Coming Home to Maple Cottage by Holly Martin #BookReview #BlogTour #BlogBlitz (@HollyMAuthor) @bookouture #ComingHomeToMapleCottage

Coming-Home-to-Maple-Cottage-Kindle

“Isla Rosewood is creating a new life for herself and her sweet nephew Elliot in their cosy, yellow-brick family cottage, brimming with special memories. Living in Sandcastle Bay was never part of Isla’s plan but, after her brother Matthew’s tragic accident, her whole world changed as she unexpectedly became a mother to the little boy she adores so much.

Leo Jackson was always known as Matthew’s fun-loving and wild best friend. But now Matthew is gone, it’s time to put his colourful past behind him. His role as Elliot’s godfather is the most important thing to him. And even though Leo and Isla are two very different people, they both want to give Elliot the childhood he deserves.

As the three of them enjoy time together watching fireworks, baking cakes and collecting conkers, Isla begins to see a softer side to charming Leo, with his twinkling eyes and mischievous sense of humour. And, despite herself, she begins to fall for him.

But does Leo feel the same way? Isla knows their situation is complicated but is it too complicated for true love… or will the year end with a happy new beginning for them all?”

So delighted and excited to be taking part in the gorgeous, autumnal treat of a book, Coming Home To Maple Cottage by Holly Martin. My thank to Kim Nash at Bookouture for allowing me on to the tour and for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Anyone who has read a book by Holly Martin before knows what to expect and the lovely cover of the book gives more clues that this is a warm romantic read, perfect for these lengthening autumn evenings when all you want to do is draw the curtains and hunker down with a mug of hot chocolate and a cosy read.

The book is set in the friendly little seaside town of Sandcastle Bay. However, this idyll has only become home again to Isla Rosewood following the tragic death of her brother, Matthew, which has resulted in Isla being forced to abandon her life in London and being dumped by her long-term boyfriend so she can return home and take up guardianship of her five-year-old nephew, Elliot. She is slowly rebuilding a life for the two of them with the help of the close-knit community in Sandcastle Bay, including her friends and family and, particularly, Matthew’s best friend Leo Jackson. But then all of this is put in jeopardy by an unwelcome arrival in the town…

There is much to love about this book. The characters are all warm and likeable; Holly has a flair for writing people that you are drawn to. Isla’s plight is interesting and compelling enough to have you desperate to find out what is going to happen and invested in the story to the final page. Leo is a suitable attractive but flawed romantic lead in the best traditions of the genre so I was praying for things to work out between him and Isla, essential in a book of this kind. There is also a supporting cast of interesting townsfolk, some of whom bring a welcome comic streak to the story with their small town gossiping and I was cringing along with Isla at times, but it was a very accurate portrayal of how small towns work. My favourite character, though, is Elliot. He is just adorable and Holly does a great job of capturing the speech and obsessions of a five-year-old. The relationships between Elliot and Isla and Leo and Elliot are the beating heart of this book and are a joy to behold.

I did have a couple of problems with this book. A minor one was some of the names – they are way out there on the tweeness scale, even more so than in normal in one of Holly’s book, so sugary they made my teeth hurt. Hot Chocolate Cottage was a step too far for me, I’m afraid.

My main issue was with one of the major plot devices. I don’t want to give too much away but, as a solicitor, I have to say that I could not suspend my disbelief enough to accept the actions of one of the characters. I just don’t believe it would happen like that. Even with all the poetic licence in the world it just did not ring true. Sorry. It did rather spoil the book for me and I wish Holly had found some other way of dealing with that aspect of the story.

On the up side, I really loved all the little autumnal details that were in there with the festivities and activities. And the romance between Isla and Leo was completely authentic and I loved that aspect of the book.

This is a sweet story and I am sure fans of Holly’s will love it, it has all the elements present that make her books os popular. There was a lot in it that I enjoyed and I am not sorry I read it. Even with the drawbacks, I was still eager to read to the end, but I could have enjoyed it more if some of the above issues had been different. Good, but not perfect, but you should read it and make your own judgement.

