Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Almost Perfect by Delaney Diamond + Giveaway + Excerpt

Almost Perfect
Delaney Diamond
(The Cordoba Agency, #4)
Publication date: May 20th 2022
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

A cat burglar and an assassin run for their lives across Paris—and try not to get distracted by the sizzling attraction between them.

Assistant antique dealer by day, cat burglar by night, Sable Devereaux has lived in the shadows for years. With one final heist, she can walk away from a life of crime and open her own antique store, retiring to the quiet existence she has always dreamed of. But during her last theft, she witnesses a murder and goes on the run to escape the cross-hairs of some very powerful people.

Agent and master-of-disguise, Hunter Mitchell is intrigued when he has to subdue the sexy thief after she breaks into his Parisian apartment. Then he quickly learns he must protect her—and himself—from an organization hiding much more than a murder.

The couple races across Paris in a fight to stay alive and stop one of the most powerful organizations in the world—and discover what they’ve been looking for all along… is each other.


“Let me help you,” Sable said from the doorway.

“I got it. I’ve been shot before. I have nine lives.” Hunter flashed a grin.

Her hand grasped his undamaged arm. “Please.”

He paused. “All right.” He turned down the lid on the commode and sat down.

“Take off your shirt,” Sable instructed as she doused a washcloth with warm water.

Hunter pulled the shirt over his head and revealed his firm chest. Blood stained his sandy-colored skin and the blond hairs on his forearm.

Sable started cleaning his arm and around the cut. “Why do you do this?”

“Do what?” So close to him in the small bathroom, his voice rumbled in her ears.

“You’re good at what you do, but you risk your life to protect people all the time, right? How can you constantly jeopardize your own safety?”

“You’re one to talk.”

She looked up at him briefly before setting the bloody rag on the counter and picking up a cotton swab. “Normally, being a thief isn’t so dangerous.”

He watched her work for a bit. “It’s exciting. It’s in my blood. I’ve been this way since I was sixteen. I got into trouble and an organization helped me get on the right path.”

“Men like you…” Sable shook her head, tossing the bloody cotton in the trash. “Never mind.”

“Men like me? Daredevils?” he prodded.

“Yes, daredevils. And players.”

“What’s wrong with us? Daredevils are fun. Players make the best lovers.” Amusement filled his voice.

She wrapped his arm with gauze, keeping her eyes trained on the task and avoiding his eyes. “Players also break hearts.”

“Only if you give them your heart,” Hunter said in a low voice.

That was a warning if she ever heard one. Sable smoothed a hand over the bandage. “There.” She briefly washed her hands while he continued to watch her.

When she finished, she stepped back, but Hunter caught her shirt and held her in place. She didn’t want to look at him but couldn’t resist lifting her gaze.

“You want to give me your heart, Sable?”

The thinning of the air made breathing difficult. “I’m not that foolish.”

Hunter’s light-colored eyes scoured her face. Then he stood, fisting her shirt in his hand and hauling her closer. Sable let out a soft gasp. The breath leaving her nostrils trembled and stuttered as much as her beating heart.

“Thank you for taking such good care of me.”

She swallowed. “You’re welcome.”

He cocked his head, gaze dropping to her parted lips. “I’ve been wanting to kiss you for the longest. You gonna let me kiss you, Sable?” he asked huskily.

He didn’t wait for an answer.

He dipped his head, and her lips fell open wider before his mouth touched hers. Their mouths crashed together, guttural moans leaping from their throats and filling the small bathroom.

Author Bio:

Delaney Diamond is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sensual, passionate romance novels, and was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She reads romance novels, mysteries, thrillers, and a fair amount of nonfiction. When she’s not busy reading or writing, she’s in the kitchen trying out new recipes, dining at one of her favorite restaurants, or traveling to an interesting locale. To get sneak peeks, notices of sale prices, and find out about new releases, visit her website and join her mailing list. Enjoy free stories on her website at www.delaneydiamond.com.

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Monday, 30 May 2022

United States of Banana by Giannina Braschi

United States of Banana by Giannina Braschi
Published by AmazonCrossing on the 27th September 2011.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Giannina Braschi explores the cultural and political journey of nearly 50 million Hispanic Americans living in the United States in this explosive new work of fiction, her first written in originally in English. United States of Banana takes place at the Statue of Liberty in post-9/11 New York City, where Hamlet, Zarathustra, and Giannina are on a quest to free the Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo.

Segismundo has been imprisoned for more than one hundred years, hidden away by his father, the king of the United States of Banana, for the crime of having been born. But when the king remarries, he frees his son, and for the sake of reconciliation, makes Puerto Rico the fifty-first state and grants American passports to all Latin American citizens. This staggering show of benevolence rocks the global community, causing an unexpected power shift with far-reaching implications. In a world struggling to realign itself in favor of liberty, United States of Banana is a force to be reckoned with in literature, art, and politics.

I had already gathered from other reviewers that United States Of Banana was going to be a challenging read and I can certainly concur on that point. While I did enjoy aspects of this undeniably original and unique work, other parts left me struggling to keep up with what was going on or just left me standing, bewildered, in Giannina Braschi's wake.

