The author of ‘Born in Stockport – Grew up in the Royal Navy’ bares it all about his debut trilogy!
WHAT IS THE SERIES ABOUT?
The life and times of how a troubled teenager came of age and matured to contribute to his community. Told by the way of funny stories in a raw and gritty style, without ever losing sight of the rascal he was. Illustrated with photographs and cartoons.
WHY SHOULD WE READ IT?
A unique series of memoirs that reveals everything about growing up with a glint in your eye. No-one else can tell my story like I can. They will make you laugh a lot and possibly cry a little.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF
Maurice Perkins, also known as Moz, Polly and Mo (nicknames, depending on where he is known from) was born in 1957, a time when communities were still recovering from the impact of the Second World War. His parents are from simple backgrounds and ploughed a lot of love into him and his two brothers. Mum in particular encouraged all three of them to be creative. Maurice has drawn cartoons and can tell stories. It is why he has been able to become an author.
Find out more about Maurice on his social media (Twitter, Facebook) and buy his books through his Amazon page.
The book opens in 2003. Little Rose Peace is at church with her mom. She is too young to understand what’s happening, but she notices her mom is not acting like her usual self. Folakemi Oyindamola Chukwuma cries, doesn’t stop to chat with other worshippers after the service, she keeps herself to herself. Dad went away for work, but Rose doesn’t know where, nor when he’ll make it back. Maybe her mother is sad because of that. She is sure something’s wrong when her mom calls Janet, her father’s sister, and hears her say “he’s gone!”
2009. Rose is a teenager and she is living a totally different life than she did when she was six. Rose’s mom had to go through what it’s known as ‘a widow’s rites’: her father’s family took her hostage at their place for ten days, shaved part of her head, her eyebrows and her pubic hair, kept her on one meal a day and forced her to only dress in black and repeatedly interrogated and intimidated her, until she falsely confessed to be responsible for her husband’s death, giving them the power to strip her and her daughter of the house they lived in and any other belongings in her husband’s name. They never liked her and when she only produced female offspring, they accused her of being a witch and fought her even harder. As they are left homeless and penniless, Folakemi and Rose move into a smaller house, Rose transfers from a fancy private school to an average public one, and since her mom is forced to have two jobs to make ends meet, Rose has to help with housework on top of school homework. This has a huge impact on her, she isolates herself and despises her absent mother. One day, though, things change. A classmate of her, a big girl named Sandra (who is not only physically bigger than Rose but also couple of years older) approaches her, introduces herself and then introduces Rose to her clique, the Soul Sisters. It’s a nice day for Rose, who goes back home feeling lighter and in a good mood, which is soon spoiled by the fact that her mom left her another list of housework on the table. She is annoyed and frustrated, but soon her mood changes when she finds blood in her underwear and believes she is bleeding to death. She cries and panics, having no one to ask for help, until, exhausted, she falls asleep on the kitchen floor, only to wake up the following morning to yet another message from her mother, saying that since she was sleeping so peacefully she let her sleep. Rose is now scared and angry: she still doesn’t know what’s happening, she still has no one to help her and now she feels like her mother abandoned her. The only person she can think of is Sandra.
“Oh my God!” she yelled and laughed. “Is that why you’re crying? Wait, let me see it,” she said, still laughing. I turned around for her to see the stain of blood, but the volume of her laughter increased instead. I had never felt so ashamed in my entire life. “Rosie, dear, you’re only menstruating,” she said amidst laughs and hit my side playfully.
Sandra not only helps her, but also invites her to her place after school. Rose is impressed: Sandra lives in a huge house that looks expensive. During the afternoon, her friend serves snacks and soft drinks mixed with spirits, and while they all swear allegiance to the Soul Sisters clique, soon after the bonding ritual, Rose passes out. She is only 12, after all. Before she is out completely, though, she witnesses the girls kissing, moaning and groaning and she is intimidated and not comfortable with the situation. They wake her up hours later, looking scared. It’s 10 in the evening and Rose realises she is very late. She rushes home, to find her mother worried sick. Despite the reprimand, she thinks it’s a good moment to open up about the last two days, but her mother tells her she is very tired and if it was so urgent she could have come back home earlier, deepening the fracture between them.
