Friday Night Drinks with …. Yvonne Bastian (@yvonnembee) @TarnRichardson #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

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Bit of a change this week, I am having Friday Night Drinks with friend and fellow book blogger at Me and My Books – Yvonne Bastian.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

During the day I drink black coffee, when I am out my local it’s a pint of real ale and the occasional tot of whiskey. 

 You are the first real ale drinker I have had on the blog! If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

 I don’t go out that often, but I would love to go and see a show on the West End. There are so many to choose from and I think either the Lion King or Cats, but I would apologise in advance for my singing along. So I am going to be sneaky and ask what would you choose?

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Ohh, I love going to a West End show! What would I choose? Depends how much of a prude you are. If you are not at all, I would take you to Book of Mormon, which is hilarious but outrageous. If that isn’t your bag, Wicked would be my first choice, I love it and it makes me cry. The Lion King is also amazing, though. 

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Oh, I would love to have met Terry Pratchett and I would love to meet Maggie Smith. I love the humour of both of them and think it would be a noisy and fun filled evening.

Two of my absolute heroes. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

It has been a busy 6 months for me. It saw me changing jobs, not having enough time in the day to commit to the things I had signed up for, and making some tough decisions. I think this is something we can all relate to. 

I had been in my job for 12 years and it was a tough one to leave the friends I had made, luckily, it’s local so I still get to see them. My new job is very different and just as rewarding in many other ways and I am enjoying it a huge amount.

I decided that I did not have enough time to continue my Open University course so that has been popped on the back burner at the moment. 

The final toughie was to stop taking part in blog tours, I still have a few more to go that I had committed to and ..whispers…I have agreed to another 3. I am still reading 3-4 books a week but from my own shelf so hopefully I can get my TBR down into double figures one day!

I feel your pain. I have also stopped taking on blog tours to concentrate on my TBR and NetGalley backlogs, but sometimes it is so hard to resist, and I always want to help out the amazing blog tour organisers and authors. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

For me it’s the little things that make a huge difference. My first follower, the first person to comment and share are things that gave me a lovely boost. Then as the months turned into 2 years, the time an author sends a message to say thanks for a great review and asks me to read their next book, fellow bloggers leaving comments and letting me know that they have bought a book based on what I have written. Last year I was nominated in the Annual Blogger Bash Awards, when I got the email I cried and laughed at the same time, it wasn’t a pretty sight. I have reached milestones that I did not expect and it has boosted my confidence a lot.

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The hard bit, well that is finding the time to share, comment and chat on the various platforms. I can easily spend 2-4 hours a day reading and sharing fabulous posts from other bloggers, but this also eats into reading time. Finding a balance is important so I blog 5 days a week at the moment, and I also have two days away from social media, I do this so that things don’t become routine and that I don’t put pressure on myself. 

That is very organised and disciplined! What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I was asked a question at my interview and it was “What would you do if you could do anything?” my response was “to buy the winning lottery ticket so I could stop working and do all the things I want to do”. I would love to travel to ALL the Book events and festivals, meet fellow Book Bloggers and travel to those wonderful bookshops you see on Instagram posts. Of course, with all the books I would buy I would need my own Library, complete with windy metal staircase, a slidey along the wall ladder, leather armchairs, and a big old wooden desk, crystal decanters and a plumbed in coffee machine. Yep, that would do me.

Great ambitions, you are a twin soul! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I am looking forward to reading several book series. Now I may need to explain a little, until I started my blog I spent a couple of years reading a lot of Classic books, before that I would binge on various genres and then move on. Then the blog started and I started to read books that had just been released and finding that I was behind in the series. So, I am gradually starting to fill in the books I am missing for several authors and then I can read the series in order.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

There are loads of places I would like to visit or see, I have no passport and to be honest living in Cornwall is like being on holiday…sometimes. As a child, mum and dad took me and my sister camping and we went to Scotland, Wales and spent a lot of time on the Norkfolk coast. I would love to revisit some of these places, but I don’t think they would hold the same childhood magic. 