Coming Home To Maple Cottage is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, make sure you check out the blogs listed below:

Coming Home to Maple Cottage - Blog Blitz

About the Author

Holly Martin - author photo

Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 8 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. She is the bestselling author of 18 books.

Connect with Holly:

Facebook: Holly Martin Author

Twitter: @HollyMAuthor

Instagram: @hollymartin_author

Goodreads: Holly Martin

A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston #BlogBlitz #PublicationDay (@cynthiahilston) @RaRaResources #ALaughingMatterOfPain

A Laughing Matter of Pain

Happy Publication Day, Cynthia Hilston! I am delighted today to be shining a spotlight on A Laughing Matter of Pain on its publication day. I hope you have a wonderful day, Cynthia and that my readers will check out your new book. I haven’t had chance to read it yet, but look forward to doing so soon. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s random Resources for inviting me to take part in this publication day push.

harrycover

“Harry Rechthart always knew how to laugh, but laughter can hide a lot of pain that’s drowned by the bottle and good times. He grew up the joker in the early 1900s in Cleveland, Ohio, but as he enters adulthood, conflict splits him. His once close relationship with his brother, Erik, breaks as they come into their own and Erik goes off to college. No longer under Erik’s shadow, Harry feels he might finally shine and make others see him as someone to be proud of. Harry finds an unlikely comrade who understands how he feels–his younger sister, Hannah. Once free of high school, Harry and Hannah double date sister and brother, Kat and Will Jones, attending wild, extravagant parties during the years of Prohibition. Harry thinks he’s won at life–he’s found love in Kat, in a good time, and in the bottle. But all the light goes out fast when Harry’s alcoholism leads to disastrous consequences for him and Kat.

Harry thinks the joke’s on him now that he’s sunk lower than ever. He’s in jail. He’s pushed away his family. He’s a broken man, but in the darkest depths of a prison cell, there is hope. Can Harry rebuild his life and learn that true laughter comes from knowing true joy, or will he bury himself once and for all in this laughing matter of pain?”

To buy a copy of A Laughing Matter of Pain, follow this purchase link.

About the Author

authorimage

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. Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful is her first original novel. She’s currently working on more books. Visit her website 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.

Connect with Cynthia:

Website: https://cynthiahilston.com

Facebook: Cynthia Hilston

Twitter: @cynthiahilston

Instagram: @authorcynthiahilston

Goodreads: Cynthia Hilston

Bear With Me by Jessica Redland #BlogTour #BookReview (@JessicaRedland) @RaRaResources #BearWithMe

Bear With Me

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour for Bear With Me by Jessica Redland. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

Bear With Me Cover

“Jemma has the job of her dreams as curator for the children’s section of a museum in London. She spends each day surrounded by the one thing she’s absolutely passionate about: teddy bears. When boyfriend, Scott, shows a genuine interest in her passion instead of laughing at her for “playing with teddies all day”, she knows he’s a keeper.

Returning home to the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay to celebrate her birthday, Jemma thinks she’s heading for her happy-ever-after when Scott unexpectedly proposes. So, a few days later, why isn’t he retuning her calls or responding to her texts?

Julie has always been a wonderful single mother to Jemma and her little brother, Sean. As owner of specialist teddy bear shop, Bear With Me, and the creative genius behind the successful range of Ju-Sea Bears, she inspires Jemma with her ability to balance a demanding career with home life. So why is the shop now in disarray and why is Sean so upset?

Sam thought he had his future all worked out. With a promising neurology career, a home, and a devoted fiancée, life was looking good. But now he’s all alone in a strange city, far from everyone and everything he cares about, struggling to rebuild the tatters of his life. Did he do the right thing by running away? What does the future hold and is he strong enough to face it?

Sometimes love finds us when we least expect it. But sometimes love leaves us, just as unexpectedly. When you’ve loved and lost, can you bear to let love in again?

Bear With Me, as all will be revealed …”

So, I did not mean to post this so late in the day but this morning I found that I was in Twitter jail for the first time ever!

200

Anyway, I was hanging on, hoping I’d be out so I could share this post properly but, alas, it looks like I’m in for a long stretch so it will have to take its chances on its own. Apologies, Jessica, if my tweeting misdemeanours affect the reach of the post. I promise I will reshare widely once I am released!

