Monday, 17 February 2020

#BookBirthdayBlitz From Here to Nashville by Julie Stock


Today it's the Book Birthday Blitz for From Here to Nashville by Julie Stock.

Enter the Giveaway below to Win a signed paperback copy of From Here to Nashville, a bookmark and a guitar magnet (Open to UK Only)
About the Author
Julie Stock writes contemporary feel-good romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in February 2015 and her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace in March 2017. Over You (Sam's Story) and Finding You (Jenna's Story), her follow-up novellas to From Here to Nashville were published in 2018, making the From Here to You series complete. She has also published a boxed set of the From Here to You trilogy of books. Julie is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and The Society of Authors.

The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge was published in August 2019, followed by Bittersweet, a collection of 12 Short Stories for Modern Life in September 2019.

Julie is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.

Follow @wood_beez48 on Twitter, on Amazon, on Instagram, on Facebook, on Goodreads, Visit julie-stock.co.ukBuy From Here to Nashville

About the book
Two worlds, 4,000 miles apart. Is their love strong enough to keep them together?

Rachel Hardy dreams of being a successful country music singer in Nashville's Music City, four thousand miles away from her lonely life in Dorset. When Jackson Phillips, an independent record label owner, encourages her band to audition for a nationwide 'Open Mic' competition, she decides they have nothing to lose.

But when she starts to fall in love with Jackson, the stakes suddenly get higher and she finds herself with a great big dilemma on her hands. Should she abandon her dream and take the easy way out or should she leave the life she has always known behind and take a gamble on a man who has personal demons of his own?

Follow Rachel and Jackson as they learn to trust in love again to see whether their music really can unite them.

Review
Career or love - what a dilemma, eh? Rachel has to make a choice between following her dreams or following her heart. It really depends on which one is more important. Or can she have both?

Rachel comes to the attention of Jackson, an independent record label owner, whilst singing with her band. He suggests they audition for a competition, which may lead to bigger opportunities, like the dream Rachel has of being a country singer in Nashville - the home of country music.

The emphasis is on the pull and push romance between Rachel and Jackson, which is built upon the relationship Rachel has with her music and lyrics. The desire to achieve success on a certain level, to be able to share her passion. It becomes a battle between what she wants and what she needs. Her ambition and path to success isn't necessarily what her band wants though.

It's a romance - more of a traditional contemporary read about love.

This is the first book in the From Here to You series. Some of the characters that have a more minor role in this story tell their own stories in the next book. I think Stock purposely doesn't develop certain characters, so it's an opportunity to show depth in the next book. You can give depth and background in multiple books without boring the reader, when they interact with different storylines and characters they can evolve differently.

Buy From Here to Nashville (From Here to You #1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Clued Up Publishing, pub date 16 Feb. 2015. Buy at Amazon com.

Enter the Giveaway to Win a signed paperback copy of From Here to Nashville, a bookmark and a guitar magnet (Open to 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.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

#BlogTour Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds by Nick Albert


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds: Living the Dream in Rural Ireland by Nick Albert.
About the Author
Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980's he qualified and began coaching sport professionally.

After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland - a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.

In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in early 2020.

Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

Follow @NickAlbertautho on Twitter, on Instagram, on Goodreads, on Youtube, on Amazon, on Facebook and NickAlbertAuthor on Facebook, Visit nickalbert.co.uk  nickalbert.allauthor.com  nickalbertauthor.blogspot.com, Buy Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds


About the book
Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good, the air sweet, with space for their dogs to run free.
Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they had never visited. As their adventure began to unfold, not everything went according to plan. If finding their dream house was difficult, buying it seemed almost impossible. How would they cope with banks that didn’t want customers, builders who didn’t need work, or the complex issue of where to buy some chickens?

Review
What is a nightmare to one person is a dream to another. A series of events in Nick's life lead him to a new path in life. He wants to change the way his life is built, the way he spends his time. No more being a hamster powering a tiny wheel in the huge machinery of his industry.

It's interesting how some events can seem almost like an omen or a sign, perhaps more so because some of us perceive them as much, whilst many of us just ignore them and carry on. A health-scare  jolts Nick and Lesley into action, it awakens forgotten wishes and a need to be relaxed instead of constantly stressed.

Albert wrings the comedy from the eccentricity, the boldness and the determination. Simple tasks often become mole hill to mountain situations, so it's easier to cope when you can laugh at yourself and others.

This is a humorous memoir, the beginning of a series of books that explore life in rural Ireland. A chosen life, as opposed to a life that is forced upon us as we try to navigate the problems and find pleasure in the small moments. Nick and Lesley take the bull by the horns and do what many of us would like to do - build a life that gives not only stress, but also peace, fulfilment and happiness.

