blog tour · book review · family · real life · truth

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Mine

Mine

What’s mine, I keep.”

London, 1968.

Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.

Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.

Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?

Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.

Purchase Links

UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08JQF4JQT

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JQF4JQT

Author Bio

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Mine is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

Social Media Links

Websites: www.alisonroseknight.com www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

Twitter: @Alison_Knight59

My Review

4/5 stars

I remember choosing to read this story and adding it to my Kindle a long time before I began reading it. And I jumped right in without re-reading the blurb, only to learn – at the end – that it was based on a true story.

The author dropped us effortlessly in the 60s with intricate details of the era, from the food (chops and boiled potatoes for tea) to colour TVs, Brylcreem, and housecoats. It was such a depiction of family life, that I began to wonder what the story was – was this a memoir or was there more to come? Well, now I know it was a bit of both but with so much more to come.

Looking back, after reading the whole story, it points to the author’s skill as a writer that those normal, everyday activities coupled with strong family drama (of the kind we now see as normal – unmarried mums, career women, & divorce but which, back then, were considered anything but the norm), built up to such an emotional and compelling story. I have to admit to not liking Lily very much at first. Her husband Jack seemed such a lovely bloke, and it hurt to see him get so upset. I was Team Jack all the way but grew to understand Lily better. How could I look down on her for following her heart? Yes, she had a touch of the Margo Leadbetter about her (The Good Life -1970s sitcom) and her sneering of Jack’s simple contentment grated on me, but what was her crime really? That she outgrew her environment, her husband and friends? This wasn’t a new development, for she had always aspired to be more than a housewife, and getting the job at a prestigious law firm proved she was more than capable. Of course, the 60s were the age of enlightenment for many, Lily included. She had more choices than women before her – though burning her “brassiere” was not for her – was she wrong to take advantage of those choices, even if it meant leaving Jack?

This was one of those stories that made me rethink my initial impression of the main character, in this case, Lily, realising that she was no monster, just a woman who fell in love with a man who wasn’t her husband. Of course, there were consequences, principally her relationship with her daughters. Who’s to say things would have been better had she stayed with Jack? Lily and Bev clashed long before that.

For me, this novel highlighted how much life has changed in just a few decades. Today, Lily’s actions wouldn’t be seen as a family scandal – of course, even today, families have to pick up the pieces and deal with the consequences, but not with the same outcry and outrage from onlookers. Lily did what she felt she had to do to be happy; she didn’t set out to ruin anyone’s life, in fact quite the opposite.

Having read how life turned out for the real Jack, Bev & Caroline, it only emphasises further that we are masters of our destinies. This is a warts-and-all story, balanced in no-one’s favour and with no blame apportioned to either side. Beautifully written, emotionally powerful and truthfully told. I look forward to reading more by this author.

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book news · historical fiction · Kindle · real life · short reads · short story · surviving

Not the Coronavirus COVID-19, but something much worse (A century ago, that is!)

Pandemics don’t come around often, but when they do …

In 2018 we commemorated the centenary of the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918, often known as Spanish Flu.

Despite only lasting a few months, the loss of life globally is estimated to be somewhere between 50-100 million. 

An article from The Atlantic has this to say:

That year, as pandemic influenza ravaged communities as diverse as California and Kolkata, no one knew what was killing them. Theories abounded. Some suggested it was a misalignment of the planets. (That’s what gave us the name influenza, from the Italian word for “influence.”) Others believed the cause was tainted Russian oats, or volcanic eruptions. Microbiologists focused on a bacterium they had discovered decades earlier in the lungs of influenza victims, and called it Bacillus influenza. But they had merely recognized a bacterium that invades lungs already weakened from influenza. Not until 1933 did two British scientists demonstrate that the cause must be a new class of disease, which today we call viruses. Finally, in 1940, the newly invented electron microscope took a picture of the influenza virus, and for the first time in history we could not only name, but also see, the culprit.

