#BlogTour STILL LIVES by RESHMA RUIA @renardpress @ReshmaRuia #BookReview

Hello! Delighted to be with you today as part of the wonderful Blog Tour for the equally wonderful STILL LIVES by RESHMA RUIA.  My thanks to the author and the team at Renard Press for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The glow of my cigarette picks out a dark shape lying on the ground. I bend down to take a closer look. It’s a dead sparrow. I wondered if I had become that bird, disoriented and lost.

Young, handsome and contemptuous of his father’s traditional ways, PK Malik leaves Bombay to start a new life in America. Stopping in Manchester to visit an old friend, he thinks he sees a business opportunity, and decides to stay on. Now fifty-five, PK has fallen out of love with life. His business is struggling and his wife Geeta is lonely, pining for the India she’s left behind.

One day PK crosses the path of Esther, the wife of his business competitor, and they launch into an affair conducted in shabby hotel rooms, with the fear of discovery forever hanging in the air. Still Lives is a tightly woven, haunting work that pulls apart the threads of a family and plays with notions of identity.

Shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reshma Ruia is an award-winning author and poet. Her first novel was described in the Sunday Times as ‘a gem of straight-faced comedy’. She has published a poetry collection and a short story collection; her work has appeared in international anthologies and journals, and she has had work commissioned by the BBC. She is the co-founder of The Whole Kahani – a writers’ collective of British South Asian writers. Born in India and brought up in Rome, her writing explores the preoccupations of those who possess a multiple sense of belonging.

MY REVIEW

I found this to be an emotional, often gut wrenching, story that looks at the impact of decisions you make and the impact they have on you and those around you – with often devastating consequences.  It’s one of those books that you get so caught up in from the beginning and it’s tough to let the characters go when the final page arrives.  I’m still thinking about them now!!

PK is a man out to live life ‘his’ way and not his fathers way.  And that journey takes him from India to Manchester where he finds himself living a life he doesn’t know he wants anymore.  Business brought him success, a wife and family, but he’s reached that age where he doesn’t know what is next and nothing excites him… until he meets the wife of a rival and that ignites his passion again.

Told from the perspective of PK you really get inside his mind, and what also works so well are the letters we get to read written by his wife – seeing life from her viewpoint really adds to the drama and reality of it all.  She notices the changes in her husband but she finds it easier to discuss things in a letter with someone else, than to confront her husband and talk over their problems.  You really get that head in the sand feeling about their relationship and despite the unhappiness they are unwilling to sit down and talk things over.

The story really takes you on a real emotional rollercoaster and that is down to how well the characters are written and developed along the way.  Showing the frailty of human behaviours and how things can change so quickly allows you to connect on a personal level  as they ponder the same questions we all do in life.  

A story that packs a real punch – loved it!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE GREEN INDIAN PROBLEM by JADE LEAF WILLETTS #BookReview @renardpress @jade_leaf_w

Delighted to be with you today for my turn on the Blog Tour for the wonderful THE GREEN INDIAN PROBLEM by JADE LEAF WILLETTS.

My thanks to the author, and publisher for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Green Indian Problem by Jade Leaf Willetts

ISBN: 9781913724528

Paperback • 208pp • £10

30th March 2022

Set in the valleys of South Wales at the tail end of Thatcher’s Britain, The Green Indian Problem is the story of Green, a seven year-old with intelligence beyond his years – an ordinary boy with an extraordinary problem: everyone thinks he’s a girl.

Green sets out to try and solve the mystery of his identity, but other issues keep cropping up – God, Father Christmas, cancer – and one day his best friend goes missing, leaving a rift in the community and even more unanswered questions. Dealing with deep themes of friendship, identity, child abuse and grief, The Green Indian Problem is, at heart, an all-too-real story of a young boy trying to find out why he’s not like the other boys in his class.

