Blog Tour: The Girl at the Back of the Bus by Suzette D. Harrison

I watched in awe as Miz Rosa stopped those men on the bus with her clear, calm “no” and I thought about that word. What if I said no? What if I refused to follow the path these White folks wanted for us? What if I kept this precious baby?

Montgomery, Alabama, 1955

On a cold December evening, Mattie Banks packs a suitcase and leaves her family home. Sixteen years old and pregnant, she has already made the mistake that will ruin her life and disgrace her widowed mother. Boarding the 2857 bus, she sits with her case on her lap, hoping that the driver will take her away from disaster. Instead, Mattie witnesses an act of bravery by a woman named Rosa Parks that changes everything. But as Mattie strives to turn her life around, the dangers that first led her to run are never far away. Forging a new life in a harsh world at constant risk of exposure, Mattie will need to fight to keep her baby safe.

Atlanta, Georgia, present day

Ashlee Turner is going home. Her relationship in ruins, her career held back by prejudice, she is returning to the family who have always been her rock. But Ashlee’s home is not the safe haven she remembers. Her beloved grandmother is dying and is determined to share her story before she leaves…

When Ashlee finds a stack of yellowing letters hidden in her nana’s closet, she can’t help the curiosity that compels her to read, and she uncovers an old secret that could wreak havoc on her already grieving family. As she tries to make sense of what she has learned, Ashlee faces a devastating choice: to protect her loved ones from the revelations, or honor her grandmother’s wishes and follow the path to the truth, no matter where it may lead.

What I Thought:

I originally picked up The Girl at the Back of the Bus because of the mention of Rosa Parks but it’s fascinating to read in this book not about Rosa herself, but about a life lived in bravery as a result witnessing that act of defiance.

This really is an excellent book. We jump back and forth between the stories of Mattie and her grand daughter Ashlee and it shows the reader that, although things are better for Ashlee than they were for her grandmother, there is still a long way to go before she can truly believe that she is treated equally.

The fact that an educated, young, black woman who works hard and does everything she’s supposed to do can get passed over time and again by a white man who is her intellectual inferior should, and does, induce anger but this part of the plot is used well to provide Ashlee with a turning point in her life. The inspiration of her Grandmother’s life and the discrimination she faced as a teenager in 1950s Alabama turns Ashlee in another direction and some of the best parts of the book are the scenes between Mattie and Ashlee and their family.

The detail in the historical sections is excellent, providing a real picture of Alabama and Georgia in the 1950s – including the absolutely baffling attitudes towards race and segregation. After being supported and protected as much as possible by her loving mother, at one point Mattie weeps about how it’s not fair – and her mother goes on to show her just how unfair their lives are. This is was a hugely powerful part of the book and stories like that are badly needed, and should be shared and read by all.

For such a powerful story, it’s resolved in an unexpectedly hopeful way, with the hope that Mattie’s experience that day on the same bus as Rosa Parks can having meaning for future generations.

The Girl at the Back of the Bus is published by Bookouture.

To find out more about Suzette D. Harrison and her work, you can check out her website.

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of The Girl at the Back of the Bus. Check out some of the other fantastic blogs taking part below.

Please note: I was given a copy of this book via Netgalley for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Book Review: The Singalong Society for Singletons by Katey Lovell

Monique and Issy are teachers, housemates and lovers of musicals! Their Friday night routine consists of snacks, wine and the Frozen DVD. So when Monique’s boyfriend moves to America for a year and her sister Hope moves in because of her own relationship woes, Friday nights get a new name… ‘The Singalong Society for Singletons’!

It’s a chance to get together, sing along to their favourite tracks from the best-loved West End shows, and forget the worries of work, relationships and love (or lack of it). But when Issy shares the details of their little group further afield, they get some unexpected new members who might just change their opinions on singledom for good…

What I Thought:

I feel that this time of year, when the damp and rain get into your very bones, staying in with a cheerful, romantic read is much the preferred choice!

That’s not to say that there isn’t drama in Katey Lovell’s The Singalong Society for Singletons, but it’s nothing that’s not resolved by the end and is somewhat lightened by the back drop of my favourite thing – musicals!

