GodBomb!

 

GodBomb!

 

 

GodBomb!

by Kit Power

 

North Devon, England. 1995. A born-again revival meeting in a public building. The usual mix of the faithful, the curious, and the desperate. And one other – an atheist suicide bomber. He’s angry. He wants answers. And if God doesn’t come and talk to him personally, he’s going to kill everyone in the building…

 

I came across this book on my kindle whilst looking for my next read. it was a recent acquisition but one that I couldn’t remember making. I didn’t know the title or the author and the cover didn’t look like anything that would have enticed me. I can only think that somebody has reviewed this book and done such a good job that I bought it straight away. If this is the case and you recognise yourself as that reviewer I would like to offer you my very great thanks. GodBomb! is a stunner.

I opened the book at the first page, without reading the blurb or the author’s notes, and just started reading, wanting to see if it held any interest for me: I didn’t put the book down until the last page! It gripped me from the first sentence through the horror-filled story right to the bitter end.

The story starts and is told in its entirety in one location, a born-again church revival meeting. It is set in North Devon, a fact I only found out after I had finished reading. I had gone through the whole book feeling it was set in America. But location doesn’t really matter and it could, in effect, be set anywhere. this book is all about the characters: their feelings, their reactions, their instincts. And they are absolutely beautifully written. you feel like you know them entirely, they are sympathetic, frustrating and maddening. Some are loveable others are detestable.

Amongst the congregation is an atheist who wants some answers. He is also wrapped up in enough explosives to blow the entire building and all its occupants sky high.

This is tense.

The would-be-bomber is a complex character; in one moment horrifically brutal and uncaring of anyone’s lives, but in the next showing a tenderness and emotion that takes you by surprise.

There are about eighty people at the meeting; amongst them is a disabled woman, an alcoholic, a sax player, a woman about to give birth and a teenager. These characters play their particular parts, bringing along their back stories and their reasons for being in the church. The author gets inside the characters heads superbly well. The people they are and their reactions to the situation they find themselves in are both realistic, very emotional and sometimes surprising. I defy anyone not to be heartbroken at Mike’s story, or to go through a roller-coaster of emotions at Emma and Peter’s story; awaiting their first child and realising that child is going to be born in the worst possible circumstances.

This is neither pro-religion nor anti. You are given different viewpoints, different ideas, and Kit Power cleverly walks the line so you don’t feel pressured one way or the other, you make your own mind up. As it should be.

This book is such a total surprise and a very welcome one. It’s not often an easy read, being in turns brutal, horrific and desperately sad. but it is also inspiring and uplifting, showing the indomitable human spirit that seems able to survive even the worst case scenarios.

A must read.

****1/2

 

 

 

 

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Magic To Memphis

magic to memphis

 

Magic To Memphis

by Julie Starr

 

 

Music, murder and everyday magic. Jessie is seventeen years old, a runaway musician living rough in a trailer with a pit bull dog called Bear. That’s fine by Jessie; she’s got big plans. A music contest in Memphis offers the chance of money, fame and escape from a nowhere town with no real prospects. Turns out there’s more in Memphis than music. When Jessie’s mom sends her a box of things belonging to her dad, she finds out that he made the same trip years ago. She’s determined to find him, but has no idea that the ring her dad left her is being hunted by a sadistic killer. Nor does she realize that he will stop at nothing to get it back. Suddenly, a simple music contest turns into a fight for survival and only a puzzling traveler called Finch has the answers Jessie needs. But will she listen? And can she trust in herself enough to change her luck and make magic happen?

 

 

Teenage runaway Jessie receives an unexpected package from her mother, containing memorabilia of her father.

Unfortunately a deadly killer named Kabos is searching for a ring that is contained in the package.

Enter the mysterious Finch, who instills magic into everything. After a message from Finch: there is always an end before a beginning,  Jessie loses everything; her job, her band and her trailer. This sets her off on her journey to Memphis.

I have to admit that I don’t really read a lot of YA novels and my expectations coming into this book weren’t particularly high. But how wrong I was!

