Sunday, 29 September 2019

#BlogTour My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt. This book has been reissued and is being published in paperback by Virago Books this September.

This is certainly the year to do that, because June 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Judy Garland’s death, August 2019 is the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, and on October 4th 2019 the motion picture JUDY starring Renee Zellwegger and Jessie Buckley is set to be released in the UK
About the Author
Susie Boyt was born in London and educated at Camden School for Girls and Oxford University.  After a nerve-racking stint in a lingerie boutique and an alarming spell working in PR for Red Stripe lager and the Brixton Academy, she settled down to writing and is the author of six acclaimed novels including The Last Hope of Girls, which was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and Only Human, which was short-listed for the Mind Award. Of her last novel, Love & Fame  The Sunday Times said ‘she writes with such precision and wisdom about the human heart under duress that the novel is hard to resist.’

Susie wrote a much-loved weekly column about life and art for the Financial Times Weekend for fourteen years and still contributes regularly to their books and fashion pages.  Last year she edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories for Penguin Classics.  Susie is also a director at the Hampstead theatre in London and works part time for Cruse Bereavement Care.

She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She is the daughter of the painter Lucian Freud and the great grand-daughter of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

Follow @SusieBoyt on Twitter, on Goodreads,
Buy My Judy Garland Life


About the book
An irresistible mixture of memoir, biography, cultural analysis, experiment and hero-worship about one person's enduring fascination. This is for anyone who has ever nursed an obsession or held a candle to a star.

Judy Garland has been an important figure in Susie Boyt’s world since she was three years old; comforting, inspiring and, at times, disturbing her.  In this unique book Boyt travels deep into the underworld of hero-worship, reviewing through the prism of Judy our understanding of rescue, consolation, love, grief and fame.

Layering key episodes from Garland’s life with defining moments from her own, Boyt demands with insight and humour, what it means, exactly, to adore someone you don’t know. Need hero worship be a pursuit that’s low in status or can it be performed with pride and style? Are there similarities that lie at the heart of all fans? And what is the proper husbandry of a twenty first century obsession, anyway?

Review
I think what shines through the most is the total dedication and hero-worship, perhaps even to the point of seeing Garland in an overly positive light. That in itself is normal from a fan-based point of view. In a way it helps to shed a light on what life must have been like for this superstar.

Imagine the pressure of having to perform every time you are in a room with someone who expects you to be the all-singing and all-dancing Garland. There is no room for Frances Gumm to exist. That must have been terribly consuming and tiresome. Not that stars don't enjoy the adulation and attention, but everyone deserves a modicum of privacy and the space to be themselves.

There is this scene Boyt describes when Meyer more or less dumps Garland on a waitress. A bit like someone dropping their grandma off at a care home. Boyt talks about how Margaret must have felt. How lucky she was to be in the position to take care of Judy and how empty she must have felt when Judy was gone. The problem with that is the fact Boyt sees it purely from the view of an avid fan and not necessarily from Judy's. I can imagine Garland felt like some annoyance, a second rate has-been the world no longer cares about.

The author has created an interesting conversation on fandom and adoration of the famous by mere mortals. When does adoration become obsession? When does it cross the line between just simple admiration and veer into creepy behaviour? Does living in the public arena give complete strangers the right to know every detail of your life. Does it give them the right to judge, ridicule or perhaps just drool and fawn over them? My answer to that is a firm no it doesn't.

It's part homage, part memoir and above all it is a conversation about celebrity and the people who appreciate and adore their talent.

Buy My Judy Garland Life at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Virago; pub date 19 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

#BlogTour The Colour of Death by Elizabeth Davies


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Color of Death by Elizabeth Davies.
About the Author
Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There's usually death...

Follow @BethsBooks on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit elizabethdaviesauthor.co.ukBuy The Colour of Death


About the book
“Mad, bad and dangerous to know.”
Olivia Parr doesn’t believe her ability to see auras is a gift. It hasn’t exactly done her any favours. Quite the opposite, in fact. Having become something of a loner, she tries to avoid people and the glow surrounding them, preferring to view life through the lens of a camera, where she can’t see those telltale colours.
But when a rare visit to a theatre ends in death and bloodshed, Olivia’s life is about to become considerably more complicated.

During the mayhem, one man stands out, and not just because he seems oblivious to the terrible carnage. The reason? He has no aura.

But everyone has an aura, right? Everyone. Except for the dead.

Not only is she fascinated and intrigued by this strange, compelling man, in the aftermath of the tragedy she gains a protector; a man whose aura is deep, dark red – the colour of blood.
Review
This is the first book in the Colour series. Colour refers to the ability of the main character to see auras.

Davies takes this paranormal story back to old school vampire tales. In a world where being one isn't the norm and does come as a surprise to the characters.

It starts off with quite a shocking scenario. A tragedy puts all three major players in the same place, which reveals them all to each other. It is the beginning of a cat and mouse game to save Crow's sister and keep Olivia from the clutches of an experienced predator.

One could argue that Olivia has supernatural talents of her own. The vampire certainly thinks so, especially because his lack of any aura at all singles him out. He becomes interested in Olivia's particular talent, and indeed in Olivia too.

