Sunday, 23 September 2018

Winter Review Policy Activation

Time for a news bulletin!

For those of you who didn't see last year's post about my Winter Review Policy because you were busy and/or are new readers, my winter review policy means that I don't accept books for review from the date of this post until 1st March 2019. There are exceptions which I will explain later on.

I have permanent health issues including fatigue and chronic pain. Unfortunately my body adversely reacts to colder weather (anything below 10C), rain, snow, ice and hail. Oh and thunderstorms. I wish I was joking, but I like to hibernate as much as I can in winter to let my body be relaxed as it battles against the elements. Review is fun but it does use energy, so I'm simply conserving what I have. 
Even if I'm super cozy inside my body still knows the temperature outside.
There will be posts throughout the next few months, they will just be more gaming reviews and reviews of my own books rather than ones I get sent for review. It's easier to do a near-blanket ban on book reviews for a few months than having to apologise for being ill, which has happened over the last few weeks with unexpected illness. 

I can be found on Twitter most days, usually tweeting game related info on whatever I'm playing with at the time. Come find me @Nayuleska
Fanart (not by me) of favourite vocaloid Mikku in a winter outfit (let's not get into how she isn't wearing tights)

This doesn't affect reviews I've already committed myself to between October and March 2019
 I am upholding those, this is more for anyone requesting a review from today will probably get a negative response from me. I will answer emails explaining that as I know not everyone checks back on my review policy (or on the type of genres I do review...). I will try and repost this post once a month in the absence of being unable to sticky a post here. 
 
An accurate depiction from an unknown artist of how I feel in winter
I hope I can start accepting books for review sooner than March, but it does depend entirely on the weather. If we have a good winter, I'll accept books sooner. However, if we have a bad winter that I may have to extend the Winter Policy into April which I did earlier this year. I simply won't know until I get to February, which isn't for a few months yet! I appreciate your understanding in this policy change. 
 
The exceptions are if you are one of my favourite authors! 
 I will always accept your books, they may still get a delay in review.
 
Me reading in winter when my body wants to be like a bear and sleep all the time (I don't).
Due to the last few weeks being full of pheasants (see linked post for details) I've already got a bit of a backlog of reviews, making this policy activation vital. 
 
Once again thank you for your understanding, I hope you stay well this winter and enjoy the posts I do get up!  I hope this is all clear - please let me know if you have any questions. I promise this blog isn't going dark until March 2019! If you are able to wait until March for a review then please do still ask me to do them. I really appreciate your continued support and understanding for changes related to my blogging schedule. 
Sadly not drawn by me
 

Friday, 21 September 2018

Nayu's News #244 It's all about the pheasant

I love birds!
This post is simultaneously posted on Nayu's Crochet Dreams

For those of you who live in the countryside in England the pheasant is a bird you'll be familiar with. If you don't know what it is, the pheasant seems to be the dumbest bird in the world. It will lie in wait at the side of the road, take a step or two into the road just as you are driving up, then the chaos begins. If it likes you it'll scuttle across the road to the other side. If it's feeling particularly demonic, it will take a few steps out, making you stop (if you can), go back or almost go to the other side then go back to it's original starting position. They are a menace on the roads, more so than crazy drivers on any vehicle. 

This week I'd planned to both read some more books and review them before today, as well as get a few general posts up to tide you over while I have and recover from my mega strong meds tonight. The universe had other ideas: cue one disagreement between my head and a garage door later and I ended up simply resting instead (mostly with gaming which I don't have to think about because it's automatic, unlike reading new books which takes a bit of effort). Definitely having a load of pheasants in my figurative life right now! 

So apologies for the lack of posts in the next week, I've clearly run into a couple of pheasants this week (not literally). 

No brainless birds were harmed in the making of this post. 
Wish birds acted like they do in Disney's Cinderella and were helpful around the house like this bird is!

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Blog Tour The Home by Karen Osman Review + Guest Blog Post (Thriller, 9/10E)

Check out the other tour stops!

4th September 2018, Aria Fiction, 320 pages, Paperback and Ebook, Review copy

Summary from Aria Fiction
Angela was just a baby when her mum left her for the last time, and a children’s home is no place to grow up. The home’s manager Ray takes the girls off to his ‘den’ in the garden and the littlies come back crying, and Ray’s wife Kath has special wooden spoons which she saves for beating any of the children who dare to misbehave. 

So, when wealthy couple James and Rosemary come to choose a child to adopt, Angela is desperate to escape. 

But the scars of her childhood remain, and when Angela’s search for her birth mother Evelyn is successful, their reunion is no fairy tale. Soon strange and sinister events start to unfold, and Evelyn fears she may not survive her daughter’s return…


Nayu's thoughts 
I knew this would be a bit of a tough read when I agreed to review it - I mean, just read the summary. It gave me the creeps but I simply had to find out what happened to Angela, her birth mother, and her adoptive mother. That in itself was quite a journey. 

