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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Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen #BookReview #BlogTour (@antti_tuomainen) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #PalmBeachFinland

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“Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’.”

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen. My huge thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Orenda Books for my copy of the novel which I have reviewed honestly.

What to say about this genius book? When I found myself simultaneously gasping and laughing guilty at the the opening scenes of this book, I knew from the beginning that I was going to adore it, and everything about the rest of the book cemented this opinion.

This book is the wrong way round. You know from the very beginning who committed the crime. You might think this would spoil the tension of the book but it absolutely does not. For a start, we have no idea who is the victim is, and nor does anyone else. And despite the fact that the perpetrator is not a mystery, there are enough other twists, turns and gasp-out-loud surprises throughout the book to keep you turning the pages until the wee, small hours.

The cover of this book is perfect and would have me intrigued enough to pick up the book on its own, because the setting of this book is what makes it for me. Jorma Leivo is determined to develop the perfect beach resort on the coast of Finland for those people who don’t like it too hot (I actually know a few people to whom this idea would be appealing and I wonder why this place doesn’t actually exist), complete with Florida-style chalets painted pastel colours and named in homage to Miami Vice, cocktails, sun umbrellas, plastic flamingoes and water sports. The fact that the palm trees are plastic might give a hint at the struggle he is up against, but Jorma is nothing if not optimistic and determined – in fact, his absolute determination to bring his vision to life is part of the problem. The setting sets up limitless opportunities for humour, which is the heart of my delight in this book.

The humour is on the dark side, as this is a crime story after all, and the author does not shy away from the violence associated with this genre, but a lot of it is comical. Some of the scenes border on farce and had me laughing out loud, often into my hand as I felt like I shouldn’t really be laughing at all but I could not help myself. There are an array of fantastic characters in this book which tell the story from their own perspectives in alternating chapters and that you won’t be able to help but fall in love with, even the really terrible people. The two bumbling criminal henchmen who set the whole chain of events rolling with their ineptitude in the first place. The psychopathic brother hell bent on revenge. The undercover policeman posing as a holidaying maths teacher as he windsurfs his way to solving the crime. The array of small town dwellers with big hopes and dreams, They all bring this story to joyous life and I absolutely loved all of them by the end of the book.

I don’t read enough translated fiction but, if it was all as good as this, I would read more. I wish my Finnish was good enough to allow me to read this in the original but the translator has done a wonderful job of bringing the spirit of Antti’s story to life in English so we can enjoy it seamlessly. I think this is a book that has layers and layers of nuance to peel back over multiple readings and, consequently, the paperback is now on pre-order so that I can enjoy it again and again. I can’t recommend it highly enough – life-affirming pleasure in paperback form. Books like this are the reason I blog.

Palm Beach Finland is out now and you can buy your copy here.

This book is taking a month-long tour throughout October so there are plenty of fantastic reviews to choose from. If you would like to get an alternative perspective on the book from one of my fellow bloggers, check out the tours dates below:

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About the Author

Antti Tuomainen

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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

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“In space, no one can hear you clean…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

Haircuts, Hens and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg #BookReview #BlogTour (@llamamum) @RaRaResources #HaircutsHens&Homicide

Haircuts, Hens and Homicide

A very belated turn on the blog tour today for Haircuts, Hens and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg so apologies for the late posting to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources who invited me on to the tour. I have been hampered by severe headaches the past two days, hence my erratic blogging, but I hope normal service will be resumed tomorrow. Now, on to the book!

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“Megan finds mayhem when she arrives in France to bury her Gran and sort out her affairs. She expected difficult encounters with civil servants and red tape but not with wandering chickens, an imperious policeman and a dead body. Together with her unlikely new friend, the elderly and grumpy Alphonse and his canine equivalent, Monsieur Moustache, Megan becomes involved in investigating the fowl-related foul play that’s at work in this sleepy part of rural France.
She’s helped but mainly hindered by the people she comes across. These include the local mayor, who wants Megan to stay and set up a hair salon in his village to help keep it alive. There are the cousins Romain, the gendarme, and Nico, the clumsy but hunky farmer. They have always clashed, but do so constantly now that Megan is on the scene. Michelle, Romain’s terrifying ex who wants him back, appears along the way, as does Claudette, a wheelchair-bound old lady, and Kayla, Megan’s best friend, who is hugely pregnant but not above taking on the forces of French law and order when Megan finds herself the prime suspect after Alphonse is stabbed.”

What can I say except I really, really loved this book! Part romance, part cosy mystery with a strong element of comedy running through the story, it was sweet, mad, lovely nonsense that was just a delight to read.

Megan arrives in France to bury her Gran and discovers she has inherited her gran’s cottage, her hens and a lot of fairly eccentric but friendly neighbours in a small, rural town. While deciding whether to stay in France, she encounters a poultry-obsessed geriatric with a bad-tempered dog, hunky French cousins warring over her affections and a phalanx of old ladies demanding her hairdressing talents. As Megan becomes embroiled in local life, largely against her will, she is thrust into the centre of a murder mystery that might be the death of her.