The cover gave me certain expectations for this book that were not not negative but I did think it was going to be a very light, untaxing kind of beach read. I have to say that I was surprised, there was a good deal more to the book than that. I was easy reading and fun in places but with a much deeper, more complex side to it that I was not expecting at all but really enjoyed.

The setting of the book, in a small seaside town on the North Yorkshire coast is fictional but so familiar to me that I believe I know the places Jessica had in mind when she was creating it, and they were places I spent all my summer holidays when I was a child as we live only 85 minutes from there, so I immediately felt at home in the setting and was able to relax into the book and integrate myself into it immediately. The author does a fantastic job of bringing the area to life in the book and anyone who isn’t familiar with the area I am sure will fall in love with it and want to visit.

The story has two main narrators, Jemma, living in London but drawn home to Whitsborough Bay by a health crisis for her mother. Sam has fled Whitsborough Bay after a personal tragedy but finds life in London a lonely existence. A chance encounter brings Jemma and Sam into contact and there stories merge as they form a friendship and find some of what the other needs in that relationship. Both characters were really well drawn and easy to warm to and I was drawn into their stories and excited to see where they would go.

This is a book that deals with some difficult issues – divorce, death, betrayal, loneliness and illness and has some complex themes of dealing with tragedy, acceptance, grief and loss and finding support in friendship, and possibly moving on through love. It was a really lovely balance between not shying away from tricky subjects but dealing with them in a deft, warm and light manner and leaving the reader ultimately satisfied and uplifted. I shed some tears, smiled some smiles and closed the book feeling like I had invested my time well by reading it. This book is much more than its cover would suggest. I would highly recommend it.

Bear With Me is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour and read some other reviews, check out the blogs below:

Bear With Me Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Jessica - Author Photo

Jessica had never considered writing as a career until a former manager kept telling her that her business reports read more like stories and she should write a book. She loved writing but had no plot ideas. Then something happened to her that prompted the premise for her debut novel, Searching for Steven. She put fingers to keyboard and soon realised she had a trilogy and a novella!

She lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast – the inspiration for the settings in her books – with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the dog has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs!

Jessica tries to balance her time – usually unsuccessfully – between being an HR tutor and writing.

Connect with Jessica:

Website: http://www.jessicaredland.com

Facebook: Jessica Redland

Twitter: @JessicaRedland

A House Divided (Division Bell Book 1) by Rachel McLean #BlogTour #BookReview #PublicationDay (@rachelmcwrites) @RaRaResources @jed_mercurio #AHouseDivided #DivisionBell

A House Divided

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A House Divided by Rachel McLean on its Publication Day, so happy publication day, Rachel. This is the first book in a trilogy, and I will be reviewing all three parts over the coming months, so watch out for parts two and three on 23 October and 20 November. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.

AHD ebook cover (small)

“Jennifer Sinclair is many things: loyal government minister, loving wife and devoted mother.

But when a terror attack threatens her family, her world is turned upside down. When the government she has served targets her Muslim husband and sons, her loyalties are tested. And when her family is about to be torn apart, she must take drastic action to protect them.

A House Divided is a tense and timely thriller about political extremism and divided loyalties, and their impact on one woman.”

If, like me, you have been glued to BBC One’s ‘Bodyguard’ over the past six weeks (and who hasn’t, it was fabulous, Jed Mercurio is a genius), no doubt you will be feeling as bereft as I am now it has finished. Well, I have the solution for you and it is to read A House Divided. Everything you loved about Bodyguard (except Richard Madden, sadly)  and more.

The book is set in the very near future, as Britain is affected by a twin terror attack on Birmingham and London. At the centre of the storm is Jennifer Sinclair, a junior Home Office minister and MP for a  Birmingham constituency – who also happens to be married to a British-born Muslim, with two Muslim sons. Jennifer is drawn into the political storm over how to tackle terrorism and finds her loyalties divided between her professional and personal lives.

