly like Jake.’
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Cute.’
We walked over to the waltzers and sat down in the nearest car. Cute boy jumped on the back and grinned down at the pair of us. He had a gold sovereign ring on the middle finger of his right hand and a red-faced pirate tattoo on his forearm. ‘You two okay?’ he said.
‘I am now,’ I said, looking up at him. ‘Are you going to stay there?’
‘If you want.’
‘I’d like that. These things make me nervous.’
‘You’ll be fine,’ he said. ‘I’ll look after you.’ 
‘See you later, Captain,’ shouted Emma. 
‘Captain?’ he said, still standing on the back of the now stationary waltzer.
‘It’s a private joke. Not funny really.’  
‘I’m Steve,’ he said.
‘Nicki,’ I said. 
‘So, Nicki, if you can wait ten minutes, I’ll show you the fair.’
‘Do I get a candyfloss?’
‘You can have a bucket load.’
‘In that case, I’ll wait.’ 
Steve lifted his head off the rifle butt, looked up at me and winked. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘That bear’s as good as yours.’
‘You have to get all six for the bear,’ said the Shoot a Duck man.
‘I know, Harry. I’ve worked here long enough. And I want the big bear, not the puny thing you give to punters.’
‘The sign says win a bear,’ said Harry. ‘It don’t specify a size.’
‘Yeah,’ said Steve, closing his one eye and squeezing the trigger. ‘You can explain that to me later if you want.’
I cuddled the snow white bear into my chest as we walked away from the stall. ‘Didn’t you promise me a candyfloss?’ I said.
‘I think I might have.’
‘Are you always so bossy?’ 
‘You’ll get used to me. What about my candyfloss?’
‘Okay. I’ll get you a candyfloss.’ 
I dropped the bear on the grass and put my arms around Steve’s neck. ‘You want your reward here?’ I said.
‘My reward?’
‘For winning me the bear.’
He looked around the fairground.
‘Or we could go somewhere more private,’ I said.
I skidded my red Ford Capri off the gravel carpark.
‘So, how long have you worked at the fair, Steve?’ 
‘Just this summer,’ he said. 
‘It must be exciting, meeting different people every night.’
‘Yeah. A new town every couple of weeks. It suits me.’
‘And a new girl?’ 
‘Not really. What about you?’  
‘Oh, boring, boring. Shop assistant, live alone.’
‘Your mate seems like fun.’
‘Emma. We’ve been best friends since junior school.’
‘What’s the Captain thing about?’
‘It’s silly. When we were kids we used to belong to a Bug Club, collecting insects in jam-jars. I was the Captain. It sort of stuck.’
 ‘Didn’t the bugs just die?’
‘Not straight away. We put air holes in the lids.’
We’d been driving through country lanes for about twenty minutes. Neither of us had said a word for the last five. 
‘Where are we going?’ he said.
‘I wondered when you were going to ask.’   
‘I trust you,’ he said, putting his hand on my knee. 
‘You’ve only just met me.’
‘Ah, but I’m a good judge of character. I have a knack for it.’
‘Yeah. Okay. Tell me what you think you know.’
‘About what?’
‘About me. If you’re that good, it should be easy.’
‘Well, you’ve got kind eyes…’ 
‘…Everyone says that. When you ask them what they think of you. They always say something nice about your eyes. It doesn’t mean anything.’
‘Okay. You like candyfloss and big cuddly bears. How can that be wrong?’
‘Yeah, well, even Hitler liked watercolours.’
‘You still haven’t said where we going.’ 
‘My place,’
‘You must live out in the sticks?’ 
 ‘My Dad was a farmer.’
‘He’s dead.’
‘I’m sorry.’
‘It’s okay. Mum’s dead as well. Like I said, I live on my own.’
I turned right off the main road and drove down a conifer hedged country lane. We reached the end of the lane and turned into a driveway sweep in front of a four bedroomed detached house. I pulled hard on the handbrake and switched off the engine. ‘Here we are,’ I said. ‘Back at the ranch.’ 
‘Wow,’ he said. ‘This is huge. Is it all yours?’
‘Yeah. Every single tin-roofed outbuilding. Dad was very generous.’
‘It must be worth a fortune.’
‘Not really.’   
‘Are you sure about this, Nicki? We’ve only just met.’
‘I’m sure. What about you?’
‘Yeah. I’ve got a good feeling about this, about us.’
I patted his thigh. ‘Okay. Let’s get inside.’
We walked hand in hand towards the front door, leaving the bear on the back seat of the car. I put my key in the lock and faced him. ‘Close your eyes,’ I said.
‘Close your eyes. I want to guide you in.’
‘You’re kidding.’
‘It’ll be fun. I thought you trusted me.’
‘I do, but…oh, okay.’
I pushed the door open and led him into the house. ‘No peeking,’ I said.
‘I feel ridiculous,’ he said. 
I kissed him lightly on the lips. ‘Nearly there,’ I whispered. ‘Only two more steps. One, two.’ I let go of his hands and stepped back. ‘Open your eyes,’ I shouted.  
‘What the…’
Emma fired a bullet into his head.
‘My god,’ said Emma, jumping up from the chair and high fiving me. ‘Did you see how far he flew back?’
I knelt down and looked at Steve’s face, his mouth was wide open. There was a gaping hole in the centre of his forehead. ‘Nice shot,’ I said. ‘You’re getting better.’
‘I’ve been practicing on your Dad’s cows. Only four of them left by the way.’
I looked at her. ‘Did you get the stuff?’
‘Sure did. The maggot bath’s ready. We’ve already got the acid dip set up.’
‘How long does that take again?’
‘A month for the maggots to eat most of the flesh, as long as we strip him and cut him up a bit, and then another six weeks for the acid to burn the rest away. I’ve told you this loads of times.’
‘Maybe I chose not to remember. Get the wheelbarrow. Let’s get him round there.’
She clicked her heels together and saluted. ‘Aye, aye, Captain,’ she said.  
We were in the barn. I looked down at the horse trough. Some of the maggots had already wriggled over the edge and were making good their escape across the wooden floor. Steve’s body had been smothered. I walked over to a metal cupboard and opened the doors. ‘Be good to get some company for these,’ I said. ‘There’s still lots of space to fill.’
‘We’ve come a long way since the Bug Club,’ said Emma, nodding at the cupboard. ‘Your Dad doesn’t look too happy. Nor Jake. How many skeletons does a girl need in her life?’
‘As many as it takes,’ I said. 