Aside from that if you come away with anything from this read it will probably be the love of Ireland. The reverence, admiration and love for the surroundings is palpable.

Buy Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Ant Press; pub date 25 Sept. 2017. Paperback Audiobook. Buy at Amazon com. Paperback Audiobook

Saturday, 15 February 2020

#BlogBlitz Mile Marker 139 by Cynthia Hilston


Today it's the Blog Blitz for Mile Marker 139 by Cynthia Hilston.
About the Author
Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. Visit her website at www.cynthiahilston.com for more information.

In her spare time - what spare time? - she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Follow @cynthiahilston on Twitter, on InstagramGoodreadson Facebook, Visit cynthiahilston.com
Buy Mile Marker 139


About the book
At mile marker 139 along the Ohio Turnpike, a mysterious woman named Shelley Parkinson arrives at 3:14 at the rest area every night. She sits outside at one of the picnic tables, her fragile hands clutching one cigarette after another. Troubled people swirl around her, battling their own sorrows.

Gruff old janitor Mike Popkins works third shift at the facility and has been lost since his wife died, cutting himself off from his only son and going through the motions of his job. Idealistic young Sarah Wilcox whips up drinks at the happening new coffee shop at the rest stop, but her mind whips of dreams of traveling the world and living the life her late grandpa did as he drank a coffee on all corners of the globe. Heartbroken middle-aged trucker Russ Jacobs would rather spend long hours on the road than fall in love again. They all befriend Shelley. Each one desires something different, but none of them know why she haunts the rest area.

Unexpected death, disease, and accidents force Mike, Sarah, and Russ to make hard decisions to move forward, ripping them from their pasts. Can these three motley friends find healing in their own lives and help a woman who says she doesn’t need anyone, even as her brokenness spills onto them?

Review
It's quite common for people to be drawn to beauty spots. They share an appreciation for these places. Is it really a stretch to think they could also be drawn to places that conjure up a more morose association or sense of despondency. Perhaps also being able to perceive someone who is lost or in need, and in doing so also reflect on their own problems.

The lives of Mike, Sarah, and Russ intersect with a strange forlorn figure. A woman who sits in the same place come rain, sun, snow or high winds, whilst repeating certain numbers to herself. One by one they are drawn to this strange women who doesn't seem to care about herself or her surroundings. She just is.

It's a contemporary read - a contemplative read about despair and the need for human interaction.

Hilston creates this micro-cosmos inside a bigger picture, and in a way the world or rather humankind is structured with small connected worlds. Worlds made up of emotions, be they painful or joyful ones. People looking for comfort, connection, support and kindness. It seems like such a simple thing, but in a world full of people who are for the majority quite disconnected from themselves and each other kindness is no longer a natural reaction.

I think one of the more poignant aspects of the read is Hilston making a point about loneliness. Feeling lonely doesn't automatically equate to being alone. You can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. Sometimes you just need someone to reach out and care, and take note that you are there.

Buy Mile Marker 139 at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Pub date 13 Dec 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of Rocks and Flowers in a Box and A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston.

Friday, 14 February 2020

#PublicationDayPush The Single Best Thing by Elaine Spires


Today it's Publication Day Push for The Single Best Thing by Elaine Spires.
About the Author
Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine's keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels. Elaine has written two books of short stories, two novellas and seven novels, four of which form the Singles Series - Singles’ Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way and Singles At Sea.  Her latest book, Singles, Set and Match is the fifth and final book in the series.

Her play Stanley Grimshaw Has Left The Building is being staged at the Bridewell Theatre, London in May 2019.  Her short film Only the Lonely, co-written with Veronique Christie and featuring Anna Calder Marshall is currently being in shown in film festivals worldwide and she is currently working on a full length feature film script. Only the Lonely won the Groucho Club Short Film Festival 2019!  Elaine recently returned to UK after living in Antigua W.I. She lives in East London.

Follow @ElaineSWriter on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagram, on Amazon, Visit elainespires.co.uk
Buy The Single Best Thing


About the book
Almost four years have passed since Melv followed Eve back to England refusing to throw away their long awaited chance of lasting love and happiness. Much has happened in that time. No longer a tour manager for Travel Together, Eve is enjoying unexpected success in her new career. Has she forgiven him for hurting her so deeply? Was her love for him simply enough? And what about her own dark secret?

Provoking smiles and tears this glimpse into Eve’s future brings the Singles’ Series to its final conclusion.

Review
In this final part of the Single series, which should probably be read in order to get the full gist of the characters and the story, the reader gets to see what the future holds for Eve.

