#BookReview WAHALA by NIKKI MAY


ABOUT THE BOOK


Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London.
They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English.
Not all of them choose to see it that way.

Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again.

When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.

Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.

Explosive, hilarious and wildly entertaining, this razor-sharp tale of love, race and family will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Fearlessly political about class, colourism and clothes, the spellbinding Wahala is for anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.
PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY

PURCHASE LINK


AMAZON

MY REVIEW

This was a sparky and utterly enjoyable story of 3 mixed race women – Ronke, Simi and Boo – and all the trials and tribulations that life and female friendships bring their way! It was fascinating to see how the issue of race affected the women throughout their lives, especially with the culture clashes and expectations of their own families because of their heritage.

The women are in their 30’s and all living in London and all dealing with their own issues – from relationships to their professional lives – and how they’re dealing with it separately and with support from their friends. An old friend, Isobel, shows up from their past too and you get a real sense of an undercurrent with her attitude and motives. It adds a nice bit of spice to the mix and points towards trouble in the past that was never resolved.

It’s a story that zips along at a great pace – all the women are interesting characters and the challenges they face are all relatable so that makes you connect with them in an easy going way! A real fun read, with a dark twist or two!!

★★★★

#AudiobookReview MUDLARKING by LARA MAIKLEM #nonfiction

ABOUT THE BOOK


Long heralded as a city treasure herself, expert “mudlarker” Lara Maiklem is uniquely trained in the art of seeking. Tirelessly trekking across miles of the Thames’ muddy shores, where others only see the detritus of city life, Maiklem unearths evidence of England’s captivating, if sometimes murky, history—with some objects dating back to 43 AD, when London was but an outpost of the Roman Empire. From medieval mail worn by warriors on English battlefields to nineteenth-century glass marbles mass-produced for the nation’s first soda bottles, Maiklem deduces the historical significance of these artifacts with the quirky enthusiasm and sharp-sightedness of a twenty-first century Sherlock Holmes.


Seamlessly interweaving reflections from her own life with meditations on the art of wandering, Maiklem ultimately delivers—for Anglophiles and history lovers alike—a memorable treatise on the objects we leave in our wake, and the stories they can reveal if only we take a moment to look.

PUBLISHED BY BLOOMSBURY

PURCHASE LINKS

HIVE.CO.UK

BLACKWELL’S

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audioversion of this book.

What a brilliantly informative and fascinating book! Read by the author herself, I loved listening to her stories from the banks of the Thames and it’s made me yearn to be a mudlarker!! I’d never heard of the term before I watched a programme on TV hosted by Jonny Vaughan and a mudlarker, and it just hooked my attention as a history fan, and in this book Lara has added more to the ways of a mudlarker and the history she and others have uncovered as they explore the banks of the River Thames.

As I live along the Estuary in Essex, this made it feel really relevant to me as places I know well are mentioned and the history is bought to life a little clearer. There are so many brilliant history snippets shared by Lara from things she’s found and learnt over the years she’s spent mudlarking, and how addictive it becomes to uncover a hidden piece of history that has laid there for hundreds of years.

It covers many topics including war, royal history, even toys found in the mud and features different parts of the thames with relevant bits of history related to that area and the changes that have occured over the years as the surrounding areas have changed. It’s clear to see that Lara and the mudlarking community she is part of are extremely proud of the work that they do and are excited to be custodians of unique pieces of history and love their ‘digging’ time! Where do I sign up to become a mudlark?!

★★★★★

#BookReview ESTUARY: Out from London to the sea by RACHEL LICHTENSTEIN #nonfiction #LibaryLoveChallenge

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Thames Estuary is one of the world’s great deltas, providing passage in and out of London for millennia. It is silted up with the memories and artefacts of past voyages. It is the habitat for an astonishing range of wildlife. And for the people who live and work on the estuary, it is a way of life unlike any other – one most would not trade for anything, despites its dangers.


Rachel Lichtenstein has travelled the length and breadth of the estuary many times and in many vessels, from hardy tug boats to stately pleasure cruisers to an inflatable dinghy. And during these crossing she has gathered an extraordinary chorus of voices: mudlarkers and fishermen, radio pirates and champion racers, the men who risk their lives out on the water and the women who wait on the shore.


From the acclaimed author of Brick Lane and Rodinsky’s Room, Estuary is a thoughtful and intimate portrait of a profoundly British place. With a clear eye and a sharp ear, Rachel Lichtenstein captures the essence of a community and an environment, examining how each has shaped and continues to shape the other.


