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:

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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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A Little Christmas Charm by Kathryn Freeman #BookReview #BlogTour (@KathrynFreeman1) @ChocLituk @RaRaResources #ALittleChristmasCharm #RaRaResources #Giveaway

A Little Christmas Charm

Delighted to be taking part today in the tour for this festive book by Kathryn Freeman. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. There is a giveaway for another title by this author further down the post, so make sure you read to the end.

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Would you swap sea and sunshine for tinsel and turkey?
Gabby Sanderson is used to being let down – even at Christmas. Which is why she’s happy to skip the festive season completely in favour of a plane ticket and sunnier climes.

But this Christmas could be different, because this time she might not be spending it alone. Can Owen Cooper charm Gabby into loving Christmas in the same way he’s charmed his way into her life, or is he just another person who’ll end up disappointing her?

I wasn’t sure what I expected from the cover and blurb of this book, but it wasn’t whatt I got. I think I was anticipating a fairly twee, boy-meets-girl-at-Christmas story – pleasant in a superficial, passes-a-couple-of-hours kind of way. I love that kind of book when I am in a relaxed festive mood, with a cup of hot chocolate, cosy room, and my brain and emotions want something undemanding. However, this wasn’t that.

This book has a lot more depth of emotion and thematic range than I was imagining and really took me by surprise, in a good way. It just goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover.

This is the story of Gabby and Owen, two very different people who meet and feel attraction. However, they both come with a lot of baggage and hang ups, which look like getting in the way of their relationship developing into something meaningful. Possibly predictable so far, but the author really gives them some genuine, painful issues to deal with and develops these in a very realistic, detailed and compelling way that brings that depth to the novel that I was talking about before. I was completely captivated by the characters and their story to the point where I was totally engrossed, feeling all the ups and downs of their emotions, willing them to work things out and unable to put the book down until I knew how it ended. I read it in a single sitting.

This is a very modern story with people who are in unconventional families, which are actually becoming more and more the norm these days and I love the fact this is being reflected in the novels that are available for us to read. Diversity is becoming the new normal, thankfully, and it is about time this was reflected in the literature we buy. I loved all the characters in this book. Gabby is a strong, independent woman who is totally self-reliant but events from her childhood have left her with trust issues and she is struggling to decide whether to let own in, especially given his reputation. But like the book, Owen is someone it would be wrong to judge by first impressions, he has a lot more depth to him than one might think and I defy anyone to read this book and not fall a tiny bit in love with him themselves.

The secondary characters were also delightful and the books rolls along at a smooth and fluent pace which was a pleasure to read. That is not to say it was all plain sailing. The behaviour of both protagonists had me inwardly screaming in frustration at times, but I am absolutely sure this was fully the intention of the author to reflect how the characters felt and to ramp up the tension and it definitely made the book more compelling.

This book has a lovely festive setting, but one which reflects a normal Christmas, rather than the OTT Yuletide fantasy portrayed in some seasonal stories, which perfectly fitted in with the story. I really enjoyed this down-to-earth, romantic read and I am sure you will too.

A Little Christmas Charm is out now and you can get it here.

Giveaway

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To be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of A Little Christmas Faith by Kathryn Freman, please 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.

This book is taking a big blog tour, check out the poster for details of the other blogs taking part:

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About the Author

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A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero. 

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

Connect with Kathryn:

Website: http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook: Kathryn Freeman

Twitter: @KathrynFreeman1

Five Ladies Go Skiing by Karen Aldous #BookReview #BlogTour (@KarenAldous_) @HQDigitalUK @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #FiveLadiesGoSkiing #Giveaway #RNA

Five Ladies Go Skiing

It’s freezing outside as the pinch of winter takes hold so it is apt today that I am on the blog tour for Five Ladies Go Skiing by Karen Aldous. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you visit the giveaway further down the post.