I loved Jessie, she is strong and feisty but she’s also hurt, lost and vulnerable; struggling with her feelings of abandonment. The story follows her journey from filthy trailer park in Dorma to Memphis in search of her father and musical success.  Jessie is all alone having left home at sixteen after relations broke down with her mother. Well she’s not quite alone; she has her best friend, Bear, and what a friend he is. A big, ugly pit-bull terrier, born and bred as a fighting dog, but rescued and retired by Jessie. The two are inseparable and he is as big a character as anyone in the book.

The character of Finch was wonderful, guiding Jessie along the way with his magic and ways of teaching Jessie to look at herself differently.

What if your life is working from the inside out?

If only all teenagers had a Finch.

Then there are the members of the band that Jessie is the lead singer in. They all head to Memphis to take part in a music competition that could change all their lives.

Add to the mix the psychopathic killer searching for the ring that is in Jessie’s possession.  Kabos is an Egyptian sorcerer who has killed many times and will stop at nothing to get the ring back.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of Memphis. The author brought to life the area and its music really well.

I would recommend this book for all ages. There is enough depth for adults and the easy writing style ensures that it is clear enough for younger readers. It is totally engaging with memorable characters and storylines to keep the pages turning.

****

All royalties from this book go to children’s charities. If you would like to purchase the book you can do so here

Many thanks to Kate Appleton for sending me a copy.

 

 

 

 

 

Silent Scream

silent scream

Silent scream
by Angela Marsons

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

A series of murders are carried out which appear to be linked to a children’s home that burned down. When a proposed dig on the site of the children’s home is vehemently opposed, D.I. Kim Stone, suspecting foul play, takes it upon herself to start the dig and is proved right when bones are uncovered.

Kim is then in a race against time to stop more grisly murders taking place and to uncover the secrets that have been buried along with the bodies. Her background of an abusive mother and subsequent life in care homes means that the case is deeply personal for her.

I enjoyed the character of D.I. Kim Stone. She is complex, not always likeable, sometimes rude and abrasive, but she has a heart and her interactions with the other members of her team; Bryant, Dawson and Stacey, felt real, with moments of humour and snappy dialogue. There is bags of room for her development in future books (of which there are already two more!). I have serious doubts as to whether she would get away with her wilful disobedience to her superiors in the real world, but suspension of disbelief is part and parcel of fiction.

I liked the fact that the other characters played their parts without taking over the story, leaving room for their further developments.

If I have a small criticism it would be that the Black Country dialect didn’t really work for me. I enjoy local dialects in books but I couldn’t get along with this one and it became a mild irritation.

For all the dark, horrific side of the story, it gives a sensitive insight into the cold, stark nature of the care system where “every person who is there to care for you is paid to care for you” and some really don’t do a very good job of it.

This is an assured debut novel with lots of twists and turns and an ending that I didn’t see coming at all. An extremely dark topic done very well.
****

Caroline Dunford Guest Post

death for a cause

A Death For A Cause is the 8th book in the Euphemia Martins series. The series fall into the cosy mystery genre. They have been described as a cross between Agatha Christie and Downton Abbey, which sounds just perfect to me and I can’t wait to read the latest instalment.

A Death For A Cause takes on the subject of suffragettes, a topical subject given the recent release of the film.

I am delighted that Caroline has agreed to write a guest post for my blog and it is a wonderful post describing how Euphemia came about and how her wonderful great grandmother inspired her.

