4*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour #BookReview One Little Lie by Sam Carrington. @Sabah_K @AvonBooksUK @sam_carrington1 #OneLittleLie #book

One Little Lie Blog Tour

My Review:

One Little Lie is told to us by a number of characters, quite a few characters, with different chapters told by different characters. I like this method of storytelling but sometimes it makes the book a bit disjointed and confusing.

I’m not great with names and so sometimes I struggle when there are too many character names as I can’t remember who they all are and so it takes the first part of each chapter to remind me who is talking and what they’re doing.

One Little Lie has many narrators, I would say too many but each of them play an important part to the story and I couldn’t imagine any of them being left out. Some have more to say than others, but all are part of the puzzle.

I have to admit that I have never really given much thought to what the parents of a murderer must feel, I’ve fleetingly thought of it, especially when there have been mass school shootings in America, but it isn’t something that I tend to dwell on. But this book made me think about it.

I know when there are murders many people say that we should talk about the victim and not the murderer, and I definitely agree with that, but how would it feel to be the victims mother, your son murdered in a brutal and painful way, but all the focus is on the boy who did it and his parents? Your son seems to be forgotten but then that mother wants to make amends for what her son did and asks for forgiveness.

One Little Lie is a twisty read, what you think is happening might not be what is really happening, and are people who they seem? I think that the story is a clever one, there’s lots to like and the pace is fast with short chapters, but something was missing with it, somehow it all didn’t quite fit. I enjoyed reading, I wanted to finish it so that I could find out how it was all going to end and that is a sure sign of a decent read. But this book was so very nearly brilliant, and it’s a shame that it didn’t quite get there. But it so nearly did.

Thank you to Avon Books for a copy of One Little Lie by Sam Carrington. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

onelittlelie‘My name is Alice. And my son is a murderer.’

Deborah’s son was killed four years ago. Alice’s son is in prison for committing that crime.

Deborah would give anything to have her boy back, and Alice would do anything to right her son’s wrongs.

Driven by guilt and the need for redemption, Alice has started a support group for parents with troubled children. But as the network begins to grow, she soon finds out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control…

They call it mother’s intuition, but can you ever really know your own child?

A twisty and unnerving story about the price of motherhood and the unthinkable things we do to protect our children. Perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Laura Marshall.

‘Sam Carrington has done it again. One Little Lie is a twisty, gripping read that deserves to fly. I loved it.’ Cass Green, bestselling author of In a Cottage In a Wood

About The Author:

samcarringtonSam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for 15 years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. SAVING SOPHIE was her debut psychological thriller novel and became a #1 ebook bestseller, her second, BAD SISTER is out now. ONE LITTLE LIE follows in July 2018 (ebook) September (paperback).

One Little Lie by Sam Carrington is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4.5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour #BookReview Do No Harm by LV Hay. @LucyVHayAuthor @OrendaBooks #DoNoHarm #TillDeathDoUsPart

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My Review:

Do No Harm by LV Hay tells the story of Lily and her husband Sebastian. But Sebastian is not Lily’s first husband, that was Maxwell, a controlling doctor who does not want Lily to be with anyone other than him. Preventing Lily from cutting all ties with her ex is their son, Denny who is six.

Maxwell causes a lot of stress for Lily and Sebastian but can they find a way to stop Maxwell from sabotaging everything? It doesn’t take long before the marriage is being pushed to its limits, between Lily’s ex and Sebastian’s poorly mother life is anything but simple for the newlyweds.

The story is told to us by Sebastian and Lily in alternating chapters. This works well as we get to know what each of them in thinking and how they are reacting to the events happening around them.

I really don’t want to give too much away but this book kept me holding my breath wondering what was going to happen and when Lily and Sebastian would finally realise what was going on. I did get a bit frustrated at them, they made some silly decisions and between them failed to work out what was going on and how to deal with it together.

The characters were definitely flawed but they felt pretty real too, and although I had worked out who was doing it all I still enjoyed reading the book and thought that the ending was great. LV Hay doesn’t take the obvious path with her stories, something that I really admire, and this makes her books interesting and thought provoking.

Thank you to Orenda Books for a copy of Do No Harm by LV Hay. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

D0_NO_HARM_COVER (1)Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…
Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

About The Author:

Lucy Hay author photoLucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017.

