Divide and Rule (Division Bell Book 2) by Rachel McLean #BlogBlitz #BookReview (@rachelmcwrites) @RaRaResources #DivisionBell

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Delighted to be taking part today in the blog blitz today for Divide and Rule by Rachel McLean, which is book two in the Division Bell trilogy. You may recall that I reviewed book one in the trilogy, A House Divided last month and you can find that review here. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blitz today and to the author for my advance copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

Divide and Rule e-book

“Jennifer Sinclair’s fight to save her political career, her family and her freedom has failed. Traumatised by prison violence, she agrees to transfer to the mysterious British Values Centre.

Rita Gurumurthy has betrayed her country and failed the children in her care. Unlike Jennifer, she has no choice, but finds herself in the centre against her will.

Both women are expected to conform, to prove their loyalty to the state and to betray everything they hold dear. One attempts to comply, while the other rebels. Will either succeed in regaining her freedom?

Divide and Rule is 1984 for the 21st century – a chilling thriller examining the ruthless measures the state will take to ensure obedience, and the impact on two women.”

Do you realise how many rights and freedoms you have as a citizen of Great Britain today, or do you just take them for granted? Do you ever consider what life must be like in countries that don’t grant the same protection of personal rights that we do? How powerless would you feel if, all of a sudden, those rights and freedoms were taken away from you? If these thoughts have never occurred to you, and you happily pootle along from day to day, grumbling slightly about the few restrictions we do live under in order to make life bearable for society as a whole (as most of us do), I suggest you read this book for a healthy wake up call, because things could be a lot, lot worse.

This book picks up from where A House Divided left off so, although I’m sure this book could be read as a standalone, you will have a much richer and more rewarding reading experience if you have read book one first. Besides, the first book is fantastic, so you should definitely read it. Jennifer Sinclair, former MP and Prisons Minister has found herself incarcerated in one of the prisons she was formerly responsible for, after hiding her son, who was suspected of terrorist affiliations, and you can imagine how popular she is in there. So, when she is given the chance to move to a new rehabilitation centre, with the chance of following a six step programme that will lead to her freedom, she decides to take the chance.

Unfortunately, the centre does not turn out to be what she was promised and, along with other women accused of similar ‘crimes’, she is subjected to a system of brainwashing designed to stop the women questioning a system which is becoming increasingly dictatorial, and the women find that all the rights they believed they had as a result of living in a democratic country have been severely eroded. How do you fight a system that doesn’t grant you any rights or protections? The book explores the different approaches taken by Jennifer, still thinking like a politician, and Rita, defiant in her beliefs and unwilling to conform, as they try to play the programme and earn their escape.

I read this book in a single sitting, late into the night, my body rigid with tension throughout. I was totally hooked on the story from beginning to end; I simply could not look away from the page. I was gripped with mounting horror as it became apparent that this scenario is frighteningly plausible and, as I pondered the questions posed in paragraph one of this post, realised that we take far too much for granted in this country, that we actually have little personal power and rely far too much on legal freedoms which could easily be taken away. In fact, in recent history there have been situations where internment without trial have been used (the Troubles in Northern Ireland being the most recent example) and were being mooted again as solutions to terrorism by certain factions more recently. When one considers this, this book becomes even more eye-opening. ‘There by the grace of God” is a phrase that springs to mind.

I have been concerned by the direction that politics is currently taking in this country, and by certain things that have happened over the past few years, certain headlines in the newspapers and rhetoric on social media. Reading this book has done nothing to quell my fears. If you are looking for a horror story for Halloween, forget Stephen King or M.R. James, this is it. A small part of me is banking on Rachel leaving us with a hopeful ending in book three, Divided We Stand, which I will be reviewing on 20 November, but I fear this may be wishful thinking.