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When Ginny Watts’ husband passes away, she is left grief-stricken, not only over her husband’s death but the secrets he has left behind…

Luckily for Ginny, she has four wonderful friends – Lou, Cathy, Angie and Kim – poised to whisk her away on a ladies’ skiing holiday to beautiful La Tzoumaz, Switzerland.

While all of them appear to have their lives together from the outside, little do the ladies know that every single one of them is fighting a secret battle.

As the trip unfolds, they realise that fears of tumbling down the slopes after too much après-ski fun is the least of their worries and all is not what it seems…

I was really looking forward to reading this book, attracted by the cover and the title and the blurb. I am really enjoying the current trend of books featuring older protagonists and I have thoroughly enjoyed the ones I’ve read this year. I think it is refreshing to read about women who are a bit older, although there was quite a lot of talk in this book about having a body of a younger woman which actually slightly detracts from the appeal of a book of this nature for me. I like heroines who are happy to be and look their age!

The setting of the Swiss Alps, a cosy chalet in a bustling ski resort and all the trappings that go with a ski holiday were the main draw of the book for me and this aspect fully lived up to my expectations. I love to ski, and I think the author did a fabulous job of bringing the scene and the whole experience to life, especially the food! I loved the fact that four of the ladies had never skied before and the trials and tribulations of that learning experience in later life were marvellously portrayed. The theme of being young at heart and it never being too late to experience new things were delightful and the book gave me everything I had hoped for in this regard.

The heart of this story is the friendship between these five women, which has lasted through the years and seen each of them through some tough times. However, it also explores the ideas that people still keep secrets from each other, however close they are, and that these secrets have the potential to destroy even the closest of relationships. Again, I think the author brings the characters to life very well and they are all warm and likeable and the relationships they have are genuine and plausible and really reflect how women interact and relate to one another. So far, so great.

However, there were parts of the prose that needed cutting because they dragged the pace of the book to a crawl, especially at the beginning. I understand that the author was trying to establish the characters, and this took some doing as there were five of them and the book is telling the story from multiple points of view. However, there was simply too much description early on, too much telling, rather than showing, of the ladies’ back stories and a lot of repetition of points that had already been covered.

It was a bit of a shame, because it made the reading a little laborious to begin with of what was otherwise a warm, seasonal, uplifting  and enjoyable book about female friendship and enjoying life.

Five Ladies Go Skiing is out now in e-book format and will be available in paperback on 13 December. You can buy a copy here.

Giveaway

To enter a giveaway to win one of 5 paperbacks of Five Ladies Go Skiing, please click on the Rafflecopter link below.

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*Terms and Conditions –Please note prize will be distributed once the paperback is available (published 13th December).  UK 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.

If you would like to check out the other blogs on the tour, you can find them on the poster below:

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About the Author

Author Karen Aldous High Res

Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!

Much of Karen’s inspiration comes from her travels and meeting people. The UK, France, Greece, Switzerland, Italy and parts of the USA and Asia are just some you will experience in her books to date. However, wherever she goes, new characters emerge in ‘Karen’s World’ screaming at her to tell their stories; past or present. She loves to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives – but struggle to control them! And, of course there’s always a gorgeous hunk or two!

Connect with Karen:

Website: http://www.karenaldous.co.uk

Facebook: Karen Aldous Author

Twitter: @KarenAldous_

Instagram: @karenaldous_

The Barn of Buried Dreams by Chrissie Bradshaw #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@ChrissieBeee) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #The BarnOfBuriedDreams

The Barn of Buried Dreams

I am so excited today to be taking part in the blog tour for The Barn of Buried Dreams by my fellow RNA member, Chrissie Bradshaw. My huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to be on the tour and to Chrissie for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly. Make sure you check out the giveaway further down the page.

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“Erin and Heather Douglas are struggling. Their mother’s death has left a void in their family and everyday life has side-lined their dreams. 

