Hong Kong – Able Seacat Simon – Lynne Barrett-Lee

seacat simonWhy a booktrail?

1948 – True story of a cat found and smuggled on board HMS Amethyst, all through the eyes of the very cat himself.

Story

Sea cat Simon knows that cats have nine lives and it’s the first thing he remembers his mother telling him. With this heartwarming start, Blackie or Kitty as he is sometimes called remembers his mothers kind words and the kind heart of the humans who take him under their wing and feed him on Stonecutter Island, who takes him on  his ship – George the human who becomes his saviour and experiences life on board a very long journey at sea. With his new human friends and more experiences than anyone could ever hope for, even for a cat wit nine lives, this is a story trough the eyes of a small but very adventurous little kitten.

Place and Setting

Screen shot 2016-01-11 at 16.31.46

From the shores of Stonecutter island(on the map above) in Hong Kong, a small kitten is found and rescued by a British sailor who smuggles him aboard HMS Amethyst.

Imagine the noise and the chaos from the eyes of a small cat:

“The Quayside is an assault on all my senses”

His world is changed in an instant – from a lonely existence where he doesn’t know what happened to his brothers and sisters, and where fear is his only companion. Now George a sailor offers him a sardine (fish can come in tins don’t you know), and a chance of a new life.

But a cat has to explore and on the ship, this brings new challenges such as judging distances close to so much water, avoiding slippery surfaces, the resident dog and finding the resident mice. But he thinks its rude to wake up his human friend and so cuddles up on the edge of the bed and dreams of moths instead.

“And then the pre-dawn Cacophany, also human in origin that started up long before the sun peeked over the horizon.”

When disaster strikes, Seacat Simon learn about survival in many other ways and about war and chaos. The human world he sees as not being too different to the troubles of cats but the way they deal and struggle is very much the same. His only wish is to abide by the sailing code and the code that sailors see cats as lucky. When the ship arrives in the Yangtse river, history unfolds and we learn of what it means to be in enemy territory on every level.

A very poignant tale of a emotional event in history told in a very clever way.

Booktrail thoughts

If you’ve ever thought what a cat might think and do then this is the book for you. How can you be sure that it likes the name you’ve chosen for it? I’d be careful if I were you as they have a strong opinion on the subject if Simon is anything to go by. Cats keep sailors safe he is told and so as he starts to live life more comfortably on the ship, his confidence grows and he speaks of joining the crew which I found hilarious!

This cat has some attitude and then some! It’s a lovely true story and very inventive to tell I thought the eyes of the cat! Life is all about order and routines he says. The day he describes as his first kill, and the day she meets Peggy the dog…..

This is such a charming read with a serious back story that it really has to be read to be believed and appreciated. The story of the Yangtse river incident is heartbreaking and even more poignant from the eyes of a cat. Oh and the ending! No spoilers here but it’s emotional.

Lynne Barrett Lee evokes the war and the fate of the Amethyst in a way I’ve not seen before and it was a joy yet a heartbreaking one at that to read.

Author info:

Twitter: @LynneBarrettLee

Facebook: /Lynne-Barrett-Lee

Web: lynnebarrett-lee.com

Nagasaki -Susan Southard

NAG-2
1945 – The story of five teenage survivors from the atomic  bombing of Nagasaki told through each injury, thought, fear and emotion you can imagine

Story

On August 9th, 1945

Barely three days after Hiroshima, an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. More than 74000 people died and a further 75000 were injured. The aftermath was just as painful for those who lived through it however since it changed their lives forever. For five teenagers, at the stage of their lives where their entire futures lie unstained and free in front of them, the changes must have been especially hard to bear least of all to try and understand.

How do you move on from something so devastating and evil? How do you learn to live in such a world when you have faced such horrific murder and barely escaped with your life?

When your life has barely begun…

Place and Setting

NAGA-MAP

What you have read in history books or in history lessons, this book takes you to the heart of one of the most devastating events in human history. Did these people survive in every sense of the word or are they just living with evil?