Divide and Rule is out now, and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelmclean.com

Facebook: Rachel McLean

Twitter: @rachelmcwrites

Instagram: @rachelmcwrites

Goodreads: Rachel McLean

A House Divided (Division Bell Book 1) by Rachel McLean #BlogTour #BookReview #PublicationDay (@rachelmcwrites) @RaRaResources @jed_mercurio #AHouseDivided #DivisionBell

A House Divided

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A House Divided by Rachel McLean on its Publication Day, so happy publication day, Rachel. This is the first book in a trilogy, and I will be reviewing all three parts over the coming months, so watch out for parts two and three on 23 October and 20 November. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.

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“Jennifer Sinclair is many things: loyal government minister, loving wife and devoted mother.

But when a terror attack threatens her family, her world is turned upside down. When the government she has served targets her Muslim husband and sons, her loyalties are tested. And when her family is about to be torn apart, she must take drastic action to protect them.

A House Divided is a tense and timely thriller about political extremism and divided loyalties, and their impact on one woman.”

If, like me, you have been glued to BBC One’s ‘Bodyguard’ over the past six weeks (and who hasn’t, it was fabulous, Jed Mercurio is a genius), no doubt you will be feeling as bereft as I am now it has finished. Well, I have the solution for you and it is to read A House Divided. Everything you loved about Bodyguard (except Richard Madden, sadly)  and more.

The book is set in the very near future, as Britain is affected by a twin terror attack on Birmingham and London. At the centre of the storm is Jennifer Sinclair, a junior Home Office minister and MP for a  Birmingham constituency – who also happens to be married to a British-born Muslim, with two Muslim sons. Jennifer is drawn into the political storm over how to tackle terrorism and finds her loyalties divided between her professional and personal lives.

I would call this book a dystopian thriller, except it is all too scarily plausible to believe that this is not a very real depiction of a possible future, and a not too distant one at that. In fact, it was more akin to a horror story for me. I got the same feeling reading this as  do reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, a feeling that this book could be terrifyingly prescient.

The characters in the book are very believable, in particular Jennifer who is someone I could relate to very easily, as a woman torn between motherhood and professional ambition. I was totally aligned with her as I went through the book and, as a result, I felt the tension through her internal battles, parental struggles and political manoeuvring and backstabbing. And backstabbing aplenty there is. Anyone who loved Michael Dobb’s House of Cards trilogy as I did will be captivated by this book and the potential as to where the next two books will take the reader.

This book is every bit as gripping as the finale of Bodyguard, especially the last quarter, and my heart was racing and I was unable to put the book down. On the edge of your seat reading with a disturbing level of believability that has left me unsettled, but also desperate to read Book 2. And one burning question – why the hell would anyone want to be a politician?

A House Divided is published today and you can get your copy by following this link.

To check out a variety of opinions on this book, make sure to visit the blogs of the other wonderful bloggers on the tour:

A House Divided Full Tour Banner

About the Author

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelmclean.com

Facebook: Rachel McLean

Twitter: @rachelmcwrites

Instagram: @rachelmcwrites

Goodreads: Rachel McLean

The Glass Diplomat by S. R. Wilsher #BookReview #BlogTour (@srwilsher) @RaRaResources #RaRaResources #TheGlassDiplomat

The Glass Diplomat

I have been looking forward to taking part in this blog tour ever since I first heard about this book, so I am delighted to be taking my turn today on the blog tour for The Glass Diplomat by S. R. Wilsher. Huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to the tour and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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“In 1973 Chile, as General Augusto Pinochet seizes power, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat, Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family. 

Despite his love for the Abrego sisters, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from marrying the right-wing Minister of Justice.

His connection to the family is complicated by the growing impression that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.”

This book is an extraordinarily powerful novel about power, life, love, loss and revenge set against the backdrop of atrocities perpetrated by the Pinochet regime in Chile from 1973 onwards.

It opens with a heart-stopping scene set in 1989, which sets the tone for the whole book and makes the reader realise that there are going to be some events in the novel that are hard to stomach, then flips back to 1973 and the disappearance of Charlie’s father which is the catalyst for everything that happens afterwards. We are introduced to the powerful Tomas Abrego and his family who are Charlie’s link to Chile – one he will revisit repeatedly through the years and to whom he is inextricably connected in a myriad of complex ways.