Rose is now part of the Soul Sisters and soon she finds out that they all come from broken backgrounds: divorced parents, parents that left them behind to move to the States, families so religious they’re almost cult-like. That helps her feel more accepted. She finally has friends that supply for the lack of a family.
2013. Rose brings a girl back to her place. She is one year younger than her and knows nothing about being a lesbian, but she is quickly learning from Rose, who looks back at the past 4 years as the biggest bliss of her life. According to the Soul Sisters, the best way to get rid of menstrual pain is to sleep with a boy.
So, the girls set up a guy in senior class for me. He was mature, gentle and sweet. The initial stage of the encounter was harrowing, but not as much as my menstrual pain. Also, the boy was a pro. At 17, he already knew all the right styles, words, and positions to make me happy. The first 30 minutes were discomforting, but after my wall of purity was broken, the rest was a hell of a fantastic ride to cloud 9. I’d never been happier. Since then, I couldn’t stop. When I couldn’t have sex with anyone, I masturbated instead. The girls opened me up to a world of new things that I stayed glued.
But this time of bliss is not meant to last. The Soul Sisters, all older than her, soon graduate and they leave for university, some of them go abroad. She tries to keep in contact, but she is always the first one to start a conversation, that usually didn’t pass the opening pleasantries. “Distance weakens relationships, and no friendship lasts forever. I got the message and stayed in my lane.”Rose finds herself alone again. One day, during a walk, she stops in front of the Church she attended with her mother and after the service she speaks to the pastor who tells her that God is good and understanding and if she is ready to submit to Him, she is more than welcome in His house.
2015. Rose is taking the university access exam for the fifth time. She is still a Church worker, but the pastor’s sessions and prayers help that much, because she soon went back to the old ways. Rose has now a boyfriend, Joe, who she defines the companion she needs. Things between them are good, until Brother Demola, the choirmaster, approaches her offering some private singing lessons at his place. Rose, who finds him extremely fascinating – she is secretly attracted to him – accepts. The private singing lessons clearly transform into a sexual encounter, but the picture Rose had of Demola in her head and how he actually is as a lover are very different and leave Rose disappointed.
Finally, good news: she has been admitted to Lagos University. Here she is assigned a room with 3 other girls. One of them, Tara, is very devoted, while the other two are more into parties and enjoying life. Rose goes with them to a freshmen party, where she meets this guy, Fred, who is studying Computer Science at Lagos university too. After exchanging numbers and talking on the phone for a little while, he asks her out. They start dating intensely and they have a good time, so Rose feels like opening up to him about her past and he feels like opening up to her about his life. He admits to be a cybercriminal, a fraudster that scams white women, but he also adds that he is making good money out of it that actually helps his family and put his sibling through school. She feels she should support him no matter what.
At the same time, though, she accepts Tara’s invitation to a worship group on campus and she feels drawn to God again. It will be short lived again, because it will only last until she receives her exam results, which she failed. This means God is not really helping her, no matter how much she prays.
This is the leitmotif that will accompany her along her university years, a continuous bouncing between a debauched life and her faith, until she will devote herself completely to God, despite all the hurdles that life will put on her path.
This is an incredible book, a brilliant read beginning to end. It’s captivating, far from our ‘Western’ culture and at times tricky to understand, but up to this point in the year, the best book I’ve read. The prose is linear, clear and accurate, enriched by a series of sayings and filler words that sound obscure but fascinating, of which you don’t need to know the meaning to understand what they signify. It definitely put the spotlight on a culture we know little about, if nothing at all, which only leaves the reader thirsty for more. Rose is an amazing character, whose personal development is incredible and who has an adventurous but totally realistic life, and so are the other people orbiting around her. Akinola picks her words carefully and puts them together in a targeted direction: forward, just like Rose, who, no matter what, keeps going through thick and thin in life.