The book is written partly in a first person monologue and partly as a play between disparate characters including Hamlet, Zarathustra and the Statue of Liberty. I found I got the most out of the monologues, several of which I thought were politically incisive and deftly portrayed concepts with which I either wholeheartedly agreed or which I had not previously considered so a lot of United States Of Banana did give me food for thought.

Where I lost the connection however was where I had no knowledge of the characters the fictional Giannina was interacting with. I have seen pictures of the Statue of Liberty and a production of Shakespeare's Hamlet, but Zarathustra and Segismundo were completely new names to me so I feel I needed to have familiarised myself with their stories before attempting to understand how they fitted into United States Of Banana. The same was true of the ancient Greek philosophers who joined the cast in later chapters. I knew of Socrates and his ideas, but not in sufficient detail and knew pretty much nothing at all of the others. This meant that many of the connections and allusions that are essential to understanding Braschi's ideas sadly sailed straight over my head.

On a positive note, I am now keen to remedy these gaps in my knowledge so recommendations of other books, particularly those exploring and explaining Segismundo and Zarathustra will be gratefully received. I'm planning to keep my copy of United States Of Banana, rather than deleting it as I usually do with read books, and giving it another go in due course. There was enough to grip me in the parts I did understand, that I want to have a similar engagement with the whole book.

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Sunday, 29 May 2022

Tangier in the Rain by Fabien Grolleau & Abdel de Bruxelles

Tangier in the Rain by Fabien Grolleau & Abdel de Bruxelles
First published in French as Tangier sous la pluie in France by Dargaud in 2022. English language translation by Dan Christensen published by Europe Comics on the 5th May 2022.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 1912, Matisse is feeling a little fed up. In Paris, Picasso is hogging the limelight, so Matisse decides it's time for some fresh air, a little space, and a different kind of light. That's it, he'll cross the Mediterranean and start painting a new kind of nature. He's going to Tangier. Problem is, when he finally gets there, it starts raining. In Villa de France, his palatial hotel looking down over Tangier, he has to make do with painting what he can: his bedroom. And so it begins: Room 35 is consigned to canvas, in a series that goes on to become legendary in art history.

This graphic novel starts from the very limited known facts of artist Henri Matisse' two visits to Tangier in the early 1910s and goes on to imagine what he might have seen, heard, discussed and, of course, drawn during his stays. I loved the artwork throughout Tangier In The Rain. It often relies solely upon single colour panels with either a terracotra or a blue hue and this is particularly effective for establishing mood as well as being such a contrast with scenes depicted in full, multiple colours. I admit that I wasn't previously aware of his famous Room 35 series (which I've since looked up online!), but I did enjoy spotting the many nods to the Matisse painting style. In the imagined story there's allusions to Sheherezade and, I thought, The Little Prince as well.

The art-inspired story lends itself particularly well to the graphic novel format and, while Tangier In The Rain does have a couple of panels depicting female nudity (artistically, of course), the book would be suitable for teenaged readers as well as adults. I feel it could be of particular interest to aspiring artists and students of art history. And as we're heading into British summertime, I'm sure that all of us kept stuck indoors by inclement weather will be able to empathise with Matisse's frustration!

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Saturday, 28 May 2022

The Burly-Que Girls by Linda Hughes + Giveaway + Excerpt

The Burly-Que Girls: The 6
Linda Hughes
Publication date: December 26th 2021
Genres: Historical, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Get a front-row seat to classic striptease during the heyday of burlesque.

When former burlesque dancers Dolly O’Dare and her friends discover that their manager, Ballard “Balls” Benedict, has skipped town with their retirement funds, there’s no stopping the irate troupe from converging on Las Vegas to track down the scoundrel. But to rack up enough dough to hire a private dick, the six dames must sell their life stories in a steamy, hilarious, and – yes – sweet tell-all book.

They’ll do whatever it takes to find Balls and get their money back. After all, at this point in their lives, they’ve got nothing to lose. But along the way they discover that the real treasures are in zany old friendships, quirky new acquaintances, and maybe even a second-chance romance or two.

Join the fun and fall in love with these wildly wonderful women in this first book in the Burly-Q Girls series. You may end up doing a little hoochie-coochie dance to become a Burly-Q Girl yourself.

This work of fiction was inspired by real-life stories told to the author by her burly-que friends.


Suddenly, an impatient knock from outside assaulted the apartment door like a mobster’s Tommy gun. Rat-a-tat-tat. Rat-a-tat-tat.

“Who in hell …?” Ginger got up and opened the door.

Annie Fannie stood there in all her hoity-toity glory.

Ginger glared up at the tall, svelte woman, her shock evident. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

Dressed in a designer outfit that no doubt cost more than Ginger’s entire wardrobe, hell, probably her entire apartment, the uninvited guest pressed the back of her hand to Ginger’s shoulder to nudge her aside. “Let me in. The heat out here is insufferable.” She came to an abrupt halt just inside the door, leaving Ginger stuck in the open threshold to deal with the heat. “Well, well, well. Look … at … this,” Annie snarled as she sauntered into the room and stood like a queen looking down her nose at her peons. “The whole gang is here. Hello, girls. It’s been a long time.”

