No Honour by Awais Khan @AwaisKhan @OrendaBooks #NoHonour #Abida

No Honour
By Awais Khan

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

No Honour is intensely powerful, gritty and brave. Find out more in the blurb and the rest of my review and then discover more about the author.
Firstly, thanks to Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour and thanks to Orenda Books for gifting me the book. Follow through to find out more 

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Blurb

No Honour Vis 2In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.
When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts
his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore – only to disappear.
Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.
When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts
his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore – only to disappear.
Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

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Review

No Honour is set in Lahore, Pakistan. It tells a very brave and moving story of Jamil and Abida. It doesn’t hide away from anything, including the notion of honour killings and drug and alcohol abuse. Awais Khan, it feels, tells so much about the culture and attitudes in Pakistan. It’s a tense, but fascinating read. The writing is with strong intent to tell the story of what, perhaps many women experience. It, although a work of fiction, also shines a light on inside Pakistan and at least pockets of its population.

Abida has a fiesty temperament about her when it comes to her baby and Kalim, the man she loves, but sometimes in the background and other times in the foreground are age old traditions and age old attitudes like being pregnant out of wedlock that make it all not as plain-sailing as the western world would perhaps experience.  She is a woman who knows what she wants and who she wants to be with though and as you read, you hope that she does manage to get this in the end, but there are many challenges, including the increasingly erratic behaviours of Kalim.
The book is gritty and don’t expect an easy read, but instead, one of important social and family issues, including that of bringing shame on the family as Abida has, in accordance to the rules. It is a striking, brutal book in many ways and one where fear grips people. It’s hardhitting on a number of pages, but even then, it is one of those books that is irresistable and the end has to be reached. This is a book that may well have readers not wanting to take life and allies for granted ever again.

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Ever Rest by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris #LiteraryFiction #Music #Fiction #BookClubFiction #BookClubs

Ever Rest
By Roz Morris

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ever Rest is a terrifically absorbing book with suspense, almost lyrical text, from the characters to the concepts and scenery. It’s just so interesting too, like a behind the scenes of people’s lives in a way you don’t often see in the music world. It’s beyond those glossy magazines and newspaper articles, to the actual people in a band and people’s lives, right to a hearstopping moment, where the book begins… 
Thanks to Roz Morris for getting in touch to request a review on my blog and for gifting me with the book.

Please carry on down to the blurb and my review to find out more.

EverRest

Blurb

Twenty years ago, Hugo and Ash were on top of the world. As the acclaimed rock band Ashbirds they were poised for superstardom. Then Ash went missing, lost in a mountaineering accident, and the lives of Hugo and everyone around him were changed forever. Irrepressible, infuriating, mesmerizing Ash left a hole they could never hope to fill. Two decades on, Ash’s fiancée Elza is still struggling to move on, her private grief outshone by the glare of publicity. The loss of such a rock icon is a worldwide tragedy. Hugo is now a recluse in Nepal, shunning his old life. Robert, an ambitious session player, feels himself both blessed and cursed by his brief time with Ashbirds, unable to achieve recognition in his own right. While the Ashbirds legend burns brighter than ever, Elza, Hugo and Robert are as stranded as if they were the ones lost in the ice. How far must they go to come back to life? A lyrical, page-turning novel in the tradition of Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano, Ever Rest asks how we carry on after catastrophic loss. It will also strike a chord with fans of Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones for its people bonded by an unforgettable time; fans of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, for music as a primal and romantic force; and Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air for the deadly and irresistible wildernesses that surround our comfortable world.

Review

EverRestIt’s begins with a heart in the mouth moment, with a phone call no one on earth would ever want. This book is an excellent read. It would be great for reading alone or reading for a book club with the beautiful scenery against the suspense and the music beat.

Take a look at that cover! It is so cleverly conceived. It’s like a piece of modern art. There’s someone at the top of Mount Everest, but looks like either a CD or a record, where music, life and Nepal converge and all is not well and the cover looks torn, as lives have been tearing apart. The title is also a bit of a play on words and quite intelligent , 2 separated to mean one thing (Ever Rest) and bring them together and drop the “R” to create the mountain name – Everest.

Ashten from the band – The Ashbirds went missing in 1994 in Nepal. 18 years later, there’s some movement on this case and the intrigue to read on to see whether his body was ever found or not.

Elliott is an intriguing character and it feels like he is enraptured with Elza and her story as he sees pictures everywhere in the press and suddenly feels like he has a need to check out the press a lot to see what’s going on with her life. He is particularly fascinated about how she gets on in life, now that her fiancee, Ashten, is still missing in Nepal. There are sightings of bodies up Mount Everest that may have been him and not. It brings an absolutely captivating mystery element to what is essentially literary fiction.
The other characters – Hugo, Ari and Markson and Robert are also interesting too as they are kind of stuck with being associated with the band and also in what happened to Ashten.

Readers are treated to a back story and it’s like a behind the scenes of the music business and a band reaching the top of their game and all the pressures that comes with that and the very serious rifts.
Then band members, such as Robert wanted a solo career. Then what it takes to bring a band back together after so much history and complications.

The books also gives a bit of insight into how the press are and the assumptions they make in some of the questions they ask and also from the other-side, how certain magazines are courted and decisions made to give that exclusive story to.

It also brings about themes of grief and acceptance in different ways and moving forwards in life and what people have to deal with and how things affect them.

This is a thought-provoking story about the press, the music business and its highs and lows and also, almost poses the question as to how you would feel if someone you knew was high up on a mountain and one went missing and the other did not, as what happened to Hugo and Ashten, and then as Elza did, meet Hugo again some time later. It gives a lot of scope for book clubs to discuss and for readers not involved in one, a lot to really get involved with, to find out the outcome, which is more than worth hanging in there for…

This Is How We Are Human By Louise Beech @louisewriter @OrendaBooks #JubilantJune #BlogTour

This Is How We Are Human
By Louise Beech

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I have a review of the emotionally poignant –  This Is How We Are Human, that may spark some debate and plenty of talk in a book that is beautifully written and is somewhat uplifting too. The more I think about it, the more I think it is such a good and unique book. Find out more in the Blurb and my Review. Continue down to find out what inspired Louise Beech to write this story and a bit about her.
Thank you to Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the blog tour and for Orenda Books for gifting me the book

 

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Blurb

Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely. Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy, and she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he
desperately wants. Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.
When these three lives collide, and intertwine in unexpected ways, everything changes. For everyone!

Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, This Is How We Are Human is a powerful, moving and thoughtful drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think
we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family and to survive.

Review

This_is_how_we_are_human proof aw (1)I reckon, even though this is quite different in some aspects, but readers who were swept along with “The Curious Incident With The Dog In the Midnight”, may also find they are with “This Is How We Are Human”. Although different in  that this is a man with ASD and the other was a boy with Aspergers, but I mention it because I have liked and totally appreciated both of these books.

Firstly, that cover is beautiful and as you read through the story, you’ll see it has some symbolism, including in the snowglobe, and emotion, in this deeply thoughtful book about subjects not often talked about.

Sebastian is Autistic and is now an adult with all the needs and desires of any other adult and a few extra. There is so much that parents who have children and adult offspring, will be able to relate to.
There’s a rawness about the story and sense of truth as it tells the story of a mother and son needing support and guidance for this next stage of life – adulthood.

It’s emotional and sometimes heartbreaking and a bit uplifting, but most of all, poignant and thought-provoking with some possible themes that may be controversial to some, but others would be open to debate, especially when it comes to Sebastian’s sexual desires and how they are handled. It’s a pretty unique book in the subject matter of an autistic adult who is suggestive and has desires like the majority of humans on the planet. 

You can see the frustrations and the love coming from Veronica who is desperate to help her son and also the challenges and complexities that surround this. It is emotional and pretty hard-hitting and yet the love of the mother to her son is tender, yet desperate to help him understand relationships and his sexual desires, so hires people to assist.