caroline dunford

A Strong Woman

Since I was five years old I had been vociferously determined to become a writer. Many years later, after publishing a fair number of short stories, working as a journalist and as a psychotherapist, I was still to write my first full length novel. My short stories had ranged widely across many genres, but one day I had a serious thought about what I liked to read and that maybe I should try writing just that. What came into my head was not only that I loved cozy crime, but within moments a leading heroine based on a family legend.
I have recently finished the eighth book, A Death for a Cause, in the Euphemia Martins’ Mysteries, a cozy crime series, set in the early 1900s. Euphemia has an aristocratic background, but her family has fallen on hard times and she chooses to go into service to help support her widowed mother and younger brother. In doing this she is defying both her heritage and the fundamental idea that a young woman of her class is only fit for marriage. My great grandmother, who inspired Euphemia, while not titled, was born into extreme wealth. When her father remarried she immediately loathed her stepmother. Tired of their disputes her father gave her the shocking choice of either befriending her step-mother or leaving the house. She left, an unthinkable action by the times standards, and entered service. Here her story diverges from Euphemia as instead of going on to discover a series of murders and rise through the servants ranks, my great grandmother, more realistically, became ill under the harsh regime of being a maid. She was rescued by marriage, but not to a man of her class, but a shopkeeper, with whom I like to think she lived very happily as they had thirteen children!
All of the series has been grounded in how women were treated in the early 1900s. However, although Euphemia has struggled, it is only in A Death for a Cause, that the series reaches a peak, and she comes face to face with the reality of true poverty and even the women who have had no other choice than to become prostitutes to survive.
As a modern, educated woman, I have it much easier than Euphemia, but as anyone who has seen the recent movie Suffragette, and sat through to the end to see the list of when women actually got the some of the rights the sisterhood demanded, knows, change is recent, not long standing.
I have it easier than a lot of women in the world. There are still places where a woman’s role is seen as in the home, where she has few rights and where she is seen as a lesser being simply by virtue of her gender. Even in the UK women in the same positions as men are generally paid less and who can ignore Hollywood’s tendency to off load female stars once they reach their thirties in favour of a young, thigh-gaped teen. The media still has an irritating habit of commenting on a woman’s appearance instead of her achievements. A lot may have changed since Euphemia’s day, but beneath the surface a lot has remained, shockingly, the same.
But please don’t think Euphemia is a tongue-lashing man hater. Nothing could be further from the truth. She falls in and out of love almost as easily as she falls over dead bodies. It is only in A Death for a Cause that events snap her out of her armchair support for the Suffragettes and make her consider seriously the plight of unprotected women at the time. But despite this she is as witty as she is serious, and while her worldview is expanding, I hope she remains as entertaining as ever.
Just like my grandmother she is a strong woman in a difficult time. And we will always need strong women.

You can purchase copies of The Euphemia Martins series here

You can also join caroline at her book launch on Friday 20th November, details are on the poster above.

The Gap Of Time

The gap of Time

The Gap Of Time
by Jeanette Winterson

The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s “late plays.” It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited.

In The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson’s cover version of The Winter’s Tale, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.

The Gap Of Time is Jeanette Winterson’s cover version of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Given a modern day setting it tells of Financier Leo Kaiser, and his deranged jealousy of his wife and his best friend. He torments himself with thoughts of the two together and manages to convince himself that the child she is carrying is not his.

A baby left in a BabyHatch in New Bohemia, America, is found by a man and his son and taken home to be cared for as their own.

Seventeen years later ruined lives collide with each other across time.

The Gap Of Time follows its original closely enough to be recognisable (you get a helpful synopsis of The Winter’s Tale at the beginning of the book for anyone who is not familiar with it), but Jeanette Winterson brings her own poetry to it and sets time as the main player into which forgiveness is the only answer.

“And the moment that looks like the rest is the one where hearts are broken or healed. and time that runs so steady and sure runs wild outside of the clocks. It takes so little time to change a lifetime and it takes a lifetime to understand the change.”

The character of Leo is unremittingly arrogant and self-centred to the point of destruction: not only his own life but those around him as well. Some will undoubtedly say that he deserves no forgiveness.

The lives of Leo’s wife, Mimi, a French singer, and his best friend Xeno, a wistful video game designer, swirl around in a vortex created by Leo, spiralling out of control.

But as ever when adults behave like children it is the children who also suffer. Milo and Perdita’s lives are changed beyond repair. There is no going back; or is there?

This is a beautifully written book on a theme of time that is faithful to its original yet an original in itself. for all the tragedy there are joyously funny moments. It’s an incredibly intelligent read but written in such an easy style that that you never want to stop turning the pages.

This is the first in a series of Shakespeare ‘covers’ designed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of his death next year. There are a variety of authors including Anne Tyler who has chosen The Taming Of The Shrew and Margaret Atwood using The Tempest and if they are half as good as this one I look forward to them.
*****

Many thanks to Louise Court at Vintage  for sending me a copy.

Talk Of The Toun Blog Tour

talk of the toun

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Helen Mackinven’s brilliant debut novel, Talk Of The Toun. I have read and loved the book and would highly recommend it, you can read my review here

Welcome to Helen and thanks for kindly answering all my questions.