At the same time Olivia is pulled in the opposite direction by Crow. He doesn't have the same seductive powers as the fanged gentleman, but he does have some kind of pull. Perhaps it is the contradiction between the two men? One is the forbidden fruit and the other is the dark dangerous type.

It's a paranormal urban fantasy - a sizzling and steamy supernatural tale. It's very much in the flair of old legends and tropes of the supernatural. Where glamour is still used to enable romantic encounters and allow long toothed predators to nibble on their prey.

Buy The Colour of Death at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#WarTimeClassics #BlogTour Eight Hours from England by Anthony Quayle


It's an honour to take part in the BlogTour for Eight Hours from England by Anthony Quayle. This is the third of four books being re-published by the Imperial War Museum.

In September 2019, to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, IWM will launch a wonderful new series with four novels from their archives all set during the Second World War – Imperial War Museums Wartime Classics.

Originally published to considerable acclaim, these titles were written either during or just after the Second World War and are currently out of print. Each novel is written directly from the author’s own experience and takes the reader right into the heart of the conflict. They all capture the awful absurdity of war and the trauma and chaos of battle as well as some of the fierce loyalties and black humour that can emerge in extraordinary circumstances.

Living through a time of great upheaval, as we are today, each wartime story brings the reality of war alive in a vivid and profoundly moving way and is a timely reminder of what the previous generations experienced.

The remarkable IWM Library has an outstanding literary collection and was an integral part of Imperial War Museums from its very beginnings. Alan Jeffreys, (Senior Curator, Second World War, Imperial War Museums) searched the library collection to come up with these four launch titles, all of which deserve a new and wider audience. He has written an introduction to each novel that sets them in context and gives the wider historical background and says, ‘Researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

Each story speaks strongly to IWM’s remit to tell the stories of those who experienced conflict first hand. They cover diverse fronts and topics – preparations for D-Day and the advance into Normandy; the war in Malaya; London during the Blitz and SOE operations in occupied Europe and each author – three men and a woman – all have fascinating back stories. These are Second World War novels about the truth of war written by those who were actually there.


About the Author
Anthony Quayle was a renowned Shakespearean actor, director and film star and during the Second World War was a Special Operations Executive behind enemy lines in Albania.

About the book
A candid account of SOE operations in occupied Europe described by Andrew Roberts as ‘As well as being one of our greatest actors, Anthony Quayle was an intrepid war hero and his autobiographical novel is one of the greatest adventure stories of the Second World War.
Beautifully written and full of pathos and authenticity, it brings alive the terrible moral decisions that have to be taken by soldiers under unimaginable pressures in wartime.’

Review
The story or rather the writing style, especially the beginning, has a theatrical flair. Very much as if Quayle were setting the scene for the stage or the camera. This is evident even if you aren't aware of who the author is.

Quayle makes a poignant point about liaison officers in conflicts, skirmishes or times of war. Their job during times of peace is one of mediation and go-between, but in times of conflict they often have a specific job. Convincing the natives to work with them and against the enemy.

Words like liaison sound great - very diplomatic. The truth is they are often advising native groups, such as the resistance, to commit acts that will have disastrous results for their lives, their village, town or country and the lives of their fellow countrymen. It can mean torture and/or death. When the allies go home and the liaison officer disappears, those native inhabitants still have to live and survive in possibly hostile environments.

A comparison in our era is using natives to translate and as guides in the Middle East and then leaving them high and dry in an environment that considers them to be traitors to the country.
The author describes the important brotherhood bond and the camaraderie which exists and is amplified during the war. You have to trust and rely on the person or persons next to you to have your back. The understand like no other person what every soldier is going through. It's one of the strongest bonds that exist.

Unfortunately, just like many other novels written about WW2 by eyewitnesses, this book has slid into obscurity. The Imperial War Museum is doing us all a great service bringing them back into the fold of the book world to be enjoyed by new readers. They are a learning experience written by voices who should be heard and remembered.

Buy Eight Hours from England at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com. Published by Imperial War Museum on 26 September 2019 - Wartime Classics - £8.99 each.

About the Imperial War Museums - IWM

IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

'Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, IWM’s flagship branch that recently transformed with new, permanent and free First World War Galleries alongside new displays across the iconic Atrium to mark the Centenary of the First World War; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain's best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.'

Tuesday Mooney Wore Black by Kate Racculia


In my mind's eye Tuesday is a goth girl without the goth, an intelligent quick-witted Wednesday Adams with plenty of snark. She is also a young woman who is haunted by the past, especially by the unknown variable in the equation she calls her life. The disappearance of her best friend when they were both teenagers has left her vulnerable and damaged.

Fortunately the fact she has a constant open dialogue with said friend is what keeps her sane and on the straight and narrow. Talking to her ghost or what she interprets as the ghost is also what keeps Tuesday ticking while she is dealing with the grief.

Her life and relationships are redefined when she is drawn into a mystery devised by a recently deceased billionaire. The money she could win is an interesting enticement, but it turns out there is more to the hunt than she expected.

I enjoyed the way Racculia made it more than just a mystery. It's about loyalty, friendship, mental health, loneliness, murder, dysfunctional families and above all a good old fashioned treasure hunt. It's a mystery thriller with sort of an Eleanor Oliphant meets a Dan Brown mystery with a literary vibe. The Poe-esque flair melds perfectly with Tuesday's eccentric attitude and yet oddly charming personality.

I admit I am left with questions though, perhaps enough to warrant the author bringing Mooney back. What happened to her friend - I need to know.

Buy Tuesday Mooney Wore Black at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins pub date 1 Oct. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @kateracculia on Twitter, Visit kateracculia.com

Friday, 27 September 2019

#BlogTour The Oath by Michael L. Lewis


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Oath by Michael L. Lewis.

Giveaway to Win 3 x Paperback copies of The Oath by Michael L. Lewis (UK Only)

About the Author
Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.

Follow Michael L. Lewis on Facebook, on AmazonBuy The Oath


About the book
Three Juniors - A Blood Oath - A Deadly Outcome

1955. The polished veneer of a boys’ boarding school in Northern England masks a cadre of wickedness. Seniors viciously torment any junior they deem unfit. Jonathan Simon, in his first term is warned that there are three monsters in his dorm; seniors Flicker, Sleeth and Tunk, and that the code of conduct mandates no snitching.

Simon befriends two other juniors; pixie-faced Ian Gracey and witty, grossly overweight Arthur Crown. During a cross-country run, the three friends take a short cut and stumble into the cadet rifle range. Corps Sergeant Sleeth puts them through a degrading punishment using human excrement. The three juniors swear a blood oath never to allow another bully to abuse them.

Will this oath be their downfall, or will they make it through the school year? Snitching could have serious consequences but keeping silent will break their blood oath.

As Simon, Gracey and Crown try to survive this perilous journey, the constant threat of harm brings their friendship ever closer...

Review
Boarding schools are very much part of the educational path of the upper class and the wealthy. It's the norm to send off children, especially boys, to learning institutes. I think tradition, peer pressure and shoving the responsibility from nanny to boarding school has become so ingrained in certain social groups and countries that considering an alternative doesn't even factor into their decision.

Leaving aside how academically successful a boarding school can be, the emotional damage caused by separation, bullying and the often predator like proclivity of sexual activity in these institutes is probably immeasurable.

Lewis plots the story around all of these negative aspects of being shipped off to school. His characters mirror both sides of the coin. The bullies who rule the roost and the damaged victims they leave in their wake.

The lines are drawn in the sand soon after the new school year starts when the youngest newbies become targets for the older bullies. The younger boys are determined not to let them get away with their usual crimes. The small groups become entwined in a dangerous war of revenge and a fight for survival.

It's a contemporary thriller, a fast-paced and uncomfortable read at times. It fits into the YA and adult genre. The writing leans more towards simplicity and only skims the first layers in terms of depth. Saying that, the style lends itself to a bigger audience in terms of both younger and older readers.

Buy The Oath at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Book Guild Publishing pub date 1 Mar. 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Book GuildBuy at Book Depository. Foyles. WHSmith. Waterstones. Blackwells.

Enter the Giveaway to Win 3 x Paperback copies of The Oath by Michael L. Lewis (UK Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.*

Thursday, 26 September 2019

#BlogTour The Guardian by J.D. Moyer


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Guardian, the second book in the Reclaimed Earth series, by J.D. Moyer. It's sci-fi, post-apocalyptic and speculative fiction.
About the Author
J.D. Moyer lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, daughter,and mystery-breed dog. He writes science fiction, produces electronic music in two groups (Jondi & Spesh and Momu), runs a record label (Loöq Records), and blogs at jdmoyer.com. His previous occupations include dolphin cognition researcher, martial arts instructor, Renaissance Faire actor, dance music event promoter, and DJ.

His favorite authors include Iain Banks, Octavia Butler, William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Margaret Atwood, and David Mitchell.

His short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, The InterGalactic Medicine Show, Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores, and Compelling Science Fiction. His novelette The Icelandic Cure won the 2016 Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction contest. His debut science fiction novel The Sky Woman was published by Flame Tree Press in 2018.

Recurring themes in his fiction include genetic engineering, the sociological effects of climate change, virtualized consciousness,and evolutionary divergence.

Follow @johndavidmoyer on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit jdmoyer.com, Buy The Guardian

About the book
The Guardian, the sequel to the The Sky Woman, is a story of colliding worlds and the contested repopulation of a wild Earth. Tem really struggles as the only brown-skinned child in the village. His mother Car-En decides that the family should spend some time on the Stanford ringstation, but Tem gets caught up in the battle against Umana, the tentacle-enhanced ‘Squid Woman’, while protecting a secret that could change the course of civilization.
Review
This is the second book in the Reclaimed Earth series. The Guardian and The Sky Woman can both be read as standalone novels.

After catastrophic events decimated the population of Earth the post-apocalyptic world is now inhabited predominantly by two groups, those who live on earth and those who live in the sky, the ringstation inhabitants.

The groups on earth appear to have devolved into more of tribal driven life, whereas the ringstations appear to be the silent scientific observer, who choose to intervene when it suits them. Never the twain shall meet is the general consensus of the two groups, which puts Tem in a peculiar position because he belongs to both groups. His father is part of the earth dwellers and his mother is an ex-ringstation dweller.