Nuclear war may have ended global wars but has devastated so many lives in the process and unlike the initial explosion, the effects linger on for many many years and down through many generations.

This books allows you to experience a part of history by talking to those who were there, who felt every shudder, every blast, every consequence of that horrific day.  Susan sits with you and each of these five survivors in turn and gives a full and heartbreaking account of the impact of war.  They even have a name for these people – those who survived are known as hibakusha (“bomb-affected people”) and seem to live through a sense of shame and the stigma of having survived when so many people did not.

What makes this especially interesting is that of course in the Japan of 1946, the freedom of press or even thought was very different to what it is today and what you might imagine. Such a horrific turn of events and no freedom with which to try and get through it and make sense of it as best a teenager can.

Review

There are some books that you read and remember and others that sear each and every word on your heart. This is definitely both but certainly the second.

Now although I love reading history and about real life war situations, I did come to this thinking that I knew about Nagasaki and wondering what I could really learn afresh. We studied this at University and I’ve read and studied many accounts and interviews. Not like this though. The research is impeccable and I just can’t imagine the effort on behalf of the author and the raw emotions which the survivors had to dig deep to recover.

There are pictures dotted throughout this book but to be honest the real horror is between each and every word. It is an honour to spend time with each of these people and to peer inside their minds and hearts.

An intimate and heartbreaking portrayal of one of the most horrific war times acts and a new insight into what the consequences of this single event had on the teenagers of the day.

Can bombs ever be the answer? They end one war but start quite another.

Author info:

http://www.susansouthard.com/

A is for AFRICA and ASIA….

AFRICA-MAP

Travelling the world with books is interesting and fun and there’s so much to see in even just one continent! Today we look at two..Africa and Asia…since there are so many favourites from this part of the world. Having said that, we are dying to go back via fiction so will be hunting out more and more!

TWO favourites from AFRICA

BOOK

Morocco – Pamela Windo

Need a good travel guide to Morocco? Then look no further that Zohra’s Ladder and other Moroccan Tales by Pamela Windo as she guides us around some of the more lesser known and hidden parts of the country. From the Souk to the Hammam, this is a real insider’s tour…..

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/travel-around-morocco-using-zohras-ladder-by-pamela-windo/

Marrakech

The Saffron Trail by Rosanna Ley

saffron

From Cornwall to exotic Morocco, this is a journey on so many levels as two young women become friends and find that Morocco will change their lives in many very unexpected ways.

Nell has just lost her mum, a mum who has been hiding things from her and which she now wants to find out. She grew up on a  saffron farm in Cornwall and is recently married but her mother’s death haunts her so her husband offers her a trip to Morocco and a cookery course which she uses to explore her past

Amy on the other hand is a photographer who goes to Morocco to capture the sights sounds and smells of an exotic land. Amy is also searching for the truth – this time about a postcard she found on her Aunt Lillian’s mantlepiece from her missing son Glen.

Morocco reveals many secrets thought buried in the sands…

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/the-saffron-trail-from-cornwall-to-exotic-marrakech-rosanna-ley/

TWO favourites from ASIA

Sri Lanka

Tea planterThe Tea Planter’s Wife – Dinah Jefferies

19 year old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married and soon follows her husband to his tea plantation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)

However life there in this hot and humid country is not at all what she expected and her husband seems like a completely different man. Their neighbours are hardly the kind of people she would hope to know and the plantation workers are resentful of their rich bosses and their working conditions. There is tension in the air as well as the sound of birds and the whistling of the wind.

Gwen finds herself alone and so soon starts to explore. What she finds are clues to the past – her husbands past and just what is that overgrown gravestone in the grounds?

Some secrets she is about to find out, don’t stay buried for long.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/ceylon-asia-the-tea-planters-wife-dinah-jefferies/

Phillippines

2015-novel-UK

The Blue by Lucy Clarke

Ever wanted to go sailing with with a group around the Philippines? But how well do you know the others in the crew?