There are so many interesting and thought-provoking themes running through the book. Naivete is a big one. The naivete of Charlie and the Abrego sisters as they meet in their youth and become friends, unaware of the tensions between their parents. The naivete of Charlie in his early days as a journalist reporting on events in Chile, believing that as a journalist and a Westerner, he is somehow separate from and protected against the atrocities being committed by the regime he is exposing; and how the characters have their illusions exposed – sometimes brutally – over time.

The book explores the complex nature of relationships and how we can be torn apart by conflicting emotions. How bonds formed early in life can remain strong and have a stranglehold on us, even in the face of compelling opposing forces and against our better judgement and how it can be very hard to battle against them, even while we strive to prove we are dispassionate or they run contrary to other emotions in us. However, hard we try to step outside ourselves and remain impartial, we are all human in the end.

The background of the political upheaval in Chile and the atrocities that occurred at that time are fascinating and appalling. It is a period of history I knew a little, but not much, about before I started reading but it is beautifully interwoven into the book in a way that made me want to explore more about the period. Having a deeper picture of what went on made me angry and so extremely sad. You can’t help be moved by this book, particularly as the characters are so beautifully drawn and the novel so well-plotted that you become quickly invested in what is going on, which makes it all the more painful and shocking.

To begin with, I found some of the prose a little dense and convoluted for my tastes; I had to concentrate very hard at times to follow the course of the over-long sentences that slowed the pace at the beginning. I eventually got past this and settled in to the authors’ style of writing and this would be my only minor criticism

This book is a stunning piece of political fiction and I would highly recommend it to anyone curious about this period of South American political upheaval.

The Glass Diplomat is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To get a different perspective on the book from my fabulous fellow bloggers on the tour, you can find the details of the other stops below:

The Glass Diplomat Full Tour Banner

About the Author

The Glass Diplomat - Author Pic

It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.

After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing. 

I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.

I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve. 

Connect with the author:

Website: http://www.srwilsher.com/about/4574659347

Twitter: @srwilsher

Goodreads: S. R. Wilsher

The Benevolent Dictator by Tom Trott #BookReview #BlogTour (@tjtrott) @RaRaResources #TheBenevolentDictator

The Benevolent Dictator

After a week of crime and suspense I am happy to be featuring something a little different on the blog today as I take part in the blog tour for The Benevolent Dictator by Tom Trott. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to the tour and the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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“Ben longs to be prime minister one day. But with no political connections, he is about to crash out of a Masters degree with no future ahead. So when by chance he becomes fast friends with a young Arab prince, and is offered a job in his government, he jumps at the chance to get on the political ladder.

Amal dreads the throne. And with Ben’s help he wants to reform his country, steering it onto a path towards democracy. But with the king’s health failing, revolutionaries in the streets, and terrorism threatening everyone, the country is ready to tear itself apart.

Alone in a hostile land, Ben must help Amal weigh what is best against what is right, making decisions that will risk his country, his family, and his life.”

Where to start with my review of this wonderful book, there is so much going on, so much to talk about, so much food for thought packed in to a relatively short but complex novella.

This is the story of two idealistic young men, well-educated, well-intentioned and full of ambition to make the world a better place. One is Ben, a British graduate whose aim is to become Prime Minister. The other is Amal, the second son of a Middle Eastern ruler who longs to bring Western values to his homeland. They meet by chance at university and, on finding common ground, become friends. Then, suddenly, Amal’s life is turned upside down when his older brother is killed in a car accident and he suddenly become heir to his ailing father’s throne. Looking for an ally, he asks Ben to move to his country to act as his advisor.

This is the story of a fish out of water. A young idealistic man transplanted to an alien environment that he does not understand. He cannot speak the language, does not share the religion, has no knowledge of its history or politics and finds their customs and laws barbaric. He is viewing it all through the eye of a Westerner with the arrogance to assume that the civilisation he is used to is the correct one and should be brought to these people, whether they want or are ready for it or not.