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I love Cornwall. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Errmmm interesting fact… I have 6 different coffee machines, sounds a bit boring lol I have 3 tattoos and want a fourth one because I hate odd numbers. The tv has to be on 18, not 17 or 19, it could go on 16 or 20. If a packet of sweets has an odd number I throw the odd one away, breaking it in half doesn’t count either.

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Oh, that is so interesting. Imparnumerophobia is the fear of odd numbers, did you know that? Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

ONE BOOK……….. sorry didn’t mean to shout……..BUT SERIOUSLY ONLY ONE BOOK!!!!!!!!!! Oooooooommmmmmmmgggggggg… There are so many that jump into my head at the moment and I could recommend so many, so I decided to be a bit naughty as I am sat at my computer surrounded by books and I thought about all the books I have read over the years. Last year I discovered a fantastic trilogy hahaha a trilogy yep 3 books wooohhoooo. Sorry feeling a little smug hehehe.Right so The Darkest Hand by Tarn Richardson is a mash up of historical, conspiracy, fantasy, and I absolutely and most definitely loved this series a huge amount and I would recommend it as a must read.

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THE DARKEST HAND

1914. The Outbreak of War

In the French City of Arras, Father Andreas is brutally murdered and the Catholic Inquisition sends its most determined and unhinged inquisitor to investigate. Poldek Tacit’s mission is to protect the Church from those who seek to undermine it. At any cost.

As Tacit arrives, British and German soldiers confront each other across the horror that is No Man’s Land and a beautiful French woman warns Lieutenant Henry Frost that there is a dark and unnatural foe lurking underground more awful than even Tacit can comprehend.

THE FALLEN

1915. Demonic possessions are sweeping across Rome.

War is raging on the Italian Austro-Hungarian border and bodies are piling up in the streets. But it isn’t the ravages of war that is causing such mass destruction, something evil and unnatural force is roaming the land and the Vatican’s Eagle Fountain is running red with blood.

Only Poldek Tacit, the church’s brilliant but flawed Inquisitor can hope to hold back the malevolent power, but as he immerses himself in this dangerous investigation he discovers that the path he is treading has already been prophesied and that where it is leading is threatening the very future of a world already teetering on the brink of the abyss.

THE RISEN

1917. The Apocalypse is imminent.

It is three years since our first introduction to the brilliant but flawed Catholic church Inquisitor Poldek Tacit, and the world has never needed him more. War, revolution and a relentless tide of inhuman terror is consuming the earth but where is Tacit?

As old allies unite in a frantic race to unmask the Antichrist and thwart his plan to bring everything into his power, the Darkest Hand continues to terrorise the innocent while in the Vatican’s vaults, long-buried secrets are about to be unveiled, and humanity’s chance of escape from the forces of evil hangs by a single thread.

You can but it as one set, so I’ll allow it! So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover andyour go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Failsafe…pahahaha… failsafe plan would be DON’T do the shots or the jaeger bombs or the …well I think you may see this may lead. To be fair I am not for going out much now, it takes longer to deal with the hangovers, I am sure its something to do with the water and not that I am getting older and turning into a lightweight. 

I’m afraid it’s age, embrace it! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

That would all depend on the shots thing, but if I was hangover free then the weather would determine where I would read. Yep Sunday afternoon reading,  in front of the open fire at home, as the weather gets warmer, then in my garden or in one of the beautiful gardens here in Cornwall or on a beach or clifftop bench.

Sounds perfect! Yvonne, this has been so much fun, hopefully one day we will get to do it for real. Thank you so much for coming on the blog.

Yvonne is a fabulous blogger and book lovers should definitely check our her blog at Me and My Books. You can also find her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next week I will be joined by another of my favourite bloggers, Eva from Novel Deelights, so please do come back and join us.

 

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten #BookReview # BlogTour (@nholten40) @KillerReads @0neMoreChapter @BOTBSPublicity #DeadInside

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The killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?