I would call this book a dystopian thriller, except it is all too scarily plausible to believe that this is not a very real depiction of a possible future, and a not too distant one at that. In fact, it was more akin to a horror story for me. I got the same feeling reading this as  do reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, a feeling that this book could be terrifyingly prescient.

The characters in the book are very believable, in particular Jennifer who is someone I could relate to very easily, as a woman torn between motherhood and professional ambition. I was totally aligned with her as I went through the book and, as a result, I felt the tension through her internal battles, parental struggles and political manoeuvring and backstabbing. And backstabbing aplenty there is. Anyone who loved Michael Dobb’s House of Cards trilogy as I did will be captivated by this book and the potential as to where the next two books will take the reader.

This book is every bit as gripping as the finale of Bodyguard, especially the last quarter, and my heart was racing and I was unable to put the book down. On the edge of your seat reading with a disturbing level of believability that has left me unsettled, but also desperate to read Book 2. And one burning question – why the hell would anyone want to be a politician?

A House Divided is published today and you can get your copy by following this link.

To check out a variety of opinions on this book, make sure to visit the blogs of the other wonderful bloggers on the tour:

A House Divided Full Tour Banner

About the Author

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelmclean.com

Facebook: Rachel McLean

Twitter: @rachelmcwrites

Instagram: @rachelmcwrites

Goodreads: Rachel McLean

The Winter That Made Us by Kate Field #BlogTour #BookReview (@katehaswords) @AccentPress @RaRaResources #TheWinterThatMadeUs

The Winter That Made Us

I am so excited and delighted to be on the blog tour today for The Winter That Made Us by Kate Field. Her Joan Hessayon award-winning novel The Magic of Ramblings was my favourite read of last year and you can read my review of that book here to find out why I loved it so much. When I discovered that this book is set back in Ribblemill and features some of the characters from the previous book, I was desperate to read it. My great thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

image1

“When Tess finds herself unexpectedly alone and back in Ribblemill, the childhood village she thought she’d escaped, she’s sure she can survive a temporary stay. She’s spent a lifetime making the best of things, hasn’t she?

Determined to throw herself into village life, Tess starts a choir and gathers a team of volunteers to restore the walled garden at Ramblings, the local stately home. Everything could be perfect, if she weren’t sharing a cottage and a cat with a man whose manner is more prickly than the nettles she’s removing…

As winter approaches, Tess finds herself putting down her own roots as fast as she’s pulling them up in the garden. But the ghosts of the past hover close by, and Tess must face them if she’s to discover whether home is where her heart has been all along.”

If any of you have read my gushing about The Magic of Ramblings, no doubt you will be wondering if this book reached the expectations I had of it as a follow up and I admit I was worried. I was so in love with the first book that I didn’t want to read anything set in Ribblemill that might sully that experience for me.

I need not have been concerned. This book is everything I could have hoped for and more. It is every bit as sweet and gentle and moving and poignant and affecting as the first book was and it made me feel exactly the same way. It transported me to a place where I was totally at one with the characters, feeling what they were feeling and, once there, I didn’t want to leave.

Kate has such a tender writing style and she gets completely under the skin and right to the heart of her characters and what they are experiencing, and takes her readers with her very step of the way. And what they are experiencing is not out there, but the kind of personal struggles that we can all relate to – grief, loss, relationships, self-awareness. It is all completely real, which is what enables us to really relate to the characters, because they could easily be you or I.

In Ribblemill, Kate had created a beautiful setting peopled with such a delightful community that I am sure you will want to move there immediately, and it has retained the magic and charm from the first book but with a new couple at the centre of the story with a new set of issues to face, and these are very difficult issues that Kate has given them to tussle with. They are things that are not easy to talk about, and may ring slightly painfully for some readers, but they are dealt with so truthfully and sympathetically that, even if they cause you some tears (and they will, I cried), you will come out feeling that it has been a cathartic and ultimately uplifting experience. One of the subjects is one with which I have personal experience and I really felt the author addressed the subject with real thought and understanding.