 

Do No Harm by LV Hay is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, psychological thriller

#BlogTour #BookReview Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan. @Sabah_k @AvonBooksUK #HerNameWasRose @ClaireAllan #book

3

My Review:

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book, I like reading books without reading the blurb, or when I read the blurb so long ago that I’ve forgotten it and just know that I want to read the book.

The book starts off brilliantly with an intense scene where Emily sees a woman hit by a car and killed instantly. It sucked me right into the story and I was excited about where the story was going to go next.

Seeing something so horrific will mess anyone up right? But as the book progresses I became unsure of Emily and quite how stable she was. Her way of thinking about things and events seemed so unlike that of people around her so it wasn’t clear who was telling us an accurate account, if anyone was.

When Emily steps into the life of Rose, the woman that she had seen killed, we know that it can’t be a good thing. She’s so desperate for friendship and love, but will that make her blind to what is really going on?

At times I felt frustrated with Emily, she really was incredibly naive, but had she finally found people that cared about her for who she was? People that would finally help her move on with her survivors guilt and the mess that she got herself into?

I really liked how some of the characters in Her Name Was Rose developed, small characters became big characters, nice characters became bad and bad became good. It was cleverly written and played out.

I didn’t really like Emily and I felt that the ending was just a tad too obvious, but I really enjoyed reading My Name Is Rose and I know that this book will appeal to many readers. It certainly appealed to me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Avon Books for a copy of Her Name was Rose by Claire Allan. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

hernamewasrose

This new Irish voice is bursting onto the scene with her first foray into the thriller genre. This promises to be one of the most exciting debuts of 2018. Perfect for fans of Lianne Moriarty, B. A. Paris, Gillian Flynn and Marian Keyes.

 Her name was Rose. You watched her die. And her death has created a vacancy.

When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.

And then she makes a decision she can never take back.

Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?

But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

About the author: 

claireallan

A former journalist and columnist, Claire Allan has been writing fiction since 2006.

An Irish Times bestseller, she has tackled issues from post-natal depression, infertility, and dementia through to writing a based-on-a-true-story book about a couple reunited after 50 years apart. She has now decided to unleash her dark side!

Married with two children, two cats and a mad puppy she is happiest lost in a good book. She has kissed Michael Buble.

Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

blog tours, book review

#BlogTour #BookReview The New Girl by Ingrid Alexandra. @ingridwrites @sabah_k @AvonBooksUK #bookblogger #book

The New Girl Blog Tour Banner

My Review:

The New Girl is one of those books where the blurb doesn’t really fit the book, actually remove the word really from that sentence as it doesn’t fit at all.

But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless you loved the sound of the blurb I suppose. There is no mention of the book being set in Sydney, something that I really liked and from reading other reviews I am not alone with that. The setting doesn’t have a big role, but I still enjoyed the walks on the beach.

The main character, Mary, is an interesting character. If you like your characters to be unreliable witnesses then Mary is for you. She is so very unreliable and as a reader I was never quite sure whether she was completely insane, mentally ill or a pathological liar. I also spent the whole of the book thinking that the name Mary just didn’t fit the character.

Mary’s relationship with her oldest friend Cat was complex and at times confusing, was she good or bad? Did she really have Mary’s interests at heart?

And then there’s Rachel, a character that comes in late but quickly becomes an important character, but is she who she seems?

So you might be getting the fact that the reader doesn’t really know what is going on and who is who for a good chunk of the book, it is full of unreliable characters and slow reveals. The start of The New Girl grabbed me, I was sucked right in and desperate to find out more, I did feel that the book lost its way a bit in the middle and was trying to juggle too many things, but I still wanted to keep reading so that I could find out what was really going on.

There’s a big twist at the end, one that you might have worked out already, or partly so, but that isn’t always a bad thing. There are, however, quite a few plot holes and loose ends that aren’t tied up or explained. I think that the book would have benefited from a shorter middle and a longer, less rushed, end.

The New Girl by Ingrid Alexandra is an interesting read, it is a shame that the blurb isn’t truer to the actual book but it is a quick and easy read and one that I’m pleased that I read.

Thank you to Netgalley and Avon Books for a copy of The New Girl by Ingrid Alexandra, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

thenewgirlYou’ve only just met.

But she already knows you so well.

When Rachel moves into the spare room in Mary’s flat, everyone is quick to jump to the conclusion that there’s something strange about her. Everyone apart from Mary.

And when Rachel starts sleepwalking, everyone’s fears grow. But there’s something about the new girl that Mary can’t help but trust, and having recently escaped a toxic relationship, she needs the support.