She finally works up the courage to put pen to paper and ultimately finds her way to becoming a published author. The heartache, confusion and pain are channelled into the written word. Eve evolves as a person, which may have come a little late in the day, but the results speak for themselves.

It's a contemporary read about love, relationships and the kind of secrets that destroy lives. I like the way Spires doesn't lay the blame on one person. Even if Eve doesn't want to acknowledge it at first, part of her realises that some of the blame can also be laid at her door.

I'm not quite sure where real life begins and ends, but it certainly seemed as if the author built Eve's experiences as a budding author from many of her own. Although wandering from present into the past wasn't a new storyline for this series - this time it didn't gel as well. Possibly because the information on blogtours, hosts, bloggers and helpful authors is based on fact and real people - with a little moment of displeasure re a certain review. For me it took away from the rest of the story.

This book brings the Single series and indeed the story of Eve to a conclusion. Will she finally be able to resign herself to the fact the past is over and done, which means she can forgive herself for her own choices and life altering decisions. You shouldn't spend the present focusing on the past, because that will define your future.

Buy The Single Best Thing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Singles, Set & Match by Elaine Spires.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

#BlogTour A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan


It's really is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan. I really enjoy this series. Khan is a gem of a writer.
About the Author
Ausma Zehanat Khan is a novelist, human rights lawyer, lecturer and commentator. She holds a PhD in international human rights law with a research specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. After graduating from Trafalgar Castle, Ausma completed her B.. in English literature and sociology at the University of Toronto. She went on to complete her LL.B. and LL.M. at the University of Ottowa.

Previously, Ausma served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine, the first magazine to reshape the conversation about Muslim women across North America. Her debut novel, The Unquiet Dead, won the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. It is followed by The Language of Secrets, Among the Ruins and No Place of Refuge in the Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty mystery series. She is a longtime community activist and writer. Born in Britain, Ausma lived in Canada for many years before recently becoming an American citizen. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

Follow @AusmaZehanat @noexitpress on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit ausmazehanatkhan.com, Buy A Deadly Divide


About the book
In the aftermath of a mass shooting in a mosque, small town tensions run high. Clashes between the Muslim community and a local faction of radical white nationalists are escalating, but who would I have motive and opportunity to commit such a devastating act of violence?

Detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are assigned to this high-profile case and tasked to ensure the extremely volatile situation doesn't worsen. but when leaked CCTV footage exposes a shocking piece of evidence, both sides of the divide are enraged.

As Khattak and Getty work though a mounting list of suspects, they realise there's far more going on in this small town than anyone first thought.

Review
I can't say it often enough about this series and the author - Ausma Zehanat Khan should be on your radar. The writing is spectacular, the characters and storylines are culturally aware and authentic. The politics, religion, culture, ideologies and just in general the socio-political topics she weaves into the crimes and the lives of her characters, are astute and relevant.

This story is absolutely in keeping with the problems in the world at the moment. The rise or re-emergence of the far right, white supremacists marching the streets, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have become the norm instead of rare glimpses of hatred and ignorance.

Khattak and Getty land in the midst of a nest of simmering hatred, bigotry and racism. A local mosque becomes the scene of a mass shooting. The local police are quick to point the finger at a young man who fits the stereotypical prejudice they often fall back on when it comes to solving crimes.

Esa and Rachel are alarmed to find there has been a build-up to this incident, things that show a pattern of escalation - one the police chose to ignore. This implies systemic hatred and the fact they haven't brought an active neo-Nazi group to heel puts all the events in a different light.

It's a crime thriller with culture, race, religion and ideology at the centre. A brutally honest account of ignorance and hatred in our day and age, which the author pinpoints which frightening accuracy.

Khan doesn't want her stories, perhaps this one in particular, to come across 'as message books or as didactic', which they don't but they are an eye-opener. There are many words, sentences and paragraphs that are quote worthy. This book has a different feel to it. There seems to be an awareness of how important each word is, perhaps because the topic is so divisive and controversial. The fast-paced action is replaced with reflection and a head-on confrontation with the truth.

Don't be surprised if some of the dialogue is difficult to read. It's vile, ignorant and frankly unworthy of a world that is very much aware of how the persecution of a specific race or people can end in genocide. It's important to speak up. Too many look the other way or laugh things off as minor irritations. They aren't. Tell that to Holocaust survivors being confronted with swastikas and 'Juden Raus' again. Tell the Muslims being told to go home, spat at and all thrown in to the same category as terrorists, to just forget about it. We are all accountable when we choose to ignore hatred, because confronting it is too uncomfortable.

Once again Khan gives readers a compelling and driven read. A fantastic writer I wouldn't hesitate to buy or recommend.