I said in my review of The Magic of Ramblings that I could not explain why I loved the book so much. Over the past twelve months, as I have done more reviewing and more writing myself I have become more aware and now I know why Kate’s writing resonates so much with me. She makes me feel the way I want to make people feel when I write but I don’t believe I have the skill to achieve it. Her characters and settings and issues are completely authentic and alive to me, she deals with issues that are important to ordinary people, her writing is down to earth and gentle and sensitive but compelling and her books feel to me, real and warm and slightly magical. She has firmly established herself as one of my favourite writers and someone I aspire to emulate. If only.

The Winter That Made Us is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To find out what my fellow bloggers thought of the book, make sure to follow the tour:

The Winter That Made Us Full Tour Banner

About the Author

katefieldauthorphoto

Kate writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire, where she lives with her husband, daughter and hyperactive cat. 

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Kate’s debut novel, The Magic of Ramblings, won the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writers in 2017.

Connect with Kate:

Facebook: Kate Field Author

Twitter: @katehaswords

Perfect Girls by Alison James #BlogTour #BookReview (@AlisonJbooks) @Bookouture #PerfectGirls #NetGalley

Perfect-Girls-Kindle

“Phoebe. Tiffany. Melissa. They all made one little mistake…

When twenty-five-year-old Phoebe Stiles opens the door to her perfect apartment she doesn’t realise it’s the mistake that will kill her…

The body of the beautiful English girl is discovered months later – dumped behind the back of a department store. But who was the stranger she let into the safety of her home?

As Detective Rachel Prince pieces together the mystery surrounding Phoebe’s death, another young, blonde girl is found brutally murdered and abandoned in the grounds of an old theatre.

In the most dangerous case of her career, Rachel must track down the faceless individual to stop the body count rising. But to uncover the shocking truth, Rachel has to put herself at risk… can she catch the twisted killer, before they catch her?”

Delighted to be on the blog tour today for Perfect Girls by Alison James. My thanks to Noelle Holton at Bookouture for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is the first book I have read by Alison James, so I am coming to the series cold without any preconceptions as to her writing or the characters, although I believe this is the third book featuring Detective Rachel Prince. Having read this book, I will definitely go back and read the first two, as I really enjoyed both the style of writing and the characters in this book, although it was not entirely without fault.

The action in the book starts very quickly as we are drawn in to an ambitious case, where Rachel Prince is charged with representing British interests in a case of a murdered English reality star in Los Angeles. The plot is one it is easy to become embroiled in as we feel Rachel’s frustration and her impotence as a token guest on a case in a foreign country that she does not believe is being handled correctly. The plot moved along smartly and I was very engrossed in the puzzle of the crime and whether it was linked to other similar murders or not.

Rachel Prince is an easy protagonist to relate to. She is the kind of woman a lot of us would aspire to be, intelligent, successful, talented, independent, strong – or that is certainly how she comes across in this book, although it would seem she has a complicated romantic past that is referred back to here. That just serves to make her more human and approachable. I found the romantic tension between her and Rob a compelling and very realistic thread in the book too.

For the first two thirds, the book is an intellectual puzzle as the detective investigates in the usual way, following leads and piecing together clues to try and identify the murderer. She does half of this off the books, having been taken off the case when the British girl’s murder is deemed solved but Rachel disagrees. At this point, I began to query how realistic her behaviour, and the behaviour of other professionals in the book was, as they were doing a lot of things unofficially that made me skeptical. It was still entertaining but your enjoyment from this point forward will depend on how far you are prepared to suspend your disbelief and accept that this is fiction so realism is a flexible thing.

When it came to the denouement, real physical action kicks in which is a welcome change of pace and tone. However, something happens which I really struggled to buy into, given the character and behaviour of DI Prince throughout the rest of the book. I can’t say too much without giving away the plot but I just didn’t believe it, it jarred for me with what had been set out in the first 80% of the story. It was a shame, as I had really enjoyed the rest of it and was very invested in the story and the characters and had been racing through to find out what happened.

This is a great story, fast-paced and intriguing with well-drawn, relatable characters and a fascinating spin in the shape of the foreign setting. I really like the writer’s voice and enjoyed the majority of the book, with just a disappointing mis-step at the end. This will not stop me looking out for more from this author. People less pedantic than me may not have the same issues.

