[Spotlight] The Burgas Affair by @ellisshuman

The Burgas Affair by Ellis Shuman 800x1250

Title: The Burgas Affair
Author: Ellis Shuman

[Synopsis]

She’s an Israeli data analyst. He’s a headstrong Bulgarian detective. Together they must track down those responsible for a horrific bombing.

In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, Israeli and Bulgarian intelligence agencies launch a joint investigation. Detective Boyko Stanchev on the police task force teams up with Ayala Navon, a young Israeli intelligence analyst on her first overseas assignment.

The two must establish whether the terrorists were assisted by a Bulgarian crime organization in laying the groundwork for the attack.

It should be a routine investigation, but shadows of the past keep interfering.

Boyko’s interactions with a crime boss pursuing a vendetta against him threaten to throw him off track. Ayala’s pursuit of the terrorists and their accomplices brings up painful memories of a family tragedy.

Boyko and Ayala form a shaky alliance, one that evolves into growing cooperation and affection as they desperately race against time to uncover who was behind the Burgas bombing.

The Burgas Affair is a fictional account of the aftermath of a very real terrorist attack. On July 18, 2012, a deadly explosive rocked a tourist bus at Burgas Airport, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver. The terrorists responsible for this murderous attack have never been brought to justice.

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[My feelings about the attack at Burgas Airport in July 2012]

“My wife and I lived in Sofia for two years (2009–2010) when my job was relocated to Bulgaria. I had never previously visited Bulgaria and quite honestly, it was not on my bucket list of travel destinations. Alongside working full-time, we utilized our weekends to explore the country. We were fascinated by Bulgaria’s history and culture, and fell in love with its nature and picturesque villages.

The terrorist bombing at Burgas Airport in July 2012 took me by surprise because I never expected that such an attack could occur on Bulgarian soil. Having grown up in Israel, I was unfortunately quite familiar with the horror of suicide bombings and explosions on buses. Israelis are very security-conscious, but Bulgaria, I believed, was supposed to be safe territory. And also, I had been to Burgas Airport so I could clearly picture where the bombing took place.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the attack. The more the events raced through my head, the more my creative mind kept coming up with plot lines and characters, a process that led to my writing The Burgas Affair.

In the novel, many of the details of the bombing as well as the names of the suspects are based on information released to the media. However, the joint Bulgarian-Israeli investigation, the leads investigated, the suspected collaboration between Hezbollah and a Bulgarian crime organization, and the characters are all figments of my imagination.

The Burgas bombing was a very real, deadly terrorist attack. Six people were murdered—five Israelis and one Bulgarian—and many others were injured. I hope that my fictitious description of the victims is not considered disrespectful by their families. With that in mind, I dedicate The Burgas Affair to them.”

– Ellis Shuman


[About the Author]

ellis_shuman

Ellis Shuman was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and immigrated to Israel as a teenager. He completed high school in Jerusalem and served for three years in the Israeli army. Along with his wife, Jodie, he was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel. After working for several years in the hotel industry, he today writes and edits online marketing content. In the years 2009 – 2010, his job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria. His writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. His collection of short stories, The Virtual Kibbutz, was originally published in 2003. His novel Valley of Thracians was published in 2013. Ellis lives with his wife, children, and grandchildren on Moshav Neve Ilan, outside Jerusalem.

Ellis writes about Bulgaria, Israel, books, travel, and the craft of writing on his blog:

Ellis Shuman Writes: http://ellisshuman.blogspot.com
Ellis Shuman on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ellisshumanauthor
Ellis Shuman on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ellisshuman
Ellis Shuman on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1529444.Ellis_Shuman

The Burgas Affair will be released on October 30th 2017 – buy on Amazon here.


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Goodreads Monday [The Butcher]

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!

I recently bought this book and so I’ve added it to my TBR list. It sounds great!

Title: The Butcher
Author: Judith Kinghorn
Publish date: 15 July 2014

The Butcher - Jennifer Hillier

[Synopsis]

A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.

Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.

Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.

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Have you heard anything about this book, or have you got it on your TBR list? 

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Yesterday [review]

yesterday- felicia yap

Title: Yesterday
Author: Felicia Yap
Publisher: Headline

[Synopsis]

How do you solve a murder when you can only remember yesterday?

There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

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[My Review]

This wasn’t exactly what I expected – it was way better! With elements of traditional crime/ mystery novels, mixed in with sci-fi elements (which I’m not always a fan of, but it’s done so well in this novel), Yesterday is a hugely enjoyable novel which kept me turning the pages.

It was in no way predictable, which novels in this genre can fall into, and I found myself surprised along the way as more and more is revealed. I loved the whole idea of there being just two ‘races’ as such, determined not by skin colour or ethnicity but by whether you are a ‘mono’ or a ‘duo’. Monos can remember only the last 24 hours, Duos can remember the last 48 hours – and are therefore seen as far superior. I liked the nod to Apple’s increasing popularity (everyone carried around iDiaries to help them remember) and I loved the element of mystery. I couldn’t wait to find out what had actually happened to Sophie, and how Mark and Claire may or may not have been involved.

We hear the story from detective Hans, Sophie, Mark, and Claire’s point of views, and this means you get to piece the missing elements together as the characters do and, at some points, know more than each individual does. There’s still plenty of surprises, though, and the fact that the characters have to rely on their diaries to remember things means you’re never quite sure who’s completely reliable and who isn’t – adding extra interest to the story!

I’d definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a new mystery/ crime novel with a difference. It’s original, intriguing and beautifully written novel which I’d highly recommend – it might not be everyone’s tastes I suppose, but I loved it!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Headline and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Give Me The Child [audiobook review]

Give me the child

Title: Give Me The Child
Author: Mel McGrath
Publisher: HQ

[Synopsis]

An unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…

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[My Review]

This was a surprising read (or listen) for me; I wasn’t sure if it would just merge into one of the many books with similar storylines that I’ve read recently, but I feel that this really holds its own. It was a good story for audiobook, moving at a good pace and offering plenty of tension and surprises.

I really felt for main character Cat; imagine finding out your husband not only cheated on you but that he has also has a daughter (called Ruby) the same age as your own – and a bit creepy, to be honerst – and she turns up in the middle of the night having lost her mother in a housefire so you have to take her in… not great!

I won’t give any more away but Ruby doesn’t seem like the kind of daughter/step-sister you’d want for your own daughter… and her husband

Through it all, I don’t know how she didn’t throttle her horribly unsupportive husband before the book got to the halfway point – this book makes you so frustrated for her, and it really kept my attention. When you think you know all the ‘secrets’, though, there’s then more layers of deception leaving poor Cat in trouble with everyone around her.

This is definitely an interesting take on the psychological thriller story and a good one to listen to on audiobook. Recommended.

[Rating: 4/5]

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WWW Wednesday [25 October 2017]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

The three W’s are:

    1. What have you finished reading?
    2. What are you currently reading?
    3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading? 

Not such a great week for getting books read… haven’t had much time to read unfortunately!

Give Me the Child – Mel McGrath [audiobook] [review to follow soon]
Yesterday – Felicia Yap [review to follow soon]

 

What are you currently reading? 

Shattered

Shattered – Allison Brennan. This is a fairly long book (well, 400-ish pages) so I’m still getting through it. Really enjoying it though, despite not having read any of the others in the series!

 

What will you read next?

Gifts For Our Time - Anna Jacobs

Gifts For Our Time – Anna Jacobs. Had this on my TBR pile for ages, I got it from bookbridgr and really need to get on with it! Haven’t read the others in the series but I’m hoping it won’t matter!

 


What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!