Dolly huffed. “Not long enough.”

“Aren’t you going to invite me to sit down?”

“No, Annie, we’re not,” Ginger stated flatly.

“I haven’t gone by Annie since I quit performing. It’s Anastasia now.” She patted her dyed blond hair, making certain they noticed she had a chichi coif.

“I’m guessing you’ve never quit performing, one way or another.” Dolly stood up to face the interloper mano a mano.

Merry hopped up to join the line of defense.

“My, my. What hostility. What did I ever do to make you all so rudely hostile toward me?”

“Gee, Annie, I’m surprised you ask, because we know you don’t give a rat’s ass what we think.” Dolly balled up her fists and ground them into her hips, at the ready.

“As for the hostility,” Ginger seethed, thirty years of hot anger boiling up unexpectedly, “how about the fact that you lied to my boyfriend about me and stole him away? Huh? How about that?”

“Pfft. Please. He wasn’t worth having. I only dated him a few times. You could have had him back. Oh wait. I remember now. He went on to Pussy Willow after me. I guess he liked her … willow.” She smirked, amused at her supposed wit.

“You treated us like shit,” Dolly growled. “You insulted our costumes and our acts and even our bodies. Like you thought you were so much better than us.”

“Well …” Annie made the mistake of throwing her arms out wide and looking around the room. “I’ve certainly never lived in a hovel like this.”

That did it. Ginger flung herself at their tormenter, clawing at the viper’s haute couture dress and tearing it down to her waist.

“You little bitch!” Annie Fannie, once the most elegant of exotic dancers, turned out to be a formidable foe. She grabbed a handful of Ginger’s hair and with that they hit the floor, rolling around and throwing punches as best they could. Arms and legs flailed about at random, like a game of Whack-a-mole gone bad.

Dolly and Merry jumped into action, each snatching a brawler and yanking her away. Everybody got roughed up in the process. The Women’s Wrestling Association had nothing on them.

“Girls! Girls!” Dolly hollered. “This isn’t going to change anything.”

“Stop! Stop!” Merry yelled at the same time. “You’re both acting like Neanderthals.”

Once separated and on opposite sides of the room, the brutal enemies tried to kill each other with laser stares.

“Look at what you did to my dress. It’s ruined.” Annie slung the comment across the room. Her pink, embroidered, lacy, padded, underwire bra poked out at them.

“Yeah. Well, that’s nothing compared to what you did to my life. I loved Harold!” Ginger’s lower lip quivered as she shook a quaking finger at her nemesis.

Annie frowned, paused, then said, “His name was Howard.”

“No, it wasn’t! He was my Harold.”

“Ah, Ginger, honey.” Dolly’s gentle tone caused Ginger to look at her friend. “I remember him.”

They watched as awareness clicked in on Ginger’s face.

“As much as I hate to admit that Annie is right, his name was Howard,” Dolly reminded her.

Ginger looked to Merry for support, but all Merry could offer was a helpless shrug.

“Oh. Oh. Well. Yeah, sure. Now I remember.” Ginger straightened herself, patted her mussed up hair, casually sat down at the table, and calmly clasped her hands. “I knew that.”

“Now that we’ve done a brawling bump and grind down memory lane,” Annie chided, stuffing the torn edge of her dress up into her bra straps, “I’d like to get to the reason for my visit and then get out of this dump as quickly as possible.”

“Do tell,” Dolly said. “Why in hell are you here?”

Author Bio:

Happy endings and new beginnings - but not as you expect. Even better. That's what Linda Hughes' books are all about, whether historical romantic suspense, mystery, or second chance romance.

When Linda was 12 years old she wrote in her diary that she would be a "writter" when she grew up. With 20 books and a passel of writing awards, her dream has come true. She is a #1 bestselling co-author.

So browse around on her page. Find something that's just right for you. That 12-year-old with big dreams, who still lives within Linda, is delighted.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub


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Friday, 27 May 2022

Dark Blue Waves by Kimberly Sullivan + Giveaway + Excerpt

Dark Blue Waves
Kimberly Sullivan
Publication date: May 27th 2022
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance, Time-Travel, Women’s Fiction

When you wake up in Bath, England two hundred years in the past, how far can a love of Jane Austen get you?

Janet Roberts dreams of an academic career in literature, so she can hardly believe her good fortune when she’s accepted into a Jane Austen graduate seminar in Bath, England. Settled in Georgian splendor among her seminar colleagues, Janet and her classmates live, eat and breathe Jane Austen.

An accident interrupts this idyll when Janet regains consciousness in her own room—back in Regency England. For a scholar of nineteenth-century literature, this should be a dream come true.

But Janet quickly learns there’s a world of difference between scholarly knowledge of the written page and maneuvering real life as a reluctant time traveler.

Her burgeoning friendship with Emma Huntington eases her entrée into nineteenth-century society. However, Emma’s brother, the handsome, proud and frustratingly magnetic Sir Edward, is far less welcoming.

