Book Recs, Book reviews

At Night All Blood is Black – poetic and dark

Have you ever read any book from the 2021 International Booker Prize Shortlist? What are your thoughts on it?

Thank you Netgalley and Pushkin Press for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

“You have to be careful, when you believe you’re free to think about what you want, not to let in the thinking of others, in disguise, the false thinking of your father and mother, the spurious thinking of your grandfather, the masked thinking of your brother or sister, of your friends, in other words, of your enemies”

War stories have a major role in maintaining our sense of perspective in the modern world. Stories of seperation, grief, reunion, joy; we’ve heard it all. What about stories on the battlefield? What of the emotions and mental trauma a soldier goes through? This book aims to make that available to us, a soldier’s story from the warfront.

Poetic, heartbreaking and entirely enlightening, ‘At Night All Blood is Black’ focusses on a singular human emotion: REGRET. It talks about a lesser known part of the ugly side of the war; the story of a West African man who fought for France during World War 2.

It is the story of the awakening of a man who lost his bestfriend in the war, and the build-up of regret in his body because he thinks he was the reason for his friend’s prolonged suffering. That’s the effect death has on us; we think of reasons to pile the blame on us because there’s nothing we can do about inevitability.

There are in general 7 stages of grief: denial, guilt, anger, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction and acceptance. All of us must have encountered grief personally or through a second-hand account, so we know how a person develops from each stage and pulses through. But in this story, the protagonist goes through the same stages of grief, but takes a different turn such that the overall development we see in him is improbable and at the same time beautiful, which is why this book provides an important message.

It tells us that nothing is general in life, nothing is foreseen or foretold, and so life is unexpected. We can and should never expect a person to recover just as we did. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder goes a long way, and it is up to us to embrace it or leave it be.

Another concept this book talks about is the freedom of thought. It tells us that not one human on Earth is free to think, because all of our thoughts are influenced by the people around us. When we finally break free from the mainstream thought process, we’re labelled hysterical. Freedom and being human is thus paradoxical.

David Diop did an amazing job in putting his thoughts in such a fantastic manner with proper emphasis at the right lines, and hats off to Anna Moshovakis for making sure that even in translation, the essence of the book was maintained.

For fans of the movie 1971 and otherwise, this book is must read!

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Love and Other Moods by Crystal Z Lee – Favourite Pages Book Club

Book – Love and Other Moods

Author – Crystal Z Lee

Thank you Favourite Pages Book Club for having me as a part of this.

Book Synopsis:

My review:

Witty, funny and way too relatable, Love and Other Moods can be considered as a manifestation of a series of unfortunate events, and how a person comes back up so quickly.

The protagonist, Naomi, comes across as a strong person who gives importance to and maintains relationships that mean something to her. Written in an entertaining manner, the book highlights the importance of family, friendship and all good things between.

Highly recommended for people looking for sassy characters and a strong development.

Rating – 4/5

Book tour schedule:

Playlist:

About the author:

Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries.

Book links:

https://amzn.to/3rClTqk

https://amzn.to/3cTnVhM

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While Paris Slept – Blog Tour by Random Things Tours

Book – While Paris Slept

Author – Ruth Druart

Publisher – Hodder Books

Thank you Random Things Tours for having me as a part of this.

Book synopsis:

One woman must make the hardest decision of her life in this unforgettably moving story of resistance and faith during one of the darkest times in history.

Santa Cruz, 1953. Jean-Luc is a man on the run from his past. The scar on his face is a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi occupation in France. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.

Paris, 1944. A young Jewish woman’s past is torn apart in a heartbeat. Herded onto a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.

On a darkened platform, two destinies become intertwined, and the choices each person makes will change the future in ways neither could have imagined.

Told from alternating perspectives, While Paris Slept reflects on the power of love, resilience, and courage when all seems lost. Exploring the strength of family ties, and what it really means to love someone unconditionally, this debut novel will capture your heart.

My review:

Being a well written story in a dual play like format, ‘While Paris Slept’ is a culmination of love, hope and family. Reading it has been an absolute pleasure and a reminder that once things lost can be found again if one tries hard enough.

This is a definite read for those tired of life and bereaved of hope in a sense. It does absolute justice to being a historical fiction with many snippets from the start to the end.

Tour schedule:

Uncategorized

An ode to women

Happy International Women’s Day!! Who’s your favourite female empowerment model!

What makes a woman? Is it the daily obligation to do household chores? Is it the duty to keep the people around us happy? Is it the way we raise the future generations?