Erin has buried herself away in the family home and left her stage career. By hiding away, she is evading the pain of returning to London and the acting world where her ex-fiancé is enjoying success and a new relationship. When she meets charismatic Texan Jackson McGee, she wrestles with her feelings for him. Should she trust another man?

Heather is juggling babies, work, a rocky marriage and running on wine. An overheard conversation makes her ask, would Mark cheat on her?

Can the sisters help one another to face their fears, dust off and revive those dreams and find joy in life?”

After reading the blurb, I was really eager to get in to this new book by the delightful Chrissie Bradshaw to see if she is as friendly and approachable on the page as she is in real life. I am fascinated by the dynamics within families, particularly between sisters as I have three myself, so I was sure this book would be right up my street.

Now I have finished the book, I can confirm that I was not at all disappointed following my high expectations. This is a very readable, warm and enticing novel which was engrossing and satisfying to the end.

The characters of Erin and Heather were well-drawn and their relationship recognisable to me as an accurate dynamic between female siblings. I felt particularly for Erin. The book starts showing the close and loving relationship between Erin and her mother and I felt her loss and despair keenly when her mother passes, particularly as she is already reeling from rejection by her boyfriend and further personal trauma. No wonder she finds it almost impossible to cope and move on.

Heather was harder to like, as she comes across as very selfish and self-centred at the beginning, but the author does a wonderful job of gradually revealing what is driving her behaviour and by the end I was much more sympathetic towards her and happy with the way everything is finally resolved at the end of the book.

I particularly loved the setting of the book in the border country between Scotland and Northumberland, an area I know very well from many childhood holidays and a beautiful part of the country which is filled with warm and friendly people, and I feel like Chrissie brought this to life perfectly and got it across in her writing, so that I really believed in the setting and the characters in the book and became invested in their stories.

Chrissie has quite a formal writing style which is unusual in a book of this type in current times, but I actually really liked it and found it gave her a very distinctive voice. Her writing and the story flows very smoothly and is very easy to read and I am sure that anyone wise enough to pick up this lovely book will be carried along with it and close the last cover with the satisfaction that follows a pleasing read. Highly recommended.

The Barn of Buried Dreams is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Giveaway

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To win a Paperback copy of ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’, limited edition mug featuring both of Chrissie Bradshaw’s  novels and  a box of fresh macarons delivered from ‘Urban Cakehouse’, click on the Rafflecopter link below.  (Open to UK Only)

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*Terms and Conditions –UK 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.

Make sure you check out the rest of the posts on Chrissie’s Blog Blitz below:

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About the Author

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Chrissie, 2016 winner of the Romantic Novelist’s Elizabeth Goudge writing trophy, is a seasoned tea drinker and a tenacious trainer of her welsh terrier, Oscar. She has always loved match-making a book to a reader. Writing the kind of book she loves to read takes this a step further. When Chrissie is not writing or reading, you will find her walking Oscar on the beach, trying to avoid the gym and spending time with her family and friends.

Her new release, THE BARN OF BURIED DREAMS – when will they see daylight?, is a contemporary story about two sisters who are struggling after the death of their mother. It starts in Dunleith, the same Northumbrian setting as her debut novel ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’, and some characters cross both books. Readers can enjoy either book as a stand alone

Connect with Chrissie:

Website: http://www.newhenontheblog.com

Facebook: Chrissie Bradshaw Author

Twitter: @ChrissieBeee

Instagram: @chrissie_bradshaw_author

 

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer #BlogTour #Extract (@mark_farrer) @damppebbles #Giveaway #TheGoodTheBadTheRugby #damppebblesblogtours

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“Getting to the truth. By trial… and eror error.

Cullen is on jury duty, and the sleepy Scottish town of Melrose is experiencing a rare crime wave: the famous Rugby Sevens trophy is stolen, a dead body is unearthed, there is a spate of petty arson, and someone drives a van into Gloria’s front room.
Why? And what is her husband doing every night up on Eildon hill?