Will the Corona Virus COVID-19 be as damaging? Maybe not medically, but the economic impact may well be as devastating as the crash of 2008. Whatever happens, we’re likely to fare much better than they did a century ago. Speaking of which, why not take a look at how life affected the Medina family in my short story, “Surviving Enza”.

The family is fictional, but their story is based on real events in Spain during that time. Juan Medina, as a doctor, saw first-hand the impact on his village. Yet, despite everything, life had to go on. And it did.

And it will here too – just keep washing your hands 😉 and keep an eye out for family members and friends or neighbours who are more vulnerable during these times. 

#Bekind was never more appropriate.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the story.

Available here – http://mybook.to/Enza

 

Did you know the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 didn’t actually start in Spain?

Surviving Enza tells the fictional story of Dr. Juan Medina and his family, colleagues, and fellow citizens of Luarca (Northern Spain) during those times.

From his mother, furious that the local Fiesta de San Ramón has been cancelled, to his father, hiding the news from his wife.

From the exhausted hospital staff to the sanctimonious padre.

From his heavily-pregnant wife to his brother fighting for France in the Great War. 

And, last but not least, from the many victims to the surviving families. 

It was an extraordinary time … to be a doctor and a new father

“I had a little bird,

Its name was Enza;

I opened the window

And in-flew-Enza.”

 –Children’s jump-rope rhyme from the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919

© LS Fellows 2019 (writing as mayepalmer)

Previously published (2018) in 72 Hours of Insanity by The Writer’s Workout as winning entry in the Historical Fiction category “Remember When …”

As always, 

Audiobook · autobiography · blog tour · book review · Europe · expat life · food and drink · friendship · fun · Italy · real life · starting over · travel

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Chickens Eat Pasta

Chickens Eat Pasta

by Clare Pedrick

Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria

Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love.

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy. 

“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.”

Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does. 

Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chickens-Eat-Pasta-Escape-Umbria-ebook/dp/B012GZXOPY

US – https://www.amazon.com/Chickens-Eat-Pasta-Escape-Umbria-ebook/dp/B012GZXOPY

UK Audiobookhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Chickens-Eat-Pasta/dp/B07BYLZX3X

US Audiobook – https://www.amazon.com/Chickens-Eat-Pasta/dp/B07CBJRG9C

About the Author

Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.

You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book Page, her own Facebook page and on Twitter.

Read her blog about life in Umbria hereGiveaway to Win an audiobook copy of Chickens Eat Pasta (Open Internationally)

Winner gets to pick between audible and ibooks audio code

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

Good Luck!

My Review

This was such a fun read for me, having had a similar experience. I was totally absorbed in Clare’s world, I recognised the people she met, the endless bureaucracy that was involved in living abroad, the challenges of getting things done, and the absolute charm and curiosity of her new neighbours. These were people who welcomed her with open arms, yet remained a little cautious by her strange ways (I loved Tito and his bamboozled state when she would send her articles ‘down the wire’ at his store and not even rack up any kind of bill at the end of it)

With great neighbours, who became life-long friends – Ercolino and his aitches, being one of my favourites – she might have felt alone, but they didn’t desert her when she needed help. This whole story was a wonderful example of community spirit, especially the gatherings for weddings and funerals.

The author entertained us with fabulous characters, the kind you just could’t make up. It was like an episode of the Dingles in Umbria! I loved it!

Vivid imagery really brought the settings to life, I could easily visualise Clare zipping along those winding streets in her Cinquecento (which just happens to be my most favourite car right now).

And then there’s the food! Who can read a book about Italy, and not drool over the endless feasts where one and all come together to celebrate, grieve, sing, dance, cry and laugh ( not forgetting the hilarious squabbles between Generosa and Settima, and the missing artichokes from the vegetable patch)

And through it all, Clare fell in love not only with her house, but the people, their customs (despite the cultural differences at times) and also with the man of her dreams.