I am delighted to be one of the blogs rounding off the tour for Dead Inside by Noelle Holten. My thanks to Sarah Hardy of Books on the Bright Side Publicity for my place on this coveted tour, and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I feel like I have been waiting so long to write this review! I read this book almost as soon as I received a copy as I was eager to find out what Noelle had written, knowing as I did that her personal experience as a probation officer had fed into the plot of her debut novel, and I have to say I was not disappointed.

This is the first in a projected series following DC Maggie Jamieson, and it was a great set up for this character. Noelle revealed just enough about her to whet our appetite and make her someone whose story we would want to follow through future books, but still left a lot to be developed as far as she was concerned and an interesting hook to entice the reader in to the next book. However, this story was not really Maggie’s but Lucy’s.

Lucy was a fascinating character, and the perfect one to carry the story and deal effectively with the issues that Noelle wanted to raise. She is a woman with a foot in both camps of the narrative, firstly as a probation officer having to deal on a day to day basis with the perpetrators of domestic violence, and secondly as a woman who is herself a victim. The idea that someone who so clearly sees on a daily basis the reality of these men and the harm they cause to their victims and, at the same time, be able to justify to herself in her personal life putting up with this exact same treatment herself was devastatingly effective in illustrating just how hard it can be for women to break out of these situations. I thought the premise and execution were genius, and it really made me confront the reality of the problem, as someone who has no personal experience herself but who might have thought it was something I could never put up with. It is clear, reading this, that none of us should be complacent and we should all educate ourselves and have sympathy and understanding for women who find themselves in impossible situations.

The writing in the book is affecting and immersive. Noelle has a very interesting and unique style, an individual author voice that I found refreshing. The short chapters and unflowery style were perfect for the story, maintaining the tension and bringing into relief the starkness of the situation the characters were facing and it was a read that propelled me through the pages without any wasted words or break in impetus. I found the descriptions of the symbiotic relationship between the different agencies involved in the criminal justice process fascinating, and a very different take than we often see in crime novels. The focus on probation as much as the initial investigation was really interesting to me and definitely something I would like to see more of.

This is a great debut, with a fascinating premise, compelling writing, a unique perspective and a fresh, individual author voice and we should all be excited about this interesting, new author in the genre. I would highly recommend this book for crime fans looking for something new and a little bit different to read. It is well worth consideration and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

Dead Inside is out now and you can get your copy here.

Please do go back and check of the rest of the reviews from the other excellent bloggers on the tour. You can find them listed on the poster below:

BLOG TOUR (9)

About the Author

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the #booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
Connect with Noelle:
Twitter: @nholten40
Instagram: @crimebookjunkie

Getting To Know You- Julie Morris (@book_problem)

I am appearing on Macs Reviews Books’ blog today, on his ‘Getting To Know You’ feature. So, in the unlikely event you have been desperate to know what is my karaoke song and my secret fun fact, now is your chance to find out! Make sure you check out his blog for more interesting features and reviews.

Mac Reviews Books

Name -

Julie Morris

Twitter handle -

@book_problem

Blog –

A Little Book Problem (https://alittlebookproblem.co.uk)

Currently reading –

Shelter Rock by M. P. Miles in paperback, which was a review request, Deadly Prospects by Clio Gray as an ebook for a blog tour, Critical Incidents by Lucie Whitehouse as an

audiobook to relieve the boredom of driving!

Favourite book ever -

Worst question to ask a lifelong bookworm! I love so many but if you force me an gunpoint I would say ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons. I adore it, it’s clever and funny and it gives me the warm fuzzies every time I read it, and I completely relate to the heroine, Flora Poste – I hate messes too!

Best moment of your life – I have to have two, the birth of each of my daughters. I am grateful every day that I have them…

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Friday Night Drinks with…. Rosemary Smith @Endeavour_Media @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks

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Tonight, I am delighted to welcome to the blog for Friday Night Drinks, author …..Rosemary Smith.

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Rosemary, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Hi Julie, thanks for inviting me. I would like a peach schnapps & lemonade please, no ice. Thank you.