Paradise can suddenly turn very dark indeed.

Now – Lana is in New Zealand when she hears some shocking news – The Blue, the fantastic yacht which she and her friend Kitty joined for the adventure of their lives, has sunk. All crew, Lana’s friends are still missing. What on earth happened and why did Lana leave the yacht a few months ago?

Then – Lana and Kitty join a group of travellers in the Philippines and become part of the elusive crew living and sailing on The Blue. The ocean and islands are their playground, where they stop, fish, live and swim  – a perfect existence and escape from the world.

Nights are spent drinking on deck, navigating the island and having fun. But things soon turn dark and paradise turns sour. The Blue becomes one floating nightmare. Lana becomes desperate to leave.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/the-blue-the-phillippines-and-new-zealand-lucy-clarke/

#DesertIslandreads – #BooksareMyBag

This week sees the start of Books are My Bag week in which books and bookshops are celebrated in style. Guest authors, book giveaways and book chat and that’s just on the booktrail! Head over to @booksaremybag and it’s a true festival of everything we love about bookshops – their importance to the community and the fact that you can lose yourself in one for hours and discover a new place to travel to every time you pick up a book.

We’re taking part this week in the #desertislandreads campaign to share books you would take on a desert island – but being the booktrail we’ve added books set on an island. There are so many great ones out there and we would love to find out yours. So here’s the first two –

small-twitter-banner

Books to read on an island

Time to relax and unwind with your toes in the sand and the wind in your hair on a tropical island somewhere. Like somewhere near Sri Lanka perhaps?

Set in Sri Lanka – The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Tea planter

19 year old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married and soon follows her husband to his tea plantation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). However life there in this hot and humid country is not at all what she expected  – her husband seems like a completely different man, the neighbours are strange and the plantation workers are resentful.There is tension in the air as well as the sound of birds and the whistling of the wind.

Gwen finds herself alone and so soon starts to explore. What she finds are clues to the past – her husbands past and just what is that overgrown gravestone in the grounds?

You will want to be on a desert island when you read this book! Dinah Jefferies really knows how to transport a reader to the places she writes about. It’s visually stunning and immerses you with every one of your senses. Lush!

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/ceylon-asia-the-tea-planters-wife-dinah-jefferies/

Books set on an island

Now if you really want to read on location and read about a real life island survival story then this is recommended since survival is the theme and strength the overall emotion…

Set in The South Atlantic  – How to be Brave by Louise Beech

download (1)

People linked by the power of a story. Natalie has to do what she can to help her young daughter Rose come to  terms with her illness so she starts by sharing the story of Natalie’s grandfather Colin.  He was once adrift on a lifeboat in the middle of an ocean and had to fight for survival. This is the story of bravery in ever sense of the word.

Take tissues with you when  you read this as despite being transported to an island, you will feel the challenges and the fight to survival as well as the heartbreaking emotional tug of the book. Despite the water all around you, you will create a sea with your own tears!

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/middle-of-the-south-atlantic-ocean-how-to-be-brave-louise-beech/

Leave a comment about your favourite desert island read here or via facebook and you can win a desert island package!   https://www.facebook.com/thebooktrail

Rangoon, Burma – The Road to Rangoon – Lucy Cruickshanks

road to rangoon

Why a booktrail?

A story of hope and salvation set against the complex and troubling backdrop of Burma’s turbulent past

Story in a nutshell

1980s Burma

A complex and harrowing time for Burma and its people  A civil war is raging and with many different factions fighting for control, violence and danger are everywhere. The Armed Forces, the Tatmadaw are doing what they can to control and frighten the public into submission. Everyday life is not only impossible but risky and so people are forced into begging and stealing simply to stay alive. One girl Thuza, becomes a a ruby smuggler and she is on a mission to seek revenge for past events – events which have shaped her as the person she has become.