Meet the author   

I was born in Walsall, grew up in the West Midlands and now live in Telford with my two cats, Boris and Tai.

After working in the health and social care sector for over thirty years, I have now written the trilogy that has been rooted in my head for most of my life.

The Shots trilogy is based on a first love relationship I had as a teenager. It tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop three decades after the end of their teenage romance. How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart, and what happens when they reunite is all told through a series of first person vignettes.

Getting these stories down on paper has been a cathartic process. I hope you enjoy them.

Author links: 

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by The Purebread in
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Sunday, 29 March 2020

State Of The ARC - March 2020

I saw this State of the ARC meme over at Avalinah's Books blog in January 2018 and thought it would be fun to join in. It's temporarily being hosted at All The Book Blog Names Are Taken.

The idea is to keep track of all the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) books I've got awaiting reading and reviewing, and to make headway through the overdue pile. For my State of the ARC, I am including all books sent to me for review whether they are pre-publication copies (as ARCs should be) or simply review copies of books already available publicly. I don't include books that I have purchased myself, book exchange swaps, or free downloads.

In March I blogged my reviews of these ARCs:
(Click the cover images to visit their reviews)


Here's my State of the ARC numbers as of today:

Awaiting Reading

Read / Reviewed / Blogged




2 R


From Authors




Blog Tours


1 R / 1 RRB


From Publishers




RRB (Read, Reviewed and Blogged) essentially means those book reviews are completed and I'm just waiting for their scheduled blog post date. That red 5 overdue isn't good.

No State Of The ARC would be complete without checking out the additions to my ARC stash: 11 new books this month to match the 11 I read, but I'm still behind on my NetGalley reading so this is too many!

Here are March's new arrivals

If you want to join this State of the ARC meme check out This Page at Avalinah's Books.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

The Society of Reluctant Dreamers by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

The Society of Reluctant Dreamers by Jose Eduardo Agualusa
First published in Portuguese in 2017. English language translation by Daniel Hahn first published by Harvill Secker on the 29th August 2019, republished by Archipelago Press on the 20th March 2020.