Rachel becomes a friend and an ally, and Mary soon discovers that they have more in common than she ever could have imagined.

In fact, Rachel seems to know more about Mary than she knows about herself…

About The Author:

ingridalexandra2Ingrid Alexandra is based in Sydney. Her work has previously been long-listed for The Ampersand Prize and while living in London, Ingrid had the privilege of being mentored by the Guardian First Novel Award shortlisted and Nestle Prize winning author Daren King. THE NEW GIRL is her first psychological thriller novel.

 

The New Girl by Ingrid Alexandra is out now on ebook and is available from Amazon UK. It will be released in paperback in October 2018.

blog tours, guest post

#BlogTour #GuestPost Now You See Her by Heidi Perks @arrowpublishing @HeidiPerksBooks #NowYouSeeHer #booksuggestions

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I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for Now You See Her by Heidi Perks. I really, really want to read this book but I just couldn’t squeeze it in in time for this post, so instead Heidi Perks has written a fabulous guest post about inspiring books that she’s read lately. I’ve read some of them and have to agree that they’re great books so I’m going to add the others to my tbr pile!

Five Books That Have Recently Inspired Me

I’ve always been a prolific reader, something I believe has undoubtedly helped me develop my own writing. I like to know what’s current in my genre – who the bestselling authors are and what topics they are writing about – but I also learn a lot from their style and characterisation.

As a child I devoured Enid Blyton and fell in love with the book, The Last Of The Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Edwards. Having recently read this and The Castle of Adventure to my children I’m certain my love of writing is rooted in my eight-year-old self. In my twenties I was blown away by Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper. This was the type of book I wanted to write too, I realised, though it wouldn’t be for another ten years that I finally started writing seriously.

Since then I read differently. I can still fall deeply into a story but often I find myself wondering about why the author chose certain techniques. Then sometimes I’ll take away something that helps me develop my own writing. Here are five books that have shaped the way I write:

The Dry by Jane Harper. I read this while I was well into round three of edits with my agent, Nelle Andrew. I could see straight away Jane Harper has an incredible skill for writing but what hit me most was her frugality with words. Her story was concise, there were no unnecessary sentences and as soon as I put the book down I went back to the start of mine and began the round of edits again, this time peeling back until I was happy that I was only saying what needed to be said.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Moriarty has a magical way of making her characters leap off the page in all her books. I read Big Little Lies at the point when I started writing Now You See Her and it taught me how effective a well-drawn character can be. Getting to know your own – their reactions and what makes them tick – is paramount. You might want your characters to surprise your reader but it shouldn’t be because they’re inconsistent.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman. If you want to cast one hundred characters in your book and you need each of them to earn their place on the page then this is a book you should read. I have nowhere near as many characters as there are residents of Beartown and I’m pretty sure if I did I wouldn’t be able to write them half as effectively as Backman. But what I took from this book was that you can create an effective picture of every secondary character in as a little as a couple of lines.

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton. I read this a while ago but it has stayed with me ever since. I have no interest in visiting the Alaskan wilderness in the depths of winter but the book was so atmospheric I felt the icy coldness embedding into my bones even though I was reading it in summer.

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon. I love a book with different time frames or points of voice because I find it gives the story more perspective. This is why I decided to use both in Now You See Her. While I flash forward two weeks, in Seddon’s book she flashes back to years before and what she creates so effectively is two more or less standalone stories that are then entwined to create an enthralling book.

Blurb:

Now You See Her Hi-Res Cover ImageCharlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.
Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

Someone is hiding the truth about what really happened to Alice.

About The Author:

20151120_Heidi-Perks_015Heidi Perks was born in 1973. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and two children.
Heidi graduated from Bournemouth University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then enjoyed a career in Marketing before leaving in 2012 to focus on both bringing up her family and writing.
She successfully applied for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course and after that dedicated her time to completing this, her first novel.
She has a huge interest in what makes people tick and loves to write about family relationships, especially where some of the characters are slightly dysfunctional.

Now You See Her by Heidi Parks is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, psychological thriller

#BlogTour #BookReview The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite. @BCopperthwait @bookouture #Bookblogger

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My Review:

Regular readers of my little blog will know how much I like author Barbara Copperthwaite. I love how her books all feature such realistic characters, allowing the reader to get right into the story and feel it along with the characters. It keeps the reader emotionally invested in the story and desperate to find out what will happen.