When the Ambassadors son goes missing in such conditions, releasing him is not going to be easy. But for Thuza, this could be her ticket out of poverty. However for a certain military officer, this could also be another opportunity of a rather different kind..

Mogok, Shan State - where the war reaches the mountains RAngoon (Yangon) Where diplomacy is in danger
Mogok, Shan State – where the war reaches the mountains
Rangoon (Yangon)
Where diplomacy is in danger

“In Myanmar there are big animals an there are small animals. The government are big animals and we are small animals”

The author’s note describes the setting in one easy quote – giving an insight into the country and the situation faced by its people. It’s still not easy to have a conversation about the country she says, as it remains a frightening place for many..where “rumour and suspicion are powerful kings”.

Mogok, Shan State 1974

The story starts in Shan State where we meet Thuza who is living there with her family.  The battles for land, money and power had steadily grown in strength and force so that even the mountains in Shan state and the town of Mogok are now affected. Everyone lives in a constant state of fear, surrounded by land mines. Thuza experiences the kind of heartbreak and destruction no one ever should have to experience, least of all a very young child. Heartbreaking scenes of violence and destruction.

Rangoon nine years later

The situation in Burma is just as dangerous nine years later it would seem. Rebels are in control and are decimating the country of its natural resources which would ultimately give it wealth and enough food for its people. But power seems to be the only currency here now.

When his son Michael visits him, the country is in turmoil and the cultural differnces between his home the UK and Burma are stark-

The poverty

Thuza’s journey from absolute poverty in the Shan State and her experiences with what happened to her family are her overriding reason for what she does next in life Smuggling rubies is her way out. Her brother is one of the many who fight for independence and ultimately for freedom. Such is the choice in the lives of the people here.

The military side

The military are there to do whatever it takes to force the people into cowered determination. Than is merely one cog in a very big and powerful wheel which will crush anything and everything in its path. His desire to rise through the ranks comes above all else and he will do, well make other people do, anything to get what he wants.

Review – Susan

For someone who knew relatively nothing of the situation in Burma, this book is a real eye opener! The author note at the back was very useful and I would recommend that you read this first as it really helps set the scene as it were to better understand the events which follow.

This is quite a harrowing read in parts as people fear for their lives and the everyday is all just about trying to survive. Imagine living under such fear and not only from the obvious enemy but from your neighbour or man on the street who could just as easily betray you.

The story of the situation from three very different sets of eyes was interesting – from the poverty and violence from someone who suffered it to someone who helped meter it out, and then from the diplomatic arena…and the many grey areas in a war that was anything but black and white.

Lucy has done a great deal of timeless and detailed research and I can’t imagine what else she probably found that she couldn’t include – events, photos and notes which have evidently coloured the entire book and made it one heck on an insight into a better understanding of Burmese history.

Ceylon, Asia – The Tea Planter’s Wife – Dinah Jefferies

Tea planter

Why a book trail?

Dinah Jefferies really knows how to transport a reader to the places she writes about. And this tale set on a tea plantation in old Ceylon is visually stunning….

Story in a nutshell

England

19 year old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married and soon follows her husband to his tea plantation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)

However life there in this hot and humid country is not at all what she expected and her husband seems like a completely different man. Their neighbours are hardly the kind of people she would hope to know and the plantation workers are resentful of their rich bosses and their working conditions. There is tension in the air as well as the sound of birds and the whistling of the wind.

Gwen finds herself alone and so soon starts to explore. What she finds are clues to the past – her husbands past and just what is that overgrown gravestone in the grounds?

Some secrets she is about to find out, don’t stay buried for long.