Perfect Girls is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the other blogs on the tour, check out the tour poster below:

Perfect Girls - Blog Tour

About the Author

IMG_7186

Born in the Cotswolds, Alison spent most of her formative years abroad. She studied languages at Oxford, then became a journalist and author, returning to university after her two children to take a law degree. After a three-year stint as a criminal paralegal, Alison worked as a commercial copywriter and then a TV storyliner, before coming full circle to write fiction again.

Connect with Alison:

Facebook: Alison James

Twitter: @AlisonJbooks

Goodreads: Alison James

What is Blogtober? What to Expect and How to Take Part

Excited to be featuring on Hazel’s excellent blog on 21 October as part of her Blogtober programme. If you haven’t checked out the lovely Tea and Cake for the Soul before, go and have a look, it is one of my favourite blogs to follow.

Tea & Cake For The Soul

Blogtober? I had never heard of it before but then this is the first year that I’ve really delved deeper into what blogging entails. Read on to find out what Blogtober is,  what you can expect to read here on Tea and Cake for the Soul over the coming month, and how to take part if you are a blog reader or a blogger.

banner for Blogtober Blogtober18

View original post 896 more words

Battlestar Suburbia by Chris McCrudden #BookReview (@cmccrudden) @farragobooks @NetGalley #BattlestarSuburbia #NetGalley

cover145291-medium

“In space, no one can hear you clean…

When Darren’s charge-cart gets knocked off the Earth-to-Mars highway and lost in space forever, he thinks his day can’t get any worse.

When Kelly sees Darren accidentally short-circuit a talking lamppost, and its camera captures her face as it expires, she thinks her day can’t get any worse.

When Pamasonic Teffal, a sentient breadmaker, is sent on a top-secret mission into the depths of the internet and betrayed by her boss, a power-crazed smartphone, she knows this is only the beginning of a day that isn’t going to get any better.

Join Darren, Kelly and Pam in an anarchic comic adventure that takes them from the shining skyscrapers of Singulopolis to the sewers of the Dolestar Discovery, and find out what happens when a person puts down their mop and bucket and says ‘No.’

Battlestar Suburbia will be loved by fans of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde, as well as anyone who’s ever wondered just how long someone can stay under one of those old-fashioned hairdryers.*

*The answer is: a really very, very long time.”

If I tell you that I spent my teenage years bingeing on the books of Douglas Adams and episodes of Red Dwarf (yes, the first time around when Dave Lister didn’t look mad/sad in his leather jacket and hat) that is really going to age me, isn’t it? However, I think I am exactly the age group that was going to enjoy this book the most because it reminded me of those things I enjoyed in my youth. (Middle-aged people, yes.)

Although I am afraid, for me, that no writer is ever going to be able to reach the genius heights of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this book comes as close as anyone is likely to get. It manages to attain that perfect level of absurdity and humour balanced with wit and intelligence and a healthy dollop of pop culture references to spot and snigger over as you wend your way through the book, a really delicious mix to relish.

We are set in a dystopian future where machines have got sick of being used as tools by infinitely less intelligent units, namely humans, and have turned the tables so that humans now serve them, mostly in the form of mopping floors. This happens not in a creepy Terminator/Matrix way, but in a humorous way where some machines actually secretly decide that they miss having their touchscreens fondled… that pretty much gives you a taste of what to expect. Throw in a very ‘mobile’ hair salon with the best pun name ever whose clientele are at least several millennia old and you must be totally intrigued by now, surely.

Humans have similarly decided that they aren’t overly happy about cleaning up after toasters and a resistance has formed, while some of the machines in the higher echelons have dreams of taking a form more physical, more squashy, more feeling… Quite what will happen when these two opposing desires clash, well you will have to read the book to find out.

This book is extremely well-written – very clever, very witty, great fun and with plenty of action and absurd plotting to keep you intrigued to the last page and beyond. The jokes appealed completely to my warped sense of humour, even the really, really corny/bad  ones. In fact, especially the really, really corny/bad ones (seriously, the salon name, genius). I have ordered a paperback copy of this book and I am already looking forward to the sequel. In space, no one can hear you…tapping your fingers in impatience to see what happens next. I highly recommend this book to everyone…man, woman, cyborg…of any age or persuasion, but especially ageing Dwarfers like me.