This is a book that deserves a special mention and definitely space on anyone’s bookshelf, no matter what your beliefs are in life.
The creator of Joshua Bane introduces the series in his own words.Read his interview here.
WHAT IS THE SERIES ABOUT?
Joshua Bane is the first openly LGBT+ superhero. The desperate search for his twin sister, will force him to re-evaluate the meaning of family. A tsunami of emotions. Twists and turns are the main ingredients of this, spectacular dark fantasy saga, that will keep the reader glued to the chair. Filled with adventure, magic, and action. Solving murders, is a daily routine for Joshua. Will he be able to finds his sister? Will Joshua be finally happy?
WHY SHOULD WE READ IT?
The unique selling point of my books and stories is the morale and the message. I want to spread a message of love and hope. Regardless, of body shape, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. I have filtered, all my life experiences, true life experiences, for everyone to read, and I want to share them with the world. For so many years I have struggled with anxiety and depression, because of my sexual orientation and how people made me feel. My mission in life is to make sure that, all kids and grown-ups are out there in the world, and provide a beacon of hope, a beacon of light in those darkest of days. We are all beautiful, smart, and powerful, regardless of what society forces us to believe.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF
My name is Jonathan A. Cerruto. I was born in Canada and moved to Italy when I was a toddler. I moved to Milan at the age of 18, where I graduated in Fashion and Design. I have always loved to write, since childhood and, after many years, of trying to figure out who I really was, I finally found my real calling. I discovered, what sets my soul on fire, and that is writing books and lyrics. I decided to move to the UK, with just a luggage and many ideas. Once I moved to the UK, I studied Creative Writing, in London, and I have also attended The Berklee Boston Music Academy, where I have polished my lyricist skills. I now also write and co-write lyrics, for artists and music producers in Italy, and all over the world.
Better Than This is an uplifting, inspirational story about finding love second time around, breaking free of insecurity and believing that you deserve to be happy.
WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT?
At 33, Taamarai is sure that life should be better than this: worrying about paying rent, about her weight, about keeping in touch with her family on the other side of the Atlantic… At least she has her husband. Darren’s always got her back, always understands.
When she unexpectedly comes into some money, Taamarai knows she has to take her chance. Moving away, starting a new college course, waitressing to make ends meet – it’s still hard but it feels good to try something new. Darren will join her when he can and, in the meantime, she’s doing this for both of them.
That doesn’t mean new isn’t scary. Nervous and lonely, she is glad to meet her downstairs neighbour, a teenage girl called Ali, who seems desperate for a woman to look up to. Ali’s dad, Carl, is a different story. Rude and a bit shady, Taamarai is willing to put up with him for Ali’s sake but things are easier when he isn’t around, asking the questions she tries not to ask herself.
As her plans unfold, Taamarai begins to see her life from new angles. What if she is capable of more than she ever imagined and worthy of more than she has learned to accept?
Watching his daughter realise that maybe she can make something of her life, Carl can’t help being drawn to the shy, apologetic woman in the apartment upstairs, who never gives up and somehow finds her way past all the things he uses to keep people away. It had always seemed safer that way, but now he can’t help wondering what better might look like.
WHY SHOULD WE READ YOUR BOOK?
Better Than This celebrates real life and real love, with the messy bits left in: a relatable antidote to stories about perfect people and perfect lives. It is an uplifting, empowering novel about learning to believe in yourself and value your own dreams. Exploring the long-term power of coercive control, Better Than This digs into the reality of weaponised love, even for capable, educated women. Multi-cultural, cross-class and full of family, this is a novel that embraces diversity and complexity.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
Rose Marzin is a pen name. I live in England with my partner and two cats and mostly I write. As Rose Marzin, I write contemporary and historical romance (look out for new titles, coming soon), exploring the everyday miracle of love. In my day job, I write history. When I’m not writing, I love cooking, walking in the country, reading and learning languages.