Friday Night Drinks with…. Nell Dixon @NellDixon @Bookouture @RNATweets @Pink @bryanadams #FridayNightDrinks #MurderAtTheDolphinHotel

cocktail-2098458_1920

Tonight I am welcoming to the blog and to Friday Night Drinks, fellow RNA member and author ….. Nell Dixon.

DSC_7063 copy

Welcome to the blog, Nell, thank you so much for joining me tonight. Let’s get the important things out of the way first, what can I get you to drink?

Ooh, thank you. Mine’s a Bombay Sapphire in a big glass with slimline tonic, lots of ice and lime and lemon wedges.

OIP

My gin of choice, I will have the same. 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?

Rather handily, there is a pub at the end of my road. Two of my daughters work there so we can have a discount and it does rather nice pub food.

Perfect, nothing better. 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 have to invite Bryan Adams as he’s the one man I’d leave my husband for lol. I love his photography and that he always seems like a really nice bloke. I’d also like Pink as she seems fun, nice, kind and I think she’s fab.

I hope your husband isn’t reading this! I have tagged Bryan just in case. I think Pink would make it a great party. 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?

At the moment I’m busy working on my Miss Underhay Investigates murder mysteries. These are set in Dartmouth in the early 1930’s. If you like Agatha Christie, Moonlighting and the Miss Fisher murder mysteries then I think you’ll like these. They are huge fun to write as they’re set in a time of great change and social upheaval.

518noUOzLLL

I have to say, I absolutely adore the covers of these books, I would buy them just for those, and they fit the books perfectly. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moments were winning the Romantic Novelist associations RONA Rose award twice. Two very different books for different publishers, one was first person and one was third person. Totally unexpected and an enormous honour and privilege.

My biggest challenge has been in changing genre from writing contemporary romance to historical cozy crime. I do tons of research to ensure everything I write is historically accurate.

Congratulations, that is a huge achievement! 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 would love to see the Miss Underhay mysteries on TV. There has been a bit of interest but so far it’s still available lol. It would make perfect Sunday evening TV.

I would love that. My eldest daughter and I share a love of murder mysteries, it would be something we would enjoy watching together. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’ve just sent the third book in the series to my lovely editor and I’m outlining book four. This continues the ongoing mystery of Kitty’s mother’s disappearance in 1916 and the will they, won’t they tug of attraction between Kitty and Matt.

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?

We actually did one of our bucket list trips last year when we went on an archeological tour of Italy visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum amongst other places. One day I would like to go to Singapore though. 

One of my favourite places to visit is Malta. We’ve been several times and I absolutely love it. The people are so nice. Fabulous historic sites, lovely shops and cafes and delicious food. It’s so easy to get around by bus and ferry.

Unknown-3

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

I have severe dyscalculia. I cannot remember or retain numbers. I see them back to front and confuse 2’s 5’s 8’s and 3’s. I struggle with the concept of time. I can’t read a digital clock very well. I can’t remember telephone numbers, pin numbers or my car registration number. I have difficulty with directions – left and right and can’t tie a bow properly!

That must be a very tricky condition to manage. 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’?

Argh, this is a bit like being asked to pick your favourite child. I have several books I absolutely love and several authors that I have on auto buy. A book that I love, but which I know can be a bit Marmite, is Daphne Du Maurier’s The House on the Strand. It sucks you in and leaves you feeling unsettled and disconcerted, but it stays with you.

TheHouseOnTheStrand

Dick Young is lent a house in Cornwall by his friend Professor Magnus Lane. During his stay he agrees to serve as a guinea pig for a new drug that Magnus has discovered in his biochemical researches. The effect of this drug is to transport Dick from the house at Kilmarth to the Cornwall of the 14th century.

There, in the manor of Tywardreath, the domain of Sir Henry Champernoune, he witnesses intrigue, adultery and murder. The more time Dick spends consumed in the past, the more he resents the days he must spend in the modern world. With each dose of the drug, his body and mind become addicted to this otherworld, so much so that he ignores the responsibilities of his present life and places his marriage, livelihood and life in jeopardy.

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?

Coffee, lots of coffee. Not that I ever need an excuse for coffee anyway.

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

Lazing around with my dog reading the papers and chatting with friends and family eating a takeaway pizza. Perfect.

Ooh, I really want a slice of pizza now! Nell, thank you so much for having a drink with me this evening, I have really enjoyed it. I hope we can meet in person at an RNA event soon.

Murder at The Dolphin Hotel by Helena Dixon is the first book in the Miss Underhay Investigates series.

dolphin final cover

A room with a view… to murder.

June 1933. Kitty Underhay is a modern, independent woman from the top of her shingle bob to the tip of her t-strap heels. She prides herself on the reputation of her family’s ancient hotel on the blustery English coast. But then a body is found, rooms are ransacked and rumours begin to circulate that someone is on the hunt for a valuable stolen ruby – a ruby that Kitty’s mother may have possessed when she herself went missing during the Great War. Before she can do more than flick a duster, Kitty finds herself in the midst of a murder investigation.

When the local police inspector shows no signs of solving the shocking crimes plaguing the hotel, Kitty steps briskly into the breach. Together with ex-army captain Matthew Bryant, her new hotel security officer, she is determined to decipher this mystery and preserve not only the name of her hotel, but also the lives of her guests. Could there be a cold-blooded killer under her own roof? And what connects the missing jewel to the mystery from Kitty’s own past?