I’m sick and tired of women being looked upon as the ‘multi-taskers’ or the ‘one-handed army of the house’ while at the same time being disregarded and underappreciated for all the things we do. Let me break it down. Here are some questions I’ve heard all through my life ( which is pretty short…only 20 years)

1) Why do you have to study so well? You’ll get married anyway and this won’t matter.
2) Why do you have to go for sports? It’s a boy’s playground.
3) Why are you changing from classical to western dance? It’s not in our culture.
4) Why do you have so many boys as friends? Are your girlfriends not enough for you or are you trying to attract attention?
5) Why do you always have to be the leader in a group project? It’s not like anyone will listen to you.

Well, it might be out of spite, but I’ve proven every single person who’s asked me these questions wrong. They were wrong about the power of a woman. They were wrong about the things women can do if they work together. They were wrong, and I couldn’t be more happier about it.

But I did not do this alone. My strength came from some amazing women and men who understood my spite and pushed me forward on a climb they couldn’t go through.

So, shoutout to the amazing women in my life; my grandmom for teaching me to be resilient, my mom for teaching me to never settle, and my aunt for teaching me to never give up on my dreams, and my best friends for teaching me that a woman’s love can take you places.

And to the amazing men in my life; my dad for breaking the barriers of an orthodox society and supporting me in all my endeavours, my brother for being my source of strength during difficult times and my best friends for proving that inter-gender friendships can most definitely transcend lifetimes.

That being said, I just wanted to wish all women who strive for equality and all men who ensure the same. You people rock!!!

Book reviews, book tours

A Long Way From Douala – blog tour by Random Things Tours

Book – A Long Way from Douala’

Author – Max Lobe

Translator – Ros Schwartz

Publisher – Hope Road Publishing

Thank you Random Things Tours for having me as a part of this.

Book Synopsis:

On the trail of Roger, a brother who has gone north in search of football fame in Europe, Choupi, the narrator, takes with him the older Simon, a neighbourhood friend. The bus trip north nearly ends in disaster when, at a pit stop, Simon goes wandering in search of grilled caterpillars. At the police station in Yaoundé, the local cop tells them that a feckless ‘boza’ – a loser who wants to go to Europe is not worth police effort and their mother should go and pleasure the police chief if she wants help!


Through a series of joyful sparky vignettes, Cameroon life is revealed in all its ups and downs. Issues of life and death are raised but the tone remains light and edgy. Important issues of violence, terrorism, homosexuality and migration feature in A Long Way from Douala.

My review:

Some events happen for a reason. Some incidents turn your life around to such an extent that all your beliefs are shattered. The very idea of your existence becomes questionable and you forget who you are.

‘A Long Way from Douala’ is a story set in Cameroon, of two brothers (by bond) searching for another brother across the country after a series of unfortunate events led to him leaving the house. Satirical and at the same time revelating, various brutal aspects were pointed out which were in poor taste but made the book all the more interesting.

Revolving around the male-centric ideal, the book doesn’t really talk about much hard-pressed issues. Infact, it can be taken as a light read just for the family drama, picking apart the problematic aspects. The writing style was outstanding and the story was way too relatable for a teenager.

About the author:

MAX LOBE was born in Douala, Cameroon. At eighteen he moved to Switzerland, where he earned a BA in communication and journalism and a master’s in public policy and administration. In 2017, his novel Confidences won the Ahmadou Kourouma Prize. A Long Way From Douala, his latest novel, was published in 2018 to rave reviews in Switzerland and France. Other books by the author include 39 rue de Berne and La Trinité Bantoue. Max Lobe lives in Geneva.

Book reviews, book tours

A Long Way From Douala – blog tour by Random Things Tours

Book – A Long Way from Douala’

Author – Max Lobe

Translator – Ros Schwartz

Publisher – Hope Road Publishing

Thank you Random Things Tours for having me as a part of this.

Book Synopsis:

On the trail of Roger, a brother who has gone north in search of football fame in Europe, Choupi, the narrator, takes with him the older Simon, a neighbourhood friend. The bus trip north nearly ends in disaster when, at a pit stop, Simon goes wandering in search of grilled caterpillars. At the police station in Yaoundé, the local cop tells them that a feckless ‘boza’ – a loser who wants to go to Europe is not worth police effort and their mother should go and pleasure the police chief if she wants help!