Megan was a character I instantly warmed to. Vulnerable but feisty in equal measure, she is very easy to like and begin to root for. She manages to get herself into some terrifying situations through a combination of naivete and a soft heart which is very appealing. Her romantic dilemma was a lovely one for a girl to be faced with, but I’m not sure I would have made the same choice she does…

The plot was hilarious and, whilst I did guess the identity of the murderer about 60% of the way through, I was mystified as to the possible motive and was hooked on the story right to the end. The story was sufficiently crazy to be raucously entertaining and the book is peopled with delightfully mad but believable characters that I just adored.

There is nothing about this book I didn’t like. The writing style is warm and enticing with plenty of detailed description to bring the story to life. we are left with a great cliffhanger at the end to make it imperative that I get my hand on the sequel, Perms, Pigeons and Poison as soon as it is available. Wonderful stuff, buy this lovely book immediately.

Haircuts, Hens and Homicide is out now and you can get your mitts on it instantly here.

Follow the rest of the blog tour below:

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About the Author

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I’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. I now consider myself a European rather than ‘belonging’ to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times. The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at http://www.bloginfrance.com.

I’m married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.     

I’m a traditionally-published author of many children’s books, and am now self-publishing too. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder & Stoughton. Find me at http://www.editing.zone. The rest of the time I’m running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal’s poop.   

Connect with Stephanie:

Website: http://www.bloginfrance.com

Facebook: Stephanie Dagg Books

Twitter: @llamamum

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

Facebook: Dave Holwill

Twitter: @daveholwill

Instagram: @dave_holwill

Goodreads: Dave Holwill

The Bespokist Society Guide To … London #BlogTour #BookReview (@TheBespokist) @RaRaResources #TheBespokist

The Bespokist Society Guide to…London

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for something very different today – The Bespokist Society Guide to … London, a new type of travel guide! My thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour.

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“sparse… some glaring omissions” FoodPorn London

“only page 23 is of mild interest” http://www.londonpetlover.com

“Wow!!! A genuinely bespoke city guide!!!” Tommy Sponge, Chairman, The Bespokist Society

You have in your hands one of the most curated city guides ever created. As the first travel book produced by the hugely influential Bespokist Society, this handy guide takes you to a London you’ve never seen: a London of challenging Etruscan restaurants, edgy branding parlours, emoji hotels and hidden Icelandic communities; a London where 8-ply toilet paper is a thing.

On the way, meet an eclectic band of inspiring Londoners – from scriveners to socialites via urban wordsmiths and coffee preachers – and see why London is now the global epicentre of Bespokist consciousness, community and culture.”

I am sure that other globe-trotting book lovers will have the same affliction that I do, which is the compulsion to buy a guide book as soon as you have booked a break to a new destination. Even in these days of instant access to all the information you ever need at the click of a mouse, I still love to have a physical guide book in my hands when I travel. This is particularly true when I am taking a city break and trying to pack as much as possible into two or three days. I am especially fond of the ‘Eyewitness Top 10’ city guides but, having read this book I think I may have found a series to rival them.

I love London and visit regularly but this guide highlights a very specific side of London that is one I haven’t explored much – the hipster London. It contains details on a lot of quirky sights, restaurants, hotels and hotspots that will appeal to people who like everything artisanal, organic and bespoke and I think a visit to London focusing on these attractions which are off the usual beaten tourist track would be a refreshing change. As a mother of 5, I really love the idea of staying at The Enzo and having the kids whisked away for the weekend so we can relax, although I’m sure my partner would prefer a room at The Union with his own ‘pastry butler’. There were several restaurants I had earmarked as possible venue – The Gentle BBQ was one that particularly appealed, and I also half hope I can pass off The Irishman as a homeless man so he can sell the heinous beard he currently sports against my wishes to ‘The Beardy Boy Project’ and use the funds to buy me some artisan egg cups.

Before anyone who has read this book thinks I am either mad or stupid, I can confirm that I am joking and do realise that the book is a satirical take on the kind of pretentious guide book we have all read in the past, and is also taking a searingly accurate swipe at the affected preference for everything ‘bespoke’ by a certain section of society today. It is so cleverly done that you could almost believe this is a genuine travel guide for the achingly hip portion of thirty-somethings that roam the country looking for holidays is genuine shepherds’ huts in the Cotswolds with hand-milked honey from vegan bees and organic hemp four-poster bed curtains on tap.