Buy A Deadly Divide at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: No Exit Press; pub date 6 Feb. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.


Read my reviews of The Language of Secrets, Among The Ruins and  No Place of Refuge by Ausma Zehanat Khan.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The Women at Hitler's Table by Rosella Postorino

Review
This story is inspired by true events and the life of Margot Wolk. For whatever reason Margot chose to take her secrets and her story to her grave. I can imagine she perhaps felt guilt in some measure. She was the only one of the women to survive and they didn't die of old age - her connections proved advantageous to her survival at the time. There was also possibly a feeling that she was one of the people keeping Hitler and his officers alive.

Rosa is picked by the SS to work in Hitlers Lair, as one of a group of women who taste the food before Hitler and his officers partake of the same meal. Make no mistake this wasn't voluntary, and despite there being austerity and a lack of food due to the war, eating the food was no pleasure.
When a meal turns into a game of life or death each mouthful of food becomes a balancing act between culinary delight and painful death.

Postorino shows the eccentric and paranoid side of Hitler. The way he was consumed with fear, which in turn fuelled his hatred and anger. It has an element of Roman pomposity to it - taste my grapes peasant.

In a way I found it disappointing that the author didn't actually speak to Wolk - this is actually the aspect of the story I felt was missing, because it lacks the authenticity of an eyewitness. There are moments that speak to the trauma, the ruthless methodology of the regime. Then there are others, which smack of gratuitous drama.

Don't get me wrong, the read and the story that inspired the book, are absolutely compelling. Postorino gives life to one of the stories that vanish in the many folds of historical accounts.

Buy The Women at Hitler's Table at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins; pub date 14 Nov. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @rosellapost on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon,

#BlogTour Hidden Steel by Stuart Field


It's my turn on the BlogTour Hidden Steel by Stuart Field. It's the second book in the John Steel series.
About the Author
Stuart Field was born in the UK, in the West Midlands. He spent his early years in the army, seeing service in all the known (and some unknown) hotspots around the world. He now lives in Germany with his wife Ani. When not engaged in highly confidential security work, he writes thrillers which perhaps mimic his life-experience more than the reader would like to believe.

Follow @StuartField14 on Twitter, on Facebook, on GoodreadsBuy Hidden Steel


About the book
In the UK, Detective John Steel is investigating the organization who killed his family. When he comes across information that something big is going to happen on the cruise ship Neptune, Steel goes undercover. He has fourteen days to figure out what is going to happen - and to stop it.

In New York, Steel’s NYPD partner, Detective Samantha McCall, is investigating a series of deaths. All seems run of the mill for the homicide detective until they find out that the deaths are somehow connected to the cruise ship John Steel is on.

McCall is convinced there is a mole in the department, but can she figure out who he is - and who he's working for? Meanwhile, Steel is running out of options... and the clock is ticking.

Review
This is the second book in the John Steel series, both books can be read as standalone novels.

The book seems to be split into two storylines with no apparent connection, aside from the fact John Steel and Sam McCall know each other. Steel is on a cruise ship playing his - my name is Steel, John Steel - role. He does have a wee bit of super spy aura going on. He is everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

He is working undercover chasing something based on information that the Neptune is linked to a possible crime in the making. He isn't sure what he is looking for he just knows that something wicked this way comes.

Meanwhile Sam McCall and the rest of the NYPD team are dealing with a series of deaths. What appears to the inexperienced to be accidental is something more nefarious to the more weathered eye of McCall.

I like the way the author creates this imperfect perfect and almost mystical figure in Steel. His reputation proceeds him as he appears to save people and situations with such ease and power. Then Field balances the story by giving readers the normality of his police colleagues. The banter, the crime and the personalities, it all gels really well.

It's a fast-paced thriller, a combo of police procedural and action thriller. Field presents both storylines as separate entities at first, which makes for a split read, but not a disjointed one. The two are woven together naturally as the read progresses.

Buy Hidden Steel at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in paperback and digital formats by Next Chapter Publishing on 25th December 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 10 February 2020

#BlogTour A Wash of Black by Chris McDonald


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Wash of Black by Chris McDonald.
About the Author
Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure, before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime.

He’s a fan of 5-a-side football, has an eclectic taste in music ranging from Damien Rice to Slayer and loves dogs.

Follow @cmacwritescrime and @RedDogTweets on Twitter, on Instagram, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit macsbookreview.wordpress.com, Buy A Wash of Black


About the book
It's not life that imitates art. It's Death.

Anna Symons. Famous. Talented. Dead.

When the body of a famous actress is found mutilated on an ice rink in Manchester, recreating a scene from a blockbuster film she starred in years ago, DI Erika Piper must find the culprit; the media-dubbed ‘Blood Ice Killer.’