In this hilarious crime romp, misguided loyalties, thwarted love, and unbelievable gullibility reach crisis point on the one day in the year when the world pays a visit to Melrose.

At the final whistle, Cullen will ensure that justice is done.
Because sometimes twelve good men just isn’t enough.”

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer today, and this post is packed full of delightful things for you. I have an extract from the book, a link to a free download of the author’s previous book and a giveaway to enter. See, I’m really spoiling you today! My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for allowing me to publish this extract from his book today.

Extract

“Big Paul was sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage. He was walking his dogs out over Minch Moor and the spring sunshine was unseasonably warm. As he walked, he was unconsciously playing fetch with his dogs. Ant would retrieve the scabby old tennis ball from the undergrowth and trot back to Paul with it in his mouth; Paul would extract the slobbering article from the dog’s soiled mouth and mindlessly throw it overarm, whereupon Dec would take up the chase, find the ball and bring it back. The three participants all knew their roles and played them on auto-pilot – the only difference being that whilst the dogs were having a rare old time of it, Paul was otherwise occupied. Whilst they happily snuffled and frolicked in the heather, weeing up against the small conifers, Paul had other things on his mind.

Well, one other thing.

Shirley.

Paul and Shirley had been a thing for over a year now and whilst all was lovey and, indeed, dovey on the surface, even Paul’s atrociously underdeveloped senses were picking up signs that Shirley was dissatisfied at the moment. What the problem was, and what he could or should do about it, however, were issues which completely evaded him.

He ran his mental slide rule over the problem at hand. First off, he obviously couldn’t ask her what the problem was. Noooo. Schoolboy error. Asking a woman what the matter was merely opened you up to an accusation that you were insensitive, unfeeling or insufficiently engaged in the relationship. A man should know what the problem was – since, usually, it was the man that was the problem.

On the other hand, maybe he could resolve the situation by buying her some flowers. Didn’t even matter, then, if the problem was real or all in his imagination. Flowers would fix it, if it existed; if it didn’t, she would love them anyway. What woman doesn’t love flowers? 

That’d sort it. If he had money. 

Flowers were expensive and right now Paul had a minor cashflow problem. Again. Buying flowers was a ten pound solution to a five pound problem. He tried to recall when he’d last bought Shirley flowers. Her birthday, was it? Shit! Had he missed her birthday? No, that was September the somethingth. He made a mental note to see if he could somehow pry free the actual date from her later.

Anniversary then? How long had they been together now? He couldn’t recall buying her anything for an anniversary, or celebrating one with her. And he’d have remembered if Shirley had proudly presented him with a card and a gift one day only to discover that he had no clue what was going on. He’d not forget a real dignity-stripper event like that.

So there was still time. Cool! He didn’t know how much time, right enough, but he wasn’t too late. That in itself was a novelty he was prepared to relish while it lasted. Pleased with this mental exertion, he corralled his dogs off the moor and onto the track heading down to the car park. So, if their anniversary was coming up. And he had no money. What exactly was he going to do?

“No.” Cullen had said.

“Why not?”

“Neither a borrower or a lender be.”

“But it’s only a few quid! I’ll pay you back.”

“That is not the point.”

“Well, what is the point?”

“I’ve just told you.”

“Aw, fuck.” Paul’s huge shoulders heaved beneath his black T-shirt. “You realise this’ll ruin me and Shirl?” Cullen remained impassive while Paul rumbled around the sink and poured boiling water from the kettle. “It’s alright for you. You don’t have a partner. You don’t have to consider anyone ‘cept yourself. Me and Shirl – we’ve got a good thing going here. Don’t want to fuck it up.”

“In that case you should have thought about buying her an anniversary gift.”

“I have! That’s why I need the money.”

“Beforehand.” Cullen emphasised. “It’s called budgeting. Planning. Thinking ahead.”

“I am thinking ahead.” Paul slopped a mug down in front of Cullen. “I’m thinking of what it’s like trying to find a potential partner once you’re past forty.”