Alex is a funny character, we know that she has anorexia and she sees a counsellor regularly, as well as having checks and weigh ins. We know that her husband divorced her and that her children barely speak to her, but we don’t know why. And we know that Alex goes to a support group, and that is where she meets Carrie.

Carrie is younger than Alex but they quickly become good friends, although Alex can’t help but feel maternal towards Carrie. When Carrie gets some bad news Alex is determined that she will be there to support Carrie and takes on a real responsibility, but will this prove to be too much for the fragile Alex.

And what is Alex hiding? We know that her counsellor wants her to talk about something, something that Alex refuses to discuss. What is she hiding? And is she the only one hiding something?

The Perfect Friend is a clever novel, even the twists have twists which I love in a book. It’s a clever concept and I really enjoyed reading The perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite. Now I will wait for her to write another book.

Thank you to Bookouture for a copy of The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

The-Perfect-Friend-KindleShe’ll do anything for you…

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.
My husband has left me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My friend Carrie is the only person I have.
She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.
She’d never do anything  to let me down.
Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed DoorsSometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.

About the Author:

barbaracopperthwaite
Barbara is the Amazon and USA Today bestselling author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE, FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD, THE DARKEST LIES, and HER LAST SECRET. Her latest book is THE PERFECT FRIEND.

More importantly, she loves cakes, wildlife photography and, last but definitely not least, her two dogs, Scamp and Buddy (who force her to throw tennis balls for them for hours).
​​
Having spent over twenty years as a national newspaper and magazine journalist, Barbara has interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. She is fascinated by creating realistic, complex characters, and taking them apart before the readers’ eyes in order to discover just how much it takes to push a person over a line.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraCopperthwaite

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCopperthwait

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author_barbara_copperthwaite/

Website: www.barbaracopperthwaite.com

The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite is out now and available from Amazon   mybook.to/TPFBCSocial

blog tours, book extract, debut author, extract

#BlogTour #Extract Song by Michelle Jana Chan @michellejchan @unbounders #song #blogtour #RandomThingsTour

songblogtour

How amazing is this cover?!! I couldn’t resist it so I’m happy to close the blog tour for Song by  Michelle Jana Chan with an extract.

Blurb:

Song Cover ImageOpening in the mid-nineteenth-century, this dazzling debut novel traces the voyage of Song, a boy who leaves his impoverished family in rural China to seek his fortune. Song may have survived the perilous journey to the colony of British Guiana in the Caribbean, but once there he discovers riches are hard to come by, as he finds himself working as an indentured plantation worker.

Between places, between peoples, and increasingly aware that circumstances of birth carry more weight than accomplishments or good deeds, Song fears he may live as an outsider forever. This is a far-reaching and atmospheric story spanning nearly half a century and half the globe, and though it is set in the past, Song’s story of emigration and the quest for opportunity is, in many ways, a very contemporary tale.

Extract:

Lishui Village, China, 1878At first they were glad the rains came early. They had already finished their planting and the seedlings were beginning to push through. The men and women of Lishui straightened their backs, buckled from years of labouring, led the buffalo away and waited for the fields to turn green. With such early rains there might be three rice harvests if the weather continued to be clement. But they quickly lost hope of that the sun did not emerge to bronze the crop. Instead the clouds hung heavy. More rain beat down upon an already sodden earth and lakes were born where even the old people said they could not remember seeing standing water. The Li rose higher and higher. Every morning the men of the village walked to the river to watch the water lap at its banks like flames. Sometimes they stood there for hours, their faces as grey as the at slate light. Still the rain fell, yet no one cared about their clothes becoming wet or the nagging coughs the chill brought on. Occasionally a man lifted his arm to wipe his face. But mostly they stood still like figures in a painting, staring upstream, watching the water barrel down, bulging under its own mass.

Before the end of the week the Li had spilled over its banks. A few days later the water had covered the footpaths and cart tracks, spreading like a tide across the land and sweeping away all the new shoots of newly planted rice. Further upstream the river broke up carts, bamboo bridges and outbuildings; it knocked over vats of clean water and seeped beneath the doors of homes. Carried on its swirling currents were splintered planks of wood, rotting food, and shreds of sacking and rattan. Song awoke to feel the straw mat wet beneath him. He reached out his hand. e water was gently rising and ebbing as if it was breathing. His brother Xiao Bo was crying in his sleep. The little boy had rolled off his mat and was lying curled up in the water. He was hugging his knees as if to stop himself from floating away.