Battlestar Suburbia hot of the press and you can buy a copy here.

My thanks to NetGalley and Farrago for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Chris McCrudden was born in South Shields (no, he doesn’t know Cheryl) and has been, at various points in his life, a butcher’s boy, a burlesque dancer and a hand model for a giant V for Victory sign on Canary Wharf.

He now lives in London and, when not writing books, works in PR, so in many ways you could describe his life as a full-time fiction. If you like science fiction, graphs and gifs from RuPaul’s Drag Race you can follow him on Twitter for all three, sometimes at once @cmccrudden.

Costa Del Churros by Isabella May #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway (@IsabellaMayBks) @crookedcatbooks @RaRaResources #CostaDelChurros #RachelsRandomResources #FictionCafeWriters

Costa Del Churros

Another blog tour today (not mega-relevant as this book was published yesterday but can anyone tell me why so many books are being published today, there seem to be dozens!) and this one is for Costa del Churros by my fellow Fiction Cafe Writer, Isabella May, so I am delighted to be taking part. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. There is also a fabulous giveaway after the review so make sure you enter that.

Costa Del Churros Cover

“The rain in Spain doesn’t mainly fall on the plain…

Brits abroad Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina need more than the sweetness of churros with chocolate dipping sauce to save them from their unsavoury states of affairs.

Cue Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera, the town’s flamboyant flamenco teacher! But can she really be the answer to their prayers? 

One thing’s for sure: the Costa del Sol will never be the same again.”

Anyone who doesn’t really, really want a sugar-coated churro and some chocolate sauce to dip it in after seeing that book cover? No, didn’t think so, it must be the tastiest looking book cover I’ve ever seen.

This is the story of four very different women who become unlikely friends when they are drawn together in a flamenco class run by the enigmatic Carmen on the Costa del Sol and it could not get more Spanish if it tried. Isabella really brought the whole feel of the location alive and the fish-out-of-water feeling of the non-Spaniards who have made it their home.

To begin with, I found it hard to warm to a couple of the characters, as they are all very different to me but as the book progresses they all grew on me, much as they grew on each other as they learn things about themselves over the course of the novel and the flamenco classes. Isabella’s writing style is very chatty and easy to read and the characters all too believable, even in their more extreme moments so it is easy to get carried along by their stories. There are a number of very astute observations in the book, it cuts close to the bone in places and might make you wince with its accuracy, and it is also quite funny, so plenty to keep the reader entertained.

Having read Isabella’s previous two books, I felt like she has really got in to her writing stride in this one and it was the most comfortable and convincing for me. I think it really grasps the nature of female friendship and the kind of dilemmas that women are faced with, at the same time as having that touch of the exotic (for those of us who aren’t living the ex-pat lifestyle anyway) that takes us away from our every day lives. A really good read for anyone looking for an escapist read now that the nights are drawing in and we are all missing the hot summer days.

Now, where are my churros, please?

Costa del Churros is out now and you can get your copy here.

Giveaway

Giveaway Prize - The Cocktail Bar

Isabella is giving away a signed copy of her book The Cocktail  Bar. To be in with a chance to win, just click the Rafflecopter link below:

Rafflecopter

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

To follow the rest of the tour, checkout the blogs below on the relevant date:

Costa del Churros Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Author Pic

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar. 

Connect with Isabella:

Website: https://isabellamayauthor.com

Facebook: Isabella May Author

Twitter: @IsabellaMayBks

Instagram: @isabella_may_author

The Barefoot Road by Vivienne Vermes #BookReview #BlogTour (@VivienneVermes) @matadorbooks @RaRaResources #TheBarefootRoad #RachelsRandomResources

The Barefoot Road

This seems to have taken ages to come round but it is finally my turn on the blog tour for The Barefoot Road by Vivienne Vermes. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author and the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

TheBarefootRoad6CoverWrap250318P300Q

‘A young woman is found, emaciated and unconscious, in the mountains surrounding a village in Transylvania. When the villagers discover that she is of the same ethnic group that was violently driven out of the region many years before, they are reminded of their part in the bloodshed, and old wounds are reopen.