Aside from Sebastian, there is Isabelle who goes by the name, Violetta, who is trying to be brave and deal with her seriously ill dad, as it shows how being a high class escort and her home/personal life sit very differently next to each other. It also shows how much she needs support and the money to pay for her nursing career. She then becomes linked to Sebastian and lives alter.

How We Are Human, is ultimately a powerful book, which shows lives that may be different from your own and how some things are almost so unimaginably complex and brings topics to the fore that aren’t heard about being discussed so much; if at all in the wider world, in a highly emotionally charged way, mixed with love, desire, lust, family relations. It is beautifully written, without shying away from the biggest of subjects. The book becomes so absorbing and emotionally poignant and ends in a way, perhaps not quite as expected, but better than expected. 

Read the Author’s Note too in the book. I think it is important to as it will explain a little bit about ASD and a bit about a family who inspired Louise Beech to write this story.

Inspiration for This Is How We Are Human.

Louise B (1)“Though This is How We Are Human is fiction, the premise was inspired by my friends, 20-year-old
Sean, who is autistic, and his mum Fiona. Fiona had spoken to me about how much Sean longed to
meet a girl and have sex. No one talks about this, she said – the difficulties navigating romance often faced by those on the spectrum. It ’s an issue that I wanted to explore. Fiona and Sean encouraged me and guided me through the book; Sean regularly consulted on dialogue, rightly insisting that his voice was heard, was strong, and was accurate. I cannot thank my extraordinary friends enough for their help and support.” Louise Beech

About The Author

Louise Beech (1)Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted
for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her 2019 novel Call Me Star Girl won Best magazine Book of the Year, and was followed by I Am Dust.

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#BookReview by Lou of #NewBook – Just Like You by Nick Hornby @nickhornby @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks

Just Like You
By Nick Hornby
Rated: 5 stars *****

Excellent observations and a whole mix of life, romance and politics and everything you would expect from Nick Hornby within his fabulously astute writing style. It’s all brought together to make a great story in Just Like You, with relatable characters.

Thank you very much to the publicist at Viking Books for allowing me to review Just Like You.

Blurb

Lucy married just the sort of man you might expect: a university graduate who runs his own business. Unfortunately he turned out to have serious dependency issues.

Joseph is shaking off the memory of his last date, a girl who ticked all the right boxes and also drove him up the wall.

On an average Saturday morning in a butcher’s shop in North London, Lucy and Joseph meet on opposite sides of the counter. She is a teacher and mother of two, with a past she is trying to forget; he is an aspiring DJ with a wide-open future that maybe needs to start becoming more focused. Lucy and Joseph are opposites in almost all ways. Can something life-changing grow from uncommon ground?

Nick Hornby’s brilliantly observed, tender and brutally funny new novel gets to the heart of what it means to fall headlong in love with the best possible person – someone who may not be just like you at all.

Review

What an opening paragraph!!! It’s powerful, enigmatic and thought-provoking, all with one question that is posed in Spring 2016.

Lucy and Emma are characters so many women will be able to relate to as they talk about things you only would with a best friend. Lucy is on the look out for a man, encouraged by Emma. Written down, the list of attributes and desires in someone in the male species of humans, is so funny! True and to the point, but full of wit, when it’s actually in written. The atmosphere is jovial to begin with and gets deeper as the book progresses, whilst the writing shows Nick Hornby has observed people very well and all is written so naturally, in a way that these people could be within your own street.

It’s an interesting observational book that takes readers into the world of blind dating and society quirks of schooling and the private and comprehensive systems, that Nick Hornby gets spot-on. 

There’s also a comprehensive look into society when it comes to attitudes of sport and race through the butcher – Joseph and his dad and other events that have happened politically. At the heart of it all however, is a moving and deep romance that also covers a considerable age-gap, which I feel works well is quite refreshing to read about, since this is a book that covers a lot of what is happening in the world and has very nicely also not shied away from this too.