My pleasure. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

If I return the compliment, and I hope I can, I would like to take you to our cosy little pub in the village where we live, The Walter Raleigh. The pub is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who was born in our village. Very quaint and full of atmosphere, the pub boasts a cosy little bar, and a small restaurant area where delicious meals & sweets are served. I have no doubt you would enjoy a relaxing evening here with me Julie!

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Look idyllic. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I would also like to invite author Emily Bronte, and poet laureate John Betjeman to join us for a drink. Emily, because I love her writings, and truly believe that since visiting her home at Haworth, she has been my guide with my own writing. I love Victorian times, and set my novellas in that period of time. And Emily lived in those times, and understood love and all its frailties. I feel we would both enjoy her company.
Like John Betjeman, I love Churches, and in 1966 I was lucky enough to hold a conversation with him at Alturnun Church in Cornwall, on a grey November day. I also love poetry, and so did Emily, and feel they would be worthy, interesting people for us to chat too.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Apart from writing, I have for 17 years been searching for my husband Mike’s sister. The family were all split up in 1950 when their Mother died. Mike was adopted, and found out about his sib!ings when he applied to the Courts for his adoption papers. We found his brothers, but his sister Mary has eluded us thus far. I search on a daily basis along with others, and my hope is, that one day soon we will find her.

Wow, that’s an amazing story, I hope it has a happy ending eventually. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment since I started writing, was when my first novella The Amethyst Brooch was published. Sadly my dear Dad who always believed in me, died a few days before the story’s release date. But it was my proudest moment.

My biggest challenge has been trying to get back to writing since my dear eldest daughter, Paula, passed away after a battle with jaw cancer. I am at last back to writing, and at last I have the inspiration, but it has been a challenge!

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

The one big thing I would like to achieve, is to see my seven Victorian Romantic Suspense novellas put into two-hourly dramas on television!! A wild thing to hope for, but many of my readers have said how much they would like to see my stories acted out on television! There are big houses on Cornish cliffs, beautiful dresses, weddings, secrets & mystery. I can but dream!!

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Having dreams is very important! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

At the moment I am working on, hopefully, my eighth novella! For the first time I had a story rejected, and will submit it elsewhere, but in the meantime have started a new story! Set in Scotland, about a young woman who wakes up in a castle, and has no idea who she is. I have titled the story The Key of Love, and while that could possibly change, I am very excited about this project. This time I have stuck to my usual format of love, mystery & romance, which has always worked for me! A key does hold the answer to the mystery, hence the title. I am enjoying writing this novella, and do feel very hopeful for it!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

The favourite place I have visited, has to be the Isles of Scilly. I adore the peace and tranquility of each island I have visited, it reminds me of how life was in the 1950s. The only traffic is on the Island of St Mary’s, and that is very sparse. It is without doubt a writer’s paradise, and I love it there.

Top of my bucket list to visit, is the artist Monet’s home Giverney outside of Paris. Monet is my favourite artist, and I would dearly love to see where he lived & worked. Everything crossed that I visit there one day.

The Scilly Isles are high on my bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

One surprising fact about myself! I never mention it much to anyone, but in the very early 1960s when living in Bristol, I did photographic modelling, for travel brochures and advertising. The beautiful photos I had, were sadly stolen, by someone who broke into my bedsit while I was afraid home in Devon for Christmas! I can never replace them, which is very sad!

That sounds like a fascinating career. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

There are so many wonderful books which I have read, which I could recommend to you! But the one which springs to mind, is, The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron. This book totally captivated me with its 3 timelines. It is one of those books which I couldn’t wait to get back too. Beautifully written, it really drew me in, and I was very sad when it finished! I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to escape into another world & another time.

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Broken-down walls and crumbling stones seemed to possess a secret language all their own.

What stories would they tell, if she finally listened?

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

That sounds great, I will add it to the TBR. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

My failsafe plan to avoid a hangover, is to not drink too much! But if I end up with one, my cure is a good breakfast, and to drink plenty of water!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

After our wonderful night out, my ideal way to spend a weekend is to watch beautiful movies, eat chocolate & drink lemonade!