Place and setting

The teardrop shaped island that was Ceylon (Present Day Sri Lanka)
The teardrop shaped island that was Ceylon (Present Day Sri Lanka)
Colombo - The Galle Face Hotel http://www.gallefacehotel.com/ Gwen arrives in Colombo and the first place she goes to is The Galle Face Hotel, a gorgeous old-fashioned colonial hotel Hooper’s Plantation near Hatton  (fictional) http://www.teatrails.com/bungalows Gwen lives at a plantation beside a lake surrounded by luminous green tea fields. Their colonial bungalow is actually on two floors and very luxurious.  Nuwara Eliya The ball, where she  and her cousin Fran, meet up with the disconcerting Savi Ravasinghe and dance the Charleston takes place in Nuwara Eliya. From the plantation you can see the hills of Nuwara Eliya in the distance.
Colombo – The Galle Face Hotel
http://www.gallefacehotel.com/
Gwen arrives in Colombo and the first place she goes to is The Galle Face Hotel, a gorgeous old-fashioned colonial hotel
Hooper’s Plantation near Hatton (fictional)
http://www.teatrails.com/bungalows
Gwen lives at a plantation beside a lake surrounded by luminous green tea fields. Their colonial bungalow is actually on two floors and very luxurious.
Nuwara Eliya
The ball, where she and her cousin Fran, meet up with the disconcerting Savi Ravasinghe and dance the Charleston takes place in Nuwara Eliya. From the plantation you can see the hills of Nuwara Eliya in the distance.

Ceylon in the early 1900s

As Gwen settles into her new home, she soon discovers that life in Ceylon is quite different from what she has known back in England. Afraid and shy about the world around her and her new role, she starts of her new life in this strange and distant land of Ceylon, a major trading centre for the tea trade at the time.

And it all started so well-

With her straw hat in one hand, Gwen leant against the salty railings and glanced down again. She’s been watching the shifting colour of the sea for an our, racing the shreds of paper, the curls of orange peel and the leaves drifting by.

There on the docks she meets the mysterious stranger with ‘ a strong nose and glittering caramel eyes’ a Sinhalese artist, Savi Ravasinghe, who proceeds to be someone significant in the story later on. But the harbour there with its smells and bustling streets, creates and adds to the young brides nerves. Culture shock with all the senses.

The Plantation is a stunningly beautiful place and you can smell the scent of tea in the air as Dinah guides you around –

They’d arrive at the plantation in the hill country the night before just as the sun went down…

She took a deep breath when she looked out onto the first morning of her new world an blinking in the brightness, reeled at the barrage of buzzing, whistling and chirping that filled the air.

This world is visually stunning and evoked with each one of the five senses – from the flower-filled gardens to the shining lake and the grapefruit tree, this seems like paradise. But the small and hidden grave hides the threat of secrets yet to emerge.

Paradise may not be all it seems

As well as the background to the story, we are fully immersed into the days of the tea trade at their peak. The plantations and the backbreaking work of the staff, the relationship between rich owners and poor workers and the expectations of what life for Gwen should be.

Culturally and visually stunning. Read the film in your mind’s eye for it tells of a fascinating culture and time with a great mystery at its core.

All photos courtesy of Dinah Jefferies
All photos courtesy of Dinah Jefferies

Review

I love Dinah’s writing as she notices and evokes the most magical detail in every ‘scene’. This book deserves to be a film for the stunning backdrop and for the setting on a tea plantation which was a new literary landscape to me and one which I found very fascinating. The real world of the tea trade is well illustrated as the hardships of the workers and the brutality and attitude of some of the owners. Poor Gwen at the centre of it all – you see everything here through her eyes and her lack of maturity at times and sense of loss adds to your opinion of the place and what happens later.

The customs and racial issues that separate the owners from the plantation workers are one of the most fascinating parts of the book. I loved the mystery of Gwen and her husband’s past and combined with the setting, the threads of mystery were carefully interwoven.

Laurence’s sister, Verity, comes to the island and she is a character I will never forget for her sheer ability to interfere in every part of Gwen’s life. And that American lady? I felt as annoyed as Gwen did.