Moving back to the dating. there’s also the conversation within the book that consist of how people view each other about who is dating who, in terms of skin colour and the way words are phrased. It’s a deep story. Somehow, I expected it to be a romance with deep undertones. It’s such an emotional book with plenty of humour. It’s also about how you think a person is very similar to you would be the one, without a doubt, and yet, it doesn’t always work out like that and sometimes complete opposites really do attract and shows very honestly that all is not always simple when it comes to that tug of the heart-strings. It has a solid realistic story of romance, not one that’s so unachievable and yet desireable all the same like in the movies, but romance that isn’t always so perfect and this is what makes it all rather compelling and so likeable and want to get to know more and more about the characters lives.

It’s written well, as there are clearly emotive points being made, but the plot of the story as a whole is rather like an honest observation of society and bravely doesn’t hold back in its astuteness. 

#BookReview by Louise of Heckler by Jason Graff @JasonGraff1 #Fiction #LiteraryFiction

Heckler
By Jason Graff
Rated: 3 1/2 stars

Expect hotels and a world of music and large, deep themes which is more than the usual “coming of age” type of story that is within Heckler as you follow Bruno and the people he meets.
I thank Jason Graff for gifting me a copy to review.

Discover more about the author, the blurb and my review below.

About the Author

The author of numerous published short stories as well as the novella In the Service of the Boyar (Strange Fictions Press, 2016), Jason Graff loves both reading and producing writing that has a strong, clear voice and conveys a deep connection to the characters. In high school, his passion for the written word was well and truly ignited when he took a sucker punch for writing his crush a poem. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Bowling Green State University and later, his MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College. The intense nature of that program allowed him to be mentored by a diverse group of talented writers which included: Sarah Schulman, Richard Panek, Darcey Steinke, and Rachel Pollack. Jason currently lives in Richardson, Texas with his wife, son, and their cat. He is currently working on a science fiction novel about the beginning of the end of the universe and another about a romancing con-man.
You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonGraff1 , on Facebook at Author Jason Graff and/or visit his website: .www.jasongraff.wordpress.com

Synosis

Heckler“…you’ll learn as you get older that time goes by quickly, especially for adults,” Ray Davis writes in a letter to his son that he hopes will explain why he’s been away for so long. In the two years since he last saw his father, Bruno, who once yearned to be entrusted with manning the desk of the family hotel on his own, has grown to resent every moment he’s forced oversee its empty lobby. His mother dreams that he’ll take over the business one day but Bruno has more immediate concerns. Adjusting to the changes his teenage body is going through is complicated by the attraction he feels to both sexes. His only escape is to the movie theater across the street, where he loses himself in the black and white world of Hollywood’s Golden Age. After being turned away from a showing of Psycho, he runs into his former tutor, Rick French. While the academic substance of those sessions largely has faded, Bruno never forgot how Rick had first awakened feelings that he’d been too young to understand. As they renew their relationship, Bruno begins to glimpse the man he can become. Though he’d like to act on his desires, he cannot help but still feel like a callow pupil in Rick’s presence. Stuck somewhere between maturity and childhood, Bruno strives to avoid the lonely future of a hotelier.

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Review

Hotels conjure up the image of luxury or shabby-chic or relaxed. The Shelby Hotel seems as far removed from luxury as Angus Sperint can get as he is greeted by Bruno, the receptionist/checking in person at the desk. It isn’t a normal check-in. Angus wants to stay for at least 8 weeks.

The story takes readers into an interesting insight of the hotel and its guests, including Buddy – a muscian, who plays Polka, so gives a little insight into his music world.
There are also insights into living in a hotel and being educated there.

It’s a book of a certain era, with its Jazz and Polka music and films, including Psycho, Strangers on a Train and Journey to the Centre of the Earth, showing at the cinema. Without totally pointing out the year all the time within the body of the book, Jason Graff has it all well depicted.

Growing up can be tough, as Bruno finds out too as he grapples with his teenage body and hormones and tries to work out who he is and wants to be. The relationships between different characters, as well as the hotel guests are interesting as they weave in and out of the hotel and surrounding places.