This is the story about destiny. About a young man destined to be the second son. The one educated in the West and destined to be a minor player in the government of his country, free to hold certain ideals safe in the knowledge that he will not be in a position to implement them who, by a seeming twist of fate, is suddenly thrust in to a position where he is forced to make a choice between what he thought he believed and the actuality of implementing those ideals and steering the country from the path carved out by his ancestors. We will discover whether he has the strength to see those ideals through, or whether reality differs from theory.

This is a story about disillusionment. About the disappointment when one realises that the principles we hold dear don’t hold up in every scenario. When our belief in ourselves is ripped aside and our inadequacies laid bare when we are put to the test. When we realised what we thought was true is not and that we are powerless to change what we thought we could so easily influence.

These two young men, so certain in their beliefs in the safety and warmth of the academic environment, find that out in the real world, things are never so simple. They are faced with thousands of years of history, societal, cultural and familial pressures, economic realities and the political manoeuvering that they have not enough experience to deal with. They are out of their depth. It is a fascinating study of the intricacies of political decision-making that few of us actually consider when arguing the toss about what goes on in governments of foreign countries.

Above all, this is the story of hubris. The hubris of the young, thinking they know it all and can succeed where everyone else has failed. The hubris of the West in thinking that their way is the only acceptable way and that by imposing their ideals on other nations, they are always making life better for the people of those countries. Recent history has shown us this is not necessarily true. The hubris of the rulers of hereditary monarchies assuming that they have the right to rule for this reason alone and that nothing is going to change the status quo.

This book sounds like it might be heavy going, but it really is not. The author brilliantly wraps up all of the above themes in a story that is entertaining and compelling and very easy to read. The two main characters are both likeable and easy to relate to. The setting is vividly drawn and you are taken right to the heart of this alien society, in the same way that Ben is. There is gripping element of intrigue that carries the reader through to the end, which I found shocking and upsetting. The book left me saddened and disturbed and with a huge amount to think about.

I loved the use of phrases from Ozymandias by Shelley (one of my favourite poems of all time) as chapter headings, underlining the theme of hubris and the ultimate fallibility of all dynasties in the end. If you haven’t read this poem, take a look before you read the book. It is a moving and powerful piece of writing, as is this novel.

Ultimately, The Benevolent Dictator is one of those books that you will be delighted to have discovered. It is a pleasure to read and offers so much to the reader in return for the time invested. Probably one of my favourite reads of the year.

The Benevolent Dictator is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

To follow the rest of the dates, check out the dates below:

The Benevolent Dictator Full Tour Banner

About the Author:

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Tom Trott was born in Brighton. He first started writing at Junior School, where he and a group of friends devised and performed comedy plays for school assemblies, much to the amusement of their fellow pupils. Since leaving school and growing up to be a big boy, he has written a short comedy play that was performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton in May 2014 as part of the Brighton Festival; he has written Daye’s Work, a television pilot for the local Brighton channel, and he has won the Empire Award (thriller category) in the 2015 New York Screenplay Contest. He is the proverbial Brighton rock, and currently lives in the city with his wife.

Connect with Tom:

Website: https://tomtrott.com

Facebook: Tom Trott Books

Twitter: @tjtrott

Goodreads: Tom Trott

 

Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro #BlogTour #BookReview (@porcarorama) @unbounders @annecater #DiscoSour #RandomThings Tours

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“A politician addicted to dating apps embarks on an existential odyssey to save democracy from being swiped away.

In the aftermath of a continental civil-war, nation-states have collapsed, the European Union™ holds on, preventing anarchy. 
Bastian Balthazar Bux is a leading member of The Federation®, the European network of civil society and local governments. Bastian has just been unexpectedly dumped through an app, the BreakupShop™ service. Heavy hearted, he just wants to drink, get on with work and forget his romantic woes. 

However, he discovers that Nathan Ziggy Zukowsky is planning to sell Plebiscitum®, a dating-style app that is meant to replace elections with a simple swipe, at the same conference he is invited to attend in Chile. Haunted by the ghosts of his recent relationship, he finds himself without his all-important Morph® phone, just a few hours before embarking on his trip to try to save democracy. 