Can you tell us a little bit about Talk of the Town and where the idea for it came from?
One of the assignments for the MLitt course I did was to write a 4000 word A to Z on any topic with an average of around 153 words for each letter. I chose to write about the first 18 years of my life and felt that this assignment conveyed a strong sense of my writing voice. After the course, I wanted to use some of these short pieces as a stimulus to write a fictional story of what it was like to grow up in the 1980s in a working class town in central Scotland.
The end result was Talk of the Toun which is an uplifting black comedy of love, family life and friendship. It’s a bittersweet coming-of-age tale as two girls wrestle with the complications of growing up and exploring who they really are set against the religious and social landscape of 1980s Scotland.

How did you plan/research your book? Do you just start to write and see where it takes you or are you a meticulous planner?
I followed the ‘write what you know’ advice for Talk of the Toun as it’s set in the area where I grew up and also the main character is 17 in 1985 which was the same age as me at that time. This made it easier to write as I’m blessed with a good memory although I used the internet to check facts for the 80s references. The downside of the internet is that I could easily lose hours indulging in 80s nostalgia!
I didn’t have each chapter planned out but I had a rough idea of the overall narrative arc so I knew where the story was going, I just needed to work out how to get there. But I allowed flexibility with the plot as the book progressed and I got to know the characters better.

The cover is fabulous and very in keeping with the humour in the book, did you have a say in the design?
Yes, I was lucky to have my ideas taken on board. I think that one of the benefits of being with a small independent publisher is there is more opportunity to have an input into the cover design as I’ve heard that writers with big publishers don’t always get the chance to feedback on the artwork. This was the fourth version of the cover as I didn’t feel that the previous versions quite captured the tone and themes in the book.
The poodle on the front is called Bimbo and is the gran’s dog and they’re like a comedy double act throughout the story. Also a key theme of the novel is identity and so the idea of reinventing a more glamourous version of your persona whilst also hiding behind sunglasses relates to the main character’s desire to leave her small town behind and make a new life in the city.

What’s the best bit of writing advice you have been given?
When I did my MLItt course I had the privilege of having a masterclass with DBC Pierre the 2003 Man Booker Prize winner. After the session he chatted to the class whilst signing copies of his book Vernon God Little and the message he wrote inside my copy was, “Be free to fail – only by staring into the abyss can we write!” This gave me a much-needed confidence boost to ignore my inner critic and keep writing.

Which are your favourite authors, and why?
I love to read contemporary Scottish fiction and I admire the work of Janice Galloway, Jackie Kay, Anne Donovan, Karen Campbell, Kerry Hudson and Damian Barr to name but a few. These writers give a voice to working class Scottish characters in the same way as Roddy Doyle brings Dubliners to life in an authentic setting.

Do you have plans for a second novel?
Although Talk of the Toun is my first novel to be published it’s actually the third novel that I’ve written. I’ve got an idea for a fourth novel and I’d love to think it might be my second novel to be published but it’s very early days. I’ve made notes and I’m almost ready to have a go at writing a story set in a Lanarkshire town after the Scottish referendum result which also features a local historical event related to the Leningrad Siege. Wish me luck!

We certainly do wish you luck, but if Talk Of The Toun is anything to go by you won’t need it. 🙂

helen mackinven

Author Bio
Helen MacKinven writes contemporary Scottish fiction, with a
particular interest in exploring themes such as social class and
identity, using black comedy and featuring Scots dialect. She
graduated with merit from Stirling University with an MLitt in
Creative Writing in 2012.
In her day job Helen MacKinven works with numbers, travelling all
over Scotland to deliver teacher training in maths. By night, she
plays with words writing short stories and developing ideas for her
next novel. Helen’s short stories have appeared in a number of
anthologies and literary journals, such as Gutter magazine.
Originally from the Falkirk area, Helen now lives in a small rural
village in North Lanarkshire with her husband. She has two grownup
sons but has filled her empty nest with two dogs, two pygmy
goats and an ever-changing number of chickens.

Talk Of The Toun by Helen Mackinven is published by Thunderpoint and is available on Amazon via this link:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0992976871/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446482746&sr=8-1&keywords=talk+of+the+toun