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Penhaligon’s Attic [review]

Penhaligon's Attic

Title: Penhaligon’s Attic 
Author: Terri Nixon
Publisher: Piatkus

[Synopsis]

1910. Anna Garvey arrives in Caernoweth, Cornwall with her daughter and a secret. Having come from Ireland to take up an inheritance of the local pub, she and her eighteen year-old daughter Mairead are initially viewed with suspicion by the close-knit community.

Anna soon becomes acquainted with Freya Penhaligon, a vulnerable girl struggling to keep her family business afloat in the wake of her grandmother’s death, and starts to gain the trust of the locals. As their friendship deepens, and Freya is brought out of her shell by the clever and lively Mairead, even Freya’s protective father Matthew begins to thaw.

But when a part of Anna’s past she’d long tried to escape turns up in the town, she is forced to confront the life she left behind – for her sake and her daughter’s too…

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[My Review]

Penhaligon’s Attic is a well-crafted historical read which focuses on the inhabitants of a small village called Caernoweth, in Cornwall,  during the early 20th century. It focuses on family and friendships, many of which are troubled or complicated, and explores how the past can affect so much of a person’s future relationships.

There’s romance and friendships developing within the pages of Penhaligon’s Attic which managed to avoid straying into the overly cheesy category, and I liked the characters; they’re convincing and detailed. Terri Nixon’s descriptions of Cornwall really  evoked a strong sense of time and place; I felt like I could have been there myself, living the hard life many of the characters experiences during that era.

The story itself is fairly slow and takes its time, moving along at a leisurely pace, but as long as you don’t mind a break from fast paced thrillers or crime novels (as I do!) you’re likely to enjoy this slower, character-driven offering.

I  enjoy historical fiction when it flows well and is full of interesting characters, and this certainly lives up to that requirement.

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A Few Of My Favourite Things… [October]

So here’s another post showcasing some of my favourite things – some bookish, some not!


‘Have It, Haven’t Read It Yet’ Tote Bag

Girl is holding blank cotton eco bag, design mockup.Love the design of these cool bags! If you fancy getting your hands on one, or buying for a gift or Christmas present, you need to do so before 29 October as these are sort of crowd funding to be made. So if the minimum number is pre-sold, they’ll be made, otherwise they won’t! 😦 They’re only £10 (£8 for the bag, £2 for P&P) so are a real bargain!

Find out more about the bags here.


The Doll House Phoebe Morgan

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan

I hugely enjoyed this book, and feel like it definitely deserves a place in my favourites list! I mean, I’ve been lucky enough to read lots of great novels recently, but the fact that The Doll House is the first release from Phoebe Morgan really surprised me; it’s a brilliant debut which ticked all the boxes of a psychological thriller for me. Give it a go – and here’s my review if you fancy reading more about it!


LookFantastic Advent Calendar 2017

LF calendar

I wanted to get this last year and saw so many rave reviews but unfortunately I didn’t pre-order and then it sold out really quickly. This year I had a gift voucher for the site that I couyld put towards it, so I didn’t hesitate in pre-ordering the calendar and it arrived the other day! Exciting…



Great books for the rest of 2017…

I recently published a post with some of the books (10 in total) that I’m most excited about reading over the next few months. Some are released in the second half of 2017, some have already been published but I haven’t yet read them yet, so here’s the post if you fancy checking it out!


How to Instant Pot – Daniel Shumski

How to instant pot - Daniel Shumski

I’m a big fan of my Instant Pot (a brand of pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yoghurt maker and more, all in one!), but find I need some good inspiration to think to use it regularly, and not just for perfect rice (which it also does, easily!). This is definitely my favourite Instant Pot recipe book – it’s got some great ideas, not just for meat eaters, and is really well designed. If you have an instant pot or any type of pressure cooker then why not give it a go?! Here’s my review.

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Friday Finds [20 October]

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your ‘To Be Read’ (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

It is hosted by Miz B over at A Daily Rhythm.

My finds:


 

Blood Orchids - Toby Neal

Blood Orchids (Lei Crime, Book 1) – Toby Neal

Got this from Amazon in ebook format – it’s a good price and I thought I’d give it a go!