While desperately attempting to make sense of her dilemma, Janet treads a thin line between trying to blend into her new world and not being unmasked as the imposter she is. Can she discover the way to return to her twenty-first century life? After working so hard to create a rewarding nineteenth-century life for herself and opening her hart to friendship and love, does she even want to?

Only 99¢ for a limited time!


Janet marveled at her reflection in the mirror. Her light brown hair with its sunny highlights looked elegant swept up; her neck appeared long and delicate. Her green eyes sparkled. She looked older, more sophisticated with her nineteenth-century toilette. She was certainly too suntanned to be fashionable among the creamy-skinned young women of Bath. Her form was perhaps too muscular for nineteenth-century tastes, but sport-sculpted shoulders and legs would be well-covered by the fashions of the day.

It did not require an extreme stretch of the imagination to believe that she might have just stepped out of the Bennet household. If only she could learn the manners and banish anachronisms from her discourse, she might actually get away with it.

“Why, Jane! Don’t you look lovely! What a miraculous recovery.” Emma glided into the room, all smiles and good cheer. “Doctor Perry has given me an excellent report. We are to take a short walk, but I have strict instructions to rest frequently. I have brought my sketching pad and pencils so that we shall have every excuse to sit and rest. Doctor Perry assures me you are strong, and he is confident you should soon be back to your old self.”

Janet smiled at her new friend. How kind they were being to her. She followed Emma out of the room, and then out the front door into the glorious, sunny June day.

June 17, 1813.

She could hardly believe it. She, Janet Roberts, writing her master’s thesis on nineteenth-century English social customs and manners and how they were reflected in the literature of the period, was now walking around Bath on June 17, 1813. This was a dream come true. How her fellow students and scholars would envy her, if only they knew.

But would they ever know? Would she ever return to her twenty-first-century life to complete that half-finished thesis, the one she needed to finalize by next May? Would she return to finish her Austen seminar? She’d agonized endlessly over her father controlling every aspect of her life—her studies, her career, her choice of a husband—yet here she was, a few days later, and her life was one giant question mark.

Emma slipped her arm through Janet’s, and the two women walked along the green of The Crescent, then continued the short distance to The Circus. This was the very same route Janet jogged with Siobhan only a few days earlier, on the morning of the accident that changed her life.

The streets were a riot of sights, sounds, and color. Women in their elegant dresses, servant girls in their coarse, functional smocks and aprons. In Janet’s world, it was not always easy to distinguish the classes by fashion. A twenty-first-century internet billionaire might work daily in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, just like the worker cleaning the streets. But here, in this new world, class and privilege were prominently displayed in one’s dress and carriage. There were no blurred lines. No room for ambiguity.

Children wandered the streets, carrying heavy parcels and buckets in their delicate, tiny hands. Janet longed to relieve them of their loads. How on earth could such young creatures be working so hard, carrying burdens that must weigh as much as they? Surely they should be in school, or enjoying their brief childhood, or accompanied by an observant adult, someone to ensure that they were vigilant and would not risk being run over and killed by a passing horse and carriage in a careless moment of childish distraction. Goodness, her modern sensibilities found this far too difficult to digest.

As she and Emma promenaded, elegant men stepped aside to allow them to pass. The men smiled and tipped their hats to the passing ladies.

The smell of horse manure was overwhelming. It hung so thickly in the air that Janet felt a wave of nausea wash over her. She saw a few men braving oncoming traffic, shovels in hand, attempting to clear the streets, only able to eliminate a small portion of the mountains of accumulated horse droppings.

Hadn’t the automobile been touted as the ideal solution to eliminate pollution? Janet, alongside her middle school classmates, had laughed smugly at the absurdity of that premise. How easy to have been smug in her clean and hygienic modern world. But now that she was actually living in the time period and breathing in the overwhelming odor that must have permeated every major city, she felt more sympathy for those who had welcomed the technology as a possible liberation from the nauseating stench that blanketed cities and towns.

Janet tried in vain to compose her face, but she couldn’t help but stare at the sights and sounds all around her.

Emma laughed at her friend. “You must remember to close your mouth and not gape at your surroundings. It looks as if you are out in the world for the first time, my dear Jane. Surely, you have not forgotten in this brief time what the world looks like beyond the confines of the sick bed.”

You would be surprised, Emma.

Author Bio:

Kimberly grew up in the suburbs of Boston and in Saratoga Springs, New York, although she now calls the Harlem neighborhood of New York City home when she’s back in the US. She studied political science and history at Cornell University and earned her MBA, with a concentration in strategy and marketing, from Bocconi University in Milan.

Afflicted with a severe case of Wanderlust, she worked in journalism and government in the US, Czech Republic and Austria, before settling down in Rome, where she works in international development, and writes fiction any chance she gets.

She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) and The Historical Novel Society and has published several short stories and two novels: Three Coins and Dark Blue Waves.

After years spent living in Italy with her Italian husband and sons, she’s fluent in speaking with her hands, and she loves setting her stories in her beautiful, adoptive country.