Said mother decides it is time for Tem to get to know life in the ringstation, which is when the action starts. An old enemy steps back into Car-En's life and it turns out he once again has an ulterior motive. There is a reason Car-En has been hiding from him for a decade.

The title of the book doesn't seem to have a connection to the story, however I do have a theory on that. Keeping in mind that book three is in the works - I think this book was a way of introducing Tem as said Guardian. His role as someone who belongs to both groups and can successfully navigate either one will probably become poignant as we move into the next part of the story.

It's sci-fi, post-apocalyptic and speculative fiction. Moyer melds the more complex aspects of the story with good ol' riveting storytelling. Which I find quite important, because many authors make the mistake of creating a level of complexity that is so dense and unforgivably pretentious the reader loses interest. Moyer balances both exactly right.

Buy The Guardian at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 26 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

#BlogTour The Story of John Nightly by Tot Taylor


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Story of John Nightly by Tot Taylor.
About the Author
Tot Taylor is a writer, composer, art curator and music producer. He has worked in music, film, theatre and the visual arts since being signed by Island Records while still at school. For the past thirteen years, he has been co-curator of the Riflemaker gallery in Beak Street, Soho, which he co-founded with Virginia Damtsa. Their artists have been featured at Tate Modern, MoMA, the Pompidou Center and Frieze Masters, among others. The Story of John Nightly is his first novel.

Follow @tottaylor1 on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit tottaylor.comBuy The Story of John Nightly

About the book
The Story of John Nightly is a novel about the nature of creativity – at the level of genius. It
mixes real and imagined lives in the tale of a young singer-songwriter.

John Nightly (b. 1948) finds his dimension in pop music, the art form of his time. His solo album
becomes the third best-selling record of 1970. But success turns out to have side effects.

After a dazzling career, John renounces his gift, denying music and his very being, until he is rediscovered thirty years later by a teenage saviour dude who persuades him to restore his
quasi-proto-multi-media eco-mass, the Mink Bungalow Requiem.

Can John Nightly be brought back to life again?

Review
This magnum opus disappoints most certainly in one aspect, and that is the fictional nature of the main character. It would be the cherry on top of the sundae if Nightly had a factual source - a real person behind the pseudonym of John Nightly. Wonders whether Taylor had a specific person or persons in mind whilst writing this book?

At nearly 900 pages this is one heck of a read. There is no real direction or plot per se. Much like life it's kind of a let's deal with each day and situation as it arises. Set in an era and to the backdrop that cemented certain music genres in our minds and in history. The attention to detail and the accurate portrayal of pop-culture is what makes the story flow and it draws the reader in.

My musical upbringing was very much defined by my parents music, who both had very different tastes, although they did agree on the 60s and the Beatles. Long car journeys were enriched by a limited number of eight track cassettes before the more commonly known cassette tape made its appearance. The way the music winds in, out and around the story reminded me of how my own life was set to a background of tunes and lyrics.

In essence it's about the eccentricity of genius and the way the flame of creativity can burn and engulf someone completely then just fizzle out. What happens when life has only just begun and you can no longer reignite the flame of inspiration?

This is speculative fiction, experimental even in a sense that Taylor bends and snaps the boundaries and known norms of the contemporary read.

Buy The Story of John Nightly at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Publishing; pub date 19 September 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 23 September 2019

#BlogTour One by One by D.W. Gillespie


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour One by One by D.W. Gillespie.
About the Author
A long time fan of all things dark and spooky, D.W. Gillespie began writing monstrous stories while still in grade school. At one point, his mother asked the doctor if there was anything she should be concerned about, and he assured her that some kids just like stories about decapitations.

He's been writing on and off for over a decade, quietly building a body of work that includes horror and dark sci-fi. His novels include Still Dark, The Toy Thief, and a short story collection titled Handmade Monsters.

He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two kids, all three of which give him an endless supply of things to write about.

Follow @dw_gillespie @flametreepress on Twitter, on Goodreads, on AmazonBuy One by One

About the book
The Easton family has just moved into their new fixer-upper, a beautiful old house that they bought at a steal, and Alice, the youngest of the family, is excited to explore the strange, new place. Her excitement turns to growing dread as she discovers a picture hidden under the old wallpaper, a child’s drawing of a family just like hers.

Soon after, members of the family begin to disappear, each victim marked on the child’s drawing with a dark black X. It’s up to her to unlock the grim mystery of the house before she becomes the next victim.

Review
Gillespie likes to play with his readers, entice them into a game of cat and mouse. He creates a steady increase of tension as the plot evolves from a simple house move to a frightening horror scenario.

The Easton family all have quite different reactions to moving into the rundown house they intend to restore back to its full potential. Young Alice can't wait to explore the house, but excitement turns to confusion and then fear when she discovers something creepy on one of the walls in the house.

Let's talk about the evolution of Alice as a person and a character. The way she starts out as a timid little girl, who is left the last one standing, but ends up finding her inner strength. She overcomes her fears to protect her family and herself by facing the unknown and the mysterious

This is a lot more structured and finely plotted than the first book I read by this author, The Toy Thief (also a good read). There is a lot more emphasis on the surroundings, the atmosphere and the details that enhance the story and the characters.