One of my Books With a Vegetarian Character challenge reads

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While swimming in the clear blue waters of the Rainbow Hotel, Daniel Benchimol finds a waterproof camera, floating seemingly lost in the sea. He goes on to discover that the camera belongs to Moira, a Mozambican artist famous for a series of photos depicting her own dreams. On seeing the images, Daniel realises that Moira is also the mysterious woman whom he has been dreaming about repeatedly. The two meet, and Daniel becomes involved in a unusual dream experiment with a Brazilian neuroscientist, who's working with Moira on a machine to film and photograph people’s dreams.

Meanwhile, Daniel’s daughter Karinguiri, one of Angola’s young dreamers, is arrested along with six friends for staging a protest during a presidential press conference in Luanda. The group go on hunger strike, attracting worldwide press attention, showing the power of young people when they raise their voices against the regime.

The Society of Reluctant Dreamers is a surreal, vivid novel about the slipperiness of truth and reality, art versus dictatorship, courage versus fear, change and the old order, amidst the politics of Angola's tumultuous past, present and future.

The Society of Reluctant Dreamers in a beautifully bewildering novel in which I found it frequently difficult to be entirely sure what was real, what was imagined, and what was dreamed. Agualusa explores the psychological damage caused by war, colonialism and oppression on characters who, at first glance, seem very different, but who find themselves linked by the surrealist device of finding themselves involuntarily featuring in each other's dreams. I felt that The Society of Reluctant Dreamers had more in common with the magical realism genre of novels and I loved Agualusa's richly detailed prose style. Dreams might be shown in the sense of dreaming whilst asleep, or daydreaming while awake, or having aspirational dreams for the future.

I was interested in discussions of identity throughout this story. At one point characters talk about whether embracing a new country's culture does actually change one's national identity which is a question I frequently encounter in my WorldReads project. Language is another factor of identity and it was interesting to see how, despite Angola's eventual independence from Portuguese domination, the effects of European colonialism still linger through the official use of the Portuguese language, links with other formerly Portuguese colonies such as Brazil and Mozambique being stronger for Angolans than links to, say, English or French-speaking nations. Agualusa also explores how much one's past influences one's present and future life. Can people truly atone for their past actions, and to what extent can children escape the effects of decisions made by their parents' generations.

The Society of Reluctant Dreamers is an impressive onion of a book! I enjoyed reading it initially at one level and, now, the more I think back over the story the more concepts I find myself wrangling with. Agualusa has a real depth to his writing, yet I didn't feel myself getting bogged down in Deep Truths as I read. I think The Society of Reluctant Dreamers can be appreciated as an insightful novel of human behaviours and connections with Angola's violent past providing a particularly unique base from which to contemplate and understand this tale.

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Friday, 27 March 2020

Notes To My Son by Eric Lynn + #Giveaway

Notes To My Son by Eric Lynn
Published in America by Sharknado Press on the 9th September 2019.


“Your path is your own.”  “No one can tell you how to walk it.”  “Responsibility lies with you.”

 These are just some of the important conversations we are gently reminded to embrace within Notes to My Son. With parenting, there are so many things we need to do and take care of, but what conversations are we having to be sure we truly impart the wisdom of our lives into our loved ones? Are we having difficult conversations, asking hard questions, and talking about things without regret?

 Don’t let another day pass by without this book.  

 In Notes to My Son, you’ll discover twenty-five topics to inspire deeper, more meaningful conversations throughout your child’s life, even if your child is now an adult on their own. 

Meet the author:
Eric Lynn spends his professional life managing workforce solutions for small, mid-sized and Fortune 1000 companies. With years of professional experience, Eric understands the value of preparation. Thus when his wife, Ashley, became pregnant, Eric sought a way to prepare for his new role as a father. Something shifted within him causing him to ask different questions of life.

As he awaited the arrival of his first child, future conversations with his son, Summit, began to take shape. Eager to prepare for this new role, Notes to My Son was born.

The Lynn family lives in Colorado where they enjoy climbing 14ers, skiing, playing tennis and appreciating the abundance of all nature has to offer. Eric and his family hope that the relatable life wisdom shared in this book touches the hearts of all who read it.

Connect with the author:
Website  ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!  

Win 1 of 5 ebook copies of Notes To My Son by Eric Lynn or a $25 Amazon Gift Card
(open Internationally) (6 winners) (ends April 3)

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Books by Eric Lynn / Self help books / Books from America