Song’s father was not home yet. He and the other men had been working through the night trying to raise walls of mud and rein back the river’s strength. But the earthen barriers washed away even as they built them; they could only watch, hunched over their shovels. The men did not return that day. As the hours passed the women grew anxious. They stopped by each other’s homes, asking for news, but nobody had anything to say. Song’s mother Zhang Je was short with the children. The little ones whimpered, sensing something was wrong.

Song huddled low with his sisters and brothers around the smoking re which sizzled and spat but gave o no heat. They had wedged among the rewood an iron bowl but the rice inside was not warming. at was all they had le to eat now. Xiao Wan curled up closer to Song. His little brother followed him every- where nowadays. His sisters Xiao Mei and San San sat opposite him, adding wet wood to the re and poking at the ash with a stick. His mother stood in the doorway, the silhouette of Xiao Bo strapped to her back and her large rounded stomach tight with child.

The children dipped their hands into the bowl, squeezing grains of rice together, careful not to take more than their share. Song was trying to feed Xiao Wan but he was too weak even to swallow. e little boy closed his eyes and rested his head in Song’s lap, wheezing with each breath. Their mother continued to look out towards the fields, waiting, with Xiao Bo’s head slumped unnaturally to the side as he slept.

‘I don’t think they’re coming back.’

Song could barely hear what his mother was saying.

‘They’re too late,’ she muttered.

Song wasn’t sure if she was talking to him. ‘

Mama?’

Her voice was more brisk. ‘They’re not coming back, I said.’

Song didn’t reply. He looked across at his sisters, who were continuing to push squashed grains of cold rice into their mouths. Song’s breathing quickened, losing its rhythm. He felt his body tighten. Lying across Song’s lap, Xiao Wan woke up and started to cry.

That night Song slept on the wet woven matting between his sisters and brothers, and dreamed of a place far away which resembled land but in fact was a gigantic lake whose surface was covered in broken rice shoots. At first it seemed beautiful. But then in Song’s mind he saw the bloated bodies floating face up and staring wide- eyed at something beyond the cloudless blue sky.

Song woke with a jolt and tried to shut out the image. He pressed himself closer against the bodies of Xiao Wan and San San. their skin was cold. Song reached his arm across San San’s waist and realised how thin she had become. He could hear Xiao Bo moaning in his sleep. Song stared up at the underside of the roof above him. In the darkness he could just make out the curves and ridges of the pottery tiles. Another land began to appear in his mind, this time protected by giant roof tiles ten times as big as the ones above him, keeping everyone dry, allowing them all to scramble up to safety.

Song sat upright and shook himself. e night was quiet except for the heavy breathing of his family.

Xiao Mei had a raw cough, but it didn’t wake her. Xiao Bo continued to moan rhythmically in his sleep. He was too small to pretend he wasn’t hungry. Song had been pretending ever since he could remember. Taking less than his share. Knowing that he, the eldest, at the age of nine, was stronger than his sisters and brothers.

‘Song’ll make it,’ he had once overheard his mother tell his father. ‘He came to us in a good year. Not like his sisters and brothers. They were born at the wrong time.’

Song shivered in the cold damp room. It was then that he remembered the words of Zhu Wei, the medicine man who travelled between villages, carrying his chinking bottles of tinctures and pots of sweet-smelling balsam, all the while telling stories of places he had seen.

‘This world is sweet, my friend. Go. Take yourself away.’ Song tried to piece together what he had heard.

‘Malaya. Heady with spices. India. With its regal princes, elephants dressed up in finery, and the vivid colours. Ah, and then there’s Guiana. The sugarcane whispers in a sea breeze so salty you can lick it. Mangoes. Mangoes so full of juice they split on the tree and seep nectar. Like sunshine might taste. Rubber trees bleed without so much as a tap and a full bucket fetches a price so high that you don’t have to work for the rest of the month. There’s nothing to spend money on anyway, with fruit hanging off every tree: papaya, guava, carambola, sapodilla. No one is ever wanting. And don’t start me on the gold. Even babies of the poorest families wear solid gold bangles around their wrists and ankles. Diamonds too.

They say there are whole cities built of gold and precious stones.’ Song screwed up his eyes and tried to believe in the place Zhu Wei had described.

‘The Englishmen take you there for nothing – not a penny – on huge wooden boats which use the wind and the stars and their magic to reach these new lands. Hundreds are going every day, boy. You don’t want to be le behind. Hail down one of the carts. They’re sweeping through the villages collecting up young men with dreams and courage, the ones looking for adventure and who are willing to work. You want to get on your way before these places are full.