You can buy a copy of Murder at the Dolphin Hotel here. Book 2 in the series, Murder at Enderley Hall, will be released in March and is available for preorder here.

Helena Dixon was born and continues to live in the Black Country. Married to the same man for over thirty years she has three daughters, a cactus called Spike, a crazy cockapoo and a tank of tropical fish. She is allergic to adhesives, apples, tinsel and housework. She was winner of The Romance Prize in 2007 and winner of Love Story of the Year 2010 under her Nell Dixon pen name.

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

Next week I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by blogger Lorraine Rugman of The Book Review Cafe, so do come back then.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades by S. M. Stevens #BookReview #BlogTour (@SMStevens17) #HAHG #AlmostCounts

HAHG-iPhone-Coffee

Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Horseshoes and Hand Grenades by S.M. Stevens. My thanks to the author for asking me to take part in the tour and for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades_Cover_Outline

Fragile but practical Shelby Stewart and ambitious, confident Astrid Ericcson just want to start their PR careers in 1980s Boston and maybe find a nice guy to hang out with. But long-buried memories of incest at the hands of her local hero stepfather keep interrupting Shelby’s plans, affecting her health one way after another. And when will she actually date someone her friends think is good enough for her?

Astrid thinks she wrote the book on How to Get Ahead by Flirting but is forced to re-visit her career advancement strategy when her boss Brad takes the innuendos to a whole new, scary level, threatening her job and her safety.

Suddenly, instead of taking charge of their lives, both women find themselves spinning out of control.

In this fast-paced story for the #metoo generation, the women reach new highs and lows in life, work and romance, while struggling to make sense of the abusive relationships that haunt them.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book, to be honest. I tend to approach books that purport to have a message with a certain amount of trepidation, as they can often be a little preachy and earnest, which is not something I particularly enjoy in my fiction. However, I have to say that this book really took me by surprise, being thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time, and reaching the perfect balance of both.

This book follows the lives of two young women, Shelby and Astrid, who find themselves in the same circles as they both start work in a PR firm in Boston. Very different women, they don’t get on to begin with, but they are both struggling with private demons and eventually find they have more in common than they believed at first. I am sure most readers will be able to identify with one or other of the main characters – I am more of an Astrid than a Shelby for sure – or at least find some common ground with them, which makes them very sympathetic vessels for the story. I found them both very well drawn and honest portraits of young women. As someone who would be only a few years younger than them, starting my working life in the early 90’s, their stories and behaviour definitely struck chords with me and my experiences.

And this is the crux of the book. Astrid’s story, in particular, rung some uncomfortable bells and made me think back to things that happened to me as a young, professional but inexperienced woman starting work in a legal firm, in a very male-dominated specialism. Whilst not having to deal with things going as far as they do for Astrid, I certainly had some encounters that made me uncomfortable at the time and, looking back, amounted to sexual harassment and an abuse of power by men in senior positions. And I can understand why I, at the time, and Astrid in the book struggled to know how to deal with them. The fact that these experiences will be commonplace for most women reading this book makes me immensely sad and furious at the same time, and I hope that the world has moved on and things have improved for when my, currently teen, daughters hit the work place.

And it isn’t just in the workplace that the women struggle with self-image, self-worth and drawing boundaries, it happens in the home and in social settings too. And one thing that did strike me about the book is that it is not condemnatory of men in general, only those with predatory intent. It also does a good job of highlighting how women can be messed up and make poor decisions based on past experiences and their upbringing, plus societal expectations of the female gender. There are also instances of women objectifying men in a way that we probably need to examine, as well as pointing the finger at the opposite sex for their bad behaviour. All in all, it does a good job in provoking internal questioning on gender politics in general, and for that reason can make for uncomfortable reading at times.

If this does all sound like it is veering to the issue-heavy read I baulked at in the opening paragraph though, I’m giving you the wrong impression. All of these issues are presented by way of an entertaining and pacy story of three young women navigating their way through the early years of adulthood and freedom and learning some difficult truths and important life lessons along the way. There was not a part of this book that was dry or heavy or lecturing and I fairly raced through it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it infinitely more than I anticipated and I owe the author an apology for every doubting that it would be different.

This is a book for anyone who is interested in examining gender politics at the same time as enjoying an entertaining story of female friendship and empowerment.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do check out the rest of the blogs on the tour for alternative reviews of the book:

HAHG Blog Tour Promo Image- Final

About the Author

SMS2

S.M. Stevens began writing fiction during back-to-back health crises. First, she broke her pelvis in three places in a horseback riding fall, and used the recuperation period to write Shannon’s Odyssey, a middle-grade novel for animal-lovers. Soon after, Stevens was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. During her five months of treatment and subsequent recovery spell, she wrote Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers for musical theatre-loving teens. Two additional Bit Players novels followed. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is her first adult book. After watching reactions to the #MeToo movement, she decided it was time for a novel that takes people into the minds of victims so they can understand why many women don’t speak up about their harassment or assault, and why some do. When not writing, she provides marketing and public relations services to solar energy companies. She is from Gorham, Maine, and now lives in Clinton, Mass., and Washington, N.H. She has also lived in Italy and in the U.K., where she was Group Public Affairs Director for National Grid.