This book is extremely funny, if you like your satire sharp and observational. I laughed out loud, at the same time as thinking ‘ouch’ as parts of it cut very close to the bone. I can imagine some people thinking that parts of it sounded like quite a good idea – the aforementioned ‘Gentle BBQ’ being a case in point – and I am fairly sure that place like ‘Little Foodies’ probably exist. And, if anyone wants to open a branch of ‘Elevenses’ in my home town, I would definitely visit. I have been thinking about their Rich Tea biscuits ever since I read the description! Parts of it also made me cringe (The Whitlow?!!!)

This is a small book, cleverly made to look like a pocket travel guide, and is one you can dip in and out of if you feel like a few minutes of light relief. It bears careful reading so you don’t miss any of the tiny, clever little details that make this such a joy. The entry for The Fishy Finger is my particular favourite example of the writer slipping in a minute, seemingly irrelevant detail that you could miss if you blink but creates real joy in your heart is you catch it. The entry for Good Life made my heart sing and had me smiling every time I thought about it afterwards.

I really enjoyed this little, quirky, clever book and it will appeal to anyone who loves satirical humour. Should not be read by genuine tourists or easily-offended hipsters.

The Bespokist Society Guide to… London is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to follow the rest of the tour and find out what my fellow bloggers make of the unique book, find the dates below:

The Bespokist Society Guide to…London Full Tour Banner

About the Author

The Bespokist Society Guide to London is a work of fiction written by born and bred Londoner, Jeremy Liebster. Somewhat surprisingly, Jeremy is also a city lawyer – formerly at DLA Piper and now a General Counsel within a large private equity group. Jeremy is utterly obsessed with travel books and although he might poke fun at urban fads, hipster fried chicken is his guilty pleasure. He also has an unusual interest in clothes hangers.

Website: https://www.bespokistsociety.com

Twitter: @TheBespokist

The Backstreets of Purgatory by Helen Taylor #BlogTour #BookReview (@TaylorHelen_M) @unbounders @annecater #BackstreetsOfPurgatory #RandomThingsTours

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“Finn Garvie’s life is one spectacular mess. He spends most of his time fannying around a makeshift Glasgow studio, failing to paint his degree portfolio, while his girlfriend Lizzi treats him like one of her psychology patients, and his best friend Rob is convinced that the tattoos he designs are the height of artistic achievement.

To top it all, Finn is worried that some stinking bastard is hanging around, spying on him, laughing at his cock-ups and eating his leftover curry. Fortunately, he has plenty of techniques to distract him – tackling the church hall renovations with the help of his alcoholic neighbour; pining after Kassia, the splendidly stroppy au-pair; and re-reading that book on Caravaggio, his all-time hero.

Things take a turn for the strange when he finally encounters the person who’s been bugging him, and it seems to be none other than Caravaggio himself…”

Well, this is some book! An audacious plot involving Caravaggio stuck in Purgatory being forced to spend time with a deluded Glaswegian artist who has lost his muse – if you can get your head around that as a concept, you are going to love this book.

The main character of Finn is a complicated central character. Not always likeable, we meet him in the final year of his degree where he believes the only reason that he is failing is that his tutor does not understand him or his work (oh, to have such misplaced confidence in one’s genius!). He becomes obsessed with the artist Caravaggio, whom he believes was similarly misunderstood, and then Caravaggio himself turns up to help Finn out.

This book is a sublime mixture of humour and darkness, grittiness and beauty and is very richly layered and textured. It deals with some complicated issues of mental health, depression, thwarted ambition, complicated relationships and one’s sense of self in a sometimes cruel and uncaring world. Along with Caravaggio, Finn is surrounded by a panoply of characters who support, encourage, analyse and sometimes hinder his progress through the book, and they all have detailed and well-developed personalities and crises of their own which weave and inform the narrative throughout to make a delightful and deeply rewarding read.

The main thing I loved about this book was the language and description. The author grabbed me from page one with her cleverly-worded descriptions and fantastic use of language to describe both the the setting and the characters, internally and externally. The whole look and feel and heart of Glasgow just leapt of the page from the beginning to make a whole character in its own right and the author completely captures the spirit of the place and its people, it was a joy to read and revel in.

The book isn’t perfect. It was a little wordy in places which slowed the pace at times. It is not going to be for everyone, as it is not a light read and takes some focus to get the most out of it. If you are not fond of earthy language or the use of colloquialisms, it will not be your cup of tea and it does deal with some hard and personal problems and has an undercurrent of melancholy beneath the humour. I loved the varied moods of the book personally.

I think this book rewards the effort it takes to read it and the investment of time. I loved the author’s very distinctive voice and quirky mind and will definitely look out for the next thing from her. I really hope this book gets the audience it deserves.

The Backstreets of Purgatory is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

If you would like to see what my blogging colleagues made of the book, the details of the tour stops are below:

Backstreets of Purgatory Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor is a writer living in France. The Backstreets of Purgatory is her first book.

Connect with Helen:

Website: https://helenmtaylor.com

Twitter: @TaylorHelen_M

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