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Thursday, 26 May 2022

Paper by Bahiyyah Nakhjavani

Paper by Bahiyyah Nakhjavani
Published by Bloomsbury in November 2005.

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a book exchange

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Scribe lives in a town on the frontiers of Central Asia. This is a world of spies and scholars, clerics and quacks, generals and princesses, of thefts, intrigues, miracles and murders. A world where every act is fuelled on paper, for without it nothing - diplomacy, commerce, art, even love - is possible. This ambitious Scribe feverishly dreams of writing his masterpiece. And before he can begin he feels he must find the perfect paper, a paper unimaginably beautiful, as pure as the mountain snows. But there is a crisis looming. The ancient practice of paper-making is in decline, and the European paper - factory made - is scarce and expensive. In the isolated mountain town, which has become the scene of a power struggle, paper is more necessary than ever. The Scribe sets off on a quest that sends him from mosque to palace, from citadel to marketplace, in hot pursuit of straw and rag reams from the past, of wood-pulp paper of the present, and towards the shimmering pages of the future.

On the face of it, Paper should have been an ideal read for me - literary historical fiction written in a delicately poetic Iranian style, details of antique paper-making threaded through the narrative, and the importance of books and reading taking centre stage. Unfortunately, I really found it difficult to get into this novel and frequently found myself setting it aside. Dare I say that I got just a little bored? I did like the character of the anonymous Scribe who found himself scratching around for work in a provincial backwater, in an age where printing presses were beginning to take work from manual copyists. A highly trained artist of writing, he finds himself reduced to writing out will codicils on, to his mind at least, depressingly substandard straw paper! Around the Scribe moves a cast of townspeople, some of who are endearing and interesting. There is also a political narrative which winds around a Prisoner in a castle and the Warden charged with keeping him there and it was this thread that I failed to understand. I had no idea who this Prisoner was or his connection to the Scribe so that whole concept mostly left me baffled. It's a shame, because I really wanted to like Paper and, overall, it has lots of good points, but that one significant aspect went totally over my head.

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Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Myracles in the Void by Wes Dyson + Giveaway + Excerpt

Myracles in the Void
Wes Dyson
Publication date: April 12th 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

There once were two children,
a girl and a boy.
One could create,
the other, destroy.

Within every heart lies the power to bond or break.

On an isolated port of floating garbage called Hop, Gaiel Izz and his sister, Lynd, never imagined they’d be able to change anything…

Not their nasty neighbors, not their hungry bellies, and especially not their missing father.

That will change when they discover the power of myracles — magic that either creates or destroys.

As the brother and sister set across Esa to bring their family back together, this power will either unite them or shatter their entire world to pieces.

It will all come down to what truly lies within their hearts…

Create or destroy?


Chapter One – Unforgiving Hop


Water Level Low.

SPRYT SightingsHighly Expected.

Un-luck + Disaster ToAllWho Encounter.


— Mayor Tanning

What a delightful sign to have hanging in front of one’s home — a mix of “watch out” with “you’re on your own.” But that’s living in Hop for ya, a’kay?

As a floating port in the middle of the sea, there weren’t any roads to or from Hop. On their own, indeed. But it wasn’t always so lonely. Fifty years ago, Hop was a bustling pitstop for the hundreds of trade ships sailing across the Domus Gulf every year. A place to “hop” from one side of the gulf to the other. Being a travel hub made it bursting with exotic goods and fresh ideas. But the wild waters of the gulf were hard to predict, and they only seemed to grow more dangerous over time. One shipwreck was enough to send thoughts and prayers, but after ten and twenty ships washed back blown to bits, it started to nip at the profits. Soon traders found alternate land routes that may have taken longer, but at least weren’t so death-y.

Practically overnight, Hop and its people were forgotten like a used hanky in a puddle. Trapped on a floating port amid the unfor‐ giving sea, a stagnant idea stuck to them — anything made would just be unmade. What was to stop anything they worked hard to build from falling to pieces like Hop did? Nothin’ lasts butsalt in yer ass became the most graffitied words on the splintering streets, a series of long planks called “Boards.” Was there any point in shining your shoes, doing your hair, brushing your teeth? They would all end up dirty, tasseled, and yellow. Undone, eventually. Was there any point in building relationships, then? Nothing lasts but the salt in their asses, indeed.

Just behind that friendly “red tide” warning sign on Boulie Board, a skinny wreck of a home rose from the battered planks. Its number, 76, was drawn large and wide on the front and side in “Hopper White,” a local specialty paint whose main ingredient was seagull poop. Nothing could be wasted in Hop, not even waste. The pieces that made up the home had a kind of widely used look about them, like maybe that wall had once been the barnacled belly of a rowboat, and before that, it was a sign that said HOP: POPULATION 600. Its door was a full fourteen shades of a should-I-touch-that sort of green and was cracked at the bottom up to the knob. Its two sea-weathered windows were small and narrow like suspicious eyes squinting at the neighbors. By Hopper standards, the Izz family actually had quite a fine little nest.