‘The boats leave from Guangzhou. A terrible place. Don’t get waylaid, I warn you, or you won’t make it to the end of the month. Keep moving. There’s a world beyond what you know. Every boy should travel. Go and see new places. Find work. Get rich. Come back if you want to. But see the world first. Don’t die here, boy. You’re too young to die here.’

Song pictured himself boarding one of the wooden English boats and arriving among lush plantations of sweet sugarcane bordered by trees bearing plump fruit on bowed branches. He licked his lips around the taste of a mango and felt burning cramps in his stomach. Then he imagined himself returning home laden with sugar and gold and diamonds, and the wide disbelieving shining eyes of his sisters and brothers.

Song shivered again. His mother had propped open the front door and the room was cool. He looked up, trying to imagine his father’s silhouette in the doorway, but nobody was there. Not that Song ever particularly noticed his father coming home. He was a man who spoke quietly and was so of foot. But in his head Song could hear his father’s voice telling him how to move through life:

‘strangers don’t like strangers’; ‘trouble only comes to those who stand out’; ‘keep your head down’. The memory of his words triggered something inside Song. He felt the sudden weight of his family; now he must not only take care of himself but everyone else, too. Song felt himself fold, sobbing, covering his face with his hands.

The village of Lishui felt their way through the days and weeks ahead in a daze. For the women and children le behind there was too much to do to think about mourning men. They could no longer drink clean water from the wells. ere was no dry re- wood. e babies lay listless, too emaciated to cry. e old people had stopped eating. e rest of the village sifted through the debris carried by the floodwater trying to salvage anything useful: a sack of wet seed, odd rice shoots, rotten wood, a sodden shred of cloth.

Every morning they hoped to wake to see the land steaming dry and to feel the heat of the sun, but instead clouds brooded heavy and low in the sky before bursting like blisters. Rain fell so hard it bounced from the ground, raining up as well as down. e grey air and reflecting water drained the land of colour. Song knew what he had to do. He thought of the sugar, the gold, the diamonds in far-off lands. But he also remembered the dark stories about the city called Guangzhou and how some men returned broken. ‘Stay away from them men,’ the women told the children, even when it was their own husbands. And the children listened and stayed away, frightened by the way the men sat all day staring out, as if they were asleep with their eyes open. Song shuddered, but he had made up his mind.

He went to find his mother. She was at the back of the house keeping the re alight. He watched her as she shifted around a pot of water, trying to catch the heat of a flickering flame before it extinguished with a fizz.

‘Mama.’

Zhang Je looked up. There were dark shadows under her glazed eyes, red and streaming from the smoke. Her face was drawn. She did not seem to see Song. He crouched down and took the pot from his mother. ‘Let me.’ She let the stick fall from her hands. Song used it to poke at the charred embers and blew into the refi. A cloud of ash billowed up.

‘I’m going to Guangzhou to look for work, Mama.’They both watched a small flame momentarily light up.‘I’ll go with the next cart,’ Song said. ‘They’re looking for boys like me. It doesn’t cost anything to go, they say. There’s lots of work. I’ll bring back money and food for everyone.’

About The Author:

Michelle Chan Author PictureI am the Editor of Vanity Fair On Travel.
My debut novel, Song is being published by Unbound in July 2018.

I’m a BBC presenter and video journalist on The Travel Show, and Contributing Editor at Condé Nast Traveller where I had a weekly column for a year Where I want to be right now.
I was formerly Deputy Editor of The Telegraph’s Ultratravel magazine and am the Destination Expert on China, Cambodia, Nepal and the Himalayas for The Telegraph newspaper.
I also write for The Wall Street Journal, Travel and Leisure and Tatler.

My career in journalism began with Newsweek magazine in New York in 1994, and I continued to report for them from Xi’an, Beijing and Taipei. I then took the position of Asia-Pacific Editor for Deutsche Welle Radio in Cologne, transitioning into television as a news producer for CNN International in London.
I am the winner of the Travel Writer of the Year 2016; winner of the AITO Travel Writer of the Year 2016, and winner of the Consumer Magazine Feature of the Year Award at the Ecoventura LATA Media Awards 2016.
I am a regular speaker and moderator on travel and adventure; judge writing and photography awards; teach travel writing courses; am a qualified performance coach (focusing on creative writing) and conduct media training.

Song by Michelle Jana Chan is out now and available from Amazon UK.