Having recently returned to work after suffering a near fatal attack herself, she must once again prove her worth. But when another body is found, and the killer issues a personal threat, Erika must put her demons aside and crack the case, or suffer the deadly consequences.

Review
DI Erika Piper is hesitant to step back into her job and career. After a vicious attack she is still uncertain, and what's more important is the lack of trust between herself and the person she feels is partly responsible for her being subject to the attack. Resentment can fester, especially if one of the parties believes they are beyond reproach.

Erika is thrown head-first into the very deep end of a bloody and brutal murder when a body is found slaughtered to the tune and direction of a book and film scene. A film star with no lack of obsessed fans and perhaps also one who decided to take it too far.

Erika, who is dealing with a lot of disruption in her private life, finds herself drawn into the world of film, which isn't as fun as it sounds. Anger, jealousy and petty rivalry. A film student who obsesses about the inaccuracies of the film, a disgruntled boyfriend and a hostile working environment.

It's a police procedural crime thriller. A fast-paced crime read - a possible series with plenty of potential for development. The author keeps everything to a bare minimum. Less is more and has the added bonus of being able to take both the characters and the stories in any direction.

This is a solid beginning for a debut novel and crime series. Going forward I hope McDonald trusts in his own talent to give the readers a great story. Open the doors and let loose. There is a lot more in there and I want to read it.

Buy A Wash of Black (DI Erika Piper #1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Red Dog Press

Sunday, 9 February 2020

#BlogTour Five Wakes and a Wedding by Karen Ross


It's my turn on the BlogTour Five Wakes and a Wedding by Karen Ross.
About the Author
As a former journalist, broadcaster and advertising copywriter, Karen Ross has followed a fairly traditional path into writing fiction.   Five Wakes and a Wedding is her fourth book, and like its predecessors, the novel has two common threads:  the setting is London’s Primrose Hill – Karen’s own neighbourhood – and one of the characters is a dog . . . this time he’s called Chopper and he’s almost the same size as a Shetland Pony

Karen has been self-employed for many years, and continues to work as a marketing consultant, in the absence of an offer to manage Tottenham Hotspur.  By way of credentials, her other ‘job’ is trading profitably on the world’s first football stockmarket, a platform called Football Index, where you buy and sell players with real money.

Follow @ComedyKaren on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit karenross.online, Buy Five Wakes and a Wedding


About the book
Undertaker Nina Sherwood is full of good advice. For example, never wear lip gloss when you’re scattering ashes.

Nina is your average 30-year-old with a steady job, a nice home – and dead bodies in her basement. As an undertaker, she often prefers the company of the dead to the living – they’re obliging, good listeners and take secrets to the grave.

Nina is on a one-woman mission to persuade her peers that passing on is just another part of life. But the residents of Primrose Hill are adamant that a funeral parlour is the last thing they need… and they will stop at nothing to close down her dearly beloved shop.

When Nina’s ‘big break’ funeral turns out to be a prank, it seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin for her new business. That is, until a (tall, dark and) mysterious investor shows up out of the blue, and she decides to take a leap of faith. Because, after all, it’s her funeral…

The perfect antidote to all those books about weddings, this book will make you laugh until you cry, perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley’s Bridesmaids, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Good Place.

Review
At the beginning I think there is this subconscious expectation of making sure there are five wakes and eventually even a wedding, but the truth is you get so caught up in the read that they pass by without you realising it.

Nina's business is making sure the dead get the send-off they want and deserve. She sets up shop in Primrose Hill with the hope that her investment will pay out eventually. What she isn't expecting is so much confrontation and determination to close her down and run her business out of the neighbourhood. They will stop at nothing to get rid of the upbeat business owner with creative ideas on the final journey.

She also wasn't expecting to meet a very attractive investor, who tries to sweep her off her feet. The question is whether he is too good to be true.

It's a snarky romcom - a fun introduction to life before death and death itself.

I wasn't sure about the motive for opposing Happy Endings - not wanting to be confronted with death, perhaps because I have a more relaxed approach to it. I loved the way Ross takes the opportunity to take away a little bit of the fear and uncertainty by introducing something more than just the bog standard goodbye.

Around that she creates a lovely story about a determined young woman who moves over, under and through all the obstacles in her way without even blinking.

Buy Five Wakes and a Wedding at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ - One More Chapter; pub date 19 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Secret Letter by Kerry Barrett


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Secret Letter by Kerry Barrett.

About the Author
Kerry has always loved books, words, writing and reading. She was a very bookish child and read all the time. She remembers challenging herself to read all the Famous Five books by her seventh birthday – but she doesn’t remember if she succeeded!