[Synopsis]

Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she’s being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first.

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Top 50 most delicious protein powder recipes

Top 50 Most Delicious Protein Powder Recipes – Jake Mangley, Julie Hatfield

This sounds like a strange pick but now that I eat mostly veggie, I’m struggling to hit my protein goals for weight lifting without going way over on carbs. So, I thought I’d give this book a go and see if it has any clever way to sneak protein powder into food. We’ll see! This is in ebook format.

 

[Synopsis]

Protein powder is a convenient way to add more protein to your diet. However, if you consume protein powder shakes regularly, you might get bored of having them every day. This collection provides creative and delicious ways to help you increase your protein intake. [full description on Amazon]

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Wool - Hugh HoweyWool – Hugh Howey

Bought in ebook format.

[Synopsis]

Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you’ll get what you wish for.

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The Hothouse Flower - Lucinda RileyHothouse Flower – Lucinda Riley

Paperback copy – this is the UK title, apparently outside of the UK this is published as The Orchid House

[Synopsis]

A heart-rending page turner which sweeps from war-torn Europe to Thailand and back again…

As a child Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park estate, where her grandfather tended the exotic flowers.

So when a family tragedy strikes, Julia returns to the tranquility of Wharton Park and its hothouse. Recently inherited by charismatic Kit Crawford, the estate is undergoing renovation. This leads to the discovery of an old diary, prompting the pair to seek out Julia’s grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed Wharton Park.

Julia is taken back to the 1940s where the fortunes of young couple Olivia and Harry Crawford will have terrible consequences on generations to come. For as war breaks out Olivia and Harry are cruelly separated…

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My Absolute Darling Gabriel TallentMy Absolute Darling

Ebook format – heard so much about this so can’t wait to read it!

[Synopsis]

‘You think you’re invincible. You think you won’t ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.’

At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall;
That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it;
That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world.
And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.

She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school;
Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see;
Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done
And what her daddy will do when he finds out …

Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

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What books have you recently added to your Goodreads list, or bought/ been given? 

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

The Fallen Agent [blog tour Q&A]

Today I am pleased to welcome Oliver Tidy to Snazzy Books with an author Q&A and some more information on his new book, The Fallen Agent (the first in the Jess Albion series)!

The Fallen Agent - Oliver Tidy

Title: The Fallen Agent
Author: Oliver Tidy

[Synopsis]

Jess Albion has recently started a new life on the other side of the world with a
new identity. She used to be MI5. Then a job went bad, someone died and she was
made an example of in the British courts. But MI5 look after their own. Or they
did until rumours of a planned Al Qaeda biological terror attack on London
started circulating. Now someone in the British security services is giving agents
up in return for information. No price, it seems, is too high to save London from
the ultimate threat.

When Jess’s fresh start is compromised she has a choice to make: run and hide
and spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder or go looking for the
threat and snuff it out. On her own, she’d run, but she has Nick on her side.
The Fallen Agent is a story of love and hate, of loyalty and betrayal, of revenge
and callous disregard for human life in the pursuit of satisfaction.

[About Oliver]

Crime writing author Oliver Tidy has had a life-long love affair with books. He
dreams of one day writing something that he could find in a beautifully-jacketed
hard-cover or paperback copy on a shelf in a book shop. He’d even be happy with
something taking up space in the remainder bin, on a pavement, in the rain,
outside The Works.

He found the time and opportunity to finally indulge his writing ambition after
moving abroad to teach English as a foreign language to young learners eight
years ago.

Impatient for success and an income that would enable him to stay at home all
day in his pyjamas he discovered self-publishing. He gave it go. By and large
readers have been kind to him. Very kind. Kind enough that two years ago he was
able to give up the day job and write full-time. Mostly in his pyjamas.
Oliver Tidy has fourteen books in three series, a couple of stand-alone novels and
a couple of short story collections. All available through Amazon (clickable link to
Am Author Page). Among his books are The Romney and Marsh Files (British
police procedurals set in Dover) and the Booker & Cash novels, a series of private
detective tales set in the south of England and published by Bloodhound Books.
Oliver is back living on Romney Marsh in the UK. His home. He still wakes in the
night from time to time shouting about seeing his books on a shelf in
Waterstones.