Will he make it to his conference on the other side of the world? Will he stop Zukowsky from selling his app? And will he ever find a way to deal with his breakup?”

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro. A big thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for allowing me to take part in the tour for this unique book.

One of the aims I had when I started volunteering for blog tours was to find new genres and books that I would not normally choose in a book store and to push my reading out of its comfort zone, to stretch my literary horizons. This book marks the zenith of that goal so far.

We are dropped into a dystopian future, around one thousand years from now, as seen through the eyes of the main protagonist, Bastian Balthazar Bux. There has been a civil war in Europe which has destroyed the previous political delineations and the new zones are struggling to set up a different type of society. Balthazar is head of a European organisation that is trying to establish its influence in the new world order and he must travel from Eastern Europe across the globe to a conference in Chile, where he will launch an initiative to cement his organisation’s place in the international arena, and prevent the adoption of a political system run entirely by technology that he fears will effectively destroy democracy. Are you with me so far?

Despite the importance of this mission, Balthazar is side-tracked by his love life. He has just been dumped by an app which effectively wipes all your relationship history and contact with your former partner – the ultimate form of ‘ghosting’ – and this leads him to reflect on his previous relationship with Janine. Throw in the journey from hell where he keeps missing flights, has no sleep, and the fact that he has lost his phone, which is an even more tragic event in a world entirely beholden to technology, and Balthazar is having a hellish time.

This book is rich soup of events, memories, flashbacks, virtual conversations, dreams and hallucinations that had my head spinning and trying to figure out which parts were real and which were delusions, which was the authors clever way of reflecting the increasingly disoriented state that Balthazar finds himself in during his nightmare trip. I have never done drugs and this book is about as close as I imagine I am going to get to tripping.

One of the main themes of the book is the increasing reliance on technology and how far we should let it take over our lives, the dangers of becoming dependent on it for everything to the point where there is no longer such a thing as free will. This has been explored in books and films before but, despite the feeling on general unreality in the narration of this book, its predictions feel all too scarily possible. This coupled with the background of a disintegration of Europe and how the resultant power struggle might play out brings the story uncomfortably close to home in the current political climate we find ourselves in. Whilst reading the book, I had the same sense of unease I felt when first reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the feeling that the dystopian future portrayed in the book was not beyond the realms of possibility.

The main difference between this and many other dystopian books is the strong thread of humour running through the novel. You could boil this book down to being a story of misadventure in travel (if you ignored all the surrounding political themes) and we all know how funny stories of travel mishaps can be. The dating disasters were also relatable and amusing, and the humour lifts the whole book to a lightness that makes reading about some serious and thought-provoking topics easier. The sugar encasing the pill.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. It has a style and subject matter outside the mainstream which I think a lot of people will shy away from. There are elements that make it tricky to read (the constant inclusion of trademark and copyright symbols in the text is distracting and seems odd and unnecessary to begin with, disrupting the reading flow, which annoyed me until I got to the explanation for it a third of the way through). However, it is a book that pays off for anyone willing to put in the effort and it addresses a lot of topical and relevant issues for today and tomorrow.

Disco Sour is out now in both paperback and digital format and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to follow the tour and get a different take on the book, here are the details:

Disco Sour Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

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As a political geographer, Giuseppe has always been interested in how the intersection between technology and politics is moving towards uncharted territories in the future. He has recently published a series of scientific articles about how the internet of things and algorithms will change policymaking. DISCO SOUR is his first experiment with fiction. it has been inspired by a mission to Chile he had in 2013. Back then, he was Secretary General of the European Youth Forum, the platform of youth organisations advocating for youth rights. And on his way to Santiago, he missed three connecting flights across two continents within the span of 72 hours.

Giuseppe works now as the head of communications for Bruegel, an international think tank specialised in economic policy. During the rest of the time, he DJs, reads, dreams, writes.

Connect with Giuseppe and Disco Sour:

Website: http://discosour.net

Facebook: Disco Sour

Twitter: @porcarorama

Instagram: @porcarorama

Goodreads: Giuseppe Porcaro

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