The only reason the Izz house somewhat outshined its raggedy neighbors was because of the family’s firstborn, Gaiel Izz. Gai liked to fix things when they broke. Something about broken objects made him queasy, compulsive even; a roar in the belly yapping at him to make it better. As for the things he couldn’t fix, he’d at least insist on putting a sheet of soggy newspaper over it or something. In fact, he patched so many holes in his clothes with newspaper that it became the dominant fabric. It crinkled as he walked.

One special night, this industrious fifteen-year-old was lying motionless on the floor in one of the home’s damp upstairs bedrooms. His right ear was practically suctioned to the floorboards as he listened carefully for any signs of movement downstairs. He’d been listening so long his ear had become a bright, throbbing mushroom. This night, he’d embark on his most ambitious fixing project yet — his twelve-year-old sister, Lynd.

While Gai may have been on the floor, he wasn’t out of bed. The floor was both of the Izz children’s bed. Many, many things floated by Hop in the strong currents, like sunken ship junk or garbage from far off Electri City on the mainland. But few were “cozy” materials for them to scoop out and use to make bedding. Since nothing came in or out of Hop, if a Hopper wanted something new, they’d best grab a scoop and pray to Zeea that whatever they needed happened to be floating by that day. Gai once scooped an armful of braided anchor rope and wove it into a nice blanket. He looked over at Lynd sleeping on it, snoring like a ship headed out to sea

— Twaahhh! Peaceful as she seemed, her little hands kept pulling at the fraying edges of the rope-blanket, almost like tearing it apart soothed her as a babe suckling their thumb would. She was definitely not a fixer like her brother. Truly, she was quite the opposite.

Author Bio:

Wes Dyson is a creative marketer and dog-daddy of four Pomskies living in Western MA. He loves classical music and earthy, grass-tasting tea.

Website / Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram


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Tuesday, 24 May 2022

This World Does Not Belong to Us by Natalia García Freire

This World Does Not Belong to Us by Natalia García Freire
First published in Spanish as Nuestra Piel Muerta in Spain and Latin America by La Navaja Suiza in 2019. English language translation by Victor Meadowcroft published by OneWorld on the 5th May 2022.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Secrets and revenge converge in this chilling tale from a breakout new Latin American voice

Many years have passed since Lucas was expelled from his childhood home by Felisberto and Eloy, the two strangers who arrived uninvited and slowly, insidiously, made it their own. Now Lucas is back, fully grown and intent on claiming his rightful inheritance.

But he is not interested in the house as it once was, nor in his mother's lovingly planted flowerbeds - now conquered by weeds - nor in the lavish portraits covering every wall. Lucas belongs to a darker world, one crawling with the only creatures he really trusts: insects. As the house crumbles before his eyes, Lucas turns to the allies of his underground kingdom to help him take revenge. 

Weaving together past and present like a spider's web, This World Does Not Belong to Us is a spine-tingling story of human greed, from a masterful new literary voice.

This World Does Not Belong To Us is indeed a chillingly dark novella which brought to mind for me tales such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and The Murmur Of Bees by Sofia Segovia. Freire gradually reveals the circumstances which led to Lucas being exiled from his home so it wasn't until the very end that I felt I had a full grasp of just what had happened to so completely alienate this young man. My uncertainty throughout though made for a really unsettling atmosphere, helped along by Freire's hints at events to come and Lucas' obsession with insects living around him. Initially this felt like a typical child's interest in the natural miniature world, but Lucas' isolation from other children in a pretty dysfunctional adult household means he turns more and more to insects for friendship and even guidance on how to live.

I wondered about the connections between the formerly affluent house crumbling away in Lucas' absence and his own crumbling mental state. That said, given the circumstances on his return, perhaps Lucas, in his own way, is the most rational of everyone. I would class This World Does Not Belong To Us as a psychological horror novella. Its gentle pace lulled me into not realising how horrible the denouement would be and the lack of graphic detail at that point gave my imagination a greater freedom to envisage the scenes. This novella is quite the unique read which I don't think will hit the bestseller lists, but I can see it being recommended by word of mouth and becoming a cult classic in time.

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Monday, 23 May 2022

Kingdomless (The Evamore Series Book 1) by Michelle Garyfalakis + Giveaway

Join Us for this Tour:  May 16 to June 3, 2022
Book Details:

Book TitleKingdomless (The Evamore Series Book 1) by Michelle Garyfalakis
CategoryYA Fiction (Ages 13-17), 422 pages
Genre:  YA Fantasy Romance
Publisher:  Self-Published
Release date:   January 2022
Content Rating:  PG-13 +M: There is a scene where our main character is held at knife point and her attacker grabs her breasts without consent. The word 'nipple' is used in this situation. This is the reason for the added "M" in the rating.


 Book Description:

The remnants of the United Kingdom of Garth, once ruled by the legendary Dynasty of Evamores are in the throes of conflict. Ten years ago, King Wren of the West discovered Raelle washed up on the shores of the Balour Sea, with no memory of the first nine years of her life. She was brought back to the castle and dutifully cared for and cherished by the king and his three older sons. On her nineteenth birthday, the Western Kingdom's adoptive princess is secretly sent away by her stepmother to marry King Veras as a token of peace between the kingdoms. But, the Northern King has other plans.