“By a considerable margin.”

“Alright, Methuselah. I’m still younger than you.”

Cullen regarded the muddy liquid in the mug in front of him. “I didn’t want tea. You know I don’t drink tea.”

“Well I’ve made it now so get it down you.”

Cullen took a sip and grimaced. “What is this?”

“I’ve told you. It’s a nice hot cup of tea. Get it down you.”

“Hmm. Let’s not be so free and easy with the noun tea here, shall we?”

“Thought you said you didn’t drink tea?”

“I don’t.” Cullen put the mug down. “And I’m not going to. I think what we have here is… a cup of hot. Let’s just leave it at that, hmm?”

“Everyone’s a critic.” Paul snarked. “Look. My point is, once you get past forty, finding a potential partner… it’s like trying to find a parking space in Sainsbury’s. They’re either taken, handicapped, or w-a-a-a-a-y out there.”

“Like I said. Thinking ahead. You should try it sometime.”

“Thanks, pal. Thanks a fucking lot.”

Cullen sighed and looked at his friend thoughtfully. “You know what you should do?”

“No.” Said Paul. “What?”

“Trust the soup.”

Trust the soup was Paul’s unofficial motto. His official motto was: Ah, That’ll do.

What trust the soup boiled down to was: don’t worry, be happy, something will turn up, the universe will provide and everything will be alright, you’ll see. Paul had, it was true, come to rely upon this to the extent that he  repeatedly pushed the very fabric of the universe to its limits, in attempting to fulfil its duty to provide. But it usually came through, so Paul continued to push, while the universe continued to heave and sweat and toil and still, somehow, deliver. If Paul had been a reader of management theory (or, come to that, a reader), he would have realised that what he had managed to do – very successfully – was outsource the need to worry. To the point where the outside observer might even replace the term outsource with the verb abdicate.

He unlocked his van and slid the door open for his dogs to leap in but only Dec obliged. He sat obediently on the dirty towel, draped over a couple of bags of finishing plaster, while Paul did his best to wipe most of the mud off his legs and belly. 

“Ant, mate?” Paul looked round. “Here boy!”

When the dog didn’t materialise, Paul gave a loud whistle and looked back up the hill to see if he had absently left him stranded somewhere on the trail. He heard a series of barks behind him and turned to spot a tail stump wagging excitedly in the bushes at the edge of the hard scrabble area.

“Mate!” Paul shouted, but Ant resolutely stayed put. Paul let out a deep breath, pointed at Dec to stay, and strode over to the bushes.

Ant was scratching around in the dirt and when Paul pulled him away he saw a glint of gold shining up through the soil and brambles. He reached down and picked up a dirty sack with a torn neck and peeled back the sacking to reveal a large silver trophy on a mahogany base. It was inscribed The Ladies Cup, Melrose Rugby Club and some smaller cursive writing that Paul’s eyesight couldn’t make out. 

Ant returned his nose to the shallow hole and continued scrabbling and scooping earth back between his hind legs. 

“Mate! Come away. I think you’ve found the treasure.” He reached down and grabbed Ant by the collar, dragging him out of the bushes while the dog continued to resist. When Paul had wrestled the determined creature back into full daylight he saw more gold glinting in the dog’s mouth. He held Ant’s snout and put his fingers into the dog’s mouth to prise its teeth apart. What dropped into his grimy hand was a necklace on a gold chain. The pendant on the necklace was a gold disc with S S on one side and a centred H on the other. Paul flicked it with a finger and the small disc spun quickly round, creating the appearance of a single side bearing the initials SHS.

Well, bugger me, thought Paul. SHS. Shirley Harriet Simpson.

The soup had truly outdone itself this time.”

If this has whetted your appetite for more, you can order your copy of the book here.

And if you would like to take advantage of a free download of Mark’s previous book, Dirty Barry, you can find that link here.

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Giveaway

As if all that wasn’t enough, we have a giveaway of 2 bookmarks featuring the covers of all four of Mark Farrer’s books, all you have to do is click on the Rafflecopter link below.