Thank you Julie for a wonderful evening.

It has been my pleasure, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me and I wish you great success with all your projects.

Rosemary Smith is the Devon-based author of seven Victorian suspense novels, Where Love Takes You,  The Lady and the LakeDarkwoodA Stranger’s KissA Strange AffairGypsy Heart and Matters of the Heart. They are available as ebooks via Amazon by following the preceding links or borrowed from your local library.

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Find out more about Rosemary by visiting her Facebook author page.

Next week I will be joined on the blog by my friend and fellow blogger, Yvonne Bastian of Me and My Books so don’t miss that.

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus by Cressida McLaughlin #BookReview (@CressMcLaughlin) @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #TheCornishCreamTeaBus

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Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Keen to give the bus a new lease of life, Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.

Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.
Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?

I can never wait to get my hands on a new Cressida McLaughlin book. Over the short time she has been writing, she has quickly become one of my favourite authors when I am looking for a sweet, feel good romance with a dash of humour and some really relatable characters and her books are ones I always dive straight in to as soon as they arrive. The Cornish Cream Tea Bus, her fifth full-length novel, has not let me down, in fact I think it might be her best book yet.

The books follows the adventures of Charlie, left an old bus by her beloved Uncle Hal, and she feels like she needs to make the most of it to honour his memory. Charlie is at a crossroads, having just been through a nasty break-up, as well as her bereavement, and she seizes on this as an opportunity to shake her life up. A summer spent in the Cornish village where her best friend lives, deciding what to do with the old bus, seems just what she needs.

Of course, the path of life… and love… never did run smooth and Charlie has to face practical obstacles, difficult villagers, natural disasters, and  an unwelcome love triangle as she navigates her way to a new life, all against the picture-perfect backdrop of a quaint, but a bit tired, Cornish village. So far, maybe not so unusual, so what makes this book stand out from similar books in the genre?

There is a very simple answer to this question, it is the warmth and skill in Cressida’s writing. She is someone who has a very recognisable voice and style, I would recognise one of her books if it were sent to me under a plain cover, and I absolutely love it. Her lovely personality and upbeat attitude shines through in the writing and oozes into her characters, so you can’t help but warm to them and want them to get their happy ever after. Her heroines are always approachable but feisty and go-getting, not damsel in distress types waiting to be rescued, and this is something I can totally get behind in a romantic heroine.

Of course, characters are no fun if they are perfect, so it is reassuring to see that some flaws are included, in Charlie’s case, jumping to conclusions based on flimsy evidence and acting on impulse are the main things that cause her issues. Part of the joy of the story is watching the characters recognise their weaknesses and trying to overcome them, even if sometimes they are a slow study. The book also has a host of interesting supporting characters to shore up the main story arc, including the obligatory adorable pet with personality. All the ingredients for a cracking escapist novel are here.

This book took me on a trip to a fabulous, escapist location, introduced me to some characters that quickly became friends, and led me on a journey through a light-hearted romance that gave me all the feels and left me feeling warmed and satisfied by the end. It is the ideal read for this transitional season, as summer slowly eases into the chill of autumn and, if you have never picked up a book by Cress before, do yourself a favour and get this as soon as you can. I promise you will quickly become a big fan.

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David.

Cressy’s favourite things – other than writing – include terrifying ghost stories, lava lamps and romantic heroes, though not necessarily at the same time. (Though perhaps a good starting point for a story . . ?)

When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful and romantic Norfolk coastline.

Connect with Cressida:

Website: https://cressidamclaughlin.com

Facebook: Cressida McLaughlin

Twitter: @CressMcLaughlin

Instagram: @cressmclaughlin

 

 

Friday Night Drinks with…. Rachel Brimble @RachelBrimble @Aria_Fiction @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #Penningtons

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Tonight I am happy to welcome to Friday Night Drinks on the blog, author and fellow RNA member… Rachel Brimble.