Connect with S. M. Stevens:

Website: https://authorsmstevens.com

Facebook: Author S M Stevens

Twitter: @SMStevens17

Instagram: @s.m.stevens

Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson #BookReview #BlogTour (@davewatsonbooks) @WildWolfPublish @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TalesOfWhatTheF*ck

Tales of the What the Fck

I’m happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invitation and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

tales of the wtf cover

Billionaire terminal cancer patient John Longmire’s going to die today, and he’s going out in style in the classiest euthanasia clinic in the world. But the strange nurse with the clipboard and the look of a goddess is spoiling the mood, with all her irksome questions about how he’s lived his life.

Recent retiree Gerald loves his wife Barbara and he loves his garden, but Barbara hates the garden. Because the garden’s taking Gerald over, and Barbara says he has to stop before he has another ‘incident’.

Bullied, ridiculed and unloved, moustachioed schoolgirl “Hairy” Mhairi Barry has never had any friends but the ones she finds on the shelves of the library where she’s spent most of her lonely childhood. But tonight, she’s going to a party with all the cool kids, to show them what she’s learned in all those books.

A suspicious smelling smorgasbord of lovelorn psychopaths, vengeful mugging victims, pawn shop philosophers and rhyming Glaswegian alien abduction, Tales of the What the Fuck is a dark, touching, horrific and hilarious collection of short stories, flash fiction and epic poetry from People’s Book Prize nominated author D.A. Watson. Things are about to get weird.

Well, I stepped well outside my comfort zone with this book, but that is always one of the pleasures of book blogging, reading things you would not normally pick up. This is definitely a book that would not usually find its way in to my reading schedule, and I’m still not 100% sure what I just read, but it certainly shook me out of any reading complacency I may have found myself in!

This book is extremely hard to categorise, such a random mix of flash fiction, poetry and short stories across a very diverse bunch of genres, with not much to link them except the perverse mind that wrote them all. And I think that the mind which came up with all of these may be something we don’t want to dwell on too much, because a lot of the stories are very dark and twisted!

Any one of a squeamish disposition should steer well clear, along with anyone offended by swearing. However, readers of a more robust and curious nature may wish to dip a toe in and explore this unique compendium of dark tales. If you do, you will encounter the unexpected at every turn, come face to face with criminals, psychopaths, aliens and much, much more around every corner, and wonder how you ended up where you find yourself.

The big draw for this book is that parts of it are very funny, if your sense of humour takes a turn towards the black side, and there are a lot of wry observations on the vagaries of modern life and relationships. This book will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly different, and the author is obviously talented, lending a hand to a lot of different styles. One for those times when you fancy stretching the boundaries of your experience and opening your mind a little.

Tales of What The F*ck is out now as an ebook and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for the reactions of other bloggers to this book.

Tales of the WTF Full Tour Banner

About the Author

fav1

D.A. Watson was halfway through a music and media degree at the University of Glasgow and planning on being a teacher when he discovered he was actually a better writer than musician. He unleashed his debut novel In the Devil’s Name on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012, and plans of a stable career in education left firmly in the dust, later gained his masters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.

He has since published two more novels; The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a collection of short fiction and poetry, Tales of the What the F*ck, and several acclaimed articles, poems and stories, including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O’ Shatner, prizewinner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival and Dunedin Burns Poetry Competition, and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2018.

Watson’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and collections including 404 Ink, Dark Eclipse, Speculative Books, Haunted Voices and The Flexible Persona, and he is also a regular spoken word performer, with past gigs at Bloody Scotland, Tamfest, Sonnet Youth, Express Yourself, Clusterf*ck Circus, and the Burnsfest festival in 2018, where he appeared on the main stage as the warm up act for the one and only Chesney Hawkes, a personal milestone and career highlight.

His fourth novel Adonias Low will be released by Stirling Pubishing in 2021. He lives with his family in a witch infested village on the west coast of Scotland, and continues to write some seriously weird sh*t.

Connect with Dave:

Facebook: Dave Watson Books

Twitter: @davewatsonbooks

Desert Island Books: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson #BookReview #travel #travelwriting #bookbloggers #bookblog #desertislandbooks #readinggoals

612dywoz09l._sx317_bo1,204,203,200_

In the company of his friend Stephen Katz, Bill Bryson set off to hike the Appalachian Trail, the longest continuous footpath in the world. Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing tics, the occasional chuckling murderer and – perhaps most alarming of all – people whose favourite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack.

Facing savage weather, merciless insects, unreliable maps and a fickle companion whose profoundest wish was to go to a motel and watch The X-Files, Bryson gamely struggled through the wilderness to achieve a lifetime’s ambition – not to die outdoors.

So, the first of the twelve books that I will be taking with me to my desert island for my Desert Island Books feature is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

I love Bill Bryson’s writing, his travel books in particular, but out of all of them this one is my favourite. I must have read it half a dozen times now and it still fascinates me, makes me thoughtful and makes me laugh, all at the same time. I don’t think I will ever get bored of it.

I had a quick look at the reviews on Goodreads of this book just prior to writing this review. The book has an average of 4 stars, but the most prominent review on the first page was a one star by someone who took exception to pretty much everything about the book’s content and the way it was written, which quite surprised me. The review is so prominent, despite being 13 years old, because it has an exceptionally high number of comments on it, as other Goodreads members debated the merits of the review, and the book, back and forth. It is quite clear that this is a book that divides people.

Oddly, the majority of the things people listed as reasons for disliking the book, were the things that make it one of my favourite reads, so I guess you need to decide if these are things that appeal to you.

This is a book about Bill Bryson’s mid-life trek along the Appalachian Trail, a 2,200 mile wilderness footpath that traverses a mountainous route through the forests of the eastern USA from Georgia to northern Maine. Now, I love to read about other people’s travel adventures, and I find this one particularly appealing for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I love the USA and this book covers a couple of the areas of the US that I am particularly fond of – the south eastern states and New England. I  personally have been to the mountains of North Carolina, parts of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampsire and Maine. I’ve stayed at the Mount Washington Hotel and travelled to the top of Mount Washington via the famous cog railway mentioned in the book. I’ve been to Franconia Notch State Park in Vermont. I’ve visited the town Bryson lived in when he wrote this book, Hanover in New Hampshire, so some of the places he talks about are familiar and I can clearly visualise them and it is always interesting in a book to get someone else’s view of something you yourself have experienced. Equally, there are many places in the book I have never been but sound enticing, and I know for a fact that, whilst I might dream about hiking the Appalachian Trail, it is something I will never do, so I can live it vicariously through Bryson’s experience.

This book is extremely varied as it covers, not only his actual experience of physically hiking the trail, but a lot about the people he meets, the climate and weather of the region, geology and history of this part of the USA, information about the flora and fauna and how that is changing, the development and management of the trail, socio-political history of some of the areas he passes through, and much more. Some people find this annoying and accuse him of ‘hopping about’. I find it all fascinating and, for me, it gives the whole experience a context and a richness that really brings it to life and gives it relevance in the mind of the reader. The author obviously shares my insatiable thirst to know everything about everything he sees on his travels and really understand it. I do huge amounts of reading about a destination and its history before I travel, which deepens my interest and enjoyment of a place, and this is the perfect approach for those fact hounds amongst us.

Another thing some people seem to find a negative about this book is Bryson himself and his authorial voice. I do wonder if this is a matter of national perspective. Whilst Bryson is American by birth, he has spent the better part of his life living in the UK and his humour is very British in nature. He relies heavily on self-deprecation, sarcasm and irony and this is not a type of humour that appeals to everyone. I recall from his book, Notes From A Big Country, (a book about how he and his British family adjust to life in the US after living in the UK for many years) an anecdote about how his wife had to ask him to stop making jokes with his American neighbour, because his neighbour didn’t understand them and their exchanges were giving his neighbour migraines. Some people seem to think Bryson comes across as mean and a bit superior, but I actually find that the biggest butt of his jokes is always himself and he is actually very amusing and gives the book a very light-hearted and entertaining tone, rather than it being a heavy and torpid read, despite the fact in contains huge amounts of factual information. He has a real way with words; his prose is vivid and lyrical. He writes the way I would love to write and I could read it endlessly.

I read a lot of travel writing, because travel is a passion of mine, and for me this represents the absolute best of the genre, mixing anecdotes with a lot of interesting factual information and history, and conveying it all in a clear, fun and pacy package. If you have enjoyed Bryson’s other writing, you will love this book. If you don’t like him, you will hate it because his voice is strong and clear throughout. Maybe the Marmite of travel books, but I, for one, will never tire of Marmite on my desert island.

If you have been tempted by this review to want to read A Walk in the Woods for yourself, you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

61p056ahz-l._ux250_

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years, but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton #BookReview #BlogTour (@missyadabright @CassGrafton) @canelo_co @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TheParticularCharmofMissJaneAusten

RRR Blog tour banners

Delighted to be a late addition to the blog tour for The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen today. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey for asking me to step in and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

charm-amazon

When a time travelling Jane Austen gets stuck in modern-day Bath it’s up to avid Janeite Rose Wallace to save her… because she’s the only one who knows that Jane exists!

Rose Wallace’s world revolves around all things Austen, and with the annual festival in Bath – and the arrival of dishy archaeologist, Dr Aiden Trevellyan – just around the corner, all is well with the world…

But then a mysterious woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to the great author moves in upstairs, and things take a disastrous turn. Rose’s new neighbour is Jane Austen, whose time travel adventure has been sabotaged by a mischievous dog, trapping her in the twenty-first century.

Rose’s life is instantly changed – new home, new job, new friends – but she’s the only one who seems to have noticed! To right the world around her, she will have to do whatever it takes to help Jane get back home to write Rose’s beloved novels. Because a world without Mr Darcy? It’s not worth living in!

I was intrigued by the premise behind this book as soon as I read the blurb and, being a huge Jane Austen fan, could not resist picking it up and seeing where it would take me. To some bizarre places is the answer, but it was a lot of fun to go along with the ride.

We follow the adventures of Jane Austen devotee, Rose, as she prepares for the visit of her online friend, whom she has never met in person before, and the annual Jane Austen festival in Bath. She is also trying to suppress her feelings for a hunky archaeologist who happens to be one of her clients. Then a mysterious neighbour moves in upstairs and this is when her life takes a weird turn.

This book took a little while to get going, to be honest. There was quite a lot of time spent setting up Rose’s current life in Bath and giving hints about the real identity of her new neighbour, before all is revealed and the action really starts. I could have done with it getting moving a bit quicker but, that being said, it is easy reading and I did very quickly fall in love with Rose, her friends and her life in Bath. This is very important when we come to the part where everything is threatened by some strange twists of fate.

Quite what mind-altering substances led to the plot of this book being conjured up are something you will have take up with the authors, I hadn’t realised that excessive consumption of Mansfield Park could have this effect, but it certainly is out of left field. However, if you can just go with it and suspend your disbelief for the duration of the book, you will have a lot of fun with Rose and Jane on their adventures.

I thought the authors did a great job capturing the spirit of Jane, and the charm and appeal of Bath. Also, despite the fact this is a light and breezy read, I did feel a great deal of tension when Rose’s life is changed and the future looks like a world without the novels of Jane Austen in it. There was definitely a sense of peril there which was a little unexpected after the first half of the book and the stress had me turning the pages looking for my happy ending!

I particularly love the fact that the authors obviously share my appreciation of Persuasion as Jane Austen’s finest book and the letter written by Captain Wentworth as the most romantic letter ever written in English literature and something all men should be using as a template if they really want to capture a woman’s heart. Imagine a world without that letter in it? Inconceivable! (I know, that’s from The Princess Bride, I’m on a roll with my favourite romances here, just go with it.)

Despite a slowish start, this book is a sweet, charming, pleasurable, if slightly off-the-wall, read that I highly recommend and I really look forward to reading the second book in the series. If I could ask just one thing, I would wish that the paperback had the same cover as the digital version as I really LOVE it and would adore to have a copy to grace my shelves.

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for more great reviews:

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen Full Tour Banner

About the Authors

Ada

Ada has lived all her life in Southern California, which makes her intolerant to any weather above or below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. She grew up much more fond of reading than sports or socializing and still tends to ignore everyone she loves, all her responsibilities and basic life needs when she’s in the middle of a book.

She is luckily married to a handsome and funny man who doesn’t mind that the laundry never gets put away and she has three amazing children. Ada spent over a decade as a photographer before dedicating herself to writing, though she still believes that life should be documented well and often.

There is nothing she loves more than a good, subtle love story whether it be in real life, tv, movie, theatre or book form… well, except cake. She also really loves cake.

Connect with Ada:

Facebook: Ada Bright

Twitter: @missyadabright

Instagram: @adacakes

Cass Grafton

A proud bookworm since childhood, Cass writes the sort of stories she loves to read – heart-warming, character driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters.

She has an over-active imagination, is prone to crying with happiness as much as she is at sadness, but when it comes to her writing she leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’.

Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine, and enjoys them in any combination. She currently splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband, and England, where she lives with her characters.

Connect with Cass:

Facebook: Cassie Grafton

Twitter: @CassGrafton

Instagram: @cassgraftonauthor

Cass & Ada have a joint website, which you can find at https://tabbycow.com.

Tempted by…Emma R: The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris @rowsonemma1 @Anstey_Harris @simonschusterUK #TheTruthsAndTriumphsOfGraceAtherton #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

IMG_1954

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton is the story of a woman who has her heart broken, but then puts it back together again in the most uplifting and exquisite way.

Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music.

Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop.

It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable, and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about …

Today’s Tempted by … is The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris as recommended in this blog post by Emma Rowson on her marvellous blog.

Emma makes the book sound so appealing with her descriptions of the characters and the plot of the novel and how it made her ‘spine tingle.’ Could there ever be more inducement to pick up a book than the fact that it made the spine of a blogger you admire tingle? I was also intrigued by the way she describes the music in the book being like another character and I am really looking forward to reading it and finding out exactly what she means by this. Emma’s obvious connection go the central character was also another big draw for me and probably sealed the deal in me buying a copy. I am really looking forward to finding the time to read this book.

If you haven’t discovered Emma’s blog yet, please do make sure you go over and have a look around. I really love the consideration she gives her reviews and the straight forward honesty of them. I always feel like her personality really comes through and she feels like a friend I can discuss my love of books with over a cuppa. Maybe one day! You can find Emma’s blog by following this link: https://emma-r.com

And if you are tempted to get you own copy of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, you can find it here.

Goldsboro Books’ Book of the Month Club – January 2020: Long Bright River by Liz Moore @GoldsboroBooks @LizMooreBooks #BookReview #bookclub #firsteditions

hiIMG_1914

KENSINGTON AVE, PHILADELPHIA:

THE FIRST PLACE YOU GO FOR DRUGS OR SEX.
THE LAST PLACE YOU WANT TO LOOK FOR YOUR SISTER.

Mickey Fitzpatrick has been patrolling the 24th District for years. She knows most of the working women by name. She knows what desperation looks like and what people will do when they need a fix. She’s become used to finding overdose victims: their numbers are growing every year. But every time she sees someone sprawled out, slumped over, cold to the touch, she has to pray it’s not her sister, Kacey.

When the bodies of murdered sex workers start turning up on the Ave, the Chief of Police is keen to bury the news. They’re not the kind of victims that generate a whole lot of press anyway. But Mickey is obsessed, dangerously so, with finding the perpetrator – before Kacey becomes the next victim.

Goldsboro Books’ Book Club Book for January is Long Bright River by Liz Moore.

This book has so many fascinating strands to entice the reader, and the central mystery was actually the least of those that kept me welded to this book until I had finished it. I read it in a single day, staying up until the early hours to get to the end, because I just had to know how all of the facets of the plot played out. An amazing story of family relationships, personal decisions and the life of a city.

The story is written from the perspective of Kacey, a young woman from a deprived area of Philadelphia who grew up in a broken, dysfunctional family, which has had a profound effect on her and her younger sister. Against all the odds, she finds herself in the Philadelphia police force, patrolling the streets of the roughest precinct, where drug use and the criminal industries that support it are rife, and she lives in daily fear of finding her sister as one of its victims. Then a killer begins targeting the most vulnerable in her beat and her fear grows…

At the same time, she is dealing with the personal fallout from a failed relationship and its ramifications on the life of her young son. She finds herself struggling to balance all the aspects of her existence, and its threads soon start to unravel as the different strands that she has tried to keep separate begin to entwine. She finds she has some difficult decisions to make and some unpleasant truths from the past come back to haunt her.

The characters in this book are so complex and so well-developed they had me hooked from the start. Mickey’s relationship with her sister, the reality of their upbringing and the resultant close bond they develop, the circumstances that stretch that bond to breaking are so truthful, so poignant, that the reader cannot fail to be drawn in to the drama. The secrets that then unfold are quite shocking, and raise real questions about what the reader would do in the same circumstances. The author very cleverly sets the characters up to make us see them in a certain light, and then reveals more and more details throughout the book that subtly and slowly change those perceptions, so our initial assessments are utterly changed by the end of the book. It is elegantly done.

There are so many questions about modern society raised in this book which will make the reader ponder, and there are no easy answers to any of them. It is rare that a thriller will make the reader think so deeply about such difficult but very real problems, and the author approaches them with a delicacy and sense of understanding and passion. There is no judgement or condemnation here, just a light shining on corners we might prefer not to address, sitting as we are in our comfortable homes, indulging in a pleasant pastime. This book really brought a side of this city to gritty, vivid life, a side most people would prefer to ignore. I’ve been to Philadelphia and this was not something I was aware of. I am now and it shames me to a degree that we can so easily ignore the struggles that so many people face on a daily basis. I don’t have any answers, and the book doesn’t purport to offer any, but an awareness of this reality is possibly a start.

There is a mystery to be solved but, as I said at the beginning, this is almost incidental and the least relevant part of the story. To a degree, the solving of the puzzle seemed like a bit of a damp squib compared to the stories of the people. This is a book about human fallibilities, relationships, choices and human misery. I found it fascinating, gripping and profoundly moving and would encourage everyone to read it. A fantastic piece of work, and the Goldsboro special edition is something to be treasured if you fancy treating yourself.

Long Bright River is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

B1QgKxolvIS._US230_

Liz Moore is a writer of fiction and creative non-fiction.

Her first novel, The Words of Every Song (Broadway Books, 2007), centers on a fictional record company in New York City just after the turn of the millennium. It draws partly on Liz’s own experiences as a musician. It was selected for Borders’ Original Voices program and was given a starred review by Kirkus. Roddy Doyle wrote of it, “This is a remarkable novel, elegant, wise, and beautifully constructed. I loved the book.”

After the publication of her debut novel, Liz obtained her MFA in Fiction from Hunter College. In 2009, she was awarded the University of Pennsylvania’s ArtsEdge residency and moved to Philadelphia.

Her second novel, Heft, was published by W.W. Norton in January 2012 to popular and critical acclaim. Of Heft, The New Yorker wrote, “Moore’s characters are lovingly drawn…a truly original voice”; The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Few novelists of recent memory have put our bleak isolation into words as clearly as Liz Moore does in her new novel”; and editor Sara Nelson wrote in O, The Oprah Magazine, “Beautiful…Stunningly sad and heroically hopeful.” The novel was published in five countries, was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was included on several “Best of 2012” lists, including those of NPR and the Apple iBookstore.

Moore’s short fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in venues such as Tin House, The New York Times, and Narrative Magazine. She is the winner of the Medici Book Club Prize and Philadelphia’s Athenaeum Literary Award. After winning a 2014 Rome Prize in Literature, she spent 2014-15 at the American Academy in Rome, completing her third novel.

That novel, The Unseen World, was published by W.W. Norton in July of 2016. Louisa Hall called it “fiercely intelligent” in her review in The New York Times; Susan Coll called it “enthralling . . . ethereal and elegant . . . a rich and convincing period piece” in her review in the Washington Post. The Unseen World was included in “Best of 2016” lists by The New Yorker, the BBC, Publishers Weekly, Vox, Google Play, and Audible.com, among others.

Moore’s fourth novel, Long Bright River, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books in January 2020.

She lives with her family in Philadelphia and is a faculty member of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Temple University.

Connect with Liz:

Website: http://www.lizmoore.net

Facebook: Liz Moore Writer

Twitter: @LizMooreBooks

Instagram: @lizmoorebooks

Friday Night Drinks with…. Berni Maycock @BRMaycock @BAParisAuthor @KatCroft #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

cocktail-2098458_1920

Tonight I am so happy to welcome to the blog, fellow blogger and author….Berni Maycock.

Brmaycock

Berni, it is an absolute delight to have you on the blog for Friday Night Drinks tonight. First things first, what are you drinking? 

Funnily enough I was going to say I’m drinking tea. Everyone around me will be shocked because I was always wondering what the big deal was about tea, and in Ireland it’s practically a crime not to be a tea drinker, but I’ve recently become a fan! Since we’re out though … I’d say a Smirnoff Ice or a Prosecco, teamed with a toasted ham and cheese sambo and a packet of crisps (I have four kids so I take proper advantage when I get out!!!)

Prosecco with a cheese & ham toastie! Not a combo I’ve tried before but I’m game. Are you a Tayto or a King girl? 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? 

Do you know something I think I’d be taking you to a cosy pub for  some nice pub grub, and given the weather, it’d have to be somewhere with a fire and possibly a good cover band playing too!

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’ve always wanted to meet Simon Cowell to talk music with him and see what his music spectrum is and to ask him honestly what his favourite version of Halleluliah is (apparently he owns the rights to them all), so then I think I’d have to have Louis Walsh too, because that’d be a good chat! Oooh, ooh, ooh, also Paul McCartney to ask him face to face about the rumours re: him being the real Paul McCartney (I think it’d be kind of cool if these were true!) and Agnetha from Abba to just have a chat on her decisions with the band. (I am totally aware I sound like a nutcase saying this!!) 

I’m fairly sure that’s more than two, but I’ll let you off because it looks like a good party! 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?

So I’m a blogger and a writer, and at the moment blogging wise I’m trying to cut down my Netgalley (an online sweet shop of books for bloggers and reviewers!) list, so basically I have  list of just over thirty books to ingest, all books I chose and can’t wait to read, but I haven’t had the chance to get to them and it’s something I said I’d do for 2020.

Writing wise I’m writing the second in the Abbeyglen series, which came to me when I read about a lottery winner helping people around her. It’s warm chick lit and the second book involves the arrival of a blast from the past to shake things up. I’m loving it as I get to write an epically sarcastic dark character! 

I have to say, I have the same goal re: NetGalley this year but my unread number makes you look like an amateur, I’m afraid! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge? 

My proudest moment was getting word back from bloggers and authors that didn’t involve diplomatic skirting around reviews. It is insane to think that people would enjoy my 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! 

Do you know something I’d love that when people talk about warm, funny reads they’d look to me in the way people think Sophie Kinsella or Marian Keyes! I’d also love to be on Netgalley because I love hanging out there so much!

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about? 

I’ve the second book of two series going at the same time and I’ve laughed out loud writing both, and am excited about both which is always good!

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? 

I’ve four kids so the dream was always to get them to Eurodisney, which we did last year. I’d love us all to see Sydney together, I went there after college and adored it!

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

I tell everyone about how I’ve done a paraglide and climbed the Sydney Harbour bridge so an everday one that nobody knows is … you know when you read a chick lit character and they giggle or speak to themselves or dance around the place, and you don’t believe they’re real? I do 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’? 

I just closed my eyes and thought of a book in the same way people stick a pin in a map. From the last few years (ie since blogging) I’d say B A Paris’s The Breakdown or Kathryn Croft’s The Girl With No Past. I’m sorry I said two, but they’re always the first books to come out of my mouth, I think they really got me going on thrillers!

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?

It used to be horrendous stuff, crisp sandwiches and coke the morning after, or a massive fry-up or McDonalds, but honestly I think if you ignore your gut feeling and go instead for fruit and water, you’ll be in a better state quicker!!

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

Either a loungy day in or a madly active and hectic (but always fun and lovely!) day at the park followed by a movie in, maybe something like Cheaper By The Dozen or Pitch Perfect. If I’m lucky that’ll inspire me back to hit the keyboard with some new comedy later that night! 

Berni, it has been a joy to spend the evening with you, thank you so much for joining me, and best of luck with the new books.

Berni Maycock is the author of It Started With A Snub, Snowday and her latest, Pushing Her Luckwhich is out now and can be found here.

51MLL7Sl8RL

Holly Caulfield has won the Irish National Lottery and sets in motion a plan to save the village of Abbeyglen. But who would have thought that giving money away could be so difficult?

With a resident’s association that’s clamouring for more and more money, an old lady who’s decided that a dream cruise is in her grasp and a couple who may not want that dream wedding after all, Holly’s finding it hard to keep it together!

With a new love interest and an ex-husband hot on her heels, it’s up to Holly to figure out what can truly make her happy.

When B R Maycock (Berni to all you lovely people!) isn’t dreaming up vibrant leads for romantic comedies, she’s ingesting books for her blog, in particular chick lit (her first love!) books, romantic comedies and thrillers. She can also be found playing footie or watching Marvel, DC or Star Wars movies and cartoons in Co. Westmeath, Ireland with her brilliantly out there husband, Keith, and their four epic little men. 

She has one goal and that’s simply to make readers smile and/ or laugh (a splutter rates highest;)). 

Make sure you check out Berni’s wonderful blog at https://brmaycock.wordpress.com and find out more about her and her writing by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

Next week, please join me again for Friday Night Drinks with author, Nell Dixon.

 

The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue by Samantha Henthorn #Spotlight #BlogTour (@SamanthaHfinds) @annecater #RandomThingsTours #CurmudgeonAvenue

Ghosts Front Cover

The house on Curmudgeon Avenue should be happy now, the nincompoop residents have all met their sorry ends. But they haven’t quite left… now that a new family move in can the house find peace? Or are the ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue going to interfere with the goings-on, romance and dramas that new residents bring?

Gordon and Zandra Bennett – along with their lovelorn daughter Krystina move all the way from London to Curmudgeon Avenue. Zandra has her heart set on renovating the four-storey Victorian terrace and hires Harry to rip out the old and bring in the new. Wonder how that will go down with the grumpy, yet proud house? Not to mention Harold, Edna and Edith who are trapped in their previous home with no choice but to haunt Krystina, moan about the new layout and get up to mischief.

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue by Samantha Henthorn. Many thanks to Anne Cater for my place on the tour.

I’m shining the spotlight today on a fun and witty book which is the fourth in a series set in the same house, this time with added ghosts!

The Curmudgeon Avenue books are a series in which the house in which they are set is the narrator of the books, a unique twist on the narrative style which allows us to see all the goings on from an omniscient viewpoint. And what goings on they are! In this book, the former residents of the house have all been killed off in a series of freak accidents, but have returned to haunt the house and cause havoc for the new residents.

Reviewers have described this series, and the new book in particular, as amusing and highly entertaining, and the writer’s style as quirky, frenetic and endearing. If this sounds like something that is up your street (please excuse the pun!), then why not grab a copy of this book or, better yet start at the beginning of the series.

The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue is out now and you can buy a copy here, along with the preceding books in the Curmudgeon Avenue series.

Make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for reviews and other content:

Ghost Curmudgeon Avenue BT Poster

About the Author

Samantha Henthorn Author Pic

Samantha Henthorn was born in 1970-something in Bury, England. She has had short stories and poetry published in magazines. Her books include the Curmudgeon Avenue series (The Terraced House Diaries and The Harold and Edith adventures). ‘1962’, ‘Quirky Tales to Make Your Day’ and ‘Piccalilly’

She has two cats, one dog, one gorgeous grown up daughter and one husband. When not reading or writing, she is listening to heavy metal and would be thrilled to bits if someone read her books.

Connect with Samantha:

Website: https://samanthahenthornfindstherightwords.blog

Facebook: Samantha Henthorn Author

Twitter: @SamanthaHfinds

random-thingstours-fb-header

 

Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews #GuestPost (@PaulaAAuthor) @matadorbooks #OrangesAndLemons

9781838592066_cov

Gregarious teenager, Jessifer Jordan, has always been loyal and open, and her love of acting has made her an expert in pretence. So, when six-year old Victorian ghost, Adeline, appears in her life and Jess’s best friend won’t believe her, deceit becomes Jess’s natural ally. Previously fun-loving and sociable, she becomes serious and isolated in her quest to discover what Adeline really wants. Always curious, she finds herself whisked back in time to 1863 and into the clutches of a volatile doctor with an obsession for morphine.

As she journeys back and forth into the past, she realises that Adeline reminds her of her dead sister and her submerged grief resurfaces. Will her great aunt Ruby’s counsel help her? Can she outwit the deranged medic? And whose is that smoky cat which keeps turning up out of the blue?

I am delighted to be featuring Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews on the blog today with a fabulous guest post from the author. My thanks to Sophie Morgan at Troubador for inviting me to do the feature.

Author interview with Paula F. Andrews

What is your book about?

Oranges and Lemons is a light ghost story, set in York, and involving time-slip episodes between the modern day and 1863. The main character is a fourteen-year-old contemporary teenage girl called Jessifer. She answers the call of a six-year-old ghost called Adeline. Her quest leads to conflict with her best friends and wonderful, beloved Aunt Ruby but underlines her deep empathy, love and loyalty. 

When did you know you wanted to write a book, and why this one? What was your inspiration?

I had an idea for a children’s picture book about ten years ago which led me to begin a course in writing for children. I then created a teenage girl character and felt I could write a story that would bring her together with a little ghostly character from local legend. I’d been interested in the little ghost since my teenage years and felt her fun, vibrant personality would be perfect for a book for young teenagers. The picture book is still at the idea stage!

How did you research the story? What was the most fascinating thing you learned?

I spent a long time looking into the development of morphine analgesia and the development of the hypodermic syringe. I did most of my research online but I also spent time in the Library and Archives in York, examining texts about the city, its streets and buildings, disease and medical care in the 1860s. I discovered that The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley was published in the year my story is set and also that the American Civil War was happening at the same time as the little ghost’s father was doing his own research into using the hypodermic syringe.

How long do you write each day?

I try to spend part of each day writing, whether it’s a blog, letters, social media posts, novel, short story or poetry writing. Now that my book has been published and I am working on the marketing and sales side of things as well, I’ve set aside three days for mainly writing and editing with the remainder of the working week allocated to  planning and doing events, signings and launches. Inevitably, I spend part of my weekend doing admin and also some writing.

Where do you like to write?

Until recently, I wrote in my lounge, which meant tidying all my papers, storyboards, etc, away, at the end of the day. So, now, I have converted our spare room into a writing-cum-guest-cum-sitting room where I can have all my things spread out! (Until someone comes to stay!)

I also love to write in cafes! And people watch at the same time!

What was the most valuable piece of advice you’ve had about being a writer that you’d like to share with others?

To write every day, even if it’s only a short letter or a social media post. Using the ‘writing muscles’ is important for maintaining skill but to achieve real growth, daily writing is vital.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? What was the best? 

The hardest: agonising over cutting out characters and chunks I really liked.

The best: seeing each of my unique characters take shape and giving them different voices.

What has been your favourite part of the publishing process?

Getting the final cover design!

Do you have plans for another book?

I have a completed fantasy novel for middle grade readers which requires editing. I also have ideas about another story involving some of the characters from Oranges and Lemons but with a different setting. And I have begun planning a second novel for middle grade readers.

Paula, thank you for answering my questions, it has been fascinating to hear about your writing process.

Oranges and Lemons is out now and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

Paula Andrews Headshot

Paula F. Andrews has been a nurse, midwife and craftsperson. She grew up in North Yorkshire and now lives in Glasgow with her husband and grown-up children. Writing seriously since 2012, she has won numerous prizes including Strathkelvin Writers’ Group overall prize for 2019 and the Scottish Association of Writers prize for YA fiction in 2017. She has also been published in Aquila and Scottish Memories magazine.
Connect with Paula:

Website: http://paulaandrews.co.uk

Twitter: @PaulaAAuthor

Facebook: Paula Andrews

Instagram: @paulaandrewsauthor