I would love to meet the Sinhalese artist, Savi Ravasinghe however for he was intriguing and showed you a new side to events which occurred.

Stunning, highly evocative of location and a very recommended read!

Tasting the best tea there is – Dinah Jefferies and the Tea Planter’s Wife

What better author to have a cuppa and a cake with than Dinah Jefferies who has written a novel set on a tea plantation. How very apt! And an excuse to get some of the most perfect tea I’ve ever tasted. Ah Dinah transports you to a place via all manner of ways….

Hi Dinah

Dinah Jefferies
Dinah Jefferies

The story of The Tea Planters Wife is one about love and loss, and moving to a new country. The sense of feeling alone that Gwendolyn experiences is heartbreaking. Can you tell us more about her?

Gwen is only nineteen at the start of the novel, and arrives in Ceylon full of youthful idealism and hope for the future. She comes from Owltree Manor in Gloucestershire (inspired by lovely Owlpen Manor near Uley http://www.owlpen.com/) and until now has never been abroad. Her story begins in 1925, ninety years ago, when things were so different for women. We didn’t even have the vote! At her new home she quickly senses her husband is keeping something from her and that there are secrets at the plantation. It’s only when she explores on her own that she finds clues to the past – including an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult. But that’s just the start; as her story unfolds she is faced with a terrible choice no mother should have to make. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, it almost breaks her. Almost but not quite…

You evoke the time and place so well and so vividly. Which memories and experiences do you use and what kind of research did you do?

Gwen's colonial house (c) Dinah Jefferies
Gwen’s colonial house (c) Dinah Jefferies

The idea for The Tea Planter’s Wife was triggered by listening to my mother-in-law’s stories about life on tea plantations in Ceylon and India. Once I have the key idea, I start by reading history books, articles on the internet and novels – anything I can lay my hands. I make tons of notes while I’m doing it, though I often don’t look at them again, but the act of writing helps fix the time and place in my mind. I look at YouTube and love watching films set in the country. For The Tea Planter’s Wife I travelled to Sri Lanka and stayed at a tea planter’s bungalow, beside a lake in the misty hill country. It’s very similar to the setting of Hooper’s Plantation in the novel. It felt like going back in time and really helped me get a sense of how life must have been for the privileged British who lived there.

Ceylon seems like a dream as it must have done to Gwendolyn at first. Can you tell us more about it?

Map of Ceylon from first part of 20th century (C) Dinah Jefferies
Map of Ceylon from first part of 20th century (C) Dinah Jefferies

It’s shaped like a pearl and was extremely unspoilt and beautiful. Sri Lanka, as it is now known, is still gorgeous. I tried to make it as dreamy and seductive as I could, because that’s how Gwen would have seen it, and I wanted the reader to experience it just the way Gwen does. Of course, during the time that the book takes place, 1925-1934, Ceylon was beginning to change. It was a British colony and, after a period of upheaval when there were strikes and many negotiations, independence was finally granted in 1948. 

Where did Sinhalese artist, Savi Ravasinghe come from? Is he just from your imagination or did you conjure him from your research?

Savi is pure imagination. He popped into my mind fully formed and would not leave. I think I’d like to write a book all about him one day. Funnily enough, after I’d written the story I did read about a group of influential Sri Lankan artists who existed at that time.

It’s an epic tale – how racism and prejudice was dealt with at the time is fascinating to see. It was a difficult time for most wasn’t it and so being a young white woman there must have been even more so.

The white women of Gwen’s class were hugely protected from the difficulties many of the population faced. They were rich, indulged and often very snobbish. You only have to listen to recorded voices from that period to hear their underlying sense of superiority and entitlement. I didn’t want Gwen to be like that and I’m sure not everyone was. But the depths of racism in the colonial world is deeply shocking to a modern reader, so I had to tone it down a bit, though it is prejudice that lies at the heart of the book. Most of all isolation would have been hardest and learning how to cope with what would have seemed an alien world. In addition to that, they didn’t have modern medical facilities and I guess many of their children would have died. They couldn’t phone home or travel easily so they were often very cut off and lonely.