The book is set over a series of Friday nights, which is a great idea as the stuff that’s happened to the gang in the week is recapped, rather than gone over in huge detail – the group is big enough that the flow of the book would suffer if you saw the events in their lives play out in between their meetings.

Apart from the emphasis on musicals – which I completely loved – I liked that each of the characters grew from their participation in the club. Whether it was finding new strength within themselves, falling in love or learning to be a more accepting part of a partnership, each of the characters was light years away from who they had been at the start of the story.

We all need a bit of positive thinking right now and this book fits the bill in every way – even if musicals are not your thing, there is lots to love here and I recommend it.

The Singalong Society for Singletons is published by Harper Impulse.

To find out more about Katey Lovell, you can connect with her on Twitter.

Please note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: Crow Court by Andy Charman

Spring, 1840. In the Dorset market town of Wimborne Minster, a young choirboy drowns himself. Soon after, the choirmaster-a belligerent man with a vicious reputation-is found murdered, in a discovery tainted as much by relief as it is by suspicion. The gaze of the magistrates falls on four local men, whose decisions will reverberate through the community for years to come.

So begins the chronicle of Crow Court , unravelling over fourteen delicately interwoven episodes, the town of Wimborne their backdrop: a young gentleman and his groom run off to join the army; a sleepwalking cordwainer wakes on his wife’s grave; desperate farmhands emigrate. We meet the composer with writer’s block; the smuggler; a troupe of actors down from London; and old Art Pugh, whose impoverished life has made him hard to amuse.

Meanwhile, justice waits…

What I Thought:

I love reading books with a local slant – I don’t know if it’s just me, but I get a real buzz when I am able to recognise where the characters are as I read along.

Although Andy Charman’s Crow Court is a historical novel that takes place in 1840s Wimborne, so much of today’s Wimborne is recognisable from his descriptions – new buildings and houses may have sprung up, but places like the Minster, the Square and Walford Bridge are still very much the landmarks they would have been then. In this respect, the place setting was excellent and I was immediately taken in to the novel.

Andy Charman’s approach to this novel is quite interesting as the main plot is that of a mystery novel – a young choir boy takes his own life and the Choirmaster disappears – but instead of focusing on a short period of time in which the mystery is resolved, the novel takes the form of shorter vignettes that allow us to see the repercussions of these terrible events over the next twenty years.

Although we find out what happened by the end of the book, that is almost the least important thing, as each story allows us to look into the lives of these interconnected residents, from lords and ladies to farmhands, and see how one shocking event can cause ripples throughout a community for many years.

I thought each episode of this book was beautifully written and structured – it was clear how each piece of the puzzle fit together, and yet any of these stories could stand up on its own.

Alongside the local connection, I appreciated the use of Dorset dialect (who knew a Sturminster accent was different to a Wimborne accent??) and I am always a big fan of a glossary (thank you!). The local dialect was all clearly researched in detail and the benefits of doing your homework is evident here!

From the gorgeous cover design, to the compelling characters within, this book was a definite winner for me…

Crow Court is published by Unbound.

To find out more about Andy Charman and his work, you can catch up with him on Twitter.

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of Crow Court – why not have a look at some of the other blogs and Instagrammers taking part below?

Please note: I was sent this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: Red Corona by Tim Glister

It’s 1961 and the white heat of the Space Race is making the Cold War even colder.

Richard Knox is a secret agent in big trouble. He’s been hung out to dry by a traitor in MI5, and the only way to clear his name could destroy him.

Meanwhile in a secret Russian city, brilliant scientist Irina Valera makes a discovery that will change the world, and hand the KGB unimaginable power.

Desperate for a way back into MI5, Knox finds an unlikely ally in Abey Bennett, a CIA recruit who’s determined to prove herself whatever the cost…

As the age of global surveillance dawns, three powers will battle for dominance, and three people will fight to survive…

What I Thought:

Never fear! Red Corona is NOT about the pandemic. I for one don’t think I could stomach a novel about coronavirus quite this soon, but rest assured that if you pick up this book, you’ll be whisked away from “all this’ and into cold war-era London.