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Rachel. First things first, what are you drinking?

A lovely chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc – I adore white wine (probably too much!) and Sauvignon is my favourite.

If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Whenever people come to visit me, I love taking them to Lacock – it’s a small village where parts of the Harry Potter films, Pride & Prejudice and Poldark were filmed. It wouldn’t be a rock and roll kind of night, but you’d be fed good, old-fashioned pub food, plenty of wine and some lovely sightseeing walks.

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Looks gorgeous! It sounds like my perfect kind of evening, I am not very rock and roll these days. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Oprah Winfrey and Cillian Murphy – Oprah so I could gather some wisdom, Cillian so I could just stare at him…

Good choices! Roll on, Peaky Blinders Series 6. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I am currently working on revisions for my next book – Christmas At Pennington’s will be released in the Autumn and I can’t wait! And once those are done, I’ll start on the first draft of Pennington’s Book 4, which I intend part of the story to take place on the Titanic – I am so excited as I’ve wanted to write a Titanic book for YEARS!!

That sounds really exciting, what a fascinating time you will have doing the research. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was probably when I signed my first book deal with Harlequin – I had been told they were an almost impossible publisher to break into, but I managed it and went on to write a further seven books for them (The Templeton Cove Stories).

My biggest challenge has always been (and still is!) stretching an initial idea to 90,000 + words!

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’d love to have a bestseller and earn enough money that my husband, who has supported me for years, to be able to give up his day job and spend all day with his music. Oh, and I think we should be able to spend our time cruising around the world while I write – bliss!

Good ambitions to have, you need to talk to Jean Fullerton about achieving the last part! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

See question 4!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

The best place I have been to so far is probably Maderia, which was beautiful and Verona which I absolutely loved. I love to travel, too and there are so many places I’d love to visit – I suppose my top two destinations are Nora Roberts’ hotel in Maryland and the Maldives.

That’s fascinating, I never knew that Nora Roberts owned a hotel. One for the bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I was rescued by helicopter from a hotel roof during the 2010 French floods – my family and I were stranded during a flash flood while on holiday. It was the most terrifying 18 hours of my life. Twenty-five people from our resort died that day…

How terrifying, glad you made it out safely.  Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

For contemporary, anything by Nora Roberts. For historical, anything by Philippa Gregory.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Food! I am terrible for enjoying my wine more than my food but if I eat as well as drink, I usually avoid the dreaded hangover. If that fails, a bacon sandwich and plenty of orange juice in the morning!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Sitting in my sunny back garden with either a book or my knitting – I LOVE knitting and find it’s the best route to my relaxation. 

Rachel, it has been really lovely chatting to you this evening, thank you for taking the time to join me and I wish you great success with the next books in the Pennington’s series.

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The first two books in the Pennington’s series by Rachel Brimble, The Mistress of Pennington’s and A Rebel at Pennington’s are out now and can be purchased by following the preceding links. Book 3, Christmas at Pennington’s, will be out this autumn.

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One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote. 
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed. 
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018 with book two coming February 2019.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and has thousands of social media followers from all over the world. 

You can find out more about Rachel and her books on her website, and via Facebook and Twitter.

Next week I will be having Friday Night Drinks with author, Rosemary Smith, so please do join us.

Countdown by Matt Phillips #BookReview (@MRPhill25) @ADRBooks @DownAndOutBooks #crimefiction #noir #california

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Welcome to California. Weed is legal. Grow it. Sell it. Smoke it. Eat it. But the money you make off it—there’s the rub. Bank it, and the Feds will ask questions. Keep it around, and you’ll get robbed. LaDon and Jessie—two hustlers who make selling primo weed a regular gig—hire a private security detail to move and hold their money. Ex-soldiers Glanson and Echo target the cash—they start a ripoff business.

It’s the wild, wild west. Except this time, everybody’s high.