As Raelle's amnesia melts away with the help of a northern storyteller, she discovers more about the Kingdom of Garth, magic, the lovetie connection of the Evamores, and her role in the grand scheme of things. She is confused, angry, and curiously comfortable in the North.

A dark shadow overcasts all of the kingdoms, and the threatening influence of the fallen god Kellar seems to spread among the people, inciting disorder and violence. While the fate of the kingdoms may rest on Raelle's shoulders, she can't help but feel kingdomless. Betrayal is everywhere, from her own adoptive family to her newfound friends. Fearless, observant, witty, and determined, she is torn between her attraction to King Veras' good nature and the unexplained pull to the Tracker Calak. The challenge that she faces is not simple. As the old gods, laws and magic awaken, so does her own sense of self. There is a choice to be made, step into the role expected of her, or dive into the unknown and make her own destiny.

This YA fantasy novel asks the readers important coming of age questions, captures the attention with witty dialogue, relatable characters, and a world that is reawakening its forgotten magic. The readers will be entranced and hungry for more (and perhaps a piece of chocolate cake).

Amazon.com ~ Amazon UKAudible
Meet the Author:

MICHELLE GARYFALAKIS was born and raised throughout Ontario, Canada. She currently lives just outside of Hamilton, Ontario with her husband, four kids and Snowy (their friendly Samoyed-Border Collie). When she isn't obsessively typing out new stories on her computer, you can find her drinking coffee with a friend, snacking on some guacamole or binge watching Outlander (again). Michelle loves finding creative ways to communicate with people, and her passion for storytelling is the newest addition to that list. 

connect with the author: website  ~  facebook  ~  instagramtwitter ~ bookbub ~ tiktokgoodreads

Tour Schedule:

May 16 –
Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
May 16 - Rockin' Book Reviews – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
May 17 - Character Madness and Musings – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 17 - Leels Loves Books – book review / giveaway
May 18 – Kam's Place – book spotlight
May 18 - My Reading Getaway – book review / author interview / giveaway
May 19 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
May 20 – Wottaread – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 23 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
May 24 – Freda's Voice – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 24 - Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
May 25 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – book spotlight / giveaway
May 25 - Cheryl's Book Nook – book review / giveaway
May 25 - Living in a Bookworld - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 26 - Writer with Wanderlust – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
May 26 - Westveil Publishing – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 27 – From the TBR Pile – book review / giveaway
May 31 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book review / guest post / giveaway
May 31 - Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
June 1 – The Page Ladies – book review
June 1 - Sadie's Spotlight – book spotlight / author interview
June 2 – She Just Loves Books – audiobook review / giveaway
June 2 - Books for Books – book spotlight
June 3 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:
Win a $25 PayPal Gift Card courtesy of the author of Kingdomless (The Evamore Series Book 1) (one winner/USA only) (ends June 10) 

KINGDOMLESS by Michelle Garyfalakis Book Tour Giveaway


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Sunday, 22 May 2022

A Falkland Islander’s Wartime Journal by Graham Bound

A Falkland Islander’s Wartime Journal: Surviving the Siege by Graham Bound
Published by Pen And Sword on the 30th April 2022.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Port Stanley was the tiny capital of a British colony known to few beyond the world of stamp collecting. But then, suddenly, in April 1982, it was the place-name on everyone's lips. The outcome of a war, for which Britain had mobilised its most powerful task force since 1945, would be decided by the flag which flew over the corrugated iron and timber cottages of Stanley.

The town became the epicentre of a ferocious conflict. Many islanders left the town following the invasion. But a few hundred remained. Among them was Graham Bound, who was then the editor of the Islands' only newspaper. This book is based on his journal, written during the occupation and siege. Such was the intensity of the fighting for the town, that the Ministry of Defence in London announced that it would be on the receiving end of the heaviest artillery bombardment since the Korean War.

The journals were stored, untouched and unread, for 39 years, before the author rediscovered them and prepared them for publication. Among the notebooks were unprocessed photographs that he took at the time. Some of these never-before seen photos are published in this book. This is a detailed account of the Falklands war, in particular the siege of Stanley, from an islander's point of view.

I was still at primary school in 1982 and my only real memory of the Falklands War is of classmates huddled round a radio at lunchtimes in the school canteen, eagerly listening to BBC World Service news reports from the other side of the world. It was strange to realise now, through reading Graham Bound's fascinating memoir, that the Islanders themselves relied on those exact same news reports to find out what was happening just down the road. Bound's journals seem to have been minimally edited so his writing retains a compelling immediacy. I could easily envisage him lying awake on the floor behind stacks of chairs, deafened by the encroaching bombardment, or imagine the worry of not being able to contact friends on outlying farm settlements when the local radio network was outlawed. I've read a number of civilian wartime memoirs over the past few years and A Falkland Islander’s Wartime Journal stands out for giving an authentic, day by day, sense of what it was like to be in the midst of such chaos.