There’s something rotten at the heart of MI5 and Richard Knox is the man appointed to find out the truth, just as an important International conference – with lots of potential for snooping – is set to take place in London. But is Knox being double-crossed? Only a determined CIA recruit can help him find the answers to professional and personal questions…

Don’t you just love an honest-to-goodness spy novel? There are so many books written these days about modern threats to our country, but the cold war is still a rich seam to mine from. To continue my terrible analogy, Tim Glister has certainly mined deeply to create a vivid and detailed novel that will stand up against any of the best in the spy genre.

The 1960s period is often these days portrayed only for its positive points, so it’s great here to see the realities of a London that is still marked with bomb craters and MI5 still mired in the class system – Knox is looked down on for being an East-End orphan and not an old Etonian. Nostalgia is great, but taking the rose-tinted glasses off once in a while is a good thing!

What stuck out for me most in the book is that, while many novels of this genre are firmly set up as ‘the old boys club’, two of the most prominent characters of Red Corona are women – and intelligent, resourceful women at that! That’s great to see, and I felt that Adey Bennett would be good character to follow in a future novel. Her personal battles are being fought on several fronts – on gender lines and racial lines – but she is like a dog with a bone and I really took to her.

The most important part of Red Corona – the mystery – was excellent. There are several layers to it, involving poisoning, murder, unsanctioned operations and a potential conspiracy to the highest levels of MI5 but Knox first has to work out if his suspicions are true, or whether the chip on his shoulder is leading him towards the wrong conclusions. Finding out the answers leads to that most overused of phrases – a book I really couldn’t put down!

Red Corona is published by Point Blank Books.

For more information about Tim Glister, you can check out his website, or why not connect with him on Twitter?

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of Red Corona. For more reviews and exclusive content, why not check out the blogs listed here?

Please note: I was sent this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour – There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F. Ross

Danny Garvey was a sixteen-year old footballing prodigy. Professional clubs clamoured to sign him, and a glittering future beckoned.

And yet, his early promise remained unfulfilled, and Danny is back home in the tiny village of Barshaw to manage the struggling junior team he once played for. What’s more, he’s hiding a secret about a tragic night, thirteen years earlier, that changed the course of several lives. There’s only one Danny Garvey, they once chanted … and that’s the problem.

What I Thought:

In my experience Orenda Books is really strong on Scandinavian crime fiction, but we find ourselves much closer to home here with There’s Only One Danny Garvey. Set in a mid-1990s Scotland, this book seems to defy categorisation with elements ranging from sports memoir to domestic drama with some clever twists thrown in.

On the surface, this is a story of a talented footballer who, after injury, is stuck coaching a junior team and is offered the chance to return to coach the team with which his glory days started but pretty quickly we realise that this is not a traditional homecoming and redemption story. There are huge complications here as Danny faces up to a brother in prison and the mother that he is certain never loved him near death from cancer, but these are not the only issues that Danny will need to resolve. Something happened thirteen years ago and coming home might have been the worst thing Danny could have done.

I was really impressed by how this book ended, especially so when I went back and realised that David F. Ross had been laying down a trail of clues all throughout the book – there were little tickles on the edges of my brain but their significance only dawned on me as the ending unfolded. It was beautifully done and beautifully tragic all in one.

As this book is set in Scotland – the author himself is Scottish – it was nice to read the dialogue in dialect – more books like this are welcome as it adds so much depth to the story to hear those voices telling their own stories.

I suppose because this book is set around the time I remember well and with affection, it was easy to get into and there were plenty of references that I was able to get hold of – although obviously David and I are on different sides of Euro 96 – but the hook into the book was only the start and it was easy to remain gripped by it and to be touched by the unique main character. Definitely recommended.

There’s Only One Danny Garvey is published by Orenda Books.

To find out more about David F. Ross you can check out his website, or you can connect with him on Twitter.

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of There’s Only One Danny Garvey. why not check out some of the other blogs taking part (below) more additional content and reviews.

Please note: I received this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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