For more on Oliver Tidy and his books, check out his website: https://olivertidy.com/
Or follow him on:
Twitter: @olivertidy
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Oliver-Tidy- 467297426793288/

Oliver Tidy


[Author Q&A with Oliver]

Why did you write a book?
I’ve been a reader and a book lover and then a book collector for as long as I can remember. I think that when you’re like that it’s only a matter of time before you want to have a bash yourself.

Do you write every day?
When I’m involved in a writing project, yes. It was much easier to do that when I was living abroad. Having recently moved back to the UK I’m yet to find my writing groove and settle into it.

Do you work to a plot or do you prefer to see where the idea takes you?
I once told a friend that when I write I think through my fingertips. He said, ‘Oh, you mean you make it up as you go along?’ He was right.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies. It depends on the time I can devote to it. The Fallen Agent took me exactly one calendar month start to finish. That was good going for me.

What’s the worst thing about writing a book?
Nothing. I enjoy all aspects of writing a book.

What’s the best thing about writing a book?
Writing scenes that stir up my emotions.

Why did you choose your particular genre?
I rather think my genre chose me. That said, I’m experimenting with other genres. I want to write in others.

If you had to write in a different genre, which would you choose?
I’ve recently finished something dystopian. That will be my next book out. I enjoyed it and I intend to write more.

Which book character do you wish you had written?
Harry Potter. The impact of the series, the character development and the use of Greek mythology within a modern day tale… just think about it.

What do you think are the best and the worst things about social media?
Social media is time consuming but it is a brilliant tool for connecting book lovers, whether they are readers or writers.

And just for fun…

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
If I told you that you could have me arrested.

If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?
Spoiling it. My perfect day would be spent on my own. No offence, I’m sure you’re lots of fun ☺

What’s your signature dish?
Deep fried toad. It’s a Romney Marsh delicacy.

If you could be anyone for the day, who would you be?
So many options … J.K. Rowling, that would be very interesting. Or to be a part of an episode of Spooks – yes, with Keeley Hawes of course!

Follow the blog tour…

Find out what other stops there are on the tour below:

The Fallen Agent - Oliver Tidy - Blog Tour Poster 3.0

Intrigued? Buy your copy on Amazon.co.uk here and Amazon.com here!

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Yellow Room [blog tour review + guest post!]

Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Yellow Room! Find out what I thought of this great novel (well, that gives it away a little!) and learn a little more about author Shelan Rodger’s writing inspiration below, as she tells all about how important the use of location is in her novels…

Yellow Room - Shelan Rodger

Title: The Yellow Room
Author: Shelan Rodger
Publisher: The Dome Press

[Synopsis]

Set in England and Kenya during the post-election crisis of 2008, a psychological drama that explores the power of secrets to run and ruin our lives.

Chala has grown up in the shadow of a tragic act—as a small child she killed her baby sister in their yellow room. Even now, in her thirties, her state of mind is precarious and both she and her partner struggle with the demons of her past. When a one night stand leaves Chala pregnant, and her beloved adoptive father dies, she decides to go to Kenya and visit the scene of her parents’ deaths. Slowly memories of  the events in the yellow room return, the political uprising puts a new meaning on life, and the future can only be faced by making a choice—to deceive or tell the truth.