With their guns and guts, Glanson and Echo don’t expect much trouble from a mean son-of-a-gun like LaDon Charles. But that’s exactly what they get. In this industry, no matter how much money there is for the taking—and no matter who gets it—there’s always somebody counting backwards…to zero.

Today I am delighted to be reviewing Countdown by Matt Phillips. My thanks to Henry Roi, the author and the publisher, All Due Respect, for my e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Matt Phillips, although I do have a copy of Know Me From Smoke sat on my TBR which I was given as a birthday present, mainly because I love the cover!

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Now that I have read Countdown, I will be moving this up the pile, because I really enjoyed the story and the style of writing, despite the fact that it is very different from my ‘go to’ comfort books. Although I seem to be reading more and more outside my comfort zone these days, due to the opportunities book blogging has afforded me, so maybe I no longer have a comfort zone.

What I really mean is that this is not a book I would normally pluck off a shelf in a shop when I am browsing, which is a mindset I need to get out of because some of the most profound reading experiences I have had over the past couple of years have been via books that I would not have chosen for myself but that I have been offered via blogging. For me, one of the greatest joys of reading is living vicarious experiences and lives that I will never have myself outside the covers of a book, and this book is a perfect example. The story follows the trials and tribulations of running a not-quite-legal marijuana business in California, where trade in the drug has been legalised, but the banking of the money made from the trade has not.

You know from the off that the characters in this book are not people that are naturally going to be people you can sympathise with, or particularly relate to, when you are a middle-aged mother living in rural England who has always been fairly puritanical when it comes to drug use. The fact that I actually did find some of the characters, especially LaDon, sympathetic and a person you would like to succeed, even if their goals are fairly nefarious, was testament to the skill in the writing in this novel. Either that, or the fact that I started grading on a curve with the other, very repellent, characters! Either way, I became invested in the adventures of the main protagonists in this book in a way that I did not expect, given the subject matter and, in spite of the fact that I have never met a Californian drug dealer and these characters were like no one I have ever known IRL, I still felt the characters were believable, with clear and authentic drives and desires and character traits.

The story takes part over a short period of time, and in a tight location, which gave the story a very fast and natural pace which kept it bowling along and carried me with it. It felt like a fairly quick read because of this and there were no lulls or doldrums to interrupt the flow of the book. I felt like the author had done an amazing job of cutting all the flab from the book and leaving only a lean, efficient reading experience which I thoroughly enjoyed being carried along by. I just sat back and let the writing sweep me through with little effort on my part, but obviously a good deal by the author.

The setting of the book is what really set it apart from other things I have read in the genre. The gritty, mean streets of southern California are the net that holds this story together and were convincingly and brightly portrayed in the book. The author does not shy from writing about the unpleasant underside that exists in the city, rather he revels in it, describing it truthfully, but almost lovingly, so that the reader is fully immersed in its sights, sounds, scents and its constant tensions and dangers. For the author, it feels like these traits, which are things that would deter many of us from visiting such places, are what actually draw him and his characters to them, because they are alive and honest in their darkness. I certainly felt this myself during the reading, even if I would only dare revel in them from the safety of my sofa in rural Yorkshire. As I said, one of the many joys of reading.

This book was a very different read for me, but what that certainly catered to a lot of the things are look for in a satisfying book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is not offended by violence, sex, strong language, graphic scenes or drugs. So Mary Whitehouse types probably should not pick it up, I’m sure anyone else will enjoy it.

Countdown is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Matt Phillips was born in Palm Springs, California and raised in the Coachella Valley and nearby Mojave High Desert. He lives in San Diego. He has worked as a busboy, pool attendant, waiter, bartender, halfway-decent restaurant manager, film festival administrator, newspaper reporter, and editor.

His books include Countdown, Know Me from Smoke, The Bad Kind of Lucky, Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. Short fiction has appeared in Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Tough Crime, Near to the Knuckle, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Metal Magazine, Manslaughter Review, and Fried Chicken and Coffee.

Matt earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Connect with Matt:

Website: https://www.mattphillipswriter.com

Facebook: Matt Phillips

Twitter: @MRPhill25