It's a tense mystery with a horror vibe, a read driven by suspense, expectation and the unknown. I think Gillespie is just getting started. He is honing his skills as an author, which is certainly evident in this story.

Buy One by One at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 26 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

#BlogTour The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson.

About the Author
Miranda is the author of ten books, including six Sunday Times bestsellers. Her books have been translated into seven languages and have made the bestseller charts in four countries. She has been shortlisted twice for the RNA awards (for Novel of the Year in 2010 with Fairytale of New York and again in 2012 for Contemporary Novel of the Year for It Started With a Kiss). She has now sold over a million copies of her books worldwide.

Follow @wurdsmyth on Twitter, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on Facebook, Visit miranda-dickinson.comBuy The Day We Meet Again
About the book
Their love story started with goodbye...
'We'll meet again at St Pancras station, a year from today. If we're meant to be together, we'll both be there. If we're not, it was never meant to be...

Phoebe and Sam meet by chance at St Pancras station. Heading in opposite directions, both seeking their own adventures, meeting the love of their lives wasn't part of the plan. So they make a promise: to meet again in the same place in twelve months' time if they still want to be together.

But is life ever as simple as that?
This is a story of what-ifs and maybes - and how one decision can change your life forever...

Review
The story is written very much in the vein of An Affair to Remember and Brief Encounter. The author takes inspiration from the romantic notion of soulmates and fate. That sometimes when two people meet it was destined to happen, and that it may be the right people at the right time or the right people at the wrong time.

This very much describes what happens when Phoebe and Sam meet. Neither of them are supposed to be there at that point in time, then again the real question would be whether they were always meant to meet. Perhaps their lives were supposed to intersect at exactly this moment.

They instantly know they have an unfathomably close bond and attraction, and yet are unable to change the paths they are on, which means heading in completely opposite directions. They leave each other with the promise that they will return one year from now and carry on where they left off and in the interim they are allowed minimal contact via certain methods of communication.

What Dickinson plays to, as an author to their audience, is the feeling that there is someone out there for each one of us - we just have to find them. The inexplicable joy of the first flutterings of love and attraction. When breathlessness isn't caused by a fast round in the gym, but by the physical reaction we experience when our base mating instincts take over.

It's a contemporary read, women's fiction and in a way the kind of love story everyone wants to experience.

Buy The Day we Meet Again at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ pub date 5 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman


I'll admit it wasn't at all what I was expecting. In fact I thought it was going to be an homage to Hitchcock, because of the title. Instead I was surprised to find an intricate story, actually a Russian doll like story. It was a story based on a classic story, which in turn had a story inside it. Very much a Faberge egg of literary surprises, and most certainly an homage to the legacy of Emily Brontë.

What flows throughout the book is the love, adoration and admiration Coleman has for the Brontë sisters, in particular Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, and of course Ponden Hall. Historical facts are woven into the fictional story seamlessly to the point where the reader is absolutely on board with the possibility that it could be true. And I also admit to googling pics of Ponden Hall, the bed and the window, after reading this.

One of points the author builds into the plot is the question about whether antique and first edition books should be kept secluded from the public in private collections or should the public be allowed to enjoy the magical pleasure of such precious items. There is something mystical about seeing (touching is not allowed) and being around antique books.

This is a ghost story, a thriller, and it's historical fiction. It is also very much a love story - love for Emily Brontë. There are parallels between the story Emily finds and the one she writes. The destructive power of obsessive love, which readers often read with a romantic pair of spectacles on instead of seeing things in the cold light of day. It's certainly a captivating read.

Buy The Girl at the Window at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Ebury Press - Paperback pub date 8 Aug. 2019. Ebury Digital pub date 27 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow on @rowancoleman Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit rowancoleman.co.uk

Saturday, 21 September 2019

#BlogTour Love's Long Road by G.D. Harper


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Love's Long Road by G.D. Harper. It's a contemporary read with noirish crime vibe.

About the Author
"I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells' Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.
I went to Glasgow University in 1975 and lived in the city’s West End, the time and place for the setting of the majority of Love’s Long Road."



About the book
Glasgow, 1975. How do you cope when your boyfriend kills himself because of you?

When Bobbie Sinclair’s boyfriend commits suicide and blames her, she vows never to love again. Instead she chooses to lead a double existence, kind-hearted by day and promiscuous by night. She increasingly struggles to maintain the balance between light and dark and soon finds herself sucked into the world of a controlling and ruthless crime lord from which she must escape.

Set against a vibrant but seedy 1970s Glasgow backdrop, Love’s Long Road plots Bobbie’s desperate plight. Starting a new life but constantly afraid of her past catching up with her, she battles danger, adversity and drug addiction on the long and perilous road back to love.

Love’s Long Road is about dealing with the guilt of terrible events in your past and the risk of being corrupted by the world around you; it is a story that captures to perfection what it was like to be young and single in the 1970s.

Review
I felt the most poignant moment, and indeed the driving force of the story is based on the guilt Bobbie feels. Towards the end the event that precedes the downwards spiral of the main character is put into a different light. It changes the perception of everything, which is in fact a learning moment and should be an overall eye-opener.

Suicide is an emotional topic. It destroys families, relationships, mental health and memories. It is a time-bomb that leaves waves of destruction in its wake long after the actual person has chosen to take their life. Those who are left behind often battle with many unanswered questions. Did I miss some sign? Wasn't I listening properly or paying attention? And the most important question of all..why?

Bobbie's story starts with the why, which she answers by giving herself the entirety of the blame, despite the fact suicide is a singular decision made by that person. Of course there are exceptions to that scenario - people can also be driven to suicide.

Bobbie embarks on a journey of self-punishment and self-hatred. She has no self-worth and believes she is no longer capable of having a loving relationship. All of these things lead her into a world where boundaries become skewed and wrong decisions have real life consequences.

I'm going to flip the script here and say that it's also important to view Bobbie from a different point of view. She is self-absorbed, the narrative is always me, me, me and never what about the world or those around me. Let me just put this out there - what if the suicide wasn't the catalyst and just merely another blip on a path she would have walked along anyway.

It's a contemporary read with a noirish crime vibe. It's fair to say that it's very much a grim read, however it is absolutely in keeping with the urban Glaswegian feeling of the 70's.

The sequel to this book is A Friend in Deed, which is set around Bobbie's best friend Duncan and Michael's story is told in Silent Money.

Buy Love's Long Road at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Matador; UK ed. edition pub date 28 April 2016. Buy at Amazon com.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The Last Letter from Juliet by Melanie Hudson

This is going back quite a few decades, but this reminded me of the television series A Man Called Intrepid. Romance, intrigue and the world of spydom set around WW2.  In this case it is also about women's empowerment and their role in supporting their countries during the war.

Katherine is enticed or persuaded to go down to Cornwall for Christmas. She is invited to stay in a holiday cottage owned by Juliet. Whilst there she finds notes and letters written by Juliet to remind herself of her own past, memories and those she loves and loved the most.

Letters written as reminders to a woman who fears she will one day forget everything she has experienced and more importantly forget the heartache and the love she experienced. Katherine finds herself captivated by the stories Juliet has left behind.

The story wanders from Katherine in the present to the beautiful story of Juliet in the past. It's the gripping heartfelt story of an incredibly brave and determined woman and the man she falls in love with. It's also a glimpse at the women of the Air Transport Auxiliary service during the Second World War.

Hudson captures those stolen moments in dangerous and desperate times. It's a love story and a story about loyalty, support and the love of flying. I enjoyed the way Hudson let Juliet's story play out. It was beautiful, nostalgic and emotional.

It's historical fiction with a charming love story at the core.

Buy The Last Letter from Juliet at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: One More Chapter; pub date 23 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @Melanie_Hudson_ on Twitter

Monday, 16 September 2019

#BlogTour The Worst Couple in the World by Holly Tierney-Bedord


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Worst Couple in the World by Holly Tierney-Bedord. It's a short read, a satirical look at the use of social media and the people who use it to promote themselves.

Enter the Giveaway to Win a $5 Starbucks Gift Card (Open to US Only)
About the Author
Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of over twenty books ranging from serious women’s fiction to romantic comedies, domestic thrillers, humor, and cozy mysteries. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Follow @HollyTierney on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Linkedin, on Facebook, on Goodreadson Amazonon BookBub, Visit hollytierneybedord.com or hollyrecommends.wordpress.com

About the book
No longer content to just be Snappigram sensations, folk hop singers Zeke and Angelique are ready to move up from coffee house performances to the big stage. With songs like “Uh Huh, Future Baby Mama” and “Don’t Worry About the Bills, Little Missus” there’s pretty much no way they can fail.
But if their musical career takes off, will it leave their love behind?

This satirical novella about an over-the-top fame hungry duo is for fans of David Sedaris and Don DeLillo.

Review
I know this is satire, but it really makes me fear for our society probably because this is a pretty accurate description of the fakery that goes on. Young people, the up and coming generations, are only interested in self-gratification and the adoration of the invisible online world. It's all about likes, shares and followers.

It's a shame that people like the fictitious Zeke and Angelique are role models for children. And it's delusional to think that in a world where technology rules the waking hours of the young, that they won't be influenced by shallow role models who pretend to live perfect lives.

The danger in this is that it is teaching the young to aspire to the impossible. There is no such thing as perfection 24/7, and it is okay to be less than perfect. It's okay to just be you and not some version you think the world wants you to be.

It also teaches their followers to be willing to do anything to become insta-famous or popular. Lie, fake it, pretend. Use filters to create the perfect picture. Heck there are even social media influencers who create picture perfect cups of coffee ect with shaving cream for instance, because fake cups of foam and coloured liquid look better than the actual item they are promoting.

It's a short read, a satirical look at the use of social media and the people who use it to promote themselves. Unfortunately, and that isn't the fault of the author, I think this is closer to the truth than people would like to believe. A world a fakery and false expectations, which results in a lack of trust in anything we interact with.

Buy The Worst Couple in the World at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Enter the Giveaway to Win a $5 Starbucks Gift Card (Open to US Only)

*Terms and Conditions –US entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.*

#BlogTour Pedalo Pandemonium by Amanda Paull


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Pedalo Pandemonium by Amanda Paull. It's a contemporary romcom about a chaotic family and relatives who don't understand boundaries.
About the Author
My name is Amanda Paull. Well, that's my pen name, not my real one, which helps to keep my writing separate from my day job.

