On Borrowed Time By Graeme Hall Review (Fly On The Wall Tours)

Today dear readers I am on the blog tour for On Borrowed Time (Published January 11th 2021) By Graeme Hall. A big thank you to Fly On The Wall Press for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to take part on the tour, always appreciated. 


On Borrowed Time

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On Borrowed Time is set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/1997 – including the handover of Hong Kong to China. The novel explores the choices that people have to make; in particular between doing what is easy and what is right. 

In Hong Kong, Emma Janssen discovers the truth behind the death of her brother four years earlier. Meanwhile, in Shanghai, a PhD student meets a woman with an unusual degree of interest in his research. These storylines converge at the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and Emma finds that she has to choose between revenge or the future happiness and safety of both herself and those close to her. 

While being a work of fiction, On Borrowed Time is rooted in the author’s own experiences of living and working in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010, in particular the final years of British rule and the transfer of sovereignty back to China.

About The Author

Graeme lived in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010 and still keeps a close connection to the city. His first novel was set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/97 and most of his writing comes from his love of that part of the world. Graeme first visited Macau in 1993 and he quickly became fascinated by the oldest European settlement in Asia. His short story collection, ‘The Goddess of Macau’ was published in August 2020 by Fly on the Wall Press. 

He has won the short story competitions of the Macau Literary Festival and the Ilkley Literature Festival, and his writing has been published in anthologies by Black Pear Press and the Macau Literary Festival. He is an active member of the Leeds Writers Circle whose members have been a constant source of advice, support and encouragement. Graeme lives in Calderdale, West Yorkshire with his wife and a wooden dog.

My Review

You can feel the tension throughout this book as not only does Emma discover the shocking truth behind her brother’s death but an historical moment happens, Hong Kong returns to China. There is a lot of fear and worry about what the future may bring. It transports you back to a time of uncertainty, when the world was starting to change and we were all unsure if it was for the better or the worse. 

The story also takes us to Shanghai where we follow Kwok-wah who is studying a PhD in computer science. He is working on his research of Fourier transforms with Professor Ye. However it quickly becomes apparent to Kwok-wah that something doesn’t feel entirely right. He starts seeing less and less of Professor Ye and feels uncomfortable with the appearance of military uniforms in the lab. Kwok-wah decides to throw himself into his work and gets distracted when he starts seeing a girl everywhere he goes. She soon introduces herself as Susan Khoo, a student at the campus and takes a keen interest into Kwok-wah’s research. 

The narrative also follows Sam, a lawyer who works at McShane Adams. He meets Emma as she starts temping for him as his secretary and he quickly starts to become interested in her. He is a fascinating character to read as he feels conflicted. When he starts questioning things at his work he is shot down and told to do his job. But the seed that Hall has already planted in the reader’s mind is still there, still lingering and desperate to grow. To uncover what is being so hastily buried. The uncertainty of things lingers like the grey clouds off in the distance, tempting rain but holding off for now…

I was caught up in the flashing neon lights and delicious smells of dim sum during my visit to Hong Kong. Hall has absorbing writing style of transporting the reader into the scene of the narrative. I felt very much a Gweilo and out of my depth with a mixture of languages surrounding me but it was also a comfort to know that I wasn’t alone.

I enjoyed reading the dramatic change of the weather throughout this book. One minute I could feel the sweat beads dripping down my neck making my clothes stick to me. The next I was drenched in heavy rain and soaked to the bone. It caught me off guard and tied in with the theme of the story. Never knowing what was around the corner or what to expect next. I kept holding my breath waiting in anticipation for the next surprise, I was compelled to find out the truth. 


I give On Borrowed Time By Graeme Hall a Four out of Five paw rating.

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An interesting read that made me think, I mean really really think about what matters the most to us in life. Revenge or love? The difficult process of choice and how we are the ones who have to make it. Hall has a visionary talent for absorbing the reader into the very heart of his story. There is so much to uncover dear reader but I won’t spoil it for you. It’s one you have to read yourself. 

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!

Launch_Reviews - Graeme Hall Blog Tour


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About Bunny's Pause

Hello, I'm a Author/Poet/Reviewer/Bookworm/Gamer/Music Lover/Wife and Mother! I review and recommend books as I LOVE to read! I am always on the lookout for new and upcoming books to expand my ever-growing library. If you have something you wish me to read and review, please contact me. I would be delighted to hear from you. Hop hop wiggle wiggle
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