A feel-good story that really resonated with me; it made me smile, sigh and occasionally squirm, but the overwhelming effect was to appreciate Clare’s story – the Good Life in all its simplicity, at a time when the world wasn’t quite so small as it is today.

For more reviews, check out these blogs – you won’t regret it – and then make you’ve entered the giveaway.

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blog tour · book excerpt · book launch · book review · change · hope · Kabul · novella · real life · terrorism · truth

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Finest Supermarket in Kabul

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R&R Book Tours Proudly Presents: The Finest Supermarket in Kabul, a fascinating novella inspired by true events!

Finest Supermarket in Kabul - cover image

The Finest Supermarket in Kabul

Publication Date: Oct. 30th, 2017

Genre: Novella/ Terrorism/ Inspired by True Events

Kabul, Afghanistan January 28, 2011.

Merza, a freshly minted Parliamentarian receives ominous threats after he wins his seat. Alec, an American journalist, flies from Kandahar without his editor’s permission to chronicle daily life in the capital. Elyssa, a Canadian human rights lawyer in Kabul to train female magistrates, is distracted by unwanted attention from a male justice. On this grey, wintry Friday, all three are embroiled in a dramatic and savage bombing. Inspired by true events and places, The Finest Supermarket in Kabul follows Merza, Alec and Elyssa as their idealistic and visionary hopes for Afghanistan are deeply challenged in the aftermath.

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Excerpt

Alec:

I’ve been in Kabul for just under twenty-four hours. I flew in yesterday from Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, after a heated argument with my editor earlier in the week during which I suggested a temporary reassignment to Kabul. Eric demanded I stay in the south for another three-week stint embedded with a US platoon. According to him, my stories from the US outpost were gripping and getting positive reactions from readers. Certainly, the embed was riveting – my first time moving around with US platoons – and gave me stories I couldn’t otherwise have written: intense firefights on a patrol, the evacuation of a wounded soldier, discussions about post-traumatic stress disorder, and fortifying against ambushes. But after three months of only covering action on the front line, I felt my outlook had started to skew by living and breathing the life of an American soldier. The longer I stayed in Helmand, the harder it was becoming to be okay with just telling one side of the story, as opposed to the broader picture. It was when I began saying “T-Ban” instead of Taliban that I knew I needed to get out. Meanwhile, Eric kept insisting that front-line coverage was our best news feature and refused to accept my other ideas, no matter how vigorously I pushed.

So I travelled to Kabul of my own accord to regain some perspective. I figure I’ll hold out an olive branch to Eric later, a magazine-length piece about how local ex-combatants are using the continuing conflict to their advantage. From fellow journalists, I’ve heard about former warlords, their identities and deeds well known, who’ve built massive houses painted in vivid carnival colours in the centre of Kabul and are living the high life, seemingly without repercussion. Interviews with a few of them, along with regular ex-Taliban fighters who got away from the fray, will form the story’s core; here and there, I’ll filter in views from ordinary people. I’m pretty sure Eric will go for an article with a military focus, even if it’s set in Kabul. Plus, he and I go way back, having both started out at the Chicago Tribune after studying at Columbia College Chicago fifteen years ago. If things go completely awry, I’ll hightail it back to Helmand.

I had my initial foray into Afghanistan’s real world yesterday morning. As I entered the plane bound for Kabul, I saw rows and rows of Pashtun men with long beards and turbans or woolen, round-topped hats with thick edging. My heart skipped a beat, as Pashtuns were the ethnic group that had birthed the Taliban, and I wondered if any were Taliban fighters. No one here would protect me from danger, and my visit wasn’t even sanctioned by my boss.

A familiar blast of adrenaline rushes through me.

Jakob stamps out his cigarette and leaps up while I gather my coat and Tish’s things under my arm. We race for the door. Ahead, I see Ben still on his phone but can’t hear him. As news of the explosion circulates, the room’s noise level surges and nervous energy grips the space.

We pick Tish up at the entrance and rush through the security gates, easily retrieving our various IDs and my passport as Ben advises that he’s called for a taxi to pick us up and that Masood, his interpreter, will meet us there.

After three minutes of energetic conversation about what we’ll find at the Finest, the four of us pile into the black Toyota Corolla that has pulled up. Sitting on the raised middle seat in the back, I have to duck my head to glimpse the street scene outside. It looks calm and oddly sedate considering what we know has just happened. Fortunately, traffic is far less jammed than on our morning’s walk over from the Safi.

We’re silent; our initial eagerness to cover this story has given way to an unpleasant realization that we will soon be confronting the bomb’s aftermath of chaos, destruction and injury. Jakob has already explained that the Finest is a convenience store that stocks expensive Western products like Nutella and peanut butter, so almost no Afghans ever shop there. An expat target, then, I ponder.

Available for Purchase

Quattro Books | Amazon | Amazon CA

Amazon UK | B & N| Indigo

Author Pic.jpg

About the Author

Ele Pawelski has lived in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Bosnia, Kenya, Uzbekistan and Kosovo. She has climbed in the Himalayas, walked the Camino and hiked in Newfoundland.

Now living in urban Toronto with her husband, she’s always planning for her next travel adventure.

Her stories have appeared in magazines, journals and newspapers. The Finest Supermarket in Kabul is her first novella.

Ele Pawelski

My Review

This is a fascinating read all centred around one very ordinary day – until something extraordinary happens. Three characters continue with their everyday life, until an explosion at the Finest Supermarket stops them in their tracks. The story focuses on their reaction to the event, and how the aftermath impacts upon them.

Merza is up first. he has just been elected to parliament, and is full of optimism for change, at the same time frustrated by the stranglehold placed upon the pace of change by the governing party. His family has reacted differently to his new position – his parents wary and seemingly disinterested, whether out of fear or because of the attention his new role brings to them. His sister, on the other hand, is excited for him. This nicely shows the changing attitude of a generation towards change. It inspires hope for a better future.

Next up is Alec, a reporter who has just abandoned his job as a military reporter to get some greater insight into how life is for people living it outside of the US forces’ field of vision. He mixes with other journalists, most younger and more daring than he is now – but that’s as a result of a ‘been there, done that’ attitude. That said, he really wants to find a great story to convince his boss that he was right to pursue his own version of AWOL. His encounters make for an interesting read.

Last up is Elyssa, whose role is to train female magistrates in Kabul, a job which suggests change is afoot but is not really given much attention as her story focuses on a social gathering and whether people will be able to attend. For me, this last story lacks the intrigue of the other two. When the story then ends with several lose ends, it leaves me wondering if a sequel is in the offering. Well, if there were such a thing, I’d be up for reading more about this. Absolutely!

The author presents Kabul and its inhabitants with details that get to the heart of the city,reminding us that real people have real lives here. I certainly have a renewed fascination for the human story after this, after all, these are the stories that touch us, inspire us and give us hope.

Giveaway

3 print copies of The Finest Supermarket in Kabul and 5 $20 Amazon GCs (North America Only)

Click on the link below to enter

Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule

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Oct. 1st

Reads & Reels – Review

Cup of Toast – Interview

The Reading Mermaid – Excerpt

Where Dragons Reside – Excerpt

Oct. 2nd

Loving Life Every Day – Excerpt

The Bookworm Drinketh – Excerpt

Tranquil Dreams – Review

Oct. 3rd

The Voluptuous Book Diva – Excerpt

Didi Oviatt – Excerpt

Valerie’s Musings – Excerpt

Oct. 4th

The Genre Minx – Excerpt

Just 4 My Books – Review

Oct. 5th

Bri’s Book Nook – Excerpt

On the Shelf Reviews – Excerpt

Jessica Rachow – Review

My Baby, My Books, and I – Review

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R&R Book Tours

book launch · hope · Ireland · preorder · real life · social history · survival · thoughtful

Book Launch – Saoirse

Saoirse

by Hilary Connor