I grew up in the North East of England and couldn't wait to move away. However, after studying and then living both in England and abroad, I returned to the North East and wouldn't dream of living anywhere else now.

Going to Grammar school in the days when teachers wore black caps and gowns, and walloped at will, wasn't much fun for a shy, quiet child like myself. So, I just kept my head down, did my homework and tried to stay invisible.

I used to love daydreaming and making up stories in my head, but I never thought about writing them down. In those days, writing wasn't an enjoyable pursuit, it was more of a time to tow the line and avoid being hit by a flying blackboard rubber. I was the type of pupil who would have been mortified to have 'made' a teacher launch one at me, so I would have shown respect by not ducking.

A short career in teaching was a revelation, to put it mildly. After going back to University, I settled into my current post in the public sector, where I am very happy.

It was Jim, a work colleague, who suggested around 12 years ago that I write a book. Apparently, my contribution to coffee break conversations always seemed to be either tragic or hilarious. But to me it was just normal stuff. No-one would want to read about that.

Then, a couple of years later, while sunbathing in Mallorca with my boyfriend, who is now my husband, and a glass of Cava, the idea of writing a humorous fiction novel came to me. I didn't need to make it all up though as I had a plentiful supply of funny real life snippets.

To get started, I studied creative writing through the Open University, which fitted nicely around my job and, to my delight, was absolutely nothing like school. The Scott Family Short Stories started out as an assignment for this course. A Christmas Day Kerfuffle was the result of the fictional account of the first Christmas brunch my husband spent with my family. Of all the short stories, this one has more true snippets in it than the others. The taxi driver and bike box scene in Pedalo Pandemonium was pretty true to life, too. The driver looked different, but the airport to hotel transfer only required slight embellishment.
​​
I also write Women’s Fiction. Pictures in the Sky was my debut novel, and I am currently writing my second, Painting Bananas.


About the book
Laura and Ben are still together, against all the odds. Laura's Family the Scotts are adorable - but they wreak havoc wherever they go. The couple have survived first date silicon dog poo, Christmas mayhem and even dodgy marshmallows.

Their future together may have looked doomed on more than one occasion, but here they are at the airport – eating bacon sandwiches and watching planes take off, as they wait to board their flight to Mallorca.

A whole week in an idyllic Spanish fishing village. Just the two of them. Away from their families and the usual chaos. Wonderful.

What could possibly go wrong...?

Review
This is a novella length story and part of a series of short stories about the Scott family.

Can love conquer all? Can it conquer and overcome the fact the two families couldn't be more different. When I say different I am talking about one family believing they are better than the other. A higher social class than the Scott family, because they are just a normal family. They are also chaotic, unpredictable and often a pain in the behind.

If I were Laura I would cut my losses, dump Ben and find someone who doesn't sneer at my habits or my family. The pink-tinted glasses of first love won't last forever. When it does fade away they will be left with the things they don't have in common and the people they disagree about. Then it wont be so easy to just gloss over the obstacles in their relationship.

These are amusing short stories, quick reads for any spare time, for relaxing and they are the perfect holiday read. It's a contemporary romcom about a chaotic family and relatives who don't understand boundaries. It doesn't purport to be anything other than a fun and entertaining read.

Buy Pedalo Pandemonium at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at books2read

Sunday, 15 September 2019

#BlogTour The Last Landlady by Laura Thompson


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Last Landlady by Laura Thompson. It's a memoir, a collection of memories, thoughts and impressions of a strong woman in a male dominated world.
About the Author
Laura Thompson won the Somerset Maugham award with her first book, The Dogs, and wrote two books about horse racing while living in Newmarket. Her biographical study of Nancy Mitford, Life in a Cold Climate, appeared in 2003 (re-issued 2015) and was followed by a major biography of Agatha Christie. A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan was published in 2014, and 2015's Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters was recently sold to television. She lives in Richmond.

Visit Laura's website, Buy The Last Landlady
About the book
Laura Thompson’s grandmother Violet was one of the great landladies. Born in a London pub, she became the first woman to be given a publican’s licence in her own name and, just as pubs defined her life, she seemed in many ways to embody their essence.

Laura spent part of her childhood in Violet’s Home Counties establishment, mesmerised by her gift for cultivating the mix of cosiness and glamour that defined the pub’s atmosphere, making it a unique reflection of the national character. Her memories of this time are just as intoxicating: beer and ash on the carpets in the morning, the deepening rhythms of mirth at night, the magical brightness of glass behind the bar…

Through them Laura traces the story of the English pub, asking why it has occupied such a treasured position in our culture. But even Violet, as she grew older, recognised that places like hers were a dying breed, and Laura also considers the precarious future they face.

Part memoir, part social history, part elegy, The Last Landlady pays tribute to an extraordinary woman and the world she epitomised.
Review
This is a very personal story for the author, because it's the memoir of her grandmother. A grande dame of the English pub. It describes the way Violet fights for her independence in the industry. Not exactly an easy task when you're a woman trying to succeed and make your mark in a male dominated business.