An uneasy peace is maintained until a young married man falls in love with her, and tensions rise within the community. 

When a child disappears in mysterious circumstances, the tension mounts in to hysteria.

While the story unfolds in the microcosm of a small village in the past, its themes are as universal as they are timeless: the fear of the outside, the supernatural versus the rational, and the force of desire between man and woman.”

I really love the cover of this book. The naivete style of the drawing completely complements the story of a small, remote village deep in Transylvania with unworldly and unsophisticated people trying to address issues that they cannot name or begin to know how to deal with.

This is an adult fairy tale in the very best tradition of the originals, which were written as morality tales for children, but told in a modern style (although set in an earlier time) and dealing with very modern and relevant issues for our current society.

The book’s prologue tells of a previous violent purge by the village of an unwelcome minority group living on its outskirts. A generation later, this bloody past comes back to haunt them when a young woman of the same race comes back to the village and stirs up all their ancient fears and prejudices until history threatens to repeat itself.

This book is deeply affecting in its darkness and violence because, despite it being set in a remote place and time, the parallels with current tensions in our own society cannot be ignored and serve to stoke up the fear of the reader as they contemplate how the prejudice, ignorance and fear of the villagers, confronted by an alien in their midst, turn them ugly and their mob mentality is stoked by the rhetoric of a bigoted leader intent on ousting the people in the village with more understanding and liberal views who oppose him. Anything sounding worryingly familiar here?

This book is not a comfortable read. It is quite graphic and earthy in its portrayal of life in this small village and does not flinch from descriptions of sex and violence. However, this is not done gratuitously but is necessary in the context of the story to understand how and why these people act and react as they do. Life here is hard and poor and on the extremes of society, so the actions and behaviour and beliefs of the people are similarly extreme. There is no middle ground for them, just black and white, good and evil, known and unknown and their lives are governed in equal parts by religion and superstition. Their society is rigidly structured and the structure maintained by social standing and peer pressure and societal judgement and anything that threatens this order is regarded with suspicion and dealt with harshly. It is a gut instinct of pack survival – human beings at their basic, primeval reaction to perceived danger. The reader wonders how much more civilised we have actually become ourselves when we feel threatened.

Despite this, the book is also beautiful in the way it is constructed. The writing is poetic, even in its brutality, and the author really brings to life the people and the settings and the whole story in time and place. The prose is alive with description of landscape and flora and fauna to the point that you can feel the oppressive mountains, breathe the thick vegetative smells, hear the running river and the setting completely mirrors the people and the story being told. It is expertly done and it draws you in to the story and holds you tight, even in the throws of the most uncomfortable, uncompromising scenes. I was in the writer’s thrall from beginning to end and left unsettled and stirred and moved, saddened and enraged and altered by the experience of reading. I cannot say I loved the book, because it was too uncomfortable a reading experience for that, but it is a book I am glad I read and is one I won’t forget in a hurry.

The Barefoot Road is out now and you can order a copy here.

The details of the rest of the tour can be found below:

The Barefoot Road Full Tour Banner

About the Author

PHOTO BERET

Vivienne Vermes is a writer and actress of Irish and Hungarian descent who divides her time between Paris and London. She has published four collections of poetry: Sand Woman, Metamorphoses, Passages and When the World Stops Spinning, and has performed her work in festivals throughout Europe. She is winner of the Piccadilly Poets’ award, the Mail on Sunday’s Best Opening of a Novel competition, as well as Flash 500s prize for short prose and the Paragram national competition for best poem and “petite prose”. She has taught creative writing in universities in Transylvania, and runs a writers’ workshop in Paris. 

As an actress, she has played roles in a number of French films, including Les Trois Frères, Le Retour and in Les Profs 2 in which she portrayed Queen Elizabeth II.  Her voice also warns passengers on the Paris metro to “Mind the gap”.

The Barefoot Road is her first novel.

Connect with Vivienne:

Twitter: @VivienneVermes