From growing up on a diet of Enid Blyton, Noel Streatfeild, and Sweet Valley High, she moved on to Jackie Collins and her all-time favourite Jilly Cooper. She studied English Literature and Language at the University of Birmingham, then after university, she trained as a journalist and worked on various newspapers and magazines as a writer and editor. In her spare time, she wrote and rewrote what would eventually become her first novel, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, which was published in 2013.

Kerry now divides her time between writing her own novels and editing other people’s. She loves editing as much as writing and she thinks being an editor helps improve her writing, while being a writer makes her a better editor.

Kerry is from Edinburgh originally, but now she lives in South London with her husband and two sons.

Follow @kerrybean73 and @HQDigitalUK on Twitter,  on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit kerrybarrett.co.ukBuy The Secret Letter


About the book
I signed the letter with a flourish. I wouldn’t send it. There was no need. But I wanted to keep it somewhere safe, somewhere I could find it if I ever needed to remember why I’d done what I’d done. The fight goes on, I told myself. The fight goes on…

London, 1910. Twenty-one-year-old Esther Watkins would do anything for the Suffragette cause. Imprisoned, force-fed and beaten, she is determined to fight for what she believes is right – no matter what it costs her. With new love Joseph by her side, will she get the better future she dreams of?

Kent, 2019. With her marriage in tatters, school teacher Lizzie Armstrong moves to sleepy Elm Heath for a fresh start, and her pupils and the community soon steal her heart. So when the school is threatened with closure Lizzie knows she has to fight, and she looks to the school’s founder for inspiration.

What makes Esther, born and bred in London, a proud Suffragette, suddenly leave the city and escape to Elm Heath? And when Lizzie uncovers Esther’s heartbreaking secret, could it give her the strength she needs to save not just the school, but her new beginning too?

Review
Esther is brave and so are her fellow Suffragettes, but fighting to have a voice comes with a price. Prison, police brutality and being shunned by family, friends and colleagues are just a few things that come to mind. Having to find new homes and employment were no easy feat in 1910. Luckily Esther finds other like-minded women to support her.

When she falls in love she doesn't expect that relationship to define the rest of her life and the choices she makes, but in a way it does. Those choices are also the beginning of the story Lizzie becomes wrapped up in.

In 2019 Lizzie is recovering from betrayal, heartbreak and adjustments in her career. A bit of a pariah in educational circles she finds her way to a school in Elm Heath, which is in as much need of assistance as indeed she is. There she discovers Esther and the will to fight for what is right.

It's a double time-line contemporary read and simultaneously also historical fiction.

Barrett shows us women's empowerment and what that looks like in our day and age, and for women in the past. In the 21st century it's easy to forget the struggle of the women who came before us.The courageous women who had to endure pain, humiliation, violations and imprisonment for decades, so we can cast a vote just as easily as the opposite gender. The fact it isn't part of our conscious thought process it perhaps why so many throw away their heavily fought for right to vote away at each given opportunity.

The Suffragettes would be appalled at the way many throw away the opportunity to have a political voice, but perhaps more so because of how hard they fought for it. Of course one could argue that choosing not to vote is also part of democracy.

The story is all about collaboration, even when it stretches over decades, and acknowledging that sometimes we fight not only for ourselves, but also for future generations.

Buy The Secret Letter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ - HQ Digital; pub date 6 Feb. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Hidden Women by Kerry Barrett.


The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré


Review
Education equals louding voice, which in turn will enable Adunni to make decisions and speak for herself. It's what her mother always told her, but her mother is dead and Adunni has taken her place in the family. With a family to feed and rent to pay Adunni becomes the only commodity her father has, so he sells her to a local man. A third wife to be, her dreams wither and die.

Things come to a head and fourteen-year-old Adunni runs away and ends up in the hands of a scrupulous criminal who sells her into servitude. There she again works as an unpaid skivvy and is mistreated by her mistress. No matter where she turns there seems to be the same result.

At first she doesn't question the girls who have trodden in her footsteps before her, but there is something about the last girl that doesn't quite sit right. What really happened to Rebecca and is there something or someone Adunni should be afraid of?

One of the saddest and most poignant moments in the book is when you realise that the story of Adunni isn't set in the past. It's set in modern day Nigeria, and because of that it is absolutely heartbreaking. Her status as a girl means living as the subservient daughter, the obedient wife and lastly as the servant who is treated worse than a stray dog. Such is the life of her gender. No power, no choice and no voice.

I loved the use of language as a tool to show progress and oppression in the same breath. Daré keeps the entire story on the level of the teenage girl, and yet it simultaneously screams out the unfairness of the adulthood which has been forced upon her.