The book is full of anecdotes and charming stories about Violet and her punters. It's a little bit like everyone knows Peggy Mitchell (Eastenders) as the epitome of pub landlady. Brash, loud and absolutely in control of everyone in the pub - no matter how drunk or belligerent. It's as British as it gets.

Thompson veers off quite often into opinions on today's society and in the era of her grandmother and long before her time. The culture of drink and drunkenness, especially as it pertains to women. How the pub and pub culture as we know it came to be.

It's not told in a narrative per se or in chronological order, but rather in a series memories, reflections and collection of impressions. Tales of eccentric patrons and amusing situations sometimes make light of how difficult it must have been at times for a woman in Violet's position.

At times it felt as if the world of Violet was being infused by the thoughts and opinions of Laura, which then made it less of Violet's memoir and more Laura's memoir. To be fair the blurb describes it as part memoir, part social history and part elegy.

It's a memoir, a collection of memories, thoughts and impressions of a strong woman in a male dominated world.

Buy The Last Landlady at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound pub date 5 September 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

#BlogTour Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams.

Ring Fenced is on an Amazon Countdown  Promotion – selling at 99c /99p  from  11-15 Sept 2019
About the Author
Having the background of a successful career in commerce and finance, Zach Abrams has spent many years writing reports, letters and presentations and it's only fairly recently he started writing novels. "It's a more honourable type of fiction," he declares.

Writer of the Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in Scotland, Zach has also written the psychological thriller 'Ring Fenced' and the financial thriller 'Source', as well as collaborating with Elly Grant on a book of short stories.

Zach is currently producing a non-fiction series to help small businesses -using the collective title 'Mind Your Own Business'. The first, 'So, You Think You Want to be a Landlord' is already available.

Follow @Authorway on Twitter, on Facebook, Visit zachabrams.wixsite.com


About the book
Sex. Money. Power. Control. Benjamin wants it all.

He is Bennie, a loving husband and father; Benjie, a beloved son. He climbs the ladder as Ben, a corporate banker, and rakes in money as a bestselling author. And when he wants to escape it all, Benjamin styles himself as Jamie — the lover of a beautiful musician.

His life, in a word, is perfect. But after years of keeping his separate personae a secret, cracks begin to appear in the façade.

When an unexpected series of events topples Benjamin’s carefully crafted world, his separate lives collide with dire consequences.
Review
Benjamin, Bennie, Benjie, Ben and Jamie - all one and the same person, and yet they all lead entirely different lives with their own separate personalities. They even have a specific way of dressing and being perceived.

Ben (insert any other of his names here) is quite smug about his duplicitous behaviour and basks in his secret success. It's only a question of time before it all comes tumbling down around him. In fact he is actually quite condescending when it comes to the way he treats his family or rather his families. He keeps his wife and children away from his parents, because he doesn't want to meld his Jewish heritage with his non-Jewish pretend personas.

Perhaps he isn't really that different from everyone else in the sense that plenty of people pretend to be someone they aren't or adapt their actions and personality to fit into a variety of situations. Do we ever know anyone completely or do we just know and see the person they want us to experience?

The transitions could be a smoother and the characters need more depth, and less is sometimes more. It could do with a good edit. Saying that, the premise had potential, although the main character wasn't sympathetic at all.

It's a fast-paced contemporary read about expectations, secret lives, ego and greed. If you're so busy trying to press every bit of your own pleasure out of life then you might just find that it passes you by quicker than you think.

Buy Ring Fenced at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at NextChapterPub.

#BlogTour Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks


Today it's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks. It's a domestic noir thriller with elements of a psychological thriller.

About the Author
Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-east England. her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she's had eighteen international bestsellers. She's been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa and is a keen supporter of The National Literary Trust. She's lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband and son.

Follow @adeleparks @HQStories on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit adeleparks.com


About the book
Lies, Lies, Lies explores the darkest corners of a relationship in freefall in a mesmerising tale of marriage and secrets.

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three.

And so what if Simon drinks too much sometimes - Daisy's used to it, she knows he's letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.

Review
Leave it to Parks to pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute. She has this talent for sliding in the unexpected and catching her readers unawares.

The lie that turns Simon and Daisy's marriage on its head is a big one. The kind of lie you can't come back from and the kind that changes lives forever. It's not the cause of Simon's drinking problem, but it certainly exacerbates it. He becomes paranoid and suspicious. The trust between himself and Daisy is non-existent.

Meanwhile Daisy is putting on a brave face in front of family and friends. She has no idea Simon has caught her in a lie - blissfully unaware. What she does know is that his drinking is out of control and something has got to give. And it does, but not in the way either of them expect it to.

Whilst the two of them are so engrossed in their own brand of ego-trip and type of self-flagellation they do something unthinkable, which changes their little family forever.

Parks dives straight into the nitty-gritty of relationships and married life. Specifically what happens when the fragile balance between two people is thrown off-kilter by trust issues. Once there is an element of doubt in a relationship it grows like a weed.

It's a domestic noir thriller with elements of a psychological thriller. As usual Parks combines the controversial with the more normal everyday situations we have to deal with in life to create a captivating read.

Buy Lies, Lies, Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ - Harper Collins Uk pub date 5 September 2019 - Paperback £7.99 - EBook £5.99 - Audiobook £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of I Invited Her In by Adele Parks.