Through a series of joyful sparky vignettes, Cameroon life is revealed in all its ups and downs. Issues of life and death are raised but the tone remains light and edgy. Important issues of violence, terrorism, homosexuality and migration feature in A Long Way from Douala.

My review:

Some events happen for a reason. Some incidents turn your life around to such an extent that all your beliefs are shattered. The very idea of your existence becomes questionable and you forget who you are.

‘A Long Way from Douala’ is a story set in Cameroon, of two brothers (by bond) searching for another brother across the country after a series of unfortunate events led to him leaving the house. Satirical and at the same time revelating, various brutal aspects were pointed out which were in poor taste but made the book all the more interesting.

Revolving around the male-centric ideal, the book doesn’t really talk about much hard-pressed issues. Infact, it can be taken as a light read just for the family drama, picking apart the problematic aspects. The writing style was outstanding and the story was way too relatable for a teenager.

About the author:

MAX LOBE was born in Douala, Cameroon. At eighteen he moved to Switzerland, where he earned a BA in communication and journalism and a master’s in public policy and administration. In 2017, his novel Confidences won the Ahmadou Kourouma Prize. A Long Way From Douala, his latest novel, was published in 2018 to rave reviews in Switzerland and France. Other books by the author include 39 rue de Berne and La Trinité Bantoue. Max Lobe lives in Geneva.

Book reviews, book tours

Deity – blog tour by Random Things Tours

Book – Deity

Author – Matt Wesolowski

Publisher – Orenda books

Thank you Random Things Tours for having me as a part of this.

Book Synopsis:

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who
manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.


Online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rakes over old
graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge. Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Why was he never officially charged? Are reports of a haunting really true?


Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive, spine-chilling thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we are willing to turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

My review:

Why are celebrities associated with Gods? Are they also not subject to the same proceedings that we as common people do? Or are they exempted from such ‘mortal’ things only because they’re famous?

‘Deity’ is a book that talks about how we often put the wrong people at high positions and how we face the consequences of doing so. The protagonist Scott King can be considered the modern day Robert Langdon, who goes an investigative spree on a highly known celebrity’s death and the controversy behind it.

Fast paced and incredibly shocking at times, I found it hard to put this book down. It opened up some hard-hitting truths that may or may not change a person’s perception on idols and deities. Thriller lovers, this one is definitely for you.

Rating – 4/5

About the author:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies, such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller. Changeling, the third book in the series, was published in 2019 and was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His fourth book, Beast, won the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Independent Voice Book of the Year award in 2020.

Book reviews, book tours

The Gilded Ones – book tour by Hear Our Voices Tours

Book – The Gilded Ones

Author – Namina Forma

Publisher – Penguin Randomhouse

Thank you so much Hear Our Voices Tours for having me as a part of this.

Book synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from
everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called
alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the
only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle
of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and
no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

My review:

💢TW: misogynism, gender-based violence, racism💢

“All this time, I’ve been afraid of my ability, when instead I should have been regarding it as a treasured weapon”

Gold-blooded descendents. Powerful warriors by birth. A kingdom taken over by ego. The Gilded Ones.

Set in the fictional land of Oreta, the story revolves around Deka, a young girl cast away by her family and society for who she came out to be. Hence, she was forced to join an army, until she figured out her collective history and strove for a cause thta changed the course of her life.

Bright characters and pressing issues made this book all the more impactful and relevant. We’ve also experienced a cultural change from witches in Europe to alakis in Africa. What a trip! And I’m so grateful for it.

This is a must read for everyone seeking to know more about how history can often lie to us and switch narratives. And definitely for the feminist aspect portrayed so powerfully.

Rating – 5/5

About the author:

Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the upcoming epic fantasy YA novel The Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since.

Namina has an MFA in film and TV production from USC School of
Cinematic Arts and a BA from Spelman College. She works as a screenwriter in LA and loves telling stories with fierce female leads.

Book reviews, book tours

Yearn to Fear – a thrilling and adrenaline-releasing story

Book – Yearn to Fear (The Lamarr series #1)

Author – Chas Murrell

Thank you Random Things Tours and Chas Murrell for having me as a part of this.

Book synopsis:

The greatest scientific invention of modern times…

Capable of curing humanity…

But more adept at controlling it…

Sydney scientist, Marcus Hall, is developing a radical 5G Wi-Fi receiver for CSIRO. With access to secretive Lamarr computer chips – this technology promises billions to repair Australia’s ravaged economy. On a caffeine boosted whim, he inadvertently discovers a therapeutic breakthrough in neuroscience. Or so he thinks…


His seemingly trustworthy lab partner, Henry, is an unlikely Australian spy. His official duty is keeping tabs on the project and their Lamarr chips. But the whole project is now classified top-secret.