PUBLISHED BY HAMISH HAMILTON


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

waterstones


MY REVIEW

Having lived next to the Estuary all my life, I found this to be a fascinating, illuminating and detailed look at the evolution of the Thames Estuary and all those who live by it or work on it. The folklore, the role it has played in history, the way that outsiders see Essex and how that differs from those who live there and just how much it has changed over the years.

Being a local I found it so easy to feel connected to the stories told by the author, and the places she visited as she travelled along the Estuary. She stopped off in numerous places to meet people who have lived or worked on the Thames and it was so interesting to hear them share their stories. She travelled on boats and walked alongside the estuary and that really helped her give you a real flavour of estuary life. The use of black and white photos was also really clever as it didn’t make the estuary out to be a glossy, colourful place as most of the time it isn’t!

There are more shipwrecks on the floor of the estuary per square foot than anywhere else along the UK coastline and I loved hearing the stories of those, especially of the London and the Montgomery and those who have dived down to see them. Having recently visited an exhibition of items from the London at the local museum I found these chapters to be most enlightening.

It’s a book I’ve learned so much from about the local area and found it to be brilliantly written and so absorbing to read.

★★★★★

#BookReview THE FIVE by HALLIE RUBENHOLD #NonFictionNovember

ABOUT THE BOOK

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London—the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that “the Ripper” preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time—but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.

published by Doubleday

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  

hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine, Mary Jane. Names we should all know considering their place in crime history, but many of us don’t as more focus is placed on the perpetrator of the crimes against them than the actual victims. But in this staggering work, the author has set about redressing the balance so we can get to know more about the women who were brutally murdered in London in 1888 by Jack the Ripper.


The attention to detail throughout is staggering and I can only begin to imagine how long it must have taken the author to put this work together. Each woman is given their own section so that their story can be fully told through painstaking research into family trees, newspaper reports and police statements from family and friends, and it just makes for such absorbing reading. It gives you a real glimpse into life in those times, the bleakness, the struggles and the human side of these women who were dealt a rough hand throughout their lives, only for them to be ended in such horrific ways, and then their characters talked down after their deaths.


But this book gives these women a voice, so we learn of their upbringings, the family history and they all came from different backgrounds so there’s so many interesting things to learn about life in the past – the attitudes of society, the family dynamics and the devastating effects of addiction are brought to the front and your heart just bled for these women. However they tried to improve their circumstances, there was always something just around the corner to bring them down once more.


What I also found most profound was the list at the end of the book which was which items the women had on them at the time of their murders. Very poignant and really hit home of just how tragic their lives were.


Mixed in with the local news at the time, the good(well known) and the bad (much less reported!), this book does a magnificent job of transporting the reader back in time and I found it truly astonishing 
and enthralling. A must read and one of my books of 2019!


★★★★★

#BlogTour The Wrong Direction by Liz Treacher #BookReview @liztreacher @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #TheWrongDirection

Extremely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE WRONG DIRECTION by LIZ TREACHER. My thanks to the Author and Kelly of Love Books Tours for putting it all together and letting me be part of it all!

About the book

Autumn 1920. When Bernard Cavalier, a flamboyant London artist, marries Evie Brunton, a beautiful Devon post lady, everyone expects a happy ending. But Evie misses cycling down country lanes, delivering the mail, and is finding it hard to adapt to her new life among Mayfair’s high society.

Meanwhile Bernard, now a well-known artist, is struggling to give up his bachelor ways. The Wrong Direction is as light and witty as The Wrong Envelope, with racy characters and a fast-paced plot. Wild parties, flirtatious models, jealous friends – Bernard and Evie must negotiate many twists and turns if they are to hold on to each other…  

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £8.99

hive.co.uk  £8.19

waterstones £8.99

About the Author

Biography

Liz is a writer, a Creative Writing teacher and an Art photographer. She lives in the Highlands of Scotland with a view of the sea. Her love of images influences her writing. 
Her debut novel, ‘The Wrong Envelope’, is a romantic comedy, set in 1920 in Devon, England. It tells the story of Bernard, an impulsive artist and Evie, his beautiful post lady. You can watch the trailer on this page, under ‘Videos’. Light and witty, and full of twists and turns, ‘The Wrong Envelope’ captures the spirit of another age – when letters could change lives.
The sequel, ‘The Wrong Direction’, follows Evie and Bernard to London, and charts their further adventures in Mayfair’s high society. Wild parties, flirtatious models, jealous friends – Bernard and Evie must negotiate many twists and turns if they are to hold on to each other.