Please note this a UK only giveaway.  The 14 winners will be selected at random and your postal address will be passed onto Mark Farrer.  There is no cash alternative.  The giveaway ends of midnight (GMT) on 16th November 2018.  Any personal information stored by the Rafflecopter giveway will be deleted after the winners have been drawn.

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To read some reviews of The Good, The Bad & The Rugby and other great content, check out the rest of the blog tour on the poster below:

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About the Author

Mark Farrer

Mark was born in Liverpool, studied Computer Science at Hull University, then had a successful career in IT management in London and the South-East for twenty years before moving to Edinburgh in 2001. He continued working in IT until 2015 when he decided to retire from the rat race and focus on becoming a writer. He now spends half his time writing and the other half worrying why he is not yet making money from writing.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby is Mark’s third comic novel featuring a morally righteous loner called Cullen. He also has a perma-free novella on Amazon, called Dirty Barry, which tells how Cullen and Big Paul first met. He is currently at work on a second novella, called Bronchial Billy.

Mark has three children, one at University, one on a gap year in Ghana, and one still at High School. He lives with his partner Claire, a photographer, near West Linton, in the Scottish Borders.

He likes: his Mini Cooper, songwriting, playing piano, vanilla panna cotta, The Beatles, woodburning stoves, wittertainment, Bill Bailey, #sadmanonatrain, fruit gums, Carl Hiaasen, The Wire, spicy food, Van Gogh, Lindsey Buckingham, oaked chardonnay, House MD, long walks, cinema, reading in bed, florentines, Only Connect, board games, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Budweiser, GBBO, India, cheese, David Armand’s mimes, bookshops, Scandi Noir, Diet Coke, The Economist, Blackadder, good sausages, Dickens, Helena Bonham-Carter (secret crush), the Times crossword, the song mmmbop, and pies.

And lists.

He dislikes: ITV, pinot grigio, tattoos, ballet, ready meals, rap, religion, clutter, artificial raspberry flavouring, marmite, jazz, under-powered showers, people who don’t look after their stuff, opera, sprouts, and waste.

And mashed potato.

He really doesn’t like mashed potato.

Connect with Mark:

Website: http://markfarrer.com

Facebook: Mark Farrer

Twitter: @mark_farrer

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Finding Rose by Julie Ryan #BlogTour #Spotlight (@julieryan18) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #RachelsRandomResources #FindingRose

Finding Rose

I’m delighted to be shining the spotlight today on this very unique book, Finding Rose by Julie Ryan. Unfortunately, time constraints have meant that I have not been able to fit in reading this yet, but it has been firmly added to my TBR and I’m looking forward to getting to it soon. Let me share the details with you so you can see why it has piqued my interest. There is also a great giveaway below.

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“When three sisters, Ginny, Sally and Molly are brought together at their father’s hospital bed, they are forced to confront not only the prospect of a future without him but also the secrets of the past that have kept them apart.

Their father, Eddie Matthews, drugged up on morphine, seems to be rambling but could he in fact be reliving previous lives as a Tudor monk and as a soldier on the Front in WW1. Struggling to speak he reveals that he has a secret and urges his daughters to ‘Find Rose’. Can the sisters put aside their differences to fulfil his last wish?”

To read some fabulous reviews by my fellow bloggers, check out the tour dates on the poster below:

Finding Rose Full Tour Banner

If you would like to pick up a copy of Finding Rose for yourself, you can find it here.

Giveaway

To win a £10 Amazon Voucher, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below:

Rafflecopter

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link 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.

About the Author

Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and a rescue cat. She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance, as she can’t bear to get rid of any! They have been attempting to renovate their home for the last ten years.

She is the author of the Greek Island Mystery series, Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret and Pandora’s Prophecy, each of which can be read as a standalone. Her latest book, Finding Rose, is a new departure for her as it is set against the backdrop of WW1 and has a strong link to the Tudor Court.