This however, seems a bit more grown-up than most “coming of age” stories and has some darker themes such as alcoholism too as there are characters trying to overcome it, There are also other quite deep themes and also in some ways a look at forgiveness within the book, in what is very much a literary fictional book adults can enjoy.
The book perhaps doesn’t delve quite deep enough into each theme in some ways for a novel, but they are there, within the characters lives and readers can still get to know them. It may take a little while to get into, but it is worth giving a chance because it is still a decent read and once you’re into the flow of it, then it’s okay for something just a little bit different, that may also grow on you as well, as it did me.

#Review of the poignant – With or Without You by Drew Davies @bookouture @Drew_Davies #Fiction #NewBook #SummerReading #BookReview

With or Without You
By Drew Davies
Rated: 4 stars ****

From the author of The Shape of Us and Dear Lily; Drew Davies brings you his latest book –With Or Without You. It is full of poignancy about life sometimes it can be taken for granted. It’s a great book to read as you follow the life of Mr and Mrs Dixit in this profound and uplifting and yet heartbreaking story.
I thank Bookouture for accepting my request to review this book by Drew Davies
Discover the blurb and full review below.

Blurb

With or Without You Cover.png‘How long does a coma last?’ I ask.

‘Days, weeks, months?’ the nurse replies with a shrug, although her eyes are very kind.

‘But on average?’

She just smiles, unable to give me an answer.

Wendy’s life can be neatly divided into two: before and after.

Before her husband’s car accident, it was just the two of them. They never took the train at rush hour, and they avoided their noisy neighbour upstairs. Naveem devoted his spare time to vintage train models, and Wendy to re-reading the well-thumbed pages of her favourite books. It didn’t matter what others thought about their small, quiet life together – they were happy.

After the coma, Wendy barely recognises herself. When she’s not holding the love of her life’s hand, accompanied by the beep of the life-support machine, who is she? The nurse tells her to talk to Naveem – that he can still hear her – but she doesn’t have a single thing to say.

Suddenly Wendy can’t bear the silence. She needs something, anything, to talk to Naveem about. Suddenly she’s losing herself at fairgrounds packed with crowds and candyfloss, she’s at the airport, waiting for the whoosh of the planes as they take off, making friends with the neighbour she has spent over a decade avoiding.

Knowing that every breath her husband takes might be his last, Wendy has no choice but to try to carry on without him. Should she feel guilty about living while his life is on pause? And when – if – he wakes up, will he still love the woman she has become?

This poignant, moving and uplifting tale is for anyone who has taken life for granted, neglected to say ‘I love you’ to their loved ones, or forgotten to find happiness in the little things. Perfect for fans of Josie Silver, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Jojo Moyes.

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Review

There’s quite lot of drama that unfolds. It’s poignant and thought-provoking about how life and loved ones etc can be taken for granted. It also shows very well how things can unexpectedly change in an instant.
The emotions that entail are powerful and realistically written. The book also at times can be sweet and uplifting. It’s a very good book to look out for this summer.

Mrs and Mr Naveem Dixit, from Chomley, are perhaps quite a typical couple from the rigmarole of hanging up a picture to the appliance shopping to the almost having to justify themselves about their childlessness status in a half-jokey kind of way. They are like many other couples, just getting on with what they have to do and the chores of life. Then everything changes… Mr Dixit is in an accident and is in a critical state.

Mrs Rampersad, their neighbour who is pretty brazen in attitude, is clearly trying to help by her immediate questions in her “urgent” manner, before Mrs Dixit has proper chance to gather thoughts and get her head around what has actually happened to her husband. She’s quite a contrast from Mrs Dixit. Her comments keep pricking throughout, with more intensity as the story between these 2 women unfolds. Somehow though, they become a little closer as Mrs Dixit starts to live life as her husband lies in hospital.
The way the story and characters are all knitted together creates moments that are heartbreaking and yet with moments that are uplifting and heartwarming.

Drew Davies takes readers through each emotional day that Mrs Dixit endures and means you are with her every step of the way as time unfolds. I liked this style. It fits this particular story very well and makes it feel realistic and will keep readers turning the pages to see how life progresses for each of the characters.

The subjects covered within this book makes this an important fictional work, because people seem to talk a quite a bit, taking things and people for granted. It’s also just a good story to sit down to with a cup of tea or a beverage of your choosing and enjoy.