It's a contemporary cultural read - a strong reminder of the stark contrast of life for women outside of the high walls of Western civilisation.

Buy The Girl with the Louding Voice at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: Sceptre; pub date 5 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @abidaré_author on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon,

Saturday, 8 February 2020

#BlogTour Beast by Matt Wesolowski


Today it is my absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Beast by Matt Wesolowski. It is the fourth book or episode in the brilliant Six Stories series. If you haven't read a book in this series then I can only suggest you do so, because it is a fascinating premise.
About the Author
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more.

His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller

Follow @ConcreteKraken or @Orendabooks on Matt-Wesolowski on Facebook , on Goodreads, on Amazon or visit him at mjwesolowskiauthor.wordpress.comBuy Beast


About the book
Continuing the unique, explosive Six Stories series, based around six podcasts comes a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention. Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East ’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘ The Vampire Tower ’, where she was later found frozen to death. Three young men, part of an alleged cult, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’.

However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of  Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, and the tragic and chilling legend of the Ergarth Vampire…

Review
Aside from the premise, which even four stories in hasn't lost the capacity to captivate me, the author writes with such detail to authenticity when it comes to the characters - it's remarkable. It also has me googling places, people and events, because he absolutely convinces me that everything is real. It's a testament to Wesolowski's talent as a writer.

Wesolowski uses darkness and the depth of inhumanity to create this almost imperceptible layer on top of his stories. No matter which character, scene or atmosphere - it's always there lurking. You can feel it sift into your very being. Each word is saturated with the expectation of evil, fear and the inevitability of human failure.

In this fourth part or episode of the Six Stories series our narrator Scott King has taken a step into the limelight. After revealing his own story in Changeling (part three) he no longer hides his identity. In a strange way it creates a sense of equality between himself and the people he interviews. They are somehow all in the same boat, right?

This time we are on the hunt for vampires. We have a victim and her three killers, but do we really know the why? Was she really the lovable influencer with a penchant for having a bit of cheeky fun and saving the world at the same time? Or is there something more nefarious behind the way she tried to garner as many likes, shares as possible, and become famous? Scott King tries to find the truth in the midst of the rumours, half-truths and omissions.

It's urban noir soaked in folklore, myth and imperfection of humankind.

It's a riveting read. This author never fails to draw me in and keep me enthralled. I know people throw this out there all the time, but this would make a fascinating visual experience. Either way Wesolowksi is always a read I would recommend. He creates the kind of read that stays with you, which isn't an easy feat at all.

Buy Beast (Six Stories #4) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books; Publication Date: 6 February 2020 | Paperback | £8.99. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Orenda Books.

Read my review of Six Stories (Six Stories #1) - Buy Six Stories
Read my review of Hydra (Six Stories #2) - Buy Hydra
Read my review of Changeling (Six Stories #3) - Buy Changeling


Friday, 7 February 2020

#BlogBlitz A Dozen Second Chances by Kate Field


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Dozen Second Chances by Kate Field.
About the Author
Kate Field writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire where she lives on the edge of the moors with her husband, daughter and cat. Her debut novel won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award for new writers.

About the book
What are the chances that twelve little tokens could change a life?

Seventeen years ago, Eve Roberts had the wonderful life she’d always dreamed of: a degree in archaeology, a gorgeous boyfriend, and exciting plans to travel the world with him, working on digs. But when her sister Faye died, the life Eve knew ended too. Faye’s daughter Caitlyn came to live with Eve, her boyfriend left, and she quickly gave up on her dreams.

Now approaching her fortieth birthday, Eve faces the prospect of an empty nest as Caitlyn is leaving home. Caitlyn gives Eve a set of twelve ‘Be Kind to Yourself’ vouchers, telling her that she has to start living for herself again, and that she should fill one in every time she does something to treat herself.

With her very first voucher, Eve’s life will change its course. But with eleven more vouchers to go, can Eve learn to put herself first and follow the dreams she’s kept secret for so long? Because life is for living – and as she well knows, it’s too short to waste even a moment…

Review
The course of her life, according to Eve, has been dictated by the choices she made in the wake of a traumatic event. She never expected to be put into a position of becoming a mother to her niece. There are no regrets, but she has definitely put her love life on the back burner.

Caitlyn, who is off on her own adventures leaves twelve vouchers for Eve in an attempt to get her to enjoy life a little bit more. Eve doesn't really have to try very hard to use them, because some things just fall into place so naturally.