Connect with Julie:

Facebook: Julie Ryan Author

Twitter: @julieryan18

Pinterest: Julie Ryan

Goodreads: Julie Ryan

Reprobation by Catherine Fearns #BookReview #BlogTour (@metalmamawrites) @crookedcatbooks @rararesources #Reprobation #Giveaway #RachelsRandomResources

Reprobation

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Reprobation by Catherine Fearns. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you read right down to the end of the review to enter a fantastic giveaway.

Reprobation Cover

“Are you one of the elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.”

I often talk here on the blog about how much I love certain book covers and how they would entice me to buy the book, but I don’t think I’ve ever said before that I dislike a cover. I really don’t like this one though. I can honestly say, I would never pick up a book with this scary-ass nun on the cover in a book shop!

However, to be put off this book by the cover would be a mistake because the book itself is quite a revelation and one I am extremely glad I read, although I still have not 100% made up my mind how I feel about it; I am still sifting through a lot of the questions it raised in my head; and it is an extremely difficult book to categorise, as it has so many different strands going on within it, some of which are in direct contrast to one another. It is a very original book, very different to anything else I have read.

At heart it is a crime thriller, with a body turning up in gruesome circumstances on Crosby beach, swiftly followed by another, with a third person going missing, leaving a distasteful clue behind. The murders seem to have an element of religious symbolism, so the police turn to a Calvinist nun (yes, really) to help unravel its meaning. She, in turn, finds a link to a death metal band (yes, really) and..well, the story just gets more complicated and bizarre as it goes along. You’ll have to read it for yourself if you would like to know how it all fits together.

This book, aside from the criminal puzzle, explores a lot of very interesting but disparate subjects. Religious beliefs, life after death, genetics, the existence of good and evil, predestination, the different sub-genres of heavy metal. The author has obviously done a lot of research on these topics which shows in the writing and it is fascinating to read. Some of the theological debates lost me ever so slightly along the way, but the questions raised are riveting to think about, and of a scale not normally tackled in this type of book. I actually think this is an immensely brave novel.

In contrast, parts of this books actually struck me as quite funny in their ludicrousness. Particularly some of the situations that Helen and Mikko find themselves in together, as they are so unlikely, and Sister Mary. Despite the heavy subject matter and some of the imagery, which is extremely violent and graphic, the book had a certain levity to it, which was surprising but also welcome, I think, to help the reader through and stop us being dragged down by the enormity of the topics discussed.

The setting, on the barren and hostile shores of a wintertime Northern coast really fit the atmosphere and set the tone of the book and was completely right. The characters were all well-developed, if extremely unusual, and overall it was really well written. This is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it refreshing and thought-provoking and relished its challenge. I still don’t like the cover, though.

Reprobation is out now and you can get your copy here.

Giveaway

Reprobation merch

 

To enter the giveaway to win a gift pack which would include signed book, tote bag, t-shirt, magnet, guitar picks, temporary tattoos and postcards, simply click the Rafflecopter link below:

Rafflecopter

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

To follow the rest of the blog tour for this book, visit the blogs listed below:

Reprobation Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool, UK. Her first novel, a crime thriller called ‘Reprobation’, will be published by Crooked Cat Books in October 2018. As a music journalist Catherine is a regular contributor to Pure Grain Audio, and she has also published numerous pieces of short fiction and non-fiction.Catherine has a degree from Oxford University and a Masters from the London School of Economics. She began her career as a financial analyst, but after having four children she retrained as a breastfeeding counsellor. Having lived in several countries, she recently moved to Switzerland, where she discovered her love of writing and is a member of the Geneva Writers’ Group. She plays the piano very well but prefers to play the guitar very badly. Oh, and she likes metal music. A lot. 

Connect with Catherine:

Website: https://www.catherine-fearns.com

Facebook: Catherine Fearns

Twitter: @metalmamawrites