What is your favourite kind of tea?

Perfect tea to be enjoyed with this fragrant and sumptuous read (c) thebooktrail
Perfect tea to be enjoyed with this fragrant and sumptuous read
(c) thebooktrail

Oh dear! Good quality builder’s tea – but, of course, it must come from Ceylon.

With many thanks to the wonderful Dinah Jefferies for her fascinating answers and wonderful book. This is a treat on so many levels and Booktrail recommended! Also a Richard and Judy read dontcha know 😉

Dinah Jefferies – http://www.dinahjefferies.com/

Twitter – @DinahJefferies

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/dinahjefferiesbooks

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra – Mumbai (Bombay) – India – Vaseem Khan

elepahant

Why a booktrail?

Mumbai, murder and a baby elephant…..

Story in a peanutshell…

Inspector Ashwin Chopra  is due to retire this very day from the Mumbai police department so he’s not expecting to have any more cases to solve before he goes. But then two mysteries fall right into his lap – luckily not literarily as one of them is a baby elephant. The first mystery however is a drowned little boy whose death is suspicious and who no one seems bothered to solve.

But Chopra is not having any of it, and last day or not, he’s going to get to the bottom of it. So he trawls the city of Mumbai looking for clues –  with a baby elephant named Ganesh as his sidekick..

Place and setting

Sahar Rd Where the street vendors hang out Andheri - Kurla Rd A street known for the large multinationals in the city Dharavi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India The Kala Qila area of the slum, Chopra knew, was famed for its leather shops. Leatherwork ....was one of the oldest industries in Dhavari The Marol pipeline There is a slum which runs alongside this road. Carter road “Carter Road was a place where everybody came”
Sahar Rd
Where the street vendors hang out
Andheri – Kurla Rd
A street known for the large multinationals in the city
Dharavi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
“The Kala Qila area of the slum, Chopra knew, was famed for its leather shops. Leatherwork ….was one of the oldest industries in Dhavari”
The Marol pipeline
There is a slum which runs alongside this road.
Carter road
“Carter Road was a place where everybody came”

It was the hottest summer in Mumbai for more than twenty years. And for the second year in a row the monsoon had failed to arrive on cue

This is a  Mumbai which is sweaty, noisy, chaotic, vibrant and teaming with a number of characters and colours –

Auto-rickshaws buzzed through the dusty urban maze….

This is the Mumbai of Inspector Chopra. A soon to be retired inspector with a baby elephant as a sidekick? Only in India and perfect for India! As Chopra trawls the city looking for clues into the murder of a man, it’s the elephant which takes centre stage.

At first Chopra doesn’t really know what to do with an elephant. What use can it be to him? Why would he want one? But Ganesh has a way of endearing himself to Chopra and before long, this is one duo that is as unique as the colourful Mumbai setting.

The more serious of the mysteries is about a dead man – Santosh Achrekar –  and a promise made to Santosh’s mum makes him trawl the streets of the city from the city slums to the teeming town centre.

As the mystery darkens, the colourful descriptions of Mumbai life and little Ganesh shine ever brighter as he becomes one of the family –

Without taking their eyes from the screen, both his wife and the little elephant would lift chips from the bowl and insert them into their mouths

The overall investigation deals with a multitude of evils which pervade the chaotic, messy and  noisy underworld of India.

Booktrailer Review – Susan

Well what can I say. The setting, the characters and the way in which they jump off the page  – ‘the gaggle of sweating citizenry’ , or ‘Mumbai’s pavementless streets’ is just a joy to read. Chopra is an intriguing character – often melancholy and what the poor man has to put up with on his last day at work! He sniffs his food as a ritual since he has an aversion to ginger – it’s these little quirks that made me picture the man as if he was stood right beside me.