I liked how the book switched point of views and including some childhood diary entries of what life was like in the home. It was hard to read because sadly all of that has happened in the past, and unfortunately may still exist somewhere in the world. Abuse, however repressed it is, is always a part of the person it happens to. Some manage to make a decent life, others get caught up in the maelstrom of emotions and end up doing things. I'm not saying which category Angela fits in! You'll need to read the book to find that out. Using the diary as a way to talk about the abuse was a good way to bring up what happened without having to go into the horrifying details which some books do. Note I hadn't realised maelstrom was used in Karen't first book synopsis - I came up with it for this review on my own.

I read the book before reading the guest post Karen kindly wrote for my stop on the tour, and honestly I hadn't realised why the book was set in the 1980s. I was a very young child then so I didn't know what the workplace was like, and I felt sorry that Angela had to work so hard. Her drive to do well is evident on almost every page. Perhaps that's why discovering her birth mother is a bit emotional for her - she can mostly control what she does at work, but she has no control over a woman she's only starting to get to know. 

Her birth mother had a life which some may see as defining young mothers who give their children up for adoption, but I was proud that while she had done unsavoury activities in the past, she was trying and mostly succeeding to make what she could of her circumstances. I wanted her to have a happy ever after, to be able to have a good relationship with Angela. Again you'll have to read the book to find out if that happens! 

Initially I admired Angela's adoptive parents. Rosemary the mother had a tough time because she adopted Angela as an older child, not a baby which she desperately wanted. Her husband James doted on Angela and definitely spoilt her, which caused some uncomfortable feelings in  Rosemary - jealousy isn't a positive emotion, and where it took Rosemary was a major surprise, as were the several other major plot twists. I had accurately guessed one part of the story, although I hadn't thought any more of it making the rest of the twists very exciting. 

The only reason this isn't a perfect grade is that I'd wanted a bit more time spent on the events at the end of the book - so I now want a sequel! I wanted more time spent on the trouble Angela finds herself in, and the consequences of Rosemary's decisions. This is a bit of a tricky review to write because I want to chat about plot specifics, but that would ruin what is a pretty brilliant thriller. It's a book I'll be rereading just so I can try and see the hints which much have been there from the start, but I didn't see them because I didn't know the full story.

Suggested read 
Do check out Karen's first novel which I've reviewed on this blog The Good Mother by Karen Osman (Crime, Thriller, 10E/10E)



The Creative Themes Behind The Home by Karen Osman 
Meet Karen!

 Karen Osman talks about her inspiration behind her second novel, The Home

While every book needs the big idea, that thread that can be picked out until a whole story unravels, I was inspired by multiple themes when writing The Home. A psychological thriller, my second novel is about a young woman called Angela who was abandoned when she was just a few days old to a children’s home in London. When wealthy couple James and Rosemary come to choose a child to adopt, Angela is desperate to escape. However, the scars of childhood remain and when Angela’s search for her birth mother Evelyn is successful, their reunion brings its own problems. Set in the 1970s and ‘80s, the book is about motherhood, raising children, marriage, deceit, violence, and betrayal. Here’s a look at how some of these themes inspired my writing process.  



Children’s Homes

There was a series of scandals in the UK concerning children’s home before the Children Act of 1989. I started doing some research about the reported events in children’s homes during the ‘60s and ‘70s, much of which only came to light many years later. It’s incredibly disturbing that such events could have happened in places which are supposed to protect children and I struggled to understand how such horrifying things could happen.



Motherhood

It’s strange that a joyful event such as the arrival of children could reveal such dark thoughts. But it’s true. Like many new mothers, during the day, I used to be in a state of constant vigilance as I watched over my new-born, while at night I had half-baked nightmares about the unspeakable. On the flip side, I also remember the profound sense of joy and happiness as I held my son and the primal urge to protect was overwhelming. While it’s been a few years now, I still remember the double-edged maelstrom of emotion of those new-born days and it’s been a powerful influence in my writing for both The Home and my first novel, The Good Mother.  



Women in the Workplace

The main character in The Home, Angela, is ambitious and career driven and the 1980s were an interesting time for such women. On the one hand, Margaret Thatcher was a powerful example of what could be achieved, but on the other hand, sexism was very much present. And while it continues to be a problem today, back then, there wasn’t the same sort of awareness. During the research process for The Home, I interviewed many women who were working during this decade in London and I have tried to reflect some of their experiences in The Home.



The Home is available for pre-order and will be published on 4th September. I would love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to get in touch!