Including someone from the past coming back into her life. Someone who left her when she needed his support the most. A man unwilling to put his needs aside for the sake of a young child. So when he is thrust back into her universe she instinctively wants to take off running in the other direction.
He has other ideas and slowly worms his way back in, which makes everyone happy until an innocent encounter reveals a dark secret he has been hiding from everyone. The kind that destroys fragile newly rebuilt relationships.

It's a contemporary read about family, self-discovery and relationships. Field bounces around the topic of what family is in our day and age. The days of mother, father and 2.4 children are long gone. Blood ties and titles no longer define familial relationships. One parent families are no longer an occasional occurrence or deemed as something to be embarrassed about.

The author always keeps the story on a more serious level. There are moments of laughter, but in general I think the more anxious and painful emotions set the tone of the piece.

Buy A Dozen Second Chances at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ - One More Chapter; pub date 6 Feb. 2020. Buy at WHSmith. Foyles. Book Depository. Kobo.

#BlogTour Audiobook: The Estate by Liza Costello


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for the Audiobook The Estate by Liza Costello. Narrated by Denise Gough.

About the Author
Liza Costello was born in County Westmeath, where she lives with her husband and two children. A copy editor and poet, her writing has been broadcast on RTE Radio 1 and published in outlets including The Stinging Fly, The Saturday Independent (Ireland), The Manchester Review and Mslexia. Costello won the Dromineer Literary Festival Poetry Award (2011), came joint second for the Patrick Kavanagh Award for an unpublished collection of poetry (2015), and has been shortlisted for the Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Competition and the Francis McManus Short Story Competition. She is currently completing a PhD on the work of the Irish writer Dermot Healy.

Follow on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit lizacostello.comBuy The Estate


About the book
In her gripping debut, Liza Costello takes listeners on a journey into the world of ‘ghost estates’, sprawling housing complexes left almost abandoned. The Estate follows Beth Sheehan, a young Irish woman staying in a Buddhist retreat in Sri Lanka, where she writes down everything that happened to her back in Ireland in an attempt to believe what she has been told; that she is not guilty of murder.

The Estate transports listeners between the remote Sri Lankan retreat where Beth recovers from her trauma and recession-era Ireland, exploring how her life began to unravel. Isolated from her friends and family, she falls for the intense and charismatic Jason, who persuades her to go with him to housesit in an upmarket ‘ghost estate’ in the rural Irish midlands. When Jason’s arrival is postponed, Beth finds herself alone, with only the inhabitants of the estate for company, including friendly Clara, the strange Mr and Mrs Doran, and Michael, a squatter with substance issues and a medical problem.

As Beth begins to settle into life in her new home, it becomes clear that something dark is happening on the estate. She hears gossip about the house she’s living in alone – rumours about a suicide. And when a child goes missing, the house takes on deadly connotations. There’s no place like home…and Beth hopes there never will be again.

Narrated by Denise Gough (People, Places and Things; Angels in America), The Estate is a shocking story in which motives are thrown into doubt, ties are tested, and truths are questioned. An edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Cass Green.

Review
The story wanders from Beth in a silent Buddhist retreat in Sri Lanka and Beth in Ireland. Life after and life before. Almost like scales of guilt and justice balanced precariously in her mind and as part of her daily reality.

You know what they say nothing comes for free. It's something that Beth should have considered before accepting a strange offer to move into a elegant high-end rent free house on an isolated housing estate with her boyfriend.

Her friends are fed up with her constant drinking and partying, which is why the roommates all go their separate ways. The relationship with her mother and sister is often strained - they go months without communicating. It puts her in a position of vulnerability, because she is isolated. There is no one to share any fears or concerns with, perhaps to bounce any worries off of.

There is also this element to Beth, a part of her personality that she seems unwilling to acknowledge. She becomes aggressive when she drinks and she drinks a lot. Is she capable of hurting someone? Does she really have herself under control?

It's not long until the peace in the small community or rather the crushing isolation of the area is disturbed by odd events that lead Beth into something she never expected at all. I'm going to leave it at that, because listeners should hear the story develop for themselves, including the insidious plot that creeps into the life of unsuspecting Beth.

It's a psychological thriller, an insidious plot with multiple layers. All the story-lines are pulled together to create a fascinating read.

I have to give a nod to Denise Gough for the excellent narration. She absolutely manages to embody the character of Beth, set the stage and execute the plot with authenticity and precision, which of course is a testament to her talents.

This is a cracking debut novel. Costello infuses the story with elements of a domestic, psychological and urban thriller.

Buy The Estate (Audiobook) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Listening Length - 6 hours 57 minutes, Author - Liza Costello, Narrator - Denise Gough, Audible.co.uk Release Date - 06 February 2020, Publisher - Audible Studios, Program Type - Audiobook, Version - Original recording, Language - English, ASIN - B081VSNX8F,