The hot humid streets make you grateful that this book is such a page turner as they provided a welcome breeze as the action ramped up and the ‘bovine press of bodies’ continued to squash the words together. It was that realistic I swear I had to wipe my brow on more than one occasion or prepare to hold my nose when Ganesh appeared on the page.

Aah Ganesh. I do love you. You make the world a better place. Chopra loves his city of Mumbai and now he has you. If you ever want a holiday though – the door of booktrail towers is always open. And there’s as much straw and elephant food as you want.

The Lie – Wales and Nepal – C L Taylor

The LIE

Why a booktrail?

What could be more relaxing that a girlie trip away with friends to a retreat up high on a mountain in Nepal? Well, anything as it turns out…as things soon descend into a nightmare…can you really trust your friends? And just what is this place?

Story in a nutshell 

I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane goes on holiday with friends on what should have been the trip of a lifetime  but it was a trip that rapidly descended into a nightmare claiming the lives of two of them.

So who is Jane Hughes really and who is now not only looking for her but looking to destroy her?

Place and setting

Wales - Aberdare The shelter where Janeworks is in Bude, nr Aberdare in Wales England - Newcastle university - where the girls meet Nepal Kathmandu  the capital, has a mazelike old quarter filled with Hindu and Buddhist shrines. Chitwan Anapura range where the girls are headed to
Wales – Aberdare
The shelter where Janeworks is in Bude, nr Aberdare in Wales
England – Newcastle university – where the girls meet
Nepal
Kathmandu
the capital, has a maze-like old quarter filled with Hindu and Buddhist shrines.
Chitwan
Anapura range
where the girls are headed to

From Newcastle to Nepal, this is the story of four friends who meet in the northern city at the university there and keep in touch as they move to London for work. All stuck in jobs they don’t seem to like very much, they cling on to their friendship and even start planning a holiday to get away from it all.

Nepal is the destination of choice – and a retreat in Nepal – Ekanta yatra – seems to be the ideal place to forget about things for a while. But its here that only two return..

At first Nepal sounds ideal –

There’s an amazing retreat in the mountains called Ekanta Yatra. My yoga teacher told me all about it”

We could spend a day in Kathmandu then do two weeks at the retreat, then we could fly to a place called Chitwan and go on a jungle safari. It would be the adventure of a lifetime”

However, the account of what happens in Nepal is pretty graphic and horrific and so vividly described, that there are images and sights and smells that will stay with you for a long time to come.

The holiday descends into madness and horror for what is on that mountain and what happens on that mountain – no one can really be sure. but the desire to escape is the one which drives them. The isolation, the mountain ranges with hard to access paths, the retreat and the steep climb, the cabins in the woods, it would seem as if once you’re there, there really is no easy way to leave…

At the top of a mountain in the middle of Nepal, no one can hear you scream..

Many years later and the two survivors are no longer in touch with each other. One now works in Wales, at a sanctuary for animals which seems as much as one for them as it is for her. Green Fields is a tranquil place about to become a lot less so –

“I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .”

Review – Susan at @thebooktrailer

Well now Ms Taylor, I think there should be a warning on your books as I’ve barely slept a wink after reading this! Yes it’s that good with the thrills and the spills that I m still thinking about it now. The four friends, the lies, time passing, people pretending and living a ‘normal’ life until that crashes around them, and a holiday that turned to disaster – the stories and characters are woven with such skill that I wanted to know them and wanted to escape them all at once.

The holiday in Nepal was reminiscent of The Beach – a secret paradise and a time that no one would forget. well, be careful what you wish for as this side of Nepal was shocking and chilling. Its effects echo throughout the book and provide the ideal contrast to small unassuming Wales and the next part of the story.

Although a rollercoaster of a ride is somewhat of a cliche – this does describe this book for all its shocks and surprises. Congratulations Miss Taylor, you’ve done it again and made this reader very excited about what you produce next!