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Shelan Rodger
[Guest Post: “The importance of location – in my life and in my books”]

I was recently described in a local Spanish newspaper as a ‘Nigerian author living in Andalucía,’ which I found amusing as the only thing Nigerian about me really is the fact that I was born there (I left when I was three). But it is true that the question ‘Where are you from?’ is one that I find impossible to answer. My father was born in India and grew up in Kenya where he is buried; my mother, also born in India, still lives in Kenya. When I was three, the family left Nigeria and went to the Northern Territory of Australia; my first school was a radio in the bush, my second was an aboriginal school with two classrooms on an island north of Darwin. When I was eleven, we moved to England. I went to a comprehensive school in Hampshire and then Oxford University where I graduated in French and Spanish. Then nine years in Argentina, followed by another period in the UK and six years in Kenya before moving to Spain in 2011. My professional career has revolved around international education, learning and development, and anti-discrimination.

Probably no surprise then that my writing is haunted by the question of what shapes us and our sense of who we are. How much is our personal identity moulded by the place we grow up or live in – the culture, the landscape, the language? And what happens if we move between different cultures, different landscapes? I don’t really feel English but I cannot tell you where I’m from. In my twitter profile, I define myself as a ‘writer and wilderness lover, with a patchwork life’. Connection with nature is extremely important to me; the need for wilderness is in my blood. So, there is a strange dynamic in my own life: strong emotional connections with certain locations and cultures combined with a sense of belonging to none – or all of them.

Twin Truths is set largely in Argentina and a big chunk of Yellow Room takes place in Kenya. I see Argentina and Kenya almost as characters in the stories. The relationship between the protagonists and the location is key to each story and to the journey of self-discovery for the protagonists in each book.

In Yellow Room, Chala is named after a lake in a remote part of Kenya. She volunteers at an orphanage in Naivasha, where she gets caught up in the turmoil of the post-election violence that killed over a thousand people in 2008. One of the things I wanted to explore with this book was the relationship between the internal world of our own inner stage and the external world, and how this affects our sense of who we are. Kenya – the events, the landscape, the culture, the people – has a profound effect on Chala and the outcome of her own personal story. Kenya is not just a setting but plays a role in the story of who she is and who she becomes.

Argentina has its own story. Buenos Aires in the nineties is a place of forgetting, but the shadow of Argentina’s dictatorship lingers. There is a kind of collective amnesia about the 30,000 disappeared, a gentle collusion almost everywhere to forget and move on, in the face of a reality too horrific to counter. In Twin Truths, Jenny’s journey too is one of forgetting, trying to move on. She does not really connect with the culture at first, using it like sex as a means of escape, trying it on like a piece of clothing, treating therapy as a game. But Argentina becomes part of her own story and there is one place that plays a pivotal role: Iguazu falls. There is a point where the falls converge in a bottomless crush of water called La Garganta del Diablo, a place that connects with Jenny’s own memory. ‘I was being sucked down into the depths of the ocean, no air, down and down into the devil’s throat.’

If we are what we eat, we are probably also where we live…Well, I tried that sentence out in Google and discovered this is exactly what someone called Jeff Speck, author of Suburban Nation, said at a conference about urban planning! Location, location, location…I hope you enjoy your travels in my books…

– Shelan Rodger


[My Review]

This is a beautifully written book which really made me think. I felt like it had a bit of everything – human relationships, family, some drama, travel and an element of surprise/ twists. All together these create a wonderfully crafted blend of tragedy, secrets and, through it all, hope.

I felt that the characters in Yellow Room are really convincing and well developed; though I didn’t agree with everything Chala did, I really felt for her. It made me stop and think about how much blame you can really pin on a child, and how difficult it must be for adults around her – especially Emma’s parents – to deal with what’s happened. It also deals with how one decision – whether to tell someone the whole ‘truth’ or not – can affect so many parts of a person’s life.

The travel aspect was interesting, and we saw how Chala’s personal demons eased a bit by being so far away, but at points I just wanted her to go home so I could see what would happen with her ‘situation’ (don’t want to give too much away!).

I absolutely love the way this book makes you think one way about someone – Chala’s husband, for example – but as the book reveals more your opinion changes and morphs with Shelan’s brilliant writing.

Thought provoking, surprising and emotional, Yellow Room is definitely a must-read!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to The Dome Press for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto the blog tour!


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