Longlisted for the Bridport Prize (in the Peggy Chapman-Andrews category)

Jade Leaf Willetts is a writer from Llanbradach, a strange, beautiful village in South Wales. He writes about extraordinary characters in ordinary worlds and has a penchant for unreliable narrators. The Green Indian Problem, his first novel, was longlisted for the 2020 Bridport Prize in the Peggy Chapman-Andrews category. Jade’s poetry has been published by Empty Mirror, PoV Magazine and Unknown Press. His short story, ‘An Aversion to Popular Amusements’ was shortlisted for the inaugural Janus Literary Prize. He is currently working on a coming of age follow-up to The Green Indian Problem.

Resource links:

Author’s website: https://jadeleafwilletts.com 

Purchase links:

Renard Press: https://renardpress.com/books/the-green-indian-problem/

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-green-indian-problem/j-l-willetts/9781913724528 

Bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-green-indian-problem/9781913724528 


Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/The-Green-Indian-Problem-by-J-L-Willetts-author/9781913724528

MY REVIEW

Don’t you just love it when you discover a character that you take to your heart immediately?! That is what happened when I started reading the story of Green – a 7 year old boy who is very very smart, but disappointed by those around him who think he’s a girl!  He just wants to discover who he is and that isn’t easy when society keeps pushing you in a direction where you don’t feel comfortable.

Green is a switched on little boy, and  a typical kid who questions everything. He wants answers and he isn’t afraid to ask questions.  His parents live apart and he has a strong dislike for Dennis, the boyfriend of  his mum as he sees the way he treats her and knows it is very wrong. 

While Green is dealing with home issues, he’s also dealing with pressures at school and all that society throws his way expecting him to be someone he isn’t.  Set amongst the backdrop of the 80’s, I loved all the retro references and it really sets the scene perfectly.   And anyone who loves Ghostbusters is fine by me!!

When his best friend from school goes missing, Green is plunged into a dark time in his life where he just wants to find out the truth of what happened and uses his inquisitive mind to good use to get some answers and you just can’t help but be swept along with the gusto of this gutsy little boy who just wants to be himself and be accepted.

This was just an utter delight to read and really made you feel so protective towards Green.  He sees the world in very simple terms and makes you wish that more people could see things his way!!  Wonderful!

★★★★★

#BlogTour WOMEN AND LOVE by MIRIAM BURKE #BookReview @renardpress


Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous WOMEN AND LOVE by MIRIAM BURKE.

My thanks to the author and publisher, Renard Press, for letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Women and Love by Miriam Burke

ISBN: 9781913724818

Paperback • 224pp • £10

23rd February 2022

‘I couldn’t sleep that night; our conversation was like a trapped bird flying around inside my head. The next morning, I texted to say I wouldn’t be coming back. I lied about having to return to my country to nurse a sick relative. I couldn’t bear to see my story mirrored in his eyes, and to see what we never had. I knew he’d understand.’ 

Women and Love is a thought-provoking collection of seventeen tightly woven tales about the power of love, all its trials and complications, and the shattered lives it can leave in its wake. 

The stories explore a huge variety of sorts of love surrounding women in wildly differing settings, and features an unforgettable cast including GPs, burglars, inmates, emigrant cleaners, carers, young professionals, and many more. Navigating heavy themes, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ experiences, including gender dysphoria and searching for a sperm donor, the stories leave the reader burning with indignation, full of empathy and wonder.

A writer from the west of Ireland, Miriam Burke’s short stories have been widely published in anthologies and journals, including The Manchester Review, Litro Magazine, Fairlight Shorts, The Honest Ulsterman, Bookanista and Writers’ Forum. She has a PhD in Psychology, and before becoming a writer she worked for many years as a Clinical Psychologist in London hospitals and GP practices. Women and Love is her debut collection.