For more information visit:  https://www.liztreacher.com

Follow on Twitter: @liztreacherFacebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/LizTreacherAuthor/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liztreacher/

MY REVIEW

Back with Evie and Bernard and the story continues seamlessly from book one, The Wrong Envelope, as we follow their lives from the quiet streets of Cornwall into the frenetic pace of London as a newlywed couple and life definitely doesn’t get any easier for them as reality hits!!

I loved The Wrong Envelope for the way it took you back to a much gentler pace of life, and this sequel transports you so effortlessly to the change of life that Evie faces – not only is she getting used to married life and all that entails, she’s not a post lady anymore and has to deal with the boredom and trying to find out what her new role will be in life.  Not easy for a woman in the 1920’s but the wonderful thing about Evie as a character is that she has a brain and she’s not afraid to use it! I loved how much she evolves during this book – while marriage is extremely daunting for her at first and she’s lost the comfort zone of being with her family, she gains so much confidence in herself and starts aiming for her dreams and fulfilling her potential.

Bernard is back to living life in a whirlwind while being back in London – out with friends a lot of the time, working hard and doesn’t seem to realise how much Evie relies on him to help her adjust.   She soon makes some new friends though who expose her to the social side of London and she doesn’t always like what she sees. 

 I absolutely loved seeing these different sides to these characters – there’s so much going on and so many changes for them to deal with that we get to discover the attitudes of the time that looked down so much on women and the role they played – they were supposed to stay and home and keep everything nice for their husbands! That’s not Evie!  And the more she gains in confidence, the more Bernard realises how lost he is without her – will it be enough to make him change his ways though?!

I adored this book and loved how it put you through a wide range of emotions!  It captures a bygone age perfectly and I enjoyed being totally transfixed  from start to finish!!


★★★★★

Dangerous Cargo Blog Tour

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Extremely delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour this week for this fast paced, gritty and exciting crime thriller. Aiden McRaney is back for the 4th installment in the series – but this book can easily be read as a stand alone!

THE BLURB

Aidan McRaney is trying to stay away from his shadier past in this James Bond style thriller, but the offer of fifteen thousand pounds from Agency boss Nick Lombardi is too good to pass up. Lombardi needs someone to infiltrate the lair of ‘The Widow’.
No agent has survived previous missions and Lombardi believes it’s McRaney’s knowledge of the criminal underworld that will give him the edge. An arms dealer, The Widow is in league with the L.A. Mafia and has bought a house on a remote island off the Cornish coast, far enough away from the mainland where the arms can be both smuggled and tested. When Don Giorgio Avonicci arrives, accompanied by his female bodyguard, McRaney finds it’s not just the weapons being tested but his commitment to his wife in London.

This is the fourth book in the Aidan McRaney series which began with his release from prison in the book Stalking Aidan.

Amazon UK

To give you a little taster of what is in store if you read this book, the author has allowed me to share a little excerpt with you;

Excerpt from ‘Dangerous Cargo.’ 

 

 The address he had given me was a block of post-war flats, a paint flaked prefab  not  unlike a host of similar prefabs now being razed to the ground in various areas of London.  The City was moving with the times, but Grey Stoke Road appeared to be way behind them.  The flats were reached by a series of  stone steps badly in need of repair.  The kind of habitat where a man on the run might find himself.  A far cry from the charmer and playboy Daryl Harper purported to be.  Some of the windows were boarded up and the doors were battered enough  to appear as if they had been broken in to.  The street was quiet, an absence of birdsong serving as a reminder even our feathered friends had  forsaken the area for somewhere more upmarket.   In the distance a police siren, the rumble of traffic, but not in this seemingly dead and silent world. 

Having rung the bell a number of times only to receive no answer, I was about to move away when I had the prescience of mind to try the door.   Naturally expecting the door to be locked, I was surprised to discover  it was open.  For someone as scared as Daryl appeared to be, I thought it strange he would leave the door unlocked.  Unless of course as he was expecting me he might have been too scared to answer it.  

The place smelled  bad, the first thing I was aware of, though wrinkling my nose and sniffing the air made me realise  the smell was familiar.  I failed to pinpoint exactly what it was, but the odour was something metallic, almost coppery.  It was a sickly kind of scent, the kind that made you want to vomit.  As it was I found myself retching and, pulling a handkerchief from my jacket, held it over my nose while I moved from the hall  into what I figured to be the lounge.  The place was dark and dank. Thin curtains yanked across  the windows let in precious little light.  A sense of must and stale air pervaded the place, as if it had been shut up for a long time.  A collection of  yellowed newspapers on the floor only added to the rank vomit inducing stench.  No one lived here and probably had not lived here in months, or even years.  Angrily calling Daryl’s name yielded nothing but silence. 