Marcus remains blissfully unaware of the many secrets surrounding him, until he witnesses the graphic murder of a colleague. Could this event reveal Henry as a master deceiver and ruthless double agent? Will the scientific discovery be fatal for Marcus, those he loves, and the one he yearns for? Marcus faces a soul tearing dilemma: is the only means of stopping the carnage to weaponise his prototype?


Foreign intelligence agencies realise the top-secret breakthrough is priceless. One particular spy leads the race to seize the invention. A psychological master of the long game, espionage, and extortion, his only rule according to Kung Fu: Win.


Friend and foe alike confront this psychotic mastermind. All will FEAR him, but is their FEAR real? Only the next six minutes will tell…

My review:

An invention that can change the world; for better or for worse?

‘Yearn to Fear’ is the story of a healing device made with the intention to provide for the world, but gets misused for selfish interests by a man who comes across as a tyrant.

Written in a style that leaves us in a cliff-hanger even in the middle of a chapter, the book was adept but wavering. One can only know the essence of the story halfway into the book, but is kept entertained by the severity and charming personalities of the characters.

Another point to be noted is that the book talks more about Australian culture and places than most books do.

For fans of Dan Brown and John Grisham, this book is an absolute treat.

Rating – 3.5/5

About the author:

Chas Murrell has been a Police Officer, Senior Fire Commander, Customs Coastwatch surveillance mission co-ordinator, heavy machinery mechanic, emergency medical technician/ instructor, film extra, and General Manager of an event company. He has published academic papers on liquid hydrogen and held a worldwide provisional patent for a nonlinear mathematical calculation. He survived Australia’s largest gas BLEVE in 1987, and has provided operational support to some of Australia’s largest natural disasters in North Queensland.

On a personal level he has suffered from relentless and debilitating migraines all his life, is father to four and pop to two. He and his artistically entrepreneurial wife live in Tasmania, which looks very much like Scotland and they wouldn’t have it any other way. A direct descendant of Robert the Bruce (King of Scots), history runs deep in Chas’s veins, along with a profound knowledge of both World Wars. You may even come across him online playing World of Tanks.

In his Australian spy thriller books you will get to know Chas’s knowledge of technology, intrigue, crime, espionage, weaponry, banter, romance and even whisky… yet above all, there is believability and no loose ends.

Tour schedule:

book tours

The Crow Folk – Blog Tour by Random Things Tours

Book – The Crow Folk (Witches of Woodville #1)

Author – Mark Stay

Publisher – Simon and Schuster UK

Thank you Random Things Tours, Mark Stay and Simon and Schuster UK for having me as a part of this tour.

Book synopsis:

Faye Bright always felt a little bit different. And today she’s found out why. She’s just stumbled across her late mother’s diary which includes not only a spiffing recipe for jam roly-poly, but spells, incantations, runes and recitations… a witch’s notebook.


And Faye has inherited her mother’s abilities.


Just in time, too. The Crow Folk are coming. Led by the charismatic
Pumpkinhead, their strange magic threatens Faye and the villagers. Armed with little more than her mum’s words, her trusty bicycle, the grudging help of two bickering old ladies, and some aggressive church bellringing, Faye will find herself on the front lines of a war nobody expected.


Fall in love with the extraordinary world of Faye Bright – it’s Maisie Dobbs meets The Magician.

My review:

Inanimate objects coming to life. A lineage of magic. An unforgiving demon. A world war.

‘The Crow Folk’ is the story of Faye, a teenager, who stands out as the ‘peculiar’ one in her village, while a war shuts down an activity she lives the most, ring-bearing. Meanwhile, the underworld and the real world have come into a confluence and weird things start happening.

The book doesn’t give much importance to the war, which I felt was a major contributing factor to it being such a good read; it just borders on historical fiction while the main theme is fantasy. Such strong characters and a well-scripted plotline!

There were so many incidents that made me crack up; especially little kinks of Faye’s relationship with her dad. He deserves extra appreciation and I really do hope the next book involves more of him and his lame dad jokes.

If you’re looking for a good fantasy read, do pick this up. I cannot wait for the next book!

Rating – 4/5

About the author:

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is
co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio
of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com.

Tour schedule: