Staying On by C.M. Taylor #BookReview #BlogTour (@CMTaylorStory) @Duckbooks @annecater #Giveaway #StayingOn

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A geriatric coming-of-age story …

Retired expat, Tony Metcalfe, is going through a three-quarter-life crisis. Viva España, his bar in a mountain village beyond Spain s Costa Blanca, is failing. Tony started the bar for the English post-war babies who retired early on good pensions – the por favors, as the Spanish call them – flocking to the dream of wine, rest and sun around the pool. But now their retirement paradise is shadowed by Brexit: the pound has fallen, pensions are frozen and the property crash happened long ago.

Tony wants to move back to enjoy the remainder of his life in his childhood home, but his tenacious wife Laney wants to stay in the happy valley and forget about England and the dark, unresolved feelings it provokes in their marriage. Sod it – he couldn t go home even if he tried; nobody would buy an ailing bar during a recession.

But Tony s luck is about to change when his son Nick arrives for a surprise visit with his self-possessed wife, Jo, and their son. With the extra help, Tony thinks things are on the up, but Jo has brought along more baggage than just their family s suitcases.

Staying On is a compelling story of little and greater family secrets come to light and what it means to find home, wherever you are.

I am happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Staying On by C. M. Taylor. I originally reviewed this book at the end of July and enjoyed it very much so my thanks go to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to share it with you again as part of the tour. If you would like to win a copy of the book, please just leave a brief comment on the post and I will pick a winner at random to receive the book.

When I was offered the chance to read this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The blurb and some of the other information I was given gave me the impression that it might be more political commentary on the influence of Brexit on the ex-pat community in Spain than anything else, but this was not the case. This book is a beautiful, deeply moving portrayal of a family whose current problems are largely caused by issues in their past that they are afraid to confront and what happens when they are forced to address them by outside influences.

I really loved the book, it affected me very deeply. The issues explored of family relationships and tensions and how people can be pushed apart by a failure to communicate, are ones that we can all relate to to a greater or lesser degree and we can all feel great empathy for these characters. They are all so well written and truthful that it is impossible not to be drawn in to their story and be compelled to find out what becomes of them over the arc of the book.

The main characters are Tony and Laney Metcalfe, living the ex-pat dream in a small hillside village inland from the coast of Costa Blanca, running a small, struggling bar and moving in a circle of other ex-pats in an enclave which has been developed for the incoming immigrants. They have not really integrated into the local Spanish community and, as the effects of the 2008 financial crash and the looming threat of Brexit cause a trickle of their community to sell up and return to Britain, they find their world is shifting and becoming unsettled. The arrival of their son, Nick and his wife Jo, who seems intent on stirring things up, lead to seismic shifts in the status quo that force Tony and Laney to face issues in their marriage that have been buried for years leading to startling revelations and events.

Tony and Laney are recognisable as ordinary working class Brits who have, in their thousands, sold up and retired for their dream life in the Spanish sun, only to find it is not so dreamy after all. But of course, like all of us, they are not ordinary at all, but have extraordinary relationships and dynamics that are unique to each of us and drive us to behave the way we do, in a way that is invisible to the outside world, creating pressures and tensions and motivations that are mysterious to outsiders. The author does an amazing job of revealing these individual foibles in a way that is completely believable and compelling.

The setting was beautifully created and peopled with a fascinating cast of characters, there is some fantastic use of language and imagery that I savoured throughout, but it is the gently drawn and played out family drama which is at the heart of this story and which will draw you through the book to the very last page. It is soft and melancholy and totally true and I just fell in love with this book and the every day, unimportant but totally enthralling drama between its pages. This is a book about my life and your life and the life of everyone who is both unimportant but vital in the world, people who don’t do startling things or things that have newsworthy impact on anyone else, but who are central to the worlds of those around them and I wish there were more books like this in the world.

Staying On is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To see what other bloggers make of the book, make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

Staying On Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

C M Taylor

C M Taylor lives in Oxford, lectures at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies and is a freelance editor of fiction. He is the author of Premiership Psycho and Group of Death, two-thirds of a satirical trilogy described as ‘Brilliant’ by The Sun, and ‘Horribly entertaining’ by The Mirror.

Connect with the author:

Twitter: @CMTaylorStory

Instagram: @cmtaylor

Goodreads: C. M. Taylor

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Children in Read 2018 @TorUdall @janeholland1 @MHarrison13 @LouiseWriter @BloomsburyBooks @AmazonPub @simonschusterUK @OrendaBooks #AThousandPaperBirds #ForgetHerName #APinchOfMagic #TheLionTamerWhoLost #ChildrenInNeed

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I am sure many of you are aware of, and probably took part in, the recent Children in Read auction, where many popular authors donated signed books and other items to be auctioned off in aid of raising money for Children in Need.

I, being unable to resist a good book auction, bid on a number of items and was lucky enough to win four of the auctions I was bidding on so, in the last week, I have received signed copies of the following books:

Forget Her Name by Jane Holland

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Rachel’s dead and she’s never coming back. Or is she?

As she prepares for her wedding to Dominic, Catherine has never been happier or more excited about her future. But when she receives an anonymous package—a familiar snow globe with a very grisly addition—that happiness is abruptly threatened by secrets from her past.

Her older sister, Rachel, died on a skiing holiday as a child. But Rachel was no angel: she was vicious and highly disturbed, and she made Catherine’s life a misery. Catherine has spent years trying to forget her dead sister’s cruel tricks. Now someone has sent her Rachel’s snow globe—the first in a series of ominous messages…

While Catherine struggles to focus on her new life with Dominic, someone out there seems intent on tormenting her. But who? And why now? She doesn’t have the answers – and in one final question lies her greatest fear.

Is Rachel still alive?

I have been lucky enough to meet Jane at a recent RNA event where she was there as her romantic novelist alter ego, Beth Good and, having read some of her romantic novels, I promised I would read one of her thrillers, so I’m delighted to have this one to begin with

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

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Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

I have been wanting to get a copy of this for a while, as all my fellow book bloggers have been raving about it, so I was absolutely determined to win this one! I love the personalised dedication inside, a lovely book to be treasured.

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

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Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse.

Three magical objects with the power to change their fate.

Will they be enough to break the curse?

Or will they lead the sisters even deeper into danger? …

You will notice that the cover image of the book above is different to the photo of the book I received as shown at the top of the post. This is because this book isn’t going to be published until February 2019 so what I have is a LIMITED EDITION PROOF COPY of the book, which I am very, very excited about, can you tell? Michelle also sent me a lovely little Russian doll charm with the book which is now nestled in my book curio display shelf and I feel very lucky.

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall

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Jonah roams Kew Gardens trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of his life after the death of his wife, Audrey. Weathering the seasons and learning to love again, he meets Chloe, an enigmatic origami artist who is hesitant to let down her own walls.

In the gardens he also meets ten-year-old Milly, and Harry, a gardener, both of whom have secrets of their own to keep – and mysteries to solve.

Another book that I have heard amazing things about and was high on my wish list, so I was delighted to secure this one too. It came with a beautiful postcard containing a personal message from Tor and two delicate origami birds, which fascinated my daughters, and are also on the curio shelf.

I just wanted to thank all the authors for donating their work to this fabulous cause, not just the ones whose books I bid on, and make sure they get credit for their generosity. The auction raised over £5,000 for Children in Need, which I am sure you will agree is an amazing result.

If you did not take part in the auction, there is still the opportunity to donate to this wonderful cause via the Children in Need website and help out a huge programme of good causes that benefit children both in the UK and abroad.

 

Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer #BookReview #BlogTour (@KelRimmerWrites) @headlinepg @annecater #randomthingstours

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“Your sister or her baby. Who do you choose?

As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced toturn to her leatherbound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict – a thief, a liar and unable to remain clean. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?”

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer, which I have really been looking forward to reading. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

So, where do I even start with this book? It has completely blown me away in so many different ways. This book has given me so many things to think about, and aroused so many different emotions, I know it is one of those books that I may have closed the covers on and put back on the shelf, but it will remain open and alive in my mind for a long time to come.

This is the story of two sisters who are incredibly close despite being very different. This is the story about children robbed of their childhoods due to events and decisions of their parents over which they have no control. It is the story of how traumas inflicted on us early in life can send our lives spiralling off course in ways we cannot imagine. It is a story about how people need to open up and allow other people to help them if they are to survive and thrive in life. Mostly, it is a story about love and familial bonds that survive, no matter what.

This book deals with some very difficult topics – childhood loss, abuse, drug addiction, neo-natal addiction – but it does it with such empathy and tenderness and huge respect that, despite the terrible nature of the topics, they become easier to stomach some how, whilst still being shocking. The author has obviously done a huge amount of research for this book and introduces relevant and compelling facts about the subjects which are enlightening without being too dense to navigate. I found the parts dealing with the laws surrounding women and drug-taking during pregnancy particularly hard to believe and stomach and will definitely read up more on this topic.

The characters are beautifully written, particularly Lexie and Annie. I loved the way that we are able to clearly hear the voices of both women through the use of first person for Lexie throughout, and through Annie’s journal entries. It is a clever device, well executed and I really felt I got inside the minds of both women, who are both complicated and damaged. I came out totally understanding what was driving them both, and was very emotionally connected to both of them, to the extent that the book had me in tears in several places.

This book touches and tests the reader in a myriad of different ways – emotionally, intellectually, morally. It would be impossible to come away from reading this without asking yourself a lot of questions about what you believe about the subjects covered, and possibly like me, crying for the injustice meted out to certain sectors of society. It is particularly relevant, given the questions at the forefront of debate at the moment about how society views and treats women. Honestly, my head is spinning with thoughts and feelings about it all.

This book represents what good writing should do, and the kind of book that I would like to write if I thought I had the tiniest fraction of the talent it has taken to write this. This is definitely the kind of book we all should be reading – beautifully written, intelligent, thoughtful, provocative. Pretty much perfection.

Before I Let You Go is out now and you can purchase your copy here.

To see a range of views of this book, make sure you follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:

Before I let you go

About the Author

Kelly Rimmer Author Picture

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women’s fiction author of five novels, including Me Without You and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Connect with Kelly:

Website: https://kellyrimmer.com

Facebook: Kelly M Rimmer

Twitter: @KelRimmerWrites

Instagram: @kelrimmerwrites

Video Killed The Radio Star by Duncan MacMaster #BookReview #BlogTour (@FuriousDShow) @fahrenheitpress @damppebbles #VKTRSBook #damppebblesblogtours

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“Money in the bank and his dream girl on his arm – life was looking pretty sweet for Kirby Baxter. 

Of course it couldn’t last. Where would the fun be in that? This is a sequel after all.

After solving the murder of a movie starlet the previous year, Kirby is doing his best to live down his burgeoning reputation as part-time Interpol agent and amateur sleuth.

Then reality TV comes knocking next door.

Million Dollar Madhouse is a reality TV show where a bunch of washed up celebrities are thrown together in a dilapidated mansion while their attempts to renovate the building are broadcast 24/7 for the viewers delight.

Kirby’s quiet town is thrown into chaos by the arrival of camera crews, remote control video drones and a cast of characters including disgraced actress Victoria Gorham, political shock-jock Bert Wayne and reality TV royalty Kassandra Kassabian.

When one of the cast members turns up dead the local police turn to the only celebrity detective in town for help and draft an unwilling Kirby into their investigation.

The first body is only the beginning of another rip-roaring adventure for Kirby Baxter and with Gustav his loyal driver/valet/bodyguard/gardener//chef/ass-kicker at his side, our hero plunges into the fray with his usual stunning displays of deductive reasoning and sheer bloody luck.”

I’m thrilled today to be taking part in the blog tour for Video Killed The Radio Star by Duncan MacMaster. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to Fahrenheit Press for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Oh, I’m so late with my post today due to a series of unforeseen circumstances so let’s see if I can get it in just under the wire. Huge apologies to Emma and Duncan for not getting this up earlier  but better late than never.

This book is not at all what I was expecting, it was much more light-hearted and fun than I anticipated, but boy, did I enjoy it! I haven’t read the first book featuring Kirby Baxter, but this did not impact my appreciation of this novel at all, it completely works as a standalone, but I will definitely be going back to catch up on the previous adventure because, from the clues and details referred to in this book, it sounds like a fabulous tale and I really want to find out how Kirby and Gustav meet.

With regard to this book, it had everything you could want from a tongue-in-cheek crime caper. A cast of wonderful and varied characters who ranged from the lovable to the detestable; a really fiendish crime to be puzzled over and which keeps you guessing to the end; a suitably exciting back drop – this time a reality TV makeover show – to provide plenty of outlandish opportunities for exotic methods of murder; and a charismatic and clever sleuth to bring the whole thing to a satisfying conclusion.

Kirby Baxter is a private eye that I can really get invested in. He was wonderfully Sherlockian (is that a word? I guess it is now!) in his methods, but without the condescension and inflated self-regard, with a touch of the Jonathan Creeks thrown in for good measure, set in an environment which would grace an episode of Midsomer Murders. All of the ingredients for the perfect stew of my favourite detective shows wrapped up in a fun crime caper. He also has the best sidekick in detective history, who I totally fell in love with, despite the fact he never utters a single word throughout the novel.

I raced through the book, with no clue who had committed the crime, and not really caring that much because I was just enjoying the ride, although by the end I was desperate to find out whodunnit, just because I knew we were going to have one of those fabulous scenes where the detective gets everyone in a room together at the end for the big reveal. This book ticks every box for traditional sleuthing fans. I loved it.

Video Killed the Radio Star is out now in both e-book and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

For details of the rest of the fantastic bloggers taking part in the tour, check out the tour poster below:

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About the Author

Author Picture- Duncan MacMaster

Duncan MacMaster is a writer, pop-culture blogger, and film school survivor from the untamed wilds of Eastern Canada.

When he’s not concocting plots for Kirby Baxter to unravel he’s posting rants and rages about the business behind pop-culture on his blog.

Connect with Duncan:

Twitter: @FuriousDShow

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Joseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck #BookReview #BlogTour (@sueroebuck) @crookedcatbooks @RaRaResources #Giveaway #JosephBarnaby #Blogtober18

Joseph Barnaby

Taking my turn on the blog tour today for Joseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on the tour and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you scroll down for a great giveaway after the review.

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“Stand by your beliefs – even if it means going to the end of the Earth

By standing up for his principles to save the life of a prize racehorse, farrier Joseph Barnaby loses everything. Now, a personal vendetta has become too deep to fight and he escapes to the island of Madeira where he finds work on a small farm at the foot of a cliff, only accessible by boat. The balmy climate and never-ending supply of exotic fruit, vegetables and honey make it sound like paradise but, for Joseph, it’s the ideal place to hide from the world. Can the inhabitants of Quinta da Esperança, who have more grit in them than the pebbled beach that fronts the property, help Joseph find his self-worth again? And can he escape the danger that draws ever nearer?”

This is a very interesting book that confounded my expectations in a number of ways and made me feel very different than I anticipated.

It is quite a difficult book to judge by its cover and blurb, as neither really give a huge amount away in terms of the plot or feel of the book so I went in to it with a fairly open mind. Even a few chapters in, I was finding it hard to gauge exactly what kind of book it was, as it started off when way, then jumped to a different perspective and then worked its way back through the plot, gradually revealing what had happened, so it worked very well as a mystery from that perspective and the author did a wonderful job of building the tension throughout as we are drip fed details about Joseph’s story.

Equally, the second strand of the story is a romance, and watching things develop between Sofia and Joseph was a delightful and welcome contrast to the tension of the thriller aspect of the book. I thought the dimension added by Sofia’s disability and the fact that Joseph is an outsider and how they come to understand one another was deftly and beautifully done and really enhanced the story.

All the characters were fascinating and beautifully drawn, particularly Sofia, whom I was really drawn to, and the mysterious Lua. Great characterisation  is always the make or break for me in a book – you can have the best plot in the world but if the characters aren’t alive, it will leave me cold – and Susan absolutely nails this aspect of the writing. In addition, I loved the setting which was the island of Madeira, but not the touristy parts that many people will recognise, but a quiet town and a remote faja where a family are ekeing out a living on a small farm. I thought this gave a enticing insight into an aspect of Madeiran life about which I knew nothing and would probably have never become aware of otherwise. I love it when a book, along with giving me a great story, teaches me something new. This is the way books enrich your life.

One thing I did find curious about my experience of reading this book was how it seemed oddly set out of time. To begin with, I could not place the setting at all, as there did not seem to be anything to anchor it in a particular period. I did start off thinking it was a historical novel, until certain things happened later which gave it a periodical context, and it was oddly disorienting. I am not sure if this was deliberate by the author to illustrate how backward and unchanging life on the faja was, but I’ve never read anything quite like it, it gave the book a slightly surreal feel, although this was just my perception, of course.

I really enjoyed this book, it gave me a lot more than I expected and I came away feeling enriched by the experience of reading it, which is all one can ask.

Joseph Barnaby is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Giveaway

1st prize an Amazon book token (£10) ,

2nd prize – 2 x signed paperbacks of Joseph Barnaby

3rd prize – 2 x ebooks of Joseph Barnaby

To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the dates here:

Joseph Barnaby Full Tour Banner

About the Author

I was born and educated in the UK (I am British!) but now live in Portugal. I’ve been an English teacher for many years with the British Council and also the Portuguese civil service where I developed e-learning courses.

My first love is, of course, my husband, my second writing, and my third painting. And now I have time to be able to indulge in all three.

My debut novel, “Perfect Score” was published by Mundania Press on Sept 21, 2010 and the paperback launched on May 11 2011. It was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC e-book Awards in the Mainstream Category.

My second novel is a dark thriller/fantasy called “Hewhay Hall”. It won an EPPIE award in the 2013 EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) e-Book Awards in the Horror Category.

Next comes “Rising Tide”, published in 2015. Set in Portugal, published by Mundania Press. It is set in a tiny fishing village that the world, and most of Portugal, has forgotten. Read about the wonders of the ocean and see if Piper from Norfolk UK and Leo from Alaska, USA, can find what they’re searching for in the little village of Luminosa.

“Forest Dancer” was published on 20th February 2018 by CrookedCat Books. This is novel number 2 set in Portugal but this time in the forests outside Lisbon, Portugal. Instead of the sea (as in Rising Tide), now find out about the wonders of the forest and whether classical ballerina, Flora, can find what she’s searching for in the small village of Aurora.

On 5th October 2018 CrookedCat Books published my newest novel, “Joseph Barnaby”, another romance/suspense which is set on the island of Madeira.

Connect with Susan:

Website: http://www.susanroebuck.com/p/main-page.html

Facebook: Susan Roebuck Author

Twitter: @sueroebuck

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

The Barefoot Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Barefoot Road Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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

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

The Barefoot Road is her first novel.

Connect with Vivienne:

Twitter: @VivienneVermes

The Craft Room by Dave Holwill #BookReview #BlogTour (@daveholwill) @RaRaResources #TheCraftRoom

The Craft Room

Delighted to be one of the blogs kicking off the tour for this original new book by Dave Holwill, The Craft Room. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachels’ Random Resources for my spot on the tour and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Sylvia Blackwell is tired. Her grandchildren are being kept away from her, and the expected inheritance that might finally get her middle-aged son to move out has failed to materialise – thanks to her mother’s cat. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain composed. On a romantic clifftop walk for her 47th Wedding Anniversary, an unexpected opportunity leads to a momentous decision that will irretrievably change the course of her life. The Craft Room is a darkly comic tale of sex, crepe paper, murder and knitting in a sleepy Devon town, with a ‘truly original’ premise and genuinely jaw-dropping moments. What would you do if unexpectedly freed from bondage you never knew you were in? How would your children cope? How far would you go to protect them from an uncomfortable truth? You can only push a grandmother so far…”

This book is a real breath of fresh air. It has a totally original premise which is carried through with black humour and an entertaining, conversational voice that is a real joy to read.

The book centres around the character of Sylvia, a 66-year-old grandmother who is stuck in a rut without even realising it. Her son, Robert, divorced from his unsuitable (in the eyes of his mother at least) wife, Alexa is proving a drain on his parents’ finances, despite being in his forties and Sylvia is banking on an inheritance from her dying mother to help them out. And her husband has moved his golf clubs into the spare bedroom recently vacated by their son. She’s not happy.

Then her mother dies, and things get much, much worse.

This book reminded me a lot of Nigel William’s The Wimbledon Poisoner with its darkly comic tone and premise of a seemly mild-mannered middle-class suburban anti-hero being pushed to breaking point by the strains of social etiquette in the modern world. A person who might be familiar to you as a neighbour, family member or even yourself turning out to be a quiet psychopath.

The situations that Sylvie finds herself in get more and more shocking as the book progresses and you will find yourself gasping out loud at the audacity of the predicaments the author puts her in and the courses of action he has her taking. This book’s humour pulls no punches and will appeal to readers who can see the humour in the really dark corners of the human soul. Anyone who enjoys the comedy of the likes of The League of Gentleman will be in sync with this book. Those of a squeamish or prudish nature should probably give it a pass, but they will be missing a treat of a read.

Despite her actions, you can’t help but have a certain amount of sympathy for Sylvia, as she is surrounded by some truly appalling characters early on in the book. However, this sympathy decreases in direct contrast to the increased craziness of her behaviour as she begins to get a taste for her new found freedom. The most sympathetic character of all has to be her hapless son, Robert, bullied and hen-pecked by all around him and never have made a good decision in his life, will he find his backbone by the end of the book? You’ll have to read it to find out.

The icing on the top of the comedy cake are the bumbling detective duo who are tasked with investigating certain nefarious goings on in a quiet corner of Devon where nothing more exciting happens than a old lady forgetting where she has put her jewellery. Suddenly up against a spate of gruesome events, one wonders if they are up to the challenge, or if they should just stick to honing their biscuit dunking skills.

I really, really loved this book. It completely appealed to my macabre sense of humour and my delight in any book that goes off at a bit of a tangent from well-worn literary tropes. There were a lot of little inside jokes and references which were fun to spot and the whole thing just made me feel fizzy with pleasure. Great stuff.

The Craft Room is out now and you can buy a copy here.

There are more great reviews to come on the tour, so make sure you check out the blog below on the relevant dates:

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About the Author

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Dave Holwill was born in Guildford in 1977 and quickly decided that he preferred the Westcountry – moving to Devon in 1983 (with some input from his parents).
After an expensive (and possibly wasted) education there, he has worked variously as a postman, a framer, and a print department manager (though if you are the only person in the department then can you really be called a manager?) all whilst continuing to play in every kind of band imaginable on most instruments you can think of.
His debut novel, Weekend Rockstars, was published in August 2016 to favourable reviews and his second The Craft Room (a very dark comedy concerning death through misadventure) came out in August 2017. He is currently in editing hell with the third.

Connect with Dave:

Website: http://davedoesntwriteanythingever.blogspot.com

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Twitter: @daveholwill

Instagram: @dave_holwill

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