   Apart from a dusty and battered table, a couple of broken chairs and an old scratched fridge, there was nothing.  “Come on, you bastard!” I hissed. Dust motes rose into the room as I inched further inside.  “If you’re fucking playing tricks on me, Harper, I’ll fucking…..” My sentence hung suspended, while simultaneously an exclamation of , “fuck, what the hell!” was forced from me when I almost tripped over something that was rolled up in a far corner.   Here the coppery stench was even more overpowering.  The something I had tripped over was a body.  Flinging one of the curtains aside, it ripped in my hands, the dust from the rotten fabric almost making me choke, but allowed enough light to filter into the dingy  room.   The body was that of  a man wearing a brown suit.  The suit was covered in dust.  The man was lying face down, and his hair was wet and sticking up at odd angles, plastered flat with a glutinous substance  that came away red in my hand when I touched his head.   My heart raced and I felt sick to my stomach.  The man was dead but not yet stiff.  Rigor Mortis had not set in for the body was  still warm. 

When I rolled him over Daryl Harper’s sightless eyes stared up at  me as if with accusation that I had been too late.  Another hole  had flowered up, seeping dried blood just above his left eye.  Under the body was a metal object I recognised as a Walther pistol.. The gun was mine. Now the unmistakeable wailing of sirens sounded remarkably close, almost as if they were outside. More sirens drawing nearer. Car doors banging . The echo of running  feet on stone  steps,  while I was leaning  over a dead man with a gun in my hand.

Q AND A

I have been lucky enough to have a chat with the author too and she has kindly answered a few questions for me to give you a little more insight into the book and author!

1: How long have you been writing, and what was the trigger to put pen to paper? 

I suppose I’ve been writing from about the age of eight.  As soon as I was able to read basically!  I wrote my first short story in an old exercise book…

 

2: Where does a character like Aidan come from? 

Aidan McRaney is based on the actor Aidan Turner (Poldark) with Jack Higgins’ protagonist Fallon from ‘A prayer For The Dying’ thrown in.  Like Fallon and Aidan Turner, Aidan McRaney is Irish.  I also draw on Higgins’ Irish stories set against the backdrop of the Troubles.

 

3: Will there be more books to follow in this series? 

Yes!  I am currently working on a fifth Aidan McRaney novel entitled, ‘The Duellists Club’. Garbed in the clothing of the period, a group of wealthy business re-enact 18th century duels, which is in reality the cover for an assassination bureau.

 

4: Are you working on any projects at the moment you would like to share? 

As well as working on The Duellists Club, I am actually writing my Memoirs about growing up in the Fifties and Sixties.  So much has happened in my life that my son suggested I should write a book.  The book deals with the taboo of a teenage pregnancy in a small village, sexual abuse in the workplace and from an Uncle. I’ll also talk about my relationships with an armed robber and a Hell’s Angel! Plus a thwarted plot to kidnap my baby by a woman who having had so many miscarriages had become unhinged. The working title is; ‘You Couldn’t Make it up: Memoirs of A Country Girl.’

 

I’m also working on a Historical Romance set in the 18th. Century called ‘Gallows Hill’. About a young man, whose father forfeits his lands to his unscrupulous cousin before dying, becomes a highwayman.

 

5: How important are reviews to Authors like you and has Social Media helped in this respect?  

Reviews are seemingly of vital importance especially to self-published authors.  As a voracious reader over the years I read a book and that was it. I either liked it and kept the book to read again, or if not, I gave the book to a charity shop. These days reviews appear to be the be all and end all for the self-published author.  The problem is trying to get a reader to write a review is akin to extracting the proverbial blood from a stone!  I feel guilty asking them to write a review, because it seems as if I’m hounding them.  I love writing and putting my book out there, but then cue the frustration of marketing and those reviews.  I guess Social Media has helped, certainly with sales.  Sorry to rant but to me writing a review is common courtesy!

Really hope that this has got you intrigued enough about the world of Aiden McRaney – go and buy the books!! –  and I would like to thank J.M. Shorney, the publishers and Bookollective for allowing me to take part in this fabulous Blog Tour!