Resource links:

Author reading on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cxS6jL_kC4

Author’s website: https://miriamburkeauthor.com

Purchase links:

Renard Press: https://renardpress.com/books/women-and-love/

Waterstones:https://www.waterstones.com/book/women-and-love/miriam-burke/9781913724818

Bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/women-and-love/9781913724818Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781913724818

MY REVIEW

This is the kind of short story collection I love!  Miriam has put together a brilliantly fresh feeling to these 17 short stories, each with a snappy feel and showing love in all its’ forms – be it male, female, straight, gay, family, children.. it’s not afraid to show the good, the bad, the highs and the lows!

I found the book to have a great flow from start to finish.  Each story had a different viewpoint and I loved how the changing focus kept things zipping along – from a cleaner watching the dynamics of families she works for whilst carrying her own pain, to the divorced couple chatting over a coffee as to what changed between them, to the lesbian couple talking over having children together, and the friends reuniting at a funeral and discussing how their lives had changed.  

This really is a short story collection that has something for everyone and I found it compelling just how much you could glean from the brief glimpses of the characters as they reflected on a situation, and I think that’s what made it so relatable and interesting as a reader.  It involves day to day scenarios and shows the impact of decisions on people around them whether for better or worse.  Just the way life goes!It also does a great job of showing the irrationality of love – how it can make you overthink a situation, cloud your judgement, repeat the failings you despise in others…. humans are just really weird and make no sense at times aren’t we?!

I cannot wait to read more from this author and this is a short story collection I cannot recommend highly enough!! Go grab a copy!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THIS GOOD BOOK by IAIN HOOD @renardpress



ABOUT THE BOOK


Sometimes I wonder if I had known that it was going to take me fourteen years to paint this painting of the Crucifixion, and what it would take for me to paint it, would I have been as happy as I was then?’

Susan Alison MacLeod, a Glasgow School of Art graduate with a dark sense of humour, first lays eyes on Douglas MacDougall at a party in 1988, and resolves to put him on the cross in the Crucifixion painting she’s been sketching out, but her desire for authenticity in her portrayal of suffering means that the painting doesn’t see the light of day for fourteen years.

Over the same years, Douglas’ ever-more elaborately designed urine-filled plastic bags bring him exponentially increasing fame, prizes and commissions, while his modelling for Susan Alison, who continues to work pain and suffering on to the canvas, takes place mostly in the shadows. This Good Book is a wickedly funny, brilliantly observed novel that spins the moral compass and plays with notions of creating art. 


PUBLISHED BY RENARD PRESS

PURCHASE LINKS


Renard Press

Amazon

MY REVIEW


This is a more than a good book! This is a very good book! And so unique! I wondered how I’d get on with the Scottish dialect and slang, alongside a look at the art world, but it works surprisingly well and it’s one of those stories that can shock just as much as make you laugh! And it made me laugh a lot with the darkness and pointed look at the pretentiousness of what is perceived as art nowadays.

Susan is at the heart of the story, she’s an art school grad and when Douglas came into her life, she decided he was the perfect ‘model’ for her art creation representing the Crucifixion. But there’s always something holding her back in being completely satisfied with what she’s creating and the years fly by and still no completed work.

In the meantime, Douglas hits the art world with his own unique brand of art using bags of urine!! And he gets huge critical acclaim and success, whilst Susan struggles along in the background with her more ‘normal’ artwork. Their friendship never fails to waiver and they seem to just get one another, despite success taking Douglas away more and more. The banter between them makes the story as it’s so raw and honest and I loved the way their conversations would flow about everything and nothing! The serious to the fun.

The way that Douglas infuriates her but intoxicates her in equal measures is at the heart of the story for me – seeing him sail along, creating artwork from nowhere with seemingly minimal effort, whilst Susan toils with her creation not matching up to her vision for years. It does a great job of showing the madness of the art world, alongside the madness of the artists!

The darkness in the characters also had me spellbound! It made them even more fascinating to read about as you just don’t know where their ‘art’ will take them next!! I savoured every page of this book! A fabulous read that I highly recommend to one and all!!


★★★★★