I appreciated too that the Islanders experience and expectations were very different from the belligerent, jingoistic social memory of the war that has been retained in England. Bound's journals reveal that the Falkland Islanders themselves hadn't felt particularly valued by the UK, and certainly not by Westminster, until their being invaded provided a politically expedient distraction from the Tory government's woes at the time. Exactly forty years later, I did recognise a repeat of this political tactic being employed!

A Falkland Islander’s Wartime Journal is a very readable memoir which I particularly enjoyed for its focus on ordinary people during wartime. The interactions between Islanders and Argentine troops are particularly illuminating as these moments don't fit with either nation's Governments' declarations of strength and power. Bound does also explain some of what happened militarily, but doesn't get bogged down in endless military strategy. I felt I came to know these Island people a little and it would interesting to also learn how they coped in the war's aftermath. Once all the news reporters had gone and the global spotlight faded, how normal a 'normal life' could actually be resumed.

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Saturday, 21 May 2022

The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken + Giveaway + Excerpt

The Memory Keeper of Kyiv
Erin Litteken
Publication date: May 16th 2022
Genres: Literary Fiction

Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Beekeeper of Aleppo.
“A powerfully moving debut . . . Ukraine’s tragic history painfully echoes its current crisis, and on every page the Ukrainian spirit shines out, unbowed, unbent and unbroken. This is a compelling, timely read.” Kate Quinn, author of The Rose Code

In the 1930s, Stalin’s activists marched through the Soviet Union, espousing the greatness of collective farming. It was the first step in creating a man-made famine that, in Ukraine, stole almost 4 million lives. Inspired by the history the world forgot, and the Russian government denies, Erin Litteken reimagines their story.
In 1929, Katya is 16 years old, surrounded by family and in love with the boy next door. When Stalin’s activists arrive in her village, it’s just a few, a little pressure to join the collective. But soon neighbors disappear, those who speak out are never seen again and every new day is uncertain.

Resistance has a price, and as desperate hunger grips the countryside, survival seems more a dream than a possibility. But, even in the darkest times, love beckons.

Seventy years later, a young widow discovers her grandmother’s journal, one that will reveal the long-buried secrets of her family’s haunted past.

This is a story of the resilience of the human spirit, the love that sees us through our darkest hours and the true horror of what happened during the Holodomor.

“I never imagined the release of my novel on a past oppression of the Ukrainian people would coincide with such a parallel tragedy.” Erin Litteken

May we never forget, lest history repeat itself.

A share of proceeds will be donated to DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.


A sharp click echoed in the room, and everyone froze. The Russian’s cocked pistol pointed at Tato. “Are you resisting orders? If you are, we will have to label you an enemy of the people. We all know what happens to enemies of the people. I could shoot you right now, and nobody would care.”

Katya’s head buzzed. All the anger she’d felt morphed into sheer terror as she stared at her Tato. His beet-red face glistened with sweat and his hands curled slowly into fists, the anger crackling off him like a hungry fire seeking fuel. If someone didn’t intercede, he would be shot for attempting to murder Prokyp with his bare hands.

Mama, too, saw his inner struggle, for she stepped in front of Tato and spoke calmly. “I apologize for my husband’s behavior. He’s overprotective of his daughters. He didn’t mean what he said. We’ll cooperate, I swear it.”

The Russian smirked and lowered his gun. Dropping Alina’s hand, Katya pulled her father into a hug and spoke in his ear. “Please, Tato, there is no harm done, but we can’t lose you. Please.” She felt the tension lessen from his body, but vibrations of anger still throbbed like the veins on his neck.

Prokyp watched the scene with amusement, then sauntered back over to his cohorts, smiling. The Russian turned to him and asked with complete sincerity, “Have you been offended by this man? What would you like to do, Comrade?”

Prokyp glanced at Tato and then at Alina, who was white as a sheet, but holding her head high as Mama had taught them to. Katya’s legs wobbled, so she locked her knees and held her breath as they waited for this fool to decide the fate of their family.

“I suppose I can overlook it this once, as long as he and his family promise to cooperate fully in the future.” His gaze lingered on Alina. “But we shall have to check back here often to make sure they are behaving.”

Another activist pushed into the house with a large sack of wheat balanced on his shoulder. “I found this, and another just like it, hidden in the barn loft.”

Katya’s heart sank. She’d worried the wheat in the barn wasn’t hidden well enough, but Tato thought it safe out of sight beneath the hay.

“You can’t take that!” Tato shouted. “It’s my seed for planting this fall!”

“This will pay your quota. For now.” The Russian Soviet waved a hand dismissively, as if suddenly bored by them. “Come, we must move to the next house.”

The woman cast an apologetic look toward Mama and hurried behind the men as they left. The door swung wildly in their wake, and none of them moved until Tato strode forward and slammed it shut, though not before Katya saw the activists’ cart stacked high with sacks of grain, just like the ones they’d taken from the barn.

Author Bio:

Erin Litteken is a debut novelist with a degree in history and a passion for research. At a young age, she was enthralled by stories of her family’s harrowing experiences in Ukraine before, during and after World War II. She lives in Illinois, USA with her husband and children.

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